The wind is whilstling: The nihilist communists are in the mountain. And there’s a rumour that you’re on ice. And you will rise again. Someday. Sleep you troubled souls, sleep timelessly. Like Bendigeidfran, sleep for ever or sleep until the strict conditions of your waking are met and thus unbroken continuity is marked in its being broken by the event of your return. It's, oh, so still. Breathe deeply in your repose, and wait and wait once more. Shhh! Do not awake now. Sleep is the balm of hurt minds. Shh! You're all alone - there is nothing you can do. There is nothing you can change.
The moment to which you alone can contribute is not arrived. Better it seems to never wake at all than to rise before the evening hour that strives. Shh, shh, sleep is great nature’s second course. For the threshold of your involvement has is not achieved. Still and still again, the nihilist communists must slumber... it is not yet their time to set forth amongst the tumult of foreign cities, for they know that too soon marred are those so early made. A thousand alignments of events and general conditions are necessary before the sun shall strike the key to the great boulder door of the mountain where they have rested for so long.
But is there not bewilderment enough? Is there not sufficient suffering? And defeat? Failure? Incomprehension? But still yet, these are not adequate to raise sleeping giants. It is true there have been ‘uprisings’, turbulence. There are demonstrations, there are events, protests, there is escalation. There is escalation, and three is escalation of escalation. And escalation again. Everything seems to feed into the moment. And then, without warning, as if the hole, the portal, the aperture through which, into which, out of which all hell has poured, without warning, like a rip in causality, or so it has seemed, that rip in ordinary intercourse, heals up and closes over. The same pattern is repeated over and over: protests, events, an impulse of revolt, which severs contact with its source, and as soon as it had just now appeared so it as quickly disappears.
How to explain these dislocations in society and, no less mysterious, the resetting of time’s joints? How are these temporary escapes possible, if that is what they are? And why do they return? And they do all return. Why are people caught up, captured by, the whatever flow it is that has carried them far away only for it to dry up and drop them in the same time? Why does it take so much event to leave so little gain? There is a burst, an inundation, al weather event, amongst the population. And then nothing. What is it that wins, when the protesters have dispersed?
For a long time now, some absurd, and to others loathsome, figures have sought to explain what does not happen by their own non-involvement. We have recorded here something of what it means to not ‘change the world’, what it is to stay out of it and not get caught up in the flow of enthusiasms. We have tried to record what defeat indicates, defeat, failure, ineffectiveness, impotence, weakness. We have asked ourselves, within the context of sympathetic others, what it means to theorise against optimism, against change, against progress, and involvement, and activity. And above all, activity. We have asked, what it means to consider transformation when there is no capacity to enact it.
The catastrophic and ongoing collapse of communist thought is like some dying language in some far away, and dying, culture. There are Bana, Tsamy, Darshe and Hamar tribespeople in Ethiopia wearing Manchester United shirts - communism is in a similar state of cultural bankruptcy. It has long since been more than necessary to surgically separate the adhesions between communism and the debilitatingly complacent concept of ‘real movement’. We are living through a moment characterised by the eclipse and re-submergence of communism, for which reason those still capable of independent thought must begin to examine the altogether other territory which becomes visible when the delusory landscape of progressivist optimism is filtered out.
For example, it seems to us that the recent protest phenomena of the last few years illuminates the true nature of the ‘bourgeoisie’ which previously has been theorised as an owner class. This now seems an inadequate definition. It is more accurate to describe it as a thrown social formation that appears fleetingly at moments of crisis ‘in relation’ to the process of general abstraction and expresses this abstraction ambivalently. The project of the bourgeois class is both liberation and instrumentalising rationalisation; it sets itself against restrictive practices, repression and corruption and, in current incarnation (from Egypt to Brazil), operates as franchisees for the commodities of ‘freedom’, ‘transparency’ and information flow as these appear in accordance with the interest of the dominant forces of information technology. The battle of the bourgeoisie has always and ever been against ‘restrictive’ practice and ‘irrationally’ repressive authority.
It now seems likely that all political consciousness is ‘bourgeois’ and that the proletariat has never advanced any political project of its own but only placed its weight behind external representation of its interest. Just as youth is eternal and yet each individual’s experience of it more fleeting even than the years of its extent, so individuals are templated onto the real-abstract category of ‘proletariat’ without it overly informing the bourgeois traits of their individuality. Whilst the proletariat, like a glacier, grinds the world beneath to dust, those who are proletarianised (and thus subsumed as a real-abstract function within the real/abstract productive process) are never proletarians. There are no proletarians at the level of the individual, the proletariat appears only as a mass and then only abstractly, i.e. as a social body in conformity with its abstract categorical designation.
The proletariat as proletariat has no ‘for itself’ characteristics, only a desolate in-itself consciousness which derives its flicker of coherence from the razor blade logic of inexorable abstraction that it inflicts 4real upon its own mortified flesh. All politics that swim in the wake of its floating bulk, like pilot fish beneath Moby Dick, are external and alien... the proletariat has no ‘seat of consciousness’ and is not structured so that it might formulate affect. Against his own intended meaning, we return to Otto Ruhle’s assertion that the proletariat exists only within the factory and that outside it is ‘petty-bourgeois’. Of course, we now go much further than Ruhle in that we dispute the very possibility of ‘proletarian organisations’. If the function of the bourgeoisie is (as capitalism’s revolutionary class) to ‘re-humanise’ abstraction, assign it a ‘human face’ and renew the relation between capital and the host social body, then the proletariat has no other mission but to trigger the process of apoptosis or programmed cell death within that body.
It will make way. Death is the condition of all life. It will clear the way. It is atrophy. It is the otherwise abstractly embodied, cattle-prod inhibited, key and activation of the passage from low to high entropy in the system of social production. The proletariat is truly the gravedigger of the capitalist relation but also of itself as a factor in that relation – it has no capacity to offer anything further to the world but its withering, nothing that overcomes or transcends present relations. We should consider it possible, or even probable, that social apoptosis, an automatic process of shutting down, decommissioning and laying to rest all the platforms that support the commodity form will proceed parasitically through the the bourgeoisie’s revolutionary prioritising of schools not football stadia. The proletariat moves vaguely, without focus, but massively, like a heavy ghost.
If the proletariat must follow the politics of the bourgeoisie it has no similar idea of salvaging what has been ‘corrupted’ in capitalism, and so, through sheer inertia, it is unable to perform that particular side-step which the bourgeoisie performs between its different registers of student revolt and mature governance. Who is on the street? Our future rulers are on the streets.
The proletariat has no capacity for volte face - once set in motion, it keeps on going, under impetus of the death instincts, it will take 4real that which the bourgeoisie had only presented as ideology... the proletariat will plough on, like a container ship that does not stop at the harbour but chews through the city until it reaches the palace, towards the guiding afterimage of production for use and immanent autonomy, long after the revolutionary government has instituted further layers of mediation and representation.
The force perhaps incorrectly termed ‘proletariat’, at that mysterious point of sufficient crisis, will adopt bourgeois ideas of use and rationality, and will realise these as an irresolvable state of contradiction – under the remorseless gravity of the real-concrete world, the supposed for-itself proletarian subject is transformed into an immense jellyfish that is unable to support its own weight. At that juncture, the productive relation itself will enter into crisis and the mists will clear once more from the mountains of utopia.
Below is a Bendigeidfran’s cauldron (or merely a bran tub) of some of our (mercifully) short form materials intended to stimulate further consideration, which approach recent protest movement enthusiasms through the framing device of the inescapable: