We publish here the document written by collective C17 as a synthesis and continuation of the work of the ‘Rome Conference on Communism (18-22 January 2017).
Where the Communist Party is in power, communism has disappeared for a while. They market and exploit, but without parliaments and free opinion. Communism is a degenerate, defeated, removed story in Europe and worldwide. It is rare that a defeat is still a spectrum, it has the ability to scare yet this is the rare case of communism. The word is unmistakable, the meaning or the project difficult to clarify. The enemy, however, continues to have clear ideas; surely he is not terrified as in 1848, and has certainly learned to prevent it. Contemporary capitalism is scared to not be scared. We know, from Hobbes onwards, that fear is the sovereign: today the fear, the permanent blackmail of precarious lives makes exploitation possible.
But if it is, there is something that does not return: the lives, a danger, in addition to being in danger. Communism is the name of this surplus that, in spite of everything, continues to be scared. The victory of the capital, like a nobility, does not stop producing this surplus (of relationships, mobility, force-invention, productive cooperation, etc.). The victory of the capital, like a nobility, does not stop producing the objective conditions of communism: the reduction of the “necessary work” to social reproduction of labor force.
“Capitalizing the Revolution”: From 1968 onwards, it is the sign of the great transformation in which we are immersed. If the struggles come out of the holes and the factory, it has to be pursued anywhere, valuing its unique and unrepeatable traits, doing business with the aesthetic tastes and the ways of each, turning the machinery into the prosthesis of the “social brain” (digital and communication technologies: from PC to Web, from Smart Phone to Social Network) and general intellect in algorithm. This was happening as globalization ran and a violent collection invested the East and South of the world.
Thinking the two processes separately, or in opposition, is a grave mistake of disastrous political consequences: neoliberal globalization is a texture from multiple and heterogeneous temporality; a common space as segmented. We understand Silicon Valley with the special economic zones of China or Poland, and vice versa. Neoliberalism, more precisely, is the counter-revolution, the capitalist response to 1968, a fight event – from Sorbonne to Vietnam, from Berkeley to Prague, from Rome to Tokyo – completely global. Thinking about globalization without understanding de colonial drives means not thinking about it at all. Struggling on the knowledge economy without paying attention to student or job rejection work (repetitive) means delivering technological innovation entirely to the capitalist command.
Neo-liberalism has re-launched – on a global scale, with different intensity, making them chronic – Original collection phenomena : the deprivation, by means of land grabbing , of millions of women and men as the enclosure of knowledge through patents the erosion of the indirect wage, through regressive taxation and cuts in welfare , such as the compression of the direct one, with the processes of precarious labor; the massacre of the poor as the use of migrant labor force to destabilize the rigors of wages; the partnership, always morally condemned, between criminal economy and ” clean ” affairs.
Depletion but general access to consumption, technology; renewed mobility and diffusion of walls; exaltation of differences and radicalization of exploitation: neoliberalism is the combination, always re-activated, of these processes.
Economists say that the crisis in which we have been sinking for ten years is a Great Depression. Great, like that of the seventies of the nineteenth century, like the one exploded in 1929 and only after several tens of millions of deaths, in 1945. After the lexicon of the 1930s, some economists spoke of “secular stagnation” : decades of low growth, low wages, high unemployment, poverty. There is more to hope … The crisis, in this sense, is no longer just a disease, but the ” cure “every day adopted because the morgue is spreading. The question is: why, if capitalism has won everywhere, is there a need for a crisis to govern the world?
A first answer indicates that the world is far from governed: American hegemony is set a new multi polarism is threatening; war kills in the suburbs and in the center, and it is done with weapons, attacks, money, trade. A second response, however, tells us that the crisis is a form of government workforce. Precisely because the capital’s victory never ceases to produce, in spite of the objective conditions of communism, then the rule of the capital restores without restraint the extra-economic violence that had characterized its origins from the sixteenth century.
The more the robot replaces human labor, much less capitalism can afford social justice and democracy. Even more, the subjects incorporate productive tools, the more it is necessary to demoralize, impoverish and discipline them.
Neoliberal crisis management connects the conduct control by reviving disciplines , whether they are coercion, male violence against women, the repression of the poor and the migrants (from extradition to expulsion). The most famous face of capitalism-crisis is Donald Trump: Billionaire near Goldman Sachs, so on Wall Street, does not disdain, rather defend and when it can foment the nationalist and racist right.
Neoliberalism, which for years has risen with globalization, strengthens its aggressive and authoritarian pole; finance space blends with that of walls, discrimination, home land. More: in the crisis, the archaic reemerges the Sovereignty, the Civil War, and the War Against the Poor. In this scenario, if the neoliberal left – the one in vogue at the time of Clinton, Blair and Schröder – crushes almost everywhere, the right (neoliberal) is rediscovered chauvinist and does not exclude fascist rhetoric.
If it has been written so far, it is no longer possible to define a proletariat that does not take into account production and reproduction hybridization, globalization (and its crisis), the heterogeneity of the historical times of capital (“contemporaneity of the non-contemporary”). Work, in fact, struggles to stand out from life; not so much, and not only because time and time of life tend to coincide, but also and above all, in order to work and produce surplus value, it is crucial to draw on those affective, relational and symbolic resources that articulate life itself and its reproduction.
Just as it is impossible to describe productive subjects without focusing on mobility even when it is hindered or widely used to encourage new labor market hierarchy processes. Yet: in the same territory they can co-operate hi-tech, caporalized and semi-slavery in agricultural production, under-paid care work, informal and criminal economy. Proletariat therefore must always be said through three ways: Severus difference; transnational dimension (new migratory regime; hierarchy according to color line); multiplication of work (and forms of exploitation).
The white working class,” Male too male, ” it was never the whole proletariat. The Russian Revolution, for example, begins with the Women’s Strike, March 8, 1917 (February 22 in the Giulian calendar). The proletariat, which obviously includes the global working class (with greater focus on China or Bangladesh, etc.), is more than ever a woman, younger educated, black, migrant. In the intersection of these elements, then, we find the exploited subjects of the contemporary scene. A proletariat that is a majority, but is made up of minorities , a hybrid fabric that escapes identities.
- Class struggle
When production and reproduction are intertwined, often confused, there is no class struggle that is not even a conflict for the affirmation and defense of life forms. The economic struggle, the one historically demanded by the union, loses its boundaries, continually explores the grounds of sexuality, formation, right to the city, anti-racism, and communication.
In this sense, the traditional distinction between economic struggles and political struggles disappears; but we are assisting in politicization processes that insist and dislocate both in the productive scene as in social co-operation, in pipelines as in the defense of commons in intimacy as in relationships.
Class struggle is both Global Women’s Gathering as much as Gezi Park, Black Lives Matter, and fierce and lasting clashes – for wage increases in China and India, or early Uber and Foodora strikes. As women in particular have shown us, Strike is no longer an exclusive instrument of trade unions, but a practice that fosters struggles against patriarchal violence, against exploitation and wage disparity, the democratic re-appropriation of welfare , for social and civil rights. Strike after the global March 8 is (finally) a process of politicization.
In the examples cited, the moments that still appeared in sequence in the Manifesto of Marx and Engels – “collision” between the local and single capitalist proletariat, the “coalition” of the workers, the political struggle – they are immediately conquering and gaining ground first regarded as extraneous to the class struggle. But this coexistence or co-structure keeps intact, if it strengthens and compels it, the push of the constituent process: from the bottom of life and its power, social relationships and exploitation, molecular struggles, language and its contagion , etc. – upwards – of power.
Violence, which is also an ineliminable component of class struggle and exercise of power, rediscovers the traits of ius resistentiae: it is not so much the enmity, politics and military that it defines its physiognomy and rhythm as the “defense of the works of friendship”, of social cooperation, of alternative forms of life.
- Communists and Communists
Who are Communists and Communists today? Better: what do they do? We are schematic, by the indications of the Marx Manifesto and Engels, that “common interests emerge”, in addition to the local / national perimeters of the struggles; they dedicate patiently and determinedly to “the formation of the classroom proletariat”; they strive to take political power; express in general, the “strength relationships of an existing class struggle” (“that is, a historical movement that takes place under our eyes”). Communists and Communists, therefore, firstly conquer or build the commune in the struggles.
An effort is all the more necessary if we are to seriously deal with the irreducible multiplicity and the global horizons of the same, with the disparity of historical rhythms, with the primacy of differences in identities. Forming the proletariat in the classroom, when the former escapes from homogeneous encodings, means shifting the subject’s attention to subjecting processes. The coming class can only be “a pachtwork endless prosecution “or” an arlecchino mantle “; the method of communists and communists, the composition. Let us rely on the philosophers’ metaphors: composing the proletariat in class means making archipelago, outlining constellations. Only in the middle of this process, which is always a self-learning lab, it is possible to generalize the struggles, and to grasp its transversal aspects. Communists and Communists, in combat, express these aspects with their own lives, do not represent them with the talk.
It is often confused with communion of goods, whether natural or artificial. It is worthwhile, however, to be literal: communism is “abolition of bourgeois private property.” Knowing that the latter is a social exploitation relationship; is equivalent to theft of the work of others. Better still: the work of others is stolen the surplus, that is, what is not necessary for the reproduction of the life of those who work. If you do not cling to this hard core, communism is confused with a mere problem of fair distribution of wealth.
It is true, however, that there is no free exploitation (of land, means of production, in general of objective conditions of reproduction): it sells to the market its labor force the poor, who has no other, that is, if not of it. But today, unlike the 16th century, the poor is immediately thrown into a network of communication and mobility that the new way of producing and globalization, despite everything and according to different inclusion schemes, made it possible. In a significant part of the world, among other things, productive tools have been widely socialized (computer technology, digital labour , etc.), reproduction of broadly financially-debated life (debt). Capital, in this sense, qualifies itself as a very articulated set of “mining operations”.
Value extraction takes place upstream of the productive process (land, natural resources, urban income, etc.) through de-icing and fence mechanisms; occurs in the process itself, of course, sucking absolute and relative surplus value; but it also happens – and more and more – downstream, in capture and in command, through algorithms and finance, cooperation and social creativity. “Expropriating Expropriators” (or class struggle), then, means abolishing this private property: the commune of communism covers both goods and welfare- their shared use, their democratic management – the rejection of underage labor, the invention of new monetary measures, and the autonomy of collective intelligence and its constructiveness (scientific, economic, political, artistic).
- Forms of life
Communist apprehension – or refusal of wage labor, democratization of welfare , etc. – is also the abolition of the person. In bourgeois society, Marx and Engels recall, being “independent and personal” is only the capital, while “impersonal” is the living work. Where the capital ends, there is also the individual fiction, with its perimeters. The liberal political tradition and today, in a much more pronounced manner, neoliberal governmentalism insists on the indisputable primacy of the individual towards society. At the beginning of the counter-revolution, while crushing the miners and more generally the English unions, Margaret Thatcher repeated the mantra: “There is no society, there are only individuals.” Slogan embodied in the extravagance of the enterprise form (the entrepreneur of himself), in the celebrations of human capital, in the proliferation of self-employment.
Make it over with the exploitation, Today, when it comes to capturing value beyond the boundaries of the factory, in the subsidence of social co-operation, in the coincidence between time of life and working time, it means ending it with competitive individualism. Communism is the autonomy of the living work, the primacy of the present on the past (capital, accumulated work), and thus affirmation of the irreducibly social character of the individual. Moreover, there is no abolition of the capital’s personality without the abolition of the family and the patriarchy, without the invention of new loving institutions . It’s not all. We repeat, right now that creativity and the aesthetic dimension are united with new technological and productive innovations, the adage of young Marx: “the suppression of private property thus represents the complete emancipation of all senses”. Beyond Marx, we say that conquering new ways of feeling is not just a point of arrival, but it accompanies every process of liberation.
Like the class, the program is composed. From this point of view, it is not so much “social questions” to be decisive, as the struggles and processes of subjectivation. It is worth insisting, even to distinguish communist politics from populist politics. The irreducible multiplicity of questions makes the people an “empty signifier” to be filled through a set of discursive and hegemonic moves. The irreducible multiplicity of the struggles and politicization associated with them, however, embodies the claims, carries them on a polemical and constructive plan at the same time; l ‘ hegemony it is no longer just about talking, but insists on life forms.
In this sense, the communist program is simply not a government program. Forming the proletariat in class means “gaining democracy,” here and now . And conquering democracy, here and now, means expropriating expropriators, doingthe common against capital and its mining operations. Thus, without any hierarchy, we present a program that is already strong in the many conflicts mentioned so far: universal universal income, cut off from work performance and on general taxation; minimum wage; reduction in working time; freedom of movement for women and men; taxation of assets, financial transactions, robots; elimination of tax havens; development of productions of the town and for the town (health, care, techno-scientific innovation, etc.). steady support for public training; struggle without neighborhood, starting from childhood school, against patriarchy; implementation of beauty (urban, landscape, cultural); etc.
Lenin wrote in April 1917: “The fundamental problem of all revolutions is that of the power of the state.” So let’s start with the question: what is, today, the power of the state? Is the state still, as it appeared to Lenin, and with him to the Communists of the twentieth century, the place of the utmost concentration of political power? Let us agree with who, describing neoliberal rationality, has disputed the rhetoric that in these years has long insisted upon the evaporation of the state, or celebrated the “minimal state”.
The European ordo liberal model, on the one hand, but more generally, the weight of states in neo liberalization processes that have swept the East of the world (China and Russia in particular), show a completely different scenario. Likewise, however, we know how much neoliberal globalization has upset it space and powers. National borders replaced the special economic zones, corridors, flows, transnational agreements, etc. So much so that it is no longer possible to coincide political power, its effectiveness, with the power of the state.
The latter, if any, is an important actor of neo liberalization processes (“structural reforms”), without ever being the sole or privileged director of the same. The depletion of American hegemony, the definition of a truly multipolar world, does not erase globalization; they articulate according to unpublished trajectories, even from the point of view of the war crises. Lenin’s short text above, questioning the power of the state after the February revolution, characterizes a decisive political phenomenon: the “dualism of power.” On the one hand, the bourgeois government, on the other hand, albeit embryonic, the Soviet government of workers, peasants and soldiers. The second is a power – Lenin’s words – “of the same type as the Paris Commune of 1871”: the rules and parliaments are replaced by direct and bottom-up initiatives, the armed forces and police, the bureaucracie simperative mandate . Without the dualism of power, without exemplification and deepening of another form of government, it is not possible to revolutionize and abolish the bourgeois government.
In criticizing trade unions, Antonio Gramsci presents the factory council – where the plaintiff replaces the “producer”, a person who decides on social co-operation – such as the “model of the proletarian state”. Yet, the dictatorship of the proletariat is merely the confluence of new “institutional experiences of the oppressed class.” Right now that the state no longer focuses on the fullness of political power, right now that new assemblies articulate governance global, today that living labor has gained relational, linguistic, affective densities, dualism of power loses its temporary character to become the privileged and permanent ground of the communist initiative.
This does not prevent, rather, seize the opportunities and go to the government, when positive business allows it. And it does not erase the awareness that the neoliberal regime often mobilizes and captures the processes of self-organization, making it a land of contention. This means, however, that without a dense (strongly) transnational counter-power (Soviet) network, even the conquest of the state makes no difference, it is intended to leave no lasting traces. Therefore, the Commonwealth must be accompanied by phenomena of revolutionary syndicalism, true living labor institutions where class struggle and processes of politicization, conflict and self-government go hand in hand.
While in the real movement of living labor, in the struggles that claim immediate interests, the communists exhibit the “future of the movement” itself: so concludes the Manifesto of 1848. Exalting the future, making it live in singular struggles means – we learned a little from Gramsci – consolidating ‘institutional experiences of the oppressed class’. It also means to regain the future , prefiguration, after too many years of distopia, with a present that holds tight and breathless, as if it were a cage; years of neoliberal devaluation of the refined proletarian art of organization and project .
Make plans obviously has nothing to do with forced collectivization through state violence. But in the horizons of struggles, it means to enlarge as much as possible ; stay in the movement by elaborating – institutionally – its virtuality; outline paradigms and tools for a governmental community . Communist project, then, is a new constructivism , where production, reproduction, political decision-making and life forms are (at last) inseparable.