On FULL COMMUNISM

FULL COMMUNISM

Cursory notes by spitzenprodukte on the evolution of a memetic non-demand.

You hear it everywhere, these days, if you walk within a certain activist milieu. It’s a token demand, a given. FULL COMMUNISM- I wouldn’t get out of bed for anything less. It’s a joke, a dumb joke. It’s a communist meme. Like all good memes, it’s pretty much devoid of meaning, in terms of content. But its use denotes something else– a Zizekian uber-demand, a demand which goes beyond. FULL COMMUNISM is both a lack, in a very real sense, but also a pointed lack, its very meaninglessness a cry for meaning.

It started as an in-joke, like all memes. Its current status bears little or no relation to that first meaning; it was emptied of its content, and the original is now of little worth except as a badge of pride to those “who were there, who saw it, maaaannn”. Of course, “Full Communism” has a specific meaning within Marxian economics; it is the stage following the dictatorship of the proletariat, where all social needs are met. For Marx, Full Communism enables a man

“to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner… without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic”

That’s as maybe, but it bears little relationship to the development of the FULL COMMUNISM meme. The subject of our study first arose as a small meme within a UK-hosted libertarian-communist web forum, Libcom.org, on the board “Libcommunity”. For context, if Libcom.org was 4chan.org, the “Libcommunity” board would be its /b/ board. The initial in-joke revolved around a member of the board wearing a complete outfit of a single sportswear brand, Lonsdale— also known as “Full Lonsdale”. Through various changes, this early-stage meme shifted form; the basic unit of the meme was FULL (X). (X) could be replaced with any verb or noun signifying an ironic hyperbolic emphasis, with a touch of malice. For example, a group member exhibiting a desire to organize activists around a single position may have been called “FULL PLATFORMIST”. FULL COMMUNISM was a variant that perpetuated in memetic form because it contained that quintessential characteristic of a meme—it held resonance and could be used in multiple contexts.

In early 2011 the ultra-leftist propaganda group Deterritorial Support Group (DSG) were featured in an article for fashion and art website Dazed Digital, and stated their aims were “full communism with lulz as a transitional demand”. Perhaps it was just the timing, coming after the student protests and in the middle of the Arab Spring, or, more likely, the structural advantage of DSG as a twitter-facing, fast-traffic group, but it was at this moment that FULL COMMUNISM broke free of its origin-group, and transferred fully into the realm of “the memetic”. Tweetable, and, more importantly, easily hashtagged, the slogan became a recurring fixture first within the London/Brighton activist Left, before spreading outside the South-East of England and across the UK.

#Occupy, the worldwide movement based upon the spectacular seizure of public space, has started to build stronger links between activist communities worldwide, especially between the UK and the USA. Not only has this created a shared bond amongst those who share the #occupy/#ows/#olsx hashtag community, but also a shared bond between those who are involved in active self-exclusion from the #Occupy movement. As a rule (and I admit these are very broad brushstrokes) many of those who most fervently identify with #occupy, and who have the most longevity within the movement, tend to be relative newcomers to the loosely delineated political “scene”. They have created an impressive spectacle, and also, undoubtably, helped shift media debate within the mainstream press towards issues of social justice and “capitalist excess”. President Obama made a hat-tip to “irresponsible” capitalism in his State of the Union address, whilst David Cameron has also taken up similar rhetoric since the protests started in London in October.

It is this very rhetoric which the community around FULL COMMUNISM wish to distance themselves from. They tend to be activists who have been involved in political action for longer, and, rather than the slightly amorphous, undefined ideology of #Occupy, self-identify dogmatically on the anti-authoritarian left; anarchists, anarcho-communists, autonomists, Maoists and the ultra-left have all taken up the semi-ironic slogan. It has also transferred to similar online-communities operating the US, who operate a creative twitter practice indulging in the absurd and the fanciful, whilst utilizing a base level of formal Marxist rhetoric and political abrasiveness.

Despite utilizing the slogan to draw clear ground between themselves and the “fluffy liberals” who coalesce around the Occupy hashtags, I wish to posit a controversial stance on FULL COMMUNISM as a hashtag community: FULL COMMUNISM operates as a memetic non-demand; that is, its vital memetic resonance functions precisely because, as most successful memes, it is essentially contentless. FULL COMMUNISM pulls together a hashtag community around a cipher of radicalism, disguising the reality, which is that within that community there are no real political demands capable of creating a sense of political purpose. Like #occupy, it is a slogan or hashtag of will rather than a hashtag of intent.

It must be pointed out that the cultural position of FULL COMMUNISM is as a sincere irony; that is, it walks the fuzzy boundary between self-parody and real desire. Take a number of the following tweets, screengrabbed earlier today:

FULL COMMUNISM ON TWITTER

The tone of these tweets are almost always light-hearted; the slogan may be utilized to signify a pleasant physical or mental state, an escape from an unpleasant experience, or an angry retort towards a person (tweeter, politician or celebrity) who expresses positions not in line with the community norm. It’s a shared aspiration, in short, which binds those who use it into a sense of commonality or solidarity. Its very extremism, excluding those who either don’t “get the joke” or, more likely, are intimidated by it, forms a common bond. This “like it or lump it” form of distanciation, couched in multiple ironic layers, is also popular with philosopher Slavoj Zizek, who is fond of making statements such as “Communism! I am absolutely in favour of egalitarianism with a taste of terror”, or claiming to be a Stalinist.

So, what is the extreme position that FULL COMMUNISM signifies? Put sharply, it doesn’t. It’s a statement defined by what it rejects, and its meaning is in its lack, its absence. FULL COMMUNISM is the analogue of #Occupy, a way to draw together into a simulated community of political solidarity without having to develop a political programme. To actually begin to define the ambition would cause the fragmentation of the community; the ideas shared under the auspice of the meme would (and could) never constitute a programme for the meme. For those hoping to build programmatic political organisations, this is the total-limit of internet politics. But for those of us who see the recent uprisings worldwide as symptomatic of a new, networked political subjectivity, this ad-hoc, anti-programmatic community is an exciting potential.

Whilst the extant meaning of FULL COMMUNISM may be, indeed, meaningless, devoid of political content, it operates on the level of common bond built upon shared frustration. FULL COMMUNISM isn’t a united desire for a shared political position. Like #occupy, it’s a shared shout of “I’m fucking sick of this shit”. Unlike #occupy, however, it also holds an added threat: “I’m so fucking sick of this shit I have no desire to reform it. I want to go beyond. I want to fuck shit up”. FULL COMMUNISM is a meme with the potential for much more resonance in the coming months, a rapidly expanding spawnpoint for dissatisfaction.

As an addendum to this argument, I’d like to forward a brief point that I feel I implicitly touched upon in this essay, but that I think we should build on explicitly. This short article is, of course, lighthearted, but I think there’s a more interesting point lurking somewhere in here. If we accept that the internet is not just a space for organizing IRL political actions, but a territory of action in itself (as the actions of Anonymous and, more recently, the Anti-SOPA actions suggest), we should think about what sort of territory it is. The idea of a hashtag community is, I think, a potential for building effective, “weak” social ties, useful in swarm and hive practices. We should be aware of how a hashtag community operates as a public space; like, for example, the salons of 19th Century Paris, or town squares. They communicate a shared ideology which others take notice of. Some will pick them up straight away as the resonance with their own lived experience is so strong, others will hang around, listening to the arguments, following different discussions, making up their own minds. The term “trending topic” only touches upon the importance of the hashtag as public space; a trending topic doesn’t just reflect an idea, or news story, it perpetuates it. The politics of the movement not withstanding, #Occupy as a hashtag broke open new public space for a much-needed conversation. Once “cracked”, it enabled many thousands of people an access to a community already discussing important issues. We should not underestimate the power of a hashtag in social change.

Originally posted at the finest products on 26 January 2012

Posted By

Anonymous
Jan 26 2012 00:11

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  • Whilst the meaning of FULL COMMUNISM may be meaningless, devoid of political content, it operates on the level of common bond built upon shared frustration. FULL COMMUNISM isn’t a united desire for a shared political position. Like #occupy, it’s a shared shout of “I’m fucking sick of this shit.”

    spitzenprodukte

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Comments

Caiman del Barrio
Jan 27 2012 17:33
Nate wrote:
Dude. You're doing this thing. Someone says something ("there are memes and people know about them") then you ask a question that invokes like an incredibly large/important and very unlikely thing that probably won't follow on from them ("you think memes will create revolution?!"). It makes it hard to have a conversation. If you take a minute it seems like at least some of your questions, the ones of this type, you probly can guess the answer to if you assume that the folk you're talking with are more or less reasonable. I for one think you've raised some thought provoking points but you've done so in a way that the signal to noise ratio isn't very good. Which is to say, you've raised some thought provoking points in the midst of a tone that doesn't provoke thought but a defensive emotional reaction. I wish you'd just pick one rather than do both.

Last time I read you on this subject you were suggesting how best to 'win' debates on a rhetorical level in the context of workplace organising. What was it: counterpose two options, with the opposing one presented as the close-minded one? Something like that (lol it's like The Game for Organising...well, Arguing, anyway wink ). Since we're being frank about each other, it makes me reluctant to properly interract with you cos I worry about you being disingenuous or manipulative in order to score a rhetorical 'victory'.

In my defence, I'm only picking up on the threads of Spitzen and DSG's perspective about the importance of internet-based 'activism'. They do seem to place great importance, and seem to have the ear of Mason, inasmuch as he also emphasises the role of the internet. Moreover, this is a common running theme in the UK at least (the BBC recently did a series 'uncovering' the Arab Spring titled "How Facebook Changed the World"), so it's really not that much of a strawman. And, of course, on this very thread Juan appeared to be implying that memes were "mass culture."

Nate
Jan 27 2012 19:29

I've deleted my earlier comment. I have to fix lunch for my kid just now. I have more to say and will come back later, going to make an effort to be more constructive and to address what are in my opinion the more interesting points raised in the article and the discussion.

Caiman del Barrio
Jan 29 2012 14:30

Hi I've been away from the laptop for the last 36 hrs or so (weeeeeeekend) and now I'm back I have a pile of preparatory work to do for my school's inspection this week coming.

I haven't forgotten Jim's points, gonna reply to him when I've done this...

EDIT also I've reported Revol's post, not cos it's especially offensive or anything (the opposite tbh, lol), but cos it irresponsibly reveals sensitive information about yours truly. Edit out that reference and then leave the rest I reckon.

Choccy
Jan 29 2012 15:02

To be honest I'm fairly sure I remmeber Caiman boasting he knew DSG.

I don't think anyone else particularly gives a fuck beyond thinking it's kinda funny that the meme spread. I also claim its invention wink

Caiman del Barrio
Jan 29 2012 19:09
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
Are you suggesting that Paul Mason invented investigative/radical liberal journalism?

Not at all...

So do you accept that he's not the first reporter to file from inside of a slum or next to a riot while wringing his hands then?

Quote:
There is definitely a tension between his career choice and his freedom of expression, however all because someone is not constantly talking about communism and just writes fairly regular books on it doesn't mean they're not a communist.

Well, much of his Twitterfeed and a lot of his reportage talks about themes, ideas and false dichotomies which are established by the spectacle of mainstream socio-political discourse, which I find a little bit problematic and leads me to question whether he's just 'playing the game' and covering it out of a sense of duty to his job (which, in real terms, makes him little better than Davis, Peston, etc).

Of course, like I say, this isn't supposed to be a criticism of his moral integrity or anything, rather, an understanding of the role he's chosen and the limitations it places upon him. In short, we really shouldn't be eulogising him as a (semi-)famous communist cos one rather constrains the other.

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The part of his reporting that you seem to think maintains capital, the state and public order is generally coming from the perspective that capital will destroy itself, and the state can't maintain public order, I'm not a determinist so don't really agree with this perspective but I think he's a fairly objective journalist.

I suppose this is a reasonable enough understanding. A lot of what I've read of his would seem to fly in the face of that but lacking any concrete examples, I'll just have to RT the next thing he says which I think supports my argument.

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non-threatening street protest - not sure where he's not been critical and you're counterposing it with violent street protest which is usually pretty shit.

I said "non-threatening street protest/public performance" actually wink, in an effort to juxtapose ineffectual public performance dressed as political activism with the class working in its own interests. I think this manifests itself in his exaltation of the usage of social media for the British activist scene, without ever really analysing said scene's weaknesses, or perhaps the problems with it organising online.

On occasion - such as after March 26 - he's seemed to reinforce the official state/police line of peaceful protest being benevolent and violent street protest being malicious (rather than slightly less ineffective, like you say). This implies allowing for a

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respect [for] the police.
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Right, but what does this prove? People are aware of "knock knock" jokes but that doesn't mean that one about knocking down the walls of capital would be the spark does it? Content and context yo...

Well you asked if people were aware of memes, and I think a lot of people are aware of some. How many of your friends know what rickrolling is?

OK but if my grandmother's not useful anecdotal evidence, why should my immediate group of friends be? (And even so, I'd answer your question with somewhere between 50-66% amongst Anglophones, and probably less than 25% amongst non-Anglophones.)

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I'm not saying we should be trying to start memes, but we do need to try to get our tactics to spread mimetically so it's useful to talk about this kind of thing.

Yes, I agree, but in my experience, if you do something so prominently and publicly that people actually take notice, what happens is they tend to replicate your activity. So, say that images/detourned memes of FULL COMMUNISM became the next hot thing on Reddit, 4chan, etc and you suddenly had 100,000 reposts on it a day. That in itself would be the activity that binds the meme, rather than the implementation of full communism itself, or indeed, the self-organisation of workers in their own interests. All we'd get is a million people riffing on a picture, or a one-line joke, etc. Now, I'm not saying this'd necessarily be worthless but it's pretty small fry in comparison to a strike (even of 1,000 - or 0.1% - workers) and its effect across the class is ultimately pretty hard to quantify. IMO, the meme we need to be encouraging is workers' self-activity, not pictures which reference it.

Even so, I think you're arguing for the meme as a propagandistic tool, which I think is different to Spitzen's approach.

Juan Conatz
Feb 3 2012 08:51

Mark.
Feb 3 2012 11:25
the button wrote:
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
We didn't even all get invites to his book launch after party...

cry

The book launch party...

http://twitter.com/#!/Littlemisswilde

jef costello
Feb 13 2012 18:16

http://libcom.org/forums/organise/who-are-deterritorial-support-group-07052011

I'm not sure I get the point of the article really.

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I'm not saying we should be trying to start memes, but we do need to try to get our tactics to spread mimetically so it's useful to talk about this kind of thing.

Do we? I think the writer is arguing that by refusing to carry a political program (not that a two-word meme really could) it is symbolic of refuasal and that that has more potential for revolutionary growth. Seems more like a kind of opportunistic nihlism. Aiming to get as many follows as possible but for no real reason. Twitter always seemed to me like the desire not to be left out, most of the people who used it seemed to be using it because they wanted to be there from the start because they'd missed myspace or whatever. If people (by people I mean a small number of people within a small milieu who are already aware of your ideas if they can be bothered) are only likikng, adding retweeting or referencing something that is devoid of content, and is based on a joke in the first place, then really what is the point? It isn't a space for organising, it's pointless and connected to nothing apart from being more relevant to some jokes than others.

I might be taking this too seriously and missing the metajoke or whatever it is that's going on.

ps lol refused

mons
Feb 21 2012 15:43

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/mortarboard/2012/feb/20/are-memes-site-of-class-struggle - lol. The answer obviously is no and this article doesn't actually have anything to do with class struggle as we understand it, it's just a stupid liberal condescending 'oh no people from low-ranked uni's need protection from all these jokes about them' article masquerading as a defence against snobbishness. I go to Cambridge and there's been loads of memes taking the piss out of people at Anglia Ruskin (the other uni at Cambridge), so some Cambridge liberals have been ever-so-upset about this, really stupid...

Entdinglichung
Jun 30 2014 23:07

syndicalist
Jul 1 2014 01:32

Full diaper

simiangene
Jul 1 2014 17:47

“to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner… without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic”

Hahaha! Yes! These primitive communists drag us down to a level of uniform mediocrity. Whether it be spiritual or ideological, thou shalt be required to sheepishly shed your individual fleece for the quantifying bureaucratic shearer's assessment of your compliance to herd rules and your commercial value for their market!! A paradox exists, are not all ideologies demeaning and exploitative?
Now they hunt in the mall and have share portfolios and are obsessed about interest rates, and their lives have become lame shallow exchanges of economic data interspersed with frenzied sexual conquests!

Entdinglichung
Feb 19 2015 09:54
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
71% of the people to take part in this poll at the bottom of this article think 'Full Communism' would solve wealth inequality in the UK.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/ampp3d/how-weird-britains-map-looks-5173138

support for full communism is growing, followed by the semi-realistic alternative to "Smash the machines and bring back Merlin"

freemind
Feb 19 2015 09:58

I remember Paul Mason in Leicester in the 80's demonstrating on Anti Fascist/Apartheid and Union issues.Everyone held him in high regard and respected his activism.His first book "Live Working Class or Die Fighting" is an excellent read IMO.
In his genre if he got on his soapbox and went on a communist diatribe every 5 minutes he wouldn't last and would be out the door and marginalised.Name anyone in the mainstream who has done that and survived?

ChumpChange
Feb 19 2015 11:37

In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labor, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labor, has vanished; after labor has become not only a means of life but life's prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly—only then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!

Thanks Rev.

Stand predominate

petey
Feb 20 2015 15:04
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
71% of the people to take part in this poll at the bottom of this article think 'Full Communism' would solve wealth inequality in the UK.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/ampp3d/how-weird-britains-map-looks-5173138

up to 83% !

btw, is this characteristic of the Mirror?

Fleur
Feb 20 2015 17:48

This is one of their quizzes

http://games.usvsth3m.com/how-leftie-are-you/

petey
Feb 20 2015 19:37

thanks both

i'm a bit dumbfounded that a major tabloid would use the phrase 'full communism' assuming that the readership would know. unimaginable here in the states.

"You're basically Len McCluskey"

argumento
Sep 2 2015 06:02

James MacBryde
Nov 1 2015 20:03

'Full communism' as envisioned by Diego Rivera

James MacBryde
Feb 19 2016 06:09

Full communism now?

Jim
Feb 18 2016 17:02

The meme continues:

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Evidently he is just a lonely advocate for full communism who has accidentally found himself working for a global telecommunications behemoth.

http://www.newstatesman.com/2016/02/huffington-post-editor-thinks-journalism-only-authentic-when-you-dont-pay-writer

James MacBryde
Feb 19 2016 06:05

To save readers the trouble of 'Googling' the term 'meme' [re. preceeding post] I have done the work for you:

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2. an image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations.