By the Light of the Glow Worm

A stranger I arrived; a stranger I depart.

You are not logged in.

#1 2019-01-19 15:00:31

Belote
Administrator
Registered: 2017-03-27
Posts: 1,687

On communism and communists

For me, the question of 'communism' is simply a transposition of the question of God. At a certain point in life, and without my knowing it, I incorporated the categories 'invariance' and to a lesser extent 'programmatism' as my theological precepts. I say I incorporated them but I am not entirely sure what is meant by these terms in the history of communist theory but I understand them as subsets of the distinction made between the formal and historic party. The invariant programme is historically established, nothing can change, nothing can be developed. We exist at an unpassable wall (certain figures, academics, artists, politicians, journalists and so on continue to elaborate ideas and images on this side of the wall but they can't get beyond it). History, which was once all thresholds, has become a sealed border... the law against all change. At a certain point, I 'came to' in this world and realised that I could do nothing, that I existed on the edge of something vast, like Simon of the Desert. There was no way out, there was no way forward, there were no decisions to be made.. The idea that I might have any agency was a delusion. I could not act, I could only react. From that day, I lived responsively, within the circumstances that were imposed upon me - no, they were not imposed, I was merely a product, bearing the thumb print of a machinic creator. I have lived this life, but I might have lived another which would have been exactly the same. I existed in relation to something else which settled all questions. Within the constraints of my existence I have made discoveries on a scale of an old woman finding crumbs in the back of a pantry cupboard. I am not going to solve problems, I am not going to have a 'life', I am not going to achieve anything, or escape. I am going to keep on. I am going to persist. I am going to hold the line of what I am. I will continue to hold on until I am unable, I will keep going until I am dispersed by external forces. There aren't going to be any great transformations, there is only persistence of conditions. It is not because I have a chance of ultimate success that I preserve my values but precisely because there is no chance of a successful outcome for any set of subjective values.  I have read Kafka, I have read Beckett, I have read Blanchot. I maintain the impeccable discipline of a stay-behind. I perform the same small tasks every day. I have perfected the same position for 35 years, longer than some of you have been alive. This is what it is to live in relation to God, it has nothing to do with belief and everything to do with sweeping the floor, keeping things in order by controlled discharges of energy. It is not about resignation or fanaticism. It is about living at the edge, and at the mercy, of vast incomprehensible, cosmic, forces. It is not about oneness or peace, it is about the habits of, and adjustments to, the tumults of desolation. When I say 'give it up' or 'run away', what I mean is 'attack'. I am not advocating inconsistency or an alternative way of living, I am talking about 'war' waged in a manner that does not signal to the enemy what it is a war waged against. As a 'knight of faith' I must relinquish the romance of such terms, I am rather an unknight (or one beknighted) of adaptation (of addiction even) but the trajectory is the same. One adjusts to incomprehensible circumstance, one bobs like a cork to the point that one is thrown ashore, to rot, to be buried. The great moving plates of the cosmos that I exist between are on the one hand 'history' and on the other, 'heaven'.

Offline

#2 2019-01-30 13:19:16

Belote
Administrator
Registered: 2017-03-27
Posts: 1,687

Re: On communism and communists

Travelling Salesman: What I am really afraid of is that you might feel that if you accept all the worst things that come your way you will one day have earned the right to be finished with them forever . . .’

Domestic Servant: ‘But if I told you it was not for that reason but so that I should never lose my horror for my work, so that I should go on feeling all the disgust I felt for it as much as ever.’

Marguerite Duras, The Square


Nihilist Communism is the Foregone Conclusion of the ultraleft milieu, and Monsieur Dupont is its David Brent. Its stock in trade is excruciating ineptitude, its works the bodgings and patchings of poorly grasped, and inexpertly articulated, sub-concepts. Nihilist Communism's blundering efforts betray a fateful unfamiliarity with its object, a trait in itself that it only partially recognises... as it digs itself deeper in its compulsion to carry on regardless, it is condemned to embarrass both itself and whomever it harangues. David Brent does not make errors, he is the error. As he ages he is inextricably trapped with the purgatorial desires of a previous era and of his younger self. He articulates the relative position of marginal existence in relation to a pre- and post- crisis economic environment through his ongoing pursuit of an already impossible ambition into newer and harsher conditions. His commitment to his own escape becomes the trait that finally seals his failure to adapt to the present. Where before, he was shielded by his relative youth and a context in which equivalent dreams were not so unusual, he is now exposed as the unwitting trespasser upon in-group convention. For reason of a hidden double bind that holds fast even as he passes deeper and deerper into unfulfilled middle age, he is still unable to achieve maturation and move on. Brent is animated by the peculiar combination of forces centred on himself that appear as 'motive' but are closer to compulsion: firstly, the unfulfillable need to complete something of himself at an earlier, and irredeemably lost, stage of life; secondly, the immediate rejection of his current circumstance made on the a gambler's hunch for something just beyond.

Mass society produces interchangeable individuals but every individual is also uniquely realised in the random combination of force and circumstance that is centred on their formation as a member of society. Every individual is employed on the basis of both their dispensibility and their peculiar blend of characteristics and talents. And this in turn is realised along a spectrum of tolerances through which the individual must express their response to the challenges set by the work environment (Overtime? Cover? New tasks? Promotion? Productivity?). David Brent sets out a particular work problematic rationalised at the beginning as a 'means to an end' and ends with a barely contained aversion to the office environment - he is the worker who takes all his leave at the beginning of the year. He cannot permit himself to relinquish his dream because the alternative, final and unequivocal recognition of the office, is worse; the evidence for this supposition is present in his co-workers' demeanour. And yet, he is also caught by the office-dream conventionality of his escape, its aesthetic blandness, its cultural limitations. He attempts to leave by an exit that is already blocked, live a life that is already dead. He has memorised a chance message which having travelled the immense distance across the years of his adulthood, has lost all its meaning, but which he repeats to himself as the external motif of his hard programming.

It is no coincidence that the avant garde should have replicated as creative activity the subjective burden of the proletariat - midden-like formations, repositories or end-points of accumulated histories, spoil heaps attaining consciousness, and driven to distraction by the self-separating instinct to discharge into the world that energy trapped within  systems of their own reproduction. The avant garde, by replicating proletarian subjectivity, was nothing but the compulsive search for the exit from itself. To adequately discharge its substance into the world, it was impelled to perfect a path to, a technique of, the realisation of its own suppression. How could it abolish itself? The suicide of forms is impossible, whilst the form of suicide repeats throughout history. Just as the proletariat existed wholly within the suspension of its self-erasure from history, so the avant garde endlessly rehearsed the suppression of the artistic domain, deliberately bringing the edifice down upon itself. Similarly, the ultraleft being less an expression of the workers’ movement than it was an iteration of avant garde tendencies, became preoccupied (via its fragmentation upon the rational of small difference) with the aesthetic of its own disappearance, an exit that could be contemplated only in relation to the objective sublation of the proletarian condition. But the predicament in which the guests are about to leave and at the same time do not (staying through the ritualisation of departure) becomes a defining social motif distributed through the era that begins with The Exterminating Angel and ends in non-Brexit. The only contribution of the clownish collective pseudonym, Monsieur Dupont, to self-non-abolition was to reveal the device of de-actualisation in its vain attempt to articulate an alternative path out by opposing to revolutionary intensification of historical processes, the radical de-mobilisation, and abandonment, of forces of production. But the path out is only ever a miragic representation of the path out - neither the proletariat nor its avatars may objectively achieve the subjective capacity to choose to vacate their own form. Everyone talks of the end in half recognition that the end itself, by means of its last word, is precisely the condition for continuation. Not writing is now the writing; not painting is now the means of painting; not filming is filming. Anti-poetry, anti-art, anti-work, these have become the means and constraints for poetry, art, work. And the world narrows to an endlessly re-staged death scene: One must have a heart of stone to read of the abolition of work without laughing.

Offline

#3 2019-02-02 13:39:45

Belote
Administrator
Registered: 2017-03-27
Posts: 1,687

Re: On communism and communists

The project of communism appears in relation to the work process. The form of its relatedness is supplied by history and conforms to inherited systems of relation: contradiction, opposition, overcoming, expropriation. And it is via these inherited systems, where the symbol of negation functions as the value of negation, that the negative as negative must come unstuck. If the totality itself manoeuvres through the same relational processes as that which seeks to escape it, then distinguishing the ‘real movement’ of communism and the real movement of capital becomes a superfluous branding exercise, the procedural attribution of motive, agency, ownership. How can negation recognise itself, if affirmation already proceeds non-identically through the capture of the same terms? If capital unfetters traditional relations, liberalises, negates, decomposes them, and if it finally traduces them into representations of what they were, and that is what we all agree it does, capital as the demonic Jesus in the Temple, as the messianic emergence, then the argument advanced by reactionaries in defence of what was, if already obsolete, is essentially correct. Revolution, that is the process of contradicting, negating, expropriating and transforming the world is inseparable from capital’s real movement - and communism becomes a mere compensatory fantasy, an affirmationists mystification of the great abstraction. If all this, then what of negation? Captured and turned, its move integrated into the extension of exchange relations (one yes worth many no’s). How should the negative defend itself, if there is no defence but of what is already lost? If everything captured in the field is attack, then how should we should we go about effecting a defence of defence and not of attack?

It is no coincidence that as American hegemony over communist theory is realised formally and substantially through the generalisation of information technology that the idea of communism should reconfigure around american moral affirmations and in turn get stuck in, and fixated upon, realising the subjective embodiment of an idealised negative qua negative community. Self-recognition, and value-identity, characterises the american communitarian influence on the communist milieu which seeks to realise its principles in its organisations and relations on the practical operation of the principle of prefiguration.

Exteriorisation simplifies communism whilst populist movement building employs the heuristic of a fixed white hat/black hat contradiction, as if we were not capital, as if marxism was not already the bad apologia for self-revolutionising productive forces. And yet, americanised theory reduces negation to short form precepts of oppositionism and fetishises the prefix ‘anti’ as if it had talismanic powers. As a case in point, the principle of ‘anti-work’ which once indicated the shorthand critique of the labour process immediately experienced as the self-alienation of the mass worker from the ideological worker function in the context of the world’s car factories has become, implicitly or explicitly, an ideological endorsement of capital’s expulsion of living labour from the productive process. ‘Anti-work’ is an article of faith, an unthought allegiance, a needful burden which in its ever expanding circulation as a representational image of negation affirms false consciousness, bad communities, abstract process.   It is not so long ago that we imagined our critique of ‘the republic of labour’ was sufficiently wide, if also regrettably shallow, to encompass value producing abstract labour and the pernicious morality of stakhanovitism. Little did we anticipate that the corpse of fixed capital spoke through our mouths, that the arguments we advanced were, after all, pavlovian, and another iteration of dead things. It was not communism, not the proletariat, but capital itself, as revolutionary subject, that had written our lines, as it continued to evolve from indirect domination over labour power to full domestication of bio-life forces, and which audaciously advanced the possibility of the end of commodity labour as a constraint upon its own free movement. There is no subject but the bad subject in its realisation of the ideals of communism as the community of capital.

Anti-work, as a motif of communism, is captured and turned, and functions as an affirmation of capital’s immanent process, as the relations of production transition from what is understood as the labour process to an immanent system of energy transfers (the fabled self-immanentising eschaton). The tendency of capital towards immanence (see Marx’s meditation upon the ‘abstract concrete’) will be realised wherever a superconductivity between living bio-processes and the exploitative post-labour apparatus supplants alienated labour. Where capital overcomes the labour metabolism it achieves at its point of disappearance, a new horizon of negationless production. At the threshold of the advent of the dark factory, imagine the entire surface of Greenland robotised, consider the entire subterranea of the Sahara as machinic flow, the ‘anti-work’ position is radically restructured into banality, and yet. And yet, and this cannot be relinquished, critique of production via the metabolisation of the labour process is the entirety of communist consciousness. There is no negation that is not also a negation of work. There is no communism that is not the critique of separated existence (that is, of the product alienated from being).

Then the problematic is located in the manner of the relatedness of the critique of work to the tendency of capital to abolish work even as it expands the value producing domain. Communism is itself fettered by the set of inherited relational systems which it now has to escape, as capital also seeks to escape them. The struggle against capitalism is less a war than a race to escape the given - you don’t have to run faster than the abyss about to overwhelm you, you just have to run faster than everything else that is about to crumble into it. The dialectical process of contradiction, opposition, overcoming and expropriation necessarily implies a conditioned praxis, and its prefix, anti-, but the anti- position, however illegally it constitutes itself, no longer adequately carries the work of negation and is reduced to a ritual of resistance contained within a general movement of integration. The rigour of abstraction is necessarily derived from the resistant valences of the concrete.

In place of the anti argument, we may imagine an anti-anti work position, the willed dissociation from immediate forms of opposition, and yet this too, an endless succession of recursive recompositions of the negative, seems implicated as theology in the process of the totality - to up the anti(s) extends productive tension without dispersing it. Then, if escape cannot be realised through sublating relatedness can it be conceived as a non-relation? Just as there is a postive distinction to be made between anti-fascism and not-fascism, is it possible to also invoke the concept of not-work as a separate system to that of anti-work? Anti-fascism is the superlative form of the anti argument as it is drawn further into the reproduction of what it opposes and, in the process, becoming hooked on affirming the inviolable image of its negation. Anti-fascism is the epitome of that erotic proclivity for summoning demonic forces so as to immediately vanquish them. The reliance of the ‘anti’ apparatus to fire up an external armature of triggers, outrages, infringements for its continued existence slips first into dependency, then into addiction.

The ‘not’ position by contrast should operate autopoietically; the possibility for its negation of the totality is generated from the traces of the exterior it discovers within itself. This becomes more comprehensible through a reference to what was once called ‘alterity’ by which is understood a non-dialectical, or incommensurables, form of otherness. The ‘not work’ position discovers its negative relatedness to the labour process in its attempt to implement its autonomy, its non-relatedness. In refusing the work system, it uncovers the presence of the work system within itself. That which is distinctly not work is realised, in series, as a set of unconvertible incompatibilities, rather than as resistances or refusals. Whatever is ‘not work’, understood here as the injunction ‘never work’, by definition is in a different relation to the labour metabolism than ‘anti-work’ which has become a cypher for the victory of dead labour over existence (it is also not that long ago that communists self-reduced to the fetish of capital’s final victory: ‘fully automated luxury communism’). That which relates to the dominant order only in terms of not belonging to it, immediately realises something other than that which constitutes itself in contradiction, or opposition. Clearly, at the end, as a moment in that uncovering, the danger of ‘not work’, ‘not fascism’, ‘not war’ in comparison to conventional anti formulations is a tendency towards irrelevance and solipsism - innumerable things, real and imagined, belong to the set ‘not work’ and yet most carry no negative value until they are instrumentalised as such, and then the problem of recursive ‘anti’ positions begins again. The work of ne travaillez jamais continues.

Offline

Board footer

Powered by FluxBB