Whither the World - Gilles Dauve, Treason pamphlet

Submitted by bastarx on October 9, 2006

This pamphlet contains the articles "Whither the World" which was written by two communists from France Karl Nesic and Gilles Dauve in early 2002 and its sequel from September 2003, "The Call of the Void" by Nesic alone.

The argument that runs throughout these articles is first, the idea that a new recomposition of capital is necessary for the birth of new revolutionary possibilities. The argument seems to be that until capital develops into a new period of sustained accumulation, there will be no ground for the formation of a coherent proletarian subject. Dauve and Nesic argue that, "It’s only when a social movement can question the wealth proposed or promised by capital, and not just the poverty imposed by capital, that this movement is able to manifest communist potentials".

Connected to this is the idea that while the crisis is not over, the crisis we are in now is not the crisis of the 70s and 80s, which was a crisis of the old order. They seem to be arguing that capital defeated the revolts of the 60s and 70s but this has not yet led to the formation of a new regime of accumulation. The current crisis will still have to go through a period of actually instituting a new social order, a class recomposition, but that the groundwork for that is all here.

They offer as evidence for their hypothesis the weakness of current working class struggles. Referring to the 2001-2 revolts in Argentina, which were arguably the most important of recent struggles, they write, "in spite of their vitality they were making relatively modest demands. The movement was strong and yet limited in its objectives. This contradiction ultimately destroyed its autonomy ... Inventiveness and autonomous activity finally produced barter, workers’ management and local self-help. The proletarians realized what they were rejecting, not what they could have done."

The counter-position to Dauve and Nesic would seem to be held by, among others, John Holloway (see his book Change the World Without Taking Power, available as a pamphlet from Treason Press) who contends that we are still in the crisis of the old order. This argument seems less dependent on the idea that a new composition by capital provides the preconditions for new forms of struggle. While we’d all like to see Dauve and Nesic’s pessimism proved wrong by worldwide revolution in the next few years they make a good case for why the current soul-destroying malaise is unlikely to end in the near future.

"Whither the World" was first published in early 2002. Other texts by Gilles Dauve (previously known by the nom-de-plume Jean Barrot) and his collaborators can be found here and here.)