In the course of revolutionary struggle, the abolition of the state, of exchange, of the division of labor, of all forms of property, the extension of the situation where everything is freely available as the unification of human activity – in a word, the abolition of classes – are ‘measures’ that abolish capital, imposed by the very necessities of struggle against the capitalist class. The revolution is communization; it does not have communism as a project and result, but as its very content.
Communization and communism are things of the future, but it is in the present that we must speak about them. This is the content of the revolution to come that these struggles signal – in this cycle of struggles – each time that the very fact of acting as a class appears as an external constraint, a limit to overcome. Within itself, to struggle as a class has become the problem – it has become its own limit. Hence the struggle of the proletariat as a class signals and produces the revolution as its own supersession, as communization.
a) Crisis, restructuring, cycle of struggle: on the struggle of the proletariat as a class as its own limit
The principal result of the capitalist production process has always been the renewal of the capitalist relation between labor and its conditions: in other words it is a process of self-presupposition.
Until the crisis of the late 1960s, the workers’ defeat and the restructuring that followed, there was indeed the self-presupposition of capital, according to the latter’s concept, but the contradiction between proletariat and capital was located at this level through the production and confirmation, within this very self-presupposition, of a working class identity through which the cycle of struggles was structured as the competition between two hegemonies, two rival modes of managing and controlling reproduction. This identity was the very substance of the workers’ movement.
This workers’ identity, whatever the social and political forms of its existence (from the Communist Parties to autonomy; from the Socialist State to the workers’ councils), rested entirely on the contradiction which developed in this phase of real subsumption of labor under capital between, on the one hand, the creation and development of labor-power employed by capital in an ever more collective and social way, and on the other, the forms of appropriation by capital of this labor-power in the immediate production process, and in the process of reproduction. This is the conflictual situation which developed in this cycle of struggles as workers’ identity – an identity which found its distinguishing features and its immediate modalities of recognition in the ‘large factory’, in the dichotomy between employment and unemployment, work and training, in the submission of the labor process to the collectivity of workers, in the link between wages, growth and productivity within a national area, in the institutional representations that all this implied, as much in the factory as at the level of the state – i.e. in the delimitation of accumulation within a national area.
The restructuring was the defeat, in the late 1960s and the 1970s, of this entire cycle of struggles founded on workers’ identity; the content of the restructuring was the destruction of all that which had become an impediment to the fluidity of the self-presupposition of capital. These impediments consisted, on the one hand, of all the separations, protections and specifications that were erected in opposition to the decline in value of labor-power, insofar as they prevented the working class as a whole, in the continuity of its existence, of its reproduction and expansion, from having to face as such the whole of capital. On the other hand, there were all the constraints of circulation, turnover, and accumulation, which impeded the transformation of the surplus product into surplus-value and additional capital. Any surplus product must be able to find its market anywhere, any surplus-value must be able to find the possibility of operating as additional capital anywhere, i.e. of being transformed into means of production and labor power, without any formalisation of the international cycle (such as the division into blocs, East and West, or into center and periphery) predetermining this transformation. Financial capital was the architect of this restructuring. With the restructuring that was completed in the 1980s, the production of surplus-value and the reproduction of the conditions of this production coincided.
The current cycle of struggles is fundamentally defined by the fact that the contradiction between classes occurs at the level of their respective reproduction, which means that the proletariat finds and confronts its own constitution and existence as a class in its contradiction with capital. From this flows the disappearance of a worker’s identity confirmed in the reproduction of capital – i.e. the end of the workers’ movement and the concomitant bankruptcy of self-organization and autonomy as a revolutionary perspective. Because the perspective of revolution is no longer a matter of the affirmation of the class, it can no longer be a matter of selforganization. To abolish capital is at the same time to negate oneself as a worker and not to self-organize as such: it’s a movement of the abolition of enterprises, of factories, of the product, of exchange (whatever its form).
For the proletariat, to act as a class is currently, on the one hand, to have no other horizon than capital and the categories of its reproduction, and on the other, for the same reason, it is to be in contradiction with and to put into question its own reproduction as a class. This conflict, this rift in the action of the proletariat, is the content of class struggle and what is at stake in it. What is now at stake in these struggles is that, for the proletariat, to act as a class is the limit of its action as a class – this is now an objective situation of class struggle – and that the limit is constructed as such in the struggles and becomes class belonging as an external constraint. This determines the level of conflict with capital, and gives rise to internal conflicts within the struggles themselves. This transformation is a determination of the current contradiction between classes, but it is in every case the particular practice of a struggle at a given moment and in given conditions.
This cycle of struggles is the action of a recomposed working class. It consists, in the core areas of accumulation, in the disappearance of the great workers’ bastions and the proletarianization of employees; in the tertiarization of employment (maintenance specialists, equipment operators, truck drivers, shippers, stevedores, etc. – this type of employment now accounts for the majority of workers); in working in smaller companies or sites; in a new division of labor and of the working class with the outsourcing of low value-added processes (involving young workers, often temporary, without career prospects); in the generalization of lean production; in the presence of young workers whose education has broken the continuity of generations succeeding each other and who overwhelmingly reject factory work and the working class condition in general; and in offshoring.
Large concentrations of workers in India and China form part of a global segmentation of the labor force. They can neither be regarded as a renaissance elsewhere of what has disappeared in ‘the West’ in terms of their global definition, nor in terms of their own inscription in the national context. It was a social system of existence and reproduction that defined working-class identity and was expressed in the workers’ movement, and not the mere existence of quantitative material characteristics.1
From daily struggles to revolution, there can only be a rupture. But this rupture is signalled in the daily course of the class struggle each time that class belonging appears, within these struggles, as an external constraint which is objectified in capital, in the very course of the proletariat’s activity as a class. Currently, the revolution is predicated on the supersession of a contradiction which is constitutive of the class struggle: for the proletariat, being a class is the obstacle that its struggle as a class must get beyond. With the production of class belonging as an external constraint, it is possible to understand the tipping point of the class struggle – its supersession – as a produced supersession, on the basis of current struggles. In its struggle against capital, the class turns back against itself, i.e. it treats its own existence, everything that defines it in its relation to capital (and it is nothing but this relation), as the limit of its action. Proletarians do not liberate their ‘true individuality’, which is denied in capital: revolutionary practice is precisely the coincidence between the change in circumstances and that in human activity or self-transformation.
This is the reason why we can currently speak of communism, and speak of it in the present as a real, existing movement. It is now a fact that revolution is the abolition of all classes, insofar as action as a class of the proletariat is, for itself, a limit. This abolition is not a goal that is set, a definition of revolution as a norm to be achieved, but a current content in what the class struggle is itself. To produce class belonging as an external constraint is, for the proletariat, to enter into conflict with its previous situation; this is not ‘liberation’, nor is it ‘autonomy’. This is the ‘hardest step to take’ in the theoretical understanding and practice of contemporary struggles.
The proletariat does not thereby become a ‘purely negative’ being. To say that the proletariat only exists as a class in and against capital, that it produces its entire being, its organization, its reality and its constitution as a class in capital and against it, is to say that it is the class of surplus-value producing labor. What has disappeared in the current cycle of struggles, following the restructuring of the 1970s and 1980s, is not this objective existence of the class, but is rather the confirmation of a proletarian identity in the reproduction of capital.
The proletariat can only be revolutionary by recognising itself as a class; it recognizes itself as such in every conflict, and it has to do so all the more in the situation in which its existence as a class is that which it has to confront in the reproduction of capital. We must not be mistaken as to the content of this ‘recognition’. For the proletariat to recognize itself as a class will not be its ‘return to itself ’ but rather a total extroversion (a self-externalisation) as it recognizes itself as a category of the capitalist mode of production. What we are as a class is immediately nothing other than our relation to capital. For the proletariat, this ‘recognition’ will in fact consist in a practical cognition, in conflict, not of itself for itself, but of capital – i.e. its de-objectification. The unity of the class can no longer constitute itself on the basis of the wage and demands-based struggle, as a prelude to its revolutionary activity. The unity of the proletariat can only be the activity in which it abolishes itself in abolishing everything that divides it.
From struggles over immediate demands to revolution, there can only be a rupture, a qualitative leap. But this rupture is not a miracle, it is not an alternative; neither is it the simple realisation on the part of the proletariat that there is nothing else to do than revolution in the face of the failure of everything else. ‘Revolution is the only solution’ is just as inept as talk of the revolutionary dynamic of demands-based struggles. This rupture is produced positively by the unfolding of the cycle of struggles which precedes it; it is signalled in the multiplication of rifts within the class struggle.
As theorists we are on the look-out for, and we promote, these rifts within the class struggle of the proletariat through which it calls itself into question; in practice, we are actors in them when we are directly involved. We exist in this rupture, in this rift in the proletariat’s activity as a class.
There is no longer any perspective for the proletariat on its own basis as class of the capitalist mode of production, other than the capacity to supersede its class existence in the abolition of capital. There is an absolute identity between being in contradiction with capital and being in contradiction with its own situation and definition as a class.
It is through this rift within action as a class itself that communization becomes a question in the present. This rift within the class struggle, in which the proletariat has no other horizon than capital, and thus simultaneously enters into contradiction with its own action as a class, is the dynamic of this cycle of struggles. Currently the class struggle of the proletariat has identifiable elements or activities which signal its own supersession in its own course.
b) Struggles producing theory2
The theory of this cycle of struggle, as it has been presented above, is not an abstract formalization which will then prove that it conforms to reality through examples. It is its practical existence, rather than its intellectual veracity, that it proves in the concrete. It is a particular moment of struggles which themselves are already theoretical (in the sense that they are productive of theory), insofar as they have a critical relation vis-à-vis themselves.
Most often, these are not earthshaking declarations or ‘radical’ actions but rather all the practices of the proletariat of flight from, or rejection of, its own condition. In current strikes over layoffs, workers often no longer demand to keep their jobs, but increasingly they fight for substantial redundancy payments instead. Against capital, labor has no future. It was already strikingly evident in the so-called ‘suicidal’ struggles of the Cellatex firm in France, where workers threatened to discharge acid into a river and to blow up the factory, threats which were not carried out but which were widely imitated in other conflicts over the closure of firms, that the proletariat is nothing if it is separated from capital and that it bears no future within itself, from its own nature, other than the abolition of that by which it exists. It is the de-essentialization of labor which becomes the very activity of the proletariat: both tragically, in its struggles without immediate perspectives (i.e. its suicidal struggles), and as demand for this deessentialization, as in the struggles of the unemployed and the precarious in the winter of 1998 in France.
Unemployment is no longer clearly separated from employment. The segmentation of the labor force; flexibility; outsourcing; mobility; parttime employment; training; internships and informal work have blurred all the separations.
In the French movement of 1998, and more generally in the struggles of the unemployed in this cycle of struggles, it was the definition of the unemployed which was upheld as the point of departure for the reformulation of waged employment. The need for capital to measure everything in labor time and to posit the exploitation of labor as a matter of life or death for it is simultaneously the de-essentialization of living labor relative to the social forces that capital concentrates in itself. This contradiction, inherent in capitalist accumulation, which is a contradiction in capital-in-process, takes the very particular form of the definition of the class vis-à-vis capital; the unemployment of the class claims for itself the status of being the starting-point for such a definition. In the struggles of the unemployed and the precarious, the struggle of the proletariat against capital makes this contradiction its own, and champions it. The same thing occurs when workers who have been sacked don’t demand jobs but severance pay instead.
In the same period, the Moulinex employees who had been made redundant set fire to a factory building, thus inscribing themselves in the dynamic of this cycle of struggles, which makes the existence of the proletariat as a class the limit of its class action. Similarly, in 2006, in Savar, 50km north of Dhaka, Bangladesh, two factories were torched and a hundred others ransacked after workers had not been paid for three months. In Algeria, minor wage demands turned into riots, forms of representation were dismissed without new ones being formed, and it was the entirety of the living conditions and reproduction of the proletariat which came into play beyond the demands made by the immediate protagonists of the strike. In China and India, there’s no prospect of the formation of a vast workers’ movement from the proliferation of various types of demands-based action affecting all aspects of life and the reproduction of the working class. These demands-based actions often turn paradoxically on the destruction of the conditions of labor, i.e. of their own raison d’être.
In the case of Argentina, people self-organized as the unemployed of Mosconi, as the workers of Brukman, as slum-residents… but in self-organizing they immediately came up against what they were as an obstacle, which, in the struggle, became that which had to be overcome, and which was seen as such in the practical modalities of these self-organized movements. The proletariat cannot find within itself the capacity to create other inter-individual relations, without overturning and negating what it is itself in this society, i.e. without entering into contradiction with autonomy and its dynamic. Self-organization is perhaps the first act of revolution, but all the following acts are directed against it (i.e. against self-organization). In Argentina it was the determinations of the proletariat as a class of this society (i.e. property, exchange, the division of labor, the relation between men and women ...) which were effectively undermined by the way productive activities were undertaken, i.e. in the actual modalities of their realisation. It is thus that the revolution as communization becomes credible.
In France in November 2005, in the banlieues, the rioters didn’t demand anything, they attacked their own condition, they made everything that produces and defines them their target. Rioters revealed and attacked the proletarian situation now: the worldwide precarization of the labor force. In doing so they immediately made obsolete, in the very moment in which such a demand could have been articulated, any desire to be an ‘ordinary proletarian’.
Three months later, in spring 2006, still in France, as a demandsbased movement, the student movement against the CPE could only comprehend itself by becoming the general movement of the precarious; but in doing so it would either negate its own specificity, or it would inevitably be forced to collide more or less violently with all those who had shown in the riots of November 2005 that the demand to be an ‘ordinary proletarian’ was obsolete. To achieve the demand through its expansion would in effect be to sabotage it. What credibility was there in a link-up with the November rioters on the basis of a stable job for all? On the one hand, this link-up was objectively inscribed in the genetic code of the movement; on the other hand, the very necessity of this link-up induced an internal lovehate dynamic, just as objective, within the movement. The struggle against the CPE was a movement of demands, the satisfaction of which would have been unacceptable to itself as a movement of demands.
In the Greek riots, the proletariat didn’t demand anything, and didn’t consider itself to be opposed to capital as the foundation of any alternative. But if these riots were a movement of the class, they didn’t constitute a struggle in what is the very matrix of classes: production. It is in this way that these riots were able to make the key achievement of producing and targeting class belonging as a constraint, but they could only reach this point by confronting this glass floor of production as their limit. And the ways in which this movement produced this external constraint (the aims, the unfolding of the riots, the composition of the rioters…) was intrinsically defined by this limit: the relation of exploitation as coercion pure and simple. Attacking institutions and the forms of social reproduction, taken in themselves, was on the one hand what constituted the movement, and what constituted its force, but this was also the expression of its limits.
Students without a future, young immigrants, precarious workers, these are all proletarians who every day live the reproduction of capitalist social relations as coercion; coercion is included in this reproduction because they are proletarians, but they experience it every day as separated and aleatory (accidental and non-necessary) in relation to production itself. At the same time as they struggle in this moment of coercion which they experience as separated, they only conceive of and live this separation as a lack in their own struggle against this mode of production.
It is in this way that this movement produced class belonging as an exterior constraint, but only in this way. It is in this way that it locates itself at the level of this cycle of struggles and is one of its determining historical moments.
In their own practice and in their struggle, proletarians called themselves into question as proletarians, but only by autonomizing the moments and the instances of social reproduction in their attacks and their aims. Reproduction and production of capital remained foreign to each other.
In Guadeloupe, the importance of unemployment, and of the part of the population that lives from benefits and or from an underground economy, means that wage-demands are a contradiction in terms. This contradiction structured the course of events between, on the one hand, the LKP, which was centered on permanent workers (essentially in public services) but which attempted to hold the terms of this contradiction together through the multiplication and the infinite diversity of demands, and, on the other, the absurdity of central wage-demands for the majority of people on the barricades, in the looting, and in the attacks on public buildings. The demand was destabilized in the very course of the struggle; it was contested, as was its form of organization, but the specific forms of exploitation of the entire population, inherited from its colonial history, were able to prevent this contradiction from breaking out more violently at the heart of the movement (it is important to note that the only death was that of a trade-unionist killed on a barricade). From this point of view, the production of class belonging as an external constraint was more a sociological state, more a sort of schizophrenia, than something at stake in the struggle.
In general, with the outbreak of the current crisis, the wage demand is currently characterized by a dynamic that wasn’t previously possible. It is an internal dynamic which comes about as a result of the whole relation between proletariat and capital in the capitalist mode of production such as it emerged from the restructuring and such as it is now entering into crisis. The wage demand has changed its meaning.
In the succession of financial crises which for the last twenty years or so have regulated the current mode of valorization of capital, the subprime crisis is the first to have taken as its point of departure not the financial assets that refer to capital investments, but household consumption, and more precisely that of the poorest households. In this respect it inaugurates a specific crisis of the wage relation of restructured capitalism, in which the continual decrease in the share of wages in the wealth produced, both in the core countries and in the emerging ones, remains definitive.
The ‘distribution of wealth’, from being essentially conflictual in the capitalist mode of production, has become taboo, as was confirmed in the recent movement of strikes and blockades (October-November 2010) following the reform of the pensions system in France. In restructured capitalism (the beginnings of the crisis of which we are currently experiencing), the reproduction of labor power was subjected to a double decoupling. On the one hand a decoupling between the valorization of capital and the reproduction of labor power and, on the other, a decoupling between consumption and the wage as income.
Of course, the division of the working day into necessary and surplus labor has always been definitive of the class struggle. But now, in the struggle over this division, it is paradoxically in the proletariat’s definition to the very depth of its being as a class of this mode of production, and as nothing else, that it is apparent in practice, and in a conflictual way, that its existence as a class is the limit of its own struggle as a class. This is currently the central character of the wage demand in class struggle. In the most trivial course of the wage demand, the proletariat sees its own existence as a class objectify itself as something which is alien to it to the extent that the capitalist relation itself places it in its heart as something alien.
The current crisis broke out because proletarians could no longer repay their loans. It broke out on the very basis of the wage relation which gave rise to the financialization of the capitalist economy: wage cuts as a requirement for ‘value creation’ and global competition within the labor force. It was this functional necessity that returned, but in a negative fashion, within the historical mode of capital accumulation with the detonation of the subprime crisis. It is now the wage relation that is at the core of the current crisis.3 The current crisis is the beginning of the phase of reversal of the determinations and dynamic of capitalism as it had emerged from the restructuring of the 1970s and 1980s.
c) Two or three things we know about it
It is because the proletariat is not-capital, because it is the dissolution of all existing conditions (labor, exchange, division of labor, property), that it finds here the content of its revolutionary action as communist measures: the abolition of property, of the division of labor, of exchange and of value. Class belonging as external constraint is thus in itself a content, that is to say a practice, which supersedes itself in communizing measures when the limit of the struggle as a class is manifested. Communization is nothing other than communist measures taken as simple measures of struggle by the proletariat against capital.
It is the paucity of surplus-value relative to accumulated capital which is at the heart of the crisis of exploitation: if, at the heart of the contradiction between the proletariat and capital there was not the question of labor which is productive of surplus-value; if there was only a problem of distribution, i.e. if the contradiction between the proletariat and capital wasn’t a contradiction for the very thing, namely the capitalist mode of production, whose dynamic it constitutes; i.e. if it was not a ‘game which produces the abolition of its own rule’, the revolution would remain a pious wish. Hatred of capital and the desire for another life are only the necessary ideological expressions of this contradiction for-itself which is exploitation.
It is not through an attack on the side of the nature of labor as productive of surplus-value that the demands-based struggle is superseded (which would always devolve back to a problem of distribution), but through an attack on the side of the means of production as capital. The attack against the capitalist nature of the means of production is their abolition as value absorbing labor in order to valorize itself; it is the extension of the situation where everything is freely available, the destruction (perhaps physical) of certain means of production, their abolition as the factories in which it is defined what it is to be a product, i.e. the matrices of exchange and commerce; it is their definition, their absorption in individual, intersubjective relations; it is the abolition of the division of labor such as it is inscribed in urban zoning, in the material configuration of buildings, in the separation between town and country, in the very existence of something which is called a factory or a point of production. Relations between individuals are fixed in things, because exchange value is by nature material.4 The abolition of value is a concrete transformation of the landscape in which we live, it is a new geography. The abolition of social relations is a very material affair.
In communism, appropriation no longer has any currency, because it is the very notion of the ‘product’ which is abolished. Of course, there are objects which are used to produce, others which are directly consumed, and others still which are used for both. But to speak of ‘products’ and to pose the question of their circulation, their distribution or their ‘transfer’, i.e. to conceive a moment of appropriation, is to presuppose points of rupture, of ‘coagulation’ of human activity: the market in market societies, the depot where goods are freely available in certain visions of communism. The ‘product’ is not a simple thing. To speak of the ‘product’ is to suppose that a result of human activity appears as finite vis-à-vis another such result or the sphere of other such results. It is not from the ‘product’ that we must proceed, but from activity.
In communism, human activity is infinite because it is indivisible. It has concrete or abstract results, but these results are never ‘products’, for that would raise the question of their appropriation or of their transfer under some given mode. If we can speak of infinite human activity in communism, it is because the capitalist mode of production already allows us to see – albeit contradictorily and not as a ‘good side’ – human activity as a continuous global social flux, and the ‘general intellect’ or the ‘collective worker’ as the dominant force of production. The social character of production does not prefigure anything: it merely renders the basis of value contradictory.
The destruction of exchange means the workers attacking the banks which hold their accounts and those of other workers, thus making it necessary to do without; it means the workers communicating their ‘products’ to themselves and the community directly and without a market, thereby abolishing themselves as workers; it means the obligation for the whole class to organize itself to seek food in the sectors to be communized, etc. There is no measure which, in itself, taken separately, is ‘communism’. What is communist is not ‘violence’ in itself, nor ‘distribution’ of the shit that we inherit from class society, nor ‘collectivization’ of surplus-value sucking machines: it is the nature of the movement which connects these actions, underlies them, renders them the moments of a process which can only communize ever further, or be crushed.
A revolution cannot be carried out without taking communist measures: dissolving wage labor; communizing supplies, clothing, housing; seizing all the weapons (the destructive ones, but also telecommunications, food, etc.); integrating the destitute (including those of us who will have reduced ourselves to this state), the unemployed, ruined farmers, rootless drop-out students.
From the moment in which we begin to consume freely, it is necessary to reproduce that which is consumed; it is thus necessary to seize the means of transport, of telecommunications, and enter into contact with other sectors; so doing, we will run up against the opposition of armed groups. The confrontation with the state immediately poses the problem of arms, which can only be solved by setting up a distribution network to support combat in an almost infinite multiplicity of places. Military and social activities are inseparable, simultaneous, and mutually interpenetrating: the constitution of a front or of determinate zones of combat is the death of the revolution. From the moment in which proletarians dismantle the laws of commodity relations, there is no turning back. The deepening and extension of this social process gives flesh and blood to new relations, and enables the integration of more and more non-proletarians to the communizing class which is simultaneously in the process of constituting and dissolving itself. It permits the abolition to an ever greater extent of all competition and division between proletarians, making this the content and the unfolding of its armed confrontation with those whom the capitalist class can still mobilize, integrate and reproduce within its social relations.
This is why all the measures of communization will have to be a vigorous action for the dismantling of the connections which link our enemies and their material support: these will have to be rapidly destroyed, without the possibility of return. Communization is not the peaceful organization of the situation where everything is freely available and of a pleasant way of life amongst proletarians. The dictatorship of the social movement of communization is the process of the integration of humanity into the proletariat which is in the process of disappearing. The strict delimitation of the proletariat in comparison with other classes and its struggle against all commodity production are at the same time a process which constrains the strata of the salaried petite-bourgeoisie, the class of social (middle-) management, to join the communizing class. Proletarians ‘are’ not revolutionaries like the sky ‘is’ blue, merely because they ‘are’ waged and exploited, or even because they are the dissolution of existing conditions. In their self-transformation, which has as its point of departure what they are, they constitute themselves as a revolutionary class. The movement in which the proletariat is defined in practice as the movement of the constitution of the human community is the reality of the abolition of classes. The social movement in Argentina was confronted by, and posed, the question of the relations between proletarians in employment, the unemployed, and the excluded and middle strata. It only provided extremely fragmentary responses, of which the most interesting is without doubt that of its territorial organization. The revolution, which in this cycle of struggles can no longer be anything but communization, supersedes the dilemma between the Leninist or democratic class alliances and Gorter’s ‘proletariat alone’: two different types of defeat.
The only way of overcoming the conflicts between the unemployed and those with jobs, between the skilled and the unskilled, is to carry out measures of communization which remove the very basis of this division, right from the start and in the course of the armed struggle. This is something which the occupied factories in Argentina, when confronted by this question, tried only very marginally, being generally satisfied (cf. Zanon) with some charitable redistribution to groups of piqueteros. In the absence of this, capital will play on this fragmentation throughout the movement, and will find its Noske and Scheidemann amongst the self-organized.
In fact, as already shown by the German revolution, it is a question of dissolving the middle strata by taking concrete communist measures which compel them to begin to join the proletariat, i.e. to achieve their ‘proletarianization’. Nowadays, in developed countries, the question is at the same time simpler and more dangerous. On the one hand a massive majority of the middle strata is salaried and thus no longer has a material base to its social position; its role of management and direction of capitalist cooperation is essential but ever rendered precarious; its social position depends upon the very fragile mechanism of the subtraction of fractions of surplus value. On the other hand, however, and for these very same reasons, its formal proximity to the proletariat pushes it to present, in these struggles, national or democratic alternative managerial ‘solutions’ which would preserve its own positions.
The essential question which we will have to solve is to understand how we extend communism, before it is suffocated in the pincers of the commodity; how we integrate agriculture so as not to have to exchange with farmers; how we do away with the exchange-based relations of our adversary to impose on him the logic of the communization of relations and of the seizure of goods; how we dissolve the block of fear through the revolution. To conclude, capital is not abolished for communism but through communism, more precisely through its production. Indeed, communist measures must be distinguished from communism: they are not embryos of communism, but rather they are its production. This is not a period of transition, it is the revolution: communization is only the communist production of communism. The struggle against capital is what differentiates communist measures from communism. The revolutionary activity of the proletariat always has as its content the mediation of the abolition of capital through its relation to capital: this is neither one branch of an alternative in competition with another, nor communism as immediatism.
- 1For China and India to manage to constitute themselves as their own internal market would depend on a veritable revolution in the countryside (i.e. the privatisation of land in China and the disappearance of small holdings and tenant farming in India) but also and above all on a reconfiguration of the global cycle of capital, supplanting the present globalization (i.e. this would mean a renationalization of economies, superseding / preserving globalization, and a definancialization of productive capital).
- 2These examples are mostly French; publication of this text in Britain and the United States provides an opportunity to test the theses that are defended here.
- 3It is a crisis in which the identity of overaccumulation and of under-consumption asserts itself.
- 4‘(T)hat thing [money] is an objectified relation between persons (...) it is objectified exchange value, and exchange value is nothing more than a mutual relation between people’s productive activities.’ Marx, Grundrisse (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973), p. 160.