Revolutionary Writing - Werner Bonefeld

Revolutionary Writing Cover

Common Sense was the Journal of the Edinburgh Conference of Socialist Economists (CSE) published from 1987-1999. Revolutionary Writing is a collection of works from Common Sense - where many ideas of Open Marxism were worked out.

The collection, published in 2003, includes an updated translation of Agnoli's "Destruction as the Determination of the Scholar in Miserable Times" and a new essay by Werner Bonefeld titled "The Capitalist State: Illusion and Critique."

See the foreword and preface below for more info.

A full archive of the journal can be found at:

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Submitted by UseValueNotExc… on October 6, 2023

1. "In the Beginning was the Scream"- John Holloway
2. Destruction as the Determination of the Scholar in Miserable Times - Johannes Agnoli
3. "Marxian Categories, the Crisis of Capital and the Constitution of Subjectivity Today" - Harry Cleaver
4. "Human Practice and Perversion: Beyond Autonomy and Structure" - Werner Bonefeld

5. “A Critique of the Fordism of the Regulation School" - Ferruccio Gambino
6. "The End of Work, or the Renaissance of Slavery?" - George Caflentzis
7. "Development and Reproduction" - Mariarosa Dalla Costa
8. "Capital Moves" - John Holloway
9. “The Politics of Change" - Werner Bonefeld
10. “The Crisis of Political Space" - Antonio Negri

11. “The Capitalist State: Illusion and Critique" - Werner Bonefeld
12. "From the Revolution Against Philosophy to the Revolution Against Capital" - Mike Rooke
13. “Reappropriations of Public Space" - Antonio Negri
14. "Constituent Republic“ - Antonio Negri


The present volume draws on contributions to the now-defunct journal Common Sense. The journal was published between 1987 and 1999. With its 24 issues, it operated “against the current.” It was devised as a means of critical inquiry into the class struggle. The aim was to reflect on “the relationship between revolutionary theory and practice” and keep each “on the boil.”

This volume provides a snapshot of twelve years of Common Sense. However, neither does this volume do justice to the scope and variety of what we published, nor does it represent the best of Common Sense. There is no best of something as if it were a top-forty activity — there is only critique. Common Sense was founded against the backdrop of the anti-poll tax campaign in Edinburgh, Scotland, by comrades from the University and the Unemployed Workers’ Centre. After the defeat of the poll tax, the journal transformed from a more-or-less local discussion forum into a “proper” journal. We kept its heterodox Marxist perspective but “internationalised.” In fact, and not only in Britain, it was a rare journal; it published the articles that the academic industry does not approve of and which, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, were most difficult to obtain.

Common Sense was a platform for heterodox Marxist publishing — for a Marxism that takes itself seriously and does not entertain the academic industry as a means to an end. The journal collapsed in 1999. The reasons for its demise are many. This is a fact and nothing more than the fact will be reported here. This volume keeps alive and available some of the stuff we published for the struggles of today and tomorrow. The book is neither a resumé nor an anthology. There is no resumé. One hears in the media, from the academic industry, and learned commentators, that the utopia of the society of the free and equal, has run its course. There is nothing odd about this view: such declarations are the business of the bourgeoisie and express their class interest.

This volume is dedicated to a different task. It doubts that the misery of our time amounts to the best of all worlds and agrees with Marx that all relations in which Man [Mench] is a debased, enslaved, forsaken, despicable being have to be overthrown. Besides, who would object to the insight that theoretical mysteries find their rational explanation in human practice and in the comprehension of this practice?

Some, of course, will object: their respectability, profitability and purposeful rationality rests and feeds on, and subsists through, this denial. Contentment with existing conditions amounts to the espousal of democracy as a democracy that is consumed in death. The present volume is devoted to the utopia of the democracy of the living, the society of the Free and equal, where humanity is purpose and not a means.



The present volume differs considerably From the originally planned format for a Common Sense: anthology. This format would have had the advantage of including many different articles dealing with a variety of topics from the Zapatistas to the working class under Nazism. Although this would have provided a more accurate reflection of the material published in Common Sense, its disadvantage seems clear: a volume that contains a diverse mixture of arguments and concerns. Besides, some contributions which should have been included could not be used because of copyright restrictions. This volume, then, is designed as a focused, rather than representative, account of one of the central themes of Common Sense. For this reason, some contributions that had originally been selected had to be left out and some have been included which had in fact not appeared in Common Sense.

The volume is in three parts. PART I includes chapters on the significance and character of “critique” (“Open Marxism: Subversion and Critique”); PART II examines contemporary developments (“The Insurrection of Labour and Global Capital”) and PART III contains contributions on the emancipatory dimension of Marx's work and its contemporary significance (“The Critique of the Political”). Although all contributions argue from a heterodox Marxist perspective, the volume does not speak with one voice. Instead it offers an intersecting of distinct accounts. The shared basis of all contributions is their general critique of the entire system of bourgeois categories. This critique is not a critique for critique’s sake. It is a determinate critique, a critique which determines the forms of capital as perverted form of human relations. In short, the contributions are agreed that Marx's critique of political economy is realised in its negation: the society of the free and equal.

Hopefully this volume will be only the first of many, to allow the circulation of those additional contributions which have not been included here.