Who are we, we who criticise?
In the course of the argument, we have moved from the earlier description of 'we' as a disparate compound of the
author and readers of this book to talking of 'we' as the critical subject. But who, then, are we, the critical subject?
We are not God. We are not a transcendent, trans-historical Subject who sits in judgment on the course of history.
We are not omniscient. We are people whose subjectivity is part of the mire of the society in which we live, flies
caught in a web.
Who are we, then, and how can we criticise? The most obvious answer is that our criticism and our scream arise
from our negative experience of capitalist society, from the fact that we are oppressed, from the fact that we are
exploited. Our scream comes from the experience of the daily repeated separation of doing and done, of subject
and object, a separation experienced most intensely in the process of exploitation but which permeates every
aspect of life.
We, then, are the working class: those who create and have our creation (both the object created and the process
of creation) snatched from us. Or are we?
Most discussions of the working class are based on the assumption that the fetishised forms are pre-constituted.
The relation between capital and labour (or between capitalist and working class) is taken to be one of
subordination. On this basis, understanding class struggle involves, firstly, defining the working class and,
secondly, studying whether and how they struggle.
In this approach, the working class, however defined, is defined on the basis of its subordination to capital: it is
because it is subordinated to capital (as wage workers, or as producers of surplus value) that it is defined as
working class. Indeed it is only because the working class is assumed to be pre-subordinated that the question of
definition can even be posed. Definition merely adds the locks to a world that is assumed to be closed. By being
defined, the working class is identified as a particular group of people. For socialists, 'working class' is then treated
as a positive concept and working class identity as something to be prized, such that the consolidation of that
identity is part of the class struggle against capital. There is, of course, the problem of what to do with those people
who do not fall within the definitions of working class or capitalist class, but this is dealt with by a supplementary
definitional discussion on how to define these other people, whether as new petty bourgeoisie, salariat, middle
class or whatever. This process of definition or class-ification is the basis of endless discussions about class and
non-class movements, class and 'other forms' of struggle, 'alliances' between the working class and other groups,
and so on.
All sorts of problems spring from this definitional approach to class. Firstly, there is the question of 'belonging'. Do
we who work in the universities 'belong' to the working class? Did Marx and Lenin? Are the rebels of Chiapas part
of the working class? Are feminists part of the working class? Are those active in the gay movement part of the
working class? And what about the police? In each case, there is a concept of a pre-defined working class to which
these people do or do not belong.
A second consequence of defining class is the definition of struggles that follows. From the classification of the
people concerned certain conclusions are derived about the struggles in which they are involved. Those who define
the Zapatista rebels as being not part of the working class draw from that certain conclusions about the nature and
limitations of the uprising. From the definition of the class position of the participants there follows a definition of
their struggles: the definition of class defines the antagonism that the definer perceives or accepts as valid. This
leads to a blinkering of the perception of social antagonism. In some cases, for example, the definition of the
working class as the urban proletariat directly exploited in factories, combined with evidence of the decreasing
proportion of the population who fall within this definition, has led people to the conclusion that class struggle is no
longer relevant for understanding social change. In other cases, the definition of the working class and therefore of
working class struggle in a certain way has led to an incapacity to relate to the development of new forms of
struggle (the student movement, feminism, ecologism and so on).
Defining the working class constitutes them as a 'they'. Even if we say that we are part of the working class, we do
so by stepping back from ourselves and by classifying ourselves or the group to which we 'belong' (students,
university lecturers and so on). The 'we scream' from which we started is converted into a 'they struggle'.
The framework for the definitional approach to class is the idea that capitalism is a world that is; from a left
perspective it is clear that it should not be and it may be that it will not always be, but for the moment it is. This
perspective certainly provides a means of describing the conflicts that exist between the two classes (conflicts over
wages, over working conditions, over trade union rights and so on). However, if the framework is the framework of
an identitarian world, of a world that is, then there is no possibility of a perspective that transcends this world. The
idea of revolution either has to be abandoned, or the transcendent, revolutionary element has to be imported in the
shape of a deus ex machina, usually a Party. We are back with Lenin's distinction between trade union
consciousness and revolutionary consciousness, with the difference that we now see that the attribution of trade
union consciousness to the working class follows from the identitarian theoretical perspective (which Lenin shared)
rather than from the world that is/ is not. What is seen in this case is shaped more by the spectacles used than by
the supposed object of vision.
If, on the other hand, we do not start from the assumption of the fetishised character of social relations, if we
assume rather that fetishisation is a process and that existence is inseparable from constitution, then how does this
change our vision of class?
Class, like state, like money, like capital, has to be understood as process. Capitalism is the ever renewed
generation of class, the ever renewed class-ification of people. Marx makes this point very clearly in his discussion
of accumulation in Capital: 'Capitalist production, therefore, under its aspect of a continuous connected process, of
a process of reproduction, produces not only commodities, not only surplus value, but it also produces and
reproduces the capitalist relation: on the one side the capitalist, on the other, the wage labourer.' (1965, p. 578). In
other words, the existence of classes and their constitution cannot be separated: to say that classes exist is to say
that they are in the process of being constituted.
The constitution of class can be seen as the separation of subject and object. Capitalism is the daily repeated
violent separation of the object from the subject, the daily snatching of the object-creation-product from the subjectcreator-producer, the daily seizure from the doer not only of her done but of her act of doing, her creativity, her
subjectivity, her humanity. The violence of this separation is not characteristic just of the earliest period of
capitalism: it is the core of capitalism. To put it in other words, 'primitive accumulation' is not just a feature of a
bygone period, it is central to the existence of capitalism.
The violence with which the separation of subject and object, or the class-ification of humanity, is carried out
suggests that 'reproduction' is a misleading word in so far as it conjures up an image of a smoothly repeated
process, something that goes around and around, whereas the violence of capitalism suggests that the repetition of
the production of capitalist social relations is always very much at issue.
Class struggle, then, is the struggle to classify and against being classified at the same time as it is,
indistinguishably, the struggle between constituted classes.
More orthodox discussions of class struggle tend to assume that classes are pre-constituted, that the working class
is effectively subordinated, and to start the analysis of class struggle from there. However, the conflict does not
begin after subordination has been established, after the fetishised forms of social relations have been constituted:
rather it is a conflict about the subordination of social practice, about the fetishisation of social relations. Class
struggle does not take place within the constituted forms of capitalist social relations: rather the constitution of
those forms is itself class struggle. All social practice is an unceasing antagonism between the subjection of
practice to the fetishised, perverted, defining forms of capitalism and the attempt to live against-and-beyond those
forms. There can thus be no question of the existence of non-class forms of struggle. Class struggle, then, is the
unceasing daily antagonism (whether it be perceived or not) between alienation and dis-alienation, between
definition and anti-definition, between fetishisation and de-fetishisation.
We do not struggle as working class, we struggle against being working class, against being classified. Our
struggle is not the struggle of labour: it is the struggle against labour. It is the unity of the process of classification
(the unity of capital accumulation) that gives unity to our struggle, not our unity as members of a common class.
Thus, for example, it is the significance of the zapatista struggle against capitalist classification that gives it
importance for class struggle, not the question of whether the indigenous indigenous inhabitants of the Lacandon
Jungle are or are not members of the working class. There is nothing good about being members of the working
class, about being ordered, commanded, separated from our product and our process of production. Struggle
arises not from the fact that we are working class but from the fact that we-are-and-are-not working class, that we
exist against-and-beyond being working class, that they try to order and command us but we do not want to be
ordered and commanded, that they try to separate us from our product and our producing and our humanity and
our selves and we do not want to be separated from all that. In this sense working class identity is not something
'good' to be treasured, but something ‘bad', something to be fought against, something that is fought against,
something that is constantly at issue. Or rather, working class identity should be seen as a non-identity: the
communion of struggle to be not working class.
We are/ are not working class (whether we are university professors or car workers). To say that class should be
understood as class-ification means that class struggle (the struggle to classify us and our struggle against being
classified) is something that runs through us, individually and collectively. Only if we were fully class-ified could we
say without contradiction 'we are working class' (but then class struggle would be impossible).
We take part in class struggle on both sides. We class-ify ourselves in so far as we produce capital, in so far as we
respect money, in so far as we participate, through our practice, our theory, our language (our defining the working
class), in the separation of subject and object. We simultaneously struggle against our class-ification in so far as
we are human. We exist against-in-and-beyond capital, and against-in-and-beyond ourselves. Humanity is
schizoid, volcanic: everyone is torn apart by the class antagonism.
Does this mean that class distinctions can be reduced to a general statement about the schizoid character of
humanity? No, because there are clearly differences in the way in which the class antagonism traverses us,
differences in the degree to which it is possible for us to repress that antagonism. For those who benefit materially
from the process of classification (accumulation), it is relatively easy to repress anything which points against or
beyond classification, to live within the bounds of fetishism. It is those whose lives are overturned by accumulation
(the indigenous of Chiapas, university teachers, coal miners, nearly everybody) in whom the element of againstness will be much more present. It is those who are most brutally de-subjectified, whether through the stultification
of endless repetition in meaningess jobs, or through the poverty that excludes anything but the fight for survival, in
whom the tension of againstness will be most most tightly coiled. It remains true, however, that nobody exists
purely against or against-and-beyond: we all participate in the separation of subject and object, the classification of
It is only in so far as we are/ are not the working class that revolution as the self-emancipation of the working class
becomes conceivable. The working class cannot emancipate itself in so far as it is working class. It is only in so far
as we are not working class that the question of emancipation can even be posed. And yet, it is only as far as we
are the working class (subjects torn from their objects) that the need for emancipation arises. We return to the
contradictory result already established: we, the critical subject, are and are not the working class.
The conclusion reached is a non-sense only for identitarian thought, only if we think of ‘is’ and ‘is not’ as being
mutually exclusive. The contradiction between ‘is’ and ‘is not’ is not a logical contradiction, but a real one. It points
to the fact that we really are/ are not reified; we really are/are not identified; we really are/are not class-ified; we
really are/are not de-subjectified; in short, we really are/ are not. It is only if we understand our subjectivity as a
divided subjectivity, and our self as a divided self, that we can make sense of our scream, of our criticism.
The concept of fetishism, as we have seen, is incompatible with a belief in the innocent subject. Power-over
reaches into us, turning us against ourselves. The working class does not stand outside capital: on the contrary it is
capital that defines it (us) as working class. Labour stands opposed to capital, but it is an internal opposition. It is
only as far as labour is something more than labour, the worker more than a seller of labour power, that the issue
of revolution can even be posed. The concept of fetishism implies inevitably that we are self-divided, that we are
divided against ourselves. The working/anti-working class/anti-class is self-divided: oppressed yet existing not only
in but also against-and-beyond that oppression, not only against-and-beyond but also in that oppression. The
struggle between fetishism and anti-fetishism exists within all of us, collectively and individually. There can be no
question, therefore, of a non-fetishised vanguard leading the fetishised masses. By virtue of the fact of living in an
antagonistic society, we are all both fetishised and in struggle against that fetishism.
We are self-divided, self-alienated, schizoid. We-who-scream are also we-who-acquiesce. We who struggle for the
reunification of subject and object are also we who produce their separation. Rather than looking to the hero with
true class consciousness, a concept of revolution must start from the confusions and contradictions that tear us all
This is quite consistent with Marx's approach. His understanding of capitalism was based not on the antagonism
between two groups of people but on the antagonism in the way in which human social practice is organised.
Existence in capitalist society is a conflictual existence, an antagonistic existence. Although this antagonism
appears as a vast multiplicity of conflicts, we have argued (and was argued by Marx) that the key to understanding
this antagonism and its development is the fact that present society is built upon an antagonism in the way that the
distinctive character of humanity, namely doing, is organised. In capitalist society, doing is turned against itself,
alienated from itself; we lose control over our creative activity. This negation of human creativity takes place
through the subjection of human activity to the market. This subjection to the market, in turn, takes place fully when
the capacity to work creatively (labour power) becomes a commodity to be sold on the market to those with the
capital to buy it. The antagonism between human creativity and its negation thus becomes focused in the
antagonism between those who have to sell their creativity and those who appropriate that creativity and exploit it
(and, in so doing, transform that creativity into labour). In shorthand, the antagonism between creativity and its
negation can be referred to as the conflict between labour and capital, but this conflict (as Marx makes clear) is not
a conflict between two external forces, but an internal conflict between doing (human creativity) and alienated
The social antagonism is thus not in the first place a conflict between two groups of people: it is a conflict between
creative social practice and its negation, or, in other words, between humanity and its negation, between the
transcending of limits (creation) and the imposition of limits (definition). The conflict does not take place after
subordination has been established, after the fetishised forms of social relations have been constituted: rather it is
a conflict about the subordination of social practice, about the fetishisation of social relations. All social practice is
an unceasing antagonism between the subjection of practice to the fetishised, perverted, defining forms of
capitalism and the attempt to live against-and-beyond those forms.
Class struggle is a conflict that permeates the whole of human existence. We all exist within that conflict, just as the
conflict exists within all of us. It is a polar antagonism which we cannot escape. We do not 'belong' to one class or
another: rather, the class antagonism exists in us, tearing us apart. The antagonism (the class divide) traverses all
of us. Nevertheless, it clearly does so in very different ways. Some, the very small minority, participate directly in
and/ or benefit directly from the appropriation and exploitation of the work of others. Others, the vast majority of us,
are, directly or indirectly, the objects of that appropriation and exploitation. The polar nature of the antagonism is
thus reflected in a polarisation of the two classes, but the antagonism is prior to, not subsequent to, the classes:
classes are constituted through the antagonism.
What of the workers in the factories, the industrial proletariat? Are they not central to the concept of class struggle? Is
work not central to the whole understanding of the antagonism of capitalist society?
The central site for the separation of doing and done is production. The production of the commodity is the
production of the separation of object and object. Capitalist production is the production by the workers of surplus
value, a surplus which, although produced by the workers, is appropriated by the capitalist. By producing a surplus
as surplus value, the workers are producing their own separation from the object produced. They are, in other
words, producing classes, producing their own class-ification as wage labour. 'Does an operative in a cotton-factory
produce nothing but cotton goods? No, he produces capital. He produces values that give fresh command over his
labour, and that, by means of such command, create fresh values.' (Marx, 1965, p. 578).
In production, then, the worker in producing an object produces at the same time her own alienation from that
object and thereby produces herself as wage labourer, as desubjectified subject. Capitalist production involves the
ever renewed separation of subject and object. It also involves the ever renewed bringing together of subject and
object but as alienated subject and object. The relation between subject and object is an unhinged relation, with
value as its (un)hinge. The category of value faces both ways. On the one hand the fact that value is the product of
abstract labour points to capital's absolute dependence upon labour and its abstraction. On the other hand, value
conceptualises the separation of the commodity from labour, the fact that it acquires an autonomous existence
quite independent of the producer. Value, then, is the process of subordinating the strength of the worker to the
domination of her autonomised product.
But the separation of the worker from the means of production is just part (although a central part) of a more
general separation of subject and object, a more general distancing of people from the possibility of determining
their own activity. The notion of the separation of the worker from the means of production directs our mind to a
particular type of creative activity, but in fact this very distinction between production and doing in general is part of
the fragmentation of doing that results from the separation of doing and done. The fact that the de-subjectification
of the subject appears simply as the separation of the workers from the means of production is already an
expression of the fetishisation of social relations. The separation of the worker from the means of production (in the
classic sense) is part of, generates and is supported by, a more general process of de-subjectifying the subject, a
more general abstracting of labour. Hence value production, surplus value production (exploitation) cannot be the
starting point of the analysis of class struggle, simply because exploitation implies a logically prior struggle to
convert creativity into labour, to define certain activities as value producing.
Exploitation is not just the exploitation of labour but the simultaneous transformation of doing into labour, the
simultaneous desubjectivication of the subject, the dehumanisation of humanity. This does not mean that creativity,
the subject, humanity exist in some pure sphere waiting to be metamorphosed into their capitalist forms. The
capitalist form (labour) is the mode of existence of doing/ creativity/ subjectivity/ humanity, but that mode of
existence is contradictory. To say that doing exists as labour means that it exists also as anti-labour. To say that
humanity exists as subordination means that it exists also as insubordination. The production of class is the
suppression(-and-reproduction) of insubordination. Exploitation is the suppression(-and-reproduction) of
insubordinate creativity. The suppression of creativity does not just take place in the process of production, as
usually understood, but in the whole separating of doing and done that constitutes capitalist society.
Thus: labour produces class, but labour pre-supposes a prior classification. Similarly, production is the sphere of
the constitution of class, but the existence of a sphere of production, that is the separation of production from
human doing in general, also presupposes a prior classification.
The answer, then, to our question about the centrality of work is surely that it is not labour that is central but doing,
which exists in-against-and-beyond labour. To start uncritically from labour is to enclose oneself from the beginning
within a fetishised world, such that any projection of an alternative world must appear as pure fancy, something
brought in from outside. To start from labour is to reduce one's concept of class struggle, to exclude from sight the
whole world of antagonistic practice that goes into the constitution of doing as labour.
But even if one adopts the broad concept of class struggle proposed here, is there not some sense in which the
production of surplus value is central, some sense in which the struggles around production are the core of struggle
for emancipation? There might possibly be a case for establishing such a hierarchy if it could be shown that the
direct producers of surplus value play a particular part in the attack against capital. It is sometimes argued that
there are key sections of workers who are able to inflict particular damage on capital (such as workers in large
factories or transport workers). These workers are able to impose with particular directness the dependence of
capital upon labour. However, such groups of workers are not necessarily direct producers of surplus value (bank
workers, for example), and the impact of the zapatista uprising on capital (through the devaluation of the Mexican
peso and the world financial upheaval of 1994-95, for example) makes it clear that the capacity to disrupt capital
accumulation does not depend necessarily on one's immediate location in the process of production.
It is not possible to define the critical-revolutionary subject for the critical-revolutionary subject is the indefinable.
The critical-revolutionary subject is not a defined 'who' but an undefined, indefinable, anti-definitional 'what'.
Definition implies subordination. It is only on the basis of an assumed subordination that it is possible to define a
subject. The definition of a critical-revolutionary subject is an impossibility, since 'critical-revolutionary' means that
the subject is not subordinate, is in revolt against subordination. An approach that starts not from subordination but
from struggle is necessarily anti-definitional. Insubordination is inevitably a movement against definition, an
overflowing. A negation, a rejection, a scream.
There is no reason to restrict the scream to a limited group of people. Yet the scream is a scream-against. The
stronger the repression, the stronger the scream. Constantly changing, any attempt to define the scream is
immediately overcome by the changing shape of the scream itself.
Our starting point and constant point of return is our scream. This is where the question of the critical-revolutionary
subject must begin. The scream is not a scream in the abstract. It is a scream against: a scream against
oppression, against exploitation, against dehumanisation. It is a scream-against that exists in all of us to the extent
that we are all oppressed by capitalism, but the intensity and force of the scream-against depends on the intensity
and force of that which is screamed against. The scream is not the scream of some, but not of others: it is the
scream of all, with different degrees of intensity.
The scream-against is in the first place negative. It is a refusal, a negation of subordination. It is the scream of
insubordination, the mumble of non-subordination. Insubordination is a central part of everyday experience, from
the disobedience of children, to the cursing of the alarm clock which tells us to get up and go to work, to all sorts of
absenteeism, sabotage and malingering at work, to open rebellion, as in the open and organised cry of '¡Ya basta!'
Even in the apparently most disciplined and subordinated societies, insubordination is never absent: it is always
there, always present as a hidden culture of resistance.
Often our scream is silent, the 'internal bleeding of stifled volcanoes' (Johnson 1975, 36). The scream of
insubordination is heard at most as a low mumble of discontent, a grumble of non-subordination. Nonsubordination is the simple, unspectacular struggle to shape one's life. It is people's reluctance to give up the
simple pleasures of life, their reluctance to become machines, the determination to forge and maintain some
degree of power-to. This sort of non-subordination is not necessarily overtly or consciously oppositional, but it
remains a powerful obstacle to the voracious expansion and intensification of power-over that the existence of
The scream of insubordination is the scream of non-identity. 'You are', says capital to us all the time, classifying us,
defining us, negating our subjectivity, excluding any future that is not a prolongation of the present indicative. 'We
are not', we reply. 'The world is so', says capital. 'It is not', we reply. We do not need to be explicit. Our very
existence is negation, not-ness. Negation at its simplest, darkest: not 'we do not like this, or that', but simply 'we are
not, we negate, we overflow the bounds of any concept'. It appears that we are, but we are not. That, at its most
fundamental, is the driving force of hope, the force that corrodes and transforms that which is. We are the force of
non-identity existing under the fetishised aspect of identity. 'Contradiction is non-identity under the aspect of
identity' (Adorno 1973, 5).
What is it that is at the core of rebellious theory? What is the substance of hope? 'The working class', say some,
'we can see it, we can study it, we can organise it, that is the substance of hope, this is where we can start to work
politically'. 'Call it the working class', we reply, 'but we cannot see it, study it, organise it, for the working class as
revolutionary class is not: it is non-identity.' It seems an empty answer. Our training tells us to look for a positive
force as the substance of hope, but what we have found is more like Fichte's 'dark void': non-identity, a god who
says not 'I am who am', but 'we are not who we are, and we are who we are not'. That is what is disturbing about
this whole argument: we want a positive force to hold on to, and all that this argument seems to offer is the
negative void of non-identity.
There is no positive force to hold on to, no security, no guarantee. All positive forces are chimeras which
disintegrate when we touch them. Our god is the only god: ourselves. We are the sun around which the world
revolves, the only god, a god of negation. We are ‘the spirit that always negates'. 'Man is the only creature who
refuses to be what he is' (Camus 1971, p. 17).
Yet there is a problem here. The fact that the scream is a scream-against means that it can never be a pure
scream. It is always tainted by that which it is a scream against. Negation always involves a subsumption of that
which is negated. That can be seen in any struggle against power: a merely negative response to power
reproduces power within itself simply by reproducing, negatively, the terms in which power has set the conflict. The
dragon that raises its head to threaten us in almost every paragraph of this book pops up again: we seem to be
caught in an endlessly recursive circle.
There is indeed an endlessness in negation, but it is not the endlessness of a circle. It is rather the endlessness of
the struggle for communism: even when the conditions for a power-free society are created, it will always be
necessary to struggle against the recrudescence of power-over. There can be no positive dialectic, no final
synthesis in which all contradictions are resolved. If capitalism is to be understood as a process rather than as a
state of being, even when human potential is so clogged up, how much more must this be true of a society in which
human power-to is liberated.
But there is more to be said than that. We are not caught in an endlessly recursive circle simply because our
existence is not recursive or circular. Our scream-against is a scream-against-oppression, and in that sense it is
shaped by oppression; but there is more than that, for the scream-against-oppression is a scream against the
negation of ourselves, of our humanity, of our power-to create. Non-identity is the core of our scream, but to say
'we are not' is not just a dark void. To negate Is-ness is to assert becoming, movement, creation, the emancipation
of power-to. We are not, we do not be, we become.
'We are not' becomes, therefore, 'we are not yet', but only if 'not-yet' is understood not as certain future, secure
homecoming, but as possibility, as a becoming with no guarantees, no security. If we are not yet, then our not-yetness already exists as project, as overflowing, as pushing beyond. The reign of the positive present indicative is
broken and the world is seen to be full of negative subjunctive in which the distinction between present and future
is dissolved. Human existence is not just an existence of negation but an existence of not-yet-ness, in which
negation, by being negation of the negation of our humanity, is at the same time a projection towards that
humanity. Not a lost humanity, nor an existing humanity, but a humanity to be created. This not-yet-ness can be
seen not just in overt political militancy, but in the struggles of every day living, in the dreams we have, in our
projections against the denial of our projections, in our fantasies, from the simplest dreams of pleasure to the most
path-breaking artistic creations. Not-yet-ness is a constant drive against an is-ified reality, the revolt of the
repressed Pleasure Principle against the Reality Principle. Not-yet-ness is the struggle to de-congest time, to
Is our scream of non-identity simply an assertion of humanism? Is the 'dark void' of non-identity simply an assertion
of human nature? The problem with humanism is not that it has a concept of humanity, but that humanists usually
think of humanity positively, as something already existing, rather than starting from the understanding that
humanity exists only in the form of being denied, as a dream, as a struggle, as the negation of inhumanity. If a
notion of humanity underlies the argument here, it is a notion of humanity as negation negated, as power-to
enchained. To struggle for humanity is to struggle for the liberation of negation, for the emancipation of potential.
It is the movement of power-to, the struggle to emancipate human potential, that provides the perspective of
breaking the circle of domination. It is only through the practice of the emancipation of power-to that power-over
can be overcome. Work, then, remains central to any discussion of revolution, but only if it is understood that the
starting point is not labour, fetishised work, but rather work as doing, as the creativity or power-to that exists as but
also against-and-beyond labour. Unless work is understood in this sense, transcendence is an impossibility, other
than through the divine intervention of an external force.
The scream-against and the movement of power-to (the two axes of this book) are inextricably entwined. In the
process of struggle-against, relations are formed which are not the mirror-image of the relations of power against
which the struggle is directed: relations of comradeship, of solidarity, of love, relations which prefigure the sort of
society we are struggling for. Similarly, the attempt to develop human potential (to emancipate power-to) is always
a struggle-against, since it must come into open or concealed conflict with the constant expansion of power-over
which is capital. The scream-against and the struggle for emancipation cannot be separated, even when those in
struggle are not conscious of the link. The most liberating struggles, however, are surely those in which the two are
consciously linked, as in those struggles which are consciously prefigurative, in which the struggle aims, in its form,
not to reproduce the structures and practices of that which is struggled against, but rather to create the sort of
social relations which are desired.
The unity of scream-against and power-to can perhaps be referred to as dignity, following the language of the
zapatista uprising. Dignity is the refusal to accept humiliation, oppression, exploitation, dehumanisation. It is a
refusal which negates the negation of humanity, a refusal filled, therefore, with the project of the humanity currently
negated. This means a politics that projects as it refuses, refuses as it projects: a politics dense with the dream of
creating a world of mutual respect and dignity, filled with the knowledge that this dream involves the destruction of
capitalism, of everything that dehumanises or desubjectifies us.