Critiques of nihilist communism?

Submitted by KriegPhilosophy on April 29, 2012

Apart from the fact that it seems incredibly Puritan. Does anyone have any strong critiques they are willing to share?

Juan Conatz

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I've always just seen it as taking some of left communism to a ridiculous point, where the implicit principles of doing nothing but writing commentary on what others are doing become explicit.

I haven't read the book, though, primarily because that is my impression.

jameswalsh

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Doesn't sound any fun. And they don't believe in anything- that is always in communistic supply levels I think your find.

Isn't it covered in this?
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118715/

bzfgt

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Puritan in what sense?

Hieronymous

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

KriegPhilosophy

Apart from the fact that it seems incredibly Puritan. Does anyone have any strong critiques they are willing to share?

Nihilists

We believe in nothing, Lebowski. Nothing. And tomorrow we come back and we cut off your chonson.

Zeronowhere

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The problem with critiquing 'nihilist communism' is that it's generally a provocative self-label and not much more.

Melancholy of …

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I find it an exceptionally useful thinking tool and recommend the eponymous book. Or if you want to just dip your toe, then the dupont articles scattered around the web are a good start both in the Letters journal or on Mute magazine (tell me if you can't find them). The duo split later and only one of them writes these days. He's softened his absolutist position somewhat and the other book Species Being is considerably more positive.

The main thrust of nicom is that there's nothing that us 'lefties' can do to usher the revolution, so all we can do is wait for it to happen spontaneously due to the collapse of capitalism and perhaps try to influence whatever comes next for it to be communism or communist-like in some regard. That's where the nihil part comes from, i.e. that there's nothing we can do to bring it about quicker. Of course the problem here is we're human beings with very very short lifespans and there is the real possibility that we may not be alive by the time these apocalyptic times (as in change, not destruction of the world) come around which makes all our efforts even more futile.

I really wish people stopped posting the Lebowski stuff as it's disingenuous (you know that nicom is not about that type of nihilism) and it fails to engage with the question. It's a bit like calling all green anarchists wackos who want to be cavemen or something. Libcom is better than that.

Juan Conatz

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

By your description, I don't think it really deserves much thought or consideration at all. Seems like religious millenialism to me. I'm not sure I buy that the proletariat has some inherent communist seed in itself, which will emerge if the conditions become ripe. That doesn't mean that I think that its required that 'pro-revolutionaries' come in and educate though. I mean, looking at history and the various almost revolutions, it seems a big reason they happened was because of intergenerational organizing and agitation that spanned decades. Is there anything that is truly spontanous?

I don't know who wrote it, but this sentiment seems to come from someone who was involved in struggles that were defeated, and this the conclusions they came to within that depressing context. Not sure its worth reading into more than that.

Hieronymous

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Melancholy of Resistance

I really wish people stopped posting the Lebowski stuff as it's disingenuous (you know that nicom is not about that type of nihilism) and it fails to engage with the question.

First, the nihilists in the band Autobahn are a million times more lucid than the nihilists who post on libcom.

Secondly, those latter passive-aggressive nihilists are about the most humorless bunch that's ever existed. It's like you all can't produce dopamine any more and have regressed into anhedonia.

Lastly, Juan hit the nail on the head. How is "wait[ing] for it to happen spontaneously" any different from religious millenarians waiting for the second coming?

Melancholy of …

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Juan Conatz

Seems like religious millenialism to me. I'm not sure I buy that the proletariat has some inherent communist seed in itself, which will emerge if the conditions become ripe. That doesn't mean that I think that its required that 'pro-revolutionaries' come in and educate though. I mean, looking at history and the various almost revolutions, it seems a big reason they happened was because of intergenerational organizing and agitation that spanned decades. Is there anything that is truly spontanous?

Nicom doesn't express any sentiment that communism will triumph in the end, but rather that revolutions will happen and capitalism will end - communism may or may not occur in that situation.
One of the often repeated statements in nicom is that the nihilism comes from the fact that there's nothing that leftist orgs can do to usher this revolution and that it's not guaranteed that communism will triumph at all. And of course, nothing is spontaneous since all this is in the human sphere so based on social interactions at all levels. But what they say or advocate is that the pro-revolutionaries are as much part of the existing order as the oppressors. That our role also allows this to exist and to keep it going and being bearable to its detractors and also teaching our rulers how to change and mutate to accommodate organic (your spontaneous) reactions. In a way, we can't see what's around the corner because we're still on this side of the revolution and are part of it.
I understand that the provocative element to the texts is off-putting to people who take their rev activity really seriously and who think it really matters. The authors of nicom say they spent years involved in rev activity around the UK and they saw no lasting change, no increased class consciousness, no increase in numbers of pro-rev people, etc. I'm in the same boat as they are, but I come to libcom, don't I? And the nicom authors keep writing and engaging with local issues (or so they say in the later texts). So what does that say?

Melancholy of …

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hieronymous

How is "wait[ing] for it to happen spontaneously" any different from religious millenarians waiting for the second coming?

How is doing the same thing over and over again and not seeing any change or increased class consciousness or increase in rank and file of rev orgs or any relevant results any different from doing nothing? At least the not doing anything option leaves you time to enjoy life outside.

RedHughs

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Whatever one might say about him, I thought Bob Black's review in Anarchy Magazine was a fine overview of Nihcom's ridiculousness.

I'll admit I have considerable contempt for the nihcom folks - I feel like they've raised passive aggressive whining to new heights as well as engaging in a variety of disingenuous stunts. That said, I can see how some people would find them interesting. The thing is that I don't think the interesting parts of nihcom are original to them but more or less come out of Situationist, other left-communist positions or whatever. One might say that the Situationists themselves were perhaps similarly unoriginal. Sure, but the Situationists et. al had a practice that related to changing the world. The nihcom folks mainly seem oriented towards getting attention.

Nihcom is a cleverage packaging of ideas. But I congratulate someone for producing such a clever packaging if it serves a purpose I'm sympathetic with. In Nihcom's case, it doesn't.

Hieronymous

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Melancholy of Resistance

How is doing the same thing over and over again and not seeing any change or increased class consciousness or increase in rank and file of rev orgs or any relevant results any different from doing nothing?

Speak for yourself. I've seen class consciousness rise exponentially during struggles. Sure, it dips down again, but these "collective memories" stay with people -- who are often the first to act in the next round, often being self-critically able to overcome past mistakes. .

And what's with the organizational fetish? If I didn't know any better, I'd say you and your lot were latent Trots.

devoration1

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The 'core' of nihilist communism as described above doesn't particularly sound any different than ideas held by individuals and organizations coming from the revolutionary left (the swathe called 'libertarian communists', 'libertarian marxists', 'left communists', 'councilists', 'anarcho-syndicalists', etc)- that the practice of revolutionary organizations and individuals will not 'start' then bring about a working-class revolution and communism.

So their main difference is that the above mentioned tendencies/categories of revolutionary minded folks believe that revolutionaries and militants should organize themselves in non-revolutionary or pre-revolutionary times, while nihilist communists do not believe such organization makes a difference until the proletariat has begun to move?

I'm not familiar with much of 'nicom'/'nihcom', aside from a couple articles or tiny mentions, so if there are ridiculous aspects to their followers or particular ideas or history, I'm ignorant of them, and would like to see an actual concise version of whether my question above is a legitimate one to ask or not.

jameswalsh

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

One might say that the Situationists themselves were perhaps similarly unoriginal. Sure, but the Situationists et. al had a practice that related to changing the world.

Communist forms are never completly oringinal- if it's going to be communistic it will try and reflect human nature and need. But the Situationists knew what the point was unlike some it seems.

KriegPhilosophy

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I was talking about the book rather than the tendency.

bzfgt

Puritan in what sense?

As in it views political organising as simply accumulation nothing else. I think it's a brilliant book mind you if you want to get total class view of things. For instance I now view the whole of existence to be dominated by the reality that is capitalism as in now I think that capitalism has existed ever since the human species developed pottery and agriculture the first examples of accumulation. Meaning that my whole physical and psychological reality is simply a product of a very backward way of doing things.

Which is why I ask for a solid critique.

Arbeiten

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

KriegPhilosophy

I now view the whole of existence to be dominated by the reality that is capitalism as in now I think that capitalism has existed ever since the human species developed pottery and agriculture the first examples of accumulation. Meaning that my whole physical and psychological reality is simply a product of a very backward way of doing things..

But this isn't capitalism...it's not even historically (let alone theoretically) correct.....

Juan Conatz

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Melancholy of Resistance

Nicom doesn't express any sentiment that communism will triumph in the end, but rather that revolutions will happen and capitalism will end - communism may or may not occur in that situation.

Well, I didn't say that. I said 'if the conditions are ripe'.

One of the often repeated statements in nicom is that the nihilism comes from the fact that there's nothing that leftist orgs can do to usher this revolution and that it's not guaranteed that communism will triumph at all.

Well the latter is not original and pretty much agreed by everyone. No one knows what direction things will go even in defensive times, much less offensive times.

And the former is just out of place with history. Has there ever been a time or instance that a near revolution happened without preceding efforts by countless organizers and agitators? I doubt there is even a couple examples.

And of course, nothing is spontaneous since all this is in the human sphere so based on social interactions at all levels.

I think you know exactly what I meant by 'spontaneous' and it certainly wasn't that.

But what they say or advocate is that the pro-revolutionaries are as much part of the existing order as the oppressors. That our role also allows this to exist and to keep it going and being bearable to its detractors and also teaching our rulers how to change and mutate to accommodate organic (your spontaneous) reactions. In a way, we can't see what's around the corner because we're still on this side of the revolution and are part of it.

Those are grand and vague statements that paint a broad brush over a swath of different activities.

I understand that the provocative element to the texts is off-putting to people who take their rev activity really seriously and who think it really matters. The authors of nicom say they spent years involved in rev activity around the UK and they saw no lasting change, no increased class consciousness, no increase in numbers of pro-rev people, etc. I'm in the same boat as they are, but I come to libcom, don't I? And the nicom authors keep writing and engaging with local issues (or so they say in the later texts). So what does that say?

While they say that all 'pro-revolutionary' activity is useless or even counterproductive, that is exactly what they are doing, but on a smaller scale. Their intervention is towards the handful that communists that exist. It is activity and it is done with a purpose. Why bother? Seems like a glaring contradiction and not really different from others in different eras, who after facing defeat, go headfirst into inter-milieu manifestos on what went wrong and what we should do different. (see: Platformism, Spanish anarchists bickering with each other post-WW2).

They are also the flipside of the various saviors with blueprints who say exactly how things are gonna go down. But instead of the positive path of A to B, which is rightly rejected by most nowadays, they say the opposite. Their blueprint is entirely negative. I think this blueprint of the future or what is likely should also be rejected.

bastarx

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Juan Conatz

And the former is just out of place with history. Has there ever been a time or instance that a near revolution happened without preceding efforts by countless organizers and agitators? I doubt there is even a couple examples.

Really? I suppose it depends on how you define preceding and near-revolution. But off the top of my head I can't think of any post-WW2 major class struggles that have had long organisational build-ups like Russia or Spain did.

Juan Conatz

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Really? I mean even May '68 had the presence (however counterrevolutionary they ended up being) of large CP's and affiliated trade unions, along with countless other groups that were active in the university and workplaces.. Same thing with Italy. Can one honestly say that their existence had no contributing factor at all? I don't buy that.

RedHughs

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Juan Conatz

And the former is just out of place with history. Has there ever been a time or instance that a near revolution happened without preceding efforts by countless organizers and agitators? I doubt there is even a couple examples.

Juan Conatz

Really? I mean even May '68 had the presence (however counterrevolutionary they ended up being) of large CP's and affiliated trade unions, along with countless other groups that were active in the university and workplaces.. Same thing with Italy. Can one honestly say that their existence had no contributing factor at all? I don't buy that.

Now wait a second. Your first quote suggests the active efforts of leftists. May '68 though, wasn't an active effort of leftists, just something where they were part of the context. That seems a lot different.

I would say that any society where a revolutionary ferment appears will very likely involve the left appearing in some form. This doesn't say that this left wouldn't give up everything else if it meant suppressing revolution. Certainly, the European Stalinist parties showed this over and over again.

Still, I'm not "agreeing" with Nihcom, because their rendition of any similar position has an absolutist crappiness which auto-discredits their arguments.

Juan Conatz

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

So May '68 had no involvement from workplace and university militants (many linked to various left and ultraleft parties and groups) previously involved in struggle and actively involved in organizing and agitating? And that this wasn't contributing factor to what happened?

The nicom argument seems to say these militants can do nothing for revolution, not that they cannot be the primary reasons for revolution. I am not argueing they can be the primary reasons, I am simply contesting the nothing part and how this doesn't reflect any version of history I'm aware of. Unless, history is irrelevant and we are in a completely new era, in which case, that position would need further justification.

Melancholy of …

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hieronymous

Speak for yourself. I've seen class consciousness rise exponentially during struggles. Sure, it dips down again, but these "collective memories" stay with people -- who are often the first to act in the next round, often being self-critically able to overcome past mistakes. .

And what's with the organizational fetish? If I didn't know any better, I'd say you and your lot were latent Trots.

Yes, I speak for myself and you speak for yourself which is what you did just now.

I don't consider myself a nicom but felt the need to come on this thread as just posting animated gifs and making jokes is not the way to discuss things here. In fact, that kind of reply is what's been criticized by many new posters before - condescending, not engaging with the initial question, dismissive, etc.

IIRC, the nicom authors were either in the SWP or a similar group and their critique is mainly of the failure of those groups to raise numbers, consciousness or otherwise obtain measurable results by any method.

Melancholy of …

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

RedHughs

Still, I'm not "agreeing" with Nihcom, because their rendition of any similar position has an absolutist crappiness which auto-discredits their arguments.

I'm not sure anybody agrees or has to agree with nicom. Certainly it'd be ridiculous to be a nicom, in the same way that it's ridiculous or impossible to be a true nihilist. In the latter one's path can only lead to suicide and in the former it can only lead to a total disengagement from politics which will of course mean that no nicom books are written at all negating its very existence! That's why I mentioned in my first post reply that I found it to be a good critical thinking tool and that I still 'did political'.

Juan Conatz

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Melancholy of Resistance

IIRC, the nicom authors were either in the SWP or a similar group and their critique is mainly of the failure of those groups to raise numbers, consciousness or otherwise obtain measurable results by any method.

I thought they were in Afed and before that various libcom groups in the 80s?

Devrim

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Juan Conatz

Melancholy of Resistance

IIRC, the nicom authors were either in the SWP or a similar group and their critique is mainly of the failure of those groups to raise numbers, consciousness or otherwise obtain measurable results by any method.

I thought they were in Afed and before that various libcom groups in the 80s?

Juan is right. I know one of them. He was in what was then called the Anarchist Communist Federation, and is now the AF. He was not in anything before except for a local anarchist group if I remember correctly.

Devrim

Melancholy of …

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Thanks for the info.

flaneur

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

devoration1

The 'core' of nihilist communism as described above doesn't particularly sound any different than ideas held by individuals and organizations coming from the revolutionary left (the swathe called 'libertarian communists', 'libertarian marxists', 'left communists', 'councilists', 'anarcho-syndicalists', etc)- that the practice of revolutionary organizations and individuals will not 'start' then bring about a working-class revolution and communism.

So their main difference is that the above mentioned tendencies/categories of revolutionary minded folks believe that revolutionaries and militants should organize themselves in non-revolutionary or pre-revolutionary times, while nihilist communists do not believe such organization makes a difference until the proletariat has begun to move?

I'm not familiar with much of 'nicom'/'nihcom', aside from a couple articles or tiny mentions, so if there are ridiculous aspects to their followers or particular ideas or history, I'm ignorant of them, and would like to see an actual concise version of whether my question above is a legitimate one to ask or not.

This. I guess that conclusion probably leaves some on here a bit uncomfortable.

ocelot

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It depends what you mean by "make a difference". Certainly the activity of revolutionaries and militants changes the course of history constantly, without necessarily bringing "that glorious day" any closer.

Had the anarchists not intervened in the Poll Tax movement, for e.g., it would have remained a Militant front to get "Independent Labour" councillors elected. There would have never been a mass non-payment movement of 14 million households refusing to pay the tax, the riots, the fall of Thatcher, etc. If the then anarchist movement of 1988 (which was when we started in England & Wales, the Scottish comrades were a year earlier, and in fact won the most important battle over non-payment, pretty much on their own) had decided that political activity was all pointless and bird-watching was a more appropriate activity (the nicom line) none of that would have happened. Reforms are not won by the victories of reformists, but by the defeats of revolutionaries (see also, kicking racism out of football, which despite the revisionist history, the actual initial spadework was done by volunteer militant anti-racist and anti-fascist activists, again many of whom being anarchists). So you tell me, who are the real losers? The ones who try and fail, but in the process make the world a better place for ordinary workers? Or the ones who say, best not to try at all, so as to never have to defend their fragile ego from the possibility of not winning every time? The way of the warrior or the way of the wanker? - you pays yer money and you takes yer choice...

Melancholy of …

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

ocelot, I'd be interested to know more about the impact of the anarchists in the Poll Tax movement. As for kicking racism out of football it's besides the point, as revisionist or not that doesn't move us closer or further from communism (a trade-off between kicking fascists and increased legislation over leisure activities).
***putting my nicom hat on for the sake of assuming a critical POV***
Certainly both examples you mentioned fall into what I mention when I wrote "(...) our role also allows this to exist and to keep it going and being bearable to its detractors and also teaching our rulers how to change and mutate to accommodate organic (your spontaneous) reactions."
Or in other words, the outcome of the Poll Tax movement and the kick racism out of football, while good for the working class involved in that precise time and place, helped diffuse the tensions that existed and improve the system. A small injection of virus that taught the system how to deal with viruses in the future. And hasn't it done a good job since then? If smiling Tony Blair as a labour PM wasn't a sign of an improved oppressive system, then I don't know what is.
Feel free to call me, or the nicom authors, wankers at this point but anarchism can only live and improve if it doesn't become an ideology and for that to happen it needs to be challenged and fought over even as ideals.

welshboy

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Melancholy of Resistance

ocelot, I'd be interested to know more about the impact of the anarchists in the Poll Tax movement.

A local anarchist gave a talk on the Poll tax at the Edinburgh Class Struggle Day School a couple of years ago. There's a recording of the event here.
http://archive.org/details/TalksFromTheClassStruggleDayschoolEdinburgh20-11-2010

ocelot

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

*sigh* :roll:

I said:

It depends what you mean by "make a difference". Certainly the activity of revolutionaries and militants changes the course of history constantly, without necessarily bringing "that glorious day" any closer.

you said

it's besides the point, as revisionist or not that doesn't move us closer or further from communism

In other words, you rephrase what I already said as a challenge to what I said. It's difficult to think of any positive way to engage with that, to be frank.

"(...) our role also allows this to exist and to keep it going and being bearable to its detractors and also teaching our rulers how to change and mutate to accommodate organic (your spontaneous) reactions."
Or in other words, the outcome of the Poll Tax movement and the kick racism out of football, while good for the working class involved in that precise time and place, helped diffuse the tensions that existed and improve the system.

Not just in that time and place, but for subsequent times and places. Honestly this is just what someone already said, the non-plus-ultra pastiche of ultraleftism. "The worse the better". Seriously, it sometimes appears to me that there's ultras on here that think the world really was a better place when Ireland, India, half of Africa, etc were colonies of the British empire. But why stop there? Bring back slavery, why the hell not? Given that decolonisation, the end of slavery, etc., etc, did not bring the downfall of capitalism, then ipso facto, all the blood sweat and tears of the struggles of centuries past, have simply been making capitalism better and are therefore objectively counter-revolutionary! Such impressive logic. Such inane reactionary right-wing rubbish posing as the most sophisticated anti-capitalism. I see no point in engaging with Daily Mail readers masquerading as communists.

bonobo

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

For me, NihCom means that communism has no positive meaning. Outside of apocalyptic times communism must remain to be a total negation, otherwise ‘communism’ is just a self-managed capitalism. NihCom is loser discourse, since every success is only reinforcing capitalism – the bigger your organisation, the more it resembles capitalist structures. Hence the rejection of organisationalism, activism, consciousness-rising, solutions etc.

From the objective point of view, NihCom is the articulation of despair and disappointment in revolutionary milieu, it’s a voice of dead souls (who knows what happened with hundreds of abandoned libcom accounts?). Nihilism exposes milieu’s incompatibility with communism, its filthy nature and function during crises. NihCom starts with talking about the farleft and then moves onto everything else – from work experience to delicious lunch in the backyard – but nothing can be said about communism, about itself.

This reading of Nihilism Communism is mine solely, and I’m sure Monsieur Dupont wouldn’t agree with me much. There are some ideas in the book that I find doubtful too, such as ‘essential proletariat’, refusing to fight (in Camus’ meaning of the word) and particularly the need for organizing new ‘Kronstadters’. There are many discussions of nihcom ideas over here, I would recommend to track the posts of fort-da game, there are some decent conversations, though there are much miscommunication.

KriegPhilosophy

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

But this isn't capitalism...it's not even historically (let alone theoretically) correct.....

Yeah I know your right, but it seems that humanity has been dominated by class and the concept of wealth for most of it's existence and it would be interesting to see an analysis of the implications (psychologically and physically) of this. For instance everyday I feel disconnected from actual reality, I think that these "irrational" riots that occur are more over a highly rational reaction (whether conscious or not) to the absolutely absurd existence that we all lead (i.e our lives are consumer shit). People laugh at nihilism but they are essentially laughing at themselves and they're absurdity.

flaneur

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

ocelot

It depends what you mean by "make a difference". Certainly the activity of revolutionaries and militants changes the course of history constantly, without necessarily bringing "that glorious day" any closer.

Had the anarchists not intervened in the Poll Tax movement, for e.g., it would have remained a Militant front to get "Independent Labour" councillors elected. There would have never been a mass non-payment movement of 14 million households refusing to pay the tax, the riots, the fall of Thatcher, etc. If the then anarchist movement of 1988 (which was when we started in England & Wales, the Scottish comrades were a year earlier, and in fact won the most important battle over non-payment, pretty much on their own) had decided that political activity was all pointless and bird-watching was a more appropriate activity (the nicom line) none of that would have happened. Reforms are not won by the victories of reformists, but by the defeats of revolutionaries (see also, kicking racism out of football, which despite the revisionist history, the actual initial spadework was done by volunteer militant anti-racist and anti-fascist activists, again many of whom being anarchists). So you tell me, who are the real losers? The ones who try and fail, but in the process make the world a better place for ordinary workers? Or the ones who say, best not to try at all, so as to never have to defend their fragile ego from the possibility of not winning every time? The way of the warrior or the way of the wanker? - you pays yer money and you takes yer choice...

The first example isnae a very good example of nihilist communism being wrong. The poll tax was 'defeated' only to be replaced with council tax a year later, that wasn't dramatically different anyhow. Perhaps some of us are bored with winning by losing.

Railyon

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Wasn't there talk of some NihCommers engaging in active "counter-revolution"?

Wasn't it lettersjournal or what his name was who tried to disrupt meetings or something similar because of the nihilist line of non-organization?

soc

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

ocelot

It depends what you mean by "make a difference". Certainly the activity of revolutionaries and militants changes the course of history constantly, without necessarily bringing "that glorious day" any closer.

Had the anarchists not intervened in the Poll Tax movement, for e.g., it would have remained a Militant front to get "Independent Labour" councillors elected. There would have never been a mass non-payment movement of 14 million households refusing to pay the tax, the riots, the fall of Thatcher, etc. If the then anarchist movement of 1988 (which was when we started in England & Wales, the Scottish comrades were a year earlier, and in fact won the most important battle over non-payment, pretty much on their own) had decided that political activity was all pointless and bird-watching was a more appropriate activity (the nicom line) none of that would have happened. Reforms are not won by the victories of reformists, but by the defeats of revolutionaries (see also, kicking racism out of football, which despite the revisionist history, the actual initial spadework was done by volunteer militant anti-racist and anti-fascist activists, again many of whom being anarchists). So you tell me, who are the real losers? The ones who try and fail, but in the process make the world a better place for ordinary workers? Or the ones who say, best not to try at all, so as to never have to defend their fragile ego from the possibility of not winning every time? The way of the warrior or the way of the wanker? - you pays yer money and you takes yer choice...

I agree with your position mostly, but I have to add, that there is certainly something if someone characterizes the struggles of the proletariat for immediate goals as not communist activity per se. I mean, kicking out racists from football is important, as much as kicking racists in general, but this "survival"/defensive behaviour which is necessary but not enough for an offensive class movement.

These authors are expressing a resentment which, for many reasons I can really understand, however I can't identify with it. But as Melancholy told, it is important to listen to these comrades too, because they can, or IMHO they do contribute communist perspective, exactly by their "puritanism" (lacking of better word). Also, I wonder how significant part of this resentment stems from the fact that most communist organisation are pursuing rather reformist agenda to the point that the revolutionary perspective becomes quite dim.

ocelot

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

flaneur

The first example isnae a very good example of nihilist communism being wrong. The poll tax was 'defeated' only to be replaced with council tax a year later, that wasn't dramatically different anyhow. Perhaps some of us are bored with winning by losing.

Sure, to the extent that anything with the word "tax" in it isn't "dramatically different" from each other. Wealth tax, VAT, Income tax, water tax - all completely equivalent, no difference in political or class content, whatsoever...

Honestly, this kind of historical revisionism is the death of all critical thought. The poll tax was a replacement for rates, which were based on the (notional and very out of date) value of the property. The poll tax itself was a per capita flat rate tax - with no link to ability to pay, same rate for billionaire and beggar. The council tax was a household tax based on the (notional, but updated compared to rates) value of the property. The council tax is not dramatically different from rates (which continue in NI, in fact). Get it right.

Finally. The poll tax was defeated, not 'defeated'. Ask Thatcher. Stop swallowing and regurgitating this ultra revisionist tosh, it'll rot your teeth and your brain.

soc

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

KriegPhilosophy

But this isn't capitalism...it's not even historically (let alone theoretically) correct.....

Yeah I know your right, but it seems that humanity has been dominated by class and the concept of wealth for most of it's existence and it would be interesting to see an analysis of the implications (psychologically and physically) of this. For instance everyday I feel disconnected from actual reality, I think that these "irrational" riots that occur are more over a highly rational reaction (whether conscious or not) to the absolutely absurd existence that we all lead (i.e our lives are consumer shit). People laugh at nihilism but they are essentially laughing at themselves and they're absurdity.

I'm not that convinced that the concept of wealth dominated the human existence for most of the time. I mean, we know so little about our ancestors before they've started to write, and all we know that the epoch when humans have started to keep records of history, the concept of power and wealth was in a completely different context (it's speculation to talk about what those slaves and peasants were thinking thousands, or even some hundreds of years before, but I can't imagine that they had much of wealth to gain in mind, rather than the notion of freedom itself, which stands in contrast the modern day notion of wealth, which practically means freedom).

Communism means the conscious organisation of human existence as opposed to "spontaneity" of the markets and alienated dictatorship of wealth/Capital. And communism therefore must be imposed over the society (revolution), which needs active engagement and organisation.

I think this is a powerful line which fits here:

The Coming Insurrection

"An encounter, a discovery, a vast wave of strikes, an earthquake: every event produces truth by changing our way of being in the world. Conversely, any observation that leaves us indifferent, doesn’t affect us, doesn’t commit us to anything, no longer deserves the name truth. There’s a truth beneath every gesture, every practice, every relationship, and every situation."

ocelot

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Back to clause 7 from As We See It, again:

7. Meaningful action, for revolutionaries, is whatever increases the confidence, the autonomy, the initiative, the participation, the solidarity, the equalitarian tendencies and the self-activity of the masses and whatever assists in their demystification. Sterile and harmful action is whatever reinforces the passivity of the masses, their apathy, their cynicism, their differentiation through hierarchy, their alienation, their reliance on others [or deus ex machinae like 'history'] to do things for them and the degree to which they can therefore be manipulated by others - even by those allegedly acting on their behalf.

KriegPhilosophy

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm not that convinced that the concept of wealth dominated the human existence for most of the time. I mean, we know so little about our ancestors before they've started to write, and all we know that the epoch when humans have started to keep records of history, the concept of power and wealth was in a completely different context (it's speculation to talk about what those slaves and peasants were thinking thousands, or even some hundreds of years before, but I can't imagine that they had much of wealth to gain in mind, rather than the notion of freedom itself, which stands in contrast the modern day notion of wealth, which practically means freedom).

I never thought of it that way cheers. tbh I generally view human history as one big suicidal fuck fest. The reason I ask for a critique nihilist communism is because most of us are losing hope (southwest) and turning towards an anarchistic/communistic active nihilism as the only goal in mind, rather than the pursuit of revolution and the fundamental transformation of society into communism. Which is probably why you've seen the threads or comments that I've created which must come off incredibly hateful, this is mainly because of the frustration that nothing has been achieved even in the reformist sense except for symbolic acts.

Melancholy of …

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

David Graeber's book on debt certainly is very enlightening about these concepts of private property and wealth before more contemporary times.

I think that if we accept that capitalism, wealth, private property, selfish greed and all that have been with humanity forever, then we must accept that those are overwhelming human traits, that they will surface in every social relationship. As a communist I can't accept that and there's both an historical record of societies built on different principles and my own experiences which disprove it.

It's been a nice thread, hope Krieg got something to think about although I have no idea how you can be an active nihilist short of suicide or trying to blow up a nuclear reactor.

KriegPhilosophy

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

active nihilist = Red Brigades, Al Qaeda, Waffen SS etc
"The passion for destruction is also a creative passion." - Bakunin

Active Nihilism on the other hand, is indicative of a relative increase in spiritual power. the active nihilist sees freedom where the passive nihilist sees absurdity or meaninglessness. He chooses action and creation instead of passivity and withdrawal. For him, the lack of objective standards of truth motivates self created standards and criteria. The active nihilist is not active despite the unknown but because of it. He possesses a store of creative energy and power which allows him to impose personal meaning on the world while never forgetting that hes is the source and progenitor of that meaning. He is heroic in this sense, facing the world with courage and purpose.

lettersjournal

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Railyon

Wasn't there talk of some NihCommers engaging in active "counter-revolution"?

Wasn't it lettersjournal or what his name was who tried to disrupt meetings or something similar because of the nihilist line of non-organization?

Hello Railyon,

What do you mean by active "counter-revolution"?

flaneur

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

ocelot

Honestly, this kind of historical revisionism is the death of all critical thought.

That sounds a bit exciting.

By the time of the 1992 general election, legislation had been passed replacing Community Charge with the Council Tax from the start of the 1993/94 financial year, but the VAT rate of 17.5% remained despite abolition of the Community Charge. The Council Tax strongly resembled the rating system that the Community Charge had replaced. The main differences were that properties were placed in bands thereby capping the maximum amount, and it was levied on capital value rather than notional rental value of a property. Households with only one occupant were also entitled to a 25% discount.

That doesn't sound dramatically different to me. And after Thatcher, came Major. Same shit, different day. I don't really have much truck with nihilist communism though I am sympathetic but I'd certainly rather them than your wooly progressivism all the time nonsense.

Railyon

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

lettersjournal

Hello Railyon,

What do you mean by active "counter-revolution"?

Well, I put counter-revolution in quotation marks because the actions themselves were of course not revolutionary in any sense.

What I meant by it is more of a shorthand for trying to interfere in the active organization among the proletariat, and I think that was something you were against, right?

I mean, I can see the justification in that if one thinks that our actions run contrary to our goals but it clashes with our views so it's not exactly an easy situation to resolve...

lettersjournal

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Railyon

lettersjournal

Hello Railyon,

What do you mean by active "counter-revolution"?

Well, I put counter-revolution in quotation marks because the actions themselves were of course not revolutionary in any sense.

What I meant by it is more of a shorthand for trying to interfere in the active organization among the proletariat, and I think that was something you were against, right?

I mean, I can see the justification in that if one thinks that our actions run contrary to our goals but it clashes with our views so it's not exactly an easy situation to resolve...

I am still confused. What "active organization among the proletariat" do you think I disrupted or interfered with?

What are "our actions", "our goals", and "our views"? I think it's curious that you leave open the possibility that your actions, goals, and views are all in conflict with each other.

ocelot

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

flaneur

By the time of the 1992 general election, legislation had been passed replacing Community Charge with the Council Tax from the start of the 1993/94 financial year, but the VAT rate of 17.5% remained despite abolition of the Community Charge. The Council Tax strongly resembled the rating system that the Community Charge had replaced. The main differences were that properties were placed in bands thereby capping the maximum amount, and it was levied on capital value rather than notional rental value of a property. Households with only one occupant were also entitled to a 25% discount.

That doesn't sound dramatically different to me. And after Thatcher, came Major. Same shit, different day. I don't really have much truck with nihilist communism though I am sympathetic but I'd certainly rather them than your wooly progressivism all the time nonsense.

Emphasis added for those with reading difficulties.

As for "wooly [sic] progressivism all the time nonsense" I think that sounds like a great t-shirt. Must get one made.

RedHughs

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I absolutely no idea if the nihcommunists actually do disrupt the meetings of other groups but anyone doing that is really dumb. You won't destroy the group but you will embroil yourself in the worst kind of fight, one where you will not advance people's understanding of communism one iota. I mean the last group that I know tried this was the Larauchites.

What I do know the Nihcommunists do is begin with the logic of communism, which is a strategic logic not a moral logic and somewhere along the line shift back to a moral position, use some otherwise interesting deductions to decide who is bad and thus go after them, not considering that this breaks down the whole strategic logic that brought them to their understanding.

Frere Dupont intervenes on Libcom and claims that everyone who posts here can lumped into the category libcom without noticing that by this logic, he, too, is "libcom". Why doesn't organizing to intervene versus communists make one just one more organization?

I would freely say that the condition of this society presents us with paradoxes. You can indeed say that a large portion of the ostensible opposition to this order in many ways defends it. Oddly, that isn't a argument for stopping activity. Politicians in general probably do harm, even progressive or radical politicians. But even if I somehow knew I could, I wouldn't have a reason to stop someone from being a politician - they'd just be replaced by another one and they probably wouldn't do good in their later activity. Now, I might try to convince some they shouldn't be a leftist but only if I thought there was some room somewhere for them to engage in a positive, useful communist practice. The leftist role my friend might leave behind would be taken up by some other fool no doubt.

See, that's the point. This society generates all of the roles we see about us and to a fair degree we are stuck with. Communists see the working class as being in the position where the naturally extension of its role, its demand for more wages, more space, more etc actually will bring it closer to negating its role and all roles. In that relative sense, the communist position might be that the working class has the most freedom in this unfree regime. But oddly enough, Nihcommunists seem to imply leftists have the most freedom since the Nihcommunists expect that leftists will step out of their role when confronted with whiny Nihcommunist propaganda. Indeed, the Nihcommunists continually project a choice onto the conventional communist milieu while denying anyone else has any, pretty telling really.

I suppose everyone gets stuck somewhere and it seems like perhaps the Nihcommunists are stuck with their anger that the left isn't what they want it to be (I've been there but its not a good place to stay).

tastybrain

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

KriegPhilosophy

active nihilist = Red Brigades, Al Qaeda, Waffen SS etc
"The passion for destruction is also a creative passion." - Bakunin

Active Nihilism on the other hand, is indicative of a relative increase in spiritual power. the active nihilist sees freedom where the passive nihilist sees absurdity or meaninglessness. He chooses action and creation instead of passivity and withdrawal. For him, the lack of objective standards of truth motivates self created standards and criteria. The active nihilist is not active despite the unknown but because of it. He possesses a store of creative energy and power which allows him to impose personal meaning on the world while never forgetting that hes is the source and progenitor of that meaning. He is heroic in this sense, facing the world with courage and purpose.

Wait so the Red Brigades, Al Qaeda, Waffen SS=active nihilists=good??? WTF??

Also I don't understand how the above groups are nihilist at all. All of them were motivated by fanatical ideologies which left no room for doubt or meaninglessness.

Skraeling

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

ocelot

"(...) our role also allows this to exist and to keep it going and being bearable to its detractors and also teaching our rulers how to change and mutate to accommodate organic (your spontaneous) reactions."
Or in other words, the outcome of the Poll Tax movement and the kick racism out of football, while good for the working class involved in that precise time and place, helped diffuse the tensions that existed and improve the system.

Not just in that time and place, but for subsequent times and places. Honestly this is just what someone already said, the non-plus-ultra pastiche of ultraleftism. "The worse the better".

this is a bit tangential, but to comment on this 'worse is the better-ism,' i think that's a massive problem with some strands of the 'ultraleft.' And it applies not just to 'nihcom', but to Theorie Communiste and their fellow groups (with their 'historicist, structuralist, objectivist, immiseration theory' as TPTG argue), and the 'ultraleftists' who have become post-Marxists too. The continuing defeat and retreat of the last 20-30 has produced some theories i just find bizarre eg. lo and behold, us proles are not the revolutionary subject, but capital itself is the subject!!! Unfortunately this strand of communism seems to be the currently fashionable one.

But there are still many communists who stress agency and self-activity and dare i say it self-organisation, and look at and even get involved in various struggles eg. how precarious workers are organising themselves today, to see how this struggle might be extended, links made other workers etc. As Martin Glaberman wrote, 'the workers are engaged today in a process of reorganisation, corresponding to the capitalist reorganisation of production, in a search for new forms of organisation that are adequate for their needs.’ I see this search is still continuing, and constantly evolving, it's a neverending process. Call me an invariant essentialist or a hopeless subjectivist or a programmatist trapped in the fordist era or an empty optimist or the delightful phrase 'woolly all the time progressivist' etc etc, but give me this anytime over trying to somehow turn defeat and retreat into the basis for communism.

Melancholy of …

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The red brigades, al qaeda, waffen ss all share a 'standard of truth' as you mentioned whether it's an interpretation of the Quran or the supremacy of the aryan race through the 3rd Reich. The sort of active nihilism you quote sounds like Nietzsche to me.

Arbeiten

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

that 'active nihilism' list looks more like a liberal list of 'bad stuffs'. They are all totally different.

RedHughs

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

RedHughs

I'll admit I have considerable contempt for the nihcom folks - I feel like they've raised passive aggressive whining to new heights as well as engaging in a variety of disingenuous stunts.

I should clarify that I'm speaking of the two authors of Nihilist Communism and not of Lettersjournal, who seems to be being as forthright as possible here.

doam

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

lettersjournal

Railyon

Wasn't there talk of some NihCommers engaging in active "counter-revolution"?

Wasn't it lettersjournal or what his name was who tried to disrupt meetings or something similar because of the nihilist line of non-organization?

Hello Railyon,

What do you mean by active "counter-revolution"?

Hi lettersjournal,

I think Railyon may, perhaps, be referring to a passage from the first issue of your journal (accessed here: http://zinelibrary.info/letters-journal-1 ) that states:

"Sometimes in conversations I propose the idea of attacking the Left now while the Left is relatively weak. What better time to disband organizations and disrupt movement? I cannot do this where I live, but it would interest me if others tried it . . . attacking the Left could be approached as a game, not a political strategy."

The answer to one of Railyon's original questions ("Wasn't it lettersjournal or what his name was who tried to disrupt meetings or something similar because of the nihilist line of non-organization?") is that you didn't actively try but it is maybe "something similar." As for the second other question, which used the phrase "counter revolutionary," that seems up for grabs as I don't know what that label means.

doam

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

KriegPhilosophy

Apart from the fact that it seems incredibly Puritan. Does anyone have any strong critiques they are willing to share?

The answer so far seems to be "no." None of the critiques offered so far could be seen as "strong." RedHughs proposed that "whatever one might say about him, I thought Bob Black's review in Anarchy Magazine was a fine overview of Nihcom's ridiculousness" but I haven't been able to find it in any archive. (Do you, RedHughs, have a link or know what issue it is in?) Other than that there seem to be a lot of one-liners about the individuals involved, does anyone have a critique of the ideas?

This is in earnest. I'd like someone to say something that might get me out of my own nihilism.

Spikymike

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It must be a tribute to our Nihilist Communist comrades that even after they have largely abandoned active involvement in these discussion threads, or otherwise ended up banned by the admins, that their thoughts can still cause so much irritation here!

Certainly their amended booklet is worth a read - much to both agree and disagree with - after reading it rather than before that is.

Arbeiten

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Trying to critique nihilism is absurd [sic]. Just let them get on with it...

soc

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

doam

lettersjournal

Railyon

Wasn't there talk of some NihCommers engaging in active "counter-revolution"?

Wasn't it lettersjournal or what his name was who tried to disrupt meetings or something similar because of the nihilist line of non-organization?

Hello Railyon,

What do you mean by active "counter-revolution"?

Hi lettersjournal,

I think Railyon may, perhaps, be referring to a passage from the first issue of your journal (accessed here: http://zinelibrary.info/letters-journal-1 ) that states:

"Sometimes in conversations I propose the idea of attacking the Left now while the Left is relatively weak. What better time to disband organizations and disrupt movement? I cannot do this where I live, but it would interest me if others tried it . . . attacking the Left could be approached as a game, not a political strategy."

The answer to one of Railyon's original questions ("Wasn't it lettersjournal or what his name was who tried to disrupt meetings or something similar because of the nihilist line of non-organization?") is that you didn't actively try but it is maybe "something similar." As for the second other question, which used the phrase "counter revolutionary," that seems up for grabs as I don't know what that label means.

Personally I see nothing wrong with that statement. In fact, I was trying to advocate such a position in Hungary in the times when the "Left" was on historical low in terms of acceptance. And this is nothing like "the worse is better" argument since for at least a decade, the left conducted biggest privatization, casualization of the working class, the dismantling of the social solidarity, and even directly contributed to the proliferation of racism. OK, many would say, this is the "mainstream Left". But all other groupings of the left (anarchism/communism is not left by any means!!!!), like trots, Stalinist and co. are either cover organisations to gain votes for the mainstream left party, or they are even worse, such as the Stalinist/Kadarist workers' parties. There's nothing we can do better with the left than with the right. Communism and the Left is arch enemies, not just in the sense that the Left is capitalist only, but even more because the Left advocates the "friendly capitalism", that is, the lie that we need to fight most of our times.

One can not emphasize enough, that the historical statement of the communist movement should be nothing short of destroying the Left and thus create the conditions against Capitalism, where no reformism could ever raise its ugly head. I can see that nowadays the radical = social democrat, where democratism apparently destroys every critical thought that could take the form of a revolutionary movement.

Sorry for the tangent, but I think if anything, the idea of a direct attack against the Left is a true sign of a revolutionary perspective. In fact, I think this would be the most active revolutionary act of a movement if it would be done.

RedHughs

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Well,

I think that it is good to attack the left in the realm of ideas and in the realm of collective process and similar reasonable venues.

But physically attacking leftists or disrupting private leftists meetings in other fashions seems, uh, rather daft and dangerous. This seems obvious just on the level of "you will just start to look like gangerster and not only will proletarians want nothing to do with you but they'll want to beat you up".

One can reasonably see leftist organizations as indeed something like gangsters. But this isn't simply because of their ideas but of their social position - competing for power with other leftists. Now, if you too want to destroy other groups, then your social dynamic quite likely will be leftist even if you quote Nihcom, Theorie Communiste or the Situationists backwards and forwards.

It is similar to the situation of the "Black Bloc", whose error isn't that it breaks windows but that it substitutes a small number of "the committed" for the collective action of a significant portion of the proletariat as a whole.

Edit: And yes, I think anti-fascist organizing is just as problematic for revolutionaries.

doam

10 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

doam

RedHughs proposed that "whatever one might say about him, I thought Bob Black's review in Anarchy Magazine was a fine overview of Nihcom's ridiculousness" but I haven't been able to find it in any archive. (Do you, RedHughs, have a link or know what issue it is in?) Other than that there seem to be a lot of one-liners about the individuals involved, does anyone have a critique of the ideas?

I still wait and hope for, at the least, an answer to my first question.

RedHughs

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

1) The comments concerning nihcom went a bit deeper than a just one line slag-offs. They weren't article length but it should be obvious most of us aren't so concerned with nihcom that we want to write articles. If *you* the nihcom deserves more substantial analysis, get up and write a substantial defense of it.

2) The Bob Black article exists. If you really need to have see it, I'm sure you could write or even email Anarchy Magazine and they'd tell you how to get a print copy. I'll admit that I often ignore stuff that's off the net but in situations where I care, I'll pony up and buy a printed copy. You seem to care enough to complain about the subject not getting the attention it deserves.

3) Like many philosophico/ideological mumblings today, nihcom has the "Samuel Johnson-Apocryphal" condition. That is "their writings are both good and original but what is original is not good and what is good is not original. Read the Situationists, Radical anthropology, Gilles Dauve, Nietzsche, Lewis Mumford, Castoriadis, etc. It's not so much that any of these writers are the best but that the interesting ideas nihcom use aren't as original as they might seem at first blush and the main original thing they've got, wrapping the thing up in "in-activism" and a kind of passive-aggressive intervention plan towards "ordinary communists" is a kind of pathological despair trip. I think communists should keep in mind that the "ordinary left" is effectively part of the overall capitalist system. But this is argument is abstract enough that it simply shocks people and unless you are somewhat grounded, you can then be swept up in all manner of directions.

The left is the leftwing of capital therefore:

A) We must become rightists
B) We must become death metalers
C) We must become avant guard artists
D) We must engage in communist agitation that refuses the left, attacks both the dominant system and the left but doesn't make the left a fetish for our attack since the left is mere part of the system.
E) We must engage in cannibalistic cult-style murders of leftists, refuse all organization and language, and rub myrrh on our bodies.

You might think think the answers obvious but like I say, without grounding things aren't as obvious.

And I have pretty good reason to believe the nihcom folks are reading this right now. And having been back-and-forth with these things with them as much as they're willing to go, I feel pretty sure they just interested in answering any of the problems I'm raising.

4) Another way you could put this modern nihilism revival is as something like street theater against the left. IE, the nihilist positions' crude negation of leftist ideas might well be loud enough to get the attention of modern leftists where the distinctions in the more sophisticated anti-state communist positions get lost. True, you'll get the attention of leftists for a minute but you won't anything else - leftists aren't leftists because of their material situation but because of capitalism's dynamic and so no matter how aware of alternative perspectives they are, the true died-in-the-wool leftist is going to be more attached to their reformation-of-capitalism-which-really-is-capitalism. So the thing about the "nihilism" as theatrical-intervention-thing is that, like primitivism or other unhinged positions, it can kind of draw in, not leftists but psychologically traumatized individuals caught up dualistic/moralistic reasoning (Communism is good, leftists must be bad. Bad things must be attacked, ruthlessly).

doam

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

1) Not much deeper. Here's a quick summary of the beginning:
Juan Conatz: "I haven't read the book"
jameswalsh: "Doesn't sound any fun"
Hieronymous: "Big Lebowski gif"
Zeronowhere: "nothing to critique"
RedHughs: "I have considerable contempt" "some people like them and I can see why" but "they aren't original" "Nihcom is a cleverage packaging of ideas. But I congratulate someone for producing such a clever packaging if it serves a purpose I'm sympathetic with."

There was some more after that and some of it got a little deeper. You are correct though, my original post mostly concerned the thread's opening. That said, it still doesn't seem like a "strong" critique was offered.

I did not mean to suggest I deserved anything, nor that I was a "nihcom." I was merely hoping and waiting for the critique and feel no need to write a defense on my own when one a. it doesn't seem needed and b. is not something I am really into.

My own nihilism is more of a despair at our future which I think is somewhat different than what is found in Nihilist Communism.

2) I am certain the Bob Black article exists and I have no difficulty in buying something in print. I was just hoping you would tell me the issue since you have read it, but yes, I will just write to them in ask.

3) Thank you for the reading suggestions. I do not really understand what you mean by the argument being "abstracted" but it is a side issue so if you don't want to explain it fine.

4) This is very confusing for me: "leftists aren't leftists because of their material situation but because of capitalism's dynamic" but I understand the end of the paragraph, I think. The leaders of Nihilist Communism prey on the sick and traumatized. Are they getting rich off all the people they convert or just attention? If they aren't getting something then why are they doing it?

Maybe if they are reading this they can explain.

radicalgraffiti

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I've read a little of the nihilist communism stuff, but i never get vary far because the bit that they are right about are not vary original and the rest is just getting stuff vary wrong, so it just annoys me and i give up on it.

lettersjournal

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Has anyone commenting here actually read the book Nihilist Communism?

KriegPhilosophy

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

lettersjournal

Has anyone commenting here actually read the book Nihilist Communism?

yes.

Melancholy of …

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

lettersjournal

Has anyone commenting here actually read the book Nihilist Communism?

Yes, which you would know if you had read through the previous pages.

petey

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

lettersjournal

Has anyone commenting here actually read the book Nihilist Communism?

yes, some of it.

soc

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

We had talk about it so long, that I think it worth to copy the conclusion over here from the Monsieur Dupont: Nihilist Communism.

Monsieur Dupont

A recap of our perspective

(1) We do not think there is any role for class 'consciousness', that is the leadership of the working class by politically motivated groups in the revolution.

(2) We think pro-revolutionaries do have a role but it is not generally the role they award to themselves (for example, waving flags, masking their faces, travelling to international cities, exhibiting the most extreme gestures in the parade of gestures that are political demonstrations); we see one of our tasks as to inhibit those who would lead the revolution, especially those who are closest to us and claim not to want to lead; other tasks we have set ourselves are the creation of tools, tactics and perspectives for use by others in various critical events, for which we claim no intellectual property rights.

(3) Our concept of the revolution involves the working class engaging in a struggle that goes no further than maintaining its own interest. We advocate the struggle of self-interest because it cannot fail, we think if it is followed through to its end it will in itself bring capital down because this struggle is situated within production and the ownership of production is the basis of capitalist existence; if this direct struggle is not side-tracked by political mediations it will discover everything Monsieur Dupont has attempted to articulate over months and years in five minutes and many times over in many places of the world. The proletariat is organised by capital, in every place, its situation is always, everywhere, the same; in direct struggle it will always uncover the same truths, therefore any further organisation would be superfluous and potentially exploitative.

(4) Our mechanical schemes are not nineteenth century as some have argued, they are much older than that. We think the revolution will be in two stages, the first will involve the destruction of the capitalist system by the working class as it seizes production (which it might do without even formulating a desire to do so. Many factories will be occupied because many other factories are occupied - we oppose to the 'consciousness' model, the virus model, to 'intent’ we oppose infection - finally, objectively, always mechanistic even if in every instance there are many motivations and beliefs in play), the second stage of revolution will involve the participation of all humanity in its becoming human.

No way out

It was not our intention to promote alternatives to the consciousness-raising model but we have met with such (wilful) incomprehension and misinterpretation that we should conclude, for the sake of good form, by stating our continued support for pro-revolutionary positions and actions. It is absurd that we should have to make this declaration, we should not be participating as we do if we were against revolution. Vaguely, our intention is to talk to those who are able listen to us, we hope to influence only those who are already pro-revolutionary, it is our hope that if we can connect with anyone then our influence will help to curtail the mystifications that activists and experts promote. The specifics of any particular action are dependent on ability to act and the situation itself, this can be addressed in correspondence between interested groups and individuals, we have no set formula as such and we are prepared, much to the annoyance of activists, to condone the strategy of doing nothing and disengagement

From what I see, the point of antagonism here is the role of the revolutionaries. I think these statements are good to start with, to see that nihilist communism is not a simple justification of wanking instead of revolution but to critique the role of activism.

As a side note, these books should be on torrent rather than mediafire. How about a libcom torrent tracker?

flaneur

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

What soc said, but who's going to listen when you can point out for the 10th time that it's not very original, like that means anything.

Torrent tracker would be handy too, or forcibly take over onebigtorrent and prim all of the shit on there.

RedHughs

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

You're pissed that people don't take Nihcom seriously but you haven't given us any reason to Nihcom seriously. You also haven't responded any of the more detailed arguments I or others have made here.

The Nihcomists are basically setting "here", reading this stuff in front of their computers like us and they've been debating with the rest of this non-collective for a while.

But I have yet to see anything like a "human being explanation" for how their practice is anything but an exercise in morality.

Sure, Nihcom is a critique of activism but it's a shitty one.

I'd summarize the postmodernist jibe as "we're against 'world-historical narratives" and we cover the fact that such opposition is itself a 'world-historical narrative' with a lot of verbiage and subterfuge..." Nihcom involves the postmodern "algorithm" started using the initial conditions of mechanical Marxism.

If you read the MD passage quoted by Soc, you should note that the ideas only seem sane as antidotes to the obsessive fixations of leftists. Sure, the idea that one or another leftist operation will just spread like a virus to "average people" involves a total divorce from how the world works. But the idea that capitalist relations would be challenged by workers taking over factories unconsciously is just as absurd. I apologize for saying something sensible rather a making theatrically demented gesture but activity and consciousness will have increase together. That will be a complex, hard road. The vast majority today, not leftists, are immersed in a variety of ideological illusions. A communist revolt will involve a process of people clarifying their understanding of the world to the extent that they have some ability to act in the world - the Occupy Movement is a small and naturally pathetic step in that direction.

A simple way to put this also is that communists should oppose all stagisms. We should not care whether those stagisms are Scientistic schemes of Stalinisms, the Moralist obfuscations of Postmodern Identities politicians, or whatever Nihcom is (it presents itself as somewhere between Avant Guard Gesture and humble giving up of ambitions). And don't think we need to make a deep reading of either Stalinist, Postmodernist or Nihcomists to reach this conclusion.

madlib

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

[email protected] version—there are download options at the top for various printer settings and devices.

http://theanarchistlibrary.org/HTML/Monsieur_Dupont__Nihilist_Communism.html

madlib

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Gdmt… Black's review starts at page 18.

Fullscreen (kinda sucks): http://www.scribd.com/doc/92891673/AJODA-Paper-Less-Dpi-Singles#fullscreen

Not fullscreen (maybe sucks less): http://www.scribd.com/doc/92891673/AJODA-Paper-Less-Dpi-Singles

RedHughs

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

What soc said, but who's going to listen when you can point out for the 10th time that it's not very original, like that means anything.

The point isn't that everything has to be original, I'm fine with being totally unoriginal.

The thing with MD is:

A) The lean on the critique of activism, as the thing that everyone needs to hear. IE, aside from the critique of activism, they aren't saying that much.

B) They put it in obscure terms when it already been put in fairly plain terms.

One might indeed superficially come to the conclusion that the critique of activism is exactly what "everyone" needs to hear. Most of the "pro-revolutionaries" that are visible really are just leftists with a gloss of communization theory. It is true as per the MD thesis above that an important task of communists will be to stand in the way of ostensible communists taking over a movement.
So why do I still say trying to hammer the critique of the left into the thick skulls of leftists is unpleasant detour? Because whatever kind of leftist your talking about, even pseudo-communist leftists, they're leftist because of social/material circumstances and not because of "mistakes". Essentially, MD treats the working class absolutely, crudely materially determined while it treats the left as absolutely idea-determined (this is my argument specific to MD and its something they and their support never, ever, ever address despite having spent massive time here).

RedHughs

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

doam

"leftists aren't leftists because of their material situation but because of capitalism's dynamic" but I understand the end of the paragraph, I think. The leaders of Nihilist Communism prey on the sick and traumatized. Are they getting rich off all the people they convert or just attention? If they aren't getting something then why are they doing it?

Darn, the earlier quote is typo on my part. It should read: "leftists aren't leftists because of their mistakes but because of capitalism's dynamic (ie, because of their material situation considered in a generalized sense)"

In general, I think one should talk about material situations determining things "in aggregate", on average. I wouldn't try to predict exactly the motivations and actions of either single capitalist, a single workers, a single leftist or a single Nihlist communist. The capitalist reproduces it's material circumstances and ideologies on average, not with some absolute and mechanical precision. For that reason, while I could speculate on what drives the nihcommunists, I won't.

lettersjournal

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

But I have yet to see anything like a "human being explanation" for how their practice is anything but an exercise in morality.

I'm not sure what practice is implied by Nihilist Communism other than the disbanding of organizations, which is the same practice encouraged by Camatte and others. As a proposal, it seems sensible to me.

I think morality is a good thing, but I am not sure it is a moral book. This may be its greatest weakness. It does not deal adequately with the moral and ethical problems that arise from the propositions.

Essentially, MD treats the working class absolutely, crudely materially determined while it treats the left as absolutely idea-determined (this is my argument specific to MD and its something they and their support never, ever, ever address despite having spent massive time here).

I think so, yes. The MD treatment of pro-revolutionary consciousness is that it can appear everywhere except where it is needed (ie. at the site of essential production). So, the proletarian qua proletarian is materially determined and defined entirely by material position, while the leftist qua leftist (even if he has a proletarian job) is defined by consciousness.

MD's stuff does not strike me as postmodern. Can you cite passages or something?

We must engage in cannibalistic cult-style murders of leftists, refuse all organization and language, and rub myrrh on our bodies.

Two of those sound better than anything else on the list. I'll go choice E.

RedHughs

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

lettersjournal

I think morality is a good thing, but I am not sure it is a moral book. This may be its greatest weakness. It does not deal adequately with the moral and ethical problems that arise from the propositions.

This is a fairly large distinction between our viewpoints then.

Essentially, MD treats the working class absolutely, crudely materially determined while it treats the left as absolutely idea-determined (this is my argument specific to MD and its something they and their support never, ever, ever address despite having spent massive time here).

I think so, yes. The MD treatment of pro-revolutionary consciousness is that it can appear everywhere except where it is needed (ie. at the site of essential production). So, the proletarian qua proletarian is materially determined and defined entirely by material position, while the leftist qua leftist (even if he has a proletarian job) is defined by consciousness.

So this is not contradictory why? Because "we believe in nothing, Lebowski" or what??

I mean, our fine posters are seeking a critique of Nihcom. But why should one engage in a long, substantive critique of nihcom when it seems a short critique can be made based on simple, easily summarized contradictions?

bzfgt

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I don't think the appearance of pro-rev consciousness in the left is the same thing as saying the left is determined by ideas...

doam

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Essentially, MD treats the working class absolutely, crudely materially determined while it treats the left as absolutely idea-determined (this is my argument specific to MD and its something they and their support never, ever, ever address despite having spent massive time here).

I think so, yes. The MD treatment of pro-revolutionary consciousness is that it can appear everywhere except where it is needed (ie. at the site of essential production). So, the proletarian qua proletarian is materially determined and defined entirely by material position, while the leftist qua leftist (even if he has a proletarian job) is defined by consciousness.

So this is not contradictory why?

This seems like a fair enough question: Why is the proletarian qua proletarian materially determined and defined entirely by material while the leftist qua leftist is defined by consciousness?

It seems to me that this is just the nature of the terms. Someone who is a leftist is a leftist by virtue of their ideas, they are "defined by consciousness", while someone who is a proletarian is a proletarian in virtue of their material position and their status as proletarian is determined by material.

A rich leftist cannot think themselves into being proletarian any more than someone poor can think themselves into being rich.

What is left out here is what determines the leftist. The proletarian is defined and determined by material and the leftist is defined by ideas, but what makes the leftist?

RedHughs

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

OK,

So if that was a fair question, then we can presume you're dropping the "no one has provided a real critique" stuff, right?

Anyway, when I said "determined by", I meant and (I believe MD essentially says), have their behavior determined by and there's nothing in your answers concerning why the behavior of leftists would be determined purely by their ideas and the behavior of workers would be determined entirely by their physical material conditions.

ocelot

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Essentially, MD treats the working class absolutely, crudely materially determined while it treats the left as absolutely idea-determined (this is my argument specific to MD and its something they and their support never, ever, ever address despite having spent massive time here).

Is this not just a return to the enlightenment/romantic trope of "noble savage" versus civilized man depraved by modernist ideology and culture? The proletariat as noble savage? The leftist as "inauthentic" degenerate?

(1) We do not think there is any role for class 'consciousness', that is the leadership of the working class by politically motivated groups in the revolution.

Overall to me they seem just an extreme version of the councillist inversion of the orthodox problematic of class and consciousness. According to the latter "capitalism creates its own gravediggers" in the shape of the proletariat, who should be increasingly forged by the relations of capitalist production (once these reach the stage of becoming a fetter on the forces of production - aka the stage of "over-ripeness" or "decline") into having the requisite class consciousness to throw off the shackles of capitalism. The fact that the actually-existing consciousness of the real "class in itself" never quite seems to match up the consciousness they "should" have, then requires an explanation in the orthodox problematic - one provided by "false consciousness". For the Kautskyist of Leninist versions of orthodoxy, the roots of this false consciousness are to be found in the famous fetishism of the commodity, i.e. are systemic and inescapable. The solution then, is the "scientific" discovery of the correct interests of the proletariat through the work of specialists, which are then transmitted to the class "from the outside" by means of the Marxist workers party.

The Manichaen inversion of this by the councillists, is that the notion of the proletariat needing an injection of "correct consciousness" from the outside, is the source of Kauskyite and Leninist error. That, conversely, the correct revolutionary consciousness arises spontaneously within the class, as a result of its struggle against bosses and the state, and that the consciousness that "professional revolutionaries" attempt to inject from the outside, is the true source of "false consciousness". I say Manichean, because in this case, the "poison" of false consciousness is not a systemic effect, but the work of evil-doers - those evil leftists, ever seeking to suppress, dominate and parasite on the spontaneous, natural self-development of the proletariat.

But this inversion is not an overcoming, it remains trapped within the orthodox problematic, notwithstanding having reversed one of its polarities. It remains indistinguishable from the perspective of Monatte and the revolutionary syndicalists, that Malatesta so efficiently dissected at the Amsterdam Congress of 1907.

The basic error of Monatte and of all revolutionary syndicalists, in my opinion, derives from an overly simplistic conception of the class struggle. It is a conception whereby the economic interests of all workers – of the working class – are held to be equal [solidaires - in solidarity with each other, complementary], whereby it is enough for workers to set about defending their own particular interests in order for the interests of the whole proletariat against the bosses to be defended.

The reality is very different, in my view. The workers, like the bourgeoisie, like everyone, are subject to the law of universal competition that derives from the system of private property and that will only be extinguished together with that system.

NB here we dispense with notions of "false consciousness" or the veil of "fetishism" and address the realities of competitive forces - a quite different starting point from the orthodox problematic.

doam

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

RedHughs

OK,

So if that was a fair question, then we can presume you're dropping the "no one has provided a real critique" stuff, right?

Look, this whole thread started when KriegPhilosophy said: "Does anyone have any strong critiques they are willing to share?" From the responses he initially received it was clear that the answer was no. Either no one had a strong critique or no one was willing to share one. You can get pissy with me for pointing it out but read the thread because that's what happened.

RedHughs

Anyway, when I said "determined by", I meant and (I believe MD essentially says), have their behavior determined by and there's nothing in your answers concerning why the behavior of leftists would be determined purely by their ideas and the behavior of workers would be determined entirely by their physical material conditions.

You are correct. My answer did not explain why ideas would determine the behavior of leftists. In fact I asked the question "what makes a leftist?" at the end. "Making a leftist" and "determining the behavior" of a leftist seem to be getting at same thing to me.

If we look at what lettersjournal said

lettersjournal

So, the proletarian qua proletarian is materially determined and defined entirely by material position, while the leftist qua leftist (even if he has a proletarian job) is defined by consciousness.

we find that there was no mention of what determines a leftist, only what defines one. Perhaps this is also what bzfgt is getting at in his comment when he writes:

bzfgt

I don't think the appearance of pro-rev consciousness in the left is the same thing as saying the left is determined by ideas...

You, RedHughs, are arguing against/pointing out a contradiction that doesn't exist. It hasn't been said by anyone (at least not here).

So, again, I pose it as a question: what determines/makes a leftist according to nihilist communist thought?

bzfgt

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

You got it, Doam. According to n/c thought leftists are as materially determined as anyone. The impotence of their ideas is emphasized.

Hieronymous

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

lettersjournal

Has anyone commenting here actually read the book Nihilist Communism?

Yes, actually I have. But then I realized that it was kinda like a Cliff Notes' version of The Big Lebowski, in some parts almost verbatim. Made me feel like the NiCom crowd were up to some "funny business."

Frankly, I prefer the original. Red Hughes is right on that account.

doam

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

RedHughs,

I would like to quickly say that I fear you and I got off on the wrong foot. I am a new poster here and don't want to start off by coming off as combative. So I apologize for any tone. As far as I am concerned you and I and n/c people are all on the same team, even if we disagree. It seems you have had some bad experiences with n/c and I hope that we can interact well without either of us bringing past experiences to the table. I am not any of those people and we don't know each other.

bzfgt,

The question for me, if that is the case, is what changed the leftist? Did their consciousness get raised or is it from biological or environmental (which sounds close to material) conditions?

Melancholy of …

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hieronymous

Yes, actually I have. But then I realized that it was kinda like a Cliff Notes' version of The Big Lebowski, in some parts almost verbatim. Made me feel like the NiCom crowd we up to some "funny business.

You either lying to be 'funny' or read another book.

Kras

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Class fetishism of lifestyle revolutionaries in times inadequate to effective activism. MDs take Marx seriously and try to point out that the material factors define when and how the revolution will occur. If someone wants to hold on to outdated views just because he feels good with his self-image, fine. No wonder no one likes authors. But they are not plain nihilistic, they just thorn down all those self-sustaining illusions of doing something in over-indoctrinated individuals. What they propose? If you take your mission seriously: go and infiltrate essential branches of industry. Material base lies at the base of the capitalist system. Otherwise you can push capitalism to reforms by flying your flag to gain higher wages. If you have things necessary to enjoy your life then you should! As pointed out earlier:

Melancholy of Resistance

At least the not doing anything option leaves you time to enjoy life outside.

I would say that in a globalised world revolution will come from the Third World. I see no other way around. Yeah, I can fight for workers' rights but often people don't want you to get involved. Should I spend my life fighting for rising wages by 5-10%, one company at a time? Should I dedicate my life to constant "take the stand" philosophy? Despite the Leftist rhetoric, material base defines it, and the truth is that most of us are living in well-off countries. We are happy that police usually don't shoot at us, that we are rarely jailed and that we walk with generally full stomach. Sorry for harsh language, but even bumps and junkies get their fix often enough to sustain their addictions.

Being a revolutionary is motivated either on emotional or material level. If it's the former then many such motivated comrades will move on, seeking higher salaries to feed their families, to use their potential in more subtle politics, etc. If it's the latter, then you are stuck among people who are badly motivated and generally okay with things as they are.

The beautiful Span of 1936. When I think about it my heart starts to race. But material base defines it and it was for the awful material conditions that brought people to their revolutionary determinism.

DMs don't say that you shouldn't do nothing. It's an misinterpretation that is derived from high emotional attachment of many revolutionaries. It's just straight-in-your-face reality.

If you really want revolution, then either wait or infiltrate some important places where you can make some real troubles. Workplace conflicts rise from time to time and you can try to radicalise people but trust me: without wide-spread poverty they couldn't care less. They want to go back to their families and live normal lives.

You don't need to agitate people. When the time is right, they will come to you by themselves. You will be astonished how many "ordinary people" already know so much.

That's how I understand the Nihilist Communism although I really hate Marxist materialism!

RedHughs

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Buzzy and Doam: If you read the exchange twixt me and Letters, the situation seems to be agreement with this:

In Nihcom, the importence of leftist ideas is emphasized but as Letters says, in Nihcom one falls within the leftist determinative-category through one's ideas whereas one falls within the proletarian determinative-category if one has a working class job - except if one in the leftist category.

IE, while leftist ideas are impotent according to Nihcom, having leftist ideas determines what your behavior is going to be (be a detriment to an unconscious negation of capital), whereas otherwise having a proletarian or middle class job determines what you are going do (engage in an unconscious negation of capital or not). So, I think I am pointing out a pretty definite contradiction.

Also, I agree with Ocelot's post above - his point about Nihcom being a crude version of council communism and it treating the industrial working class as stereotyped noble savages is cogent (and yes I know the Nihcom authors are immense in the industrial working class, doesn't change the situation). I mean, Nihcom's approach seems to involve nothing but cartoonish caricatures. These constructs are fine foils to the left's own cartoonish caricatures but I can't see them having anything to do with reality outside the leftist bubble.

And Kras, yeah, sure one can "respect" Nihcom for taking these ideas "seriously" when one isn't concerned with any of these approaches making any sense - they take a variety of indeed illogical strands of Marxian thought and follow these to their final absurdity. If I didn't want to spend my time making a coherent analysis of capital and its negation, I might take some ridiculous stand to call attention to myself or perhaps listen to death metal or something. And if they didn't aim to confuse their shit with communism, I wouldn't bother them about their hobby (But fyi, I don't think they're encouraging people to "infiltrate the working class", just the opposite).

I mean, the Nihcomers are correct in that at the least the most extreme leftist, Maoist and Trotskyist say, will wind up being a detriment to a revolution situation through their rigid adherence to their ideology. Given the Nihcomers similar fixation on their illogical ideology, I can't help expecting them to also being a similar detriment.

RedHughs

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Another way to put it. It does feel like nihcom is a product of a deep unhappiness with both the world and with the left. Which naturally I can understand.

I'm sorry that they feel a need express this unhappiness through rigid, unexplained, and illogical categories (not to mention moralistic). I'm sorry because it implies that there really can't be any dialog beyond that.

Yeah, wish I could do something about all that. The world built by capital sucks and we're in it. I'm sorry...

Hieronymous

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Melancholy of Resistance

Hieronymous

Yes, actually I have. But then I realized that it was kinda like a Cliff Notes' version of The Big Lebowski, in some parts almost verbatim. Made me feel like the NiCom crowd were up to some "funny business.

You either lying to be 'funny' or read another book.

Well, that's just like, your opinion, man.

Tarwater

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hieronymous:

I appreciate your posts on other threads, but you are really ruining this for me. Could you please stop?

Thanks

-Rick

(the thread and the movie)

Chilli Sauce

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

In light of statements like this:

A defender of NiCom

I'm not sure what practice is implied by Nihilist Communism other than the disbanding of organizations,

I think H's posts are more than justified. He's treating NiCom with the sort of intellectual rigour required to disprove its absurd foundations.

Kras

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

You all talk about absurdity and illogics - could you elaborate? I've even read that Nihilist Communism is about things that were already dealt with but hidden behind new, obscure terms. If you haven't actually read the book then you may think so.

First of all, NC doesn't propose any new terms. It's a honest, easy-to-read, even simplistic, book based on personal experience.

Second, it doesn't propose new ideology! How someone can come up with such nonsense? Nihilist Communism isn't an attempt at making new ideological assumptions. It's just thoughts of people that are tired off self-deluded individuals that want to feel noble and important. Maybe to deal with their family ties or other psychological factors like unsuccessful intimate relationships.

I don't say that it's about you who read it. Maybe yes, maybe no. NC is a rare self-critique of the Left. The Left that is built around archaic views of history rather then on material base.

Chilli Sauce

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I don't disagree with a critique of the left (and NC certainly isn't the first to do it), but to suggest the conclusion of that is to "disband (all) organisations", WTF?

I think RedHughs has said just about everything that needs to be said in post #89.

It does feel like nihcom is a product of a deep unhappiness with both the world and with the left. Which naturally I can understand.

I'm sorry that they feel a need express this unhappiness through rigid, unexplained, and illogical categories (not to mention moralistic). I'm sorry because it implies that there really can't be any dialog beyond that.

doam

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Kras

What they propose? If you take your mission seriously: go and infiltrate essential branches of industry. Material base lies at the base of the capitalist system.

I do not think this is actually a proposal by n-c. While it is true that they believe there are "essential branches of industry" we clearly can't just all gets jobs in the industry and shut it down.

RedHughs

while leftist ideas are impotent according to Nihcom, having leftist ideas determines what your behavior is going to be (be a detriment to an unconscious negation of capital), whereas otherwise having a proletarian or middle class job determines what you are going do (engage in an unconscious negation of capital or not).

Does n-c believe all leftists are a "detriment to an unconscious negation of capital"? If so, what do they mean by leftist here?

To be honest, I was being imprecise earlier when we were talking about "what makes/determines a leftist" and meant more what determines a pro-revolutionary. I still don't see any n-c saying that ideas determine the behavior, which seems obvious from the fact the pro-revs disagree with each other frequently, but what you are getting at is similar to my problem with nihilist communism.

I don't understand how I, or any other "pro-revolutionary" as they call it, comes about. The argument is that consciousness raising doesn't work but I wasn't born a communist/anarchist/whatever (unless perhaps all of us are) so I changed somehow. Was it due to a material cause? It doesn't seem so, so if consciousness raising worked in my case why couldn't it work greater?

This I think is a wound to put our fingers into: n-c doesn't merely argue that consciousness raising is ineffective, it argues that it is impossible.
RedHughs

if they didn't aim to confuse their shit with communism, I wouldn't bother them about their hobby

This confused me a little. Do you think they are not communists or just that they get too much attention?
RedHughs

It does feel like nihcom is a product of a deep unhappiness with both the world and with the left. Which naturally I can understand.

I'm sorry that they feel a need express this unhappiness through rigid, unexplained, and illogical categories (not to mention moralistic). I'm sorry because it implies that there really can't be any dialog beyond that.

I think a lot of us, meaning communists or anarchists, are acting out of a deep unhappiness and that anyone who isn't acting out of that is acting morally, which I know you are against.

What are the categories you are bringing up? Are they proletariat, pro revolutionary, leftist, etc.? Maybe we could attempt to come up with a sort of n-c dictionary. Of course, that would be a task geared more to discussion, which it seems you have had enough of in the past concerning n-c.

Kras

NC is a rare self-critique of the Left.

Oh, but we want so much more.

Kras

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Chilli Sauce

I don't disagree with a critique of the left (and NC certainly isn't the first to do it), but to suggest the conclusion of that is to "disband (all) organisations", WTF?

Nah... but I don't recall reading anything that would explicitly recommended disbanding. The Left is reformist and, with exception of insurrectionist cells, even all anarchists are either withdrawing from the mainstream or support activisms of all sorts. Once on an anarchist meeting I've heard a statement that "in current situation rising wages by 20% is a revolutionary act."

Sure, there are groups that blame this anarchist organisation for being reformist but orthodox organisations are far from being even considered marginal.

I was a revolutionary but if I'm going to waste my life fighting for things that will just come with right circumstances... I don't know. It's time to move on and doing something constructive.

You know: just look around and draw your conclusion. Even fast browsing through this thread will show you that there are many people who share such sentiments.

Chilli Sauce

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hmm....I don't really understand your post...

The Left is reformist and, with exception of insurrectionist cells, even all anarchists are either withdrawing from the mainstream or support activisms of all sorts.

So anarchists are either insurrectionists or activists, that's the choice?

Once on an anarchist meeting I've heard a statement that "in current situation rising wages by 20% is a revolutionary act."

So what? I've heard shit far, far more mental than that receive fucking jazz hands dozens of times, what's your point?

I was a revolutionary but if I'm going to waste my life fighting for things that will just come with right circumstances... I don't know. It's time to move on and doing something constructive.

This is where I think the NCers get it totally wrong. This is historical materialism taken to extremes. It may take a severe crisis of capitalism to turn the class revolutionary--I don't know and neither do you--but the class won't ever be revolutionary until the we have a widespread confidence, the "class for itself". If we can't fight back against wage cuts, what makes you think we can take over the means of production. We organise now not only to improve our immediate material conditions, but to hopefully build up confidence of the class and begin deeper conversations about class society.

You know: just look around and draw your conclusion. Even fast browsing through this thread will show you that there are many people who share such sentiments.

What? What sentiments? What are you talking about?

Khawaga

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

What they propose? If you take your mission seriously: go and infiltrate essential branches of industry. Material base lies at the base of the capitalist system.

It was pretty popular among the Maoists in Norway in the 1970s. It's hardly something "new"; rather it is what the tired old left has done for decades. It was hugely problematic and alienated more workers rather than bringing them into the fold (through the Norwegian Maoists were batshit crazy so it's not necessarily a condemnation of the strategy). But if this is really their proposal, what's the novelty of NiCom?

RedHughs

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Kras

You all talk about absurdity and illogics - could you elaborate?

I did, at length. In several posts above this. If you're not even addressing these point but still asking for elaboration, how can you even be serious?

Doam

Does n-c believe all leftists are a "detriment to an unconscious negation of capital"? If so, what do they mean by leftist here?

That is the impression I've gotten from their multiple interventions.

Doam

I still don't see any n-c saying that ideas determine the behavior, which seems obvious from the fact the pro-revs disagree with each other frequently, but what you are getting at is similar to my problem with nihilist communism.

To repeat the clarification I had earlier. Nihcommers seem to believe that having leftist or pro-revolutionary ideas puts someone in a certain category (bourgeois, petty bourgeois or something). And being in that category determines their impact on potential revolutionary activity. This doesn't say that people's idea determine their action - leftists have ideas and their having ideas determines that their ideas won't have at least the impact they expect (that's not alway wrong but of course it's not always right. Still, it's great way to dis someone if that's all you want to do).

Doam

I don't understand how I, or any other "pro-revolutionary" as they call it, comes about. The argument is that consciousness raising doesn't work but I wasn't born a communist/anarchist/whatever (unless perhaps all of us are) so I changed somehow. Was it due to a material cause? It doesn't seem so, so if consciousness raising worked in my case why couldn't it work greater?

Yes, that is another unexplained contradiction within the Nihcom deal. I don't think they are concerned with explaining that or other problems people might have.
Doam

This confused me a little. Do you think they are not communists or just that they get too much attention?

Well, basically I don't view them as communists. One definition of ideology might be a system of abstractions which social processes impels one to substitute for lived experiences. Nihcom's fixation on their categories to the detriment of actually looking at how the world works pretty much qualifies them as ideologue to me and I don't ideology and communist praxis are compatible.
Doam

Maybe we could attempt to come up with a sort of n-c dictionary

The onus for that is on those who view Nihcom as worthwhile. While I'll toss out my critique of Nihcom if the tendency appears strongly in front of me, I wouldn't want to make the mistake of being fixated on them in the fashion that Nihcom seems to be fixated on "pro-revolutionaries". The left is simply an example, an instance, of capitalist ideology. Nihcom is simply an example of subcultural obsession.
(For further exploration of this theme, take a look at Joseph Gable who influenced Debord in tracing the similarity of ideology and paranoia).

My aim in putting forward a communist position is to aid in the process of the "generalized" proletariat unifying and opposing capitalism as a whole. A part of this, uh, task, would be opposing all the ideologies which are fixated on one or another kind of partial versions of capitalism. This includes racial-nationalists who frame the enemy as "white supremacy", finance-conspiracy nuts who frame the enemy as "the banks" and Nihcommers who effective frame the enemy as "the left".

And yeah, that approach involves me being arrogant enough to think that I can talk to other human beings and lay out the communist program without polluting them with my own many failings, which certainly include having some aspects of leftism, some residual prejudices of various sorts, etc.. It's thus premised on human beings being able to collectively overcome our weaknesses. (Note, that racial nationalists would take the full-on poisonous position that white people can't talk to black people without colonizing them in a really similar fashion to the way Nihcom claims pro-revolutionaries can't talk to workers).

Chilli Sauce

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Norwegian Maoists were batshit crazy

Norwegian Maoists, there's a clue in the name...

madlib

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

RedHughs

Also, I agree with Ocelot's post above - his point about Nihcom being a crude version of council communism and it treating the industrial working class as stereotyped noble savages is cogent (and yes I know the Nihcom authors are immense in the industrial working class, doesn't change the situation). I mean, Nihcom's approach seems to involve nothing but cartoonish caricatures. These constructs are fine foils to the left's own cartoonish caricatures but I can't see them having anything to do with reality outside the leftist bubble.

That isn't true. One of the primary notions of the book is to treat the working class's social role dispassionately, empirically, and without recourse to morally exultant rhetoric about class struggle and the propaganda value of alienation.

[quote=Monsieur Dupont (Link)]We do not know what anyone means when they describe the proletariat as a social category. If they are implying that the working class as a social body have something between themselves, other than their experience of work then we utterly reject this. MD have a penchant for Champagne and Tarkovsky movies whereas our neighbours prefer White Lightening and WWF wrestling, our economic position, however, is identical. We refute all identity politics as ideology and we absolutely refuse to view the proletariat as a political/sociological constituency equivalent to ethnicity, gender or sexual preference. The proletariat has no existence independent of capitalism. […] We do not celebrate the working class: working class life is rubbish, it is not a condition to be aspired to, and the past thirty years of pro-revolutionary fetishisation of the proletariat as a thing in itself (the legend has it that the leftist group Militant, used to force its activists to wear flat caps and donkey jackets on their paper sells so as to `fit in') has mistaken and confused the actual power of the working class and reduced the proletariat to the status of just another oppressed minority. Finally we do not endorse the delinquency of the underclass or interpret it as rebelliousness, we see permanent delinquency as the psychological absorption of dehumanisation, no more than a v-sign offered by one who is standing in quicksand. Underclass delinquency fulfils the function ascribed to it by the state: it causes life, particularly that lived on the housing schemes, to be even more constrained than it is already by employment.

The working class is nothing but the collective position of those who are brought closest to the machinery of the capitalist system; a human function in the capitalist machine; the working class are the revolutionary body because of, and only because of, their position in the capitalist economy, they are the one social body that can close the system down.[/quote]

I would also cite this passage regarding the supposed neglect of pro-revolutionary's circumstantial formation:

[quote=Nihilist Communism (Link)]It is the pro-revolutionaries themselves who contribute consciousness to the revolution, but unless we understand pro-revolutionaries as being an objective expression of the negation of capitalist society then we are bound to see both their antagonism to all aspects of the existing order (and not just to some political issues) and their role of transmitting to the working class values that transcend existing conditions, as being more than a little subjective and therefore fallible. Most pro-revolutionary groups view themselves as being objectively constituted by the need of society to overthrow capital and therefore they see themselves as qualified to prescribe values and strategies to the proletariat. We completely refute this assumption; all pro-revolutionary groups are subjective bodies, created by the subjective will of their participants, their perspective therefore never escapes their subjectivity (if this were not so, then there would not be many small pro-revolutionary groups competing against each other, but only one organisation. Of course, most pro-consciousness organisations have a tendency to see themselves as the one true faith, and on this basis launch their critiques of each other). Pro-revolutionary groups are not the historic party, they have not been thrown up by the economic bаsе, they are not an inescapable result of capitalism's contradictions. In most cases pro-revolutionary groups are created in response to purely political events and have little connection to workers' struggles. Those who argue for the transmission of revolutionary consciousness to the working class by pro-revolutionaries see their role, effectively, as one of leadership. It is interesting for us to observe how those who argue for the `transmission of consciousness' model do not practically escape from the confines of their milieu and do not reach the working class, they seem content to exhort each other to be more realistic, speak in a language the workers will understand, etc etc. But nothing ever happens, if these activists were any good then they would surely be locally recruiting five or more new adherents every week. The fact that the message is not getting through is, for us, the final critique of the concept of `messages'. To set in advance what ideological requirements are to be met by the proletariat, despite all experience of the failure of this method, is putting the cart before the horse and is a good example of impatience, this is as true for `councilists' as it is for vanguardists.[/quote]

In Nihcom, the importence of leftist ideas is emphasized but as Letters says, in Nihcom one falls within the leftist determinative-category through one's ideas whereas one falls within the proletarian determinative-category if one has a working class job - except if one in the leftist category.

The importance of political consciousness is emphasized, while deselecting leftism as a “determinative-category” of the working class's response to conditions (conditions of capitalist crisis) where they are—maybe—receptive of communist ideas is expressed fairly starkly. The book's central purpose is to polemicize the Left's grip on political consciousness—consciousness being construed by the authors as the one last thing of importance to be salvaged from the wreck of the far left—namely through illustrating the degree to which those who aren't working class have come to manage the affairs of the pro-revolutionary milieu.

The gist of your criticism seems to be that Nihcom fails to apply materialism as generously to the left as it applied to the working class, so Nihcom has made an ideological sinkhole out of an externalized enemy? (Whatever that might mean. *shrugs*) But how would any of us know anyway since you've gone this entire time without even making secondary, anecdotal references to the books contents, never mind direct citations from it? (What an unconscionable act!—to make a real, explicit reference point out of what one is intent on lambasting!) The clearest expression of your criticism so far seems to be this: “Note, that racial nationalists would [sic] take the full-on poisonous position that white people can't talk to black people without colonizing them in a really similar fashion to the way Nihcom claims pro-revolutionaries can't talk to workers.” You actually could've saved time and energy if you began from that initially—Monsieur Dupont contends that communists can only talk to communists—and then expanded from there. I also like how you keep packing on the militant language about Nihcom being a “detriment to the revolution” and agents of ideology that need to be revised out of the record of communist thought. That's cute.

Well, basically I don't view them as communists. One definition of ideology might be a system of abstractions which social processes impels one to substitute for lived experiences. Nihcom's fixation on their categories to the detriment of actually looking at how the world works pretty much qualifies them as ideologue to me and I don't [think] ideology and communist praxis are compatible.

No, of course you don't. I mean, why would people who have largely resigned themselves to contemplation of their worldview qualify as communists? Your Situationism is showing, Red, and it is indecent.

[quote=From Nihilist Communism (Link)]

How many of you are there?

A few more, than the original guerrilla nucleus in the Sierra Madre, but with fewer weapons. A few less than the delegates in London in 1864 who founded the International Workingmen's Association, but with a more coherent program. As unyielding as the Greeks at Thermopylae (“Passerby, go tell them at Lacedaemon...”), but with a brighter future.

-SI Questionnaire

Revolutionary groups, in the absence of the realisation of the unity of theory and practice, sought to establish the reality of truth in two places at once: in their own heads and in the objectively constituted but autonomous working class engagement with the economy. But the contemplative role of the revolutionary cell soon became restrictive, and so to compensate for this, or at least to address this discomfort, the groups sought out means, events, modes, ideologies, whereby they could justify their appearance on the stage as actors. It is important that the move towards action and its justification was begun in response to initial passivity, that is, direct political engagement was begun from a predication of subjective, ideological factors; for the revolutionary groups becoming fidgety it soon became morally insupportable that they should `sit by' whilst momentous events were unfolding, that they should `sit around theorising', when they ought to be `out there showing solidarity and getting our ideas across', But what can ten or twelve déclassé individuals `do'? Make situations of course. It is at the juncture where the individual or small group seeks to make itself significant to the world that leftist ideology becomes less concerned with inconceivable masses and more focused on conceptions of the self. From S. o. B.'s initial transformation of the formula for social division from owner/worker to ordergiver/ordertaker, a sudden rush of new theories of polarity went in and out of leftbank fashion: authentic/inauthentic, tuned in/straight, spectator/actant. Existentialism, Marcuse and the mythic heroes of popular culture (Dean, Presley, Brando, and later Guevara) also contributed to the legitimisation of pursuing the forms of ideological oppositions. In the end it became, and it is this mockery that present day advertisers use as a jemmy, the opposition of boring normality against the coolly different — revolutionaries were the cool sect.

Frere Dupont (Link):

I will just add here, contrary to the claims of some marxist advocates of 'socialisation' (which in reality is a form of morality concerning the massification of personal behaviours) that events become more closely aligned at a greater magnitude to wider social forces and more free of such forces within the personal domestic space. For this reason, 'socialisation' projects proposed by various revolutionaries tend to express a base ideological format whilst the 'conformity' of non-politicised individuals is actually diverse and relatively independent of ideoglogical references. This is an exact reversal of the situationists' and others' of the sixties who condemned 'passivity'. Passivity in fact doesn't come into it, there are merely different scales of significance... because most people do not function or signify within political discourse this does not mean they are 'spectators'.[/quote]

How do you think the two authors came to the conclusions and initial ideas of Nihcom? “A system of abstractions”? Give me a break.

RedHughs

I mean, the Nihcomers are correct in that at the least the most extreme leftist, Maoist and Trotskyist say, will wind up being a detriment to a revolution situation through their rigid adherence to their ideology. Given the Nihcomers similar fixation on their illogical ideology, I can't help expecting them to also being a similar detriment.

That the book Nihilist Communism—a scrapbook, really, not much more than a collection of letters and recordings of thought gilded by a small portion of original writing intended for the book itself—still manages to instigate such perturbed discussions is really bizarre. RedHughs accuses the two authors of Marxist avantgardeism and of constructing moralistic arguments to manipulate a mentally damaged readership into converting to an ideology that instigates passive-aggressive crybaby antics by its adherents for the sake of “stagism”—did I sum that up about right? Why are they a detriment? A detriment to what? Able bodied people who, upon reading the book, realize that activism is not important, probably more unhealthy for the heart than anything else, and that a good deal of the far left scene is nutty people who are willing to attack and demean others in the most puerile ways so they can protect the rickety projects they've committed themselves to in their bouts of shortsightedness and ennui? Well if that's the case then there's really nothing at all to worry about since the number of enthusiastic bodies you've been so haplessly deprived of probably barely number greater than 5. (Two of them being Monsieur Dupont of course.)

Why would anyone buy into the notion that two middle aged men with family lives would self-publish a scrapbook—a book with an affected readership that barely reaches into the double digits—in the nefarious hope of becoming the avantgarde of an ideology that they both, on multiple occasions and in no uncertain terms, have blasted with criticism. The one “Frere Dupont” has explicitly stated that he is antimarxist and the other, “LeGarcon Dupont”, has written shit that would make primitivists blush. The whole body of published materials authored by Dupont and then after Dupont had ceased to exist has a good deal of brooding polemics against historical materialism and against Marxist ideology, do you not understand this? No, no you don't. That much is obvious. All we're left with is threatening language and contemptuousness. What a surprising turn of events for the far left-wing!

Initially I thought you were just confused, Red, but now I can see that you're brooding on your mysterious contempt for an imaginary enemy. You've cut a hole through a decade old book and you're using the aperture for a light & shadow play of easy slights and argumentation against silhouetted figures. I can't decide if you're inclining toward either simply making the case for the left's materially conditioned role—an account of the left you provide no evidence for, but instead instigate with repeated characterizations of the book as “illogical”, “ideological”, “subculturally obsessed”, and so on—or if it's a case of actively defending the circumstantial role of the left as a buffer against “agents of ideology” like Nihcom and racial nationalists. (Anyone else catch that? Another low blow, not surprising though.)

There does seem to be something there but it's being drowned out by all the whitenoise generated by your belief in Situationism—specious arguments about your opponent's ideological thought conflicting with a real “communist praxis” and passive denial of “lived experiences”.

Here's a thought exercise: Let's have the detractors, like Red, go to the copy of the book I provided and use Ctrl+F (or maybe Cmnd+F) to find keywords like “morality”, “consciousness”, “leftism”, “Situationism”, “councilism”, etc. Upon having actually cited the relevant material, they can construct whatever arguments they please. At the very least we'll actually be able to call it something like a “discussion” with a studied source, even if only studied for the sake of argumentative rhetoric. That would be preferable to whatever the hell this is now.

I'm not even intervening as a “nihilist communist” or a supporter, I'm simply saying: Cite the material. Construct your arguments around what the book actually says instead of validating each other's contempt for outsiders with specious, accusatory arguments.

madlib

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Khawaga

What they propose? If you take your mission seriously: go and infiltrate essential branches of industry. Material base lies at the base of the capitalist system.

It was pretty popular among the Maoists in Norway in the 1970s. It's hardly something "new"; rather it is what the tired old left has done for decades. It was hugely problematic and alienated more workers rather than bringing them into the fold (through the Norwegian Maoists were batshit crazy so it's not necessarily a condemnation of the strategy). But if this is really their proposal, what's the novelty of NiCom?

Blah blah…

Here's a relevant reference:

[quote=LeGarcon Dupont (Link)]Although it is not much of an answer, I think it is better not to set up ‘solidarity’ groups as these tend to become quickly clogged by the vicarious conventions of third worldist ideologies. If one accepts the structural limits on the possibility of communication but nonetheless wishes to continue to transmit a message anyway, there remain a couple of (more or less marginal) options:

1. Take a job under factory conditions and attempt to live your values, celebrate your anti-work ethos, organise your fellow workers, communicate your message in that circumstance most hostile to it.

2. Aim to make contact with workers in essential industries:
• This may involve leafleting at factory gates.
• Attempting to make contact with targeted workers socially via shared interests.
• Pay someone to translate your works into Mandarin.”[/quote]

The big idea is that if you're going to be an activist at least do it in a place where that would make sense, even if only from a purely strategic angle: the source of capitalism's rudiments rather than the street protest or in the educational establishment where the expression of your political values finds no subversive body to be received by—where they go to agitate themselves into exhaustion and a slow heat death.

It's a conventional provocation for the necessity of going to where anti-work organizing could effect something beyond the pathologies and internal conflicts of activism itself.

RedHughs

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I really am more interest Nihcom the ideology, that we've seen in action in a number of interventions here, than I am in Nihcom the book.

"Interested" in the sense that they have thrust themselves to our attention. I'd suggest a read of this thread.

Edit: Also Madlib, if you go through this thread, you'll find some thesis where MD state some basic position relatively clearly. A lot of the discussion here has come off that. As far as I can tell, MD are also quite capable of writing long passage are entertaining, possibly enlightening but which don't particularly reveal their "basic political positions"...

Chilli Sauce

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Maybe you're confusing anarchists with the Left (most regular libcom posters have a very well developed critique of the left without needing the intervention of NiComs). So this:

working class's social role dispassionately, empirically, and without recourse to morally exultant rhetoric about class struggle and the propaganda value of alienation.

I think, is actually in contradiction of this:

The working class is nothing but the collective position of those who are brought closest to the machinery of the capitalist system; a human function in the capitalist machine; the working class are the revolutionary body because of, and only because of, their position in the capitalist economy, they are the one social body that can close the system down.

The point of class struggle is ultimately to abolish class (including the working clas as such). It just feels like the NiComs are arguing with something that the majority of libertarian communists don't believe.

The clearest expression of your criticism so far seems to be this: “Note, that racial nationalists would [sic] take the full-on poisonous position that white people can't talk to black people without colonizing them in a really similar fashion to the way Nihcom claims pro-revolutionaries can't talk to workers.”

As for this, I really have no idea what you're on about. The rest of your post is way too long for me to begin picking apart at this time of the evening. I'll leave that to someone else with far more patience than me...

Chilli Sauce

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Spot on Red.

madlib

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Maybe you're confusing anarchists with the Left (most regular libcom posters have a very well developed critique of the left without needing the intervention of NiComs). So this…

You've immediately made a contrived attempt to contort my comment into some kind of Anti-Libcom screed that you can “pick apart“ so I can be put in my place alongside the other mentally damaged “nihilist communists”. Not once in my comment was there a direct address to “regular libcom posters”.

My intent was to address Red's arguments by directly citing the material this thread has made a circus out of denouncing.

Chilli Sauce

Madlib

The clearest expression of your criticism so far seems to be this: “Note, that racial nationalists would [sic] take the full-on poisonous position that white people can't talk to black people without colonizing them in a really similar fashion to the way Nihcom claims pro-revolutionaries can't talk to workers.”

As for this, I really have no idea what you're on about. The rest of your post is way too long for me to begin picking apart at this time of the evening. I'll leave that to someone else with far more patience than me...

I've witnessed quite enough of the insistent badgering that regularly takes place on this site, I don't need to actually subject myself to it.

I wasn't on about anything, though. That was a direct quote from Red that I was expressing disapproval of. That is all.

Khawaga

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

madlib

Khawaga

What they propose? If you take your mission seriously: go and infiltrate essential branches of industry. Material base lies at the base of the capitalist system.

It was pretty popular among the Maoists in Norway in the 1970s. It's hardly something "new"; rather it is what the tired old left has done for decades. It was hugely problematic and alienated more workers rather than bringing them into the fold (through the Norwegian Maoists were batshit crazy so it's not necessarily a condemnation of the strategy). But if this is really their proposal, what's the novelty of NiCom?

Blah blah…

Here's a relevant reference:

[quote=LeGarcon Dupont (Link)]Although it is not much of an answer, I think it is better not to set up ‘solidarity’ groups as these tend to become quickly clogged by the vicarious conventions of third worldist ideologies. If one accepts the structural limits on the possibility of communication but nonetheless wishes to continue to transmit a message anyway, there remain a couple of (more or less marginal) options:

1. Take a job under factory conditions and attempt to live your values, celebrate your anti-work ethos, organise your fellow workers, communicate your message in that circumstance most hostile to it.

2. Aim to make contact with workers in essential industries:
• This may involve leafleting at factory gates.
• Attempting to make contact with targeted workers socially via shared interests.
• Pay someone to translate your works into Mandarin.”

The big idea is that if you're going to be an activist at least do it in a place where that would make sense, even if only from a purely strategic angle: the source of capitalism's rudiments rather than the street protest or in the educational establishment where the expression of your political values finds no subversive body to be received by—where they go to agitate themselves into exhaustion and a slow heat death.

It's a conventional provocation for the necessity of going to where anti-work organizing could effect something beyond the pathologies and internal conflicts of activism itself.[/quote]

So like the Norwegian Maoists then with some minor modifications.

bootsy

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

In a discussion I had with a member of MD about working in key sectors of the economy they said:

The point is more to learn than to try to push forward ones ideas.
After one has learned a bit then one can start to interact. It is no good going into a
workplace like some conquering revolutionary hero, you'll soon realise the errors
of your ways.

Which seems fairly sensible to me...

Edit: Seriously can some of the people commenting in this thread at least read MD literature before throwing in their 2 cents? Commenting from a standpoint of unabashed ignorance is ultimately just going to make you look cliquey and foolish.

madlib

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

RedHughs

Also Madlib, if you go through this thread, you'll find some thesis where MD state some basic position relatively clearly

.

You mean lettersjournal? Lettersjournal is not MD.

/confused.

Khawaga

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

bootsy

In a discussion I had with a member of MD about working in key sectors of the economy they said:

The point is more to learn than to try to push forward ones ideas.
After one has learned a bit then one can start to interact. It is no good going into a
workplace like some conquering revolutionary hero, you'll soon realise the errors
of your ways.

Which seems fairly sensible to me...

Edit: Seriously can some of the people commenting in this thread at least read MD literature before throwing in their 2 cents? Commenting from a standpoint of unabashed ignorance is ultimately just going to make you look cliquey and foolish.

Sounds very reasonable, but it's not like it's very original. I am interested in reading NiCom properly (everytime I've tried though I just can get past the horrendous style of writing; it's completely off putting). But if the practical value of NiCom is essentially a version of salting, then I don't see what the big fuss is. Is there a NiCom for dummies out there?

RedHughs

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

[Madlib's reply did confus]

Edit: No, I mean the MD quote posted by "Soc" on page 3 of this thread.

Edit2:Here

madlib

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Also, I'm really stuck on the significance of “novelty” and “originality”. I don't get it.

The importance of nihilist communism is simply on a readership basis, not a ground breaking one. And it was always densely provocative. (The title of the book was never meant as an initiation of a new, avantgarde pole of belief. It was just a snappy title. That's the big secret!) It was never meant to be anything more than a record of two old communists' thoughts on the political space they had occupied and interacted with.

Khawaga

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Also, I'm really stuck on the significance of “novelty” and “originality”. I don't get it.

I've got limited time for reading political texts so I prefer something that can be beneficial to the initiatives and projects I am involved in. I've read plenty of texts that suggest what NiCom suggests. Hence why I don't see the point of reading it for those purposes. And the novelty/originality factor would be interesting since the tried old forms of organizing clearly aren't cutting it anymore (indeed haven't for a very long time). So why bother with old advice wrapped in dense writing?

But, I didn't know that

It was never meant to be anything more than a record of two old communists' thoughts on the political space they had occupied and interacted with.

That in itself is interesting, but as I said the verbosity of it puts me off. It just reads like someone is trying really hard to be pomo. But that's just my personal opinion.

bootsy

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Actually I found the NihComm book quite simple and readable compared to many other communist txts e.g. Endnotes, TC, the situationists etc. Whether or not they're correct is another matter but they're definitely not verbose.

madlib

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

madlib

The title of the book … was just a snappy title. That's the big secret!

I want to rescind this statement. It gives the impression that nihilism was merely a shock term meant to draw attention instead of being a signification of a genuine train of thought within the book itself.

doam

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

madlib,

I wanted to apologize. I have been simultaneously requesting a critique and asking questions of others without reviewing the text. Believe it or not I have read the book. I found it personally helpful because it resonated personally with me. I spent a lot of time in activist circles and thought I was alone in thinking they were actually worse in a lot of ways than the other scenes I was involved in. Your posts led me to review the book more to answer my question about consciousness.

I skipped straight to the On Consciousness section (how convenient of the authors) and began to read.

So consciousness is a political position, something one chooses for whatever reason, whereas class composition is materially based.

Consciousness is a political category. A world-wide or even national conscious proletarian identity would involve a high degree of organisation, which is another word for consciousness. There is no objectively existing, separate sphere of revolutionary consciousness and certainly none that is owned by a particular section of humanity; the working class especially do not own consciousness, they do not own anything (except their playstations). So, if revolutionary consciousness does not exist objectively, that is, as an immediate determination of the material base, then organisations must bring it into the world.

What does it mean for "organisation" and "consciousness" to mean the same thing? Maybe I should go back to Marx or something? It is just confusing.

The problem is that consciousness is something one can select or not, at least more so than the money in our bank accounts, and so not everyone will listen to us. Leftists, however, might listen to us a little more. So political interventions are important to direct to those already political as, when the revolution happens, the political will likely be in positions of influence.

Does that seem like a fair interpretation of the "positive program"? That our efforts are actually misguided in wanting to get the working class in our ranks, the point is to influence the leftists?

doam

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

A side note.

The discussion page of wikipedia concerning the deletion of the Monsieur Dupont article is interesting (I just tried to look at it and ended here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Monsieur_Dupont )

Some choice quotations:

Oh dear, oh dear, wikisoapboxing at its worst. Every one of the references cited in the article is self-published, as are the references mentioned in the argument above. The only exception a tiny niche publication called "Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed", which seems highly unlikely to qualify for notability itself.

Above someone claims that publication by Ardent Press and Anarchy Magazine is evidence of notability. Ardent Press is one person . . . One person's self-funded publishing operation is not evidence of notability.

Wikipedia is not a public service for people to publicise their pet projects, no matter how interesting and experimental they consider them to be.

I think the fact that we, meaning communists/anarchists in general, are so lacking in "notability" that we cannot even manage to have a wikipedia page on something we devote hundreds if not thousands of posts discussing, is evidence enough for a lot of the Nihilist Communist claims.

Khawaga

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

bootsy

Actually I found the NihComm book quite simple and readable compared to many other communist txts e.g. Endnotes, TC, the situationists etc.

Whereas I find Endnotes and TC quite simple and readable... But I think that's just personal preference.

madlib

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

doam

I think the fact that we, meaning communists/anarchists in general, are so lacking in "notability" that we cannot even manage to have a wikipedia page on something we devote hundreds if not thousands of posts discussing, is evidence enough for a lot of the Nihilist Communist claims.

yeah… that was one part distressing, one part hilarious.

MD's wiki page has now been consigned to “Wikibin”.

doam

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Found it: http://wikibin.org/articles/monsieur-dupont-2.html

madlib

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

doam,

Maybe I should go back to Marx or something? It is just confusing.

Going back to Marx is just an expression of fetishism. In fact, Frere Dupont has also explained at length his dismissal of Marx as an object that mediates the relationships internal to the communist scene. He goes at length to describe the problem of the disproportionate insistence on reading Marx in the third issue of Letters Journal. A critique of Michael Heinrich's Invaders from Marx provides that train of thought. It's sort of like a rite of commitment to communist activism spuriously characterized as a corrective mechanism for the errors generated by communist activism itself. The problems you encounter now will not have changed upon studying the historic forces recorded by Marx. (Parallel: Fundamental Attribution Error) The extent to which Marx acts as a tome that elucidates capitalism is questionable and ultimately of secondary importance since you can't elucidate the capitalist social relation to such a degree that you gain a vantage point that stands above the human record of alienation and can lead that intuitive account of domination to the correct path. Marxism stifles that record by treating historic forces as an active agent of resolution for society's contradictions—even if that stifling is merely an inordinate preoccupation with rearranging the account in your head of what Marx was “really saying” about capital. (Personally, I've never really read Marx. I've absorbed him like second hand smoke.)

It ties into Dupont's rejection of the pro-revolutionary's ownership of consciousness or expertise. That thought was probably instigated by Jacques Camatte's remark that Marx was the highest expression of bourgeois consciousness. (Prior to the expiration of Monsieur Dupont's project, Camatte was an important reference point for them.)

[quote=The Wandering of Humanity(Link)]Thus Marx's work seems largely to be the authentic consciousness of the capitalist mode of production. The bourgeoisie, and the capitalists who followed, were able to express only a false consciousness with the help of their various theories. Furthermore, the capitalist mode of production has realized Marx's proletarian project. By remaining on a narrowly Marxist terrain, the proletariat and its theoreticians were outflanked by the followers of capital. Capital, having achieved real domination, ratifies the validity of Marx's work in its reduced form (as historical materialism). While German proletarians at the beginning of this century thought their actions were destroying the capitalist mode of production, they failed to see they were only trying to manage it themselves. False consciousness took hold of the proletariat.[/quote]

Your thought about influencing leftists isn't something I would accept. I'm not going to sit here and play the role of an authority on what Monsieur Dupont is suggesting. I could provide a fairly accurate account of their published thoughts, but I wouldn't accept that the point is to take advantage of leftists' actual positions of authority and capital. That would be truly nefarious. (And I doubt that was what Nihilist Communism was suggesting.) But we may have their ears, so its good to take advantage of that to convince them to disengage from practices of social management and leadership. I mean, it is that simple: they are at least already riled up and their worldview can act as an aperture for the reception of anarchist radicalism.

A close to home example is that during the peak (pique?) of anarchists' enthusiasm for Occupy X, anarchists warned Occupationalists of the terror of police action but invited confrontation with it by lionizing the brutality of the agitated, enraged crowds in nationalist Egypt. Several acts of rape and bloody beating were perpetrated by furious men in Tahrir Square. Massacres of Christians by salafists (and retaliations, most likely). Combats between thugs protecting property and looters. (Which isn't an expression of endorsement of the looters vs those protecting property. Only to say that it's a morally untenable situation for an anarchist either way since there was probably a proletarian element in that particular conflict.) None of this was recorded in anarchists' pro-Egyptian propaganda, and all of it was well outside the constraint of Mubarakism. All of the minutae of police assaults on Occupationalists was reported, though, and continues to be reported. (Which is commendable of course.) All of this is done in the hopes of generalizing revolt. Now that is a contradiction. It's indicative of the problem Nihilist Communism was elucidating.

The actual “message” in Nihilist Communism doesn't really address the question What is to Be Done?. A more direct indication of their “positive program” is this:

Revolutionary Organizations and Individual Commitment

1. You don’t have to join anything – set your own terms of engagement with the milieu.

2. Only give that which you feel comfortable giving.

3. Never tolerate moral pressure to participate in ‘actions’. In response to activist holy-joes say, ‘we should do nothing’ to establish different grounds.

4. The revolution does not rest on your conforming to a set ‘consciousness’, so don’t feel bound by orthodoxies or demand it of others.

5. All groups only really survive on the work of one or two individuals, so if you do make any contribution at all you are doing more than most – and always speak as yourself and not as the group.

6. It is possible to be pro-revolutionary and lead a normal life; don’t run away to Brighton; don’t adopt an extremist personality; don’t confuse pop/drug/drop-out culture with revolution.

7. If you try and ‘live’ your politics you will separate yourself further from other people, thereby limiting shared experiences and perspectives.

8. Try and commit yourself for the long term but at a low level intensity, understand that early enthusiasm will fade as everything you do falls on deaf ears and ends in failure.

9. Remember the role of the pro-revolutionary milieu is not to make revolution but to criticise those attempts that claim to be revolutionary – in other words: push those who are politicised towards a pro-revolutionary consciousness.

10. Just because in the future you will become disillusioned and burnt out, and you will think pro-revolutionaries are tossers, it doesn’t follow that revolution is hopeless.

11. Remember that revolution does away with revolutionaries, it does not canonise them.

12. Begin by criticising all cliques. If you are on a demonstration and you look around and everyone is dressed the same as you and they are all the same age then there is something wrong – expect there to be hidden agendas and personal fiefdoms.

13. Groups should only exist to achieve a stated short-term purpose. All groups that have existed for more than five years have outlived their usefulness.

14. Don’t get sucked into single issue campaigns unless you personally want a particular reform; revolution cannot be conjured from animal rights, legalisation of cannabis, peace, etc.

15. There is a cyclical tendency in groups to ‘build up’ to big anti-capitalist events – resist this, consider why groups are so keen on spectaculars, then think of the day after May Day.

16. When someone makes a statement, think to yourself: who is speaking, what do they really mean – what do they want from me?

17. Many pro-revolutionaries have decent jobs and come from comfortable backgrounds and then lie about it/adopt prole accents, etc. They’ve got a safety net, have you? Don’t give too much.

18. Don’t look for ideological purity, there is no such thing. If it suits you, if you have a reason, then participate all you want as an individual in any reformist political group or institution, so long as you do not attach to it a ‘revolutionary’ importance. Your pro-revolutionary consciousness must be kept separate from all personal and political activity.

19. There is no need to go looking for ‘events’ – they will find you. In this way your effectiveness will be magnified because you will be ready and you will act in a certain way which the people around you can learn from, eg, solidarity, ‘us and them’, and ‘all or nothing’ perspectives, etc.

20. If it helps, think of it this way: you are an agent from the future; you must live a normal life in the circumstances in which you find yourself. Maybe you never talk to anyone about all of what you think but that doesn’t matter because when the situation arises you will be in place to tell everything that is appropriate because that precisely is your (and nobody else’s) role. All the time you are getting ready to make your contribution, one day you will do something, and you have no idea what it is, but it will be important.

That pamphlet is probably the strongest indication of a program suggested by Monsieur Dupont. Beyond that, their theoretical work is largely a departure from realistic proposals for political activism and pragmatism. In order to have a strong grasp of what Dupont is on about, first you need to make the mental leap of leaving behind the notion that theory and practice need to meet in unity. I mean, we're talking about two middle aged guys with working wives and kids. That in itself is an adequate explanation for why they felt the need to write Nihcom. It would probably be fair to call them quietists. (Quietism)

madlib

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

In retrospect this was the most concise expression of Red's criticism:

RedHughs

IE, while leftist ideas are impotent according to Nihcom, having leftist ideas determines what your behavior is going to be (be a detriment to an unconscious negation of capital), whereas otherwise having a proletarian or middle class job determines what you are going do (engage in an unconscious negation of capital or not). So, I think I am pointing out a pretty definite contradiction.

Devrim

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Khawaga

But if the practical value of NiCom is essentially a version of salting, then I don't see what the big fuss is. Is there a NiCom for dummies out there?

I do not think they were salting. It was just where they worked.

RedHughs

I really am more interest Nihcom the ideology, that we've seen in action in a number of interventions here, than I am in Nihcom the book.

But it is just a book. There is not an ideology or movement.

Devrim

Chilli Sauce

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Seriously can some of the people commenting in this thread at least read MD literature before throwing in their 2 cents? Commenting from a standpoint of unabashed ignorance is ultimately just going to make you look cliquey and foolish.

Ya see tho, this strikes me as really disingenuous. NiComs have come on libcom and the critique most of us are offering is based on our interactions with them and what they've said. Only then to be told, "but read the book..."

If people identify as NiComs, folks are going to judge NiCom according to their actions and statements.

doam

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

madlib

Going back to Marx is just an expression of fetishism.

Sure. My real point in the "going back to Marx" was that I don't understand why consciousness=organisation. My comment about returning to Marx was not entirely serious: I just often find (not in this forum yet, thankfully) that when I ask people to explain something they point to some book I haven't read.

At the same time, I don't want the above to be misconstrued as something like this
Chili Sauce

Ya see tho, this strikes me as really disingenuous. NiComs have come on libcom and the critique most of us are offering is based on our interactions with them and what they've said. Only then to be told, "but read the book..."

KriegPhilosophy, who began the thread later said

I was talking about the book rather than the tendency.

which indicates that it isn't "disingenuous" to ask for people to refer to the work. Of course, forum threads have a life of their own and don't need to be constrained to what their original posters want. But, if you are talking about "what [NiComs] have said" why don't you just quote them instead of the book? The problem isn't whether it is the book or not but whether what NiComs have actually said is being addressed or not.

madlib

Your thought about influencing leftists isn't something I would accept. I'm not going to sit here and play the role of an authority on what Monsieur Dupont is suggesting. I could provide a fairly accurate account of their published thoughts, but I wouldn't accept that the point is to take advantage of leftists' actual positions of authority and capital. That would be truly nefarious.

First, I didn't mean to suggest you "sit here and play the role of authority." I wasn't addressing my questions to you specifically, though I understand why it may have seemed like that. Really I wanted to merely address my apology to you.

The reason I was thinking "the point is to take advantage of leftists' actual positions of authority and capital" are the following passages of Nihlist Communism:

What we have to understand is that the effect that we might have on left radicals (that is, the only people who are able to listen to us) is very important because, whether we like it or not, many of these individuals will come to the fore in times of revolutionary upheaval. This will be due to their prolonged interest in “changing the world”, their knowledge of what might happen in certain situations and their general silver-tongue-edness. Thus it is most important and a matter of constant urgency that we engage this disparate group in dialogue in order to get as many of them as possible to ditch their leftist/liberalist/statist/managerial, etc, convictions and take on communist positions. This process of development must be done by engaging people both on paper, in journals, and at discussion meetings, and also in areas of practical struggles.

We think pro-revolutionaries do have a role but it is not generally the role they award to themselves (for example, waving flags, masking their faces, travelling to international cities, exhibiting the most extreme gestures in the parade of gestures that are political demonstrations); we see one of our tasks as to inhibit those who would lead the revolution, especially those who are closest to us and claim not to want to lead; other tasks we have set ourselves are the creation of tools, tactics and perspectives for use by others in various critical events, for which we claim no intellectual property rights.

It was not our intention to promote alternatives to the consciousness-raising model but we have met with such (wilful) incomprehension and misinterpretation that we should conclude, for the sake of good form, by stating our continued support for pro-revolutionary positions and actions. It is absurd that we should have to make this declaration, we should not be participating as we do if we were against revolution. Vaguely, our intention is to talk to those who are able listen to us, we hope to influence only those who are already pro-revolutionary, it is our hope that if we can connect with anyone then our influence will help to curtail the mystifications that activists and experts promote.

(I understand that, the last quote there ends with saying that they have no problem advocating "do nothing" but I want to emphasize the first part.)

So I see these parts about trying to "disengage from practices of social management and leadership" but the first quote in particular seems to point to something deeper.

One of the problems, as well as nice things, of consciousness is that, because it is subjective, the content is not materially based and instead can be changed. It seems a task could be to develop that content with radicals and influence them now as in times of upheaval it will be too late. Granted that many things will be unlike what we have seen before and so will be impossible to predict, it seems anarchists/communists could develop ideas instead of just saying what won't work. This seems like a thrust of the Bob Black critique in Anarchy. Without consciousness raising and practicing ahead of time it will be impossible down the road.

I'm not sure why that would be nefarious. If we want them to "take on communist positions" let us continue to develop what those positions are and are not.

Last quote:

Just because propaganda is useless at changing people's minds, or more subtly, even if people's minds were changed then that would not change the world, that does not mean we should all give up writing and engaging (although we believe certain groups and individuals have caused such damage to the pro-revolutionary milieu that they should give up) we just think it means we should change our practice accordingly. We think consciousness is important because it allows us to operate in advance of any objective revolutionary activity but only within a very limited field and never as the revolutionary subject or as its mouthpiece.

This change of practice is from the workers to the left.

doam

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

For the sake of the record:

Developing content need not look like "okay first we take this factory and then this one" or some other fantasy, it could be like "is morality our enemy?" (taking an example from an earlier interaction between lettersjournal and RedHughs).

Chilli Sauce

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

doam

KriegPhilosophy, who began the thread later said

I was talking about the book rather than the tendency.

which indicates that it isn't "disingenuous" to ask for people to refer to the work. Of course, forum threads have a life of their own and don't need to be constrained to what their original posters want. But, if you are talking about "what [NiComs] have said" why don't you just quote them instead of the book? The problem isn't whether it is the book or not but whether what NiComs have actually said is being addressed or not.

That's actually fair enough and, with that, I'll bow out of this discussion.

simiangene

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hello to all nihilists of all bent, also normal people as well (which means ones cultural version of the status quo which is totally biased, and boring lol), since this is a binary perception, I suppose one supports the other, one cannot have nothing on its own, it needs something firstly to exist. This I see as the main fallacy regarding the idea of nothingness, just as the idea of the universe big bang theory has been refuted theoretically, along the same lines, an ideology (or negated ideology lol)cannot exist, and is infact a delusion.
Therefore let's approach this psychologically, and the first glaring condition, that of alienation and a sense of anomie.i.e. as our faithful dictionary describes as:-

'a social vacuum marked by an absense of social norms or values. And from our ancient Greek friends definition,,,'lawlessness', which could apply to anarchism in a more material sense.
Thus, we have summarised the much flouted and misunderstood term nihilism, and combining it with communism, basically defines the socially created mental state and it victims reification of that state into some tangible quality to accomodate their very sad identity. I truly feel for these people, having once been a nihilist, and am willing to converse and give directions and advice to any who feel they require meaning in their life, kindly, simiangene.

Spikymike

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I have explained my points of agreement and disagreement with the views of my N-C comrades on various other discussion threads here and elsewhere and don't want to get into another lengthy round of second-hand discussions on similar themes but wanted to make a few quick points:

1. My understanding is that the N-C viewpoint is influenced, in part at least, by a particular deterministic and rigid 'base-superstructure' version of marxism rather than any outright rejection of Marx's analysis.

2. Some here have indicated that they recognise some validity in the N-C critique of political groups and political activity as it relates to 'the left' but not 'to anarchists' or others in the libcom milieu. But it is clearly this which is contested by N-C's (and others) and whilst I do not go along with the N-C wholesale rejection of every aspect of that milieu it is hardly the case that leftism is absent from that milieu and is in fact a constant risk. As much as we may wish to subvert 'the left', they, from their more realistic capitalist perspective, are out to subvert us as well. Having a set of 'basic principles' and a comitment to 'revolution' does not immune us from the everyday effects of our involvement as worker-consumers in the reproduction of capitalist social relationships and all that goes with that.

3. Whilst my N-C comrades have some very firm ideas that they have developed over a lengthy period and which deserve some serious consideration, they don't claim to have 'solved the riddle of history' and express doubts about many issues like most of the rest of us.

bzfgt

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

A couple comments, in response to madlib's extremely cogent and helpful remarks:

1. It seems very clear to me that the MDs owe a lot to Marx and are working out of a basically Marxist framework (although not in the same way as each other) even if they deny it at times. But they certainly reject the notion that we need to turn to Marx to answer all questions.

2. For anyone who doesn't follow the link, that's not what most people understand by "Quietism," and one of the central criticisms of MD is the accusation of (the more usual sense of) Quietism, i.e. the injunction to "Do nothing!" Both MDs have since qualified "Do nothing!" (although not in the same way as each other).

doam

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This may be of interest only to me, but I want to qualify an earlier statement.

doam

Granted that many things will be unlike what we have seen before and so will be impossible to predict, it seems anarchists/communists could develop ideas instead of just saying what won't work. This seems like a thrust of the Bob Black critique in Anarchy. Without consciousness raising and practicing ahead of time it will be impossible down the road.

Bob Black's review of Nihilist Communism is actually more complicated on this.

At the beginning of the review he writes

If the workers find themselves the de facto owners of their factories, they will not be so collectively,as a class, but severally, in their several factories. Since they are still“non-conscious,” still atheoretical and non-ideological, still lazy, still greedy, still shortsighted, the workers will not
find it easy even to organize production themselves, since that is something the bosses always did for them. It’s been a long time since any workers took any interest in workers’ self-management. Organizing work as well as doing it means more work, not less, for workers, at least in the short run, and the perspectives of workers,according to M. Dupont, are always and only short-run. Supposing they accomplish that – and there are historical examples showing that it can be done, although American and British workers, at least, have never even attempted it – that does not abolish the exchange economy; it is merely a change of ownership, which under capitalism is an everyday occurrence.I am aware that the scenario I am sketching is already ridiculous, but I am trying to follow the M. Dupont theory to where it leads. What would greedy, shortsighted workers – not politically conscious, not class-conscious – do? For one thing, although they have expropriated the owners,they might invite the managers back,subject to some sort of workers’ control (although M. Dupont is against that), to help them resume production.

etc.

And then at the end Bob Black writes

Anarchists,according to M. Dupont, should have no relationship to the left except to act as its bad conscience. Personally, I would as soon we didn’t even bother. It won’t do any good. Leftists aren’t worth the trouble. They will, disillusioned, continue to drop out, one by one, and some will find their way to anarchism.

So, to modify my earlier statement: Bob Black's thrust does not seem to be in line with what I was arguing, that anarchists/communists should continue engagement with the left, but he does seem to think that "conscious raising" is important among workers (at least in the post-revolution scenario he characterizes M.Dupont as believing in).

Chilli Sauce

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Some here have indicated that they recognise some validity in the N-C critique of political groups and political activity as it relates to 'the left' but not 'to anarchists' or others in the libcom milieu. But it is clearly this which is contested by N-C's (and others) and whilst I do not go along with the N-C wholesale rejection of every aspect of that milieu it is hardly the case that leftism is absent from that milieu and is in fact a constant risk. As much as we may wish to subvert 'the left', they, from their more realistic capitalist perspective, are out to subvert us as well. Having a set of 'basic principles' and a comitment to 'revolution' does not immune us from the everyday effects of our involvement as worker-consumers in the reproduction of capitalist social relationships and all that goes with that.

All very valid, comrade.

KriegPhilosophy

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Wait so the Red Brigades, Al Qaeda, Waffen SS=active nihilists=good??? WTF??

Also I don't understand how the above groups are nihilist at all. All of them were motivated by fanatical ideologies which left no room for doubt or meaninglessness.

Nope that wasn't what I was insinuating and I can't be bothered to explain, I suggest reading Nietzsche on active nihilism. note the word "active".

I think the book nihilist communism has really good points on critiquing the left/anarchist on optimism. but other than that It's really fucking depressing. so i'm finished.

doam

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

KriegPhilosophy

I think the book nihilist communism has really good points on critiquing the left/anarchist on optimism. but other than that It's really fucking depressing. so i'm finished.

Finished with the left/anarchists? Finished with life? Finished with searching for a critique?

A thought exercise: we begin a thread where instead of looking for a way to confront nihilist communism we accept its arguments as true, for the sake of the exercise, and discuss trajectories and paths one may take from their starting point. On the one hand I can see why arguing the futility of the radical scene would cause some to be depressed but on the other hand one might say that the nihilist communist critique is liberating.

One possible interpretation: "The scene doesn't need you and the scene isn't doing anything and it isn't your fault and you don't need to feel bad about not going to meetings. You can practice piano instead of going to the protest."

RedHughs

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hey, I'll dive in and post some more comments, as long as folks don't feel like it will injure their tender feelings...

Chilli Sauce

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

One possible interpretation: "The scene doesn't need you and the scene isn't doing anything and it isn't your fault and you don't need to feel bad about not going to meetings. You can practice piano instead of going to the protest."

Okay, I haven't read the book, but this is just stupid. So I'm very active in SolFed and, maybe you're right that our activity and campaigns today won't directly bring about teh rEvolution!!, but to say we're not "doing anything"? We have actually won people money back from their employer and been active in fights that have improved conditions in workplaces. On top of the material stuff, there's members who I know appreciate the emotional support the SF offers them when they're dealing with problems at work. Work is a reality of life under capitalism and you're going to need money to "practice piano". If you're part of a scene that makes work a bit more bearable or, ideally, helps you improve your working conditions, you can fuck off if you think "the scene isn't doing anything."

Anyway, I'm all for folks having a discussion, but it's stupid fucking comments like this that make everyone have a go at NihCommers as soon as they show up.

Chilli Sauce

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Also, thought exercises are for wankers.

doam

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Chilli Sauce

Okay, I haven't read the book, but this is just stupid. So I'm very active in SolFed and, maybe you're right that our activity and campaigns today won't directly bring about teh rEvolution!!, but to say we're not "doing anything"? We have actually won people money back from their employer and been active in fights that have improved conditions in workplaces. On top of the material stuff, there's members who I know appreciate the emotional support the SF offers them when they're dealing with problems at work. Work is a reality of life under capitalism and you're going to need money to "practice piano". If you're part of a scene that makes work a bit more bearable or, ideally, helps you improve your working conditions, you can fuck off if you think "the scene isn't doing anything."

I grant that I was being imprecise but I can't figure out why you're so angry. I intended to mean that our activity doesn't bring about communism/anarchy (I assume this is what you mean by "teh rEvolution!!") and so our activity is geared towards therapeutic work (aka "emotional support") and improving our lives. You narrowed this to "work conditions" but I think it is clear that we are attempting to change the conditions of our daily lives, both at work and at leisure. I think it is possible that practicing piano, or some other "non-political" activity, may better improve our lives than campaigning at work.

This idea doesn't appear to be as blatantly stupid as it seems to you. In fact, most of the world seems to agree with staying home. What is the problem with our fellow workers? Are they all just idiots?

I would be receptive to any answers to these question if you can explain yourself more clearly and without insults. (How can we expect people to join our ranks when we can't even be respectful to one another?)

Chilli Sauce

Also, thought exercises are for wankers.

Thought experiments are used by physicists and other scientists all the time. A thought experiment is only a tool.

bonobo

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Chilli Sauce

So I'm very active in SolFed

How long are you in the organisation? How does being in SF improved YOUR material conditions?
Because, speaking for myself, I too was actively involved in one 'class-struggle-anarchist' organistion for a while and it didn't bring me too much, quite on the contrary. Being a part of the group that practices mutual aid may be fruitful for you, but there is not much inherently anarchist about it - you may find these kind of relationships in any other 'affinity group' (like hunters, users of particular automobile or trainspotters). Actually, if I have wanted to find this type of community, anarcho-syndicalist federation would be the last place where I started my search. Prorevolutionary scene is a concentration camp for people with low social skills who take much more than they can give.
I think that my experience is quite widespread and you are just replacing actual picture with your ideal of class-struggle organisation.
If you doubt it, I would recommend you to verify you ideas by talking to people who left Solidarity Federation a year or more ago and maybe trying to convert them back to anarcho-syndicalism.

Devrim

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Chilli Sauce

Anyway, I'm all for folks having a discussion, but it's stupid fucking comments like this that make everyone have a go at NihCommers as soon as they show up.

I don't think they are at all likely to show up, seeing as there are only towo of them, and they are both banned from Libcom.

I would imagine them just reading this whole thread and laughing.

Devrim

doam

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

RedHughs

Hey, I'll dive in and post some more comments, as long as folks don't feel like it will injure their tender feelings...

Are you being serious here? User "madlib" posted a thoughtful and lengthy response to your critique of n-c and instead of replying with any substance you wait twenty posts and then act as if you stopped posting to prevent people from crying.
I can't figure you out.

bzfgt

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

RedHughs

Hey, I'll dive in and post some more comments, as long as folks don't feel like it will injure their tender feelings...

Waiting for the other shoe to drop...

Chilli Sauce

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

bonobo

Chilli Sauce

So I'm very active in SolFed

How long are you in the organisation? How does being in SF improved YOUR material conditions?
Because, speaking for myself, I too was actively involved in one 'class-struggle-anarchist' organistion for a while and it didn't bring me too much, quite on the contrary. Being a part of the group that practices mutual aid may be fruitful for you, but there is not much inherently anarchist about it - you may find these kind of relationships in any other 'affinity group' (like hunters, users of particular automobile or trainspotters). Actually, if I have wanted to find this type of community, anarcho-syndicalist federation would be the last place where I started my search. Prorevolutionary scene is a concentration camp for people with low social skills who take much more than they can give.
I think that my experience is quite widespread and you are just replacing actual picture with your ideal of class-struggle organisation.
If you doubt it, I would recommend you to verify you ideas by talking to people who left Solidarity Federation a year or more ago and maybe trying to convert them back to anarcho-syndicalism.

You're just a clown of a troll and not even worth the trouble of a response and I'm trying not to take the bait, but fucking hell, mutual aid is an inherent tenet of anarchism:

In order for individuality to develop to the fullest possible extent, anarchists consider it essential to create a society based on three principles: liberty, equality and solidarity. These principles are shared by all anarchists. Thus we find, the communist-anarchist Peter Kropotkin talking about a revolution inspired by "the beautiful words, Liberty, Equality and Solidarity."

Chilli Sauce

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

doam

I grant that I was being imprecise but I can't figure out why you're so angry. I intended to mean that our activity doesn't bring about communism/anarchy (I assume this is what you mean by "teh rEvolution!!") and so our activity is geared towards therapeutic work (aka "emotional support") and improving our lives. You narrowed this to "work conditions" but I think it is clear that we are attempting to change the conditions of our daily lives, both at work and at leisure. I think it is possible that practicing piano, or some other "non-political" activity, may better improve our lives than campaigning at work.

This idea doesn't appear to be as blatantly stupid as it seems to you. In fact, most of the world seems to agree with staying home. What is the problem with our fellow workers? Are they all just idiots?

Quite simply, I think you're ignoring the material basis of society. And of course the goal of anarchism is to destroy work as a separate sphere of human activity. This where, again, I think the NihComs unjustifiably paint anarchists with the leftist brush.

Also, and this is exactly why I get annoyed with you. I write:

We have actually won people money back from their employer and been active in fights that have improved conditions in workplaces. On top of the material stuff, there's members who I know appreciate the emotional support the SF offers them when they're dealing with problems at work.

And you respond with:

so our activity is geared towards therapeutic work (aka "emotional support")

"Therapeutic work"? "What is the problem with our fellow workers? Are they all just idiots?"

Fuck off.

Thought experiments are used by physicists and other scientists all the time. A thought experiment is only a tool.

Maybe, but it's also used by windbag tossers with a bachelor's degree in philosophy that's not good for much else than trolling.

doam

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Woah. It's been less than two weeks on libcom and I have already stumbled into some weird territory. I knew nihilist communist thought was provocative but I didn't realize that it got people this angry. But I plan on neither playing the victim nor responding to remarks that selectively quote my comments and attempt to intimidate.

This thread shows that some people think there is value in nihilist communism and some do not. Those who do not have something at stake in n-c being wrong while those who find value don't seem to have the same emotional attachment. The former get angry while the latter often find themselves in the position of defending things they really want to just discuss.

________

Let us, we who think there is something interesting in nihilist communism, speak to each other without fear. I think there are a couple possible trajectories for a discussion which I will briefly outline.

1. Since those who are angered by nihilist communism do not seem able to come up with a sound critique (besides more or less the ad hominem), we could come up with our a critique of n-c for ourselves.

Three questions that I think could be fruitful to explore in the development of the critique:

-are the tentacles of capitalism in everything? is there something we could point to as not shaped by capital (like some kind of relation between humans whether friendship or love or something similar)?
-what is the State for n-c?
-what is the "essential proletariat" they refer to?
-what is the human being and what is the true human life that MD says we are not living?

2. I posited two different ways of moving on after affirming n-c. One was to engage other radical to develop communist ideas (e.g., is morality bad or not?) and the other was to do nothing and stay home. What are some other things "to do" after a departure from the scene's normal course? Not in the sense of What is to be Done? but in the sense that we still have lives to lead and are still people with certain ideas and dreams.

________

So that's what I have for now. Does anyone have any other ideas for the continuation of this thread? It may be that I am the only one wishing to salvage it from the "eff offs" and in that case I won't be offended if no one responds.

I think this was, in the end, probably the best way to first enter the libcom forums because it can't get much worse than this. Right?

madlib

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Chilli Sauce

"Therapeutic work"? "What is the problem with our fellow workers? Are they all just idiots?"

Fuck off.

First you accuse me of “going on about” things, like some kind of hysteric, when I was merely quoting one of my interlocutors and expressing “injured feelings” at what was obviously a callous slight. Now doam's sarcastic retort flies so far above your thick head that you take it as a real insult and castigate them as if a genuine offense had to be taken to task. You are just missing all the signals.

You have a schoolmasterly petulance about you, Chilli Sauce. And if anything is causing offense and distraction it is that disposition of yours. Has it ever occurred to you that you may be an easily incited person? Your persistent interference, incited as it is by seemingly nothing but misunderstandings and mysterious contempt on your part, is truly disruptive. You are trying to pull this discussion into a morass of ideological rivalry, away from a studied consideration of the book itself. Who is being inflammatory here?

Your trite recitation of truisms about “self-abolition” and the “material basis” is a thin pretense that allows you to glibly attack the validity of other people's experiences and erudition—experiences that diverge from your enthusiastic conviction in social work and workerist agit-prop. You're convinced that they've failed at Communist 101 and so are to be resigned to the detention of an oblivion where scholastically distinguished militants such as yourself have ensured the uppity marginalia of your political scene were banished to.

God forbid the day you pick apart anything more complex than a coloring book. We might all suffer for it, you twit.

Good day to you, sir!

I said, GOOD DAY! :x

mciver

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Perhaps naively, Monsieur Dupont assumed that his critique in Nihilist Communism could help modify the 'consciousness' of those he called pro revolutionaries. Their real social function and what defined these minorities was not stated clearly, except that they thought of themselves as 'conscious'. However, following the logic of Tamás, Kurz, Postone, Camatte/Collu and even the valuable ambiguities in Nihilist Communism, some of these minorities are doing exactly what they're supposed to.

Notwithstanding their nano-size, and not addressing their true relevance, they are among value's most trusted and zealous troopers. They militate 24/7 for the just and equitable appreciation of labour power. They define themselves as essential to improve the conditions of roughly three billion proletarians worldwide, and also essential to usher in 'communism' (usually a 19C 'labour republic' or a Bolshevik war economy). If we go by some irate comments here, these activities are infinitely more pleasurable than wanking or practising arpeggios. It would seem that M Dupont begs to differ, preferring some more direct fun -- hardly 'depressing' or 'puritan', this nihilism. In fact as doam opined above, it can be quite liberating (post 134).

Thus it's not obvious why the ideas of Messrs Dupont must be periodically exorcised. The fraternal intention of Nihilist Communism was not to expose some pro revolutionaries (like 'left communists') as manipulative rackets, sects or cults, or their antics as the twitches of a spent 19C delusion, but as comrades in theoretical error since the 1960's. For example:

Given the terrible history of the revolutionary movement and its betrayals of the working class surely it is imperative that every pro revolutionary group reaches the level of integrity whereby it is able to recognize and denounce its organizing tendencies and look for other ways of acting....

The Dictatorship of the Proletariat, page 34.

Pious sentiments, but It would have been more coherent to propose immediate disintegration, forget the 'imperative integrity'. Of course this is impossible, because the existence of these sects obeys in part a historic reflex, when these minorities/ideologies had an objective social function in the political spectrum.

Yet M Dupont is often treated by many of his comrades as a hostile 'other' (or 'others', as there's two of them, according to this youthful informant: "

... we're talking about two middle aged guys with working wives and kids. That in itself is an adequate explanation for why they felt the need to write Nihcom. It would probably be fair to call them quietists.

(post 121)

Thoughtful insight this one by madlib, especially about the kids with working mums, but not an 'adequate explanation' and even less a refutation of Nihilist Communism's critiques. And how could grand piano practice be 'quietist'? So the question remains -- why are two middle age guys a threat to frothy myrmidons? By the furore, it would appear that this nihilist onanism is an intolerable bourgeois deviation.

These comments refer only to the 2001-2010 views in Nihilist Communism (perhaps 1st edition), not to activities pursued by (Messrs?) Dupont since a couple of years ago. These may or not involve advocating prophylactic actions, ie, running scapegoats out of town, thus showing an undying loyalty to pro revolutionary causes.

Maybe the last and most complete exchange between M Dupont and their pro revolutionary milieux happened in 2010: http://libcom.org/forums/announcements/what-must-be-changed-order-transcend-capitalism-london-commune-july-5th-290

soc

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Chilli Sauce

I'm sorry man, but you should really take a big breath before you start to write a comment. It seems that on this thread you let the horses a bit too loose. I wouldn't mind you being impulsive if we were in a pub, but what's the use of being so indignant through the cable?

Chilli Sauce

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Oh you Nihcommers, you're all such martyrs... :roll:

Thank you all so much for your insightful and considered understanding of the world. I'll tell you what did it for me: "Is morality good or bad...?"

I now see the error of the "workerist" ways of the "prorevolutionary milieu" that is nothing more than a "concentration camp for people with low social skills"--me included. If only I'd spoken to burntout out ex-SFers, that would have been clear so much sooner...

These thought experiments have made me realise that what's really needed is a stop to all my "therapeutic work" and instead just staying in an playing the piano. I feel so liberated...

Oh, and thanks to this conversation my vocabulary is just so improved. Now that I don't have to worry about, ya know, improving my conditions or building class confidence, I can just read the dictionary all day and arrogantly toss around deep philosophical terms that will fly over the head of the "roughly 3 billion proletarians worldwide". After all, I'm one of the enlightened ones and since prorevolutionaries and their organisations are incapable of affecting social change, who needs to attempt to relate to those pesky proles in an accessible language. The would be so bourgeois... :roll:

Chilli Sauce

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Sorry Soc, I decided not to take your advice, comrade.

jonglier

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

wow Chilli Sauce, wow. A masterclass here in how not to discuss the issue and turn everything into rhetoric and personal attacks. Post #149 you simply turn yourself into a victim of patronisation, when really I can't see any good reason for you not to discuss the issue. And earlier:

"Therapeutic work"? "What is the problem with our fellow workers? Are they all just idiots?"

Fuck off.

???

I think there is a valid critique here and for some reason you flat out refuse to response to it. It's so easy to laugh it off with the standard critique of lifestylism we see on here so much: just sarcasm and no attempt to engage with the issue at all:

These thought experiments have made me realise that what's really needed is a stop to all my "therapeutic work" and instead just staying in an playing the piano. I feel so liberated...

If the ideas being discussed are so stupid, why don't you actually respond to them? If a third party is browsing these forums, you don't do your cause any good by representing it with puerile sarcasm. Simply saying that "you all think you know better than me..." doesn't possess any actual theoretical content.

Let me put it this way: I am not in SolFed or any anarchist or workerist organisation of any sort. I am aware that I could join such an organisation, but also aware that there are many other pursuits that I could occupy myself with. According to what I have learned in this thread, if I join SolFed I may be able to increase the probability of some workers recouping money from their employers, or obtaining some other form of improved working conditions. I have also been informed that practicing piano is an option for improving the quality of my life. I do not have a piano, and they cost quite of lot of money. Having read the thread, however, I remain doubtful as to whether my membership of SolFed would improve my own working conditions sufficiently that I would be able to afford a piano. However, I already have many hobbies and the materials required for carrying them out. These hobbies, I know for a fact, have immensely improved the quality of my life. They are very personal to me and while I like talking about them with some people, I feel it is almost impossible to truly express in words the love I have for them. I know that as long as I am physically fit and healthy enough, and suffer no severe accidents, they will always be there throughout my life. Having been informed on this thread that SolFed materially improve peoples working conditions and hence lives, it still remains, particularly if I go exclusively on what you Chilli Sauce have written, extremely unclear to me as an individual that spending my time planning actions and writing pamphlets and such things with SolFed would improve my own life more than using that time to continue with the pursuits that are already so dear to me. To be honest, and please don't take this as an insult but if you disagree tell me why, joining SolFed doesn't seem any more worthy an use of my limited time than campaigning for Oxfam (not specifically) or a similar charity which I'm sure does materially improve the lives of some of the people in the worst economic conditions, where receiving clean drinking water is a priority far outweighing all others.

bzfgt

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

After all, I'm one of the enlightened ones and since prorevolutionaries and their organisations are incapable of affecting social change, who needs to attempt to relate to those pesky proles in an accessible language. The would be so bourgeois...

Actually, what you mean to say is effecting social change. Go back to the dictionary, ignorant prole...

bootsy

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Its a bit of a shame this thread has gone down the shitter because doam raised some really interesting questions in their last post.

On the point of 'is morality good or bad', maybe that question could be rephrased along the lines of 'is there such a thing as a morality which is independent of a communist critique?' That was one question which I found myself pondering when I read Nihilist Communism, because at one point the authors say that feminism, queer rights, anti-racism etc. are simply personal moral positions which are good but aren't related to communism or revolution. It seems to me that this argument kind of contradicts the strong base-superstructure model which is so central to their argument, because if our ideas and relationships are so strongly determined by capital then surely things like sexism/feminism or racism/anti-racism aren't just moral positions which are independent of capitalism or its communist critique? Maybe this question is thrusting at the a contradiction which is similar to the one RedHughs pointed out earlier?

Chilli Sauce

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

bzfgt

After all, I'm one of the enlightened ones and since prorevolutionaries and their organisations are incapable of affecting social change, who needs to attempt to relate to those pesky proles in an accessible language. The would be so bourgeois...

Actually, what you mean to say is effecting social change. Go back to the dictionary, ignorant prole...

Oooh, the world of internet pedantry :roll:

Chilli Sauce

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Wait guys, hang tight.

I don't know why you think I'm not serious. All I've done today is play the piano. I mean, there was this strike and I was going to support the picket line, but then I called an ex-SFer who told me one time he'd been on strike, but didn't win. (He's a member of the Labour Party now, which he assures me is definitely not part of the prorevolutionary mileu and it's so much better that way!!!)

So I figured—as nihilistically as I could—fuck it, what's the point? And then I played some Tchaikovsky. Simples!

Like I said, NihCom is so liberating!

Chilli Sauce

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

On a more serious note, if you all hate the prorevolutionary milieu so much, why spend time and energy on libcom arguing about it?

Chilli Sauce

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

And another thing...

I don't normally engage in trolling but, fuck me, this is a lot of fun! I can see why y'all do it!

bootsy

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Chilli Sauce, I'm a fairly common lurker of the libcom forums, for better or worse. You seem to spend a lot of time posting, and yet from my observation I could count the number of intelligent contributions you've made on one of my hands - with all my fingers clenched.

You're an 'education worker' am-i-right? Because your approach to critiquing class society seems oddly familiar, in fact it kind of reminds me of my high school years. Like a good teacher, you regurgitate the curriculum to 'your pupils'. Those who express a lack of interest in your drab lack of originality are then delinquents, louts and idiots, deserving of some kind of punishment until they 'get it' i.e. believe the things you believe and behave in a way which is pleasing to you. Those who fail to fall into line ultimately need to be cast into the wilderness, expelled, in case they contaminate others.

I realise I'm probably just winding you up even more and chances are you're going to respond to this post with another 5 posts of oh-so-funny sarcastic trolling. But so be it.

Dunk

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

"Just as feminism, black power and gay rights have been de-radicalised by a capitalism that has not only tolerated them but fostered them as niche markets."

There's a lot I tend to agree with in their critique, but this is not exactly an example of something I agree with. Yes, I think to a certain extent, capitalism has de-radicalized black power and gay rights. Since industrialization, capitalism has de-radicalized and incorporated much of what was once a threat to it. Industrial unionism led to martial law, insurrection in some cases. Now the leaders of unions preach partnership with management. But this doesn't mean capital still doesn't brutally exploit and suppress workers. The ruling class in the Southern US used to proclaim that slavery and Jim Crow made "democracy for whites possible." Now that blacks are more or less politically enfranchised, they face things like mass imprisonment. So long after Stanton and Mott were hidden behind curtains by the men at an anti-slavery convention, women now occupy the highest echelons of business and bureaucracy - with less pay, much less frequency, and more violence against them. So long after Stonewall, the President of the US now supports gay marriage, yet the suicide rate of transgendered people is astronomical, and by some estimates 50% or more of LGBT population lives in the closet.

Yeah, it's true that capital abides no limits. But if there is any limit capital cannot overcome, it's oppression. It takes it from here, moves it there.

When or if the conditions for revolution are there, the subject can't act for itself if half of it is burning crosses in the neighborhoods of the other half.

I should probably mention "tolerance" as it's own kind of liberal bullshit, but that would probably double the length of this post.

doam

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

A point concerning the way forward:

Chiili Sauce speaks of his comments as trolling, which I interpret as meaning he is attempting to induce emotional reactions instead of engagement. At the same time he calls those opposing his views trolls. This makes sense, in part, as he seems to be having an emotional reaction to the current discussion. The difference between his comments and the majority of those in response to him is that the latter are not directed at him and do not aim to disrupt his thought in some way.

I propose we continue to speak to each other without worrying about his feelings and, at the same time, not address him or challenge him. He is not being rational or open to the discussion and that's fine. We can do just fine talking amongst ourselves and skipping over any comments he interjects (or reading them and sighing) rather easily. I am not convinced that n-c is right when it says we cannot raise the consciousness of workers, but I am convinced that we will not be able to engage Chilli Sauce fruitfully at this time.

RedHughs

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Madlib

In order to have a strong grasp of what Dupont is on about, first you need to make the mental leap of leaving behind the notion that theory and practice need to meet in unity

With this kind of "caveat" floating about, I can't see how Nihcom can be anything but "trolling". Trolling on a large canvas but essentially trolling. If nothing within Nihcom is necessarily said or proposed with the idea that it will really be done, what why else is it being said except as an "experiment" to see what reaction one gets?

This isn't saying that Nihcom doesn't deal with crucial questions. Hopefully these won't be left to the Nihcommunists.

Hieronymous

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

bootsy

On the point of 'is morality good or bad',

Perhaps that could be rephrased "is morality good or evil?" Then we could have a formal debate using National Forensic Association rules, the winner being given a prize -- for example, a season pass to their local bowling alley, a guidebook to birdwatching, or a DVD of a Zen tea ceremony at Daitokuji Temple in Kyoto, Japan.

Those being disingenuous or arguing in bad faith could be relegated to petition gathering for MoveOn.org for a week as punishment (there are rules!). Or for penance they could be forced to translate "Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity" into German.

Melancholy of …

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

jonglier

To be honest, and please don't take this as an insult but if you disagree tell me why, joining SolFed doesn't seem any more worthy an use of my limited time than campaigning for Oxfam (not specifically) or a similar charity which I'm sure does materially improve the lives of some of the people in the worst economic conditions, where receiving clean drinking water is a priority far outweighing all others.

You don't have to go so far, you can also offer to volunteer around the UK to help the homeless or the elderly. Granted, this does not 'raise the consciousness' of either of those groups, but then again does the SolFed activity raise the consciousness? How many people helped by SolFed have gone on to become members, and for how long? If there's no consciousness-raising that can be proven with actual growth in membership or any other activity, then how is one kind of activity better than the other?

Why don't we the SolFed members just go and work a bit of overtime and then give the money to the ripped-off worker to make up for lost wages? If say 12 SolFed members spend 10 hours of their lives between meetings, letter writing, research, picketing working on a 'case', then even at minimum wage that's quite a big wad of cash that could be given as compensation to the worker.
How is this, in any measurable way, better or worse than picketing a business? If not, then we've got to ask what kind of emotional rewards this activity brings to people like Chilli, and if those emotional rewards are in any way responsible to his behaviour in this topic (people have been banned for far less!)

Chilli Sauce

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

bootsy

Chilli Sauce, I'm a fairly common lurker of the libcom forums, for better or worse. You seem to spend a lot of time posting, and yet from my observation I could count the number of intelligent contributions you've made on one of my hands - with all my fingers clenched.

You're an 'education worker' am-i-right? Because your approach to critiquing class society seems oddly familiar, in fact it kind of reminds me of my high school years. Like a good teacher, you regurgitate the curriculum to 'your pupils'. Those who express a lack of interest in your drab lack of originality are then delinquents, louts and idiots, deserving of some kind of punishment until they 'get it' i.e. believe the things you believe and behave in a way which is pleasing to you. Those who fail to fall into line ultimately need to be cast into the wilderness, expelled, in case they contaminate others.

I realise I'm probably just winding you up even more and chances are you're going to respond to this post with another 5 posts of oh-so-funny sarcastic trolling. But so be it.

Jailer of the mind!!! Jailer of the mind!!!

Chilli Sauce

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

doam

A point concerning the way forward:

Chiili Sauce speaks of his comments as trolling, which I interpret as meaning he is attempting to induce emotional reactions instead of engagement. At the same time he calls those opposing his views trolls. This makes sense, in part, as he seems to be having an emotional reaction to the current discussion. The difference between his comments and the majority of those in response to him is that the latter are not directed at him and do not aim to disrupt his thought in some way.

I propose we continue to speak to each other without worrying about his feelings and, at the same time, not address him or challenge him. He is not being rational or open to the discussion and that's fine. We can do just fine talking amongst ourselves and skipping over any comments he interjects (or reading them and sighing) rather easily. I am not convinced that n-c is right when it says we cannot raise the consciousness of workers, but I am convinced that we will not be able to engage Chilli Sauce fruitfully at this time.

Class traitor!!! Class Traitor!!!

Chilli Sauce

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Melancholy of Resistance

Granted, this does not 'raise the consciousness' of either of those groups, but then again does the SolFed activity raise the consciousness? How many people helped by SolFed have gone on to become members, and for how long? If there's no consciousness-raising that can be proven with actual growth in membership or any other activity, then how is one kind of activity better than the other?

Why don't we the SolFed members just go and work a bit of overtime and then give the money to the ripped-off worker to make up for lost wages? If say 12 SolFed members spend 10 hours of their lives between meetings, letter writing, research, picketing working on a 'case', then even at minimum wage that's quite a big wad of cash that could be given as compensation to the worker.
How is this, in any measurable way, better or worse than picketing a business? If not, then we've got to ask what kind of emotional rewards this activity brings to people like Chilli, and if those emotional rewards are in any way responsible to his behaviour in this topic (people have been banned for far less!)

My serious post:

Yes, because giving money to people = the same thing as building the confidence and the skills to organise and confront your boss.

Also, yes some people have joined SolFed who we've helped, some haven't. But here's the thing: we're not of the belief the revolution will be won when we get 50%+! of the class on our side. The goal is to see the principles of anarcho-syndicalism (self-organisation, unmediated struggle) become the default response of the class to problems at work.

Also, it's a bit fucking rich for y'all to talk about trolling and emotional responses. You show up on the forums, tell people something they've put a lot of time and effort into is useless, and then begin attacking them personally and the organisations they belong to. And then you go a have a cry when people have an "emotional" go at you.

There's been a lot of shit-talking on this thread, but when someone makes a serious point--about how NihCom seems to paint anarchism with the leftist brush, calling out the implicit NihCom strawman that anarchists don't want to abolish work, the material nature of society and why this means anarcho-syndicialists focus on the workplace, or why although they're against the "prorevolutionary milieu", NihComs still spend time on libcom arguing about--it's totally ignored.

Instead you spend time making emotionally provocative statements, talking down to people, and arrogantly speaking about how you're liberated because you improved your personal lives by playing piano or some shit.

ocelot

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

On the grounds that my having read this thread was in itself an indictment of the mind-numbing boredom of office work under capitalism, that couldn't possibly get any worse, I resolved to try reading some of the book, just to prove to myself that it really could.

In fact I didn't get far before an odd resonance appeared to me. It reminds me of Hayek. There's the same asymmetry of action there - attempts at conscious intervention, rather than laissez faire, are powerless to produce positive effects, almost by definition, yet they still have the power to produce negative effects.

We try to keep an open mind about the events that will make up the revolution but we fail to see a revolutionary role for any form of political consciousness, revolutionary or otherwise. Quite the contrary, when we consider past revolutionary attempts and pro-revolutionary organisation and their political interventions we see in the function of consciousness only an inhibiting influence.

This relates to the same fundamental contradiction that RH previously deftly extracted, but the resonance with Hayek, and by extension, the AnCaps, was not something I'd appreciated before. It opens the possibility of a Kevin Carson - Mr Dupont mashup. I'm not sure what the point of such a chimera might be, other than the pure "mad scientist" thrill of sticking things together to see if they will fit, but there it is.

Melancholy of …

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Chilli Sauce

Instead you spend time making emotionally provocative statements, talking down to people, and arrogantly speaking about how you're liberated because you improved your personal lives by playing piano or some shit.

It's a funny discussion this one, because I think everyone involved is fundamentally on the same side, or at least, hates the same things in the same way and loves the same things but sees different ways to achieve those.
What has brought me here, is that I fundamentally have the same dream as everybody else in this website. Likewise, both the nihcom writers and the people who have come to this thread and written very long replies have invested a large amount of their time (better spent playing the piano?) in this. If it's just trolling, then it's a very time-consuming and mentally-consuming form of trolling.
I too would like to 'do something' but I want my actions to be worthwhile. If it's just to advance my own interests, then I've got a very r£warding career and clearly the more time I put in it, the b£tt£r off I'll be. If it's to advance my collective class interests, then I need to know why I'm making the sacrifice on my personal interests. I think this is a reasonable ask from a human being - more than that, or jumping blindly into activity with no considerations, smells of martyrdom and unchallenged ideology and that's the realm of other cults.
The question stands - what can we do as a class to achieve our freedom from capitalist relations? You claim it's better to do something than do nothing, but when this is challenged by a book and its supporters (once again I must say that I don't think ni-com is a 'movement' or 'school' with fully-committed supporters or practicioners) you react by dismissing the whole thing as bollocks without explaining why.
Next time we run into each other we can have a hug and talk this out, I'm sure.

doam

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

If you want to do workplace organising so be it. You may get some concessions from the boss and improve your individual life and that of your fellow workers. You may even gain confidence and feel emotionally better.

For others this is not the case. Personally I find that being a part of the scene has caused me to feel worse. Like those with strange religious faiths or sexual desires I am not certain how to relate my ideas to others and get nervous before revealing my politics. If it was just a hobby, something I did on the side in personal time, it would be one thing but as it is like a weird religious faith for me, things get more complicated. The need for communism is felt through my whole body and I am devoted to it. It isn't just playing football or piano.

what is it that I want when I want communism? Among other things I want genuine human interaction not mediated by the commodity and to feel like my life is meaningful and that I have power in my daily life.

It is this latter desire that gets me into trouble when coupled with my overall desire for communism.

The main method proposed to get us to communism is to spread our ideas, to talk to our workers and family and friends. This ranges from passing out newspapers to posting on facebook. This method has yet to work on any scale. Individual campaigns have succeeded but we are no closer to communism now.

I feel weak. I do not feel like the struggle for communism gives my life meaning. I wonder what else there is to do. Some people are rioting. Some people are discussing things on the internet or at the pub. Some people are plotting with an FBI agent to blow up a bridge. Some people are killing themselves.

I go to work.

Nihilist communism does not say to anyone "don't you attempt to raise consciousness or organise around issues." It says "it is not your fault that you have not raised consciousness and the revolution we want doesn't need you to be doing that." This allows me to look elsewhere for my meaning. I said practicing piano but it could just as well be having a child, writing a book, building a house, salsa dancing, etc. You can even organise at work if that's what you are into.

EDIT:
I come to the forums to talk to people who want communism like I do. I am told to fuck off because I ask questions about the proposed method of getting there. Again I do not feel powerful. I write a response. It is not quoted. The people who respond say I am not listening. I say they are not listening. I am told not to cry but I am not crying. Anonymous people vote the comments up and down but say nothing. I feel weak. I decide I am not being clear and try another post. I am asked why I even spend time posting things. I am called a nihilist communist. I feel like I have wasted time. I look elsewhere.

Chilli Sauce

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Oh, cry me a fucking river.

Don't try to turn this into some 'Whoa is me, I just want to live a happy life without the mystical, pseudo-religious manipulation this is workplace organising," when the NihCommers on this thread have engaged some of the most emotionally disingenuous trolling I've ever seen on libcom.

Chilli Sauce

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

P.S. We're at a low point of class struggle. I understand why it can feel like we're never getting any closer to communism and why it can be easy to retreat into activism, activities for personal fulfilment*, or even apathy. But to create an entire philosophy based on our own futility, that seems like the ultimate form of defeatism.

*although I have to say this annoys me that y'all present it as if class struggle anarchists only do class struggle and don't have personally fulfilling activities outside of that...

soc

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Chilli Sauce

P.S. We're at a low point of class struggle. I understand why it can feel like we're never getting any closer to communism and why it can be easy to retreat into activism, activities for personal fulfilment*, or even apathy. But to create an entire philosophy based on our own futility, that seems like the ultimate form of defeatism.

*although I have to say this annoys me that y'all present it as if class struggle anarchists only do class struggle and don't have personally fulfilling activities outside of that...

We're at a low point of class struggle. Agreed. And it is worthwhile therefore to review our own movement and decide whether we're heading in the right direction.
I think there's a consensus on libcom, regarding activism and militancy in itself, that is, these phenomenons are nothing else but the alienation between the activists and the class it self.

But the mindset of an activist is such that whatever they do, that's the harbinger of the better world. Some activists tend to think that whatever they do, it is the harbinger of communism. This is covering a wide variety of ideological background, such as trots, stalinists, lifestylists, and so on.

Now the real question is, that is there similar tendency within the anarcho-communist/anarcho-syndicalist scene. I'm all the happy if you make points in this debate whether it is true, or not. Ocelot, and RedHughs also offered some good point against the methodology what the NihCom authors used in their process.

Especially with ocelot recent comment, where he brings up the deterministic aspects of this method, that has close resemblence to the Hayek-Mises-AnCap line of pro-capitalist, "market-will-solve-everything" stance, which dismisses the organised, collective agency of economic entities. From what I read, the whole thread is full of people who are eager to discuss the question of determinism, and activism on the occasion of the NiCom book. And there are those, who just want this discussion go away from the very beginning for whatever reason.

If I'm not mistaken about the underlying question of active agency, what is unworthy of such a discussion?

doam

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Chilli Sauce

We're at a low point of class struggle. I understand why it can feel like we're never getting any closer to communism and why it can be easy to retreat into activism, activities for personal fulfilment*, or even apathy. But to create an entire philosophy based on our own futility, that seems like the ultimate form of defeatism.

Here I find something we can talk about together.

What would a high point of class struggle look like? Has there been a high point before? Were once closer to communism than now? How do we know when we are close?

I can understand why it would seem like "the ultimate form of defeatism" but it is not as if we, meaning radicals, have not struggled. For hundreds of years we have attempted to raise consciousness and it has not worked. I think the book Nihilist Communism proposes some reasons (i.e. the nature of the material base of society and the fact that communism is an ideal) that this consciousness raising model has failed.

Are there other models? How does communism come about?

This, I believe, is soc's question.

soc

it is worthwhile therefore to review our own movement and decide whether we're heading in the right direction.

If you, Chilli Sauce, truly only want "to see the principles of anarcho-syndicalism (self-organisation, unmediated struggle) become the default response of the class to problems at work" then maybe the conscious raising model would be a good method (though I am not certain unmediated struggle will become the default response) but communism seems to be a wholly different matter.

It may be that we cannot bring it about. This is a possibility. The discussion I thought we could have here is what we could do in light of this possibility.

Battlescarred

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Kill ourselves.

Devrim

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Chilli Sauce

P.S. We're at a low point of class struggle.

You obviously don"t remember the 90s.

Devrim

Chilli Sauce

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fair point Devrim, but historically, we're still at a pretty damn low point.

Doam, those are all good questions and they're the sorts of questions this site is there to answer. As someone who's "movement time" is limited, I've got to be honest, I don't really have the energy or the inclination to answer them. I'm sure you could start a thread on each one and get a flurry of responses. Alternatively, I'd start here:

http://libcom.org/library/libcom-introductory-guide

Devrim

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Chilli Sauce

Fair point Devrim, but historically, we're still at a pretty damn low point.

It is a bit off topic, but I think for the last decade or so we have been in a bit of a period of resurgence of the class struggle. I would qualify that by saying it is a very small resurgence, and it started from a very low point, but I still think that we are.

Devrim

Devrim

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Chilli Sauce

I now see the error of the "workerist" ways of the "prorevolutionary milieu" that is nothing more than a "concentration camp for people with low social skills"--me included. If only I'd spoken to burntout out ex-SFers, that would have been clear so much sooner...

Also either I have missed something here or you have. In my opinion the people who wrote the book Nihlist communism are hardcore 'workerists'.

Devrim

bonobo

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

doam

Three questions that I think could be fruitful to explore in the development of the critique:

-are the tentacles of capitalism in everything? is there something we could point to as not shaped by capital (like some kind of relation between humans whether friendship or love or something similar)?
-what is the State for n-c?
-what is the "essential proletariat" they refer to?
-what is the human being and what is the true human life that MD says we are not living?

1. Regarding the first question, This text (which I mostly disagree with) comes to my mind.

So called “Capitalism” and commodity economy are not yet “total”, if they were it would be impossible to even think about communism.

Indeed, we can't think about communism. There's no communism neither in our nightdream nor our plans. The more I try to articulate communism the more I realise that it's just simple capitalism corrected with my everyday ethics.
I think there is something in our bodies that resists capital, but it's definitely not an urge for 'love' or 'friendship' which are the products of the market of simple human relations (sadly some communists believe in communism as 'human community')

2. I don't think there is special nihilist concept of the state, since nihcom doesn't develop communist theory, everything is already said by Marx and his epigones.

3. I don't understand this concept either. It's somehow connected with the theory of falling rate of profit, I believe.

4. Where he is saying something like this? I thought Dupont is pretty 'poststructuralist' on this topic.

Railyon

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Devrim

It is a bit off topic, but I think for the last decade or so we have been in a bit of a period of resurgence of the class struggle. I would qualify that by saying it is a very small resurgence, and it started from a very low point, but I still think that we are.

I think that also depends on where you are. Class struggle in Greece is alive and kicking while it couldn't really get any lower in Germany, for example. Had a minor exchange with a comrade in Germany who fears that once the current crisis extends far enough to hit Germany we may very well see a monumental resurgence of fascism because the Left is so marginalized on all fronts. I think there's a bit of truth to that but I think it won't be the same as in the 30s, more like a technocratic nationalism (because of Germany's unique history in regards to fascism and workers movements)

RedHughs

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Bonobo

Indeed, we can't think about communism. There's no communism neither in our nightdream nor our plans.

This is one of those "really true yet really false" kind of chestnuts. It is really true that we can't just follow our logical processes to get to communist relations, we can't specify the content of communism. But it is really false that we are wholly and absolutely trapped within capitalist relations.

Capitalism is only a system, not some "absolute reality". Our dreams, our bodies, our visions, etc - our immediate experiences - are outside of capitalist relations. It is simply that the circuits of capitalism continuously recapture these immediate experiences and that our rational, interpretative processes aren't a pure product of these immediate experiences but are also, even predominantly, a product of this continuous "recapturing" by capital relations.

But still, our reasoning The words "communism" and "capitalism" only have meaning to the extent that our reasoning processes are somewhat useful in aiding us in escape the situation we're in. It is simply that we must use our reasoning to understand that this reasoning can only be a part of a collective process. And hey, you can do that. I just did it.

Melancholy

What has brought me here, is that I fundamentally have the same dream as everybody else in this website. Likewise, both the nihcom writers and the people who have come to this thread and written very long replies have invested a large amount of their time (better spent playing the piano?) in this. If it's just trolling, then it's a very time-consuming and mentally-consuming form of trolling.

As I recall, the rhetorical question "why would I be bothering with this unless I had a good reason" really is made by Nihcom at various points. But it is kind of a trap. How the fuck would I know why you do this stuff? Even more, whatever answer I might give can easily be refuted since each nihcomist is the authority on their own motivation.

However, I think I can maneuver past that trap by offering a reason a hypothetical nihcomist might have for spending their time on things that seem ridiculous, but in a surprise twist, turn out to really be ridiculous.

Our hypothetical nihcomist would be someone emotionally stuck on the failings of the left. They've dropped out of the scene but they still feel the prick of the moral condemnation these leftists lavishly dole out. So they have no further idea than to save others from the torture that these leftists are engaging in.

Doam

Nihilist communism does not say to anyone "don't you attempt to raise consciousness or organise around issues." It says "it is not your fault that you have not raised consciousness and the revolution we want doesn't need you to be doing that."

I would agree with this point. The thing is, this is not a huge point for me. I've had contact with radical groups off and on for many, many years. I seldom feel worried that I'm not doing enough. It seems like for our model nihcomist, who isn't necessarily Doam, being able to say "no" to leftist demanding some activism is a big, big thing. And that's the problem. If saying no to the activists is a big thing, then you're still stuck on them.

So, I don't know what exact emotional dynamic is really going on with the Nihcommists. I don't even know emotional dynamic is really going on with leftists. But I would claim a model of moralistic ressentiment would be sufficient to explain many of aspects of either phenomena. I know having a sufficient explanation isn't that good an argument but if the nihcomist want to ask "why would I do this if it wasn't for some useful purpose?" Well, there you have a hypothetical answer.

Further, I've already argued that the left is just an instance of ideology in general. I'd claim it tends towards impoverished relations but that's a tendency like the rest of capitalist society tendencies. A communist analysis needs to look at broad tendencies rather than getting "stuck" in one or another particulars. I mean, a strong tendency written through all of capitalist relations today seems to be a fixation on "dualistic thinking". A multitude of ideologies, (many not even related to the left), define themselves almost wholly by their enemies (listen to the right wing sometime for example). Nihcom seems to track this tendency pretty closely. I mean, the American Pro-Situ milieu of the 1970's seemed to fall into more or less a similar rather pathological dynamic. Their focus shifted from theorizing the qualities of capitalist relations to theorizing why one or another tendency was fucked-up. And there you have it, if your focus shifts from charting potential traps within the whole of capitalist relations to reading the minds of particular people, you've slid down the rabbit hole.

There you have it, the left, Nihcom and, say, the Moonies all seem like traps. But I'd advise against organizing interventions where you tie up the "victims" and "deprogram" any of these people. The experiences of any or all of these people are more complex.

My claim would be that collective action overthrowing capitalist relations is pretty much the only situation where these fixation traps are going stop sucking people in on a mass scale (though Nihcom in particular is certainly very small scale). I'd take the "communization" position that this would something like a "big bang" but that's another story.

lettersjournal

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It is difficult for me to follow this thread because there are several conversations happening at once. I will pick out one of them because it speaks to something I've been interested in lately.

One of the charges placed against Monsieur Dupont here (and unintentionally invited by the use of the word 'nihilism') is that the MD project - and Nihilist Communism in particular - was only an exercise in eristics. That is, argument for the sake of argument or deeper the rejection of any possibility of wisdom or truth. The classical example of arguments about eristics are Plato's dialogues of Socrates debating the Sophists (ie. Euthydemus, one of the best but most overlooked of the dialogues).

This is roughly what Hiernymous is saying when he compares the book Nihilist Communism to the movie The Big Lebowski. The content of eristic arguments doesn't matter because all eristic arguments are ultimately the same; they are all implicitly arguments against the possibility of truth and wisdom, and the function of the argument is to waste the time of the other person involved or maybe for the Sophist to have a good time (or worse - for the Sophist to profit from the teaching of nonsense OR for the Sophist to corrupt the other [and ultimately the whole 'communist community'] by undermining their belief in virtue/truth/et cetera).

Aside: There are a lot of tensions in Plato, but the one that really strikes me is the possibility of Socrates really being a Sophist of sorts (Leo Strauss read the Euthydemus in this way, and I think Socrates' undermining his own argument inPhaedo leads to a similar conclusion) - that the city of Athens was 'just' in their judgement of him - he really was corrupting the youth and teaching against the gods. I suppose the question here is whether 'the city of Libcom' has been just in their judgment of Monsieur Dupont.

One could say that while incorrect or stupid or wrongheaded, the left communism cum anarcho-syndicalism that is popular here at least offers moral and metaphysical certainty. If Monsieur Dupont demolishes this certainty without replacing it with something else (indeed, undermining the possibility of any alternative certainty existing again), the result is a nihilism which is even worse than the original ideas, no matter how stupid they might be. To put it another way: even if bad idea X leads to bad political strategy Y, at least it's better than bad idea Z that leads nowhere. Whereas disagreement with enemies or opposing ideologies actually strengthens one's beliefs or practices, engagement with nihilism (even critical engagement) is a trap that undermines or fractures one's original beliefs. Thus, the call to not engage, to ban, et cetera.

Reading Monsieur Dupont as a Sophist is one reading, but I do not think it is the correct reading.

If we accept the charge of Sophism, a paradox arises: the trajectory of Dupont since Nihilist Communism has not been towards nihilism. Quite the opposite. One can read the blog Insipidities or the book species being (to give two examples) and perhaps disagree with every word in them, but they are not an expression of nihilism. Both are wary or dismissive of knowledge but not of wisdom. If my own journal is in some way in the trajectory of NC as well, certainly I affirm truth, morality, etc. I might even go so far to say that my project is primarily directed against nihilism, if it is directed against anything.

On the other hand, the moral and metaphysical certainty of left communism cum anarcho-syndicalism seems to have a propensity towards nihilism. This is expressed in the 'technocratic turn' of this website (see the threads extolling and analyzing visitor statistics [the triumph of quantity over quality]) or the unethical response to the Cleveland thing or the content of libcommunity or the constant use of internet graphics/movies in response to discussions or the 'journalistic turn' of accumulating news links and reporting on events rather than discussion or analysis. These are expressions of nihilism of the sort captured so beautifully in a phrase Strauss attributed to Weber: specialists without spirit or vision and voluptuaries without heart...

Hieronymous

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Letters,

It would be easier to reciprocate in a mutually respectful way if you didn't come here trolling in bad faith. Case in point: it seemed like you were joining a shark feeding frenzy when you registered new accounts under pseudonyms to simply join the witchhunt against the Aufheben professor; and now you're making the passive-aggressive guilt-by-association accusation of the website taking a "technocratic turn" (from what, a state of primitive communism?). Honestly, it's been at least 5 years since I've seen you make a single good faith effort to contribute to "discussions or analysis" anywhere online. Lately, your posts are always talking shit, throwing sycophantic props to Monsieur DuPont, or chastising us for how meaningless our ideas and our posts are. For that, I can only call you a hypocrite.

I read your posts and it seems like a form of intellectual masturbation, replete with clever namedropping and slightly-veiled attacks on not only other posters here on libcom, but the whole project itself. If you have so much contempt and scorn for all of us here, please go elsewhere. Because when I read what you write, I hear pain and cries for affirmation and recognition. You're looking for your emotional needs in all the wrong places . . .

The Internet is simply pseudo-communication in its most alienated form. Yet I did appreciate the human warmth in the thread about venting our despair and supporting each other. It actually helped me a lot in coping with the death of a dear comrade. It was nice to see people drop their macho-hyper-debate character armor and express feelings of love and compassion for each other (I say this despite being called a "hippie" on that thread).

Letters, you seem like a thoughtful, caring, and fine young person. I know you come from a political tradition of puritanical conformity and absolutist morality, but you still seem able to think for yourself. But your online persona is robotic and über-competitive, as though you're IBM's Deep Blue supercomputer beating all the world's chess champions every time. I seriously suspect that you might actually be suffering from anhedonia from the way your persona, both in your fanzine and online, is so humorless. You really seem like you need to smile, get a hug, or simply laugh.

I know I'll get about 30 downed votes, but Letters please stop being so goddamned pure, let your hair down, take a deep breath, and relax. Try watching a film like The Big Lebowski. Laughter is therapeutic.

doam

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Almost everything that has happened in this thread in the past 24 hours is bizarre. I do not even know how to begin addressing it but I will see what can be done. I will skip bonobo and lettersjournal to write more detailed responses later.

Devrim

In my opinion the people who wrote the book Nihlist communism are hardcore 'workerists'.

This statement is provocative but I can't figure out what you mean. MD repeatedly says it is dumb to idealize the working class and their culture. Do you just mean they think the workers are important? This seems so obvious to point out that, in that case, your comment is trivial.

Red Hughs

But still, our reasoning The words "communism" and "capitalism" only have meaning to the extent that our reasoning processes are somewhat useful in aiding us in escape the situation we're in. It is simply that we must use our reasoning to understand that this reasoning can only be a part of a collective process. And hey, you can do that. I just did it.

I have read these sentences several times and cannot figure out what they mean. The word "capitalism" has meaning only because my reason is useful in helping me to escape capitalism? I must only use my reason to understand that reason can only be a part of a collective?
What are you trying to say here?

Red Hughs

It seems like for our model nihcomist, who isn't necessarily Doam, being able to say "no" to leftist demanding some activism is a big, big thing. And that's the problem. If saying no to the activists is a big thing, then you're still stuck on them.

You miss the point of the discussion I thought we might have. It is something like "Now that we have said 'no' what will we say 'yes' to?"

Red Hughs

I don't know what exact emotional dynamic is really going on with the Nihcommists.

Let us open ourselves to the possibility that it is not an "emotional dynamic" that "is really going on."

Red Hughs

Their focus shifted from theorizing the qualities of capitalist relations to theorizing why one or another tendency was fucked-up. And there you have it, if your focus shifts from charting potential traps within the whole of capitalist relations to reading the minds of particular people,

This is exactly what you, and Hieronymous below, are doing in this thread.

Red Hughs

My claim would be that collective action overthrowing capitalist relations is pretty much the only situation where these fixation traps are going stop sucking people in on a mass scale (though Nihcom in particular is certainly very small scale). I'd take the "communization" position that this would something like a "big bang" but that's another story.

What are you saying? That after overthrowing capitalism there won't be nihilist communism anymore? Agreed.

Hieronymous

There is nothing of your post, Hieronymous, I wish to quote. If you actually cared about lettersjournal and were worried about him then you would have sent something like that privately. Instead you characterize the author as a emotionally-stunted kid who is driven to attention and refer, not to his actual post, but to those of the past and to your vague personal experience with him.

Perhaps I began the emotional part by talking about Chilli Sauce's reaction to posts and by talking about my own feelings of powerlessness. I think it is disgusting to take from these attempts of honest communication the idea that we may write people off as having emotional troubles.
You all probably just hate your moms or dads, right?

RedHughs

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

doam

Almost everything that has happened in this thread in the past 24 hours is bizarre. I do not even know how to begin addressing it but I will see what can be done. Red Hughs

But still, [s]our reasoning[/s] The words "communism" and "capitalism" only have meaning to the extent that our reasoning processes are somewhat useful in aiding us in escape the situation we're in. It is simply that we must use our reasoning to understand that this reasoning can only be a part of a collective process. And hey, you can do that. I just did it.

I have read these sentences several times and cannot figure out what they mean. The word "capitalism" has meaning only because my reason is useful in helping me to escape capitalism? I must only use my reason to understand that reason can only be a part of a collective?
What are you trying to say here?

Well, first, darn my counter-revolutionary Stalinist typos (see strike-through above).

Anyway, to try to further explain.

We can use reason to understand things. We can use reason to understand that our very process of understanding is limited. That is, that categories like "capitalism" or "the left" or "alienation" aren't absolutes but simply true-enough to be useful for our purposes, which is to live in a different world. But even more, we can use reason to understand that we won't argue our way out of either the left or capitalism but rather the end of each will come through us being a part of a larger process that will involve more than what we know and understand at present.

And I'm not saying anything about only using reason in distinction to "passion" or something. "Reason" is just a stand-in for our processes of understanding.

This is basically saying everything is relative and specifically relative to the scale that you are working on. Leftists are not utterly unable to talk to the working class. Of course you can find examples of working class leftists who talk to the working class and who successfully organize the working class etc. Look at the Republic Windows And Doors wildcat. One can, I believe, argue that this kind of thing isn't going to happen often enough or well-enough that the left would ever be the organizer of the working class. This doesn't mean that the left won't have a role during a revolution (quite possibly a negative role as Nihcom does correctly point out but we're talking about how to understand this problem). Still, the further point here is that statements about the left or capitalism have to be made relative the process of capitalism reproducing itself or being prevented from reproducing itself.

doam

Red Hughs

It seems like for our model nihcomist, who isn't necessarily Doam, being able to say "no" to leftist demanding some activism is a big, big thing. And that's the problem. If saying no to the activists is a big thing, then you're still stuck on them.

You miss the point of the discussion I thought we might have. It is something like "Now that we have said 'no' what will we say 'yes' to?"

Well, a wide variety of communist theory of various sorts have addressed the question "what do we say yes to" or more appropriately phrased the question "what can a praxis that escapes the left and capitalist recuperation be". My main objection is essentially that I don't see the Nihcom "no" as particularly interesting or particularly unique except perhaps in the vociferousness with which they put it forward as something like "a 'no' from which no 'yes' will follow".

bzfgt

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

That's an interesting problem. I don't see every phenomenon in a capitalist society as an expression of some essence of capitalism (MD seem conflicted on this). I think there are all kinds of things that happen that are not directly capitalist.

On the other hand, to imagine communism it isn't necessary just to imagine a whole bunch of these things, but to imagine a kind of social relation that is non-capitalist, and that's very difficult. It may even be impossible, but I have to imagine something like communism to know that I want it. If communism is different enough from what I imagine, maybe I don't want it after all.

On the other hand capitalism is so clearly bad that even if I don't dig communism, I would like to see capitalism end.

It seems to me that MD's point on all this isn't that communism is absolutely unimaginable but that we should distrust our imaginings of it, it's a basically materialist argument that distrusts the ideas produced by a capitalist material base, to speak in a crudely marxist manner.

Also I think what Devrim must mean by "workerist" is MD thinks only the proletariat can make a revolution, not that they valorize prole culture or romanticize the workers or whatever.

RedHughs

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

bzfgt

It seems to me that MD's point on all this isn't that communism is absolutely unimaginable but that we should distrust our imaginings of it, it's a basically materialist argument that distrusts the ideas produced by a capitalist material base, to speak in a crudely marxist manner.

The thing is, this isn't new. From Marx onward, communists have taken the position that they didn't intend to make blue prints of a new, just have a general outline based their analysis of capitalism's basic structure and the negation of that structure. These worthwhile intentions indeed have failed many times along the way but they have been there.

It seems like the only thing that Nihcom is "bringing to the table" is a need to confront people strongly with problems like the problem of imagining communism and confront them so strongly that these leftists "have no escape". That could appear reasonable at first blush but presently, it seems they've become stuck at this confrontation point and so become more or less a counter-ideology to leftist ideology.

madlib

madlib

The title of the book … was just a snappy title. That's the big secret!

I want to rescind this statement. It gives the impression that nihilism was merely a shock term meant to draw attention instead of being a signification of a genuine train of thought within the book itself.

There's the rub. I could sort of appreciate that "Nihilism" might seem like a great way to intervene against the usual leftist bullshit. The problem is that once you make your pose solid enough, you wind-up not ever wanting to admit it is a pose and so you take the mechanical negation of leftist ideas seriously. "It's the shock value dude ... no wait, it's not shock, it's a deep critique..."

Devrim

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

doam

Devrim

In my opinion the people who wrote the book Nihlist communism are hardcore 'workerists'.

This statement is provocative but I can't figure out what you mean. MD repeatedly says it is dumb to idealize the working class and their culture. Do you just mean they think the workers are important? This seems so obvious to point out that, in that case, your comment is trivial.

I don't think that the term workerism is used even mainly for those who 'idealise the working class and its culture'. I don't think that there is anything provocative about it, and I would think they would admit to it themselves.

Devrim

doam

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Devrim,

You're right.
I let Hieronymous' post irk me and my irritation leaked out into my other comments. Sorry for that.

bzfgt

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Red,

I don't really recognize the phenomenon you're talking about. I don't see MD intervening all that much in leftist circles or obsessing about it (although I would say one of them does this a little more than t'other). Your position seems to be that, in the case of MD, what's good is old and what's new is bad; fine, but I'm not sure there's a whole lot more to be said about that.

Hieronymous

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

[post deleted]

Hieronymous

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

[double post deleted]

RedHughs

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

bzfgt

I don't really recognize the phenomenon you're talking about. I don't see MD intervening all that much in leftist circles or obsessing about it (although I would say one of them does this a little more than t'other).

Buzzy, I think I can document that phenomenon:

MD summarized earlier on this thread

We think pro-revolutionaries do have a role but it is not generally the role they award to themselves (for example, waving flags, masking their faces, travelling to international cities, exhibiting the most extreme gestures in the parade of gestures that are political demonstrations); we see one of our tasks as to inhibit those who would lead the revolution, especially those who are closest to us and claim not to want to lead; other tasks we have set ourselves are the creation of tools, tactics and perspectives for use by others in various critical events, for which we claim no intellectual property rights.

http://theanarchistlibrary.org/HTML/Monsieur_Dupont__Nihilist_Communism.html#toc31

Again, we say that, people will address the question of revolution when the revolution means the binmen have not turned up, there's rationing, there's roadblocks on the motorways, the railway workers are on strike, they haven't had post for a month and the stock exchange is in freefall (whatever that means). People think about solutions to problems that are in their faces right now, if you don't HAVE to think about the character of a workers' council then why do it? Well, pro-revolutionaries have to think about it because it is up to us to intervene when potentially revolutionary events get re-routed back to capitalist forms but nobody else needs bother themselves and nor will they. It is in the revolutionary period that pro-revolutionaries can make a decisive intervention, and push forwards revolutionary `opinions'. Like those seeds in the desert or the eclipse horizon, the moment for our usefulness is very short.

I'm sure I could on but that's enough. The MD position is that at least one reason they exist is to stop the badness of those around them (I mentioned earlier the limits of my statements on motivation).

Considering that Doam was asking us, indeed challenging us for a critique of Nihcom, I feel like we/I should go forward and give it to her/him.

So...

As far as the worthwhileness of intervening "when potentially revolutionary events get re-routed back to capitalist forms" goes, the scenario sounds good but has multiple problems. "Potentially revolutionary situations" don't gestate outside the working class and then either appear fully revolutionary or are killed by leftist. Oddly enough, the working class is involved in small and large revolts as well as leftists (talking about the real world of multiple cultures within a heterogeneous working class as opposed to MD's cartoonish world populated solely by slovenly proles and wicked intellectually). But most important, a complex and confusing potentially revolutionary event involves a process of self-interrogation - we can see this in two widely contrasting events in the US. Neither the LA riots nor Occupy Oakland involved pure revolutionary proledom polluted by intervening leftists. Things were messier, things are messier, things will be messier.

bzfgt

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Well now you're talking about interventions when there is a ('potentially'?) revolutionary situation rather than dangerous obsession with the left in the here and now. I take it that MD's main point is actually in line with your 'things will be messier' critique, i.e. pro-rev consciousness will become both worthwhile and involved in things when things are happening, things the pro-revs cannot and will not create but will be involved in. At this point is when the accrued structural, ideological and numerical-demographic 'capital' of leftist groups means they can potentially have outsize, perhaps unintentionally, recuperative influence on things. The counter to this isn't some kind of ignorantly taoist 'purity' but a different kind of communist consciousness. At least, that's how I read 'em. They're not positing a clean break between ignorant proles and wicked intellectuals, rather they're claiming that a certain kind of consciousness 'before its time' (as Paul Masson used to say) remains impotent and aggrandizes itself defensively, without the free and open region of a breakdown in functions of capital that would allow such consciousness to have effect. This consciousness has to be both encouraged in a way and critiqued in a way. I don't think your criticisms entirely hit the mark...but to a certain extent I think there is a kernel to your critique I can work with, the notion that in practice a malignant growth of consciousness is hard to diagnose, since everything humans do has consciousness involved in it. Thus there is a need for dialectical thinking, at least on a certain plane...

RedHughs

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Buzzy

I take it that MD's main point is actually in line with your 'things will be messier' critique, i.e. pro-rev consciousness will become both worthwhile and involved in things when things are happening, things the pro-revs cannot and will not create but will be involved in.

Can you find any support in their texts for this (the 'things will be messier' part in particular)?

I mean, I'll admit that when I first had vague contact with them I kind of sleep-walked into assuming they were in accord with my own position as articulated above, which I view as a somewhat generic Situationist-influenced-anti-state-communist position. But I think they've taken pains to clarify that their position is as outline above in several direct quotes. IE, they really hold these rigid categories, they really think communists can't talk to workers ever, that they are there only to confront the leftist, etc.

Also, another thing is that my position is that while things can move quickly from inactivity to activity, things won't actually move instantaneously. IE, revolution is both a break and continuous process (in contradistinction to a discussion I had with Lettersjournal, as I recall argue revolution is only a break, another "counter-reality" kind of position). The half-way point between a revolutionary movement and worthless leftist hash exists and while it's short moment, its an important one (and it's not going to be some cockeyed hypothetical like the working class taking power/control "unconsciously", to beat a deserves-to-be-dead-horse). The working class educates itself here and we should be part of that - both to get educate ourselves and to contribute those small pieces of ours which might be useful. We might even counter leftist tendencies but this countering requires a sense of the moment rather than rigid categories .. and so forth.

doam

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

bonobo,

Here are some quick comments. I would have liked to take more time and make them better but I wish to respond to you in a reasonable amount of time. So here they are. I hope there is something of use in them.

bonobo

I think there is something in our bodies that resists capital, but it's definitely not an urge for 'love' or 'friendship' which are the products of the market of simple human relations (sadly some communists believe in communism as 'human community')

Love/friendship drives people to do crazy things all the time. I think of Romeo and Juliet or an adulterous spouse. Love drives them to go beyond good and evil, to leave morality behind. Capitalism also drives people beyond morality, or changes the morality of people, and I just wonder whether these are competing or how it is that they interact.
bonobo

I don't think there is special nihilist concept of the state, since nihcom doesn't develop communist theory, everything is already said by Marx and his epigones.

Fair enough. I am just interested in the state as a phenomenon because members of it often give rhetoric at least to opposing capitalism. The answer most often given is something about the State is it is within capitalism and has different activities inside the sphere but is, in the end, determined by the economy. This seems accurate to me but then I think of things like space exploration that seem like an activity undertaken out of the scope of capitalism (of course capitalism determines whether or not we can do it, but it seems the desire for it is outside capitalism).

This is not very well articulated. I will try to write something more coherent later.

-The "essential proletariat" is interesting for me because no one I know is essential. I assume it has to be connected to what humans need (i.e. dock workers getting shipments of food) and not what is merely desired, but the line between the two is not always so clear, I think. Are hospitals and clinics essential?, etc.

bonobo

4. Where he is saying something like this? I thought Dupont is pretty 'poststructuralist' on this topic.

I do not really know what poststructuralist means. I was thinking specifically of the passage below.
Nihilist Communism

Communism comes after revolution, and revolution will not be made by any of us. Our inevitable and necessary failure as pro-revolutionaries is written on this wall, just as is our failure, and our parents' failure, to live fully as human beings. Against the missionary and dishonest optimism of pro-revolutionaries we posit a basic nihilism.

This leads to my question: what does it mean to live fully as human beings?

bzfgt

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Red,

I'm no longer sure exactly what the question is. Could you say in a few sentences what you think the differend is, and what you want cited?

RedHughs

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

doam

Nihilist Communism

Communism comes after revolution, and revolution will not be made by any of us. Our inevitable and necessary failure as pro-revolutionaries is written on this wall, just as is our failure, and our parents' failure, to live fully as human beings. Against the missionary and dishonest optimism of pro-revolutionaries we posit a basic nihilism.

This leads to my question: what does it mean to live fully as human beings?

Hey, since you'll never experience it, you'll never be able to articulate it, right?

I mean, there are thousands of ways that all humans fail to live to their potential, fail to get what they want, fail to notice that step in the garden stairs was as high as we thought, etc... Similar, we humans are divided, divide by mind-body, passion-reason, by thinking of either the future, the present, or the past, etc.

So failure and division is a basic part of human existence. You could define "live fully" as some combination of ends to failures and ends to divisions. Chose whatever you like. I would claim that communism would not be an end of either failures or divisions since such things are written into the human condition. Communism would simply be a distinct historical stage - no guarantee of a full life would be handed out though we imagine it might seem much fuller than today.

But if our imagining have any value, it is because there are fragment of our lives now which are authentic anticipations of a new life, otherwise, a failure to live a full might just be a failure to live in the fashion of a movie star.

Now I would see the dominance of wage labor and commodity relations as being a systemic denial of human community. The more that these abstract, alienated relations dominate our activity, the less we organize our relations with "self-created" or "organic" or whatever relations (we buy the music, the food, the housing, the experiences that were once created collectively by communities we had some more direct relationship with and similarly sell our creative activity). The thing is that since capitalism is an abstract system, a system which can generically dominate the entire world, the negation of capitalism would have to also be an abstract system. That is, it would be world wide human community rather than a sequence of small communities or whatever.

Indeed, it seems reasonable to argue that all the failures to negate capitalism have failed because they failed to be total negations of capitalism. Capital could incorporate their partial aspects. And thus as capital develops into a more and more generic control system, only more complete negations can even begin to challenge it. And these hopefully, conveniently, will have the ability to fully negate it. IE, revolution must more or less come all-at-once or not at all. No transition programs - this is more or less the "communization" position. And oddly enough, Nihcom is a transition program and so as ridiculous as the rest (it's just that the Nihcommunists seem to want to make a virtue of the ridiculousness of their program but I think this is ultimately just clever rhetoric).

In order for any of our processes now, any of our activities to have any relation to a future world, that future world would have to, to some extent, be composed of a somewhat similar substance. The whole deal of making the new world a total, ontological break is more or less an illogical pronunciamento, which, as far as I can tell, is, more or less, just meant to fuck with you. No explanation for how this could all this could really work is given but the Nihcommunist may dangle the promise of a future explanation in front of you.

With this approach, Nihcom takes the elements of a theory about processes and turns into a set of pure, incomparable ontologies with you forever outside the good or desirable ontological condition (you'll never live a "full life", never indeed have any connection to it, etc). So you're fucked forever. It seems to me, in this it's like the more dire strains of Calvinist Christianity and has a similar appeal to religious pessimism - that's no small appeal, of course.

RedHughs

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Buzzy,

I claim that revolutionaries may be able to speak with workers, may, might have a positive, constructive interaction with the working class at any point. Certainly less likely presently but it is possible from now to the end of the revolution. I'd aknowledge this certainly quite difficult, maybe even unlikely. But I would claim that this not really any more unlikely than revolutionaries convincing leftists to stop being leftists and so revolutionaries should not concentrate their efforts on this kind of persuasion (don't really see the most advanced revolutionaries during a revolution necessarily even coming out of the leftist or ultra-leftist milieu, a factor I think MD treats in "weirdly distorted" fashion).

I claim that MD claims this is impossible. That communists absolutely won't be able to effectively communicate with the working class until the end of MD's first phase - the "essential proletariat" "taking over production" "unconsciously". For this reason, MD claims revolutionaries should more or less concentrate their efforts on criticizing leftists and, apparently, especially ultra-leftists.

My earlier post cited a few MD quotes to back this up.

Hieronymous

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

RedHughs

it's like the more dire strains of Calvinist Christianity and has a similar appeal to religious pessimism

Couldn't have put it better myself.

Nihilist communism, in its deterministic rejection of revolutionary anti-capitalist practice, is a form of Protestant predestination. Suck it up in this life because it will get better in the afterlife (or whatever they call their version of the Second Coming).

The duty of the chosen ones is to go 'round pinning scarlet letters on the chests of sinners. "L" for libcommers & left commies (who by definition are leftists), or "A" for anarchists & anarcho-syndicalists (leftists too). It ain't easy being pure and saved, but someone's gotta do it -- it's their moral duty and God's calling!

doam

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Red Hughs

I claim that MD claims this is impossible. That communists absolutely won't be able to effectively communicate with the working class until the end of MD's first phase - the "essential proletariat" "taking over production" "unconsciously".

Nihilist Communism

We do not say that consciousness is impossible although we suspect it is (otherwise why has it been forgotten? How did it pass into non-existence so that we must talk about it being resurrected before a revolution can take place?), we simply cannot see consciousness competing with ideology under present conditions. Therefore, we suspect that all pretences at consciousness in the past show themselves to be ideology; that is, we suspect that all ideas-led revolutions in the past were not a realisation of working class consciousness in society but seizures of state power by the bourgeoisie, who used `revolutionary consciousness' as an ideology.

Feel free to do your own research here.

I will think more on your thoughts of the human being and post some things later. I would like to quickly mention one thing though.

The method I find the most useful in approaching a text is to assume that the author is in earnest and that they have thought about what they say before saying it. It appears to me that we could ask why Nihilist Communism might make such a claim, what a fully human life means for them, and after determining the answer to that then decide whether or not we disagree. I find this approach, that of assuming that we could learn something from each other and from books, to be the most fruitful. It seems for you it is important to quickly point out where Nihilist Communism is wrong but I am not certain we have even established what they are actually saying in the first place.

RedHughs

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Doam,

I don't read your quote as contradicting my quote.

MD only "suspect" that consciousness is impossible. But that suspicion is the basis of the practice.

I suppose I could go back and substitute "suspects and acts on that suspicion" for believes in my previous posts describing Nihcom's approach. But I believe that the meaning would ultimately be the same.

Further, you'll note that consciousness for MD is an absolute category rather than a process. Thus it has the binary of either existing or not existing. I would claim that the human process of understanding is much more messy, much more a matter of degree. It is not a matter of consciousness absolutely existing or absolutely not existing but rather of whether the degree of consciousness that exists is sufficient to deal with the onslaught of capitalist relations at a given time (though I'd certainly agree it generally isn't).

RedHughs

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The method I find the most useful in approaching a text is to assume that the author is in earnest and that they have thought about what they say before saying it.

Ah, just a note that this argument is an example of the "why would they say this unless it was important and valuable and true", which I addressed earlier in the "potential nihcom motivators".

I would note that the Nihcommunists themselves assume really bad faith for the left in general and so they aren't using the method you advise. Indeed, the method you'll advocating would have to be called "optimism", which is an odd way to try to understand a tendency which has stubbornly called itself "pessimist".

Indeed, I would ascribe a certain earnestness to everyone who bothers to write down their own ideas. Unfortunately, since capitalist relations are dominant, most people earnestly write down capitalist ideology. Thus I find I have to read most texts, even sincere texts, critically.

I find this approach, that of assuming that we could learn something from each other and from books, to be the most fruitful.

Well, leftists have said a number of things and the Nihcommunists are saying the leftist stuff is bullocks and you don't have to worry about it. Nihcommunists have said a number of things and I am saying that stuff is bullocks and you don't have to worry about it. I have said a number of things and Madlib is saying that stuff is bullocks and you don't have to worry about it. So you really can't just wander about assuming about good faith with everyone.

bzfgt

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Red,

I see where you're coming from. I haven't read N-C in a long time, and I have read a lot of things by the MDs, particularly one of them, since, so I have a broader but perhaps less precise view. I don't have time for textual digging but I will briefly give my interpretation of the matter.

MD acknowledges that consciousness is possible but that it cannot appear where it is most needed. In that case I take 'consciousness' in the above quote to be metonymic for 'class consciousness.' Capitalism does not micromanage the content of our innermost thoughts, rather it encourages a variety of thoughts in order to facilitate valorization. In these circumstances consciousness is either private, fleeting and irrelevant, or else it is a carrier of use values or the breeding ground for use values. The fully fledged meaning of 'consciousness' for MD would be something like effective class consciousness. This is what capitalism has learned to short circuit, indeed this is a central feature of capitalism, hence the situation that consciousness cannot appear where it is needed.

MD is conviced that revolutionary upheavals will be materially conditioned, i.e. resultant on crises in the productive relation that consciousness is not sufficient to effect. Whether consciusness, while not a sufficient condition for revolution, is nevertheless a necessary condition for revolution, seems to be the grey area where you've found your difference from MD. While they are not crystal clear on this score, I think that MD is convinced something more than consciousness will be the deciding factor as to whether an upheaval is big enough to become generalized, that it will have to be in workers direct interst to stop production. This will not happen without consciousness (to say it will is obviously hyperbole, and should be read that way), but almost in spite of it, rather. Nevertheless once this situation is underway consciousness will need to play a leading role.

Thus, I do not think MD thinks we need to dissuade leftists from being leftists in the here and now--this would be impossible. What they do think is that a critique of leftism will potentially be very important in a revolutionary situation, when many of the actors are not long time leftists and thus have not already committed themselves to one or another leftist program or party.

In all this, the traumatic kernel is always the word "consciousness"--it is never given a clear definition by MD even though it is their central term, hence our differing interpretations play out around our differing understandings of this word, and this can't be settled by the text. I do think the hermeneutic charity doam is recommending is necessary to get at the interpretation I'm giving, and I certainly don't think there aren't inconsistencies and places where the logic of MDs position sweeps them along on the momentum of a terminology that has not been sufficiently clarified (at least not explicitly).

RedHughs

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Buzzy, I would indeed agree the actually position you impute to MD here in the first part of your post.

That thing is, I think it's fairly clear they themselves would not clear up any interpretation of their position to say what you say above. I mean, the contradictions and/or absurdities of MD's stance as literally written aren't small but are huge and something they clearly like, as part of their "style". (I suppose I could reinterpret each individual word of theirs to mean something different, in which case, they've written an excellent text on astrophysics as well as good text on entomology).

I don't really think things revolve around the question of consciousness. I think it's more a question of tactics.

For MD, I am surmising, the most appropriate tactic for critiquing the left is putting out their impossibilist, "pessimistic" position. IE, Nihilist Communist is more or less a Zen Koen to snap leftists out of their slumber (again either that or they really do believe the logical contradictions/absurdities contained there-in).

If that's the case, then I disagree with this tactic. Being insincere with those who you believe are insincere never ends up well.

I can easily believe that MD believes what you say above, yes. But I can't logically extract this belief from any coherent interpretation of the text. I mean, it's one that they says something I can't understand but its another when they say things I can understand and which they say are the summary of their position. At that point, how can some subtle contradiction to their explicit point be unambiguously their position? And that's a problem. As I said, anytime someone is creates a put-on that becomes a big part of their theory, they run the risk of actually assuming the put-on as real.

Hieronymous

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

bzfgt

Well now you're talking about interventions when there is a ('potentially'?) revolutionary situation rather than dangerous obsession with the left in the here and now. I take it that MD's main point is actually in line with your 'things will be messier' critique, i.e. pro-rev consciousness will become both worthwhile and involved in things when things are happening, things the pro-revs cannot and will not create but will be involved in. At this point is when the accrued structural, ideological and numerical-demographic 'capital' of leftist groups means they can potentially have outsize, perhaps unintentionally, recuperative influence on things. The counter to this isn't some kind of ignorantly taoist 'purity' but a different kind of communist consciousness. At least, that's how I read 'em. They're not positing a clean break between ignorant proles and wicked intellectuals, rather they're claiming that a certain kind of consciousness 'before its time' (as Paul Masson used to say) remains impotent and aggrandizes itself defensively, without the free and open region of a breakdown in functions of capital that would allow such consciousness to have effect. This consciousness has to be both encouraged in a way and critiqued in a way. I don't think your criticisms entirely hit the mark...but to a certain extent I think there is a kernel to your critique I can work with, the notion that in practice a malignant growth of consciousness is hard to diagnose, since everything humans do has consciousness involved in it. Thus there is a need for dialectical thinking, at least on a certain plane...

Buzzy's paraphrase of Paul Mason (isn't he an ex-Trot from Workers Power?), that there exists a priori consciousness, is similar to the mechanistic Leninist view. Lukács repeats this mistake in his "imputed class consciousness" that's embodied in the party.

All this ideology removes consciousness from dynamic human relations and posits it into a undialectical binary, as Red points out. So like the sinner/saved dichotomy in religion, one either has consciousness or they don't. Again, Lenin's static, mechanistic view.

I prefer Lev Vygotsky's definition of consciousness, rooted in his profound study of Hegel and Marx:

Vygotsky

The activity of consciousness can take different directions; it may illumine only a few aspects of a thought or an act. I have just tied a knot -- I have done so consciously, yet I cannot explain how I did it, because my awareness was centered on the knot rather than on my motions, the how of my action. When the latter becomes the object of my awareness, I shall have become fully conscious. We use consciousness to denote awareness of the activity of the mind -- the consciousness of being conscious. A preschool child who, in response to the question, "Do you know your name?" tells her name [and] lacks this self-reflective awareness: She knows her name but is not conscious of knowing it. (from Lev Vygotsky, Thought and Language[1962] p. 91)

In mass class-based actions, like the 1992 Rodney King Rebellion in Los Angeles (and elsewhere), proletarians instinctively attacked commodity relations and all they imply: the value form, private property, markets, the police and all the forces to enforce those social relations. Yet they almost only hit those relations at the level of the circulation of capital and the distribution of commodities. They missed the mark as far as production. Why? Probably because L.A. was in the midst of deindustrializing production, on it's way to being the main port of entry for commodities produced across the Pacific in Asia, either in already industrialized Japan, or counties in-process of industrializing like South Korea and Taiwan, or in the early stages of industrialization like China and Southeast Asia.

I'd sum that up as anti-capitalist practice well in advance of consciousness. How could it have been different, how could the insurgent proletariat have been class conscious?

Here's an alternative scenario about how global supply chains could act as a radical pole of internationalist class conscious working class self-activity. In 1971 striking GM autoworkers involved in an “alienation” wildcat against the world’s fastest assembly line at the brand new Lordstown factory in Ohio, proposed sending a delegation to the West Coast ports during the ILWU longshore division’s 134-day strike to ask longshore workers to refuse to unload Japanese cars until they resolved the strike at their UAW shop; as could be predicted, UAW International president Woodcock killed the proposal.

Something like that could have taken on aspects of a national general strike -- with internationalist implications if Japanese autoworkers could be drawn into solidarity actions. During the Rodney King Rebellion in 1992, working class insurgents could have gone down the L.A./Long Beach port complex and encouraged longshore, maritime, railroad workers and truckers to join the rebellion and shut down the port in a wildcat strike. That wouldn't have been too farfetched, since the troqueros at the L.A./Long Beach port complex had a wildcat strike in 1993 for 9 days, coordinated with actions at ports in Houston, New Jersey, Oakland and Seattle.

Now what if those wildcat actions were brought by militant maritime and logistics workers to help foment solidarity strikes at the ports of Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, and Kobe in Japan, Busan and Inchon in South Korea, Kaoshsiung and Keelung in Taiwan, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Ningbo, and Guangzhou in China, and Singapore. That would be internationalist class consciousness, that would inevitably affect workers supplying and receiving commodities from those ports further inland.

Consciousness can only come from within the action of the proletariat, from working class self-activity. Here's how CLR James puts this dialectic (in Facing Reality (1956):

CLR James

(a) All development takes place as a result of self-movement, not organization or direction by external forces.

(b) Self-movement springs from and is the overcoming of antagonisms within an organism, not the struggle against external foes.

(c) It is not the world of nature that confronts man as an alien power to be overcome. It is the alien power that he has himself created.

(d) The end toward which mankind is inexorably developing by the constant overcoming of internal antagonisms is not the enjoyment, ownership, or use of goods, but self-realization, creativity based upon the incorporation into the individual personality of the whole previous development of humanity. Freedom is creative universality, not utility.

Putting the development of consciousness as part of an historical process, here's how EP Thompson describes it as the result of class struggle:

EP Thompson

. . . far too much theoretical attention (much of it plainly a-historical) has been paid to “class,” and far too little to “class-struggle.” Indeed, class-struggle is the prior, as well as the more universal concept. To put it bluntly: classes do not exist as separate entities, look around, find an enemy class, and then start to struggle. On the contrary, people find themselves in a society structured in determined ways (crucially, but not exclusively, in production relations), they experience exploitation (or the need to maintain power over those whom they exploit), they identify points of antagonistic interest, they commence a struggle around these issues and in the process of struggling they discover themselves as classes, they come to know this discovery as class-consciousness. Class and class-consciousness are always the last, not the first, stage in the real historical process.

[...]

...it has become very clear in recent years that class as a static category has taken up occupation within very influential sector of Marxist thought as well. In vulgar economistic terms this is simply the twin to positivistic sociological theory. From a static model of capitalist productive relations there are derived the class that ought to correspond to this, and the consciousness that ought to correspond to the classes and their relative positions. In one common (usually Leninist) form this provides a ready justification for the politics of 'substitution": i.e. the 'vanguard' which knows better than the class itself what its true interests (and consciousness) ought to be. If 'it' does not happen to have that consciousness, then whatever it has is 'false consciousness'. In an alternative (very much more sophisticated) form -- for example, with Althusser -- we still have a profoundly static category; a category which finds its definitions only within a highly theorized static structural totality, which disallows the experiential historical process of class formation. Despite this theory's sophistication, the results are very similar to the vulgar economistic version. Both have a similar notion of 'false consciousness', or 'ideology' although Althusserian theory tend to have a larger theoretical arsenal to explain ideological domination and the mystification of consciousness. [E. P. Thompson, “Eighteenth-century English society: class struggle without class?” in Social History, Vol. 3, No. 2 (May, 1978), pp. 148-149]

doam

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Red Hughs

Indeed, I would ascribe a certain earnestness to everyone who bothers to write down their own ideas. Unfortunately, since capitalist relations are dominant, most people earnestly write down capitalist ideology. Thus I find I have to read most texts, even sincere texts, critically.
. . .
So you really can't just wander about assuming about good faith with everyone

I think you are taking my recommendation to an extreme. I am merely advocating that we take each other seriously and assume we are on the same 'pro-revolutionary' team, at least until proven otherwise. I think taking each other seriously means figuring out what the other person is saying or trying to say and then looking at that critically. This is what why I ask you clarifying questions when I don't understand something you've written. Not knowing you I give you the benefit of being a rational being who is trying to say something useful. As conversation progresses my opinion changes if it seems the person I am speaking to is just being hostile (as when Chilli Sauce told me to 'fuck off') or if they just do not make sense.

It sounds like you, and may others, find a group of 'nihilist communists' to be hostile and have written them off. The group doesn't seem to have any clear boundaries (sometimes I am included, sometimes I am not) but, whatever the past experiences, I think it is a mistake to write off the entire book as something merely hostile or provocative. I want to give the authors the benefit of the doubt, for the time being, and see what they might mean when there is a contradiction. I find, generally, that when someone has thought about something longer, and in a different way than others, that I should listen and see if there is something useful in it, while remaining vigilant and critical of course.

All that said, it doesn't mean much to me whether you read texts this way or not. I have just found it a fruitful method for engaging others.

______
Concerning what is fully human:
(This is only a sketch but perhaps it will be of some interest.)

When I think about what is human I think about Kant's morality. You may be rolling your eyes at the mention of both a philosopher and the idea of morality, but when I read Kant in school there was this interesting passage in the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals.

Now I say that man, and in general every rational being, exists as an end in himself and not merely as a means to be arbitrarily used by this or that will. He must in all his actions, whether directed to himself or to other rational beings, always be regarded at the same time as an end.

Under capitalism we are not ends in ourselves, we use each other as means and are used. We are used and organized by capital, by the commodity. It seems true that we can imagine communism somewhat (at least initially we will at the least inhabit a world that has the same objects) but how we relate to those objects will have changed. This new relationship to humans and objects is difficult to describe and articulate.

My hope is that in communism the infinity inside us will be able to be addressed in some way, instead of self-suppressed each morning when we take the bus to work or are washing dishes or are sitting at a computer. There will still be failings and disappointments, but we will perhaps lead fully human lives because we will address ourselves in our entirety and not just those aspects that are productive or that can be commodified.

Of course this is all vague and maybe sounds ridiculous. I do not assume that this is what MD is saying, though there is a Frere Dupont article (here) that concludes

the struggle is always for humanity as its own end and against the commodity.

______
Red Hughs

In order for any of our processes now, any of our activities to have any relation to a future world, that future world would have to, to some extent, be composed of a somewhat similar substance. The whole deal of making the new world a total, ontological break is more or less an illogical pronunciamento, which, as far as I can tell, is, more or less, just meant to fuck with you. No explanation for how this could all this could really work is given but the Nihcommunist may dangle the promise of a future explanation in front of you.

This something I want to think about some more. What do you mean by 'composed of a somewhat similar substance'? This objection seems tied with your objection that consciousness is a spectrum of sorts and not a 'you either have it or you don't' kind of thing. Is that fair to say?

I don't propose to have all the answers or to know what MD would say about anything but if my thinking produces something that might be of interest I will post it here.

lettersjournal

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The book Nihilist Communism was not written as an expression of a philosophical or theoretical system or school. It is a memoir/polemic/essay by two men who developed and expressed pro-revolutionary ideas (one of them wrote some of the central documents of the Anarchist Federation in the UK, then later tried to convince the group to disband) while working in industrial conditions. This is rare in the history of communist ideas, which are almost always developed and expressed by people who have never or no longer work in industrial conditions (despite the apparent centrality of the industrial proletariat to pro-revolutionray ideology and aesthetics). One of the authors retired from politics when he got a middle class job (teacher). The book was self-published in extremely limited quantities. Etc. It has to be read in this context.

The fact that an obscure book published to no acclaim or critical reception and in such limited numbers has managed to survive and provoke such response years after its publication speaks to something about it. Maybe the book is unoriginal and stupid. Maybe. But then why the hell are we talking about it? Why does it strike a nerve? I do not care for the book. I think the other Dupont writing is much better and more interesting. But I find the critical response to the book fascinating and unexplainable on the terms of the critiques themselves. It is as if the critiques of the book seek to validate it (ie. hysterical responses to the theories of Freud).

If I remember correctly, the end of the first edition of Nihilist Communism is a call for criticism of the ideas of the book, written by people working, as the authors were at the time, in industrial proletarian jobs and for the criticism to be made in the context of experience with pro-revolutionary ideas in that kind of workplace and life. Has that critique ever been written? I'm not sure. I can't do it because I've never been a part of the vital proletariat and probably never will be, if I can help it. (Then again, it probably pays better than retail!)

Ah but see, I am trying to talk about the discussion of the book rather than the book itself...

...

Languages and ideas without contradiction or paradox are nonsense. All attempts at constructing such languages or ideas have failed, but even these almost perfectly logical languages and ideas are nonsense. Contradiction and paradox are essential to communication. I have no idea why, but then so morality is infinitely more sublime than the marvels of understanding.

lettersjournal

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Okay, critiquing now.

Nihilist Communist is not religious enough. That is, it was not aware of its religious implications and the inevitable theological turn it would provoke. But how could it be? A communist cannot see the future.

The authors were aware of their duty (they wrote the book rather than remaining silent), but they were not aware of their fate. But those who claim to truly know their fate are probably lying to themselves, unless they've experienced and understood revelation (but even then...).

The charge of Calvinism does not make sense to me. The reduction of Calvin's theology to a crude dogma of predestination is a carnal interpretation of a spiritual teaching (Weber's confusion of late Puritanism with the ideas of Calvin). But even if we accept Calvinism as synonymous with a dogma of predestination, the charge does not stick. There is no dogma of predestination in the book Nihilist Communism, as far as I can tell. Indeed, the idea of a positive apocalypse or glorious second coming is totally foreign to a book whose subtitle is 'a critique of optimism'. The function or purpose of Nihilist Communism is unclear, but I am fairly certain no reader would come away from the book with the idea that they can sit back and wait for the promised land.

Hieronymous

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

[comment replaced by popular demand]

lettersjournal

The book Nihilist Communism . . . is a memoir/polemic/essay by two men who developed and expressed pro-revolutionary ideas . . . while working in industrial conditions. This is rare in the history of communist ideas, which are almost always developed and expressed by people who have never or no longer work in industrial conditions (despite the apparent centrality of the industrial proletariat to pro-revolutionray ideology and aesthetics).

Sometimes I think you intentionally make things up to fuck with others. But at other times I realize that you might be well-intended, but you don't know what the fuck you're talking about -- so you fudge.

This is a perfect example. I really think you try to pass yourself off as knowledgeable because you are naive and simply don't know.

Off the top of my head, I can think of four radicals (I don't use "pro-revolutionaries" because I reject Lenin's cadre of "professional revolutionaries") who were industrial workers for decades, writing their best communist ideas during those periods of toil. They are:

Joseph Dietzgen, who worked his whole life as a tanner, while participating in the Revolution of 1848 before moving to Chicago where he carried on the militant traditions of the Haymarket Martyrs.

Marty Glaberman worked in auto factories for 20 years, writing about communism from the shopfloor. Although he later became a university professor, he remained in Detroit and never lost a rank-and-file class struggle perspective.

Stan Weir spent his whole life working in industrial production, whether at Ford and GM factories, driving trucks, or doing longshoring on the San Francisco waterfront. His rejection of the commodification of labor power made him a contemporary Luddite.

Will Barnes, more prolific in his communist theorizing than the latter two, spent his entire life working jobs in industrial production. I'm sorry that this will come off as competitive, but I'd say that Will's theorizing about working class self-activity and struggle reached the level of Grand Master chess, while the Dupont bros were(/are) still learning to play checkers.

Find a library that has copies of Radical America to read a myriad of excellent articles about communism that are written by working class militant-intellectuals laboring in the belly of the industrial-production beast. Or learn Cantonese and Mandarin to see what your "vital" proletarians are thinking today.

lettersjournal

Contradiction and paradox are essential to communication. I have no idea why . . .

If you're saying this because you really want to learn why, and are not doing rhetorical grandstanding, check out Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin's writings about speech genre, socially-situated and reciprocal ideas of dialogue (“The word is half-someone else’s,” from The Dialogic Imagination [1981], p. 293), and heteroglossia. This is an excellent place to discover theories that explain "contradiction and paradox" and how they function in communication. PM me if you're open to my list of book recommendations.

I would really like to think you're being sincere.

cornered beef

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I would like to parenthetically ask what happened, or is happening, to Anti-politics forum. I can't understand and am interested. Please send a message to me if you know about it.

RedHughs

10 years 4 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

(Have been meaning to get back to this for a while)

Doam, I certainly respect your dogged efforts to maintain dialogue - not simply that you keep posting but that you bring new ideas to the table. Good for you!

I think Nihcom is a good topic in the sense that the Nihcomists touch on what I think are crucial questions. Certainly, I think I share with the Nihcomist a disgust for anything that stinks of the left and/or of a world which would be more or less like the present one except for being managed by "the workers". I think differ with them in believing that there are other significant traps besides these that we communists should be thinking about.

Discussions I've had with the Nihcommunists themselves have been less than satisfying for me because of what I perceived as their tendencies to make absolute pronouncements without any backing arguments. While I'm not necessarily 'nice' in my debate style, I, at least hope to sincerely answer whatever points an someone is putting forward if they're engaging in something like sincere dialogue.

My ideas are evolving. In the last few years, they've moved closer to the position that all theory needs to be able interogate itself. That is, you may not able to "win" something like these discussions but making one's approach really clear and plan is important and being able to sincerely ask and answer questions (hence my frustration as mentioned above).

doam

Red Hughs

Indeed, I would ascribe a certain earnestness to everyone who bothers to write down their own ideas. Unfortunately, since capitalist relations are dominant, most people earnestly write down capitalist ideology. Thus I find I have to read most texts, even sincere texts, critically.
. . .
So you really can't just wander about assuming about good faith with everyone

I think you are taking my recommendation to an extreme. I am merely advocating that we take each other seriously and assume we are on the same 'pro-revolutionary' team, at least until proven otherwise.

The thing is, I'd challenge the logical statement of the ideas of even those I feel affinity with. I'm not trying to spin all of MD into the most negative form possible. But it seems like the various "summary of our politics" texts posted up here (by soc and madlib) are indeed, a summary of their politics and so dissecting its meaning logically is important.

doam

When I think about what is human I think about Kant's morality.

Now I say that man, and in general every rational being, exists as an end in himself and not merely as a means to be arbitrarily used by this or that will. He must in all his actions, whether directed to himself or to other rational beings, always be regarded at the same time as an end.

Under capitalism we are not ends in ourselves, we use each other as means and are used. We are used and organized by capital, by the commodity. It seems true that we can imagine communism somewhat (at least initially we will at the least inhabit a world that has the same objects) but how we relate to those objects will have changed. This new relationship to humans and objects is difficult to describe and articulate.

My hope is that in communism the infinity inside us will be able to be addressed in some way, instead of self-suppressed each morning when we take the bus to work or are washing dishes or are sitting at a computer.

I'd just mention that humans are social beings and thus that processes of self-realization will require not just freedom but the creation of collective process.

Further, I don't think there's anything wrong with people "using" each other. Human beings need each and satisfy each needs. The only problem is people being in the object position rather there being something like a delicate interchange between subject and object positions.

It's more or less the difference between seeing human beigns as soul-like points of light and seeing us as living, breathing, physical beings.

doam

Red Hughs

In order for any of our processes now, any of our activities to have any relation to a future world, that future world would have to, to some extent, be composed of a somewhat similar substance. The whole deal of making the new world a total, ontological break is more or less an illogical pronunciamento, which, as far as I can tell, is, more or less, just meant to fuck with you. No explanation for how this could all this could really work is given but the Nihcommunist may dangle the promise of a future explanation in front of you.

This something I want to think about some more. What do you mean by 'composed of a somewhat similar substance'? This objection seems tied with your objection that consciousness is a spectrum of sorts and not a 'you either have it or you don't' kind of thing. Is that fair to say?

I don't propose to have all the answers or to know what MD would say about anything but if my thinking produces something that might be of interest I will post it here.

I suppose my original quote is sort-of paraphrasing Hegel.

Anyway, yes my point is that an overall process of understanding is not a simple, logical belief in X, Y or Z logical propositions. Rather, it is a changeable process (though sadly it is often rather static under dull capitalist reality but not utterly static. Even in capitalism, we have dreams of different possibilities). While human understanding is indeed a complex process, I would claim that it is a fluid part of the material world so when we're talking about "material conditions", the state of everyone's brains is included in this (note that what distinguishes this approach from idealism is that these brain-states aren't equal some single, close-ended expression of an idea). I wouldn't claim to able to trace the connection between feeling the dull ache of a shitty and a full formed revolutionary position but I'd claim that such a connection is possible given the right firing of neurons despite the reality these positions are indeed far more likely to come from university lecture halls during times of inactivity.

Well, this is pretty much what I think of as a weakness of the whole MD "deal". In a sense, the only thing that can create communism is communism (and that isn't taking issue even the position that crisis may well be a trigger of that process). Capitalism is a very "dynamic", meaning that it is constantly changing, the managers of the present world constantly scan their realms making sure their machine is humming. To create a counter-system, we will have to very actively and collectively organize. MD is certainly correct that this kind of thing couldn't happen via the activities of present day leftist organizers but it also couldn't happen with the production accidentally thrust into people's hands (indeed, we can look at the proto-revolutionary situation in Argentina in 2001 and see how giving the working class the ability to organize particular factories actually protected the system as a whole).

This isn't also to claim that things will happen with a mere single explosion. I believe that the Occupy Movement has had power that it's had through a few tactics (direct democracy and a refusal to issue demands) that sometimes, at best, refused all the dominant urges towards "responsible dialog" and "democracy" and so-forth. At the same, this movements many weaknesses naturally doom it. But it is entirely reasonable to expect a variety of explosions as a response to the crisis, all terribly limited in one fashion or another but all possibly extending the "spark" a little further until you can a continual "burn" and then things only become complex.

I mean, one of the many bad aspects of leftist processes is that they instill in their, uh, "users" a fixed belief system about what is going to happen. I think we should be aspiring to the opposite. So it is important to notice all the rebellions that are happening, not be uncritical of them but notice them. Unlike MD, the rebellions don't come with a fixed summary so an optimistic read seems justified even if a pessimistic read would also be useful.

Chilli Sauce

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

One of the authors retired from politics when he got a middle class job (teacher).

:roll: :roll: :roll:

That materialist analysis the NiCommers are known for, eh?

lettersjournal

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

RedHughs

I mean, one of the many bad aspects of leftist processes is that they instill in their, uh, "users" a fixed belief system about what is going to happen. I think we should be aspiring to the opposite. So it is important to notice all the rebellions that are happening, not be uncritical of them but notice them. Unlike MD, the rebellions don't come with a fixed summary so an optimistic read seems justified even if a pessimistic read would also be useful.

For me, rebellions and explosions are less interesting than what happens afterwards - or even more interesting, what the vast majority of the people not involved in an explosion or rebellion are doing (ie. what were the tens of millions of non-rioters in Egypt doing? the workers not at the barricades? etc).

The narrative connecting rebellions/explosions/strikes/etc to communism no longer makes sense to me. It isn't plausible and just seems sort of widely fantastic or crazy (which doesn't mean it isn't true). It also seems too easy. In the detective movies and books, the easy clues and suspects always lead to dead ends.

I'm not sure where else to poke around. I guess I'm poking around for other places to poke around and trying to be patient, keeping my nose buried in old books (okay, mostly novels).

How are we to know what's worth noticing? Or not noticing? Maybe the communist fascination with strikes and struggles and riots and protests has been a big mistake. That's my feeling right now.

I really think all the communists of the world would have a much better year in every respect if we stopped writing about struggles and just took a year off to express wonderment at our intestines. Absolutely magical. This would be real navel gazing, ecstatic navel gazing. I generally don't like teleological arguments for the existence of G-d, but intestines really do seem like miracles (more than 20 feet of intestine, wrapped up in my gut!). It seems more likely to me that human self-understanding of intestinal tracts is connected to the possibility of communism than struggles/rebellions/strikes are.

Capitalism is a very "dynamic", meaning that it is constantly changing, the managers of the present world constantly scan their realms making sure their machine is humming.

I don't think 'managers' of the present world have much idea at all about how or why machines are buzzing or even what the machines are. It's kind of amazing that we live in a world without rulers in any real sense. Those who think they are ruling are buffoons. I recently read John Agresto's Mugged by Reality, and it really struck home to me how insane it all is, even in terms of traditional capitalist accomplishment (geopolitics, national prestige, profits, glory). Have you seen this stuff about Peter Kiernan?

It's all anarchic tragicomedy now. Maybe it always was. We have pitiful roles in the production.

RedHughs

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Letters

The narrative connecting rebellions/explosions/strikes/etc to communism no longer makes sense to me. It isn't plausible and just seems sort of widely fantastic or crazy (which doesn't mean it isn't true). It also seems too easy. In the detective movies and books, the easy clues and suspects always lead to dead ends.

There can be no "narratives", only models.

Our habits tend to make us whatever order exists to continue.

There are a number of plausible arguments for the present order to end, to some extent in short order.

Most rebellions/explosions/strikes/etc won't connect to communism. In fact, almost every one of them won't.

It's like success consists of a long series of no's followed by a single yes.

I mean, if someone, possibly you, is considering this in terms of the movies, well, I can't even tell you should know better.

I mean, I don't actually care what the communists of the world are "doing". For all I can tell, despite various supposed conclaves in Europe, "all the communists of the world" could be me. But I think that's where any "theorist" would be in a time of universal passivity. "If you meet 'communism' on the road, kill him". And I've been pretty relaxed lately. Recovering from a bit of excess effort doing push hands with another Tai Chi master, mostly. But after a few weeks, I'm pretty sure I have no cracks on my bones, just tendons that need a bit of healing and that's within my realm of mastery.

doam

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Red Hughs

There are a number of plausible arguments for the present order to end, to some extent in short order.

What are these? I am curious to hear the arguments.

Red Hughs

"If you meet 'communism' on the road, kill him".

This attracts me.

Maybe it could be put like this:
What is the communist? Not us.
What is communism? What we are not [What we cannot be?].

Where is it that we meet 'communism' on the road?

RedHughs

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

doam

What is the communist? Not us.
What is communism? What we are not [What we cannot be?].

Communism is neither what we are now nor not what we are now. It is what we could become and what "what is not us" could become.

RedHughs

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

doam

Red Hughs

There are a number of plausible arguments for the present order to end, to some extent in short order.

What are these? I am curious to hear the arguments.

Really, these arguments are everywhere. I feel embarrassed to have to spell it all out. The "Crisis Of Capital" has pretty much already arrived - the financial system is held up by the state. The energy supply is tenuous. The environment, in general, faces numerous catastrophes (climate change, mass extinction, disease). The advance of technology threatens to make human beings (and thus wage labor) superfluous, the total alienation of society incites people to turn on each other like rabid dogs, the US has not ceased its development of the tools of "total war" and still plays with methods which could wipe humanity off the planet, etc. Mix and matches these elements and you've got a recipe for the present society experiencing quite a number of catastrophes and so end. Whether this end will involve a communist insurrection, that is yet to be determined.

doam

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Red Hughs

Communism is neither what we are now nor not what we are now. It is what we could become and what "what is not us" could become.

I do not understand this but it is probably because I do not understand 'becoming.' It seems that we either are or are not communism and that if we can become it then we are not it. If I am married I can become a divorced man but once I am a divorced man I am that and we would not speak of me becoming it (unless we meant that I would remarry and then divorce). Or am I missing something?

Red Hughs

Really, these arguments are everywhere. I feel embarrassed to have to spell it all out.

Are you embarrassed for me? I am confused as to why you feel that way.

Red Hughs

The "Crisis Of Capital" has pretty much already arrived - the financial system is held up by the state. The energy supply is tenuous. The environment, in general, faces numerous catastrophes (climate change, mass extinction, disease). The advance of technology threatens to make human beings (and thus wage labor) superfluous, the total alienation of society incites people to turn on each other like rabid dogs, the US has not ceased its development of the tools of "total war" and still plays with methods which could wipe humanity off the planet, etc.

I will break these into parts.
The arguments:

1. Without the State Capitalism would have already died.
2. We are running out of energy sources so civilization will collapse.
3. Environmental catastrophe will cause civilization to collapse.
4. Technology means we will never have to work.
5. Humans treat each other terribly [and so society will end?].
6. The United States continues to have the capability to destroy the human race and without human beings there is no Capitalism, State, or civilization.

I am skeptical of these kinds of arguments but will think on it some before responding in detail. For now is it fair to say, so that we can return to the thread topic, that none of these scenarios have anything to do with any anarchist/communist groups or individuals intervening?

lettersjournal

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

But none of those arguments for capitalism falling apart have anything to say about communism. We're all nutters for believing in it! I look around all the time and think to myself, how the hell did I end up thinking the world could become communism? It's one of the craziest ideas ever thought up.

I mean, if someone, possibly you, is considering this in terms of the movies, well, I can't even tell you should know better.

I don't know. Maybe I should know better, but I think there's a lot to learn in old detective stories, like Six Problems for Don Isidro Parodi. He's a detective from inside a jail cell, which seems pretty apt for our ridiculous situation.

RedHughs

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

doam

I am skeptical of these kinds of arguments but will think on it some before responding in detail.

Aside from particular mechanisms, another way to look at the situation is to notice the many exponential growth curves which one can see when measuring the processes of human society. Then notice that such curves clearly cannot continue in such behavior indefinitely. Thus what seems "normal will change".

doam

For now is it fair to say, so that we can return to the thread topic, that none of these scenarios have anything to do with any anarchist/communist groups or individuals intervening?

Absolutely not. Not "fair" at all. Resistance to the present order is always appearing on one level or another. Any extra factor which changes the outline of society will create resistance, will condition resistance and will be conditioned by resistance. Most of that resistance probably isn't from those calling themselves "anarchist" etc but some portion is and some portion will be. Compared to four years ago, today resistance is continuously visible in my area.

lettersjournal

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

RedHughs

Letters

The narrative connecting rebellions/explosions/strikes/etc to communism no longer makes sense to me. It isn't plausible and just seems sort of widely fantastic or crazy (which doesn't mean it isn't true). It also seems too easy. In the detective movies and books, the easy clues and suspects always lead to dead ends.

There can be no "narratives", only models.

I'm not sure what the difference is between 'narratives' and 'models'. Communism has never existed, so we don't have models any more than we have narratives (or strategies or plans or prophecies).

All we have are hunches, and I think the 'class struggle hunch' is not a very good one. Heidegger's hunch in that newspaper interview seems more likely, but that would put us out of a job.

doam

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Red Hughs

Absolutely not. Not "fair" at all. Resistance to the present order is always appearing on one level or another. Any extra factor which changes the outline of society will create resistance, will condition resistance and will be conditioned by resistance. Most of that resistance probably isn't from those calling themselves "anarchist" etc but some portion is and some portion will be. Compared to four years ago, today resistance is continuously visible in my area.

Maybe we misunderstand each other. The six scenarios you/I outlined, none of them seem to involve resistance by human beings at all (except maybe #5 or #6. I suppose one could argue it in the case of #4. Resistance of humans to work leads to technology which leads to less work. I doubt that logic, but I guess one could say it).

Let's pick a scenario to look at in detail. How does resistance contribute to environmental collapse?

Your arguments are like a fish, Red. I try to grasp them and understand what they mean but the minute they seem to be resting they wriggle out of my hands.

doam

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

lettersjournal

I'm not sure what the difference is between 'narratives' and 'models'. Communism has never existed, so we don't have models any more than we have narratives (or strategies or plans or prophecies).

I am not sure what the difference between any of these are and 'hunches', though the latter is more provocative. Surely we can plan for things we have not encountered or to bring about things never encountered before?

Those first mathematicians who came up with geometrical proofs, like the Pythagorean theorem for instance, perhaps went about things in a similar way we approach communism. There was some truth they glimpsed and they determined the steps necessary to take towards proving it was in fact a truth. The truth was something never before seen, never before brought about.

One might counter that mathematics is eternal. That the triangle was 'eternal' or 'always there' but could not the same be said about communism?

RedHughs

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

doam

Let's pick a scenario to look at in detail. How does resistance contribute to environmental collapse?

No, I mean environmental collapse would contribute to resistance. That's fairly clear. Things get worse, people fight back. People fight back and get more collective ability to act, then finally overthrow capitalism.

Obviously, this may or may not happen. But it's an understandable, simple scenario. It extends things that have happened in the past. etc

Yes, this is a really simplistic outline, I know but I'm not trying to say anything weird or surprising here.

Your arguments are like a fish, Red. I try to grasp them and understand what they mean but the minute they seem to be resting they wriggle out of my hands.

As per above. I'm not trying to say anything unusual in this argument. I mean, in other ways I'd part ways with the standard radical position but there's nothing surprising in my approach here.

The one thing I'm arguing is that everything happens at the same time: People rebel to one degree or another, communists intervene helpfully or otherwise, the environment decays, the economic crisis gets worse, all of this at once. The final outcome? It is rather hard know. That is the point. It is insane to be sure that either disaster will destroy everything or that communism will triumphantly prevail or that routine capitalism will continue for another fifty years.

ocelot

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

lettersjournal

But none of those arguments for capitalism falling apart have anything to say about communism. We're all nutters for believing in it! I look around all the time and think to myself, how the hell did I end up thinking the world could become communism? It's one of the craziest ideas ever thought up.

Still not as crazy as capitalism.

doam

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Red,

It seems I did misunderstand you. I thought the interchange between you and lettersjournal was about whether rebellions and the like were beneficial for us to study. When you listed the six scenarios for a future none of those seem to be brought about by resistance so it didn't make sense to me why you thought it would be beneficial to study resistance when the two are unconnected.

I guess the question, now that I understand you mean that everything happens all 'at the same time', is whether communist intervention can be helpful at this time. What does both a 'helpful' and 'communist' intervention look like?

lettersjournal

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

ocelot

lettersjournal

But none of those arguments for capitalism falling apart have anything to say about communism. We're all nutters for believing in it! I look around all the time and think to myself, how the hell did I end up thinking the world could become communism? It's one of the craziest ideas ever thought up.

Still not as crazy as capitalism.

Well, capitalism is crazy but not in the way I meant crazy above. It exists and has existed for a long time. By the time the idea of capitalism came around, capitalism already existed. We got things backwards with communism, despite supposedly being materialists.

lettersjournal

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

doam

lettersjournal

I'm not sure what the difference is between 'narratives' and 'models'. Communism has never existed, so we don't have models any more than we have narratives (or strategies or plans or prophecies).

I am not sure what the difference between any of these are and 'hunches', though the latter is more provocative. Surely we can plan for things we have not encountered or to bring about things never encountered before?

The difference between a hunch and a narrative or model is that a hunch is a guess rather than an explanation (it is self-consciously uncertain). Sort of like a hypothesis vs. a theory, except we can't test our hunches about communism.

Maybe I'm going about this all wrong, though. Trying to predict things often leaves us being the turkey. It would be better to think about non-predictive heuristics or just go with the flow and see where it takes us, like our late friend Heraclitus.

soc

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

lettersjournal

doam

lettersjournal

I'm not sure what the difference is between 'narratives' and 'models'. Communism has never existed, so we don't have models any more than we have narratives (or strategies or plans or prophecies).

I am not sure what the difference between any of these are and 'hunches', though the latter is more provocative. Surely we can plan for things we have not encountered or to bring about things never encountered before?

The difference between a hunch and a narrative or model is that a hunch is a guess rather than an explanation (it is self-consciously uncertain). Sort of like a hypothesis vs. a theory, except we can't test our hunches about communism.

Maybe I'm going about this all wrong, though. Trying to predict things often leaves us being the turkey. It would be better to think about non-predictive heuristics or just go with the flow and see where it takes us, like our late friend Heraclitus.

As I understand your recent posts, I can say that we have a widely different understanding of the word, communism. We're supposed to be materialist, and therefore we don't define communism as a world-to-be model, not even the next epoch in general.

When he listed the problems of our times, I think Red did not spell it out properly, at least not in the terms of communism. Most of those issues aren't really issues, or at least not on the level where capitalism as a social relationship work. It doesn't matter if the rain turns acidic on the half of the globe, it certainly have nothing to do with communism or capitalism. The environmental catastrophe vision is certainly more compatible with many of the bourgeois ideologies, than with the understanding of the historical transformation of the human race. Or that of the financial system, wars and whatnot.

Communism, as I understand is a movement that is resists to the most inherent workings of capitalism. Personally, I don't share Marx' optimism that communism must win this battle, but never the less, communism is real, and exists! I would not say, that is alive and kicking though, and there's no evidence of it would be the real thing that will smash capitalism, it could be many other material circumstances that could change our society other than a political movement. However, communism, that is, the people who identify with communism, seem to pursue the understanding of how actually capitalism works, what are the consequences of the advanced and widespread commodity production, and compared to other folks out there, we are consciously looking for ways to challenge and defy this order. To release whatever potential is locked up in our species, and even further than that.

The planet and our society went through plenty of significant changes since capitalism is around, and therefore I just can subscribe of the idea of imminent danger looming over the society we live in. Capitalism isn't bound with oil, parliamentarism, not even consumerism. All these aspects are timid, and and possible break down of the current processes does not naturally imply the rise of the communist movement, or the coming of Communism (as a state). If people are fighting against some production technology, that doesn't contribute to any aspects of human liberation, because to my knowledge these particular aspects do not imply communism at all.

On the other hand, communism is unlikely to be dead until capitalism was gone, because people like us will identify the troubles of the past and present with the working of the capitalist mode of production and thus want to fight against it. If you demand an assurance that your fight will be rewarded, you won't get it. Repeating what you said, we're supposed to be materialist, we can't predict the future, especially when people are involved. We can fail miserably, but that doesn't mean that we should not try as long as our assessment of the current situation proves to be correct.

doam

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I have been considering your statements RedHughs, and my own question that I posed to you concerning what a helpful communist intervention might be.

Since the six ways of social change you have outlined do no rely on communist intervention to come about, the helpful communist intervention would be elsewhere. I am still attracted to your 'killing the communism that meets you on the road' and have developed a proposal:

The 'helpful' and 'communist' intervention is to kill the things that appear and present themselves as 'communism'. The things that appear within the capitalist sphere and deceive us. After the environmental collapse or nuclear war or whatever happens that raises resistance we communists may begin to intervene helpfully in other ways.

That sounds like a fair departure from what you have written. It also sounds very similar to the arguments in the book Nihilist Communism.

RedHughs

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

doam

I guess the question, now that I understand you mean that everything happens all 'at the same time', is whether communist intervention can be helpful at this time.

What do I look like, a psychic? I don't see what harm a few provocative leaflets could do.

I mean, my experience is that just about everyone who considers themselves an activist wants to do something that instantly has an affect, especially to immediately recruit more people. If one was able to leave that mentality behind, there are a lot of imaginable "avenues of attack". But that is indeed an extraordinarily big "if".

doam

What does both a 'helpful' and 'communist' intervention look like?

As I understand it, the group "Communist Interventions" raided a military depot and distributed the weapons freely, in Kurdistan during the end of US Invasion Of Kuwait, when a fair portion of the army was mutinying. This provided a significant portion of the working class with the means to defend themselves.

That might be an example.

But if one is going to have a critique of the left, one is going to have leave behind both guarantees and recipes.

The movement towards communism is pretty going to look like "fail, fail, fail, fail.. success" - if it succeeds. And just "fail, fail, fail..." otherwise.

Spassmaschine

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

RedHughs

As I understand it, the group "Communist Interventions" raided a military depot and distributed the weapons freely, in Kurdistan during the end of US Invasion Of Kuwait, when a fair portion of the army was mutinying. This provided a significant portion of the working class with the means to defend themselves.

That might be an example.

Derailing this discussion for a moment, but Red, you wouldn't have any links to more info on this episode, would you? (is it in the blob/combustion pamphlet or ICG account or something)?

RedHughs

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Spaßmaschine

Derailing this discussion for a moment, but Red, you wouldn't have any links to more info on this episode, would you? (is it in the blob/combustion pamphlet or ICG account or something)?

http://www.againstsleepandnightmare.net/ANTICAPL/PBA/IRAK.html

This is the ICG text we reprinted at the time. I'm not sure the account of the depot raid is, to be honest.

Spassmaschine

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Thanks Red.

blimeybruv

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

letters journal

For me, rebellions and explosions are less interesting than what happens afterwards - or even more interesting, what the vast majority of the people not involved in an explosion or rebellion are doing (ie. what were the tens of millions of non-rioters in Egypt doing? the workers not at the barricades? etc).

sounds like you'd like the film Milou en mai.

bzfgt

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

One problem here is probably that "nihilist communism" isn't really a proper position that can be critiqued...which isn't to say that there's nothing said under that rubric that can't be critiqued. Instead of falsely positing nih-com as a position, it would perhaps be better to say "I want to critique this idea associated with nihilist communism" (idea X). That way, instead of arguing whether nihilist communists do or do not hold the position that is being critiqued, we could all agree on what the idea is that is put forward and go ahead and critique it accordingly without worrying about whether it does or does not properly characterize "nihilist communism."

bonobo

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

communism is real, and exists

intestines are real, everything other is not. ask mishima.

bzfgt

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

If all things turned to smoke, the nose would distinguish them.

RedHughs

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

bzfgt

One problem here is probably that "nihilist communism" isn't really a proper position that can be critiqued...which isn't to say that there's nothing said under that rubric that can't be critiqued. Instead of falsely positing nih-com as a position, it would perhaps be better to say "I want to critique this idea associated with nihilist communism" (idea X). That way, instead of arguing whether nihilist communists do or do not hold the position that is being critiqued, we could all agree on what the idea is that is put forward and go ahead and critique it accordingly without worrying about whether it does or does not properly characterize "nihilist communism."

Could you give an example of an earlier point which fell short through critiquing nihcom as a "proper position" as opposed to critiquing an "idea associated with nihilist communism"? It seems to me that most of the discussion has involved the latter sort of criticism, ie criticizing fairly specific ideas like the idea that the essential proletariat will take over production.

Nate

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Against my better judgment...

lettersjournal

communist ideas (...) are almost always developed and expressed by people who have never or no longer work in industrial conditions (despite the apparent centrality of the industrial proletariat to pro-revolutionray ideology and aesthetics). (...) the end of the first edition of Nihilist Communism is a call for criticism of the ideas of the book, written by people working, as the authors were at the time, in industrial proletarian jobs (...) Has that critique ever been written? (...) I can't do it because I've never been a part of the vital proletariat and probably never will be, if I can help it. (Then again, it probably pays better than retail!)

I'm pretty sure you don't have a clear idea of what you mean by 'industrial'. Likewise for the word 'proletariat'. If you do, then the idea you have is a bad one best consigned to the dustbin of history. If I'm wrong, though, then lay out what you mean by these terms.

lettersjournal

I really think all the communists of the world would have a much better year in every respect if we stopped writing about struggles and just took a year off to express wonderment at our intestines. Absolutely magical. This would be real navel gazing, ecstatic navel gazing. I generally don't like teleological arguments for the existence of G-d, but intestines really do seem like miracles (more than 20 feet of intestine, wrapped up in my gut!).

I actually agree with this bit a great deal in the sense that I think I would personally probably have a better year if I followed your advice, and I share a similar sense of wonder about things like this. At the same time I think this gets a lot of why you're often really annoying to interact with. There's nothing wrong with your own sense of wonder at some things and it's not a big deal that you don't care about stuff that other people care a lot about it. But it's frustrating that you try to push this onto others - along the lines of "I really think all the communists of the world would have a better year" - and you get passive aggressive and write bad faith replies etc when people don't have your same impulses in terms what they do and don't want to talk and writer and ponder about.

By all means ponder the miracle of intestines (and much more, there's a fine radio program called RadioLab that regularly blows my mind and makes me a feel a sense of wonder like you describe) and write about how awesome it all is. That's great. More stuff about a sense of wonder and awesomeness, that's excellent. But often you're not putting out stuff that expresses or encourages a sense of wonder, often you're putting out stuff that expresses your lack of a sense of wonder or interest in other folks' stuff. So pondering our amazing digestive tract and similar phenomena is great when it's positive and opens onto a sense of "wow the world is amazing" but it's awful when it amounts to a statement that you're bored with everything else. Not least because your boredom and disinterest is incredibly boring to hear about. Do more writing toward wonder and against your sense of boredom and disinterest and do a lot less writing about and which spreads your sense of boredom and disinterest. Because the second kind of thing, which seems to me most of what you do from the posts of yours that I've read on libcom, that second thing doesn't encourage the first, it actually works in the opposite direction.

bzfgt

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

RedHughs

bzfgt

One problem here is probably that "nihilist communism" isn't really a proper position that can be critiqued...which isn't to say that there's nothing said under that rubric that can't be critiqued. Instead of falsely positing nih-com as a position, it would perhaps be better to say "I want to critique this idea associated with nihilist communism" (idea X). That way, instead of arguing whether nihilist communists do or do not hold the position that is being critiqued, we could all agree on what the idea is that is put forward and go ahead and critique it accordingly without worrying about whether it does or does not properly characterize "nihilist communism."

Could you give an example of an earlier point which fell short through critiquing nihcom as a "proper position" as opposed to critiquing an "idea associated with nihilist communism"? It seems to me that most of the discussion has involved the latter sort of criticism, ie criticizing fairly specific ideas like the idea that the essential proletariat will take over production.

Who knows, maybe I misremember the thread...I don't even remember a critique of the essential proletariat idea. I thought it was more "the problem with nih-com is..." stuff. But since I don't want to go back and look, but I do want to respond to you, this is what you get for now. Maybe I'll go back and look at the thread at some point though.

lettersjournal

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Maybe we could talk about the story of the crow who drops pebbles in the cup. It's evocative, but today I realize I don't know what it means.

What is the political economy of allegories?

doam

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

To provide context for those who have not read Nihilist Communism, The Parable of the Crow is at the beginning and reads:

Long ago in a southern country there lived a crow of determined character. One hot summer’s day this crow was flying over the baking land of that country and felt the fire of thirst in its throat. It had flown this way many times before and knew of a river nearby where it could safely drink. But when it landed beside the river it found not even a trickle of water for its need, the river had not flowed there for many weeks.

The land about was so hot and dry, nobody could hope to find even a drop of water there, but the thirsty crow had to drink or it would die from the heat of the day. It hopped desperately about the river bank in search of water, if only it could find just one drop, one drop in that terrible desert, one drop to keep it alive.

The thirsty crow was about to give up its search when it saw with its black eye a stone jar set on a wall beneath an olive tree. At once the crow flew to the lowest branch of the tree so it could look down into the jar, and with excitement it found that the jar did indeed hold some water.

Quickly the bird hopped onto the wall and thrust its head into the stone jar but, alas, the water was too shallow and the jar too deep, the water was just out of reach.

Luckily the thirsty crow was an intellectual, it knew that if it knocked the jar over, the water would soon be absorbed into the dusty earth. So it became the crafty crow and performed an old trick known since the beginning of the world by all the crafty, thirsty crows. In its beak it carried small pebbles from the ground to the jar. By dropping the pebbles into the jar it would make the level of the water rise and when the water had risen high enough the crow would be able to drink. The industrious crow dropped one, two, several stones into the water, again it tried to drink from the jar but still its beak did not reach the water. So, it brought more stones, many more stones, each of them was patiently carried in the thirsty crow’s beak and dropped hopefully into the jar. The crow was at a loss. It had no explanation. The water did not increase, the trick of the pebbles did not work. Was it not well known that the stones always made the water rise? In accordance with this law it had brought stones. Had the law been suspended? If not then why had the water not risen? The silly crow could make no sense of it. Crows may be crafty, industrious, credulous and even thirsty but they know only one trick on hot, waterless, sun-blistering days. So the stubborn crow brought more stones. Many more stones. In fact, so many stones that soon the jar was overflowing with stones and they began building up beside it but never did one drop of water rise up to meet that dry and eager beak.

Angry and despairing, the thirsty crow looked ever further afield for more stones to pile around the jar, it was determined not to give in. Soon its desire for water was forgotten, it cared for nothing but the bringing of stones to that jar. In this way the wall beneath the olive tree grew taller.

It is not certain if this unfortunate crow died of thirst, or if it is how religion first began.

What do you not understand about it, lettersjournal? Or is it you do not understand why one would choose an allegory?

RedHughs

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It seems like a simple allegory for the fact that people take their expectations for reality and/or that people follow their habits rather than looking up at the world around them.

Well, people do do that, often. We should keep that in mind.

But that includes all kind of people, reactionaries, radicals, Situationists and Nihilist communists.

Does that prove anything? Was I expecting it to? Were the Nihcom people? Would I expect the nihcommunists to think it proved something? ... and so-forth.

lettersjournal

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The thing is, the crow would have died whether or not he piled the pebbles, and it seems indecent to object to the strange ritual of one who is about to die.

Spikymike

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Reluctant as I am to re-engage in this discussion there is one point made by a N-C comrade which I think has perhaps been misunderstood.

I have seen a few references to the 'essential proletariate taking over production' whereas I'm pretty sure the N-C reference to this section of the proletariate is only to their critical position in undermining and eventually destroying the capitalist economy as a prelude to what they consider the necessary material changes that may give rise to a changed revolutionary consciousness and communism.

I'm not s supporter of this rather narrow understanding of who are essential or the economic determinism behind it though it seems unlikely that any social revolution could develop without the trigger of a major economic crisis on a world scale.

demolition squid

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I think this parable could serve as a fitting introduction to the "Ancestors" essay which is featured in both NihCom and Species Being on the grounds that both the parable and "Ancestors" are commenting on the reproduction of capitalist relations. Specifically, they are both saying that production has built up the world of apparatuses (to use the language of Agamben and Tiqqun) which direct our behavior towards continuing that reproduction.

I can't remember off the top of my head whether or not the parable of the crow is in both Species Being and NihCom, but I think it is telling that "Ancestors" is featured in both as it represents a thread running through the Dupont's work that is simultaneously mourning the current affairs and calling for their complete, material annihilation.

bzfgt

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Huh, I read it as suggesting that the accumulation of radical acts doesn't add up to a final sum=communism, and at some point the left is too concerned with its own perpetuation and aggrandizement, or even just the accumulation of acts it considers radical (for their own sake or even out of habit), to stop and consider whether any water is coming up.

It's not clear that the crow would have died anyway, maybe it could have learned a new trick...for instance it could have pecked a hole in the side and sucked the water out.

cornered beef

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The crow should have knocked down the jar and enjoyed it for a little while anyway. That would have been a better trick. That would spite its useless pebble principle and any other crows that could come along with the same stupid pebble principle. Then died anyway.

RedHughs

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

lettersjournal

The thing is, the crow would have died whether or not he piled the pebbles, and it seems indecent to object to the strange ritual of one who is about to die.

I wouldn't object to the crows behavior, which naturally isn't going to change. I would simply take some lessons away for myself. And looking at the parable or otherwise, I wouldn't always count on stepping out of my expectations or being inevitably be caught in them.

RedHughs

... criticizing fairly specific ideas like the idea that the essential proletariat will take over production...

Spikey Mike

I have seen a few references to the 'essential proletariate taking over production' whereas I'm pretty sure the N-C reference to this section of the proletariate is only to their critical position in undermining and eventually destroying the capitalist economy as a prelude to what they consider the necessary material changes that may give rise to a changed revolutionary consciousness and communism.

Well, I got "taking over production" from

[quote=Nihilist Communism]
The working class, as the revolutionary body, do not require consciousness but a peculiar alignment of events, and a series of causes and effects which produces a specific economic crisis that ends up with workers holding the levers of production. [/quote]
Nihcom, further in the text

...We say that their brief period of ownership will occur by chance...

OK, going back on thread, my memory could have slipped about whether nihcom's "essential proletariat" really was discussed earlier. My defense is that I remember it coming up in another thread. That might not be enough but, hey, I can perhaps redeem myself from my shameful and indecent mistake by mentioning the essential proles now - and by looking the text! Huhzah, is perhaps my salvation from Madlib's harsh judgement at hand? Never, away with such spiritual pride!

Anyway, it seems like the nihcommunist are outlining something like the syndicalists' dream, except sketching their scenario so no unworthy syndicalists are around to enjoy it (the former college-student-anarcho-syndicalists are no doubt toasting in the nihcom hell reserved for those who impersonate the otherwise boarish and unselfconscious workers). And it's brief (that might qualify as a "prelude").

I'll admit that during the Argentine revolt, some portion of factories really were abandoned by their owners and taken over in scenario something like this. But I would still claim the overall scenario seems unlikely to the point of ridiculousness. Especially, capitalists abandons this or that factory specifically because it isn't a lever of power and the situation of the taken-over factories in Argentina resulted in the workers engaging in desperate efforts to self-manage for survival - till the capitalist came to reclaim their property and thank the workers for their hyper self-exploitation.

Communism must be from the get-go a struggle against the totality of capitalist relations. It's not impossible for self-management to appear here or there but the overall struggle won't result in an economy that's owned by the proletariat, even briefly or accidentally but rather, as I think SpikeyMike would agree, in the destruction of the economy.

RedHughs

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

bzfgt

Huh, I read it as suggesting that the accumulation of radical acts doesn't add up to a final sum=communism, and at some point the left is too concerned with its own perpetuation and aggrandizement, or even just the accumulation of acts it considers radical (for their own sake or even out of habit), to stop and consider whether any water is coming up.

It's not clear that the crow would have died anyway, maybe it could have learned a new trick...for instance it could have pecked a hole in the side and sucked the water out.

I hadn't thought of that. But even so, it still seems like the easy "final takeaway" is "don't take your expectations for reality".

Anyway, I don't think you argue with the outcome of a parable. It always contains exactly what's given.

Franz Kafka

Many complain that the words of the wise are always merely parables and of no use in daily life, which is the only life we have. When the sage says: “Go over,” he does not mean that we should cross over to some actual place, which we could do anyhow if the labor were worth it; he means some fabulous yonder, something unknown to us, something too that he cannot designate more precisely, and therefore cannot help us here in the very least. All these parables really set out to say merely that the incomprehensible is incomprehensible, and we know that already. But the cares we have to struggle with every day: that is a different matter.

Concerning this a man once said: Why such reluctance? If you only followed the parables you yourselves would become parables and with that rid yourself of all your daily cares.

Another said: I bet that is also a parable.

The first said: You have won.

The second said: But unfortunately only in parable.

The first said: No, in reality: in parable you have lost.

bzfgt

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The first said: No, in reality: in parable you have lost.

But that's also a parable, so...

I'll raise you a parable.

I'm glad you think we didn't talk about the essential proletariat, since I got three down votes for not going back to look.

I think the idea is that the workers would have to find themselves "in control" of production before they could decide to shut it down, not that they would take over production a la Argentina. But the details are thin; I'm just going on what I know from other things that have been said and writ. In any case, I don't think any n-c-ers or their fellow travelers promote a worker-controlled-production-type transition period, unless I am seriously in error.

bzfgt

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

That second part wasn't a parable, by the way.

doam

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

lettersjournal

The thing is, the crow would have died whether or not he piled the pebbles, and it seems indecent to object to the strange ritual of one who is about to die.

It is not a strange ritual: the crow wants to live, that is all.
Each of us will die, should we not then point out what might allow us to live?

bzfgt

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Anyway it seems like the crow lived to a ripe old age, water or no; enough pebbles to make a wall were dropped, after all. The key line:

Soon its desire for water was forgotten, it cared for nothing but the bringing of stones to that jar.

RedHughs

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

doam

lettersjournal

The thing is, the crow would have died whether or not he piled the pebbles, and it seems indecent to object to the strange ritual of one who is about to die.

It is not a strange ritual: the crow wants to live, that is all.
Each of us will die, should we not then point out what might allow us to live?

I would speculate whenever a person (or perhaps a crow) is doing something that they know on one level won't help but that they feel they must continue because it is all they know, that they both want to die and want to survive.

They want to "survive" meaning they feel a need to hold onto their ideas, their ideas are all they have even if these ideas kill them. They want to die so their ideas survive.

But they might also secretly want their ideas to finally fail, so they "die" but that they then survive physically.

I'm sure you can find ritual mixed in all this.

Also, as to whether the crow actually lived to stack many pebbles? Perhaps so but perhaps at that moment, the crow became conscious of his mortality and thus engaged in a life-long project which was this strange ritual he could only let go of at death? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps...

I would recommend Kafka's "Reflections on Sin, Death and the True Way".

doam

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Why does the trick of pebbles not work? It has worked in the past (Archimedes in the bathtub thinking of the crown, etc). It should work. How is a law suspended?
Why has their not been a large-scale raising of consciousness if it is in fact a law?

Maybe I do not understand the parable but it seems to not work here.

doam

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

A solution to my previous dilemma: it is not actually water in the glass. What the crow has taken to be water is something else entirely, something not previously investigated by clever people, and this not-water does not follow the laws of the more ordinary substances.

lettersjournal

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

It is not certain if this unfortunate crow died of thirst, or if it is how religion first began.

If this is how religion first began, the crow did not die. By carrying out the hopeless task, he achieved immortality. Was it the immortality of an undying body or the immortality of constructing a wall?

Why does the trick of pebbles not work?

Try it. There are lots of pebbles at playgrounds.

lettersjournal

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

doam

Why has their not been a large-scale raising of consciousness if it is in fact a law?

Another possibility: communists have affected/changed consciousness on a large-scale - but not in the way they intended and not in a way they recognize.

hpwombat

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

http://www.aesops-fables.org.uk/aesop-fable-the-crow-and-the-pitcher.htm

A Crow, half-dead with thirst, came upon a Pitcher which had once been full of water; but when the Crow put its beak into the mouth of the Pitcher he found that only very little water was left in it, and that he could not reach far enough down to get at it. He tried, and he tried, but at last had to give up in despair. Then a thought came to him, and he took a pebble and dropped it into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped it into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into
the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher. Then he took another pebble and dropped that into the Pitcher. At last, at last, he saw the water mount up near him, and after casting in a few more pebbles he was able to quench his thirst and save his life.
----

The moral of the story: Never believe what you read.

hpwombat

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Honestly, I kept thinking: I've heard this story before and it didn't go the way it was being told here. Not sure why the story was painted incorrectly.

Now we must cast doubt on everything!

lettersjournal

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Of course it's a retelling one of Aesop's fables!

Isn't it incredible he wrote or told those c. 600 BCE, and we still know them all from memory today? Probably every story ever written is a retelling of Homer or Aesop.

(The dominance of Archaic and pre-Archaic Greece on our consciousness, even after a lifetime of modern advertising and culture, bodes either well or poorly for the prospects of communist projects, and it frames the timeframe and purpose of our undertakings. Or at least it's daunting.)

What if our task, above all else, is to craft something that will be remembered for 3000 years, that makes possible the sort of consciousness necessary for a communist world? That seems rubbish and nonsense, but more interesting and fruitful (for whom?) than producing a newspaper to be read by 300 or even 3000.

Or, communism is precisely the abandoning of the myths and stories and ideas of ancient Athens that have weighed on us for so many centuries, not the real movement of history but the real decline and fall of the west.

Now we must cast doubt on everything!

hpwombat

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I think the fable as presented in Nihilist Communism was perhaps written with the idea that others may of heard the previous story. Comparing it to the original, it does seem to suggest that the crow had knowledge of the stones causing the water to rise in other cases, but in this case, it didn't.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crow_and_the_Pitcher

Does the Nihilist Communism story need a relationship with the original fable to make sense? The reality is birds actually do this to get the water to rise. If the water did not rise, they wouldn't do it.

bzfgt

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

hpwombat

I think the fable as presented in Nihilist Communism was perhaps written with the idea that others may of heard the previous story. Comparing it to the original, it does seem to suggest that the crow had knowledge of the stones causing the water to rise in other cases, but in this case, it didn't.

Interesting, there is a structural parallel with the fable itself...the "water" would be the "moral" of the fable, in the re-telling it refuses to rise.

lettersjournal

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The crow is the proletariat, and the water is the communist.

bzfgt

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Or vice versa, of course.

bzfgt

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The crow is the subject, the stones are language, the water is the Other...

bzfgt

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Or the crow is the philosopher, the stones are the Ideas, the water is the Good beyond being...

bzfgt

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The crow is the Christian, the stones are good deeds, the water is salvation.

hpwombat

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The crow is the animal liberationist, the stones are the animals and the water is cages.

bzfgt

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

hpwombat

The crow is the animal liberationist, the stones are the animals and the water is cages.

Wow, that one's mind-blowing. The animal liberationist will never get the cages that (s)he seeks...or do you mean will never get rid of the cages by liberating animals one by one? Less mind-blowing but maybe more coherent.

The crow is a corvid, the stones are rocks and the water is H2O.

Or the crow is Obama, the stones are every time he utters the phrase "yes we can," and the water is a genuine US birth certificate...

Or the crow is us, the stones are all our interpretations, and the water is the true meaning of the fable.

lettersjournal

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I like the last one.

doam

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I am the crow, the stones are my comments, all the other posters on libcom are the water.

It is likely this is true for all others who post here. Each is the crow and I become the water. Sometimes the stone.

hpwombat

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

bzfgt

The animal liberationist will never get the cages that (s)he seeks...or do you mean will never get rid of the cages by liberating animals one by one? Less mind-blowing but maybe more coherent.

I suppose the animal liberationist will never get the cages they need as long as they keep throwing animals at them. Or maybe the animal liberationist, if they keep freeing animals will never be able to have a world without cages? I guess even when trying to confuse, an interpretation can make the incoherent coherent.

This does explain a lot though. I think we've had discussions like this before where if someone wants to misinterpret another's position, they can be successful at it. And if someone wants to make another's position one they can agree to, they can do that too, even when the author meant to just write a mindfuck with no real value.

I've argued with Saint Schmidt and Alberto the Penguin about these points many times, that we don't truly understand each other and probably never will. But a value I would apply to communication would be the attempt to understand each other.

I think it might be natural for us to want to understand each other, even when we completely fuck up another person's position. Such as how Marxists fucked up Marx's position. This, I suppose, is also not a new thought, but I think it does apply to any attempt to make sense from a parable.

I remember learning parables as a child and how the teacher would avoid revealing the moral of the story and attempt to get the children to express its moral. Usually the moral of the story was lost on the children. The moral of the story of the crow, the rock and the water of Dupont could easily be: Don't be stupid, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expect different results, think of another way, you will never be as smart as you think you are, if you think you are going to save yourself you might actually build a wall to stop it, etc.

The original parable would say the opposite, to some degree: Keep trying and you may succeed, little acts can bring great success, don't give up on the trials of life, etc.

The science of the parable, however, seems to suggest Aesop's story is founded on a science from folklore while Dupont's story is corrupting this story to make a different point, even when it flies in the face of what is understood.

I don't know if what I said brings any clarity.

bzfgt

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yeah, an attempt at mutual understanding is a value, yet the value of fables like this are that they allow multiple interpretations to flourish, which makes for a lot more freedom than is usual on this site (even if a lot of it is just silliness).

The animal liberationist doesn't understand that s/he is really a cage fetishist; the crow knows she wants water, but forgets...but what if the thing one gets is the thing one really wants, without knowing it? Another possible wrinkle. The crow adjusts his desires to reality so perhaps she is the hero of the story after all...

mciver

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Aesop's original fable has probably endured countless mutations. A variant where the crow confronts an uncanny breakdown of the laws of physics, makes one think that the magical-realist crow could also endure forever, linking up with the wall of China.

Or, communism is precisely the abandoning of the myths and stories and ideas of ancient Athens that have weighed on us for so many centuries, not the real movement of history but the real decline and fall of the west.

Now we must cast doubt on everything!

Fertile yet daunting insight. Beware of Socrates's fate, Dupont! But with what emotional, cultural and intellectual baggage would mankind transcend the decline and fall of the west, the end of the dialectic of Enlightenment? Gregor Samsa's metamorphosis is a possible outcome, the giant bug representing a new cybernetic species, spawned by a terminated value. However, in this case the singular entity wouldn't be disposed of so easily as poor Gregor was. This real movement of history would spell the end for all parables and silliness.

RedHughs

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Maciver's post seems to follow this one, which, it occurs to me, should not go uncommented:

Lettersjournal

The dominance of Archaic and pre-Archaic Greece on our consciousness, even after a lifetime of modern advertising and culture, bodes either well or poorly for the prospects of communist projects, and it frames the timeframe and purpose of our undertakings. Or at least it's daunting.

Well, that depends on whether what is conscious and/or what is apparently dominant, is really the determining factor.

ocelot

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I don't know if what I said brings any clarity.

epitaph for a thread.

FWIW, my interpretation of the nicom version of the parable was something like this (or, alternatively, this).

Enjoying the existential angst line of flight, tho. Keep it up.

doam

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Enjoying the existential angst line of flight

The crow does not fly but merely sits at the jar placing stone after stone.

Magpies, it has been shown, recognize themselves in mirrors and so are aware of themselves as separate from the world. Is the same true for the crow? I think magpies are the only birds that can (as far as we have discovered).

Questions that are maybe more fundamental:

What was once a river is now only a trickle.
Why is the river not where it is supposed to be?
Is there a river where it was once a desert?

Who has placed the jar beneath the tree?
Are they watching the crow drop stones?

[Must we always return to find the silence (or lack) of God?]

ocelot

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

into last chance jar
pebbles dropped by thirsting crow
no water rises

Commodity

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This is a thing?

ocelot

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

it's a niche market, but I think satirical nihcom haiku could sell well. You know, go for the 21st C McLaren angle - turning surrender into money.

doam

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Ocelot,

You are a trickster. First you go about writing poetry and seeming to have fun but then you slip in your critique of nihilist communism at the very end by referring to it as "surrender". Why hide it and not just say it boldly?

________

Let us try to get at a critique through the parable:

If the crow, in a simplistic reading of the parable, is a communist who drops pebbles in the jar to cause consciousness to rise, even when it doesn't work, then what would a nihilist communist crow look like? How would we recognize it?

What shall we call these crows:
-the crow that does not drop pebbles into the water but wants to drink
-the crow that does not want water
-the crow that tries different methods
-the crow that tells other crows it knows how to get the water and at the first meeting says 'it is pebbles we need but we must only use black (or round, or whatever) ones. this will make all the difference.' and then wonders why so few crows come to the next meeting
-the crow that complains about all the other crows?

There are more crows than this, to be sure, an infinite number, but the nihilist communist crow eludes me.

hpwombat

10 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

If we are staying within the confines of the parable, the nihilist communist crow would be one that thinks a rain would come to raise the water in the jar, but does not know if the rain will ever come. The nihilist communist crow would probably find a comfortable spot in the shade and watch the other thirsty crow drop rocks. Both crows will probably die of thirst.

doam

10 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

There are rumors that some crows spent their time in caves searching for the coldest of stones. The ones they found they put into the water not to make it rise but in the hopes that by cooling the water condensation would form that they could lick at.

RedHughs

10 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

You know,

While I enjoy Kafka, there's a point where speculation on crows and stones becomes more tedious than even leftist idiocy.

This actually does relate to Nihcom. As I've said before, my basic problem with Nihcom is that the tendency seems to imagine that leftism is the only ideology infesting our existence. That if a "communist" could just get away from that, they could perhaps lead an unalienated or at least better existence. Don't get involved in idiotic activism, instead, drink tea, watch birds, read 17th century Chinese poetry. But sorry to say, the alienate world will impinge on you even with tea or any other obscurity might desperately imagine is outside this order.

Indeed it shouldn't be surprising that the "Tea, parables and Chinese poetry" formula for escaping leftist alienation bares a strong resemblance to certain capitalist marketing campaigns. Tea houses are the rage in certain circles.

And all this shouldn't take away from the opposite point that the Nihcomists do speak eloquently and insightfully about the alienation of leftist relations - the passage matlib quote here is good, really. But no matter how insightfully one might analyze the left, if one's attention is focused on leftists, one misses that a leftist ideological clique is merely, is only an instance of ideological clique. You can find manias and fixations in groups of artists, in church groups, in music fans and so-forth. And with the dominance of ideology today, such groups are sadly most of what passes for society. The good advice that the link("Revolutionary Organizations and Individual Commitment") gives needs to be generalized to all relations to groups and cliques today though naturally this also entails some modification.

bzfgt

10 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This is a distortion of what N-C-ers think. If this were an accurate description, nihilist communism would have no relation to communism, since everyone but a small percentage of people goes about their business without getting caught up in the left. N-C-ers do have the idea that the left will be the biggest obstacle to communism in the event of a revolution, which is why they critique the left.

Also, nobody I know of has suggested that by bird watching etc. one become un-alienated; what could be more alienated than a person who bird watches by day and talks about communism on message boards at night?

Hieronymous

10 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

[moved]

doam

10 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

There is a crow in the shade and there is a crow dropping pebbles. There is also a crow in the middle. It looks at both and turns to the one in the shade. It shouts 'you are not original, what is interesting about what you are doing has been done already by smarter crows. Besides, being in the shade isn't that big of a deal anyway. Stop thinking you're hot shit for not dropping pebbles in the jar.'

Another crow emerges though its role is unclear (does it drops pebbles or just watch The Big Lebowski?). It calls out to the crows in the shade 'hey, we are trying to discuss important things here and you just keep trolling passive aggressively and you are just really an obstacle to the people dropping pebbles. You are part of the reason the water won't rise.'

All the crows are still thirsty and their spittle has dried. It is difficult to swallow and though they want to cry they know it would just be a waste of water.

Hieronymous

10 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

[moved]

Nate

10 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

lettersjournal

What is the political economy of allegories?

A key component of the rhetorical and libidinal economy of allegory is that it allows people to dodge arguments they have no substantive reply to, while convincing themselves they are in fact deep. A faster and more fun way to get this same result would be to smoke weed and go "fuuuuuck man, they just don't get it." Preferably offline, please.

As for the political economy, I believe it has something to do with small businesses and niche markets for subpar literary fiction. It's a good deal like hardcore punk in the late 90s. Here too, however, the drive is in part libidinal: "we want to produce a commodity and one that resonates deeply with some spectators; we are not able to produce a commodity that appeals to many people people and so we fetishize the niche character of our market."

The crow is a salesman, the rocks are a carefully cultivated small group of spectators, the water is the cultural and financial return that the business owner gets on the value he advances. The return rises with agonizing slowness until the business owner fails, or finds a better place to invest his meager funds, all the while resenting that other firms sell better goods and more of them, a resentment dressed up as profundity.

doam

10 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Nate,

I was excited to see a new commenter had joined the discussion but then, upon reading your post, I grew frustrated with myself because I cannot figure out what you are saying.

A key component of the rhetorical and libidinal economy of allegory is that it allows people to dodge arguments they have no substantive reply to, while convincing themselves they are in fact deep.

...

As for the political economy, I believe it has something to do with small businesses and niche markets for subpar literary fiction. It's a good deal like hardcore punk in the late 90s.

Do you think allegory is used exclusively in 'subpar literary fiction' and 'niche markets'? This seems wrong because what is allegory besides extended metaphor? Must we confine all poetry and some of the most esteemed works, ranging from Shakespeare to the parables of Jesus, to 'niche' markets or 'subpar literary fiction'?

"Banish plump Jack and banish all the world."

Further: what are the allegories used in late 90s hardcore punk? I am unfamiliar with the scene.

The crow is a salesman, the rocks are a carefully cultivated small group of spectators, the water is the cultural and financial return that the business owner gets on the value he advances. The return rises with agonizing slowness until the business owner fails, or finds a better place to invest his meager funds, all the while resenting that other firms sell better goods and more of them, a resentment dressed up as profundity.

I am trying to make sense of this one. Here's what I have so far: the salesman drops his 'carefully cultivated' 'spectators' into its 'cultural and financial return' and this return rises but very slowly until the crow decides to invest somewhere else.
What is difficult for me is how the rocks are the spectators.
It seems like you wanted to get in some line about spectators but did so to the detriment of your allegory.

_____________

Now that I have written out my difficulties I think I understand why your post was confusing and I think the last part above is key. I think the intentions you have in writing the post and the words themselves do not match. Often we understand what a person is saying based on a combination of intentions and their speech, like two keys of the piano pressed in unison to create a beautiful chord that allows one to nod with satisfaction (pardon my use of metaphor). Your post strikes me as dissonant, as if your finger slipped and pressed the wrong key playing a minor-seventh that was never resolved.

bzfgt

10 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I would think that sometimes allegories are something different from arguments altogether.

Juan Conatz

10 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

'If I can't talk about crows for 67 posts, its not my revolution'

ocelot

10 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Stone them

Nate

10 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Seems to me some of them are pretty stoned already.

bzfgt

10 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

You guys are so square...

Nate

10 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

nah daddy-o we're the heppest cats around, we're supermergitroid, dig?