Nothing new to look at here: towards a critique of communization - Donald Parkinson

Nothing new to look at here: towards a critique of communization - Donald Parkinson

Donald Parkinson takes a look at some of the theorists under the label of ‘communization’ and takes a stab at their ideas.

Awaiting the release of Endnotes 4 I decided to write a critique of the broad tendency of communization, focusing on Dauve and TC in specific. Quite a few people have asked about my critique of Endnotes and Communization theory more broadly, as I mentioned these things briefly in my earlier piece Towards a Communist Left. As a result I decided to elaborate on my critique of these currents as well as provide a critical introduction to communization in general.

Communization must be placed in the context of the overall defeat of the proletariat’s wave of struggles in the 20th century. This defeat has in many ways led to a crisis of Marxism, where increasingly isolated theorists look to make innovations and breaks from orthodoxy in hope of ‘saving’ Marxist theory and politics. Sometimes breaks with orthodoxy are necessary, yet there is also a danger of needlessly breaking with orthodoxy with the hope that one is making real theoretical innovation when instead the result is just a repeat of past bad politics. While communization theory does make the occasional interesting insight and serve as a useful theoretical foil it largely is the case that what it offers is not a fresh new perspective for marxist politics but a repeat of Kropotkinist and Sorelian critiques of Marxism with more theoretical sophistication.

Communization refers to relatively broad tendency of writers and journals that don’t all agree on everything. When referring to communization one has to be careful what they say, as there is as much divergence amongst ‘communizers’ as there is ideological unity. Overall what unites this tendency is a belief that revolution will have to immediately establish communist relations of production from day one, that an immediate break from waged labor, commodity production and the value-form is to be favored as opposed to an approach where the working class holds political power and dismantles capitalism in a transition period that may temporarily maintain aspects of capitalism. Added to this is a general hostility to organized politics and anything resembling “old forms” like parties, councils, and unions.

Overall communization can fall into two camps: Gilles Dauve’s “normative” communization and Theorie Communiste’s “structuralist” theory of communization. The key differences between these tendencies can be found in Volume 1 of Endnotes, essentially a debate between Dauve and TC. In his pamphlet When Insurrections Die Dauve puts forward the thesis that the proletariat failed in past revolutions because it didn’t make a sufficient break with waged labor, opting for self-management and collectivization instead where labor vouchers replaced money. Using Spain as his example, Dauve argues that these revolutions failed because they aimed to manage the proletarian condition rather than abolish it, therefore reproducing capitalism in a different form. Therefore the idea of a transition period where the proletariat raises itself to the ruling class within a decaying capitalism is to be rejected in favor of the immediate ‘self-abolition’ of the proletariat.

Dauve’s work is in many ways an attempt to square the insights of old school left-communists like Pannekoek and Bordiga with ideas of the Situationist International. Dauve is just as critical of workers councils managing production as he is critical of the party-form, opting for an approach that focuses on the content of revolution, this content being an immediate break with waged labor and money aka communization. For Dauve the abolition of value is key to revolution, something that can not be achieved gradually or “by half steps” but in the process of insurrection itself. This means rejecting any kind of scheme involving ‘labor vouchers’ or ‘labor notes’ where labor-time is directly measured to determine the worker’s access to the social product, even if these measures are merely temporary transitional steps towards communism.

Dauve makes many important points, many of which are re-iterations of classic left-communist politics (for example, rejecting the anti-fascist popular front). Bringing value and its abolition back into the picture is certainly important, reminding us that communism is not simply a better way of managing capitalist forms but a radical break from waged-labor and the commodity-form itself. His critiques of councilist formalism and workers self-management also are welcome as antidotes to many ideas among the anti-stalinist left that act as if stalinism would work if more self-management existed (PARECON comes to mind). It’s also a move away from traditional leftist workerism, that valorizes workers as workers rather than a class which abolishes itself and all other classes. Putting the transformation of social relations at the heart of communist revolution is certainly a step forward. Yet Dauve has little to suggest how this can be achieved, only stating that Kautksy and Lenin’s formula of merging socialism with the workers movement is to be avoided because communism is imminent to the struggle of labor against capital.

TC responds to Dauve by accusing his argument of essentially being tautological: the communist movement failed because it failed to produce communism. For TC Dauve sees communism as a normative essence within the proletariat itself, and that past revolutions failed because the proletariat failed to live up to this essence or are betrayed by managers and chose to manage capitalism instead of create communism. Dauve fails to answer the question of why the workers didn’t create communism, and instead simply states the obvious. Rather than being some essence to the proletariat, TC see communism as a product of the historical periodization of capitalism, which is itself a series of cycles of contradictions between the proletariat and capital.

For TC the “why” question of why workers didn’t create communism is answered by the concept of programmatism. Programmatism basically means the “old workers movement” which was all about affirming the proletarian condition rather than abolishing it. This is meant to describe the entire workers movement of the past, not just its more reformist elements, describing all politics where “revolution is thus the affirmation of the proletariat, whether as a dictatorship of the proletariat, workers’ councils, the liberation of work, a period of transition, the withering of the state, generalised self-management, or a “society of associated producers”.Programmatism in this theory  is not a means towards communism, but a product of capitalism in the phase of ‘formal subsumption’ transitioning into the more advanced phase of ‘real subsumption’. This phase decomposed in the period of the 20’s to the 70’s, leading to today’s modern phase of ‘real subsumption’ where capitalism has fully dominated the proletariat. Programmatism created a ‘worker identity’ that allowed for the affirmation of the proletariat that is now no longer possible, and therefore there can only be the complete negation of the proletarian condition through its immediate self-abolition.

This argument, while more sophisticated than Dauve’s, essentially reduces the entire workers movement to a means of capitalist development and claims that all along communism was impossible until (conveniently) now. Yet why this era will produce communism when all class struggle in the past simply affirmed capital is never explained. Without the millenarian expectations of apocalyptic revolution TC’s theory simply would argue that communism is impossible. It also completely writes off the actual possibility of organizing politically and developing a real strategy to defeat capitalism, since any attempt to organize the proletariat to abolish itself would mean organizing it as a class within capitalism and therefore affirming it. As a result the only way forward will be spontaneous outbursts that develop to the point of some kind of “rupture with the wage relation”. TC and Dauve have very similar positions when it comes to their actual political conclusions, which is that revolution will not have a transition based on a dictatorship of the proletariat organized in parties and councils but see an immediate move towards communism, where value is abolished and free access to all goods is established. They just come to these conclusions from different theoretical reasonings. TC are ultra-determinist, almost to the point of being fatalist, while Dauve seems to suggest communism was possible all along if the workers made the right choices.

In this sense they theorize the conclusions of the anarchist Kropotkin, who imagined a revolution taking the form of local communities spontaneously establishing common access to all property and federating with each other as needed without any kind of transition where the proletariat would hold state power. Kropotkin came from a time where self-sufficient peasants were far more prominent as well as their spontaneous outbursts, making his politics a bit more believable and easier to sell. While Dauve and TC don’t spell out the localist implications of their theory, the idea that there must be immediate communization does strongly suggest that in a revolutionary situation isolated regions would attempt essentially autarkic communism rather than making any kind of compromises with the old order. Other adherents of Communization, like Jasper Bernes in his essay Logistics, Counterlogistics and the Communist Project do essentially spell this out. Bernes argues the complexity of the global division of labor means revolutionary zones would have to trade with other nations to operate capitalist means of production. Bernes writes off the idea of trade since this would entail temporarily holding onto aspects of capitalism, instead suggesting that revolutionaries won’t be able to operate most capitalist forces of production. How this strategy will be capable of feeding people in a crisis situation never seems to cross his mind. At least Communization theorist Bruno Astarian in his articleCommunization as a Way Out of the Crisis openly admits that people may have to starve for his schemes to work out:

“Finally, there is always the chance that the supply of flour for our bakers will be sporadic, at least at first, if the proletarians at the mill prefer to discuss the meaning of love or life instead of grinding wheat. Would this lead to chaos? We shall be told that today there will be no bread. You just have to accept it. Another alternative is that someone conceives a plan, quantified and taking time scales into account, and someone else complies with its terms. In such a case not only is value reestablished. In fact, a proletarian experience of this kind has no future: if it works the proletarians will rapidly lose their rights (restoration of wage labor in one form or another); if it does not work they will return to the old framework of unemployment and unpaid wages. It is likely, in any event, that the communizing solution will not be considered until various chess matches of this kind have tried and found wanting.”

What all of this ignores is that communism isn’t possible on a local scale, and that “true” communism where value has been completely abolished will require the co-operation of all of humanity utilizing the the worlds collective productive forces. This reason alone explains why immediate communization is not possible, with transition being a necessity imposed by objective circumstances rather than the will of revolutionaries. It also misses the basic Marxist insight that it is capitalism that creates the conditions for communism in the sense of creating a globalized society (with a global class, the proletariat) with forces of production that are developed enough to allow humanity to pursue a life beyond endless toil and starvation.

Immediate communization is also impossible because of the realities of specialization under capitalism, where a large and essentially petty-bourgeois strata of professionals with skillsets necessary for the reproduction of society (surgeons for example) are able to use their monopolies on skills and information to assert a privileged position above proletarians in society. This strata would have much reason to resist communism and withhold their skills at the expense of society to assert material privileges. As a result concessions would have to given to this strata until their skill monopolies can be broken through the collective reorganization of production and education in a way to challenge the very basis of the mental/manual division of labor. Such a process would not happen overnight, problematizing the notion that a immediate transcendence of capitalism is possible. In other words transition isn’t something revolutionaries choose but something imposed by objective conditions. Communism must be created from the raw material produced by capitalism, raw materials that aren’t as malleable as the ‘revolutionary will’ of communists would like them to be.

Some communization theorists go as far as to reject the notion that the proletariat is a ‘revolutionary subject’ at all, while offering only ambiguity as to what could replace it. While Dauve seems to maintain some notion of the proletariat as the revolutionary agent other writers like Woland from SIC write about a ‘revolutionary (non-)subject’that takes from the form of the rioter. A common theme in modern communization theory is the riot as the main form of struggle in this period. According to the communization group Blaumachen we are currently living in the ‘Era of Riots’, where the absence of strikes and prominence of riots signals the replacement of proletarian affirmation with proletarian abolition. The rioter doesn’t affirm any kind of proletarian identity through forming class-based institutions, but instead directly acts to negate capitalist relations and the state. It is seen as a form of practice that cannot be recuperated, as though the content of the riot itself is the content of communism. While it is not clear who this new subject is, it is clear what it will do: riot. The Endnotes groups seems to suggest the basis for this new revolutionary subject lies in the existence of ‘surplus populations’, or those formally excluded from the wage relation.

There is nothing new about rejecting the proletariat as the revolutionary subject yet trying to maintain some kind of revolutionary anti-capitalist ideology. In early 20th century in intellectuals like Georges Sorel, Edouard Berth and Robert Michels responded to the popularity of reformist and electoral social-democratic parties as opposed to a more active and violent class struggle by questioning the notion of socialist revolution being based in the rational class interests of the proletariat. This circle of intellectuals, detailed in Sternhell’s The Birth of Fascist Ideology, developed out of the syndicalist movement and diverged from classical marxism in a variety of ways. Sorel would develop a cult of action based on the general strike as the myth that would drive the proletariat to rebel rather than any kind of objective class interest. Berth and Michels took it a step further and argued the working class was not a revolutionary agent at all, with working class organization no longer a necessity for socialism. This abandonment of class and embrace of vitalist voluntarism led many intellectuals in this circle to embrace the nation as the revolutionary subject, becoming ideological influences on fascism.

The New Left of the 1960’s and 70’s also saw similar ideas that aimed to abandon the proletariat, the most notable being Herbert Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man. While Sorel and Michels were responding to the rise of reformism Marcuse saw consumer society as the main factor integrating the working class into capitalism and pacifying it. Robbed of any dialectical opposition to capitalism by the lures of consumer society the proles were simply “one-dimensional men” with no antagonistic relation to the system. Yet for Marcuse there was still hope in the “great refusal” which would be led by third world resistance movements, student rebellions and a vague ‘oppressed’. What this looked like in practice was a fractured collection of identity and nationalist movements that were incapable of finding a commonality in the basis of class and instead became integrated into public-interest liberalism.

While the communization theorists who express doubt or even disdain for the potential of the proletariat to act as a revolutionary subject operate in a different context and with a different discourse from the Sorelians and Marcuse they are both generally informed by a sort of ‘worry about workers’. While the Sorelian lamented the rise of parliamentary reformism in favor of a more directly antagonistic syndicalist inspired by heroic myths, Marcuse was responding to the ‘post-war compromise’ where Keynesian policies were able to temporarily win a better deal for (sections of) workers under capitalist democracies. Today communization theorists are responding to the general tendencies of de-industrialization in the core economies, where a shift towards service and retail type labor in favor of manufacturing has largely made traditional labor organizing impotent. There indeed is no denying that in the US the typical proletarian is not a muscular factory worker who identifies with their labor and wants self-management but rather someone working in a call center or Mcdonalds under precarious conditions.

It is clear that the class composition and terrain of class struggle today is different from the past, and that a simple strategy of building labor parties out of trade unions won’t cut it. Yet pointing to the decline of unions and todays explosive riots to claim that ‘programmatism’ is now impossible seems like an overreaction to new conditions. Truth is that the shift towards de-industrialization, service economies and precariousness is a big blow to the traditional forms and tactics of organized labor. Yet the inherent antagonism between capital and labor and the need for workers to organize as a class within capital is there as much as ever. So while the need for class based organization on the economic front is still with us workers as a class have yet to learn how to struggle on this new class terrain. This won’t happen overnight, but will be a trial and error process that will require a break with the traditional union apparatus to open room for experimentation in tactics and strategy. It is arguable with the recent strikes in Spain of “pseudo self-employed” telecom workers that this process is happening before our eyes. We have to realize that the proletariat is not a class ready-made for revolution at any moment in history but rather must form as a class into a collective subject through creating its own institutions in society. The proletariat derives it’s social power not from the ability to shut down production but from its ability to organize as an entire class and pose an institutional alternative to the old society. This will mean reviving the ‘programmatism’ that TC claim is now permanently dead.

The “worry about workers” that haunts communization theorists is hardly a new phenomena. During any period of reaction or slow-down in the class struggle impatient revolutionaries will question the notion of a proletarian revolution and look elsewhere for revolutionary subjectivity if not completely giving up hope in marxist politics. This is not necessarily consistent among all adherents of communization however. As mentioned earlier, Gilles Dauves tends to maintain the notion of a proletarian subject while Endnotes has a more ambiguous position. Yet what all the proponents of communization do seem to have in common is a hostility to any of the ‘old forms’ of worker organization, such as parties, councils and unions. In fact there seems to be a hostility to the very notion that the proletariat can form mass organizations within capitalism that can be a basis for the overthrow of capitalism. The whole approach seems to hinge on a spontaneous rupture with the value-form that will create entirely novel forms in the process of struggle itself, with struggles themselves taking up communizing measures of out necessity. While there is legitimacy to the notion that new forms of class organization arise in struggles, this reliance on spontaneity offers little to conscious communists in terms of moving forward in formulating a coherent revolutionary strategy. Overall communization theorists are too quick to dismiss the “old forms” as completely obsolete due to new conditions. When it comes to pointing out these new conditions journals like Endnotes do have much of value to say, yet when it comes to explaining why exactly these changes make old forms fully obsolete the answers are very abstract and unconvincing.

In the end communization theory isn’t a progression or advancement in Marxism, but a repeat of past bad politics. In the same way that 1970’s Urban Guerilla groups like the Weather Underground repeated the arguments of Nardonik terrorists from Russia in the late 19th century, arguments regarding the transition period are mostly a return to the ideas of Kropotkin but phrased through citations of Marx’s Capital and Grundrisse. On the other hand the search for a ‘revolutionary (non-)subject’ that some communizers like Woland of SIC espouse is just repeat of pessimism about the working class from the Sorelian revisionists or the Marcuse inspired wing of the New Left.

Breaks from orthodoxy may not always be as innovative as they initially seem and simply open the door to confusing or dangerous ideas instead of a way to move forward. Communization theorists in many ways create a vision of revolution so idealistic and abstract that revolution basically becomes impossible. The vision of a millenarian rupture that immediately breaks with capitalism may be an appealing fantasy but in the end is simply a fantasy. The result of recent waves of spontaneous riots in Ukraine and Greece was Euromaidan and Syriza’s government respectively. Solving political questions and changing society requires positive programme and the organizational capacity to pose an alternative to the current regime. If it is indeed true that these are relics of the past (‘programmatism’) then communism is basically impossible.

Originally posted: June 30, 2015 at Communist League of Tampa

Posted By

Juan Conatz
Jul 27 2015 03:34


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Jul 29 2015 10:37

Some valid criticism of some aspects of the varied communization tendencies around but the phrase ''...that revolution will have to immediately establish communist relations of production from day one,...'' and similar scattered throughout this text presents a far too literal interpretation of what Dauve in particular and probably some others are saying. Rather I think the argument is that any substantial insurrectionary movement of the working class against the effects of capitalism can only advance towards the revolutionary destruction of capitalist social relations and establish communism as a reality if it starts a process of communization at it's earliest stages. In part this is in order to destabilise those areas of capitalist economic and political control that remain under threat but not defeated. This does assume that the process is geographically limited in it's beginning though not necessarily bound within particular nation states, but then the traditional stages theory of revolution inherited by left communism also assumes a geographical limitation but one which risks stabilising a communist 'stronghold' in trading relationships with a capitalist 'stronghold' or otherwise in a conventional militaristic confrontation. In both scenarios however these geographical limitations are those recognisable in today's global capitalism not those of an earlier period characterised by Kropotkin. Communization is about extension and deepening of a revolutionary process not retrenchment into isolated communes, recognising that such is impossible given the interconnected nature of global capitalism that the text correctly points out.

Jul 29 2015 11:03

Good text, I hope to read all this communization theory sometime when I have time.


the phrase ''...that revolution will have to immediately establish communist relations of production from day one,...'' and similar scattered throughout this text presents a far too literal interpretation of what Dauve in particular and probably some others are saying. Rather I think the argument is that any substantial insurrectionary movement of the working class against the effects of capitalism can only advance towards the revolutionary destruction of capitalist social relations and establish communism as a reality if it starts a process of communization at it's earliest stages.

What do you mean by this, can you explain? Apparently it is not worker's cooperatives or people's councils etc... right? As none of this can necessarily transcend capitalist social relations. so what is this communization means? How can we be sure something is communization and not -let's say- essentially capitalist neighborhood communities? Can you give any such non-capitalist social relations?

Jul 29 2015 11:24

Not about to give you a potted version of what 'communization' might mean beyond the stabilising effect of 'workers co-op's etc though I did get into the possible overlaps between the two in my discussion with Joseph in his review of David Graeber's book on Debt on this site which you could look up. Otherwise there are plenty of other texts on this site for you to consider 'when you have time'. Worth looking at the comments on the tampa site which GerryK has provided above.

Jul 29 2015 11:53

Ok, you could sum it up I guess what you mean by the term I guess, but that is ok. I should not blame you because of my laziness.

However I am doubtful any of these theoratical dicussions answers the real problem I am having with communization, (which I do not find wrong anyway, if they are debates about the conditions of a post-capitalist society etc...): what is this essence that we make judgement on while deciding on a certain process is essentially a process of communization or not. Apparently it can not be reduced to the forms of organisation (which I agree, actually), so then what is the true essence of a process, how can we know it, based on what? And how does communization theory (or its different trends) conceive it? What is the demarcation line that we should operate here?

I ask this -of course you knew it right grin - in the context of Dauve's text (Kurdistan) for example. And I truly ask the question with two assumptions
1) Well maybe not everyone is not intelligent or revolutionary as Dauve, but still there are some local and global intellectuals who think there is a certain trend of "communization process" going on in Rojava right? We should -you know- give them at least some sort of credit right that their thinking can be true ok?
2) I ask this also thinking Dauve is not just a stupid person who has no idea how colonial mentality and certain structures of western colonialism work right? Do not get me wrong so I write this to confirm that I write this comment assuming: Before he was writing, he first of all become sure he had enough knowledge on the process, so that he deduced the current political project of Kurds had nothing that we should consider to be a "social revolution" OK?

I do not think it is really that important that the first group does not consist of strictly "communization" people. Because as you (very precisely) pointed that communization is not about "day one change" but about a "starting of a process". So it is about basically interpreting the essence of process (well a very hermeneutical endeavor if you ask me, but let's say this can be done) What is this non-literal interpretation (you mention above) that you think is the correct interpretation of Dauve? Because all Dauve points about Kurdistan is forms (constiution, armed women etc...) or uninteligble word games like not "social", but "societal". (So can we say this according to Dauve there is a societal revolution going on in Rojava grin ? ) It was also the same between our discussion: I give examples of cooperatives (if we exclude ideological plans against capitalist modernity - which not many believe) you say well they are not targeting the essence thus compatible with capitalism.

I really, really want to know what we (you, I others) base their demarcation, judgement while deciding on the essence of a process, because if we do not we can all fall into trap of an ideology we did not know take our thinking captive right (I assume everyone agree's with me here) (ie. argument I make is "against an ideology we work/utilize unknowingly", not against taking a conscious ideological position at all.)

Jul 29 2015 12:09

Also this comment is interesting (from the link as you suggest)

There is a lot to agree and disagree with in this text. I find the attempt to reduce communalization to nothing more than warmed up Kropotkin and Sorel, not convincing. But the critique of the communization current’s fuzziness or worse on the question of the revolutionary subject, of its rejection of the working class’s potential to come together as a class in its struggle, of its underestimation of the challenges of the revolutionary period and the danger of localism, I agree with.
However, I don’t agree with the conclusion you draw from this, that therefore, the left communist position on need for a period of transition and a gradual elimination of the value-form was right after all. You don’t seem to understand that the elimination of the value-form is the revolution, that in its absence, capitalist logic will impose itself.

So apparently again the demarcation line -at least for some- itself is again day one revolution and not a process. And if the value form is not totally eliminated capitalist logic will by necessity impose itself. So one question remains, is there anything to do with process in communization? Or is it a theory based on an essence (that is supposed to be anti-capitalist)

Jul 29 2015 16:08

I don't think Sander in that quote is suggesting any revolution will take place in one day but rather that it is indeed an extended process (both geographical and socially) defined by the extent to which the value form is undermined and eventually abolished, as distinct from the traditional left communist - political power first then undermining of the value form second in distinctly separate historical stages. The theory at least, is as elaborated in the article on communization here:
Mind I can understand your confusion since if you relied on this for instance you might well consider that the process of communisation is already well underway in Rojava. But this text and many others on communization do heavily emphasise the importance of continuous extension geographically and socially of such a process rather than it being fixed in forms that are essentially a compromise with capitalism and the beginning of a reversal. When it comes to that extension it is dependent on both 'subjective' and 'objective' conditions judged within global capitalism as a whole and in our earlier disagreements on the Kurdish movement I (though not alone in this) have taken a distinctively more critical view of the revolutionary potential in both of those categories, (even whilst accepting some other positive developments).

Jul 29 2015 17:18
Mind I can understand your confusion since if you relied on this for instance you might well consider that the process of communisation is already well underway in Rojava.

Ok thanks

But this text and many others on communization do heavily emphasise the importance of continuous extension geographically and socially of such a process rather than it being fixed in forms that are essentially a compromise with capitalism and the beginning of a reversal.

Definitely, anyone who would argue against must be insane( in context of marxism I mean grin ), just as Marx thought: "the exploitation" under capitalist society works in - as I like to put it- "mysterious ways" grin ( Btw you also agree with the party line here grin )

To conclude, I get -for example- why Dauve feels so disturbed as the Marxist discourse is not much prevalent in the Kurdish liberation movement's discourse. He -rightfully- is afraid of production of a working class that will be silenced and exploited by a national (or democratic) rhetoric. On the one hand this is true: Kurdish movement appears to not make much worker's organisations (however it participates in various "turkish" worker's unions and societies, like Egitim-sen [union of teachers]) Instead it created a certain populist discourse where the problems of poor are tried to be solved by giving of land and forming of some sort of survival economies in small scales (mostly as policies of municipalities they own in Turkey) This of course in turn creates suspicions about their anti-capitalism.

These are of course important issues that needs to be discussed. However I am doubtful that many of the texts written on subject (including Dauve's) does not really try to discuss anything but directly try to extract the essence from some of the observable forms in a very selective and non-contextual manner and completely disregard any of the ideological content and its partial application in hard circumstances that I find so interesting and important. Unlike your interpretation above, in these texts "the process" or "the start" does not matter at all, and as if some theory is so undisputably true that "the process itself can be eliminated" or trying to do anything else (including forming/localizing/practicing your own theory in relation to the geographic and social realities of your context) is just no longer needed.

Jul 29 2015 17:41

Let me close this by a joke: Walter Benjamin was used to say the pessimism must be organised for communism, however apparently communisation theory by judging “the subjective” and “objective” conditions of capitalism seems to be more keen on being organisationally pessimistic (maybe including the communism itself ) grin

Aug 3 2015 10:24

This discussion goes into the 'pros and cons' of some communization theory better than some though no conclusions drawn in the end:

Aug 3 2015 13:38

Theorie Communiste is a load of abstract word puzzles which when it actually says something concrete comes over as utterly standard Leninist state capitalist shit- e.g;

their hostility towards previous opposition to nuclear power, including towards its revolutionary fractions....nuclear power in France, more than elsewhere in Europe, comes out of reasons of state. It is this which also explains their recent hostility to opposition to biotechnology. Thus, in Number 17 of their revue, the author of “About Riesel” uses as a pretext their rejection of the reductionism of “The Encyclopedia of Nuisances” to spit on the opposition as a whole. Without even taking into account the criticisms already made of this reductionism, even within this movement of opposition ...The author even rejoiced in the disappearance of the last smallholding peasants, treated without the slightest nuance as followers of the counter-revolution, as Marx presented them in a caricaturial manner at the time of the “Communist Manifesto”. This is the apology for the capitalist juggernaut, led by the European Commission, the French state and agrarians that “Theorie Communiste” presents here in the colors of communization.

- from here

In fact, the theoreticians of communisation want to represent the proletariat on an abstract plane in the same way that Lenin did at a more practical level. Proletarian subjectivity is reduced to an idea, but people in this communisation milieu never genuinely speak for themselves, but rather always with an eye towards the approval of their particular communisation clique, and talk in abstractions in order to be above the specificities of the contradictions of any movement. With such abstractions they can represent the general interest of the class, but only by becoming ahistorical. Those who wish to contribute to the development of class consciousness amongst those who are - in however confused a state - already attacking aspects of this society have to enter into the confusions in order to develop some clarity, rather than present a correct line which tries to be above events. And communisaters rarely deal with precise events in anything but a classic Leninist "correct line" teacherish attitude. As someone said in a recent email:

After 100 years of people claiming to be on the side of anti-captialist revolution (Mussolini, Lenin, etc,) on the basis of their words we are somehow meant to accept that words divorced from practical opposition to hierarchical social relations mean something . After all, it seems that as long as you spout the right words, you're part of the revolution and anyone who disagrees with such amorphous eclecticism and tries to draw decisive conclusions from the history of revolutionary movements is to be dismissed as "sectarian".

It's the abstraction of "theoretical" relations around the communisaters of Sic - the essentially alienated mode of organising and relating - that could

lead to Woland [one of the major contributors to Sic] making the easy transition to becoming a Secretary General in the sickening Syriza saga because, after all, according to this particular ultra-left mentality being opposed to the state is just a question of words and any practical risk of opposition is irrelevant.

In the interests of some indecisive eclectic "debate", I suspect that libcom (at least, their admin, but also some of their largely boring contributors) gives credence to the abstractions of the propounders of communisation (without directly adhering to communisation theory themselves) because they too are fascinated by words detached from any practical decisions. Anyone who genuinely wants to contribute to a movement against this society would do well to stear clear of the fake posturing of libcom, who want the appearance of opposition without the slightest practical risk. Or at least attack them relentlessly for the phoneys they are.

Aug 3 2015 16:01

Your post has about as much of a logical sense of transition as most communizers.

Aug 3 2015 18:22

Not a fan of 'Theorie Communiste'. I have found some of the material published in 'End Notes' useful but the criticism here seems valid: