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Endnotes 5: The Passions and the Interests

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THE PASSIONS AND THE INTEREST (2020)

Endnotes.org.uk

We Unhappy Few

Error 

Contours of the World Commune

Revolutionary Motives

To Abolish the Family

The Passion of Communism

Life Against Nature

Notes from the Chemo Room

The Right to be Greedy: Theses On The Practical Necessity Of Demanding Everything (For Ourselves, 1974)

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For Ourselves (1974)

The positive conception of egoism, the perspective of communist egoism, is the very heart and unity of our theoretical and practical coherence.

This perspective is the essence of what separates us from both the left and the right. We cannot allow its fundamental importance to be obscured, or ourselves to be mistaken for either the right or the left. We cannot allow any Leninist organization to get away with claiming that it is only ‘a little bit pregnant’ with state capitalism.

INTRODUCTION

1

Greed in its fullest sense is the only possible basis of communist society.

2

The present forms of greed lose out, in the end, because they turn out to be not greedy enough.

3

The repression of egoism can never totally succeed, except as the destruction of human subjectivity, the extinction of the human species itself, because egoism is an essential moment of human subjectivity. Its repression simply means that it returns in a hidden, duplicitous form. If it cannot show itself in the open market, it will find itself or create for itself a black market. If it is not tolerated in transparent n1 relations, the repressed self will split in two; into a represented self, a personal organization of appearances, a persona, and that which cringes and plots behind this character-armour n2. The repression of egoism, contrary to the dictates of every one of the so-called “Communists” (in opposition to Marx and Engels), from Lenin right down to Mao, can never be the basis of communist society.

Moreover, the repressive conception of “communism” misses precisely the whole point. It misses out on the validity of the egoistic moment. This is true even in the inverted form in which it emerges from an immanent critique of altruistic ideology: if I die, the world dies for me. Without life, I cannot love another. However, what it misses in “theory” – i.e., in its ideological representations – it nonetheless preserves in practice, and precisely with the help of that very ideology: its real basis is the egoism of the state-capitalist bureaucracy. This ideology of self-sacrifice serves admirably the task of extracting surplus-labour from the proletariat.
The actual negation of narrow egoism is a matter of transcendance (“aufhebung” n3), of the transition from a narrow to a qualitatively expanded form of egoism. The original self-expansion of egoism was identically the demise of the primitive community. But its further self-expansion will resolve itself into a community once again. It is only when greed itself at last (or rather, once again) beckons in the direction of community that that direction will be taken. Here the ancient Christian truth that no earthly force can withstand human greed rejoins us on our side of the barricades.

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The Young Mario Tronti

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A Living Unity in the Marxist: Introduction to Tronti’s Early Writings | Andrew Anastasi

These texts provide the reader with not only some of the ideas percolating in the mind of the young Tronti, but also a window into the prehistory of operaismo: the tumultuous debates within the Italian left of the 1950s over the meanings of Marxism.

Some Questions around Gramsci’s Marxism (1958) | Mario Tronti

Certainly we must assert the novelty, the originality, the autonomy of Marxism. But the novelty of Marxism against any other philosophy consists not in asking more of it as a philosophy; its originality consists in its offer of science to philosophy, or rather in its conceiving the proper philosophy only as science, as a “specific conception of a specific object.”

Between Dialectical Materialism and Philosophy of Praxis: Gramsci and Labriola (1959) | Mario Tronti

First one has all of Marx revolve around Hegel, then one removes Hegel from the center and says: see, Marx fails to rotate on his own. This is how the interpretation of a theory coincides with its liquidation. In fact precisely this misunderstanding has driven Marx’s thought to the margins of contemporary philosophical thought.

On Marxism and Sociology (1959) | Mario Tronti

One absolutely cannot accept that there exists a researcher who offers material to the theorist, and then there is a theorist who re-elaborates it and produces theory. Rather, there is a continuous unity realized already within Marxism, and it lives precisely in the person of the Marxist.


is a member of the editorial collective of Viewpoint and a PhD student at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Telling the Truth about Class (Tamás, 2006)

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by G.M. Tamas (Socialist Register 42) 2006

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One of the central questions of social theory has been the relationship between class and knowledge, and this has also been a crucial question in the history of socialism. Differences between people – acting and knowing subjects – may inuence our view of the possibility of valid cognition. If there are irreconcilable discrepancies between people’s positions, going perhaps as far as incommensurability, then unied and rational knowledge resulting from a reasoned dialogue among persons is patently impossible. The Humean notion of ‘passions’, the Nietzschean notions of ‘resentment’ and ‘genealogy’, allude to the possible inuence of such an incommensurability upon our ability to discover truth.

Class may be regarded as a problem either in epistemology or in the philosophy of history, but I think that this separation is unwarranted, since if we separate epistemology and philosophy of history (which is parallel to other such separations characteristic of bourgeois society itself) we cannot possibly avoid the rigidly-posed conundrum known as relativism. In speak­ing about class (and truth, and class and truth) we are the heirs of two socialist intellectual traditions, profoundly at variance with one another, although often intertwined politically and emotionally. I hope to show that, up to a point, such fusion and confusion is inevitable.

All versions of socialist endeavour can and should be classied into two principal kinds, one inaugurated by Rousseau, the other by Marx. The two have opposite visions of the social subject in need of liberation, and these visions have determined everything from rareed epistemological posi­tions concerning language and consciousness to social and political attitudes concerning wealth, culture, equality, sexuality and much else. It must be said at the outset that many, perhaps most socialists who have sincerely believed they were Marxists, have in fact been Rousseauists. Freud has eloquently described resistances to psychoanalysis; intuitive resistance to Marxism is no less widespread, even among socialists. It is emotionally and intellectually difcult to be a Marxist since it goes against the grain of moral indignation which is, of course, the main reason people become socialists.

One of the greatest historians of the Left, E.P. Thompson, has synthe­sized what can be best said of class in the tradition of Rousseauian socialism which believes itself to be Marxian.1 The Making of the English Working Class is universally – and rightly – recognized to be a masterpiece. Its beauty, moral force and conceptual elegance originate in a few strikingly unusual articles of faith: (1) that the working class is a worthy cultural competitor of the ruling class; (2) that the Lebenswelt of the working class is socially and morally superior to that of its exploiters; (3) that regardless of the outcome of the class struggle, the autonomy and separateness of the working class is an intrinsic social value; (4) that the class itself is constituted by the autopoiesis of its rebellious political culture, including its re-interpretation of various tradi­tions, as well as by technology, wage labour, commodity production and the rest. Whereas Karl Marx and Marxism aim at the abolition of the proletariat, Thompson aims at the apotheosis and triumphant survival of the proletariat.

Thompson’s Rousseauian brand of Marxism triggered a sustained critique by Perry Anderson, one that is now half-forgotten but still extremely impor­tant. Although his terms are quite different from mine, Anderson sought to show that Thompson’s conviction that he was a Marxist was erroneous.2Thompson had participated in a number of movements and intellectual adventures inspired by Marxism, and his delity to radical socialism – under twentieth-century circumstances – meant loyalty to Marxism’s revolution­ary legacy. But Thompson had to ignore the Faustian-demonic encomium of capitalism inherent in Marx, and so he had to oppose ‘critical theory’, and then theory tout court.3 Anderson later described this decomposition of ‘Western Marxism’ – away from class to ‘the people’ – in conceptual terms,4 a diagnosis that has been proved right by events since.

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Nothing but Violence

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Communism for Children by Bini Adamczak is not even out in English for a while, and yet its already getting praised by the left (critical-theory.com) and attacked by the right (national review).

From the National Review: “It’s always tempting to get sucked into the fascinating boredom of Marxist dialectic. In this case the author seems to be setting up the story for some kind of reversal wherein the apparent utopia turns out to be false and another start must be made toward the immanentization of true communism — which, like the English-language edition of Adamczak’s book, is always right around the corner but never quite gets here. Since applied Marxism has to date produced nothing but violence, there is plenty of material for stories where things don’t quite work out. Google translates the book’s title as Communism: A Short History, like finally everything will be different, and if that slightly blasé tone comes across in the original German, it suggests a kind of millennial “whatever” attitude toward the promises of the past. Commies are always sure they won’t get fooled again.”

From Critical-Theory:  “The book uses a children’s book language in order to tell the story of capitalism and six different trials of its overcoming,” Adamczak tells us. Though it should be noted, Adamczak claims the book is for people of all ages. “Communism for Children” was originally published in German in 2004 by the leftie independent publisher Unrast. Adamczak got the idea for the book after a conference called “Indeterminate! Kommunismus” (English: “Indeterminate! Communism”) in Frankfurt. That conference, she notes “was the first attempt after 1990 to really promote the term communism after the fall of the Soviet Union. It attempted to free it from its Stalinist heritage and reuse it as an assemblage for different currents and movements on the left. It was highly anti-dogmatic, very open. Not party-based, but an association of anti-racist, queer feminist, and anti-capitalist movements.” The book takes a “queer communist” approach to telling the story of capital. Everybody in the book is somehow female,” Adamczak tells us, “but there are as many different shades of femininity as there are people.

A Small Guide To The System of the Left in Germany

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(communists in situ – berlin faction hereby presents a translation of “System der Linke: Kleine Einführung” from Die Axt #4, Organ of Social Decomposition , by the Office of Mental Rampage)

 

I.

Leninists: see Stalinists

Stalinists: Authoritarian scumbags; by socialism, they understand the police state; claim to introduce freedom by means of the whip; weak philosophers, bad aesthetes, big tendency for sectarianism.

Trotskyists: Stalinists who lost the power struggle for the Kremlin after Lenin’s death. Even bigger tendency for sectarianism.

Maoists: Stalinists who took over the Chinese imperial throne.

Anarchists: 1) Petty-bourgeois nonsense from Proudhon to the Ego and its Own. 2) Current of anti-authoritarian socialism; provided some of the best class-strugglers of their time. Representatives: Bakunin, Kropotkin, Goldman, Durruti. Parties: Jura section, FAI.

II.

 

68ers: The so-called 68ers are not at all what’s interesting about what happened around 1968. Although at that time they weren’t identical with what became of them, others were still smarter and more interesting than they, including Subversive Action, French workers, Yippies, Zengakuren, et al. German Parties: University, Student Councils, SDS, then KPD-XY, later the Greens and the Federal Army.

Situationists: Screw together Dutch-German council communism with Lettrism (a kind of French Dada) and Hegelian-Marxism and go beyond all, i.e., to outline a critique of the totality of the commodity-economy and late-capitalist daily life, and explore some ways to dissolve it. Overestimated their times, but made a fucking big party in May 68 in Paris, then drank a nightcap in Italy and Spain. Party: Guy Debord.

Terrorists: Nechayevistic comrades who cause and suffer indescribable, but quite unnecessary aggravation. Parties: RAF, June 2nd Movement, Conspiracy Cells of Fire

 

 III.

 

Undogmatic Left: Doesn’t exist in Germany; here each leftist and each sect has at least one dogma; after a short discussion, it’s clear that this is their identity, criticism of which is hence undesirable.

Antifa: Clubs of mostly young people who reject society but are still a bit unclear about why; that’s why they try to hoist their social criticism onto the nastiness of neo-Nazis. Leading the young comrades are at least two or three older people who refuse to grow up because they are too stupid to read intelligent books.

Ums-Ganze: Opportunistic bunch of older anti-fascists who, despite recognizing that anti-fascism is not enough for the “categorical critique of the capitalist socialization of value,” nonetheless still shy away from filling in the content of such phrases, i.e. to work towards a consistent critique of capitalist totality. “Theory” in general stands fairly indifferent as to its unification, since it’s not about knowledge for them, but rather about keywords for their “praxis.” They don’t want to let go of the occupational therapy learned in antifa (demos, campaigns, left coalitions, podium discussions), but of course in private they know it’s pointless, that’s why they don’t perceive theses things politically, but rather as “social events.”

Anti-imps: Leftists who’d rather talk about peoples and cultures than classes. Obsessively passionate about reproaching the Jewish state for its crimes (of which it certainly often exaggerates); no inclination for a materialist critique of the state. Have sympathies for even the most heinous dictatorships, as long as they are against “foreign domination.” Parties: RAF from 1972, Baath, Hezbollah.

Anti-Germans: Mostly responsible for making some leftists read Adorno again. For about ten years now though they’re not so different from their main enemies, the Anti-imps, even if they just adore the states that the Anti-imps most abhor. They don’t behave as social critics, but rather government advisors; geostrategy instead of social criticism. Only the early texts up to 2003 are of interest. Parties: Bahamas, DIG

Anti-German Communists: Anti-German comrades that remain communists. Try to move the reflection on Auschwitz into the center of Marxism. Party: ISF

Pomos / Poststructuralists: Want to abolish truth and objectivity; these poor devils cannot understand that truth is objective and not merely plausible. For them, society is based on all-powerful “discourses,” not relations of production and (material) violence. Bad metaphysicians who deny the body. With their irrationalism, they prepare the way for the authoritarian state. Successors: FLT and CW.

Women, Lesbian, Trans*-Activists (FLT*): Substitute the main contradiction between capital and labor for the one between sexes. Love to invent new words, abbreviations and offenses. Looks at the world through a microscope. Staunchly anti-materialist; don’t get to the bottom of sexism. Respond often to real filth and problems by proposing solutions that are mostly worse than the problems themselves. Cementing victim roles, instead of revolutionizing individuals. Party: Definitionsmacht

Critical Whiteness: Something like the FLT*-activists in the realm of antiracism. Making jokes irritates them even more. Think that reality would be different if all the bad words were censored. Pronounced paranoia. Quite often further the racialization of individuals themselves.

Autonomen: Are there any left?

Marxologists: Former philosophy students, thus foolish schmucks that waste too much brain power on dividing up Marx & Engels according to the motto: propositions that we agree with come from Marx, and whatever we dislike is Engel’s fault. After a while, the knowledge margin for others is quite small. Disarm and humiliate revolutionary criticism as an academic discipline. Don’t understand that the truth of society is not a reconstruction of Marx, but its negation. Some philological diligence. Parties: New Marx Reading, MEGA.

(Anarcho)-Syndicalists: Left-radical trade unionists who see the liberation of workers in their self-exploitation. Still mentally stuck in the Spanish Civil War, but on the side of the CNT and not the FAI. Party: FAU

Cultural Left: Students who read subversive potential into culture industry products that meet their personal taste. At best, you can drink a nice beer with them.

Left-communist-Bordigists: Don’t understand the difference between the first and second world war. What does it matter whether the CDU or the NSDAP governs since it’s all merely the rule of capital and a few million dead Jews are not as important as five oppositional workers.

Anti-speciesists: Vegans who can’t see the difference between dogs and humans. Enjoy living in construction trailers under conditions that no one would wish upon dogs. No smoking or drinking, true to their motto: „Whoever insults life is dumb or bad.“

Environmentalists: Petty-bourgeois opportunists who get very upset about global warming or whaling, but don’t see that the destruction of the planet can’t be stopped by some engagement in civil society, rather only by proletarian world revolution.

A Communist Haggadah for the Passover Seder

[Once upon a time in land far, far away, Brooklyn circa 2011, some communists in situ realized that both the standard and radical versions of the Passover Haggadah were very stupid. So they decided to make their own communist version for their Seder. The following Haggadah is the first time this is being published online. It follows all the traditional 15 steps for easy use,  but each section has its own rifts within. Follow at your own risk. Chag sameach and remember, next year in Diaspora!]

update 2018: new RED SEDER


A Communist Haggadah for the Passover Seder

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[pdf] [booklet]

compiled by Jacob, Danielle & Scott

April 18th, 2011 Brooklyn

 

The Seder Plate:

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Maror – Bitter Herbs: Representative of the harshness of our wage slavery.

Karpas – Green Vegetable: Representative of the spring season, the swerve, and the possibility of new growth including the welcoming of new comrades and friends, and the strengthening of friendships already consummated.

Charoset – Mixture of Fruit and Nuts: Representative of how the material means of production, the mortar for the bricks, is also our material means of reproduction.

Beitzah – Egg: Representative of the possibility of new forms of life and not simply new life as such. It is the symbol of the future, after the swerve, after the rupture, after the flood, what-have-you. It is an affirmative form of life, life for life’s-sake, not for the sake of life alone.

Zeroa – Lamb Bone: The lamb bone is representative of three ideas: 1) It is a instrument of marking, a way of understanding our comradeship as the ancient Hebrews understood theirs. Through this we may understand who is with us, who our comrades are, who our fellow travelers are. While our numbers may be small, our intentions are significant. 2) As an instrument of marking, it gives us great caution and great hope. It represents the danger of marking one as with/against us, but also the possibility of spreading the knowledge that we are privileged to have achieved with the aid of our comrades. Finally, 3) it is a symbol of sacrifice and death, of what is left behind. Of the endings that precede new beginnings, of the drawing closer between us, of our alliance’s rebellion against the powers of capitalism’s decree for formal, material, productivity.

Candle Lighting:

BAH-ROOCH AH-TAH AH-DOH-NOI EH-LOH-HEH-NOO MEH-LECH HAH-OH-LAHM AH-SHER KEE-DEH-SHAH-NOO BEH-MITZ-VOH-TAHV VEH-TZEE-VAH-NOO LEH-HAD-LEEK NER SHEL YOHM TOHV.

The 15 steps:

  1. Kadesh –  Sanctification of the day, marked by blessing the first cup of wine.

There are four mandatory cups of wine on Passover, spaced out over the course of the Seder. One interpretation of them is that they signify God’s four promises of liberation to the Israelites. Since God died in the 19th century, and since there were probably no Israelites in Egypt, nor an exodus, we will interpret the four cups as representing the four cardinal virtues required for the revolution in the present moment.

The first cup signifies the virtue of Friendship.

הַגָפֶןפְּרִי בּוֹרֵא הָעוֹלָםמֶלֶךְ אֱלֹהֵינוּ יי אַתָּה בָּרוּךְ

Baruch atah adonai elohaynu melech ha’olam borei p’ri hagafen

 

  1. Ur’chatz – Washing of hands before the vegetable.

We pass a bowl of water around the table; each person pours water over their neighbor’s hands, helping them wash.

 

3. Karpas –  We dip a green vegetable in salt water. We take a bite. We discard the rest.

The salt water on our table traditionally represents the tears of the Israelite slaves. The green vegetable usually represents the possibility of new growth. This year, let the salt water remind us of our own wage-slavery, and let the green vegetable remind us of the emancipatory potential, the swerves within it.

הָאֲדָמָה פְּרִי בּוֹרֵא הָעוֹלָםמֶלֶךְ אֱלֹהֵינוּ יי אַתָּה בָּרוּךְ

 Barukh atah adonai, eloheinu melekh ha’olam borei p’ri ha’adamah

 

4.Yachatz – Breaking the middle matzah.

We break the matzah into two pieces, and hide one half, called the Afikomen. The Afikomen represents the rupture that we seek with the current state of things. This rupture, this break, comes from within the traditions we have, and yet hidden from them as well.

“From struggles over immediate demands to revolution, there can only be a rupture, a qualitative leap. But this rupture isn’t a miracle. Neither is it the simple realisation on the part of the proletariat that there is nothing else to be done other than making the revolution, given the failure of everything else. “Revolution is the only solution” is just as inept as talk of the revolutionary dynamic of demands-based struggles. This rupture is produced positively by the unfolding of the cycle of struggles which precedes it, and we can say that it still forms a part of it. This rupture is prefigured in the multiplication of swerves within the class struggle between, on the one hand, the calling into question by the proletariat of its own existence as a class in its contradiction with capital and, on the other hand, the reproduction of capital which is implied by the very fact of the proletariat’s existence as a class. The concept of the swerve designates the dynamic of this cycle of struggles, which exists in an empirically verifiable manner.” [Theorie communiste]

We exist in this rupture.

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