Chapter 2

I call a cat a cat

Boileau

We are all concerned with the revolutionary problem of how and what to produce, but nobody points out that producing is a revolutionary problem. If production is at the root of capitalist exploitation, to change the mode of production would merely change the mode of exploitation.

A cat, even if you paint it red, is still a cat.

The producer is sacred. Hands off! Sanctify his sacrifice in the name of the revolution, and les jeux sont faits.

‘And what will we eat?’ concerned people will ask. ‘Bread and string,’ say the realists, with one eye on the pot and the other on their gun. ‘Ideas,’ the muddling idealists state, with one eye on the book of dreams and the other on the human species.

Anyone who touches productivity has had it.

Capitalism and those fighting it sit alongside each other on the producer’s corpse, but production must go on.

The critique of political economy is a rationalisation of the mode of production with the least effort (by those who enjoy the benefits of it all). Everyone else, those who suffer exploitation, must take care to see nothing is lacking. Otherwise, how would we live?

When he comes out into the light the son of darkness sees nothing, just as when he went groping around in the dark. Joy blinds him. It kills him. So he says it is a hallucination and condemns it.

The flabby fat bourgeois bask in opulent idleness. So enjoyment is sinful. That would mean sharing the same sensations as the bourgeoisie and betraying those of the producing proletariat.

Not so. The bourgeois goes to great lengths to keep the process of exploitation going. He is stressed too and never finds time for joy. His cruises are occasions for new investments, his lovers fifth columns for getting information on competitors.

The productivity god kills even its most faithful disciples. Wrench their heads off, nothing but a deluge of rubbish will pour out.

The hungry wretch harbours feelings of revenge when he sees the rich surrounded by their fawning entourage. The enemy must be destroyed before anything else. But save the booty. Wealth must not be destroyed, it must be used. It doesn’t matter what it is, what form it takes or what prospects of employment it allows. What counts is grabbing it from whoever is holding on to it at the time so that everyone has access to it.

Everyone? Of course, everyone.

And how will that happen?

With revolutionary violence.

Good answer. But really, what will we do after we have cut off so many heads we are bored with it? What will we do when there are no more landlords to be found even if we go looking for them with lanterns?

Then it will be the reign of the revolution. To each according to their needs, from each according to their possibilities.

Pay attention, comrade. There is a smell of bookkeeping here. We are talking of consumption and production. Everything is still in the dimension of productivity. Arithmetic makes you feel safe. Two and two make four. Who would dispute this ‘truth’? Numbers rule the world. If they have done till now, why shouldn’t they continue to?

We all need something solid and durable. Stones to build a wall to stem the impulses that start choking us. We all need objectivity. The boss swears by his wallet, the peasant by his spade, the revolutionary by his gun. Let in a glimmer of criticism and the whole scaffolding will collapse.

In its heavy objectivity, the everyday world conditions and reproduces us. We are all children of daily banality. Even when we talk of ‘serious things’ like revolution, our eyes are still glued to the calendar. The boss fears the revolution because it would deprive him of his wealth, the peasant will make it to get a piece of land, the revolutionary to put his theory to test.

If the problem is seen in these terms, there is no difference between wallet, land and revolutionary theory. These objects are all quite imaginary, mere mirrors of human illusion.

Only the struggle is real.

It distinguishes boss from peasant and establishes the link between the latter and the revolutionary.

The forms of organisation production takes are ideological vehicles to conceal illusory individual identity. This identity is projected into the illusory economic concept of value. A code establishes its interpretation. The bosses control part of this code, as we see in consumerism. The technology of psychological warfare and total repression also gives its contribution to strengthening the idea that one is human on condition that one produces.

Other parts of the code can be modified. They cannot undergo revolutionary change but are simply adjusted from time to time. Think, for example, of the mass consumerism that has taken the place of the luxury consumerism of years gone by.

Then there are more refined forms such as the selfmanaged control of production. Another component of the code of exploitation.

And so on. Anyone who decides to organise my life for me can never be my comrade. If they try to justify this with the excuse that someone must ‘produce’ otherwise we will all lose our identity as human beings and be overcome by ‘wild, savage nature’, we reply that the man-nature relationship is a product of the enlightened Marxist bourgeoisie. Why did they want to turn a sword into a pitchfork? Why must man continually strive to distinguish himself from nature?