Reflections on The Call - Léon de Mattis

Submitted by Ramona on January 4, 2012

The need for communism traverses the entirety of the society of capital. The merit of Call lies in taking note of this, and of trying to design strategies which live up to this realization.1 Its weakness comes from the continually resurgent temptation to think that the desire to establish different relations suffices to start producing them.

Call, as its name indicates, is not a text of analysis or debate. Its purpose is not to convince or denounce, it is to affirm, to expose, and on this basis to announce a strategy for revolution. Must we therefore conclude, with Gilles Dauvé, that ‘a Call cannot be refuted, either we hear it or we pay it no heed’ 2

Call itself, in its refusal to discuss the ‘sensibly [self-]evident’ (p.21) encourages this reaction from the first lines of the first scholium: ‘This is a Call. That is to say it aims at those who can hear it. The question is not to demonstrate, to argue, to convince. We will go straight to the evident.’ (p.4) But, at the same time, Call is the typical product of a debate inherent to the very existence of the ‘area which poses the question of communization’: and pursuing this debate to its conclusion is a preliminary to any emergence of a self-conscious ‘communizing movement’ within this area.3 It is to be understood that the objective of these reflections is not to make a textual commentary on Call, to be exhaustive, or to interpret the thought or intentions of the authors in an academic manner. Even if it is one of its expressions, Call is far from posing an unanimity in the struggles which, in one form or another, pose the question of communization: it was on the contrary the occasion for numerous discussions. As Call illustrates quite well a certain proclivity into which the whole ‘area which poses the question of communization’, on the basis of its very problematic, is capable of falling, to put in writing these critiques is an occasion to nourish the debate.

That which characterizes the communizing current is not so much a common interpretation of communism as an attention paid to the process of its production, that is, what we term communization. Call explicitly situates itself in this perspective: ‘As we apprehend it, the process of instituting communism can only take the form of a collection of acts of communization ... Insurrection itself is just an accelerator, a decisive moment in this process’ (p.66). But contrary to Meeting, whose problematic is to interrogate the concept of communization, Call gives communization a determinate content...

In Call the term communization is systematically understood as ‘making common’. In the previous quotation for instance the ‘acts of communization’ are described as ‘making common such-and-such space, such-and-such machine, such-and-such knowledge’. That which is put in common is use, as when it is said that to communize a space is to liberate its use. This sense is even more visible in other parts of the text. For example:

In Europe, the integration of workers’ organizations into the state management apparatus – the foundation of social democracy – was paid for with the renunciation of all ability to be a nuisance. Here too the emergence of the labor movement was a matter of material solidarities, of an urgent need for communism. The Maisons du Peuple were the last shelters for this indistinction between the need for immediate communization and the strategic requirements of a practical implementation of the revolutionary process. (p.54)

Even if communization is conceived as the communization of relations it is first of all on the basis of a common usage: ‘Communizing a place means: setting its use free, and on the basis of this liberation experimenting with refined, intensified, and complexified relations.’ (p.68)

In the same logic, if communization is ‘making common’, then communism is systematically assimilated with ‘sharing’. The theme of sharing is omnipresent in Call. One finds is particularly developed in the scholium to Proposition V in the following terms:

That in us which is most singular Calls to be shared. But we note this: not only is that which we have to share obviously incompatible with the prevailing order, but this order strives to track down any form of sharing of which it does not lay down the rules. (p.50)

Sharing is the basis of collective action as envisaged by Call: ‘We say that squatting will only make sense again for us provided that we clarify the basis of the sharing we enter into.’ (p.52)

The point is not that ‘sharing’ and communism have nothing to do with another, but we have trouble understanding how they can be synonymous. Sharing already exists in capitalism: social institutions as important as the family function on the basis of sharing, and even in the countries where capitalism is the oldest and where the familial relation reduces itself to its simplest expression (the parent/child relation), capital, even economically, would not survive without this form of social sharing.

Call recognizes, in a negative sense, that sharing is also constitutive of the capitalist order in affirming that ‘the dominant order ... strives to track down any form of sharing of which it does not lay down the rules.’ But then are we to understand that any sharing not controlled by the ‘dominant order’ is a communist sharing? We can imagine so given that communism is purely and simply assimilated to sharing minus control: ‘the question of communism is, on one hand, to do away with the police, and on the other, to elaborate modes of sharing, uses, between those who live together.’ (p.64)

It is true that the point is still to ‘elaborate modes of sharing’. We also find further along: ‘It belongs to the communist way that we explain to ourselves and formulate the basis of our sharing.’ (p.66) Thus communist sharing is not given, it is to be elaborated. But how? Here the text eats its tail. A certain mode of sharing leads to communism, OK, but which? Response, in substance: the one that leads to communism... Nothing more is said on what can differentiate it from the sharing admitted in the world of capital other than the fact that this particular sharing must lead to a redefinition of relations:

So communism starts from the experience of sharing. And first, from the sharing of our needs. Needs are not what capitalist rule has accustomed us to. To need is never about needing things without at the same time needing worlds. (pp.64-5)

From then on the definitions of communism multiply: ‘By communism we mean a certain discipline of the attention.’ (p.65) Or again: ‘The communist question is about the elaboration of our relationship to the world, to beings, to ourselves.’ (p.63)

Among all these definitions there is one which shines out by its absence: communism as the suppression of class society. Certainly Call affirms that ‘Communism does not consist in the elaboration of new relations of production, but indeed in the abolition of those relations.’ (p.68) However, it is never a question of the ‘abolition of class relations’ – nonetheless a classical corollary of the ‘abolition of relations of production’.

The term ‘class struggle’ and ‘proletariat’ are never employed. As for the adjective ‘worker’, it serves only to qualify the old ‘movement’, something which at one time incarnated the communist aspiration but no longer... Call, that is, doesn’t affirm that the division of society into antagonistic social classes doesn’t exist, or existed once but is now as surpassed as the usage of steam on the railway. It simply doesn’t speak of it. Capitalism is certainly present in the text, but far from being seen as the system which englobes the totality of social reality, it is described essentially through its mechanisms of control, to the point where we could as well call it ‘empire’ as call it ‘capitalism’, or call it ‘civilization’:

There is a general context – capitalism, civilization, empire, call it what you wish – that not only intends to control each situation but, even worse, tries to make sure that there is, as often as possible, no situation. The streets and the houses, the language and the affects, and the worldwide tempo that sets the pace of it all, have been adjusted for that purpose only. (p.9)

It is precisely because capitalism is considered as an assemblage and not as a system that Call supposes that there exists a possible ‘beyond’ to the world of capital.

Let us return for a moment to the quotation from the scholium of Proposition VI: ‘communism does not consist in the elaboration of new relations of production, but indeed in the abolition of those relations.’ (p.68) The text which follows contains a surprising affirmation: these ‘relations of production’ can be abolished immediately ‘between ourselves’:

Not having relations of production with our world or between ourselves means never letting the search for results become more important than the attention to the process; casting from ourselves all forms of valorization; making sure we do not disconnect affection and cooperation (p.68).

The problem is that a ‘relation of production’ is not a particular relation between two people, or even a hundred, or a thousand. It is a generalized social relation which cannot be abolished locally because even where people would not ‘live’ relations of production between themselves, they would no less be incorporated in relations of production which structure capitalist society as a whole.

A ‘relation of production’ is not a relation between individuals, or at least it cannot be only that: two people do not maintain between themselves a private relation of production which they could somehow negate by their sole common volition. One might object that Call would also not see relations of production as inter-individual relations, simply because its philosophy banishes the concept of the individual. And in the text of Call, ‘forms of life’ and other ‘relations to the world’ do indeed traverse bodies. But ‘relations of production’ are no more relations between forms of life or worlds than they are relations between persons. The entities which are linked by ‘relations of production’ are just those which the same relations define: it is the position in the relation of production which determines the entities, and not the contrary. Relations of production are relations between classes.

It is certain that the division of society into classes would be infinitely more visible if inter-individual relations were the brute and unreserved translation of relations of production. The proletarian would doff his cap in passing to the capitalist with his top hat and cigar, and there would be nothing more to say. But unfortunately thing are a little more complicated, and ‘existential liberalism’ is not the unique translation of the effect of relations of production in everyday life...

Call is not mistaken when it says: ‘capitalism has revealed itself to be not merely a mode of production, but a reduction of all relations, in the last instance, to relations of production.’ (p.67) But this ‘reduction in the last instance’ is not a collapsing. There is obviously a link, tenuous and complex but nonetheless palpable, between, on the one hand, the sociability at the office, the posture of bodies in the large metropoles, or indeed what Call designates as ‘existential liberalism’, and, on the other hand, the ‘relations of production’. But it is a link, not an identity.

‘Marxism’ would say that ‘the relations of production determine the relations that we can maintain among ourselves’: but ‘determine’ implies a necessity of the very form of the link just where we can observe an extreme diversity. We could also say that ‘the relations of production contain the relations that we can maintain among ourselves’. They model and restrain them without exhausting them. We have both a certain margin of maneuver (it’s on this that Call counts) and an equally certain limit (it’s this which Call doesn’t see).

Any workers’ cooperative can abolish ‘relations of production’ between its members in the sense understood by Call. Would it thereby free itself from capitalist valorization? Financial circuits, commercialization, productivity standards... everything is there so that the workers of the cooperative self-exploit as surely as if the boss was still physically looming over them. Similarly, would a community whose members worked in common and didn’t engage in monetary relations among themselves thereby escape ‘relations of production’? On the condition of transforming communism into a series of principles to be respected we might perhaps be able to maintain the illusion for a while. But this would be to forget that every point of contact between the community and its exterior would be the occasion to see the ‘relations of production’ reassert their rights and reintroduce the whole community into class relations: juridical statutes of occupied buildings and land, the supply of provisions, energy, the sale of the surplus...

Call is an ‘alternative’4 text because the existence of communism is considered as possible at a moment when capitalism still reigns.

Sure, it’s not seen as communism in its final state, for the latter must first constitute itself as a force and ‘deepen’ itself as a preliminary to revolution; and its only after the insurrection, the moment of acceleration of the process, that communism establishes itself as the universal social relation.

Nonetheless the sense of the text is clear: even in the form of fragments, of instants to explore and reproduce, of ‘grace’ to research, moments of communism are already to be had. The point is only to recognize them, and on that basis, to organize.

I don’t agree with Dauvé, for whom Call is exempt from all trace of the alternative because

communization is defined as antagonistic to this world. In irreconcilable and violent conflict with it (to the point of illegality). It differs therefore from the alternative which searches (and often succeeds) in making itself accepted at the margin, and in durably coexisting with the state and wage labor.5

Pacifism plays no part in the necessary definition of the alternative: those who one could call the ‘confrontational alternatives’ are far from being marginal in this type of movement.

To take an example which has nothing to do with Call, but which is significant because it is caricatural, one could recall that in the No Border camp of Strasbourg 2002 this tendency was present to a very large degree. This camp organized against the Shengen information system (SIS), drew together between one and two thousand people and was the occasion for, at the same time, an ephemeral ‘self-organized’ village lived by certain members as a veritable Temporary Autonomous Zone (with the all the folklore one can imagine) and a week of disruptive actions in the city of Strasbourg. Certainly the actions and demonstrations weren’t characterized by an extreme violence,6 but they were in any case all explicitly anti-legalist and sought to defy the state on its terrain. There were no doubt tensions between a more ‘activist’ tendency and those who wanted above all to defend the marvelous experience of this self-managed camp, but many people pursued these two objectives whilst seeing them as perfectly complementary.

Being ‘alternative’ consists in the belief that we can, with limited numbers of people, establish relations within the world of capital which would be already a prefiguration of communism (even if one doesn’t use this term). The inverse position holds that, as long capital as a social relation is not abolished, nothing which can resemble communism can be lived.

Thus those who often designate themselves as alternative imagine therefore that, in places like the No Border camp at Strasbourg, or in the Vaag camp which followed it, in squats, or wherever else, moments can be lived which approximate a society liberated from capital, from money, and ‘domination’. And that all this can come from an effort of individuals to free themselves from bad ‘ideas’ that society has inculcated in them. For example, ceasing to be sexist or patriarchal through a series of measures which address behavior, language, etc.

Certain of these alternatives are pacifist. Others think that their desires are not compatible with the maintenance of the society of capital and are perfectly ready for illegal or violent struggle.

One also finds those who think that only the struggle offers today the possibility of living moments of communism: the alternative is for them indissociable from anti-capitalist activism. The latter will often shrink from the appellation ‘alternative’ precisely because they fear being assimilated to pacifism. It’s in the last category that one could range those who write: ‘No experience of communism at the present time can survive without getting organized, tying itself to others, putting itself in crisis, waging war.’ (p.65)

At the other extreme a rigorously anti-alternative position can be found, for example, in Théorie Communiste (TC), whose concept of the ‘self-transformation of proletarians’ draws attention to the hiatus which can exist between what can be lived in the society of capital and what will be lived after the moment that communism will have been produced. This leads the members of TC, and those who adhere to their theses, to see in every practical attempt to pose the communist question a demonstration of the inevitably ‘alternative’ character of every maneuver of this type.

There is also the position that I have developed in ‘Three Theses on Communization’.7 The point is to take account of the essential critique addressed to the ‘alternative’ (no possibility of developing communism within the world of capital); but to recognize that there is also necessarily a relation between that which proletarians are today and that which will one day allow them to produce communism, in other words, that it is possible to practially address problematics related to communism, even if it’s impossible today to live something which ‘tends towards’ communism or prefigures it. I’ve thus argued that the communizing movement is characterized by the fact that it already poses in struggles questions which have the same nature as those which will lead to the production of communism at the moment of the revolution; but that the responses that it brings, cobbled together with what capital renders possible today, are not themselves communist.

We do find in Call an explicit critique of the ‘alternative’:

By dint of seeing the enemy as a subject that faces us – instead of feeling it as a relationship that holds us – we confine ourselves to the struggle against confinement. We reproduce under the pretext of an ‘alternative’ the worst kind of dominant relationships. We start selling as a commodity the very struggle against the commodity. Hence we get the authorities of the anti-authoritarian struggle, chauvinist feminism, and anti-fascist lynchings. (pp.8-9)

Or again:

And then there is this mystification: that caught in the course of a world that displeases us, there would be proposals to make, alternatives to find. That we could, in other words, lift ourselves out of the situation that we are in, to discuss it in a calm way, between reasonable people. But no, there is nothing beyond the situation. There is no outside to the world civil war. We are irremediably there. (p.74)

It must be said that the second critique is more addressed to the pacifist alternative than to the alternative tout court. Yet the question is still to understand why Call, whilst posing a critique of the alternative, nonetheless leans irresistibly towards it?

The response can be perhaps found in Proposition VI: ‘In a general way, we do not see how anything else but a force, a reality able to survive the total dislocation of capitalism, could truly attack it, could pursue the offensive until the very moment of dislocation’ (p.70). All the difficulty of revolutionary theory can be found hidden beneath this phrase: the point is to understand the overthrowing of capitalism as a process that is not itself capitalist – since in the end it has the capacity to destroy capitalism – and yet is nonetheless born within the capitalist social relation.

It’s in this sense that Call is representative of a debate which traverses the area which poses the question of communization. As its practice is manifestly not communist, and cannot be, this area has the temptation to locate the unique reason for the nonexistence of responses to the communising questions that it poses in the weakness of its force or activity.

We can easily understand that the Party that Call speaks of has nothing to do with an avant-garde. In effect, whilst the Leninist party prepares the revolution, or more precisely the coup d’état, the party in question in Call directly produces communism, at least the communism of the pre-revolutionary period. Even more: it is this communism: ‘The practice of communism, as we live it, we call “the Party.” When we overcome an obstacle together or when we reach a higher level of sharing, we say that “we are building the Party.”’ (p.65) The Party is not the avant-garde, it is the whole camp. It englobes even those who have not yet had any association: ‘Certainly others, who we do not know yet, are building the Party elsewhere. This call is addressed to them.’ (p.65)

The ticks of language the most revealing of the alternative temptation which progressively bares itself out in Call are systematically associated with the evocation of the party:

Looking closer at it, the Party could be nothing but this: the formation of sensibility as a force. The deployment of an archipelago of worlds. What would a political force, under empire, be that didn’t have its farms, its schools, its arms, its medicines, its collective houses, its editing desks, its printers, its covered trucks and its bridgeheads in the metropole? It seems more and more absurd that some of us still have to work for capital – aside from the necessary tasks of infiltration. (pp.66-7)

But can one really believe that if we are no longer employed by this or that firm or government we cease to ‘work for capital’? And that one has thereby effected a ‘secession ... with the process of capitalist valorization’ (p.10)? That which distinguishes real subsumption, that is, this period in which capital has in a certain manner absorbed the totality of social reality rather than remaining restricted to the productive process, is that any activity is capable of becoming a part of the process of valorization.

Call ends, in strategic terms, at an impasse. It is recognized in the last paragraph, which concludes the work with a ‘bet’, that is to say something not susceptible to argument:

We will be told: you are caught in an alternative which will condemn you in one way or another: either you manage to constitute a threat to empire, in which case you will be quickly eliminated; or you will not manage to constitute such a threat, and you will have once again destroyed yourselves. There remains only the wager on the existence of another term, a thin ridge, just enough for us to walk on. Just enough for all those who can hear to walk and live. (p.88)

How is the material force in formation, the party, to concretely escape repression? Where are ‘its farms, its schools, its arms, its medicines, its collective houses, its editing desks, its printers, its covered trucks and its bridgeheads in the metropole’ going to hide? Such activities have no need to be subversive to be repressed. In the end, everything is illegal: without even speaking of arms, it is forbidden to practice medicine, to work, to drive, without the corresponding diplomas, contracts or licenses. Even the LETS, the local exchange systems, were once in the firing line of the financial regulators.

All the alternative communities which have existed for a certain time resolved the question in the same way, and in fact there are only two. An experience such as that can only subsist as long as it respects the legality of capital. There is nothing to stop those who have the means creating hospitals, schools, or private collective farms. But on what possible basis can we say they are ‘communizing’?

The condition of the confrontation with the legality of capital is to not become attached to a place, a structure, or a durable movement, which would signify defeat. Call accords, with reason, much importance to spaces: ‘For this, we need places. Places to get organized, to share and develop the required techniques. To learn to handle all that may prove necessary. To cooperate.’ (p.57). The space as a point of assembly in the struggle is a mode of organization which has proven itself. But inherent to such spaces is the need to ceaselessly efface themselves before the repression that they attract: when they eternalize themselves it is simply the sign that they have ceased to be active.

Uno décimo
One of the regrettable consequences of the manner in which Call envisages, under capitalism, the growth of a communist camp which reinforces and deepens itself through self-organization is that the way thus traced becomes exclusive of all others. Communism, rather than being produced collectively and universally by the proletariat destroying capital in forms that we cannot determine in advance, is predefined by the configurations that one can give it today, in the very heart of the world of capital.

Yet, the conception that we can have today of communism is itself to be historicized, it is implicated in a stage of development of capitalism. It is this kind of thing that Call misses completely. As messianic as the conceptions of communism in Call might be, they will always remain the product of present times: and they invariably lack the possible richness of definitions of communism as a universal social relation.

Yet this communism as universal social relation, if it exists one day, will be produced in circumstances (the general crisis of social relations, insurrection, the total destruction of capitalism) whose actual development remains for the most part unknown to us. What will be the communizing measures, those which will allow the concrete production of communism? One can certainly have an opinion on this question; but how can we say whether this opinion can grasp at present what communization will or will not be. Even reflection on the most interesting historical examples on this subject – Spain in the ’30s, Italy in the ’70s – will never permit us to predict the future to that degree.

In calling for the constitution of a communist camp on the basis of what it defines in the present as communism, Call freezes its vision of communism. According to its logic, only those communizing forces capable of self-organizing under capital will be capable of carrying out an insurrection tomorrow; and those forms that are capable of self-organization in the Party are alone communist. How is the Party, supposing that it is formed along the lines delineated in Call, to judge the chaotic evolutions of future class struggles? It will only judge them communist insofar as they join it, since it will itself be communism.

The Party will miss everything that will develop in the forms, moments, and circumstances that it will not have been able to foresee; and it will act as their censor. Already the tone of Call, often very severe, suggests a separation between ‘good’ communists, those who’ve known how to perform ‘secession’, and ‘bad’ proletarians who’ve done nothing other than submit to capital. As if all those who haven’t already seceded will never be able to intervene in communization. Moreover, Call affirms that all those who want communism must cease to work for capital. How can we imagine that we can create communism while proposing a revolutionary strategy of which the first measure is rupture with all those who ‘work for capital’? Especially since a good reason to one day produce communism would perhaps be precisely to have, until then, ‘worked for capital’.

Duo decimo
Call falls into a common trap for those who try to pose the question of communization in an at least somewhat practical manner: the responses that we try to bring forward today seem to define a space which only veritable insurgents could populate, whilst the others, those who remain apart from this insurgency, remain nothing but proletarians integrated to capital.

A journal published in Toulouse is quite representative of this manner of thinking. Entitled WE [NOUS], this zine presents on the cover of its 7th issue a drawing of a person walking on a tightrope over a canyon which separates US [NOUS] from the world of capital, represented by factories, nuclear power plants, houses, bosses, cops, but also powerless workers and anesthetized television viewers.

In this regard the manner in which Call employs the first person plural is not totally innocent.8 Certainly Call takes care to not oppose US and THEM, but paraphrasing Heidegger, NOUS and ON.9 The WE [NOUS] of Call (like that of Toulouse) is open: ‘The “we” [NOUS] that speaks here is not a delimitable, isolated we, the we of a group. It is the we of a position’ (p.10). But this position is the one that affirms on the back-cover that ‘WE HAVE BEGUN’. Those who have begun have already advanced on the road to revolution. It is made explicit in the following formula: ‘The overthrowing of capitalism will come from those who are able to create the conditions for other types of relations’ (p.67). Call imagines, as a road to communism, only that which its authors have chosen to follow: here is the sense of a ‘WE’ which is finally less a position than a trajectory. In effect certain of those who find themselves in ‘the area that poses the question of communization’ have been able to live a form of ‘secession’: but such a rupture inscribes itself in a logic of an epoch where communization is a marginal question. One can happily think that a generalized crisis of social relations will introduce many other modes of adhesion to the communist idea. The revolution will not simply be the act of squatters or ex-squatters! To think the contrary is to believe that revolution will only come about on the condition that revolutionary subjectivity has won over the masses, yet the revolution will be at the same time the moment of disobjectification of the capitalist social relation and that of the desubjectification of the question of communization.

Terco decimo
We avoid the foregoing trap if we recognize that, in our epoch, all the responses that can be found to the question of communization are the responses of our epoch: that is to say destined to become obsolete from the moment that the situation will be sufficiently modified so that an until then minority question is in everyone’s mouth. The communizing problematic, just like the conception that we can have of communism, is itself historic. If the point of continuity between current struggles and the revolution is indeed the question of communization, this question, already diverse at present, can only enrich itself from new significations and unforeseen developments within the evolution of a dynamic situation which will see the fall of the capitalist social relation. It is thus not only the responses to the communizing problematic, i.e. practices, which will be modified with the arrival of a revolutionary period, but also the questions posed. Every contemporary practice which would like to be communizing must therefore recognize that it responds inadequately to a badly posed question; which at the same time subtracts nothing from its value. For the question and its answer are inadequate to serve as the measure of that which the future of communism as a universal social relation could be; but they are completely adequate to give to contemporary struggles a meaning that they wouldn’t possess without them, and which can reveal itself as subsequently determinant for the possibility of producing communism.

To want to wage a struggle whilst freeing oneself from all mediations put in place by capital (unions, politics, media, law, etc.) is an obvious example of a manner of posing questions which treat of communization.10 Indeed – why not? – searching for a collective life and ‘different’ relations, on the condition that they are in the context of as struggle, can also be an example.

Clearly all experimental practices are not for that reason communist, and they can even be taken up in a sense which has no communizing sense, as forms simply rehabilitated in a purely capitalist framework. This is exactly the case with squats which were at a certain moment a response in terms of organization and everyday life to a number of similar questions, but which can just as easily be one place of artistic promotion among others. The same for general assemblies, workers’ councils, factory occupations, etc. All these forms of struggle can be, at a given moment, a response to a communizing problematic, as they can be the contrary. The hypostasis of one of these forms can only become an ideology.

Quarto decimo
To the formula of Call which says: ‘the overthrowing of capitalism will come from those who are able to create the conditions for other types of relations,’ we must respond: ‘the conditions for other types of relations will be created by those who are able to overthrow capitalism.’

(translation: Endnotes.)

Presented at ‘Meeting 2’ (2005). The original French text available here:

  • 1Call’ was published by The Invisible Committee in 2004, references in the text are given to the English translation available here: http://www.
  • 2Gilles Dauvé and Karl Nesic, ‘Communization: a “Call” and an “invite”’, Troploin 4 (September 2004), Dauvé concludes his text by writing: ‘If the situation corresponds to that described by those preparing Meeting and those who’ve published Call, the simple concomitance of the two projects should inspire at the very least a reciprocal interest among their respective participants. To our knowledge this is not the case.’ He also adds, in relation to Call: ‘Whatever reservations we can hold, this text manifests an existence, an experience, in particular in the anti-globalization actions of recent years.’ It is necessary to point out here that the ‘concomitance’ of these projects has nothing fortuitous about it, and that the ‘experience’ which Call represents can also be found in Meeting. Certain articles of Meeting 1 and Call concern strictly the same topics.
  • 3

    The expressions ‘area which poses the question of communization’, ‘communizing movement’ and ‘communizing current’ are used in the sense that I respectively gave them in Meeting 1 (‘Three Theses on Communization’). The ‘communizing current’ designates the theoretical groups which explicitly employ the concept of communization as an important pole of their reflection (this current being admittedly relatively restricted for the moment). ‘The area which poses the question of communization’ incorporates a much larger part of the present and past proletarian movement. It characterizes those moments of the class struggle where the central problematic was something close to what one could at present understand by communization: in short, how to realize the immediacy of social relations. That which signals the existence of this area is the crystallization around the communizing question at a given moment in a given struggle, without thinking that this portion of the proletariat could exist separately or perpetuate itself beyond the class struggle in general. Finally the ‘communizing movement’ is something to be created. Debates must be provoked in the midst of this area – in the struggles and the moments where the communizing problematic seems to appear – to form a movement which will make this demand explicit in the heart of these struggles.

  • 4Translators note: in French radical circles the terms ‘l’alternatif ’ and ‘alternativisme’ designate the activity of those who believe it possible to fulfill their desire for change within capitalist society, alongside the mainstream in an alternative or countercultural world – a kind of third, ‘drop out’, option between reform and revolution. The terms are translated throughout by ‘alternative’.
  • 5Dauvé, op.cit.
  • 6There will be an exchange of blows with the cops, a few broken windows and cameras, some trashed hotel lobbies and many trashed brothels in the city center – and also a lot of arrests, some trials (including one protester sentenced to a four-month stretch) and an order of the Prefecture of the Rhine which banned all demonstrations in the city center.
  • 7Leon de Mattis, ‘Trois thèses sur la communisation’, Meeting 1 (2004), article/trois-theses-sur-la-communisation.
  • 8Translators note: Call capitalizes the two French versions of ‘we’, nous and on, in order to highlight the distinction between the ‘we’ of the party (NOUS) from the more abstract and impersonal ‘we’ of society / the citizen (ON).
  • 9Translators note: Heidegger’s term for inauthentic being, ‘Das Man’, is generally translated into English as ‘the They’, although it is more literally rendered by its French translation ‘le On’ (the one). The common usage of ‘on’ to mean ‘we’ (a little like the ‘royal we’, but for commoners) thus allows for a Heideggerian distinction which is not translatable into German or English.
  • 10I talk of ‘questions’ because every practice, in this type of struggle, is an attempt to respond to a particular problem.