A young woman living in the town of Chełm had a very strange occurrence. One morning, after buttering a piece of bread she accidentally dropped it on the floor. To her amazement, it fell buttered side up.
As everyone knows, whenever a buttered piece of bread is dropped on the floor, it always falls buttered side down; this is like a law of physics. But on this occasion it had fallen buttered side up, and this was a great mystery which had to be solved. So all the Rabbis and elders and wise men of Chełm were summoned together and they spent three days in the synagogue fasting and praying and debating this marvelous event among themselves. After those three days they returned to the young woman with this answer:
“Madam, the problem is that you have buttered the wrong side of the bread.”
“The moment when the productive forces were to reach the level required for the transformation of the mode of production was to be the moment when the crisis of capitalism began. This crisis was to expose the narrowness of this mode of production and its inability to hold new productive forces, and thus make visible the antagonism between the productive forces and the capitalist forms of production. But capital has run away; it has absorbed crises and it has successfully provided a social reserve for the proletarians. Many have nothing left to do but to run on ahead: some say the productive forces are not developed enough, others say they have stopped growing. Both reduce the whole problem either to organizing the vanguard, the party, or resort to activities designed to raise consciousness. […]
Historical materialism is a glorification of the wandering in which humanity has been tied to for more than a century: growth of productive forces as the condition sine-qua-non for liberation. But by definition all quantitative growth takes place in the sphere of the indefinite, the false infinite. Who will measure the “size” of the productive forces to determine whether or not the great day has come?”
Camatte, The Wandering of Humanity
“Marx says that revolutions are the locomotives of world history. But the situation may be quite different. Perhaps revolutions are not the train ride, but the human race grabbing for the emergency brake.”
The language of power has become wildly reformist. Whereas previously it would show nothing but happiness everywhere in window displays and sold everywhere at the most attractive price, it now slams the ubiquitous failings of the system. Society’s owners have suddenly discovered that everything in it must be changed without delay: education as well as town planing, the way work is experienced as well as the horizons for technological development. In short, this world has lost the confidence of all its governments; they therefore propose to dissolve it and set up another one. They wish only to draw our attention to the fact that they are more qualified than revolutionaries to engineer a turnaround requiring so much experience and such considerable means, for possess them they do, and accustomed to them they certainly are. Ready then to dispense largesse come computers with their mission to program the qualitative, along with pollution managers whose self-entrusted paramount task is to lead the struggle against a pollution problem which is of their own making. But modern capitalism already presented itself earlier, in the face of the revolution’s past failures, as a reformism which had succeeded. It professed to have been the architect of the commodity’s particular freedom and happiness. It would one day finish the job liberating its wage slaves, if not from wage slavery itself, then at least from the copious remnants of those extreme hardships and inequalities that its formative period had bequeathed -or, more precisely, from whichever particular hardships capitalism itself judged it should recognise as such. Nowadays it promises to liberate them too from all the new perils and vexations which it is in the very act of producing on a vast scale, as the essential feature of the most modern commodity understood in its fullest sense; furthermore, the same fast-expanding production, so highly vaunted up to now as the ultimate corrective for everything, will have to turn itself around while remaining under the exclusive control of the same bosses. The collapse of the old world appears fully in the current ludicrous language of decomposed domination.
The Real Split in the SI, thesis 11
“Gentlemen”, he said,
I don’t need your organization,
I’ve shined your shoes,
I’ve moved your mountains
and marked your cards.
But your Eden is burning,
so get ready for elimination…”