Friday, 11 November 2011

Self interview No.2

Q.
What is the problem of class composition?



A.
There are numerous interrelated problems, a constellation of them, which cannot easily be put into a simple argument, or set of arguments. 

Q.
Begin simply, what is the first problem?

A.
The first problem is always encountered practically. It is manifested within confrontations where much more than what is first thought is suddenly put into jeopardy. One cannot explain why exactly, but it rapidly becomes necessary to hold on. 
Q.
The sudden quickening of the argumentation around class appears as a confusion of different uses for the various categories that become available as argument. Such categorical incoherence draws in wildly different approaches to interpellation, specific economic functionality (productive worker and intellectual worker) as well as a question about 'where' class consciousness appears. 

A.
There is an endless and inescapable oscillation between the question of class as the motor of the reproduction of existing relations, and the question of class in relation to social revolution. This simple divergence in real life produces endless complexity. 

Q.
Is it possible to clarify the practical problems theoretically? Or must the theorist always sign off pragmatically?

A.
Well, it is certainly the case that reality must resolve the problems that theory identifies, but that is not to say theory must prepare to abandon itself to a deferred super-moment which supposedly mixes negation together with realisation by means of some subjectively constituted praxis. 
Q. 
The terms of this controversy when it erupts are often dumped, with not a little hostility, at the door of ‘dupontism’.

A.
It seems that even though so-called dupontists have sought to disappear from such bear-pits, they are still being ritually invoked as unworthy and caricatured opponents. 

Q.
The hostility is the result of what is perceived to be a rather rigidified approach to class, namely the refusal of the dupontists to classify social professionals and other managers as working class. 

A.
The classification itself is irrelevant, it is the resultant theoretical conclusions of the milieu that are of most importance, the implications of which spread out all over the place. The production by the ‘dupontists’ of other ‘mystifying’ theories is intolerable to those who are working to promote the underlying ‘unity’ of social movements by extrapolating from the ‘everyone who earns a wage is a member of the proletariat’ narrative. 

Q.
In recent months this complexity inherent to the question of class composition has come sharply into focus through the ‘Aufheben scandal’ where a member of this marxist group has been shown to theorise the psychology of crowd control for a living. The accusation levelled against this individual is that he has mixed the categories of his communist commitment with the categories of academic research in the most abject manner possible. What is the significance of this?

A. 
It is only an example, and nothing to write home about, but it is illustrative of a general point concerning social managers and the pro-revolutionary milieu. In short, such people ought to be directing all of their energies towards analysing how they objectively assume the leadership function of the milieu and how the constraints of the technical discourse of their profession (which they seem unable to separate themselves from) distorts pro-revolutionary theory. Of course, human nature being what it is, they tend to do the opposite of this, and misdirect attention from their actual class position. Social managers should not give up on class analysis, but when referring to the proletariat, they should use 'they', or better yet 'it', rather than 'us' – the analysis must begin from the assumption that the proletariat as subject is an external referent. It is that body to which social managers do not belong, and for which they cannot speak. 

Q.
I am surprised that you think this scandal is not important.

A.
I am not interested in scandals and the alleged hypocrisy of individuals. Of all the people in the world, I am least able to make a claim for communist authenticity. But on the question  Aufheben's status... it is a journal that has, over 20 years, produced an analysis of capitalist social relations in a rather academic and journalistic form... it has never had anything of any importance to say about communism. I don’t even think it begins to understand what communism must be. It has never produced a life enhancing argument, or useful theoretical tool. It has never functioned as anything more than a monument to be admired, referenced and consumed. I have no interest in attacking it, or exposing it, or entering into arguments about it. My interest is to change the background against which that sort of group continue to appear. I hope that this sort of group will fall apart when the environment upon which they depend is no longer there. I would then expect the individuals involved to direct themselves towards activities that are more life affirming and true. 

Q.
Whatever. Let’s get this out of the way, what is the most shocking thing that you could say to the proponents of the ‘wage=proletarian’ model? 

A.
I think the most difficult problem to contemplate for the advocates of ‘class struggle’ politics is that if they were to factor in their own class status (by and large, well educated middle class professionals (teachers, lecturers, social workers and other social managers)) they would then be faced with the glaring contradiction of ‘workers’ organisations that are almost entirely populated by individuals who are not workers. Furthermore, it seems likely to me, that these organisations continue to operate through the energy derived from this fundamental act of denial which distributes itself throughout their practice. Their theoreticians have adjusted, that is distorted, class analysis simply to continue to facilitate their own membership of the working class. 

Q.
To make this clear, you are saying that the middle class advocates of class struggle politics have purposefully mis-analysed society in order that they might preserve their own personal narcissistic priorities, and have then obscured this narcissism through reference to socialisation?

A.
It is both more simple and more complicated than that. I am saying the means of social transformation never appears to the self outside of his own experience of malconnection with the external world. The primitive rationalisation of this unhappy state of affairs is that, from the self’s perspective, the world is wrong and therefore the world must change in order that the self can feel at home. There has never been a social revolutionary who as a child has not withheld his poo-poo from the world. All revolutionaries are narcissists.

Q.
You see, this discussion seems to be following a relatively sane path and then you say something as bonkers as that. Why go off on these tangents?

A.
Firstly, nobody has read this far, therefore it makes no difference if I make a digression into potty training. Secondly, I am not an idealist nor a propagandist. I do not imagine that what I am writing has implications beyond the writing, writing itself; I am not proposing a model; all this is just words that others can ignore as they feel fit. My personal motivation is to develop a few conceptual tools to help me not arrive back always at the same place. Thirdly, the poo-poo thing and the pattern of transgressivism which emerges from it, is really the core of the radical psyche. The self cannot be excluded from its experience of the subject’s interpellation. I am not morally castigating the poo-poo narcissist, I am merely indicating the conditions of his appearance. And fourthly, it is important for me to make this as difficult and embarrassing for my associates as is possible. I hope they will reciprocate and make it as difficult as possible for me to associate myself with them.

Q.
What is the reasoning behind arguing for the importance of difficulty for obscurity’s sake?

A.
To be known as disreputable, discredited and ridiculous is the precondition for the freedom to think. It is important to attack all recourse to acceptable and popular modes of argumentation and appeal.  Anybody who wants to quote me favourably has to go a very long way, through absurdity and humiliation, to extract something from the mire. 

Q.
Nobody likes you and you don’t care. I think this wilful elitism is itself a rationalisation and a lot of people would see that as quite juvenile. So, is all this is an elaborate joke?

A.
What else?

Q.
I want to try and retrieve your serious points despite your ‘playfulness’. If we could return to this narcissistic transgressivism which you mentioned. It is an interesting idea when applied to ‘class struggle politics’, as this has traditionally sought to present itself as precisely the revolutionary alternative that has been stripped of eccentricity and ‘mentalism’.  You are saying this presented rationality is self-delusional, and articulates a transgression against transgressivism, a life-style set against life-stylism?

A.
No anarchist is more mental than a class struggle anarchist. Consider, if you will the grand extent of the delusions that lie beneath the realist and pragmatist ideologies of anarcho-syndicalism. Where the wild-eyed archetypical anarchist invokes the spontaniety of the masses, the class struggle anarchist interposes the plausible, thought-out and entirely reasonably sounding madness of building an organisation. 


However, the organisationalist proposition is equivalent to the membership of a historical reenactment society believing in the reality of their dressing up. The realisation of the class struggle anarchist's little group as a mass anarcho-syndicalist union is as likely a prospect as The Sealed Knot  reforming the New Model Army and marching on Oxford. 


Q.
What is it exactly that is delusional in class struggle anarchism?


A.
Above all, the irrational allegiance to his organisation, which can never become more than what it is, although very often it will become much less. After that, it is the belief that his beliefs may be held by others. Then, it is his fantasist's notion of practicality. 


Q. 
Explain this. What is it about practicality, 'pragmatism' and 'realism' that you find so distasteful?


A. 
He attempts to maintain a doubled narrative of himself in the world. He wants to appear both normal and radical. The double narrative depends upon him appearing as an ordinary person who, through common sense, has arrived at thoughts of social revolution, the implication being that all those other normal people out there could do the same. 

Q.
And I assume your implication is that they can’t?

A.
They can’t because the narrative of class struggle pragmatism  retroactively rationalises the origin of consciousness. Pragmatism in all its naive forms identifies its agent with an idealised representation of being well-adjusted, and therefore capable of good judgement. This is the first lie upon which rests all its subsequent lies concerning subjectivity. Pro-revolutionaries are not normal people. Damage is the sine qua non of consciousness. Alienation is the basis of all analysis. Accept it. Get over it.

Q.
What do you propose as an alternative to this ‘doubled’ narrative?

A.
What else but a redoubling? It is necessary to reconstruct the ‘who’ of subjective consciousness. I have been involved in developing the conceptual tool, ‘pro-revolutionary’, which is designed for this problem of identification. The concept relieves the consciously aware individual of his various burdens by means of distancing him from them. The concept further separates consciousness from the burdensome practical tasks of realisation. In other words, it defamiliarises the practices which hitherto have always tended ideologically towards the embodiment of a subject formation that is also saleable to ‘the masses’. The concept of pro-revolutionary separates the individual pro-revolutionary from the task of revolution. 

Q.
Make the point.

A.
The history of revolutionary organisations demonstrates how this doubly narrated model, which activates processes of both normalisation and  transgression, is incredibly unstable and dangerous. To counteract this, the pro-revolutionary finds that he cannot consciously ‘participate’ in revolutionary events without damaging them, i.e. without smuggling in his narcissistic projections as a generalisable form.

Q.
You mean the ‘pro-revolutionary’ does not have to sully his precious analysis with practicality and propaganda?

A.
The pro-revolutionary retains the idea of the objective necessity of revolution but introduces the thought that the revolutionary event is the task of an other. 

Q.
Very convenient, I am sure. How does this distancing/defamiliarising manoeuvre apply to the question of class composition and to, what you identify as, the false formulation of class composition by those who have made it their business to analyse it?

A.
The capitalist social relation, the relation through which we individually appear, is materially constructed and ideologically regulated. The world is constructed through the abstract relation of things... but it is through the ‘things’ that the nature of the world actually manifests itself. In short, the world is produced out of factories. The question of social transformation therefore must be directed at the question of the production of things, and not at their strategic regulation. It is only through the question of the production of things that social revolution will gain access to the abstracted relations which the things materially realise. 

Q.
Between us, this is familiar territory, but for others it seems very hard to grasp. What you are saying here is that proletarian subjectivity will not be derived from a shared sense of working for a wage. You are making  distinctions between the abstract relations of production, the active material production of the world, and the day to day strategic management of production. It seems you separate out the regulatory work from productive work and make assumptions concerning transformation about this.

A.
I don’t think we need to get bogged down into yet another detailed formulation of ‘the essential proletariat’ here. It is sufficient to say that a relatively small number of people produce the matter which makes up  this world, and also therefore the material realisation of the laws which govern that matter. A different sector of the workforce performs secondary, regulatory functions, and a social managerial sector (where most ‘class struggle’ consciousness is located) performs logistical functions within the broader ‘state’/corporate bureaucratic nexus.

Q.
Then what exactly is the problem with the middle class adherents of class struggle politics who are employed in this ‘logistical’ sector?

A.
They are paid for the activity of their consciousness.  The problem is not that they cannot be sure whether they are thinking truly revolutionary ideas or just their recuperated form, but that in the activity of their consciousness, they are performing their economic function. The content of their thought is irrelevant.

Q.
Well, that is a breathtakingly sweeping generalisation. Why is the content of their thought irrelevant. 

A.
Because they are paid to think. Their thought is so much quantity, with maximised variability of content (or use-value). It is the function of the professional classes to measure otherwise unknown and unquantified social bodies so that they become more predictable for the purposes of the state, and thus more logistically manageable. Of course, it is the purpose of pro-revolutionaries to invite a quite other (and qualitative) self-realisation in these same social bodies. It is at this point of divergence, where the same social body can be made to appear in two different orders of theoretical knowledge, that the radical social professional is often compromised (as has occurred in the Aufheben example). The temptation for the professional is to realise his consciousness as his work and present it as a manifestation of radical consciousness. 


Q.
Contrast this predicament with what you call 'the productive proletariat.'


A.
The productive proletariat is not paid to think either strategically or logistically but if consciousness should ever appear within the context of production then this would indicate potentially revolutionary consequences. 

Q.
Why?

A.
Because an event of consciousness has occurred where it should not. If the essential proletariat suddenly starts making decisions over production then this would indicate a crisis in the productive relation, and would describe the first structural tremors of social revolution.

Q.
But why is decision making amongst factory workers different from decision making amongst teachers? 

A.
It is no accident that ‘revolutionary consciousness’ appears more frequently amongst social managers than the proletariat, as for the former it is simply the extension of the logic of management and decision making. The idea that the ‘front end’ professionals should manage their profession, without the ‘money men’ and ‘bureaucrats’ getting in the way and messing things up, is entirely conventional. From such conventions, it is not much of a leap to identify self-management with social revolution.

Q.
But you have just talked about self-management in a factory in terms of social revolution.

A.
No, I said the appearance of the practices of self-management indicates a necessary precondition for social revolution. Self-management and its concept of unfettered, useful, production directed by social managers to the benefit of all is a capitalist ideology. We may as well define it as a specifically anti-fetter ideology which has been historically developed from the question: What is the Third Estate? 
Q.
You are talking about the carrying over of the post-Enlightenment revolutionary politics of the bourgeoisie. 

A.
The 3rd estate as a political project is the specific representation of The People by its social professional leadership in terms of a morally self-evident ‘majority’ (the 99% in terms of Occupy X, and the ‘nineteen twentieths’ as Sieyès estimated it). This majority is conjured up as the objective pressure behind the rational political reforms of the institutions which  social professionals have proposed throughout history. For example, in their introduction, the internet site Libcom contrasts the majority as useful with a useless and obstructive minority, ‘All bosses and shareholders do is get in the way and take a huge chunk of the profit.’ The majoritarian proportion in harness to bourgeois ideals has always been presented by social professionals, in their critique of the irrational fetters of the ancien regime, as being a case of a small bad thing preventing a big good thing from working properly.

Q.
Irrelevant. Back to the point here.

A.
Wait, I cannot stress this enough, the separation between the many and the few, and the rational inferences drawn from this separation, is absolutely fundamental to third estatism. 

Q.
Get to the point here.

A.
Okay, and in the simplest of terms. The same object (revolutionary consciousness) may activate different sequences of events depending upon which social body it appears within. Revolutionary consciousness is not often manifested amongst the essential proletariat precisely because it must not appear there. Workers do not think about revolution because they are conditioned not to think about it. They are conditioned not to think about it because such thoughts, if widespread, would immediately manifest materially, and thereby disrupt productive relations. 

Q.
And on to the oh-so-neat contrast.

A.
On the other hand, social professionals are paid to think, and their function is always to modify institutional conventions. As a class, they are paid to either improve efficiency, or more rarely, to ‘think outside the box’, to ‘make possible the impossible’, and other business clichés. Political revolution in the hands of social professionals becomes just another strategic option that appears outside the box. The bourgeoisie has historically used political revolution to inhibit economic crisis. 

Q.
What harm does self-identification as workers by social professionals do?

A.
The short answer is that it reproduces a dynamics belonging to the ‘what is the 3rd estate’ model. By this I mean, we see how leadership roles within the milieu of social critique reproduce the patterns of class domination. Social professionals, in the guise of mere spokespeople, gravitate into positions of leadership even in contexts of ideological equality. In each isolated case this seems a matter of chance, but when considered on a wider scale, it follows a definite pattern. The priorities of the proletariat, thus constrained by the third estatist model of liberation, may only appear politically through the technical discourses of the professions.  The contents and form of these technical discourses when transferred onto revolutionary objects, appears to those whose very appearance is conditioned by them, as a neutral, self-evident, even objective language, when it is anything but. 


Q.
Why do pro-revolutionary social managers want to understand themelves as ordinary workers?


A.
It is aesthetically, and psychologically pleasing to make an argument in favour of the group, set or class that you are also a member of. It is uncomfortable to make an argument in favour of a group, set or class that you are not a member of, and which is actually subject to your own group, set or class. It is difficult to make an argument which begins with the understanding that your own group, set or class is more part of the problem than it is part of the solution – the more so, when you want to arrive at a politics of participatory liberation.

Q.
What is a social manager anyway?

A.
Social management is literally the circulation of the thoughts of the state through the discursive domains of social institutions, and which are embodied by the social professionals who realise consciousness as sets of practices. But it is more useful to consider the question: what is a revolutionary social manager?

Q.
Hold on. You are saying that, for example, a teacher is a thought in the mind of the state?

A.
Yes. 

Q.
And never anything more than that? Not an individual with his own life distinct from his job?

A.
He doesn’t have a job. He has a profession. The specifically communist struggle of all social managers, but which cannot appear as such within the discourse of third estatism, is to the separation of the person from the values and modes of their technical discourse. The struggle of the teacher is to be not a teacher when he is attempting realise himself as a communist. It is an almost impossible task when considered as a project of the self as all attempts at being not a teacher tend to invoke mere variants of professionality rather than genuine personhood. 

Q.
You mean the critique of education cannot be realised by the personnel of educational institutions, as any such undertaking tends to  reproduce its discursive constraints?

A.
That’s right. And yet, self-negation is the only honourable course open to the social manager. Life as the tortured, unhappy consciousness confronted by the inescapability of his function, twisting on the hook of himself is the most honest means of critique of conditions. History teachers, no strangers to healthy cynicism, are usually pretty good at this, and would serve as a practical model. 

Q.
You are working on the assumption that cynical social managers are less dangerous than committed left wing social managers.

A.
I don’t know about less dangerous, it is difficult to quantify harm, I just mean more human, more potentially communist. The social manager function is constructed as political consciousness, the internal struggle against that function therefore necessitates the struggle against political consciousness –  the flight into cynicism is just one human response to the constraints of professionalism. 

Q.
You seem to be saying that social managers should not think pro-revolutionary thoughts because by their nature such thoughts are counterrevolutionary.

A.
I am not saying they should not think such thoughts but rather that they are the only sector of the capitalist community that is conditioned to produce pro-revolutionary consciousness. And that in itself should set alarm bells ringing. For this reason, social managers should rigourously question the immediate form their thoughts take. They should reject, as a matter of course, all the political proposals that just happen to occur to them. 

Q.
I want to return to the question of the doubled narrative that you identify in class struggle politics, where the discourse of normalisation is united with that of social revolution. 

A.
It is curiously perverse. We can identify here a spiral in which the transgressions associated with social revolution are, in themselves, transgressed against as a means of realising a discourse of normalcy. 

Q.
Over the last ten years this phenomenon has become remarkable, particularly in the UK.  There has been a concerted effort to normalise ‘revolutionary consciousness’ and situate it within what you call the ‘third estatist discourse of social management’. What are the implications of this?

A.
It is associated with the above mentioned Libcom internet site, and whatever links into that. It has been developed as a politics directed towards expropriation, and specifically against the discourses of the critique of alienation. As illustrated above, it is classically third estatist in that it presents the problem of the capitalist social relation as a problem of governance and utility. From this perspective, it is proposed that exchange and ‘top-down’ management should be suppressed and this measure will liberate the forces of production in the direction of ‘production for the benefit of all’. It is a truncated version of communism which understands the question of social organisation entirely in terms of pragmatics where simple social bodies are related to simple social products. Again, this is typical of social managers who always want to strip away what they take to be extraneous in the name of efficiency. 

Q.
As you mention, one of the consequences of third estatism is the tendency to rationalise the complex stuff of human society into very simple political objects. Would you say the position of the current UK class struggle milieu is pre-dialectical?

A.
I wouldn’t want to go so far as to make an argument in favour of dialectics. I think the discourse of ‘emergence’ and ‘complexity’ facilitates the appearance of communist objects more completely. However, you are right to identify a sort of driven, even Taylorist tendency to simplification in third estatism and this would tend to feed into the necessity, as its proponents see it, for stripped down, communicable messages. In reality, such approaches are neither rational nor simple. 

Q.
Because so much is left unsaid in the proposals of revolutionary propaganda. In particular, the suppressed difficulties that are inherent in the proposal that if we all wished to do so, we could change the world for the better?

A.
Because such proposals, and the projects of third estatism in general, are based upon a representational mechanism which manifests as easy positive ‘unities’ whilst at the same time obscuring hidden difficulties and fractures. Third estatists  are always very keen to redirect argument towards ‘the real issue’ and away from internal difficulties when it is precisely these internal contradictions that are the means for understanding the world. The political gambit of the third estatists proposes popular social forms, and mass participation, but these appear as representations from the perspective of the third estatists. Communism thus appears only in a truncated form as represented in the priorities of those who are promoting it. 

Q.
We return here to the question of rackets, and the self-reproduction of groups which present themselves in identity with communism. 

A.
Beyond the claims of individual rackets and gangs, which reproduce the relations of society in their internal structure, is the class interest of those who perform the leadership function within such groups. This class based intellectuality is synonymous with an over-identification with technical discourse which is reproduced in its received form but with a communist twist. Thus communist teachers perform a discourse on education and communism; communist psychologists discourse on psychology and communism; communist social workers discourse on social problems and communism. The class position from which such discourses are suspended is invisible, unquestionable, what matters in such discourse is always the articulation of the external object. 

Q.
And utility, solutions, expertise, these are the key to this hidden class component, isn’t it?

A.
Pro-revolutionaries tend to be quite impressionable. The plausible image of competence is sufficiently dazzling for most of them to treasure it in their minds unquestioningly. They tend to fetishise utility but in themselves are generally not very practical people. Above all, they want to belong to the most competent discursive domain, that special set of discourses which is most right, most of the time. It is difficult for them to bring to mind the conditions by which this commensurability between discourse and the world comes to be as it is. The discourse itself resists this move. The irrationality of social managers is invisible to themselves.  

Q.
What has been mislaid from communism within the technical discursive domains of third estatism

A.
As I said above, third estatism emphasises what is to be retained of capital within communism. Social revolution is conceived as a capture and turning around of existing social institutions. The internet group, Libcom write, ‘We want workers and service users to democratically control their own workplaces and see ordinary people run the world together without money or authority.’  This creates one of those dreaded slippery slopes where the critique of capital is either displaced, or deferred, or simply identified with the positive formulation of the proposed alternative to it. Third estatism desubstantiates its critique of capital and converts it into an ‘us’ and ‘them’ struggle over ownership of the means of social production. In other words, they conceive of communism in the very terms which define the capitalist social relation. For them, the critique of capital is supplanted by the promotion of specific organisations and projects which are projected as antagonists of capital. The growth of such organisations is deemed, in itself, as a blow against capital. 

Q.
You are saying third estatist tendencies such as Libcom do not have an adequate critique of capitalism?

A.
There is no critique of capital as such, there is only, on the one side, an opposition to ‘bosses’, the projected enemy class, and on the other side, an ‘us’, who are being ‘held back.’ The problem here is that social relations are much more complicated than the externalising ideology of the third estatists can describe, but also it is an other, and not ‘us’, who must overthrow this relation.  ‘We’ (and social managers more than most) are creatures of capitalism, whatever the other is, it is not constituted in the present set of productive relations, and therefore by no stretch of the imagination can it be identified with the ‘us’ which Libcom appeals to in the introduction to its ideas.

Q.
It is no surprise that social managers reproduce the framework of social management as a means of liberation... a framework that appears as sets of chronic problems, self-managed by those most involved; and it is no surprise that this formulation mislays the critique of the deep relations of capitalism (where even opposition to capital is conditioned by the only available reference points). But if we go in a little closer, can we put our finger on what it is exactly that is missing in the ideology of self-managementism?

A.
This concerns the non-compatibility between different components of critique. Self-managementism severely truncates the critique of alienation as the latter is not coherent with the proposal for self-management. If it is the work itself, if it is the factory itself, if it is the product itself in which alienation is embedded then logically the pro-revolutionary position would call for the destruction of these. But if the carrier of consciousness is already calling for self-managed work, self-managed factories, and redistributed products as a revolutionary project then the critique of alienation itself has to be desubstantialised, and reduced to a mere contrast indicator between ‘problems’ and ‘solutions’. Self-managementism applies the critique of alienation only to the direct relations of production. 

Q.
Would you say that your main difference of perspective with self-managementism rests on the weight given to the critique of alienation?

A.
I think it is most often expressed in those terms. Where self-managementism seeks to retain infrastructure, those pursuing a critique of alienation seek to condemn it. 

Q.
Third estatism has broken out in numerous places across the world. What is its significance?

A.
It seems that the bourgeois revolution is not a historical event. It also now seems likely that there never was a bourgeois owning class... capitalist relations of productions have always existed abstractly, and prior to any historical embodiment or assumption of roles.

Q. 
Which means in plain English?

A.
Which means that although there were and are ‘bosses’, there never was a boss ‘class’ defined by a specific class interest... capitalism has only induced ‘proletarianisation’ from which a proletarian class could be inferred. 

Q.
But there has never been a ruling class? That is an extraordinary claim.

A.
In capitalism there has been the despotism of abstract relations into which human beings have been inserted as roles and functions, and through which they have become defined. 

Q.
But capitalism serves the interest of some more than others, you can’t disagree with that?

A.
Certainly not. But the conflicting interests of all are defined by the abstract relations into which we are all inserted. My interest, your interest, the boss’s interest are all set in motion by the abstract relations which they realise. It is a closed system and the mutually conditioning antagonism that it produces is the manner in which diverse and multiple functions are integrated. The internal struggle is what produces the totality.

Q.
But what exists outside of interpellated interest? How does communism ground itself?

A.
The referent of communism is other and unknown. And must remain so, in order that it be defended against its appearance in this world. We can say that when we negate the negation, when we turn our critique upon the conditions of our critique, we then glimpse something which suggests the possibility of other beings appearing on an other territory. However, what is now certain is that the representations of third estatists cannot not articulate communism. 

Q.
This has drifted again. What is the relation between third estatists and your concept of bourgeois revolution?

A.
Ah yes, I meant to say that if the bourgeois entity is not understood as a definite historical form, which has its moment only to be replaced by impersonal, developed, corporate forms then we can recognise it more accurately, and better explain the 1848 aspects of The Arab Spring. In the model I am proposing, the bourgeoisie did not ascend historically in the early years of the Nineteenth Century and then enter a decadent phase after the First World War. It is actually an eternal (but seasonal) component of all social relations dominated by capitalism. In short, the bourgeoisie reappears wherever conditions resemble 1848.

Q.
How can it ‘reappear’?

A.
The eternalised bourgeoisie, within the model I am proposing, awakens from its slumbers at critical junctures and recommences, as if for the first time, the ahistorical political project by which it is defined. The eternalised bourgeoisie is specifically constituted by a partially autonomised self-representation of the interests of social management.  This internalised interest is manifested in terms of a politics of rationalised, self-evident, critique of the corruption of existing conditions. Its arguments, its proposals, its manifestations are always the same.  

Q.
Okay, so the eternalised bourgeoisie carries forward the ideology of third estatism. But how does it appear, what is the mechanism for reactivating third estatism as a widespread revolutionary force?

A.
As in 1789 and 1848, third estatism is the partially conscious attempt to politically rationalise social relations in response to a crisis that has arisen as an otherwise irresolvable contradiction within abstract production. The proposal for rationalisation always takes the same form, retention of institutions and the implementation of a conscious decision making body over the apparatus of social production. I think it is probably fair to say that every attempt at such rationalisation has failed, every manifestation of the bourgeoisie fails to achieve its goals. But that failure is objectively necessary. Third estatism channels objectively constituted discontent into apparently pragmatic, but otherwise wholly dispersible, political goals and simply buys enough time for the spasm in abstract relations to pass. At which point, the bourgeois project again lapses into deep slumbers. 

Q.
But is it reasonable to identify the British/American tendency to class struggle pragmatics in the last ten years as a movement organised in favour of the bourgeois revolution?

A.
No, that would be unreasonable. But, essentially yes. The variant of third estatism promoted recently in the form of a pro-communist, class struggle movement towards proletarian self-management is the kind of extension of logic that occurs when limits and contradictions appear within naive formulations of third estatism. The Libcom project takes things further but does not escape the basic framework of third estatism which is defined by the rationalisation of production for the benefit of all.

Q.
Isn’t this extension an example of the negation of the negation you were talking of earlier?

A.
I cannot say it definitely isn’t. However, it would be difficult to argue that the extension of a logical line is the same as its abandonment, which would then suppose an altogether different undertaking.

Q.
Like what?

A.
Every name taken by 'revolutionary' organisations is also the name given to a particular defeat of the proletariat. All such organisations appear where communism has become impossible. Their 'realist' ideologies are a record of this defeat. 


Communsts should now recognise that all 'class struggle' organisations are organised in the interest of the social professionals that manage them, and that this indicates a specific movement of the capitalist apparatus, in the form of the discourse of social managers, against class consciousness. 


For this reason, members of the UK/American 'class struggle' organisations should relinquish their projects, cease their publications, and disband their groups and 'networks'. 


They should constitute new ‘internal’ relations amongst themselves in the light of the recent discovery of the meanings of the following terms: social management; pragmatism; third estatism; bourgeois revolution; pro-revolutionary. 


They should reconstitute their understanding of social transformation, and the possible agent of that transformation. 

Q.
Not very likely is it?

A.
You know they refused Jesus too.

Q.
You’re not him. 

No comments:

Post a Comment