What are we to do? Endnotes

Submitted by Ramona on January 2, 2012

The term ‘communization’ has recently become something of a buzzword. A number of factors have contributed to this, the most prominent being the coming into fashion of various texts. Of these, The Coming Insurrection – associated with the French journal Tiqqun, and the ‘Tarnac 9’ who gained the doubtful prestige of being at the center of a major ‘terrorist’ scandal – has been by far the most influential. In addition to this, the voluble literature produced by autumn 2009’s wave of Californian student struggles – a literature partly inspired by such French texts – has been a significant factor.1 The confluence in this Californian literature of, on the one hand, a language inflected by typically grandiloquent Tiqqunisms, and on the other, concepts in part derived from the works of a more Marxist French ultra-left – and the convenient presence in both of these reference points of a fairly unusual term, ‘communization’ – has contributed to the appearance of a somewhat mythological discourse around this word. This communization appears as a fashionable stand-in for slightly more venerable buzzwords such as ‘autonomy’, having at least the sparkle of something new to it, a frisson of radical immediatism, and the support of some eloquent-sounding French literature. This communization is, if anything, a vague new incarnation of the simple idea that the revolution is something that we must do now, here, for ourselves, gelling nicely with the sentiments of an already-existent insurrectionist anarchism.

But this communization is, in all but the most abstract sense, something other than that which has been debated for some thirty years amongst the obscure communist groups who have lent the most content to this term, even if it bears traces of its ancestors’ features, and may perhaps be illuminated by their theories. Of course, ‘communization’ was never the private property of such-and-such groups. It has, at least, a certain minor place in the general lexicon of left-wing tradition as a process of rendering communal or common. Recently some have begun to speak, with similar intended meaning, of ongoing processes of ‘commonization’. But such general concepts are not interesting in themselves; if we were to attempt to divine some common content in the clutter of theories and practices grouped under such terms, we would be left with only the thinnest abstraction. We will thus concern ourselves here only with the two usages of the word that are at stake in the current discourse of communization: that derived from texts such as The Coming Insurrection, and that derived from writings by Troploin, Théorie Communiste and other post-68 French communists. It is primarily from these latter writings – those of Théorie Communiste (TC) in particular – that we derive our own understanding of communization, an understanding which we will sketch in what follows. As it happens, these two usages both proliferated from France into Anglophone debates in recent years, a process in which we have played a part. But it would be a mistake to take this coincidence for the sign of a single French debate over communization, or of a continuous ‘communizationist’ tendency within which the authors of The Coming Insurrection and, for example, TC represent divergent positions. What is common to these usages at most, is that they can be said to signal a certain insistence on immediacy in thinking about how a communist revolution happens. But, as we shall see, one ‘immediate’ is not the same as another; the question is which mediations are absent?

If the tone of the following text is often polemical, this is not because we take pleasure in criticising people already subject to a very public manhandling by the French state, charged as ‘terrorists’ on the meagre basis of allegations that they wrote a book and committed a minor act of sabotage. It is because long-running debates related to the concept of communization – debates in which we have participated – have become falsely associated with the theories presented in texts such as The Coming Insurrection and Call, and are thereby in danger of getting lost in the creeping fog that these texts have summoned.2 What is at stake is not only these texts, but the Anglophone reception of ‘communization’ in general. It has thus become necessary to make the distinction: the ‘communization theory’ now spoken of in the Anglosphere is largely an imaginary entity, an artefact of the Anglophone reception of various unrelated works. The limited availability of relevant works in English, and the near-simultaneity with which some of these works became more widely known, surely contributed to the confusion; a certain traditional predisposition in relation to France, its theory and politics, probably helped. The Anglosphere has a peculiar tendency to take every crowing of some Gallic cock as a cue to get busy in the potting shed with its own theoretical confabulations; add to this a major political scandal, and it seems it is practically unable to contain the excitement.

But our intention is not simply to polemicize from the standpoint of some alternative theory. Insofar as it is possible to grasp the determinate circumstances which produce texts like this, they do not simply present incorrect theories. They present rather, the partial, broken fragments of a historical moment grasped in thought. In attempting to hold fast to the general movement of the capitalist class relation, communist theory may shed light on the character of such moments, and thereby the theoretical constructs which they produce. And, in so doing, it may also expose their limits, elisions and internal contradictions. Insofar as such constructs are symptomatic of the general character of the historical moment, their interrogation may draw out something about the character of the class relation as a whole.

If communization signals a certain immediacy in how the revolution happens, for us this does not take the form of a practical prescription; ‘communization’ does not imply some injunction to start making the revolution right away, or on an individual basis. What is most at stake, rather, is the question of what the revolution is; ‘communization’ is the name of an answer to this question. The content of such an answer necessarily depends on what is to be overcome: that is, the self-reproduction of the capitalist class relation, and the complex of social forms which are implicated in this reproduction – value-form, capital, gender distinction, state form, legal form, etc. In particular, such an overcoming must necessarily be the direct self-abolition of the working class, since anything short of this leaves capital with its obliging partner, ready to continue the dance of accumulation. Communization signifies the process of this direct self-abolition, and it is in the directness of this self-abolition that communization can be said to signify a certain ‘immediacy’.

Communization is typically opposed to a traditional notion of the transitional period which was always to take place after the revolution, when the proletariat would be able to realise communism, having already taken hold of production and/ or the state. Setting out on the basis of the continued existence of the working class, the transitional period places the real revolution on a receding horizon, meanwhile perpetuating that which it is supposed to overcome. For us this is not a strategic question, since these matters have been settled by historical developments – the end of the programmatic workers’ movement, the disappearance of positive working class identity, the absence of any kind of workers’ power on the horizon: it is no longer possible to imagine a transition to communism on the basis of a prior victory of the working class as working class. To hold to councilist or Leninist conceptions of revolution now is utopian, measuring reality against mental constructs which bear no historical actuality. The class struggle has outlived programmatism, and different shapes now inhabit its horizon. With the growing superfluity of the working class to production – its tendential reduction to a mere surplus population – and the resultantly tenuous character of the wage form as the essential meeting point of the twin circuits of reproduction, it can only be delusional to conceive revolution in terms of workers’ power. Yet it is still the working class which must abolish itself.3

For us, communization does not signify some general positive process of ‘sharing’ or ‘making common’. It signifies the specific revolutionary undoing of the relations of property constitutive of the capitalist class relation. Sharing as such – if this has any meaning at all – can hardly be understood as involving this undoing of capitalist relations, for various kinds of ‘sharing’ or ‘making common’ can easily be shown to play important roles within capitalist society without in any way impeding capitalist accumulation. Indeed, they are often essential to – or even constitutive in – that accumulation: consumption goods shared within families, risk shared via insurance, resources shared within firms, scientific knowledge shared through academic publications, standards and protocols shared between rival capitals because they are recognized as being in their common interest. In such cases, without contradiction, what is held in common is the counterpart to an appropriation. As such, a dynamic of communization would involve the undoing of such forms of ‘sharing’, just as it would involve the undoing of private appropriation. And while some might valorize a sharing that facilitates a certain level of subsistence beyond what the wage enables, in a world dominated by the reproduction of the capitalist class relation such practices can occur only at the margins of this reproduction, as alternative or supplementary means of survival, and as such, they are not revolutionary in themselves.

Communization is a movement at the level of the totality, through which that totality is abolished. The logic of the movement that abolishes this totality necessarily differs from that which applies at the level of the concrete individual or group: it should go without saying that no individual or group can overcome the reproduction of the capitalist class relation through their own actions. The determination of an individual act as ‘communizing’ flows only from the overall movement of which it is part, not from the act itself, and it would therefore be wrong to think of the revolution in terms of the sum of already-communizing acts, as if all that was needed was a certain accumulation of such acts to a critical point. A conception of the revolution as such an accumulation is premised on a quantitative extension which is supposed to provoke a qualitative transformation. In this it is not unlike the problematic of the growing-over of everyday struggles into revolution which was one of the salient characteristics of the programmatic epoch.4 In contrast to these linear conceptions of revolution, communization is the product of a qualitative shift within the dynamic of class struggle itself. Communization occurs only at the limit of a struggle, in the rift that opens as this struggle meets its limit and is pushed beyond it. Communization thus has little positive advice to give us about particular, immediate practice in the here and now, and it certainly cannot prescribe particular skills, such as lock-picking or bone-setting, as so many roads, by which insurrectionary subjects to heaven go.5 What advice it can give is primarily negative: the social forms implicated in the reproduction of the capitalist class relation will not be instruments of the revolution, since they are part of that which is to be abolished.

Communization is thus not a form of prefigurative revolutionary practice of the sort that diverse anarchisms aspire to be, since it does not have any positive existence prior to a revolutionary situation. While it is possible to see the question of communization as in some sense posed by the dynamic of the present capitalist class relation, communization does not yet appear directly as a form of practice, or as some set of individuals with the right ideas about such practice. This does not mean that we should merely await communization as some sort of messianic arrival – in fact, this is not an option, for engagement in the dynamic of the capitalist class relation is not something that can be opted out of, nor into, for that matter. Involvement in the class struggle is not a matter of a political practice which can be arbitrarily chosen, from a contemplative standpoint. Struggles demand our participation, even though they do not yet present themselves as the revolution. The theory of communization alerts us to the limits inherent in such struggles, and indeed it is attentive to the possibilities of a real revolutionary rupture opening up because of, rather than in spite of, these limits. For us then, communization is an answer to the question of what the revolution is. This is a question which takes a specific historical form in the face of the self-evident bankruptcy of the old programmatic notions, leftist, anarchist, and ultra-leftist alike: how will the overcoming of the capitalist class relation take place, given that it is impossible for the proletariat to affirm itself as a class yet we are still faced with the problem of this relation? Texts such as Call or The Coming Insurrection however, do not even properly ask the question of what the revolution is, for in these texts the problem has already been evaporated into a conceptual miasma. In these texts, the revolution will be made not by any existing class, or on the basis of any real material, historical situation; it will be made by ‘friendships’, by ‘the formation of sensibility as a force’, ‘the deployment of an archipelago of worlds’, ‘an other side of reality’, ‘the party of insurgents’ – but most of all by that ever-present and always amorphous positivity: we. The reader is beseeched to take sides with this ‘we’ – the ‘we of a position’ – to join it in the imminent demise of ‘capitalism, civilization, empire, call it what you wish’. Instead of a concrete, contradictory relation, there are ‘those who can hear’ the call, and those who cannot; those who perpetuate ‘the desert’, and those with ‘a disposition to forms of communication so intense that, when put into practice, they snatch from the enemy most of its force.’ Regardless of their statements to the contrary,6 do these pronouncements amount to anything more than the self-affirmations of a self-identifying radical milieu?

In this more insurrectionist incarnation, communization emerges as an answer to a real historical question. But the question in this case is the ‘what should we do?’ posed by the conclusion of the wave of struggles that had the anti-globalization movement at its center.7 The authors correctly recognize the impossibility of developing any real autonomy to ‘what is held in common’ within capitalist society, yet the exhaustion of the summit-hopping, black-blocking activist milieu makes it imperative for them to either find new practices in which to engage, or to stage a graceful retreat. Thus the ‘TAZ’, the alternative, the commune etc., are to be rethought, but with a critique of alternativism in mind: we must secede, yes, but this secession must also involve ‘war’.8 Since such supposedly liberated places cannot be stabilised as outside of ‘capitalism, civilization, empire, call it what you wish’, they are to be reconceived as part of the expansion and generalization of a broad insurrectionary struggle. Provided the struggle is successful, these alternatives will not turn out to have been impossible after all; their generalization is to be the condition of their possibility. It is this dynamic of generalization that is identified as one of ‘communization’ – communization as, more or less, the forming of communes in a process that doesn’t stop until the problem of the alternative has been solved, since it no longer has to be an alternative. But all of this is without any clear notion of what is to be undone through such a dynamic. The complexity of actual social relations, and the real dynamic of the class relation, are dispatched with a showmanly flourish in favor of a clutch of vapid abstractions. Happy that the we of the revolution does not need any real definition, all that is to be overcome is arrogated to the they – an entity which can remain equally abstract: an ill-defined generic nobodaddy (capitalism, civilization, empire etc) that is to be undone by – at the worst points of Call – the Authentic Ones who have forged ‘intense’ friendships, and who still really feel despite the badness of the world.

But the problem cannot rest only with this ‘they’, thereby fundamentally exempting this ‘we of a position’ from the dynamic of revolution. On the contrary, in any actual supersession of the capitalist class relation we ourselves must be overcome; ‘we’ have no ‘position’ apart from the capitalist class relation. What we are is, at the deepest level, constituted by this relation, and it is a rupture with the reproduction of what we are that will necessarily form the horizon of our struggles. It is no longer possible for the working class to identify itself positively, to embrace its class character as the essence of what it is; yet it is still stamped with the simple facticity of its class belonging day by day as it faces, in capital, the condition of its existence. In this period, the ‘we’ of revolution does not affirm itself, does not identify itself positively, because it cannot; it cannot assert itself against the ‘they’ of capital without being confronted by the problem of its own existence – an existence which it will be the nature of the revolution to overcome. There is nothing to affirm in the capitalist class relation; no autonomy, no alternative, no outside, no secession.

An implicit premise of texts like Call and The Coming Insurrection is that, if our class belonging ever was a binding condition, it is no longer. Through an immediate act of assertion we can refuse such belonging here and now, position ourselves outside of the problem. It is significant perhaps that it is not only the milieu associated with Tiqqun and The Coming Insurrection that have developed theory which operates on this premise over the last decade. In texts such as Communism of Attack and Communism of Withdrawal Marcel, and the Batko group with which he is now associated, offer a much more sophisticated variant. Rather than the self-valorizations of an insurrectionist scene, in this case the theory emerges as a reconceived autonomism informed by a smorgasbord of esoteric theory – Marxian and otherwise – but ultimately the formal presuppositions are the same.9 Taking the immanence of the self-reproduction of the class relation for a closed system without any conceivable terminus, Marcel posits the necessity of a purely external, transcendent moment – the ‘withdrawal’ on the basis of which communists can launch an ‘attack’. But, within this world, what can such ‘withdrawal’ ever mean other than the voluntaristic forming of a kind of ‘radical’ milieu which the state is quite happy to tolerate as long as it refrains from expressing, in an attempt to rationalise its continued reproduction within capitalist society, the kind of combativity which we find in The Coming Insurrection?

To insist, against this, on the complete immanence of the capitalist class relation – on our complete entwinement with capital – is not to resign ourselves to a monolithic, closed totality, which can do nothing other than reproduce itself. Of course, it appears that way if one sets out from the assumption of the voluntaristically conceived subject: for such a subject, the totality of real social relations could only ever involve the mechanical unfolding of some purely external process. But this subject is a historically specific social form, itself perpetuated through the logic of the reproduction of the class relation, as is its complement. Not insensitive to the problem of this subject, The Coming Insurrection sets out with a disavowal of the Fichtean I=I which it finds exemplified in Reebok’s ‘I am what I am’ slogan. The ‘self ’ here is an imposition of the ‘they’; a kind of neurotic, administered form which ‘they mean to stamp upon us’.10 The ‘we’ is to reject this imposition, and put in its place a conception of ‘creatures among creatures, singularities among similars, living flesh weaving the flesh of the world’.11 But the ‘we’ that rejects this imposition is still a voluntarist subject; its disavowal of the ‘self ’ remains only a disavowal, and the replacement of this by more interesting-sounding terms does not get us out of the problem. In taking the imposition of the ‘self ’ upon it to be something unidirectional and purely external, the ‘we’ posits another truer self beyond the first, a self which is truly its own. This authentic selfhood – ‘singularity’, ‘creature’, ‘living flesh’ – need not be individualistically conceived, yet it remains a voluntarist subject which grasps itself as self-standing, and the objectivity that oppresses it as merely something over there. The old abstraction of the egoistic subject goes through a strange mutation in the present phase in the form of the insurrectionist – a truly Stirnerite subject – for whom it is not only class belonging that can be cast off through a voluntarist assertion, but the very imposition of the ‘self ’ per se. But while our class belonging is unaffirmable – a mere condition of our being in our relation with capital – and while the abstract ‘self ’ may be part of the totality which is to be superseded – this does not mean that either is voluntarily renounceable. It is only in the revolutionary undoing of this totality that these forms can be overcome.

The prioritisation of a certain tactical conception is a major outcome and determinant of this position. Theory is called upon to legitimate a practice which cannot be abandoned, and a dualism results: the voluntarist ‘we’, and the impassive objectivity which is its necessary counterpart. For all their claims to have overcome ‘classical politics’, these texts conceive the revolution ultimately in terms of two opposed lines: the we that ‘gets organized’, and all the forces arrayed against it. Tactical thought is then the guide and rule for this ‘we’, mediating its relations with an object which remains external. Instead of a theoretical reckoning with the concrete totality that must be overcome in all its determinations, or a reconstruction of the real horizon of the class relation, we get a sundering of the totality into two basic abstractions, and a simple set of exhortations and practical prescriptions whose real theoretical function is to bring these abstractions into relation once more. Of course, neither Call nor The Coming Insurrection present themselves straightforwardly as offering ‘a theory’. Call in particular attempts to circumvent theoretical questions by appealing from the outset to ‘the evident’, which is ‘not primarily a matter of logic or reasoning’, but is rather that which ‘attaches to the sensible, to worlds’, that which is ‘held in common’ or ‘sets apart’.24 The ostensible point of these texts is to stage a simple cri de coeur – an immediate, pre-theoretical stocktaking of reasons for rebelling against this bad, bad world – on the basis of which people will join the authors in making the insurrection. But this proclamation of immediacy disguises a theory which has already done the mediating, which has pre-constructed the ‘evident’; a theory whose founding commitments are to the ‘we’ that must do something, and to its paternal they – commitments which forestall any grasp of the real situation. Theory which substitutes for itself the simple description of what we must do fails at its own task, since in renouncing its real standpoint as theory it gives up the prospect of actually understanding not only what is to be overcome, but also what this overcoming must involve.

Communist theory sets out not from the false position of some voluntarist subject, but from the posited supersession of the totality of forms which are implicated in the reproduction of this subject. As merely posited, this supersession is necessarily abstract, but it is only through this basic abstraction that theory takes as its content the determinate forms which are to be superseded; forms which stand out in their determinacy precisely because their dissolution has been posited. This positing is not only a matter of methodology, or some kind of necessary postulate of reason, for the supersession of the capitalist class relation is not a mere theoretical construct. Rather, it runs ahead of thought, being posited incessantly by this relation itself; it is its very horizon as an antagonism, the real negative presence which it bears. Communist theory is produced by – and necessarily thinks within – this antagonistic relation; it is thought of the class relation, and it grasps itself as such. It attempts to conceptually reconstruct the totality which is its ground, in the light of the already-posited supersession of this totality, and to draw out the supersession as it presents itself here. Since it is a relation which has no ideal ‘homeostatic’ state, but one which is always beyond itself, with capital facing the problem of labor at every turn – even in its victories – the adequate thought of this relation is not of some equilibrium state, or some smoothly self-positing totality; it is of a fundamentally impossible relation, something that is only insofar as it is ceasing to be; an internally unstable, antagonistic relation. Communist theory thus has no need of an external, Archimedean point from which to take the measure of its object, and communization has no need of a transcendent standpoint of ‘withdrawal’ or ‘secession’ from which to launch its ‘attack’.

Communist theory does not present an alternative answer to the question of ‘what shall we do?’, for the abolition of the capitalist class relation is not something on which one can decide. Of course, this question necessarily sometimes faces the concrete individuals and groups who make up the classes of this relation; it would be absurd to claim that it was in itself somehow ‘wrong’ to pose such a question – the theory of communization as the direct abolition of the capitalist class relation could never invalidate such moments. Individuals and groups move within the dynamics of the class relation and its struggles, intentionally oriented to the world as it presents itself. But sometimes they find themselves in a moment where the fluidity of this movement has broken down, and they have to reflect, to decide upon how best to continue. Tactical thought then obtrudes with its distinctive separations, the symptom of a momentary interruption in the immediate experience of the dynamic. When this emergent tactical thought turns out not to have resolved itself into the overcoming of the problem, and the continuation of involvement in overt struggles presents itself for the time being as an insurmountable problem, this individual or group is thrust into the contemplative standpoint of having a purely external relation to its object, even as it struggles to re-establish a practical link with this object.

In Call and The Coming Insurrection this basic dilemma assumes a theoretical form. Lapsing back from the highs of a wave of struggles, the tactical question is posed; then as this wave ebbs ever-further – and with it the context which prompted the initial question – theory indicates a completely contemplative standpoint, even as it gesticulates wildly towards action. Its object becomes absolutely external and transcendent while its subject is reduced to fragile, thinly-veiled self-affirmations, and the ‘what we must do’ that it presents becomes reduced to a trivial list of survival skills straight out of Ray Mears. In the moment in which Tiqqun was born, as the structures of the old workers’ movement lay behind it and the field of action became an indeterminate ‘globalization’ – the horizon of a triumphant liberal capitalism – class belonging appeared as something which had been already cast aside, a mere shed skin, and capital too became correspondingly difficult to identify as the other pole of an inherently antagonistic relation. Here lies the historically-specific content represented by these texts: the indeterminacy of the object of antagonism, the voluntaristic relation to the totality constructed around this antagonism, the indifference to the problem of class and its overcoming. The ‘desert’ in which Tiqqun built its sandcastles was the arid, featureless horizon of a financialized, fin-de-siècle capitalism. Setting out in this desert, unable to grasp it as a passing moment in the dynamic of the class relation, Tiqqun could never have anticipated the present crisis, and the struggles that have come with it.

The ‘what shall we do?’ posed by the end of the wave of struggles which had the anti-globalization movement at its center is now passed; there is little need in the present moment to cast around for practical tips for the re-establishment of some insurrectionary practice, or theoretical justifications for a retreat into ‘radical’ milieus. It is a cruel historical irony that the French state should find in this standpoint – defined precisely by its helplessness in the face of its object, its fundamental reference to a moment that has passed – the threat of ‘terrorism’ and an ‘ultra-left’ worth crushing even further. And that, while it busies itself with the defiant, melancholy outpourings of a stranded insurrectionism, pushing its unhappy protagonists through a high-profile ‘terrorist’ scandal, tectonic movements are occurring within the global capitalist class relation far more significant, and far more threatening for capitalist society.

The global working class is at present under a very overt attack as the functionaries of capital attempt to stabilise a world system constantly on the brink of disaster, and it has not had any need of insurrectionary pep-talk to ‘get started’ in its response. The Tiqqunist jargon of authenticity accompanied the outbreak of student occupations in California, but these were of course not the struggles of an insurrectionary ‘communization’ waged voluntaristically in the desert, against some undefined they. These struggles were a specific conjunctural response to the form that the
current crisis had taken as it hit the Californian state, and the higher education system in particular. This was a situation which demanded resistance, yet without there being any sense that reformist demands would be at all meaningful – hence the ‘no demands’ rhetoric of the first wave of these struggles. At the same time, communization of course did not present itself as a direct possibility, and nor was any other ostensibly revolutionary dynamic immediately on the cards. Caught between the necessity of action, the impossibility of reformism, and the lack of any revolutionary horizon whatsoever, these struggles took the form of a transient generalization of occupations and actions for which there could be no clear notion of what it would mean to ‘win’. It was the demandless, temporary taking of spaces in these struggles that came to be identified with ‘communization’. Yet, given the absence of any immediate possibility of actual communization here, the language of yesteryear – ‘TAZ’, ‘autonomy’ etc. – would have been more appropriate in characterizing such actions. While such language was, ten years ago, that of the ‘radical’ wing of movements, in California this flowering of autonomous spaces was the form of the movement itself. Perversely, it was the very anachronism of the Tiqqunist problematic here that enabled it to resonate with a movement that took this form. If Tiqqun’s ‘communization’ is an insurrectionary reinvention of ‘TAZ’, ‘autonomy’ etc., formulated at the limit of the historical moment which produced these ideas, in California it met a movement finally adequate to such ideas, but one that was so only as a blocked – yet at the same time necessary – response to the crisis.

It is as a result of this blocked movement that ‘communization’ has come to be barely differentiable from what people used to call ‘autonomy’; just one of the latest terms (alongside ‘human strike’, ‘imaginary party’ etc) in the jargon of a basically continuous Anglo-American sensibility. This sensibility always involved a proclivity for abstract, voluntarist selfaffirmation – in Tiqqun it merely finds itself reflected back at itself – and it should thus be no surprise that here, ‘communization’ is appropriately abstract, voluntarist, and self-affirming. This arrival of ‘communization’ at the forefront of radical chic probably means little in itself, but the major movement so far to find its voice in this language is more interesting, for the impasse of this movement is not merely a particular lack of programme or demands, but a symptom of the developing crisis in the class relation. What is coming is not a Tiqqunist insurrection, even if Glenn Beck thinks he spies one in the Arab uprisings. If communization is presenting itself currently, it is in the palpable sense of an impasse in the dynamic of the class relation; this is an era in which the end of this relation looms perceptibly on the horizon, while capital runs into crisis at every turn and the working class is forced to wage a struggle for which there is no plausible victory.

  • 1See for example the collection After the Fall: Communiqués from Occupied California, http://afterthefallcommuniques.info/.
  • 2The following discussion will focus specifically on are The Invisible Committee, The Coming Insurrection (Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e), 2009) http://tarnac9.wordpress.com/texts/the-coming-insurrection/ and The Invisible Committee, Call (2004), http://www.bloom0101.org/call.pdf, rather than other works associated with Tiqqun, since it is these texts that have been the most influential in the current Anglophone reception of ‘communization’. It is primarily with this reception that we are concerned, rather than any more general assessment of Tiqqun as, for example, a contributor to ‘continental philosophy’.
  • 3For a fuller discussion of these issues, see ‘Misery and Debt’, and ‘Crisis in the Class Relation’ in Endnotes 2 (April 2010), http://endnotes.org.uk/ issues/2.
  • 4For a discussion of the concept of programmatism, see Theorié Communiste, ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, Endnotes 1: Preliminary Materials for a Balance Sheet of the Twentieth Century (October 2008): 154-206, http:// endnotes.org.uk/articles/13.
  • 5‘Plato could well have refrained from recommending nurses never to stand still with children but to keep rocking them in their arms; and Fichte likewise need not have perfected his passport regulations to the point of ‘constructing’, as the expression ran, the requirement that the passport of suspect persons should carry not only their personal description but also their painted likeness.’ Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, p.21.
  • 6See, for example, The Coming Insurrection, p.101: ‘All milieus are counterrevolutionary because they are only concerned with the preservation of their sad comfort’. They protest too much.
  • 7Of course, Tiqqun distinguish their approach from the ‘leftist’ problematic of ‘what is to be done?’ because they see this as denying that ‘the war has already begun’. Instead, the direct question to be posed for Tiqqun is ‘how is it to be done’? But we are not merely concerned with this question as literally posed by Tiqqun. The ‘what should we do?’ in question is that of the post-anti-globalization impasse itself, an impasse which – as we shall see – structures the theoretical content of texts such as Call and The Coming Insurrection. By ‘alternative’ and ‘alternativism’ here, we refer to practices which aim to establish liberated areas outside of capitalist domination, grasping this as possible independently of, and prior to, any communist revolution. Countercultural milieus in general can be said to be ‘alternativist’.
  • 8For an excellent critique of the position of the Batko group see Per Henriksson, ‘Om Marcel Crusoes exkommunister i Intermundia. Ett bidrag till kommuniseringsdiskussionen’, Riff-Raff 9 (March 2011), http://riff-raff.se/texts/sv/om-marcel-crusoes-exkommunister-i-intermundia; English translation forthcoming.
  • 9The Coming Insurrection, pp.29-34. The Coming Insurrection, pp.33-32. Call, p.4.
  • 10The Coming Insurrection, pp.29-34. The Coming Insurrection, pp.33-32. Call, p.4.
  • 11The Coming Insurrection, pp.29-34. The Coming Insurrection, pp.33-32. Call, p.4.


Zanet Urth

11 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Zanet Urth on June 14, 2013

so can Endnotes' stance be broadly surmised as 'turgid + cliquey theory on withdrawal/insurrection/struggle is largely irrelevant - capital will destroy itself and in the process abolish the working class by eliminating it as a factor of production'?


11 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on June 15, 2013

Thanks - is 'printerfriendly' on it's way? - Edit- But just realised I already have this anyway!


4 months ago

Submitted by Icaria on March 13, 2024

Hi, do you know if there is a Spanish translation of this Endnotes article?

Submitted by lurdan on March 14, 2024

Icaria wrote: Hi, do you know if there is a Spanish translation of this Endnotes article?

It's not even on the Endnotes website in English as far as I can see. They are still putting new stuff up, so you could try their contact details.