November – Some Fundamentals
Nov. 8th – Work Community Politics War
Nov. 15th – The Reproduction of Daily Life
Nov. 22nd - At Daggers Drawn
Nov. 29th – EF! Means Social War
December – Anti-Civ
Dec. 6th – Feral Revolution
Dec. 13th – Bloodlust
Dec. 20th – Against History Against Leviathan (book)
January – Italian Insurrectionary
Jan. 3rd – Against Domestication
Jan. 10th – Armed Struggle in Italy and Armed Joy
Jan. 17th – More, Much More
Jan. 24th – The Undesirables
Jan. 31st - The Insurrectional Project
February – French Commune-ism
Feb. 7th – Call
Feb. 14th – How is it to be done?
Feb. 21st – Ready-Made Artist and Human Strike
Feb. 28th – Preliminary Materials on the Jeune Fille (coming soon)
March – Occupations and Territory
Mar. 7th – Pick ax (movie screening)
Mar. 21th – 20 Thesis on the Subversion of the Metropolis
Mar. 28th – Nights of Rage (only available at the CCC)
April – Queer Theory
Apr. 4th – Toward the Queerest Insurrection
Apr. 11th – To Destroy Sexuality
Apr. 18th – Towards a Gay Communism (only available at the CCC)
Apr. 25th – Gender Trouble (book)
All discussions are on Sundays at 2pm at the CCC (732 E Clarke st.).
Free copies of the readings for November are now available at the CCC in bulk.
For those who are interested in further exploring the themes of each month there will also be supplementary or suggested readings accompanying the other texts for the month posted to the side link to the schedule at http://burntbookmobile.wordpress.com/winter-anarchist-discussion-schedule/
(It might be possible to find the book Gender Trouble at the Milwaukee Public Library (or more likely if people have access through a University) and if people made a request for it they would probably order a copy. Against History, Against Leviathan! however, can only be purchased from the Bookmobile or ordered from Black and Red.)
Filed under: war-machine | Tags: burnt police car, fire, police, seattle, three
According to the Seattle Times:
“Three Seattle police cars and an RV that’s used as a mobile precinct were torched early Thursday in a city maintenance yard, according to police.
Just before 5 a.m., city workers spotted a suspicious-looking man walking through a parking lot at 714 S. Charles St., where police, fire and other city vehicles awaiting maintenance work are stored, said police spokesman Detective Jeff Kappel.
The workers tried to talk to the man, and “just about that time, police cars started going up in flames and he took off running,” Kappel said. The workers called 911 at 4:53 a.m. and firefighters quickly doused the flames, he said.
“There were police vehicles deliberately set on fire,” said Kappel, who couldn’t say if reports of an explosion were accurate. “Only police vehicles were burned,” even though vehicles from a variety of city departments are stored there.
Kappel also couldn’t say whether the vehicles were a total loss. No damage estimate has been released.
Kappel said the Seattle Police Department hadn’t received any threats before the fires, which also slightly damaged a nearby building.
The fire was so intense that it set off sprinklers inside the maintenance garage, which sustained smoke and water damage, said Seattle Fire Department spokeswoman Helen Fitzpatrick. She said the damaged police vehicles were outside the garage but behind a security fence.
Police have only a vague description of the suspect: The man is 6 feet tall with a slim build, was wearing dark clothing and possibly carrying a backpack, Kappel said.”
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: anti-civ, barbarians, civilization, greeks, language, logos, nietzsche
A selection from the Anarchist Library archive:
“If I don’t know the meaning of a language, I will be a barbarian to he who speaks it, and he who speaks to me will be a barbarian. — Paul, First Corinthians
Civilization finishes when the barbarians flee. — Karl Krauss
In the Heart of the City
The history of a civilization is simultaneously the history of the transformation of its language. A society develops around its knowledge, which is articulated through its language, which becomes concrete in thinking itself. Humans act on the basis of their desires, they desire on the basis of their thoughts, they think on the basis of their language. The form and content of the latter are hence at the same time the condition and result of the whole of social relations. The dominant language of an epoch is therefore always the language of those who dominate socially in that period.
If there is a concept that clearly expresses the relation between language and society it is that of the barbarian. For the Greeks the barbarian was the foreigner and at the same time he was also the “stutterer” since he who couldn’t master the language of the polis, of the city, was defined with contempt. The origin of the word referred to being deprived of logos, i.e. of discourse. If one considers that Aristotle defined man alternately as a “political animal” and as an “animal endowed with logos”, it follows from this that, by confirming the identity of language with politics, the barbarian is excluded not only from the city, but from human community itself. The barbarian is a non-man, a monster.
The Logos of Work
The logos is not only discourse or language, but is also science, law, reason, order (in the sense of a regulative principle and of the plot that connects and expresses the multiplicity of the real. All of these meanings are present at the same time in the word logos, which is veritably untranslatable (the English term that comes closest to it is “expression”). Only by keeping all of these in mind can one grasp the meaning of the Aristotelian definition of man, as well as the nature of its opposite, the barbarian. The first trace of the word logos is found in the fragments of Heraclitus (4th to 5th century B.C), which from time to time, and simultaneously, point to a cosmic principle, the order of reality with its multiple expressions, the human understanding of this order and Heraclitan discourse itself. Already in these fragments the element common to men is identified in the logos.
Until the times of Homeric poems common space is the assembly which the warriors put at their disposal, for the collective good, the loot of war, or discussions. This relation between the center and that which is common is transferred to the agora, that is in the city square, the place of political decisions. The categories of public discourse indicate precisely the act of bringing down (kata) into the middle of the assembly (agora) words submitted for general approval. The barbarian is thus he who is outside categories, he who, not having access to the center of the assembly, is excluded from public life. A stranger in his own house, the stutterer in the language of the city, he will thus join the foreigner outside. The woman and the slave, those banished from discourse (that is order, reason and law) these inhabitants of the internal colony, represent two steps of the staircase that ends in the worst cruelty permitted and committed towards the barbarian, the inferior, the enemy.
The power of assembly belongs to he who knows the art of rhetoric, the techniques for ingratiating oneself for the favors of the powerful goddess Persuasion. The more one has time to gain the possession of discourse, the more one is able to exercise its force, in eliminating the private reason of others, one’s own discourse is imposed as common. “The power of the logos on the soul persuades as it is like that of the master on the slave; with the difference that the soul is reduced to slavery not by force but by the mysterious pressure exercised on his conscience.” Thus wrote Plato in Philebus, illustrating well the dominating force of language. But that which is important is not only to recognize that, in politics, discourse is an arm of war, but also to ask oneself about the relation that links this arm to all others. Only he who has slaves that work for him can chain others with his discourse. The activity of individuals is already specialized because a hierarchical and superior role is attributed to the word. The division between manual and intellectual labor, in the meantime makes the activity of slaves accumulate in objects (and then in money and in machines) for the master, increasing the logos of the latter. “This is the fate of verbalized logic; where the word has all meaning, the dominant meaning loses no time in taking hold of all the words.” G. Cesarono. But the “mysterious pressure” exercised on the assent of the slave would not be possible if the language of his body were not reduced to the coercive rationality of work. It is in producing work that the economy has produced its own language. So, one better understands why controlling the language of the exploited has always been the project of the exploiters. To first give discursive logic all the power (at the expense of the barbaric reason of the body) is to subsequently give to the powerless an increasingly reduced logic. The I that speaks is a figure that represents the body of the individual (corporeality that is first of all a work force) as the state, the holder of public Discourse, represents the whole of society. The more the interior dialogue of the individual — his consciousness — conforms to the dominant language, the greater his assent, his submission will be. In this sense, capital, the dead work of a life constrained to survival, is “discourse” “the organization of fictitious meanings, mechanical logic, the fictitious game of representation” (G. Cesarano). It makes the language of that which extinguishes passions speak to the passions.
A Flight Backwards
But let’s return to our barbarians who tell us the history of civilization, this land of logos and politics, better than anyone.
If the accepted meaning of the concept of barbarians bears witness to a meaning that is that of progressive ideology (the barbarian is the opposite of a reasonable, scientific, and democratic society; that is monstrosity, menacing silence, irrational violence, superstition, gloomy withdrawal etc), there is a whole tradition of thought that has seen the barbarians as more vigorous beings than the civilized because they are closer to nature. From Polibio to Cioran, passing through Tacitus and Giucciardini, Machiavelli and Montesquieu, Rousseau and Leopardi one can once again go over the idea that they are illusions, copiously distilled from nature to push men towards generous actions, while reason, the product of civilization becomes calculating, turned on the same eternal doubters themselves. Leopardi said that a people of philosophers would be the most cowardly and wretched of all, precisely because it would be the most civilized. The fall of Rome and “Hellenist decadence” are brought up in particular by Montesquieu, as examples in this sense. From the Germans of Tacitus to the modern Unni of Cioran, the conducting wire of this tradition is the connection between the affirmation of the body, the imaginative faculty, bold virtue and desire for action. Quite often within this conception of history, the time of civilization repeats in a cyclical manner, because of an excess (and not due to a lack) of civilization, the barbarian is born, this counterstroke which puts civilization in the bag, then the cycle begins again. The development of a civilization is compared to that of living organisms, in which childhood is followed by maturity and then old age and death, stages characterized by a different passionality and reflexivity. The same language would bear witness to the various degrees of vitality of a culture (it is not by chance that one speaks of the becoming barbarian of language”).
If the progressive criticism of the conception of civilization has been guided for the most part by a reactionary point of view (like for example in Spengler and Schmidtt) with an abundance of biological and hierarchical metaphors on the struggle for survival, the attacks on the ideology of progress in the name of an enlightenment “other” are not however lacking (for example in Sorel and Adorno) or let loose at the shoulders, with the eyes of the Greeks like in the same Leopardi, in Holderlin, in Burkhardt and in Nietzsche; or still, from the angle of a artistic-craftsman know-how that mechanized work has destroyed (for example in William Morris).”
Filed under: update | Tags: Christian Marazzi, Deleuze and Guattari, guy Hocqenghem, intervention series, Recherches, semiotext(e), tiqqun
This series may be one of the more interesting things Semiotext(e) has done in awhile (possibly fueled by huge success of TCI, which sold out early on largely because of Glen Beck’s review and was soon after reprinted seemingly in much larger numbers than the first of only three thousand copies). With The Coming Insurrection as the start of the Intervention series you may have wondered what was next. A comment to the post on Introduction to Civil War listed them, so I went and did a basic search for information on numbers two through five.
2: Christian Marazzi: The Violence of Financial Capitalism
This first English-language edition of Christian Marazzi’s most recent book, The Violence of Financial Capitalism, makes a groundbreaking work on the global financial crisis available to a new audience of readers. Marazzi, a leading figure in the European post-fordist movement, first takes a broad look at the nature of the crisis and then provides the theoretical tools necessary to comprehend capitalism today, offering an innovative analysis of financialization in the context of post-fordist cognitive capitalism. He argues that the processes of financialization are not simply irregularities between the traditional categories of wages, rent, and profit, but rather a new type of accumulation adapted to the processes of social and cognitive production today. The financial crisis, he contends, is a fundamental component of contemporary accumulation and not a classic lack of economic growth.
Marazzi shows that individual debt and the management of financial markets are actually techniques for governing the transformations of immaterial labor, general intellect, and social cooperation. The financial crisis has radically undermined the very concept of unilateral and multilateral economico-political hegemony, and Marazzi discusses efforts toward a new geo-monetary order that have emerged around the globe in response. Offering a radically new understanding of the current stage of international economics as well as crucial post-Marxist guidance for confronting capitalism in its newest form, The Violence of Financial Capitalism is a valuable addition to the contemporary arsenal of postfordist thought. This expanded edition includes a new appendix for comprehending the esoteric neolanguage of financial capitalism—a glossary of “Words in Crisis,” from “AAA” to “toxic asset.”
3: Guy Hocqenghem: The Screwball Asses
“First published anonymously in Félix Guattari’s Recherches in the notorious 1973 issue on homosexuality (seized and destroyed by the French government), The Screwball Asses remains a dramatic treatise on erotic desire. In this classic underground text, queer theorist and post-’68 provocateur Guy Hocquenghem takes on the militant delusions of the gay liberation movement. Hocquenghem, founder and leader of the Front Homosexuel d’Action Revolutionnaire, vivisects not only the stifled mores of bourgeois capitalism but the phallocratic concessions of so-called homophiles, and, ultimately, the very act of speaking desire (and non-desire). Rejecting any “pure theory” of homosexuality that claims its “otherness” as a morphology of revolution, he contends that the ruling classes have invented homosexuality as a sexual ghetto, splitting and mutilating desire in the process. It is only when non-desire and the desire of desire are enacted simultaneously through speech and body that homosexuality can finally be sublimated under the true act of “making love.” There are thousands of sexes on earth, according to Hocquenghem, but only one sexual desire.
Available in English for the first time, The Screwball Asses is a revelatory disquisition, earning Hocquenghem his rightful place among the minoritarian elite of Gilles Deleuze, Jean Genet, and Tony Duvert.”
4: Gerald Raunig: A Thousand Machines
“In this “concise philosophy of the machine,” Gerald Raunig provides a historical and critical backdrop to a concept proposed forty years ago by the French philosophers Félix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze: the machine, not as a technical device and apparatus, but as a social composition and concatenation. This conception of the machine as an arrangement of technical, bodily, intellectual, and social components subverts the opposition between man and machine, organism and mechanism, individual and community. Drawing from an unusual range of films, literature, and performance—from the role of bicycles in Flann O’Brien’s fiction to Vittorio de Sica’s Neorealist film The Bicycle Thieves, and from Karl Marx’s “Fragment on Machines” to the deus ex machina of Greek drama—Raunig arrives at an enhanced conception of the machine as a social movement, finding its most apt and concrete manifestation in the Euromayday movement, which since 2001 has become a transnational activist and discursive practice focused upon the precarious nature of labor and lives.”
5: Tiqqun: Introduction to Civil War
“Society no longer exists, at least in the sense of a differentiated whole. There is only a tangle of norms and mechanisms through which THEY hold together the scattered tatters of the global biopolitical fabric, through which THEY prevent its violent disintegration. Empire is the administrator of this desolation, the supreme manager of a process of listless implosion.”
—from Introduction to Civil War
“Society is not in crisis, society is at an end. The things we used to take for granted have all been vaporized. Politics was one of these things, a Greek invention that condenses around an equation: to hold a position means to take sides, and to take sides means to unleash civil war. Civil war, position, sides—these were all one word in the Greek: stasis. If the history of the modern state in all its forms—absolute, liberal, welfare—has been the continuous attempt to ward off this stasis, the great novelty of contemporary imperial power is its embrace of civil war as a technique of governance and disorder as a means of maintaining control. Where the modern state was founded on the institution of the law and its constellation of divisions, exclusions, and repressions, imperial power has replaced them with a network of norms and apparatuses that conspire in the production of the biopolitical citizens of Empire.
In their first book available in English, Tiqqun explores the possibility of a new practice of communism, finding a foundation for an ontology of the common in the politics of friendship and the free play of forms-of-life. They see the ruins of society as the ideal setting for the construction of the community to come. In other words: the situation is excellent. Now is not the time to lose courage.”
Filed under: war-machine | Tags: anarchy, Ancient French Town, attack, communism, destroy, France, masks, riot
According to the Washington Post:
“POITIERS, France — Under a bright autumn sun, the narrow lanes of ancient Poitiers teemed with families enjoying a lighthearted celebration of street theater. Suddenly, a knot of black-clad youths emerged from the crowd. They donned plastic masks, pulled up their hoods and started destroying everything in sight.
In what police described as an organized attack, the band shattered store windows, damaged the facades of several banks and spray-painted anarchist slogans on government buildings. Aiming even at the historical heritage of this comfortable provincial town 200 miles southwest of Paris, they fractured a plaque commemorating Joan of Arc’s interrogation here in 1429 and — in Latin — scrawled “Everything belongs to everybody” on a stone baptistery that is one of the oldest monuments in Christendom.
The wanton destruction, which lasted for about 90 minutes early Saturday evening, was a dramatic reminder that France and other European nations, below their surface of stability and wealth, harbor tiny bands of ultra-leftist activists who still want to combat the market economies and parliamentary democracies on which the continent’s well-being is founded.
“We will destroy your morbid world,” one of the Poitiers protesters sprayed-painted on a wall near the city’s landmark Notre Dame Cathedral.
Based on politics of violent rejection dating from the 1970s, the groups have been largely overshadowed in recent years by the more mundane violence of big-city drug gangs and disaffected immigrant ghettos, particularly in France. But they have surfaced recently in dramatic ways. French, German and other European ultra-leftists set fire to a customs shed and a hotel during the NATO summit in Strasbourg in April, and others launched violent attacks that marred an otherwise joyous music festival this summer in the streets of Paris.
The outburst in Poitiers was particularly shocking to its 90,000 residents, most of whom traditionally regard themselves as comfortably distant from the political tensions of Paris and the world. Shop owners and local political leaders voiced astonishment that police were caught by surprise and wondered who the violent protesters were and where they came from.
“It’s really strange,” said Christine Simon, whose little shop hawking New Age spirituality lost a display window and several art works in the rampage. “Here in Poitiers, there is never anything like this. I don’t mean nothing ever happens. We have a cultural life and all. But nothing like this.”
Mayor Alain Claeys, from the opposition Socialist Party, suggested to Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux that his ministry’s intelligence agents should have picked up signals that the ultra-leftists were planning something. Joining many other Poitiers residents, he said those who organized the destruction must have come from outside the city, perhaps even outside France.
“Extremism and violence struck brutally in the heart of the regional capital,” said former prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who represents the area in the Senate. He vowed to meet with Hortefeux to “draw conclusions from these sad and unacceptable events.””
Filed under: war-machine | Tags: Athens, Attacking, exarchia, Greece, journalism, newspaper, police, solidarity, tabloid, wrecking
From the Occupied London Blog:
““Espresso” is a tabloid so-called “news”paper in Athens, the sort of greek equivalent of “the Sun” in the UK or “Bild” in Germany. In-between soft-core porn and showbiz “news”, the paper has developed a habit of publishing the names of people arrested – but not convicted – for various, mostly political cases, in a clear defiance of even the state’s own laws. The paper’s immunity stands largely thanks to some of its very convenient links to the greek state: A “journalist” of Espresso was previously the spokesperson of the ministry of public order (in charge of the police force). When the police arrested and charged four youths for the conspiracy of the cells of fire case, Espresso was quick to assume their guilt and even publish “juicy” articles on the supposed relationships between the accused.
Shortly after noon today, around ten people arrived outside the headquarters of “Espresso”. Armed with pots, hammers, crowbars and sticks they smashed the glass facade of the building and trashed some of the cars parked right outside, while writing slogans in solidarity with the accused for the “conspiracy cells” case.
Meanwhile, in the police-occupied neighbourhood of Exarcheia, the residents have started taking things in their own hands. Seeing that the police are trying to build a heavier permanent presence in the area, an impromptu daily meeting has been called for 7.30pm every evening at the neighbourhood’s square, with only one immediate demand: Cops out of Exarcheia!”
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: communism, form-of-life, french, IEF, intervention, introduction to civil war, theory, tiqqun
According to a well established source, Introduction to Civil War which appeared in the journal Tiqqun is being translated as a whole and made into the fifth book of the Semiotext(e) intervention series, of which The Coming Insurrection was the first.
Here is a zine designed by the IEF of the translated fragments.
11. “War” because in each singular play between forms-of-life, the possibility of a fierce confrontation—the possibility of violence—can never be discounted.
“Civil,” because the confrontation between forms-of-life is not a confrontation between States—those coincidences between a population and a territory—but between parties, in the sense this word had before the advent of the modern State. Because we must be precise from now on, let us say that they confront one another as partisan war machines.
“Civil war” then, because forms-of-life are indifferent to the separations between men from women, political existence from bare life, civilians from military;
because to be neutral is to take sides in the free play of forms-of-life;
because this play between forms-of-life has no beginning or end that can be declared, its sole end being the physical end of the world that no one would be able to declare;
and above all because I know of no body that is not hopelessly carried off into the excessive, and perilous, course of the world.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: agamben, art, artists, capitalism kills, claire fontaine, french people, love, state of exception, war
First three Theses (out of 10):
“1.War happens. We know nothing of war, as they constantly remind us. War – always one and multiple – has been on our plates, since childhood, in what mustn’t go to waste. They resented us for our presumed ignorance of war, as if we were ignoring pain or an illness, or simply as if this forever absent war was now over for good, and it had to be remembered as one remembers a dead family member. Through grief.
2.Well-being. All those born far from war, or after it, know quite well that it isn’t over. They know it as possibility, as a nightmare that might come true. And this knowledge turns disquieting when war explodes in the distance, laying the childhoods, the kitchen smells, the bed sheets of others to waste. The past has dug a grave in the present and is again burying the living there – so they say — but it’s a lie. Because war is really one of the names for our present, and not a tale of days-gone-by. It lives in bodies; it flows through institutions, traverses relationships between strangers and acquaintances, even here, in this moment, for a long while now. And the more we pretend to be innocent and alien to events, the guiltier we know we are. Guilty of not being present where blood is shed, and yet somehow we are there…They used to tell us, “you kids have it all” as if to say “you sons of bitches,” yet who has raised and built this affluence, this inexhaustible source of war? Sometimes we have even suspected that if war is elsewhere, then life must be too.
3.Rest in peace… We know everything about war just like we know everything about prison, without having been there, since they are at the heart of “peace” and “free life,” already implied in them. Just as we know that nobody in our system is innocent, that only power relations exist, and that the losers and not the guilty are the ones being punished. That is why war has become someone else’s dirty job, which we are obliged to ignore. On every street corner they ask us to forget its possibility and its reality, to be surprised by it though never complicit in it. We are thanked in advance for our vigilance. Our choice is between collaborating in the social peace or with the partisans of terror. War is no longer concerned with us, we look at it and it doesn’t look back, it is too close. Its distance from us is not the same as that between a spectator and a football match, where we can still desire victory for one team and defeat for another. It resides in the limbo of things we would like to abolish. So we never have to take sides or believe that words have a weight that can be felt in the body, or that life has a meaning and that this meaning can also lead to its sudden end.”
After recently reading Homo Sacer by Giogio Agamben, the state of exception has been floating around my mind. It seems to be floating around others’ as well. This is my main justification for posting it, since it has been circulating for a bit already (in the new Politics is Not a Banana and as a zine before that). Claire Fountaine, used to have some sort of relationship with the Tiqqun journal, and used to have some interesting things to say. Now they’re an artist collective who seemingly makes money putting alienation in the form of witty light up signs on gallery walls. Wasn’t there already alienation on the gallery wall?
Filed under: war-machine | Tags: anarchy, call, communism, communization, human strike, invisible committee, mute magazine
“In the wake of the organized left and the demise of working class self-identity, communization offers a paradoxical means of superseding capitalism in the here and now whilst abandoning orthodox theories of revolution. John Cunningham reports from the picket line of the ‘human strike’
As we apprehend it, the process of instituting communism can only take the form of a collection of acts of communization, of making common such-and-such space, such-and-such-machine, such-and-such-knowledge.
– The Invisible Committee, Call, 2004i
The critique of capital, and speculation around the form and content of communism, always seems to oscillate between a historical materialist science on the one hand and the elaboration of new forms of subjectivity and affectivity on the other. Even Marx, while infinitely more familiar as a close analyst of capital, had early moments of Fourier style abandon when he attempted to elaborate the more mutable subjective content of a communist society. The dissolution of wage labor would make
it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner…ii
This suggests a society wherein circuits of affectivity are established that are no longer based upon the exigencies of value production – even if I personally prefer communist utopia as idleness to Marx’s endless activity. Of course, this is one of the rare instances where Marx speaks in the future tense, leaving aside the messiness of the transition from capitalism. Recently, a series of texts from the milieu around the French journal Tiqqun – primarily Call, How is to be done?, The Coming Insurrection – have reintroduced this question of the subjective content of communism in a way that might restore a speculative aspect to the critique of capital.iii These are not theoretical texts per se, more inspirational ‘How To’ manuals for the elaboration of communization as subjective and conceptual secession from both capital and the Left. As Call states, ‘Nothing can happen that does not begin with a secession from everything that makes this desert grow.’iv This discursive distance from the more traditional ultra-left positions on communization is also reflected in dense, poetic prose that establishes an affinity with possible precursors in revolt such as Dada, Surrealism and Bataille. The development of the thesis of communization within the ultra-left was always part of an attempt to shift away from the traditional programmatic forms of the party and the union towards an engagement with forms of resistance rising immanently from the social relation of capital, such as wildcat strikes. What might be at stake in a restating of the question of communization as radical subjectivist secession against the often discredited ideological formulas of anti-capitalist milieus?
It’s best to consider this question alongside the series of texts presented by Endnotes that ably document the continued elaboration of communization within the French ultra-left by presenting a series of texts by Gilles Dauvé and Theorie Communiste.v Both are rooted in the diverse groupuscles of the French far left in the 1970’s that shared a fidelity to 1968 of whom Debord and the Situationists remain the most renowned.vi Dauvé and Theorie Communiste retain a commitment to communization but diverge sharply around questions of agency and history. What remains under-theorized in both Dauvé’s humanist Marxism and Theorie Communiste’s more recently formulated Marxist structuralism is any real problematization of the production of subjectivity within capital. An insertion of this question might illuminate the impasse faced by these more hermetic theoretical critiques of capital. In sketching out the contours of contemporary theories of communization, a constellation composed of questions around subjectivity, negation, history and utopia emerges. Does a reconsideration of communization open up new perspectives and different possibilities, given the gap between the cramped space revolutionary milieus find themselves in and any genuine expectations of radical change? Or is even discussing communization at this time akin to scraping a toothache with a fingernail, pointless utopianism in the face of the constantly mutating social relation of capital?
Before answering this question, though, what is communization? The term immediately evokes various social experiments and revolutionary endeavors from the Paris Commune and utopian socialist communities in the 19th century through to various counter-cultural attempts to reconstitute social relations on a more communitarian basis such as the squatting scene in the 1970s and ’80s. The Tiqqun strand – henceforth to be known as ‘The Invisible Committee’ after the eponymous signatories of The Coming Insurrection – draws upon this long history of secessionist antagonism. They posit communization as essentially being the production, through the formation of ‘communes’, of collective forms of radical subjectivity. This destabilizes the production of subjectivity and value within both capital and more traditional forms of political organisation, eventually leading to an insurrectionary break. ‘Commune’ in this instance is not necessarily a bunch of hippies aspiring to a carbon free life style. In The Coming Insurrection a commune is almost anything that ‘seeks to break all economic dependency and all political subjugation’, ranging from wildcat strikes to Radio Alice in Bologna in 1977, and innumerable other forms of collective experimentation.vii”
(Mute now offers a free copy of the Coming Insurrection with each new subscription to their journal.)