Communisation

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Contextual Citation

Leon de Mattis:

"communisation will be the moment when struggle will make possible, as a means for its continuation, the immediate production of communism. By communism we mean a collective organisation that has got rid of all the mediations which, at present, serve society by linking individuals among them : money, the state, value, classes, etc. " (http://riff-raff.se/texts/en/sic1-what-is-communisation)

Description

"what is communisation? The term immediately evokes various social experiments and revolutionary endeavours 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 communisation as essentially being the production, through the formation of ‘communes', of collective forms of radical subjectivity. This destabilises 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." (http://www.metamute.org/en/content/invisible_politics_an_introduction_to_contemporary_communisation)


Discussion

Leon de Mattis:

"At present we can understand that the reformist as well as the revolutionary perspective were at an impasse, because they were comprehending communist revolution as the victory of a class over another class, not as the simultaneous disappearance of classes. From whence stemmed the traditional idea of a transition period during which the proletariat, once victorious, assumes the management of society for an intermediate period. Historically this has practically translated into the establishment of a Soviet-style State capitalism where the bourgeoisie had been replaced by a class of bureaucrats linked to the communist party, and the working class remained in fact exploited and forced to provide the required excess of value. It is however to be noted that this idea of a transition period was more widespread than the one, strictly marxist, of a ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’. In various forms, reformists (who counted on the conquest of power through the ballot box) and even anarcho-syndicalists (who envisioned a conquest of power through union structures) were not strangers to this line of thought. For them too, it was the triumph of the proletariat – either democratically, through State bodies, for reformists, or through struggle, with their own (union) organisations, for anarcho-syndicalists – which would give it the time to transform society by means of its domination. And it was dissidents from both the anarchist and the marxist camp who gradually elaborated a theory of the immediacy of revolution and communism. On the basis of their theoretical explorations in that time, and with the hindsight of the recent transformation of capitalism, we are now in a position to understand that communism can only be the simultaneous disappearance of social classes, not a triumph, even transitional, of one over another.

The present period gives us a new conception of revolution and communism that originates in these dissident critical currents of the earlier workers’ movement, and that capitalism’s evolution shows to be adequate to today’s proletarian struggles. Everyday proletarian experience poses class belonging as an external constraint, therefore the struggle to defend one’s condition tends to be confounded with the struggle against one’s condition. More and more often in the struggles, we can discern practices and contents which can be comprehended in this way. These are not necessarily radical or spectacular declarations. They are just as much practices of escape; struggles where unions are criticised and booed without any attempt to replace them with something else, because one knows that there is nothing to put in their place; wage demands transforming into the destruction of the means of production (Algeria, Bangladesh); struggles where one does not demand the preservation of employment but rather redundancy payments (Cellatex and all its sequels); struggles where one does not demand anything, but simply revolts against everything that constitutes one’s conditions of existence (the ‘riots’ in French banlieues in 2005), etc.

Little by little, what emerges in these struggles is a calling into question, through the struggle, of the role assigned to us by capital. The unemployed of some grouping, the workers of some factory, the inhabitants of some district, may organise themselves as unemployed, workers or inhabitants, but very quickly this identity must be overcome for the struggle to continue. What is common, what can be described as unity, stems from the struggle itself, not from our identity within capitalism. In Argentina, in Greece, in Guadeloupe, everywhere, the defence of a particular condition was perceived as utterly insufficient, because no particular condition can any more identify itself with a general condition. Even the fact of being ‘precarious’ cannot constitute a central element of the struggle, one in which everybody would be able to recognise themselves. There is no ‘status’ of precarious workers to be recognised or defended, because being a precarious worker – whether involuntarily, or by choice, or by a combination of both – is not a social category, but rather one of the realities which contributes to the production of class belonging as an external constraint.

If a communist revolution is today possible, it can only be born in this particular context in which on the one hand being a proletarian is experienced as external to oneself, while on the other hand the existence of capitalism requires that one is forced to sell one’s labour power and thus, whatever the form of this sale, one cannot be anything else but a proletarian. Such a situation easily leads to the false idea that it is somewhere else, in a more or less alternative way of life, that we can create communism. It is not by chance that a minority, which is starting to become significant in Western countries, falls eagerly in this trap and imagines opposing and fighting capitalism by this method. However, the capitalist social relation is the totalising dynamic of our world and there is nothing that can escape it as easily as they imagine.

The overcoming of all existing conditions can only come from a phase of intense and insurrectionist struggle during which the forms of struggle and the forms of future life will take flesh in one and the same process, the latter being nothing else than the former. This phase, and its specific activity, is what we propose to call by the name of communisation.

Communisation does not yet exist, but the whole present phase of struggles, as mentioned above, permits us to talk about communisation in the present. In Argentina, during the struggle that followed the riots of 2001, the determining factors of the proletariat as class of this society were shaken : property, exchange, division of labour, relations between men and women… The crisis was then limited to that country, so the struggle never passed the frontiers. Yet communisation can only exist in a dynamic of endless enlargement. If it stops it will fade out, at least momentarily. However, the perspectives of capitalism since the financial crisis of 2008 – perspectives which are very gloomy for it at a global level – permit us to think that next time the collapse of money will not restrict itself to Argentina. The point is not to say that the starting point will necessarily be a crisis of money, but rather to consider that in the present state of affairs various starting points are possible and that an imminent severe monetary crisis is undoubtedly one of them.

In our opinion, communisation will be the moment when struggle will make possible, as a means for its continuation, the immediate production of communism. By communism we mean a collective organisation that has got rid of all the mediations which, at present, serve society by linking individuals among them : money, the state, value, classes, etc. The only function of these mediations is to make exploitation possible. While they are imposed on everybody, they benefit only a few. Communism will thus be the moment when individuals will link together directly, without their inter-individual relations being superimposed by categories to which everyone owes obedience.

It goes without saying that this individual will not be the one we know now, that of capital’s society, but a different individual produced by a life taking different forms. To be clear, we should recall that the human individual is not an untouchable reality deriving from ‘human nature’, but a social product, and that every period in history has produced its own type of individual. The individual of capital is that which is determined by the share of social wealth it receives. This determination is subservient to the relation between the two large classes of the capitalist mode of production: the proletariat and the capitalist class. The relation between these classes comes first, the individual is produced by way of consequence – contrary to the all-too-frequent belief that classes are groupings of pre-existing individuals. The abolition of classes will thus be the abolition of the determinations that make the individual of capital what it is, i.e. one that enjoys individually and egoistically a share of the social wealth produced in common. Naturally, this is not the only difference between capitalism and communism – wealth created under communism will be qualitatively different from whatever capitalism is capable of creating. Communism is not a mode of production, in that social relations are not determined in it by the form of the process of producing the necessities of life, but it is rather communist social relations that determine the way in which these necessities are produced.

We don’t know, we cannot know, and therefore we do not seek to concretely describe, what communism will be like. We only know how it will be in the negative, through the abolition of capitalist social forms. Communism is a world without money, without value, without the state, without social classes, without domination and without hierarchy – which requires the overcoming of the old forms of domination integrated in the very functioning of capitalism, such as patriarchy, and also the joint overcoming of both the male and the female condition. It is obvious too that any form of communitarian, ethnic, racial or other division is equally impossible in communism, which is global from the very start.

If we cannot foresee and decide how the concrete forms of communism will be, the reason is that social relations do not arise fully fledged from a unique brain, however brilliant, but can only be the result of a massive and generalised social practice. It is this practice that we call communisation. Communisation is not an aim, it is not a project. It is nothing else than a path. But in communism the goal is the path, the means is the end. Revolution is precisely the moment when one gets out of the categories of the capitalist mode of production. This exit is already prefigured in present struggles but doesn’t really exist in them, insofar as only a massive exit that destroys everything in its passage is an exit.

We can be sure that communisation will be chaotic. Class society will not die without defending itself in multiple ways. History has shown that the savagery of a state that tries to defend its power is limitless – the most atrocious and inhuman acts since the dawn of humanity have been committed by states. It is only within this match to the death and its imperatives that the limitless ingenuity set free by the participation of all in the process of their liberation will find the resources to fight capitalism and create communism in a single movement. The revolutionary practices of abolishing value, money, exchange and all commodity relations in the war against capital, are decisive weapons for the integration – through measures of communisation – of the major part of the excluded, the middle classes and the peasant masses, in short for creating, within the struggle, the unity which does not exist anymore in the proletariat.

It is obvious too that the forward thrust represented by the creation of communism will fade away if it is interrupted. Any form of capitalisation of the ‘achievements of revolution’, any form of socialism, any form of ‘transition’, perceived as an intermediate phase before communism, as a ‘pause’, will be counter-revolution, produced not by the enemies of revolution but by revolution itself. Dying capitalism will try to lean on this counter-revolution. As for the overcoming of patriarchy, it will be a major disruption dividing the camp of the revolutionaries themselves, because the aim pursued will certainly not be an ‘equality’ between men and women, but rather the radical abolition of social distinctions based on sex. For all these reasons, communisation will appear as a ‘revolution within revolution’.

An adequate form of organisation of this revolution will only be provided by the multiplicity of communising measures, taken anywhere by any kind of people, which, if they constitute an adequate response to a given situation, will generalise of their own accord, without anybody knowing who conceived them and who transmitted them. Communisation will not be democratic, because democracy, including of the ‘direct’ type, is a form corresponding to just one type of relation between what is individual and what is collective – precisely the type pushed by capital to an extreme and rejected by communism. Communising measures will not be taken by any organ, any form of representation of anyone, or any mediating structure. They will be taken by all those who, at a precise moment, take the initiative to search for a solution, adequate in their eyes, to a problem of the struggle. And the problems of the struggle are also problems of life: how to eat, where to stay, how to share with everybody else, how to fight against capital, etc. Debates do exist, divergences do exist, internal strife does exist – communisation is also revolution within the revolution. There is no organ to decide on disputed matters. It is the situation that will decide; and it is history that will know, post festum, who was right." (http://riff-raff.se/texts/en/sic1-what-is-communisation)