4. Communism

The Wandering of Humanity -
Repressive Consciousness -
Communism

4. Communism

Revolutionary reformism -- the project of creating socialism on
the foundation of capitalism and in continuity with the
capitalist mode of production -- disintegrated between 1913 and
1945. It is the end of what turned out to be an illusion : the
illusion of being able to direct the development of the
productive forces in a direction which differed from the one they
had taken in reality. We can actually agree with Marx's view that
after 1848 communism was possible precisely because the irruption
of the capitalist mode of production had broken all social and
natural barriers and made free development possible. But the
mentality, the representations of people were such that they
could neither concieve nor perceive such a future. They were too
dependent on the millenarian movement of value, or they were too
debilitated by the limitations of the perverted remains of their
ancient communities, to be able to set out on a new path to reach
another community. Even Marx and Engels ultimately considered
capitalism a necessary moment, and thought that all human beings
everywhere would inevitably come to experience it. Only the
revolts of the Russian populists, and their desire to avoid the
capitalist road, made Marx understand his error. But this
recognition was insufficient. From the middle of the 19th
century, with the justification provided by Marxist theory (the
theory of the proletariat), all humanity set out to wander : to
develop productive forces.

If we can no longer accept Marx's theoretical analysis of the
role of the productive forces, we can nevertheless agree with him
after a detour. Capital enslaves humanity in the very name of
humanity because it is anthropomorphized. This is nothing other
than the reign of death. Human beings are dominated by their past
being, while they contemplate it. It is a process which
continually starts over again. Capital penetrates thought,
consciousness, and thus destroys human beings such as they have
been produced by centuries of class society. Their loss of
substance is the loss of their former being, which capital has
pumped out of them. Since this process is almost over, capital is
now turning from its attack against the past dimension of
humanity to an attack against its future dimension : it must now
conquer imagination. The human being is thus despoiled and tends
to be reduced to the biological dimension. The phenomenon reaches
the roots. In other words, the development of productive forces
appears to have been necessary for the destruction of old
schemas, modes of thought, archaic representations which limited
human beings (this destruction is now being analyzed by
philosophers like Foucault). Threatened in their purely
biological existence, human beings are beginning to rise against
capital. It is at this point that everything can be re-conquered
by generalized creation. But this becoming is not simple,
unilinear. Capital can still profit from the creativity of human
beings, regenerating and resubstantializing itself by plundering
their imaginations. The importance and profundity of the struggle
can be grasped in the face of the alternative : communism or
destruction of the human species. And it should not be forgotten
that during the wandering various revolutionary movements looked
for an exit and various possibilities were blocked; they can now
manifest themselves. [20]

We have to stop wandering and destroy the repressive
consciousness which inhibits the emergence of communism. To do
this we have to stop perceiving communism as a prolongation of
the capitalist mode of production, and stop thinking it is enough
to suppress exchange value and make use value triumphant. This
dichotomy no longer signifies anything. Use value is tied to
value even if it revolves around the principle of utility instead
of productivity; related to the direct domination of human
beings, it is inseparable from private property.

Communism is not a new mode of production [21] ; it is the
affirmation of a new community. It is a question of being, of
life, if only because there is a fundamental displacement : from
generated activity to the living being who produced it. Until now
men and women have been alienated by this production. They will
not gain mastery over production, but will create new relations
among themselves which will determine an entirely different
activity.

Nor is communism a new society. [22] Society grows out of the
subjugation of some ethnic groups by others, or out of the
formation of classes. Society is the network of social relations
which quickly become despotic intermediaries. Man in society is
man enslaved by society.

Communism puts an end to castes, classes and the division of
labor (onto which was grafted the movement of value which in
turn animates and exalts this division). Communism is first of
all union. It is not domination of nature but reconciliation, and
thus regeneration of nature : human beings no longer treat nature
simply as an object for their development, as a useful thing, but
as a subject (not in the philosophic sense) not separate from
them if only because nature is in them. The naturalization of man
and the humanization of nature (Marx) are realized; the
dialectic of subject and object ends.

What follows is the destruction of urbanization and the formation
of a multitude of communities distributed over the earth. This
implies the suppression of monoculture, another form of division
of labor, and a complete transformation of the transportation
system : transportation will diminish considerably. Only a
communal (communitarian) mode of life can allow the human being
to rule his reproduction, to limit the (at present mad) growth
of population without resorting to despicable practices (such as
destroying men and women).

The domination of one group over another, the society of classes,
originates in the sedentarization of the human being. We still
live with the myths generated at the time of this fixation
somewhere in our mother-earth : myths of the homeland, the
foreigner; myths which limit the vision of the world, which
mutilate. It is obvious that the reaction cannot be a return to a
nomadism of a type practiced by our distant ancestors who were
gatherers. Men and women will acquire a new mode of being beyond
nomadism and sedentarism. Sedentary lives compounded by corporeal
inactivity are the root cause of almost all the somatic and
psychological illnesses of present-day human beings. An active
and unfixed life will cure all these problems without medicine or
psychiatry.

The passage to communism implies a transformation of technique.
Technology is not a neutral thing; it is determined by the mode
of production. In the West, more than elsewhere, the various
modes of production increasingly separated human beings from
technology, which was originally no more than a modality of human
being. The call for a convenient technology is a call for a
technology which is again a prolongation of the human being and
not an autonomous thing at the service of an oppressive
being. [23]

Human beings in communism cannot be defined as simple users; this
would be communism conceived as a terestrial paradise where
people dispose of what there is with such immediacy that human
beings are indistinguishable from nature (man, as Hegel said in
this context, would be an animal). Human beings are creators,
producers, users. The entire process is reconstituted at a higher
level, and for every individual. In relations between
individuals, the other is no longer considered in terms of
utility; behavior in terms of utility ends. The sexes are
reconciled while retaining their differences; they lose the
differences and rigid oppositions produced by millenia of
antagonism.

These few characteristics should adequately clarify how the
movement of ascent to the human community can be conceived.

We are all slaves of capital. Liberation begins with the refusal
to perceive oneself in terms of the categories of capital, namely
as proletarian, as member of the new middle class, as capitalist,
etc. Thus we also stop perceiving the other -- in his movement
toward liberation -- in terms of those same categories. At this
point the movement of recognition of human beings can begin. This
is obviously only the beginning of the liberation movement, and
is continually threatened with failure. Refusing to take this
into account denies the power of capital. What has to be
perceived is a dynamic. We are slaves; our goal is not to become
masters, even without slaves, but to abolish the entire dialectic
of master and slave. This goal cannot be realized by the
establishment of communities which, always isolated, are never an
obstacle to capital, can easily be surrounded by capital, and are
no more than deviations in relation to its norm (deviations
which make that norm visible for what it is). Nor can the goal
be reached by the cultivation of one's individual being, in which
one would finally find the real human being. In reality these
approaches should be connected. Perceiving oneself as a human
being unshackled by any attributes already removes the dog collar
imposed by class society. The desire for community is absolutely
necessary. The reaffirmation of individuality (especially in its
temporal aspect) is a rejection of domestication. But this is
inadequate even as a first element of rebellion; the human being
is an individuality and a Gemeinwesen. The reduction of the human
being to his present inexpressive state could take place only
because of the removal of Gemeinwesen, of the possibility for
each individual to absorb the universal, to embrace the entirety
of human relations within the entirety of time. The varied
religions, philosophies and theories are mere substitutes for
this essential component of human being. Since communism is the
death of sameness, of repetition, human beings will emerge in all
their diversity; Gemeinwesen will be affirmed by each. This
implies that as of now we reject the despotism of a religion, a
philosophy, a theory.

The refusal to be trapped by a theory is not a rejection of all
theoretical reflection. It is just the opposite. But this refusal
does postulate that the theoretical act is insufficient. Theory
can call for the reconciliation of senses and brain but it
remains within the boundaries of this separation. What must be
affirmed is the whole of life, the entirety of its
manifestations, the whole unified being. It may still be
necessary to proceed with the help of Marx's insights, for
example, but it becomes increasingly imbecile to proclaim oneself
a Marxist. Furthermore, like repressive consciousness, theory can
become a simple alibi for inaction. At the start, the refusal to
act might be perfectly justifiable. Nevertheless, separation from
reality often leads to failure to perceive new phenomena which
shape it. At that point theory, instead of helping establish
contact with reality, becomes an agent of separation, of removal,
and in the end is transformed into a protrusion, an ejection from
the world. Waiting is particularly difficult for those who do not
want to recognize that others can arrive at theory without us,
our group, or our party as intermediaries. Theory, like
consciousness, demands objectification to such an extent that
even an individual who rejects political rackets can elevate
theory to the status of a racket. In a subject posing as
revolutionary, theory is a despotism : everyone should recognize
this.

After the domination of the body by the mind for more than two
millenia, it is obvious that theory is still a manifestation of
this domination.

It is the whole of life that becomes determining. All the varied
productions of the past -- art, philosophy, science -- are
fragments. They are elements of the vast despoliation of human
beings as well as attempts to remedy it. But the point is no
longer to realize art or philosophy; capital has already done
this in its way; the point is to conquer and create another
world : a world where all the biological potentialities of the
species can finally develop. In this vast movement, it is futile
to want to present oneself as the repository of truth. First of
all truth, like value, needs a measure, a standard, a general
equivalent, a norm, hence a State. Secondly, truth is never more
than one truth. The historical inflation of this concept
parallels the ever more thorough destruction of human beings.
Nothing less can be proposed than another life where the
gestures, the words, the imaginations and all the feelings of
human beings will no longer be chained, where senses and brain
will unite -- only this union can eliminate all the fixations of
madness. It is obvious that all this can only be conquered by the
destruction of the capitalist mode of production. It is all of
humanity perceived through time that is hostile to capital. Human
beings will have to undergo a profound revolutionization to be
able to oppose capital; the actions of this movement are
accompanied by the production of revolutionaries.

The emergence of revolution in all the domains of our lives leads
some people to overemphasize the places where they felt this
emergence.

Revolution does not emerge from one or another part of our being
-- from body, space or time. Our revolution as a project to
reestablish community was necessary from the moment when ancient
communities were destroyed. The reduction of communist revolution
to an uprising which was to resolve the contradictions posed by
the capitalist mode of production was pernicious. Revolution has
to resolve all the old contradictions created by the class
societies absorbed by capital, all the contradictions between
relatively primitive communities and the movement of exchange
value currently being absorbed by the movement of capital (in
Asia and especially in Africa). Beyond this, the revolutionary
movement is the revolution of nature, accession to thought, and
mastery of being with the possibility of using the prefrontal
centers of the brain which are thought to relate to the
imagination. Revolution has a biological and therefore cosmic
dimension, considering our universe limited (to the solar
system); cosmic also in the meaning of the ancient philosophers
and mystics. This means that revolution is not only the object of
the passion of our epoch, but also that of millions of human
beings, starting with our ancient ancestors who rebelled against
the movement of exchange value which they saw as a fatality,
passing through Marx and Bordiga who, in their dimension as
prophets, witnessed this inextinguishable passion to found a new
community, a human community. Wanting to situate the revolution
is like wanting to fix its height. Saint-Just said that
revolution could not stop until happiness was realized, thus
showing the falsity of wanting to judge men in terms of the
purely historical-material facts of a given epoch. The human
being is never a pure being-there. He can only be by superseding
and he cannot be only that which has to be superseded
(Nietzsche). Structurally and biologically man is a
supersession because he is an overpowerful being. In other words,
human beings are explorers of the possible and are not content
with the immediately realizable, especially if it is imposed on
them. They lose this passion, this thirst for creation -- for
what is the search for the possible if not invention ? -- when
they are debased, estranged, cut off from their Gemeinwesen and
therefore mutilated, reduced to simple individuals. It is only
with the real domination of the capitalist mode of production
that the human being is completely evacuated.

All the revolutions of the species are revolutions which try to
go beyond the present moment, beyond what is permitted by the
development of productive forces (Bordiga). This reach beyond
the possible is what constitutes the continuity among the human
generations, just as the perspective of communism conceived as
the destruction of classes, exchange, and value constitutes the
continuity among the varied revolutionaries; this is what,
following Marx, we call the historical party. [24]

The struggle against reduction of the amplitude of the revolution
is already a revolutionary struggle. The reader should not be
astonished if to support this amplitude we refer to authors
classically tagged religious, mystical, etc. What matters is the
reappropriation of Gemeinwesen (and past beings are part of
it), which can only be done after the unification of the
species, and this unification can only be conceived by grasping
the aspiration, desire, passion and will for community expressed
through the ages. The human being can simultaneously be a
Gemeinwesen only if humanity lives in community. As soon as
fragmentation appears, the need to recompose a unity emerges. In
the West this unity had a mediate and coercive form : the
individual was defined by the State; knowledge was a means for
hierarchization and for justification of the established order;
the vicious circle of practice-theory emerged.

Communist revolution is complete revolution. Biological, sexual,
social, economic revolutions are no more than partial attributes;
the predominance of one is a mutilation of revolution, which can
only be by being all.

Communist revolution can be conceived only if it is grasped
through the history and paleontology of human beings as well as
all other living beings. By grasping this we become aware that,
if this revolution has long been necessary, it can now be
realized. Earlier it was possible but not unavoidable. There were
still other "human" paths in that they still allowed a human
development; specifically, they allowed the externalization of
human powers. Now almost everything has been externalized and
plundered by capital, which describes the only path other than
communist revolution : the total negation of human beings.
Therefore we must understand our world; we must understand the
despotism of capital and the movement of rebellion breaking out
against it. This act of understanding which is taking place not
only intellectually but also sensually (the rebellion is to a
large extent bodily rebellion) can only be reached by rejecting
the wandering and the repressive consciousness.

Notes

[20] Absolute irreversibility is not a fact of history.
Possibilities which appeared thousands or hundreds of years ago
were not abolished for all time. History is not a Moloch which
swallows possibilities, condemning the human future to an
inevitable and irremediable despoliation. In that case history
would be no more than a justification for what happened. Many
would like to reduce history to this, making it the worst of
despots.

Hegel's philosophy with its dialectic of supersession
(Aufhebung), of movement which abolishes and preserves at one
and the same time, was an attempt to salvage what human beings
had produced in earlier epochs. Hegel was troubled by the
problems of loss of reality, of the multiplicity of
manifestations and possibles, etc. Thus he attached enormous
importance to memory (see particularly the chapter "Absolute
Knowledge," in the Phenomenology of Mind.)

By contrast, the movement of capital abolishes the memory of its
previous stages (by mystification and magic) as well as the
stages of humanity, and presents itself, as it is, at its highest
level of development -- the "reified" (or ossified) form" (See
Marx, Theories of Surplus Value,[Moscow : 1971] , Vol. III,
chapter on "Revenue and its Sources. Vulgar Political Economy."

[21] The concept of mode of production is in reality valid only
for the capitalist mode of production, just as the concept of
class is in reality operative only in bourgeois society. The
concept of production in Marx's work is quite rich in attributes.
It becomes impoverished when we move from the 1844 Manuscripts
and The German Ideology to Capital. It is closely related to the
concept of nature and also to a certain conception of the human
being. In other words, we have a much more complex "given" when
we can examine it only in relation to the existence of initial
communist communities and their dissolution. The separation of
the human being from the community (Gemeinwesen) is a
despoliation. The human being as worker has lost a mound of
attributes which formed a whole when he was related to his
community.

The process of expropriation of human beings is real. Those who
do not understand this do not understand what capital is. Man has
been reduced to an inexpressive being; he has lost his senses,
and his activity has been reduced to quantified labor. Man turned
into abstract being longs for music which still preserves the
ancestral sensuality (thus the vogue of jazz and South American
music). The reduced human being now has only one element
relating him to the external world : sexuality which fills the
void of the senses. It is precisely this which explains the
pansexuality, or more exactly the pansexualization of being which
Freud interpreted as an invariant characteristic of human beings,
whereas it is the result of their mutilation. What is the
subconscious if not the affective-sensual life of the human being
repressed by capital ? The human being has to be domesticated,
shaped to a rationality which he must internalize -- the
rationality of the process of production of capital. Once this
domestication is achieved, the human being is dispossessed of
this repressed sensual life which becomes an object of knowledge,
of science; it becomes capitalizable. The unconscious, becoming
an object of commerce, is thinly sliced and retailed in the
market of knowledge. The unconscious did not always exist, and it
exists now only as a component in the discourse of capital; this
is also true of human perversions.

Reduced to perfect inexpressivity, the human being increasingly
becomes comparable point by point to the elementary particle
studied by nuclear physics, where one can find the principles of
the psychology of the capitalized human being who is moved by the
field of capital.

[22] It is also unsound to speak of primitive society. We will
substantiate this by making a new analysis of primitive
communities. If it is true that Marx's work does not deal
adequately with the existence, development and dissolution of
primitive communities, it is not true that Marx is absolutely
wrong because of Europocentrism or the spirit of enlightenment,
namely that his work suffers from the same shortcomings as
bourgeois theory. The majority of those who hold this view have
not understood the question of community in Marx's work and have
reduced his work to a simple historical materialism.

What Marx's work lacks is a detailed analysis of the way "the
economy" appears in primitive communities and provokes their
disintegration.

We should add that it is becoming increasingly misleading to
speak of capitalist society. We will return to this.

[23] In primitive communities human beings rule technology.
Technology starts to become autonomous in ancient Western
society, and this was feared by the ancients. Technology forces
man to copy nature, even if later he can find a procedure not
found in nature; thus he is subjected to a compulsory procedure,
a how-to-do, a sort of natural order. He seems to lose the
capacity to create freely. (On this subject, see the comments of
J.P. Vernant in Mythe et pensée chez les grecs, Ed. Maspéro.)
When human beings no longer fear technology, they simultaneously
become reconciled with art, which had been disparaged at the end
of slave society. This took place at the time of the Renaissance,
when philosophers defined man as a being who makes himself (See
Cassirer, Individual and Cosmos in Renaissance Philosophy). But
the development of technology did not lead man toward nature; on
the contrary, it led to the expropriation of man and the
destruction of nature. The human being increasingly loses the
faculty of creativity. In this sense, the fear of the ancients
was justified.

From the philosophers of the Renaissance, through Descartes and
Hegel, to Marx, the human being is defined in relation to
technology (man is a tool-maker : Franklin) and to production.
To go beyond Marx, it is necessary to reexamine the "human
phenomenon" from the disintegration of primitive communities
until today and to rethink the works of philosophers and
economists from Aristotle to Marx in order to understand more
clearly how human beings perceived themselves in a period when
value and then capital dominated, and in order to understand how,
now that we have come to the end of the phenomenon value, we can
conceive humanity, and thus communism.

[24] "Origine et fonction de la forme parti" (1961), published
in Invariance, No. 1, Serie 1.