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Embrace Communism

Captain America couverture 001

The entire nation has come to idolize professional athlete and scholar Chuck Blayne. Watching a televised program of Blayne are Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes. Bucky points out that Blayne has become a real role model to teenagers and wonders if the media star will eventually eclipse even Captain America in popularity. Listening to Blayne’s speech over the television Bucky finds himself motivated, however the words remind Steve of somebody but he can’t quite place it.

Unknown to the two heroes Blayne is really a communist spy who meets with his superiors. Impressed by how Blayne has easily won the respect of the American public they decide to step up to the next phase of their plan, planting a bomb in the United Nations and having Blayne denounce the organization and urging the public to side with him in order to prevent the bomb from going off and destroying half of New York City.

Blayne follows everything according to plan and during the next meeting with the United Nations, Blayne interrupts the proceedings with his bomb threat, telling the people of America over television cameras to abolish the United Nations and embrace communism or risk having half of New York blown up. The United Nations building is evacuated and Blayne taken into police custody, but he refuses to reveal the location of the bomb. Hearing the news, Captain America and Bucky arrive on the scene to help search for the bomb. Cap suggests cutting the power to the entire building and they begin searching for the bomb. Without the hum of other electronics, Captain America easily finds what he believes to be the only bomb and disarms it.

However, he wants a full confession out of Blayne and has him brought into the UN building to confess, not making him aware that the bomb has already been removed. With the clock ticking Blayne suddenly cracks and reveals that there is not one bomb, but two, and the second more powerful explosive is hidden in the clock in the UN assembly forum. Captain America holds back the clocks hands while the authorities disarm the bomb. With the crisis averted and Blayne exposed as a communist on live television Captain America suddenly remembers where he has heard Blayne’s speech before, as it is the same one that Adolf Hitler made during World War II.

I ❤️ Kant

Kant Is an Idiot’ Spray-Painted on Philosopher’s Russian Home

The home of 18th-century German enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant, located in what is now the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, is in ruins and has become a hot spot for drinking and debauchery among local youths, news site Novy Kaliningrad reported.

Someone recently spray-painted a Russian phrase translatable as “Kant is an idiot” on the red-brick building’s facade. The apparent insult is accompanied by a drawing of a flower and a heart, apparently from the same can of spray paint.

imageA Novy Kaliningrad reporter who visited the site found a fire burning in the grass nearby, saying it could have spread to the home had it remained unextinguished.

Regional authorities announced last year that they were seeking a caretaker for the home, which has been declared a cultural landmark. Alas, the home’s condition remains dismal.

Russians have been known to take very seriously the philosophies of Kant, who is perhaps most famous for his “Critique of Pure Reason.” In 2013, an argument about the philosopher between two men in line at a grocery store in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don ended when one of the men shot the other with rubber bullets.

The Moscow Times Mar. 18 2015

The Neue Marx-Lektüre // The day after the insurrection

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The Neue Marx-Lektüre

Putting the critique of political economy back into the critique of society

RP 189 (Jan/Feb 2015) / Article

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The project to re-examine Marx’s critique of political economy at the end of the 1960s by pupils of Horkheimer and Adorno is nowadays known as the Neue Marx-Lektüre (hereafter NML). This ‘new reading of Marx’, initiated principally by Alfred Schmidt, Hans-Georg Backhaus and Helmut Reichelt, attempted to free Marx from the petrified schemes of Marxist orthodoxy. In this article we will try to reconstruct the beginnings of this project, tracing its roots to Adorno’s critical theory of society. From this perspective we will proceed to examine NML’s original approach to Marx’s theory of value, its understanding of the ‘logical’ character of this theory, and how the contradictions of the commodity form and the double character of labour constitute an autonomization of society. Finally, we will outline some problems with NML, where criticism and further dialogue would be fruitful…. [ continue ] ——————————–

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The day after the insurrection

On First Revolutionary Measures

RP 189 (Jan/Feb 2015) / Article

It’s been seven years since the cratering of the global economy began in late 2007. While the concerted efforts of the dominant classes and their various client states have enabled, for the time being, the blowing of more bubbles on financial and other markets, a real recovery remains elusive: considerably more than half of Spanish and Greek youth remain unemployed, to cite just one symptom of the predicament into which contemporary capitalism has drifted. This same period has been marked, predictably, by wave after wave of social unrest and riots, whether they took the form of food riots across the world in 2007-08, the conflagrations of Athens and Thessaloniki in late 2008 and after, or indeed the properly ‘historical’ riots – to cite Alain Badiou’s useful formulation – of Tunis and Cairo in early 2011, in which for the first time since the late 1970s mass mobilizations deposed Western-backed, doddering autocrats with relatively surprising if deceptive swiftness… [continue]

Merry Christmas

Beauty is in the street

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Ferguson, MO – Nov 25, 2014

What is going on here is real simple,” said D.R.A, 18, who was with his two younger sisters. “We told them no justice, no peace. We didn’t get our justice, so they don’t get their peace. We’re fucking shit up over here. Plain and simple.

Nothing Short of Apocalyptic – Fiery Rebellion Ensues After Grand Jury Announcement

“20 photos that show exactly what happened last night in ferguson”

Video of Oakland from Global Uprisings

Video from New York Times

Freeways blocked in Oakland

Why we won’t wait

In defense of Looting

In defense of the Ferguson Riots

Article in “Time” Magazine (!) defending the riots –  “The violent protests in Ferguson, Mo., are part of the American experience. Peaceful protesting is a luxury only available to those safely in mainstream culture”

Saudi A, Saudi Arabi Money, Money Rich

german zaza-kurdish rapper Haftbefehl killin it

The Difficult Theory of a Mad World

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From its central question, what does critical theory have to do with the critique of political economy?, Werner Bonefeld’s new book, reviewed here by Chris Wright, develops a deep engagement with the Frankfurt School, Marx and a constellation of less translated critics of the value-form.

By Chris Wright, Mute Magazine

I find it hard to tell you

’Cause I find it hard to take

When people run in circles it’s a very, very
Mad world

– Tears for Fears, ‘Mad World’

Critical Theory and the Critique of Political Economy is a difficult book to approach. Despite its small size, it is a theoretically dense and systematically developed work in which each chapter is premised on grasping the one preceding it. Each of its moments are an intertwining of precisely aimed critiques and novel critical expositions that challenge not just traditional Marxism, but much of the heterodox work alleging to renew Marxian thought in a post-Soviet, neoliberal world.1

The book opens with two questions that will be asked and answered repeatedly from different angles throughout: ‘What does Critical Theory have to do with the critique of political economy?’ and ‘What exactly do we mean by a “critique of political economy” that is different from a radical (“Marxist” or “Critical”) political economy?’

The students of Frankfurt School critical theory transformed the understanding of Capital against traditional Marxism with its technological determinism, historical teleology, and crude matterism that missed the centrality of the critique of social forms in Marx’s oeuvre. Social forms like value or abstract labour do not refer to objects, but the objectification of human relations in which essence and appearance do not coincide. Bonefeld analyses and criticises the main trends of that post-68 critical theory, especially the debates over the first few chapters of Capital. Not only does he revisit his earlier critiques of structuralist Marxism, but he comments critically on Hans-Georg Backhaus and Helmut Reichelt, who, among other key contemporaries, played a pivotal role in the turn towards the critique of the value-form.

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Berlin’s Surplus Crisis

In late June, Berlin’s central Kreuzberg district became the scene of a tense standoff between a group of refugees squatting in an abandoned school and the district authorities. The refugees had moved into the school after authorities destroyed refugee camps just a few months earlier. As more and more squatters moved in, the governing Green party faced pressure to resolve a situation where hygiene was deteriorating and crime was becoming an issue.

On June 24, authorities attempted to evict refugees from the school. With the refugees refusing to leave, the school and surrounding neighborhood block was besieged for eight days by riot police, protesters and press.

CIS/Berlin-SurplusProle division

Remarks on Activism

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Activism is the permanent “What is to be done?” of the epoch in which everything that constituted a worker identity has disappeared. A permanent “What is to be done?” which no longer disposes of that mediation towards generality which was represented by the worker identity and/ or the Party (existing or to be built), by the empowerment of the class, or more generally, by a proletarian being to be revealed, no matter if it was explicit in its mediations (political, trade-unionist, institutional) or thwarted by them. If activism is an autonomisation of the dynamics of the current cycle of struggles, this autonomisation becomes for activism, in its working modalities, the generality of the proletariat in which every particularity is just a contingency, an accidental occurrence.

This is why activism can also be defined on the basis of a constitutive contradiction: Practice is necessary to it, whereas it sustains a random relationship to its object. This contradiction could equally be formulated in the following terms: activism falls within the province of a general class belonging; its application is, in fact, always particular. Hardly pressed, without any mediation, between the general and the particular, activism is tactics, and always dissatisfied with itself and with others (until the next action). The next action is the rationale of the current action. Being fundamentally tactical, activism works like a toolbox: generalisation of the action, overcoming of sectional demands, self-organisation of the struggle, rejection of mediations, autonomy, etc. As a consequence, activism is normative. And while such a feature might not enter into its definition, it is nonetheless a preponderant trend.

For activism, any specific activity might have, in every case, been different. This appears to be self-evident as a critique of a tailor-made “enemy”: “determinism”. But the separation between an activity and the circumstances on which it is exerted constitutes a retrospective illusion which, constantly repeated, imposes itself a priori as a general comprehension of “practice”. “Practice” then becomes the question of practice, i.e. the question of intervention. The retrospective trap of the analysis of specific activities within a movement is defined by a separation, appearing a posteriori as self-evident (since it pertains to a cyclical movement) between the conditions of a movement and the activities or decisions of its actors (which are being retrospectively apprehended as particular objects). The starting point is the analysis of the limits of particular actions in relation with the movement, not of the limits of the movement of which these actions are constitutive elements, and which would admittedly have been different without them. One has separated what, in the best case, was in unison: conditions and activities, terms which not only were in unison, but rather absolutely identical – so much so, that no reality presents itself as the relation of these two terms. Their separation is the reconstruction of the world through the question of practice: an objective world faced by activity.

The error resides not only in the separation of the terms, but also in the comprehension of reality in these terms. Militants, always considering retrospectively their current action, have principles to apply, and dispose of a well-furnished toolbox; whereas the on-the-spot actors are content with the possibilities (which are actions themselves), the thoughts produced, and the initiatives taken at the moment of the action. This is because they are defined by those actions while, like everybody else, they do not identify themselves with them. The retrospective trap transforms a movement of struggles, which is the sum or, even better, a constantly changing interaction between actions and decisions taken, into a scene that becomes the object of action, that is, one to which the action is applied. In this way, activism constructs and confirms the abstract generality of its class practice. This is then a militant reconstruction of reality in which action is “pure action” and its preexisting subject is a “pure subject that constitutes reality”. Neither the activity nor its subject are being produced themselves; they just face the world as “pure object”. The relationship to the world becomes that of success or failure. Needless to say, “failure” is always being interpreted as conjunctural and/or circumstantial.

However, the dialectics of the particular and the general does not spare activism. Nourishing the pretension to always be general, activism is directed towards an attack on the general conditions of capitalist reproduction as its particular and preferred field of action: commodity, exchange, State violence, ideological constraints, the educational system, gender roles, etc. Activism finds there a generality adapted to its own abstraction. But what makes it fail in its attack on the general conditions of reproduction is that the practices deployed in this attack render these conditions as abstract as activism itself. By its very nature, activism stops before the point of articulation between the general and the particular: being defined by a general and abstract construction of class belonging, activist practice jumps over the reality of the particularities inherent in the capitalist relation of exploitation. For activism, the generality of the proletariat is simply given, or at least an internal truth to be revealed, a generality mirrored so as to justify the generality of activism itself. To further the analysis, the definition of the proletariat here appears as self-sufficient, independently of the relation between proletariat and capital, and thus of the specific, subsuming role of capital in this relation, and of its defining presence in the other pole of the relation.

It is in this sense that alternativism represents the natural inclination of activism, and the friction between “proletarian activism” and “alternativist activism” is a family affair (with its fair share of dirty linen to wash and the occasional murder between friends).

Sic 1.1 – Further Remarks on Activism

Istanbul’s Gentrification Wars

The mass protests surrounding Gezi Park, the corruption scandals, the Soma mining accident—none of these incidents will stop the majority of Turkish citizens from electing Recep Tayyip Erdogan as president. Among other things, this means that ambitious development projects and the AKP party’s controversial policies will likely multiply.

Last year’s Gezi uprising was sparked by a government project to transform the park in central Istanbul into a gigantic mall. While a relentless police crackdown has led many of last year’s protesters to abandon hope, the problems at the heart of Erdogan’s vision for Turkey’s urban development have not gone away. People directly affected by the development of certain neighborhoods are often left with only two options: to abandon hope or to fight.

One group that has decided to take the fight to the government is the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front, or DHKP/C. This extreme-left party—which is labeled a terrorist organization by the EU—is entrenched in many of the disenfranchised neighborhoods that have become targets for ruthless urban development. To stave off the forced relocation of inhabitants, the DKHP/C militants are prepared to combat not only the police, but also violent drug gangs that terrorize their neighborhoods, which they believe are collaborating with the state.

 

Karl Marxio Bros.

FKKommunismus

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In communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes 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, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.

Mediation

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The truth is the whole. However, the whole is only the essence completing itself through its own development. This much must be said of the absolute: It is essentially a result, and only at the end is it what it is in truth. Its nature consists precisely in this: To be actual, to be subject, that is, to be the becoming-of-itself. As contradictory as it might seem, namely, that the absolute is to be comprehended essentially as a result, even a little reflection will put this mere semblance of contradiction in its rightful place. The beginning, the principle, or the absolute as it is at first, that is, as it is immediately articulated, is merely the universal. But just as my saying “all animals” can hardly count as an expression of zoology, it is likewise obvious that the words, “absolute,” “divine,” “eternal,” and so on, do not express what is contained in them; – and it is only such words which in fact express intuition as the immediate. Whatever is more than such a word, even the mere transition to a proposition, is a becoming-other which must be redeemed, that is, it is a mediation. However, it is this mediation which is rejected with such horror as if somebody, in making more of mediation than in claiming both that it itself is nothing absolute and that it in no way exists in the absolute, would be abandoning absolute cognition altogether.

Das Wahre ist das Ganze. Das Ganze aber ist nur das durch seine Entwicklung sich vollendende Wesen. Es ist von dem Absoluten zu sagen, daß es wesentlich Resultat, daß es erst am Ende das ist, was es in Wahrheit ist; und hierin eben besteht seine Natur, Wirkliches, Subjekt, oder Sich-selbst-werden, zu sein. So widersprechend es scheinen mag, daß das Absolute wesentlich als Resultat zu begreifen sei, so stellt doch eine geringe Überlegung diesen Schein von Widerspruch zurecht. Der Anfang, das Prinzip, oder das Absolute, wie es zuerst und unmittelbar ausgesprochen wird, ist nur das Allgemeine. Sowenig, wenn ich sage: alle Tiere, dies Wort für eine Zoologie gelten kann, ebenso fällt es auf, daß die Worte des Göttlichen, Absoluten, Ewigen u.s.w. das nicht aussprechen, was darin enthalten ist; – und nur solche Worte drücken in der Tat die Anschauung als das Unmittelbare aus. Was mehr ist, als ein solches Wort, der Übergang auch nur zu einem Satze, ist ein Anderswerden, das zurückgenommen werden muß, ist eine Vermittlung. Diese aber ist das, was perhorresziert wird, als ob dadurch, daß mehr aus ihr gemacht wird denn nur dies, daß sie nichts Absolutes und im Absoluten gar nicht sei, die absolute Erkenntnis aufgegeben wäre.

Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, §20 

Choke points

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Mapping an anticapitalist counter-logistics in California

While it is indisputably within the sphere of production that the value-form is created and the obfuscation of social relations under capital begins, perhaps the notion that it is within sphere of circulation that the value-form can begin to be destroyed necessitates more tactical experiments explicitly targeting this realm in the US context of struggles.

From: Degenerate Communism

The post-Occupy stagnation of class struggle within the US context is becoming increasingly typified, in this period of ever deepening crisis, by a rather simplistic dual nature. The more radical milieus that emerged in the midst of Occupy, those that precipitated the emergence of a political non-subject, the refusal to enter into an articulable “political” discourse, the intentional lack of “political” demands, etc. have retreated into a period of convalescence, through which hopefully will emerge more critical self-reflection and evaluation of the post-Occupy landscape. On the other hand, the more traditional leftist elements within Occupy, those that felt the need to frame their struggles in purely positive prefigurations (e.g. direct democracy advocates, certain political reforms, calling for political and economic accountability, a tempering of capital – not its abolition) have ushered in a series of reactionary forays back into a politics which grotesquely repeats old narratives of identity politics and/or single-issue reform. That this bifurcated nature of the current antagonism aligned against capital presently exists in the North American context, should come as no surprise since this binary was inherent in the generalized functioning of Occupy from its inception. There was a clear rift between what seemed like metaphysical sets of qualities and temperaments, which concretely manifested as very different sets of politics and/or antipolitics. Reductively (admittedly problematic), this split, this Janus of Occupy, could be interpreted as a series of contradictions that effectively formed into the limits of that struggle: prefiguration vs. abolition, prescriptive language vs. refusal of discourse, affirmative politics vs. negative antipolitics, and perhaps most contentiously, as Zuccotti Park vs. Oscar Grant Plaza.

The claim that Occupy ushered in questions of class and wealth into the forefront of the American popular consciousness is not enough, for it presupposes that counter-ideological consciousness-raising is in and of itself revolutionary. In the current crisis, the restructuring of globalized speculative capitalism in this age of neoliberal austerity, the raising of revolutionary consciousness seems inherently redundant. False consciousness is a meaningless concept now, as most proletarians (our understanding of the term broadly being all those excluded from the means of production, not only those that sell their labor-power) will recognize something fundamentally wrong with the social, economic, and political relations under the capitalist mode of production, yet even with this understanding we cannot extricate ourselves from our roles in the maintenance and reproduction of these relations by our counter-ideological will alone. This is one of the fundamental ironies about the current crisis; we viscerally feel the weight of capital’s increasing exploitation and can identify it as such, yet we still have not been able to overcome our implication in its prolongation and reproduction.

In the context of Occupy, consciousness-raising stopped at merely calling attention to the widening income gap in the United States. It couldn’t move from superficial condemnations of wealth inequality to cogently theorizing disruptions to the production of surplus-value and the accumulation of capital, let alone the abolition of the value-form in its entirety. This is not surprising, given the dissolution of all pretense towards class identity, the decline of American manufacture and the transition into pure post-Fordism, the rise of service work and immaterial labor, the rise of indentured servitude via the debt relation, increasingly precarious labor, and of course the persistent ideological conception of capitalism as the end of history with no alternative. Faced with these relatively deterministic qualifiers, it would simply be idealistic revisionism to impart a much more radical reading of Occupy’s potential than there actually was. That said we are concerned with taking from Occupy’s demise the fragmentary remains of certain tactics in their stillborn form. While they failed to become extensively generalized both within the moment and the immediate aftermath of Occupy (hence aborting their ability to become communising measures), the tactics we are choosing to excise and examine from that context are those that seem, theoretically of course, to possess a certain dormant potentiality. Admittedly, this process is purely speculative, as in any tactical translation from one unique moment with its own exigencies to another moment not yet manifested can only be one of conjecture (prefiguration encounters limits, theory informed by praxis supersedes them). This essay is merely a set of interrelated questions-without-answers about the potential to disrupt the valorization of capital in the present post-Occupy US context. If they are to be answered at all, the answers are only to be found in our generalized direct confrontation against capital and its abolition, in the immediate process of the production of communism itself.

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The Bourgeois State

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The capitalist state is the first in human history with no direct access to the material product of labour. The subordination of social relations to the capitalist state is characterised by impersonal or abstract forms of dependency in terms of law and money. Within the framework of bourgeois freedom, “individual” freedom is the freedom of contract between equals regardless of their inequality in property. The law in its abstract majestic form treats poor and rich as equals. It treats the owners of the means of production and the free labourer as identical subjects, as legal subjects. The law is blind to privileges. It is a law of equality. Contractual relations represent the form in which, according to law, freedom obtains in the form of a legally bound recognition of private individuals in their relation to one another. The contract is the juridical form of freedom—the master of the contract is the state. Neither does the law “announce” itself as if it were a force in its own right. Nor does the law “enforce” itself. The law requires the maker of the law to fill it with material force, that is to implement it indiscriminately, imposing upon social relations the abstract quality of their existence as personifications of formal equality. The capitalist state rests on the social constitution of these rights and protects them through the regulation of law and money. This, then, is the subordination of social relations to the law of private property, that is equality, freedom and Bentham. The treatment of all as equals before the law characterises the form of the state as an “illusory community” (cf. Marx and Engels, 1962). It treats the real existing individual as constituted “character-masks” or “personifications” (on this: Marx, 1983), and espouses the interest that is common to all character-masks: their universal existence for each other as a resource, as a utility.

 – Werner BonefeldThe Capitalist State: Illusion and Critique

Antigender Hooligans

Erste Aktion der Antigender-Hooligans auf dem Kreuzberger CSD 2014

Revolutionary Leberwurst song

The revolution will not be won in a straight line

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Some fractions of the insurgent proletariat will be smashed, others will be “turned back”, rallying to measures for the conservation of survival. Other insurrections will pick up where they leave off. Certain of those turned back or bogged down will resume wildcat expropriations, and the organisation of the struggle by those who struggle and uniquely for the struggle, without representation, without control by anyone in the name of anything, thereby taking up once again the constitution of communism, which is not a goal of the struggle but rather its content. Counter-revolutionary ideologies will be numerous, starting perhaps with that of the survival of the economy: preserving economic mechanisms, not destroying all economic logic, in order to then construct a new economy. The survival of the economy is the survival of exchange, whether this exchange uses money, any kind of voucher or chit, or even simply barter, which can be adorned with the name of mutual aid between workers! The situation where everything is for free and the complete absence of any form of accounting is the axis around which the revolutionary community will construct itself. Only the situation where everything is for free will enable the bringing together of all the social strata which are not directly proletarian and which will collapse in the hyper crisis. Only the situation where everything is for free will integrate/abolish all the individuals who are not directly proletarian, all those “without reserves” (including those whom revolutionary activity will have reduced to this condition), the unemployed, the ruined peasants of the “third world”, the masses of the informal economy. These masses must be dissolved as middle strata, as peasants, in order to break the personal relations of dependence between “bosses” and “employees” as well as the situation of “small independent producers” within the informal economy, by taking concrete communist measures which force all these strata to join the proletariat, that is, to realise their “proletarianisation.”

Proletarians who communise society will have no need of “frontism”. They will not seek out a common program for the victims of capital. If they engage in frontism they are dead, if they remain alone they are also dead. They must confront all the other classes of society as the sole class not able to triumph by remaining what it is. The measures of communisation are the abolition of the proletariat because, in addition to its unification in its abolition, they dissolve the basis of existence of a multitude of intermediate strata (managerial strata of capitalist production and reproduction) which are thereby absorbed into the process of communisation and millions (if not billions) of individuals that are exploited through the product of their labour and not the sale of their labour-power. At the regional level as much as at the global one, communisation will have an action that one could call “humanitarian”, even if this term is currently unpronounceable, because communisation will take charge of all the misery of the world. Human activity as a flux is the only presupposition of its collective, that is to say individual, pursuit, because, as it is self-presupposing, it has no conception of what a product is and can thus give plentifully. The proletariat, acting as a class, dissolves itself as a class through these acts of seizure, because in them it overcomes its “autonomy”.

– the suspended step of communisationSic 1

Schlemiel

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This schlemiel from Chełm gets to work and he’s almost half an hour late. “You should of been here at 8:30,” growls the foreman. “Why?” says the schlemiel. “What happened at 8:30?”

History of the Situationist International

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