Union Organisation / Communism & Capitalism theory

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bastarx
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Apr 21 2006 09:01
Union Organisation / Communism & Capitalism theory

Admin: Split from Oceanic libertarian/anarchist movements thread here

Dave Antagonism wrote:

How do you determine this? If a trot or an anarcho is involved in trying to get people in their work place to struggle over a particular issue is that different from some one that is not a "Leftie" doing it.

Dave I was criticising professional union organisers (who may or may not claim to be anarchists) from outside the workplace who try to "represent people within capital." Please tell me if I'm wrong in thinking that you also dislike such activity.

However I was wrong to assert a rigid divide between being organised and organising yourself.

To get back to Supersizemypay it seems it can be summed up as:

1) Entrepeneurial union bureaucrats see possibility of expanding market share.

2) Naive young anarchists jump at chance to do something for the workers.

3) Workers actions start to get outside union control so bureaucrats shut the campaign down.

Not entirely without potential - it seems the wildcat strikes and highschool walkouts wouldn't have happened without the union - but hardly justifying Simon's suggestion that we all become union organisers. Which is not actually that easy anyway. I think you have to have either been in the union a long time or been an ALP hack at uni.

cheers

Pete

Dave Antagonism
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Apr 20 2006 01:38

Hi Pete, is the problem that they are professional organisers or that they are outside the work place?

I would think that the rejection of a trade union mentatlity would mean that there is no problem with fellow proles outside the work place lending a hand in struggle, wether that be through loose friendship networks or formal political links.

as for you division of the Supersizemypay campaign, i think such an abstraction ignores the fact that often people would be involved and sympathetic to all three motivations and more. Thus such a critique ignores the ambiguities of struggle which thus is surely a real barrier to meaningful solidarity.

One other point when you say

Quote:
Lefties try and organise people so they can represent them within capital.

Are you saying this is a deliberate and conscious act?

cheers

Dave

bastarx
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Apr 20 2006 02:31
Dave Antagonism wrote:
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Hi Pete, is the problem that they are professional organisers or that they are outside the work place?

I would think that the rejection of a trade union mentatlity would mean that there is no problem with fellow proles outside the work place lending a hand in struggle, wether that be through loose friendship networks or formal political links.

Yes Dave, that they are professional union organisers. And no I don't think we should meekly accept capital's division of us by workplace. But there is a world of difference between a group of striking workers trying to spread their strike to other workplaces for eg and union hacks trying to sign people up to the union.

Quote:
as for you division of the Supersizemypay campaign, i think such an abstraction ignores the fact that often people would be involved and sympathetic to all three motivations and more. Thus such a critique ignores the ambiguities of struggle which thus is surely a real barrier to meaningful solidarity.

It was only three lines. Do you disagree that is basically what happened, as described by the union organisers right here?

So is the right approach to ignore the ambiguities - the tensions between the union bosses, the 'anarchist' organisers and the workers - or to explain and criticise them?

Neither of us is in a position to offer meaningful solidarity so whatever we say remains abstract. Now if such a campaign were to emerge in Canberra things might be different...

Quote:
One other point when you say
Quote:
Lefties try and organise people so they can represent them within capital.

Are you saying this is a deliberate and conscious act?

Depends which lefties but broadly yes. Are you saying it's not conscious? Does it matter?

Pete

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shamass
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Apr 20 2006 03:18
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Communism exist now, it is a reality today , not some transcendental goal in the future. It can only be found through an engagement with the world as it is, not by waiting for a tomorrow that never comes

Hey Dave, hows life? I can't say that I agree with this. I look all around (sometimes up, sometimes down) but can't seem to find communism *anywhere*. Perhaps you mean the movement of communism? I reckon Negri and Hardt's notion of the immanence of communism is crap. Communism emerges through praxis, and praxis is the engagement with the antagonistic and contradictory social relation of capitalism. The only way to *affirm* communism is to *negate* capitalism. So to say, as you do, that "communism exist now" is wrong. It doesn't. The struggle against capitalism exists. And maybe there are harbingers of the future in our present struggle. But simply to affirm aspects of our life, now, as communism, is to mistake an *aspect* of the present - with all of its condradictions, alienating fragments and centrally, the antagonism of capital and labour - for the transcendence (yep, you guessed it) of this social relation.

regards

shamass

(aka anthony)

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shamass
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Apr 20 2006 06:12

Just on some of the stuff about whether or not to get involved in union or workplace organization.

I reckon we should conceive of union campaigns and, for that matter, any campaign that renegotiates the rate of our exploitation, as just that: ie. its another part of being at work. We should treat it as problematic as work, sometimes enjoyable but more often than not onerous. Campaigning for a better deal at work is as necessary as work as long as this society endures. So, we go to work, *and* we campaign for better pay and conditions.

However, it is questionable that such "work" (selling our labour-power, re-negotiating the sale of our labour power), can ever be the pivot on which anti-capitalist ruptures turn. People still speak of the point-of-production as the priveleged zone of revolutionary organization and rupture. Maybe it is, but it won't be as far as the political and economic work/agitation/whatever is not aimed squarely at the wage relation: ie. we can't struggle against capital unless we also struggle against the imposition of capitalist value through the wage relation.

Dave Antagonism
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Apr 20 2006 06:42
Quote:
Quote:

One other point when you say

Quote:

Lefties try and organise people so they can represent them within capital.

Are you saying this is a deliberate and conscious act?

Depends which lefties but broadly yes. Are you saying it's not conscious? Does it matter?

I think it does matter. The kind of denouncing of the left and lefties ( scum bags etc) typical of the ultra-left/commie position only works if those being denounced are actually the two-faced no-goodniks that they accused of being. If they are something else - say proles trying to make sense of the world around them in the context of their lives then i think a different attitude is needed, one a little heavier on love and a little lighter on venom.

Quote:

So is the right approach to ignore the ambiguities - the tensions between the union bosses, the 'anarchist' organisers and the workers - or to explain and criticise them

surely there is another option?

hey Anthony, life is weird . On the Gold Coast at the moment expierencing the weird delirum of capitalism. I think there is a good Holloway essay on the points you raise "Ordinary People, that is Rebels". We as the multitude / proletariat are already the force that can negate this world/affirm radical otherness; just as we are are also the chained monster that rebuilds capitalism. The revolutionary task is to highlight what is rebellious, what already breaks forth into new worlds however deformed, dirty and compromised it may be, as well as the condemnation of what exists. But more than that i quess we have to decide what drives capitalism, if it is revolt ( that is communism) that drives capital ala tronti, then capitalism is already communism twisted against itself.

mad love

Dave

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shamass
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Apr 20 2006 07:25
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I think it does matter. The kind of denouncing of the left and lefties ( scum bags etc) typical of the ultra-left/commie position only works if those being denounced are actually the two-faced no-goodniks that they accused of being. If they are something else - say proles trying to make sense of the world around them in the context of their lives then i think a different attitude is needed, one a little heavier on love and a little lighter on venom.

they maybe 'proles trying to make sense of the world' or not as the case maybe. 'Ruthless criticism' as Marx would have it, doesn't have to be a problem of affectation ie. I can be ruthless without insulting you or engaging in ad hominem attacks, although I tend to believe that the fragility of the bourgeois subject (ie. a false sense of heroic individuality caught in the web of antagonistic relations) tends to make every exchange or debate over ideas to be perceived as a threat to the organism &/or the future of the species...

practically, though, i'm not sure we should spare the ideologues our venom. also, i reckon we can be "ruthless" with the less doctrinare hacks without dismissing them out of hand. However, I don't think Pete is suggesting what you are accusing him of.

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Quote:

So is the right approach to ignore the ambiguities - the tensions between the union bosses, the 'anarchist' organisers and the workers - or to explain and criticise them

surely there is another option?

Well, what's the other option? If it is *less* than explaining and criticizing the ambiguites and tensions that are a part of the union boss, or the party hack, or what have you, than I'm not sure what use it would be. I might add that I don't think this is the *limit* of the role of revolutionists. However I don't think we should resile from arguing against these stooges, particularly in public forums.

Quote:
hey Anthony, life is weird . On the Gold Coast at the moment expierencing the weird delirum of capitalism. I think there is a good Holloway essay on the points you raise "Ordinary People, that is Rebels". We as the multitude / proletariat are already the force that can negate this world/affirm radical otherness; just as we are are also the chained monster that rebuilds capitalism. The revolutionary task is to highlight what is rebellious, what already breaks forth into new worlds however deformed, dirty and compromised it may be, as well as the condemnation of what exists. But more than that i quess we have to decide what drives capitalism, if it is revolt ( that is communism) that drives capital ala tronti, then capitalism is already communism twisted against itself.

I reckon it is the antagonism of the capital relation that drives capital ie. the contradiction of the circulation of "free" labour and it's objectification as capital. The revolt you talk about is against this antagonism, rather than the mere affirmation of one of the terms in the dialectic. I am increasingly finding this notion that "capitalism is already communism twisted against itself" problematic.

I think that the revolutionary task is more than highlighting what is rebellious, as I reckon that you pose the "rebellious" as already being communism. This cannot be right. Perhaps we can identify a tendency, but this tendency is a rebellion against something, ie. capitalism, rather than a positing of something ie. communism. The positive, communism, *follows* the negative. It can be otherwise, despite Deleuze's lamo attempt to say that negation can only be a result of affirmation.

I think these a dangerous waters, posing elements of the ghetto as already the affirmation of communism. A definite sign of our weakness, and marginality.

Rather than conflating a ruthless criticism and self-criticism with "sectarian" behaviour, perhaps its time to drag it back into the light of day and turn its glare upon ourselves. Enough of this banal self-appraisal that we are already communism in anticipation. It time for a constructive self-criticism as a part of revolutionary practice.

Doc Shamass

Dave Antagonism
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Apr 20 2006 08:11
Quote:
practically, though, i'm not sure we should spare the ideologues our venom. also, i reckon we can be "ruthless" with the less doctrinare hacks without dismissing them out of hand. However, I don't think Pete is suggesting what you are accusing him of.

Hi All. Look i just can't hate anymore. i am sick of a position of condemnation of everything and everyone, take for example "union boss, or the party hack". Who are these people? I have never met someone who is simply reducable to this role. Sure there are shit-dudes out there ( i have been in meetings with drunken stalinists) but they are always more than these charactertures. Also there is a big difference from your norm gallaghers and some dude(ette) in the public service trying to fight over whatever issue - despite some of the social democratic commonalities between their activity.

If i reduce some one to their role, i also must reduce my self - you are leftist I am communist. But am i communist, or do i problematically enage in communism? Isn't communism a relationship, a love?

Quote:
I think these a dangerous waters, posing elements of the ghetto as already the affirmation of communism

I

want to reject the idea of the "ghetto" here - i am also talking about myriad practices in peoples lives of co-operation and affirmation from the little acts of auto-valourisation to non-commodity production of use-values.

Question: When i "negate" capitalism isnt it inpart due to the affirmation of things in the present. On the basis of friendships, loves, co-operations, desires that i already have? And isn't also visa versa . To affirm my love of you i must negate the world it makes up?

mad love

Dave

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Joseph Kay
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Apr 20 2006 08:20
shamass wrote:
The positive, communism, *follows* the negative. It can be otherwise, despite Deleuze's lamo attempt to say that negation can only be a result of affirmation.

i think Deleuze took that from Nietzsche - i think we can say negation and affirmation are at least *simultaneous*, insofar as negation follows/coexists with a dissonance between the negated and the negating subject, we can call this 'personal values', 'ideology', 'desire' or if we're feeling especially Deleuzian 'an assemblage of desiring machines'. This is not to say that communism precedes or coexists with capital, but that affirmations do, even if they are affirmations of desire, which on negating capital create communism. Negation alone links the subject ontologically to its antagonist to the point where its existence depends on it, i.e. proletarians and capitalists depend on each other for their identity/existence, thus negation is sufficient for 'a class in itself', but affirmation is required for 'a class against itself'.

Dave Antagonism wrote:
When i "negate" capitalism isnt it inpart due to the affirmation of things in the present. On the basis of friendships, loves, co-operations, desires that i already have? And isn't also visa versa . To affirm my love of you i must negate the world it makes up?

Yes. thats a dialectic, and affirmation is an indispensible part - without it we're locked into 'ressentiment', a slave morality where we can only define ourselves in opposition to our rulers and thus can never be value creating, i.e negate capital and create communism.

Negation and affirmation, chicken and egg?

My $0.02 wink

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shamass
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Apr 20 2006 09:08
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Hi All. Look i just can't hate anymore. i am sick of a position of condemnation of everything and everyone, take for example "union boss, or the party hack". Who are these people? I have never met someone who is simply reducable to this role. Sure there are shit-dudes out there ( i have been in meetings with drunken stalinists) but they are always more than these charactertures. Also there is a big difference from your norm gallaghers and some dude(ette) in the public service trying to fight over whatever issue - despite some of the social democratic commonalities between their activity.

If i reduce some one to their role, i also must reduce my self - you are leftist I am communist. But am i communist, or do i problematically enage in communism? Isn't communism a relationship, a love?

Hey Dave. I’m not asking you to just hate. Hate and love. War and peace. How do we work out these oppositions, these antagonisms? I have come across union bosses and party hacks, hell I’ve been them at different times! Of course these people are not reducible to their roles, and I certainly wasn’t saying such a thing. However we do have to criticise people when they operate in such alienated and alienating ways – including ourselves!

But perhaps, and more importantly, I find the reduction of this argument to “hate or love” stupid. Your love to my hate? I don’t think so. Not only have I not been simply suggesting hate (??) but you own argumentation presupposes some hate: eg. “i am sick of a position of condemnation of everything and everyone.”

A relationship is never merely “a love.” Are you seriously saying you believe this? Remember the scream, the “NO!” I have to hate what I’ve become in order to love what I can be.

Quote:
I

want to reject the idea of the "ghetto" here - i am also talking about myriad practices in peoples lives of co-operation and affirmation from the little acts of auto-valourisation to non-commodity production of use-values.

What are these “myriad practices”? how can we differentiate some of this myriad that are, quite simply, not extending and developing revolutionary practice, from those that are? How do we criticise what we have? We don’t have communism *right now*. I am not saying that we shouldn’t engage in create “affirmative” activities, However I am saying that these activities are not equivilant to communism. Its when we begin to mistake them for such that we begin the woeful job of the construction of the ghetto, and by extension justifying and supporting what lies outside (and within) this ghetto, that is capitalism.

Quote:

Question: When i "negate" capitalism isnt it inpart due to the affirmation of things in the present. On the basis of friendships, loves, co-operations, desires that i already have? And isn't also visa versa . To affirm my love of you i must negate the world it makes up?

What was it marx says in the paris manuscripts – communism is the positive negation of private property. Unless the negation of the alienation of human activity is at the centre of our practice, than it’s not revolutionary. That’s why I reject mere affirmation that is not grounded on this precise, and revolutionary negation. Otherwise what is it? Cultural production, artistic production, or, more precisely, production of the capital relation.

Shamass

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Apr 20 2006 09:19
Quote:
i think Deleuze took that from Nietzsche - i think we can say negation and affirmation are at least *simultaneous*, insofar as negation follows/coexists with a dissonance between the negated and the negating subject, we can call this 'personal values', 'ideology', 'desire' or if we're feeling especially Deleuzian 'an assemblage of desiring machines'. This is not to say that communism precedes or coexists with capital, but that affirmations do, even if they are affirmations of desire, which on negating capital create communism. Negation alone links the subject ontologically to its antagonist to the point where its existence depends on it, i.e. proletarians and capitalists depend on each other for their identity/existence, thus negation is sufficient for 'a class in itself', but affirmation is required for 'a class against itself'.

hey there. deleuze its pretty specific in his book 'nietzsche and philosophy.' besides his less than withering attack on the dialectic, he insists that the negation can only ever be a result of affirmative activity.

I agree that it is problematic unravelling the temporality of negation and affirmation. By posing the negation of capital we pose the affirmation of communism.

I reckon when we use terms like "class in itself" and "class for [against] itself" we should remember the process that these terms abstract from. The working class moves from being working class, ie. determined by the sale of labour-power, to the negation of the wage-relation.

Deleuze rejects the negative basis of this affirmation. Nietzsche is a little more tricky. You could pose tht negation is in fact a hidden premise of his master morality ie. the masters appear to merely affirm themselves through not acknowledging the negation of the other, the slave. convenient.

To relate it with my argument with Dave, I do not believe that the Deleuzian affirmation is enough to base a negative project - in fact it rejects the negative project for affirmation right now. So, rather than being superior to the dialectic, it rejects one of its terms in favour of the other and reduces negation to result. Rubbish I say! Again, rubbish!

Shamass

Dave Antagonism
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Apr 20 2006 09:35
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relationship is never merely “a love.” Are you seriously saying you believe this? Remember the scream, the “NO!” I have to hate what I’ve become in order to love what I can be.

maybe you are correct and maybe i hate that......

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how can we differentiate some of this myriad that are, quite simply, not extending and developing revolutionary practice, from those that are?

I guess only through experimenting? There is no other bench mark is there.....

on a nerd point, reading over some deleuze the other day, he seemed to be more into negation than he is being presented here...it was either in the last sections of "anti-oedipus" or i came across it in "two types of madness". I am off to Brisvegas tomo so will be away from this discussion till next tuesday

have a good weekend

mad love

Dave

ps

Quote:
What was it marx says in the paris manuscripts – communism is the positive negation of private property. Unless the negation of the alienation of human activity is at the centre of our practice, than it’s not revolutionary. That’s why I reject mere affirmation that is not grounded on this precise, and revolutionary negation. Otherwise what is it? Cultural production, artistic production, or, more precisely, production of the capital relation.

and is the negation any good without the affirmation - and are they anything other than an abstraction of a serious of events, actions, gestures that in practice deny this abstraction?

Dave Antagonism
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Apr 20 2006 09:40
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i am sick of a position of condemnation of everything and everyone.”

i do stand by this as a pretty good one line summation of the activity of the ultra-left in the last couple of decades.

oh and the destructive bit is page 345 in the continuum edition of Anti-oedipus.

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happychaos
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Apr 20 2006 09:54

@ Peter: I never suggested everyone become union organisers or paid union organisers.

i have to admit the ultra-left positions don't seem to suggest anything practical.

I am trying to figure out what to do now. the most pressing issue is that i have no money. Do I get a job in a union or do I get a crap job. I didn't want to be paid at unite and wasn't for over a year, including at times when new organisers were paid. I can't do that now, i can't even get the dole to be able to spend all my time organising. (it was just above the dole when i did get paid. )

to me its a question of strategy - there isn't an anarchist movement in auckland. im dont beleive we can build anything at the moment either, fo rwhatever reason. there is an activist scene, but i dont htink it has much practical gains for every day working/unemployed people.

i think it's about strategic compromises... (now im sure thats a bad quote.)

simono

bastarx
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Apr 20 2006 12:42
Quote:
@ Peter: I never suggested everyone become union organisers or paid union organisers.

Really, so what does this mean then?

Quote:
I would suggest all anarchists to get involved in union organising, or any sort of community organising that doesn't involve just activists. That would be the most obvious thing that I learnt from the experience.
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i have to admit the ultra-left positions don't seem to suggest anything practical.

The fact that various racketeering leftist ideologies immediately provide a program for their impatient young adherents to futilely attempt to implement is something of an advantage over revolutionary theories.

There isn't necessarily anything practical we can do now. But pretending that a position in the union bureaucracy is practical merely means you'll be on the wrong side of the barricades when things do start happening.

Quote:
I am trying to figure out what to do now. the most pressing issue is that i have no money. Do I get a job in a union or do I get a crap job. I didn't want to be paid at unite and wasn't for over a year, including at times when new organisers were paid. I can't do that now, i can't even get the dole to be able to spend all my time organising. (it was just above the dole when i did get paid. )

I can't give you much career advice and I'm not going to absolve you of sin if that's what you're after. But it sounds like union organiser is a crap job anyway. Find a different crap job.

Did you read what I wrote earlier about naive young anarchists working for the union? And then I find out you weren't even paid for it...

Quote:
to me its a question of strategy - there isn't an anarchist movement in auckland. im dont beleive we can build anything at the moment either, fo rwhatever reason. there is an activist scene, but i dont htink it has much practical gains for every day working/unemployed people.

Correct, but nor do unions.

Quote:
i think it's about strategic compromises... (now im sure thats a bad quote.)

We're all compromised by our engagement with capital. Everytime someone shows up to work is another little defeat. I used to make stuff for the Oz military. However I think there's a difference between selling yourself and selling others.

Dave, do you think everyone who becomes a cop does so with the dream of harassing ethnic minorities, smashing demonstrations etc? I doubt it, many of them think they are helping people, which they do occasionally do. But that hardly changes their role of enforcing capitalist social relations. So why is it so hard to accept the left plays a similar role despite the good intentions of many leftists.

And you know perfectly well that I get on fine with some leftists. I'm not the denunciation robot you're trying to make of me.

cheers

Pete

Dave Antagonism
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Apr 20 2006 22:46

its hard to negate things unless we affirm our capital negating machine(s) ( our collective spaces of creative organisation)

mad love

Dave

Quote:
And you know perfectly well that I get on fine with some leftists. I'm not the denunciation robot you're trying to make of me.

i am not aware i did

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Apr 21 2006 01:02
Quote:
and is the negation any good without the affirmation - and are they anything other than an abstraction of a serious of events, actions, gestures that in practice deny this abstraction?

yeah, i dig this. i was reading an excellent piece by dauve called 'To work or not to work? Is that the question?' and it reminded me of the problem of negation without a *positive* result. i think we have to ground our positive project, communism, on the negation of capitalist social relations. to remain in the negative is sheer nihilism, which leads to little other than despair and resignation.

my main prob dave is that your exhortations to love, over hate, understandable perhaps in the face of an ultra-left milleu that seems lost and consumed by its own petty brawls, ends by merely inverting their little hates. eg. i'm sick of their hate, therefore i'll embrace love. now, there is a problem attaching *affective* terms like hate and love to terms like negation and affirmation (a prob that deleuze never seems to acknowledge ie. he attributes *negation* to all that is life denying - why?). negation can be hateful, but it doesn't have to be. particularly if we theorize it as a moment of a movement that is both destructive and creative. yes, this is abstraction as far as we abstract from reality in order to theorize and act upon/within reality, but - hopefully - this is also the reality of the "events, actions, gestures" that you speak of. in fact this theorization is their *affirmation* as a cycle of destruction and creation, negation and affirmation.

another point, and related to the above, is your notion of communism as immanent, as already existing in our radical praxis. there are a few reason i reject this.

it can't be true because capitalism cannot *necessarily* give way to communism. it seems as if your (and negri's) argument is similar to the radical social democrats of yore, that is that capitalism already is the anticipation of communism, and will eventually give way to this. what i'm saying is that communism is a rupture, a radical departure, a *self-conscious* positing that has to destroy capitalism in order to give birth to itself. if we mistake the current creative affirmations that are made in the face of, and despite the ongoing existence of, the capital relation, than we only see one moment of the process of revolution. it seems as if overwhelmed by the failures of the last century, and the tricky business of what exactly is revolutionary negation, we have retreated (often understandably) into these ephemeral ghettos that provide some meaning and solace in the here and now. at best these haciendas are waiting rooms. at worst they are ghettos. they too will have to be pulled down.

communism is not the ultimate stage of capitalism precisely because capitalism can also lead to i) more capitalism and ii) barbarism, destruction, extermination. at the best we can identify tendencies, partial anticipations, projects that *exceed* the capital relation, but we cannot mistake these for a social formation that exists upon the ruins of the old world. if our creative praxis is bound up with the negation of capitalism, than it is not already communism. identify what exceeds the wage relation, what undermines and inevitably is harnessed by the capital relation, but don't mistake it for something it isn't. this isn't a miserable position, if anything it is a cry to struggle harder, more resolutely, to be terrific, horrible and beautiful in our determination to overturn this world.

shamass

Dave Antagonism
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Apr 25 2006 00:21
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identify what exceeds the wage relation, what undermines and inevitably is harnessed by the capital relation, but don't mistake it for something it isn't. this isn't a miserable position, if anything it is a cry to struggle harder, more resolutely, to be terrific, horrible and beautiful in our determination to overturn this world.

I think i have to admit that my position was not nuanced enough, unlike the above statement.... and differ to this. Also i think we are expressing here a tension between italian autonomism and french ultra-leftism here. Interesting how so many of us use both when perhaps they are not so compatible.

cheers

Dave

bastarx
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Apr 25 2006 04:55
Dave Antagonism wrote:
I think i have to admit that my position was not nuanced enough, unlike the above statement.... and differ to this. Also i think we are expressing here a tension between italian autonomism and french ultra-leftism here. Interesting how so many of us use both when perhaps they are not so compatible.

cheers

Dave

Now you're back in town maybe the three of us should talk about this stuff face-to-face.

Pete

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shamass
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Apr 25 2006 07:10
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I think i have to admit that my position was not nuanced enough, unlike the above statement.... and differ to this. Also i think we are expressing here a tension between italian autonomism and french ultra-leftism here. Interesting how so many of us use both when perhaps they are not so compatible.

i'd be careful turning the relation between 'italian autonomism' and 'french ultra-leftism' into a tension. first, these categories are hardly exhausitive or isolated from each other. if we were to agree to such a categorization we would also have to agree that radicals under both categories have borrowed and worked with each other (deleuze could be seen as a 'french ultra-leftist.' i prefer 'french ultra-liberal' however... ha ha). i'm reminded of science talk about so-called racial differences, ie. that there is a greater genetic diversity within populations defined ethically than between these populations. i reckon you'd find a similar diversity *within* your categories rather than across them.

likewise their supposive lack of 'compatibility.' dave, seriously, you speak of tensions and non-compatibility, and yet you are a walking talking example of theoretical eclecticism. give me a bit of meat. or tofu.

shamass

gregor samsa
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Joined: 16-04-06
Apr 26 2006 06:16

Im not really seeing the point of debating the finer details of deleuzean theories regarding whether it is through affirmation of our desires that we overcome capitalism or whether it is through the negation of the existing order that we are able to affirm a more authentic way of life. Any communist movement has to be both creative and destructive, where we attack and negate existing capitalist institutions we have to create alternatives that affirm the kind of values of solidarity and mutual aid that we wish to see in a communitarian society.

It is not enough just to stand on the sidelines and relentlessly criticise others for their supposed reactionary intentions. it is also necessary to make a positive and constructive contribution to the reality that we live in. we cant just define ourselves from what we wish to negate in reality and we cant just affirm supposedly abstract values such as love and community in a society where these values are supressed.

Im really interested in autonomist marxism and deleuze but the problem I have with tronti is that its similar to foucault in that it suggests that we all actively structure our oppression, perhaps there is some truth in this but its still pretty dodgy to ignore capitalist power as something which actively represses people through exploitation.

The whoel argument over affirmation/negation is a bit pointless since there doesnt seem to be much going on with either. We can affirm love and happiness all we want but exploitative structures still remain. likewise we can take negation to an extreme and act in a resentful way to anything and anyone trying to make a concrete difference in the lives of ordinary people because it doesnt acheive a total transcendence.

lately ive been reading a lot of deleuze and guatarri and im starting to get sick of it. while its very cool in a theoretical way its extremely abstract and i find it can be pretty pretentious in the constant reinvention of concepts. From my perspective deleuze is the philosopher of the inherent creativity in life, politically this means innovating new tactics for liberation and also experimenting with different ways of organising and living. Yes we must affirm what is positive and joyous in life as much as we can in the face of a seemingly monolithic control, but we must experiment with methods of political struggle in order to overcome the 'molar' large scale social organisations which repress and engineer individual desire.

gregor samsa
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Joined: 16-04-06
Apr 26 2006 06:26

reading this post has got me a bit down when i realize just how far removed the culture of activist scenes are from those of the majority of people in everyday life. debating deleuze would seem like gibberish to the average person who would most probably see it as intellectual masturbation.

I just finished reading anti-oedipus for the second time. the concepts are clearer now but theres still the problem of relating it to practice. wasnt a thousand plateaus meant to be a toolbox of theory for practice. how do we put this stuff to actual concrete poltical use.

to talk deleuzean, maybe our pre-occupation with this theory is a sign of our own conditions of life and lifestyle, annoying intellectuals who have nothing better to do than espouse rhetoric from radical french philosophers because we cant make a constructive intervention in the reality we are surrounded in. but then maybe again i am speaking of my own slave morality, ressetiment and becoming-reactive by being so self-critical. hmmm. lifes dilemmas

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shamass
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Joined: 20-04-06
Apr 26 2006 06:51
Quote:
Im not really seeing the point of debating the finer details of deleuzean theories regarding whether it is through affirmation of our desires that we overcome capitalism or whether it is through the negation of the existing order that we are able to affirm a more authentic way of life. Any communist movement has to be both creative and destructive, where we attack and negate existing capitalist institutions we have to create alternatives that affirm the kind of values of solidarity and mutual aid that we wish to see in a communitarian society.

I agree, however I would say that while "we have to create alternatives that affirm the kind of values of solidarity and mutual aid that we wish to see in a communitarian society" this activity is dominated by the need for it to be negtively defined ie. it is against something, and also constituted by this antagonism.

Quote:
It is not enough just to stand on the sidelines and relentlessly criticise others for their supposed reactionary intentions. it is also necessary to make a positive and constructive contribution to the reality that we live in. we cant just define ourselves from what we wish to negate in reality and we cant just affirm supposedly abstract values such as love and community in a society where these values are supressed.

i don't think anyone is criticizing others for being reactionary here on this thread, unless i've missed something. believe it or not negative critique can be a positive contribution. myself and other comrades belive that the autonomist current influenced by deleuze and negri mistake the affirmative gesture and orientation for revolutionary optimism. necessarily to argue against this you end up emphasising the negative moment of critique, when in actuality you are trying to stress the necessity of how each gives way to the other, negation and affirmation, affirmation and negation.

Quote:
Im really interested in autonomist marxism and deleuze but the problem I have with tronti is that its similar to foucault in that it suggests that we all actively structure our oppression, perhaps there is some truth in this but its still pretty dodgy to ignore capitalist power as something which actively represses people through exploitation

yeah, i can't say that i'm interested in deleuze anymore. a massive deadend methinks.

Quote:
The whoel argument over affirmation/negation is a bit pointless since there doesnt seem to be much going on with either. We can affirm love and happiness all we want but exploitative structures still remain. likewise we can take negation to an extreme and act in a resentful way to anything and anyone trying to make a concrete difference in the lives of ordinary people because it doesnt acheive a total transcendence.

i don't think its pointless as it is very much concerned with how we can act and orient ourselves. honestly, i reckon if you were to practically implement deleuzian schizo-politics in the here and now you'd go mad. in fact i've seen this very process in some anarchos that have attempted to do this outside of a mere theoretical attachment to deluze's writings. deleuze himself, despite his crazy ramblings (particularly with guattari) was a boring stiff, and a good academic.

Quote:
lately ive been reading a lot of deleuze and guatarri and im starting to get sick of it. while its very cool in a theoretical way its extremely abstract and i find it can be pretty pretentious in the constant reinvention of concepts. From my perspective deleuze is the philosopher of the inherent creativity in life, politically this means innovating new tactics for liberation and also experimenting with different ways of organising and living. Yes we must affirm what is positive and joyous in life as much as we can in the face of a seemingly monolithic control, but we must experiment with methods of political struggle in order to overcome the 'molar' large scale social organisations which repress and engineer individual desire.

what are these "new tactics for liberation and also experimenting with different ways of organising and living"? i reckon we should be careful re "new tactics for liberation" and "experimenting" if we are to believe that they are revolutionary in and of themselves. they aren't and such practices have supplied a seemingly never ending array of recombined commodities and lifestyles for further consumption. what makes new tactics and experimentation revolutionary is, primaryily, making their practice a part of a negative engagement with capitalist social relations - necessarily aimed at their supersession. don't get hung up on the term "negation" imbuing it with some bogus moral or ethical content. this is what deleuze does, boringly enough.

shamass

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shamass
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Joined: 20-04-06
Apr 26 2006 07:02
Quote:
reading this post has got me a bit down when i realize just how far removed the culture of activist scenes are from those of the majority of people in everyday life. debating deleuze would seem like gibberish to the average person who would most probably see it as intellectual masturbation.

I just finished reading anti-oedipus for the second time. the concepts are clearer now but theres still the problem of relating it to practice. wasnt a thousand plateaus meant to be a toolbox of theory for practice. how do we put this stuff to actual concrete poltical use.

to talk deleuzean, maybe our pre-occupation with this theory is a sign of our own conditions of life and lifestyle, annoying intellectuals who have nothing better to do than espouse rhetoric from radical french philosophers because we cant make a constructive intervention in the reality we are surrounded in. but then maybe again i am speaking of my own slave morality, ressetiment and becoming-reactive by being so self-critical. hmmm. lifes dilemmas

i reckon what we need theoretically is an ability to sort out false claims from true ones. i am not talking about big T truth claims, that po-mos get caught up in slavering about master narratives or what have you.

a lot of radical intellectuals get caught up in theory for its own sack - ie. if only we have that one more cool radical theoretical piece we'll finally understand capitalism etc, as if the lights going on will lead to its imminent collapse. theory is cool, as a part of radical critical activity, rather than *as* that activity. being able to generalize is very useful.

i reckon being a bourgeois intellectual is pretty depressing. i don't buy this "radical intellectual" guff. i'm at uni and i know that unis are i) training colleges for intellectual workers and ii) the academics that work there, before they define themselves as radical, conservative, whatever, have a relationship to capital mediated through their wage. i'm not saying that academics can't be revolutionary, just that to base your revolutionary activity on the separation of intellectual activity is somewhat problematic.

shamass