The self-abolition of the proletariat as the end of the capitalist world (or why the current revolt doesn’t transform into revolution)
“Exploitation, which is necessary to sustain the economy, has in the generalized installation of capital, managed historically to overcome the attacks of the proletariat, since they have never put its central components into question” […]
If it were but merely a question of explaining the facts in a very pedagogical way, the day after tomorrow the old world would be left in the dust, but this is not so, the exploited feel comfortable in their chains because they are entrapped in the mercantile social relations that hide their exploitation under the veil of democratic reconciliation or of nihilistic resignation, two poles of the same ideological center.”
–Anarquia & Communismo n.11
Santiago, Chile Winter 2018
“Yet at the same time, the proletariat only exists when it becomes conscious of its condition and struggles for its liberation, that is, its self-abolition, by attacking the social relations and institutions that keep it dominated and through the affirmation of its truly human interests, neither defined nor mediated by mercantile necessities”
-Ya No Hay Vuelta Atrás (Now There’s No Turning Back) n.2
Santiago, Chile February 2020
The fundamental contradiction of the current proletarian revolt
The revolt is breaking out all over the world, but all over the world the revolution is missing. Why? What follows is a tentative but forceful response.
The current-day reason is that this society of classes is coming out of a historical counterrevolutionary period (since approximately the 1980’s) and entering a historical period of ascension and intensification of the worldwide proletarian struggle against worldwide Capital-State (2008-2013 and 2019-202?). Which, at the same time, recently is starting to alter the correlation of forces and the conditions for a possible revolutionary situation, in view of the fact that the proletarian revolt has caused the bourgeoisie and their governments to tremble, but it still hasn’t defeated them nor sent them to the dustbin of history. As the comrades of Grupo Barbaria say, this is a “hinge period” which must be seen not as a photograph but as a film that contains flows (revolts), and ebbs (returns to normalcy), new flows and a open finale. A historical period which transits between the counterrevolution and a possible revolutionary situation at a global level; for which, nevertheless, there is still a long way to go.
The structural reason, or the one in the backdrop, is that the proletariat is still not a revolutionary class, despite the fact that today the capitalist crisis is more widespread and serious than ever before, and that the current global wave of revolts of the exploited and oppressed is a embryo and a milestone heading forward towards the global revolt, or at least its necessity and possibility. With a greater or lesser grade of organizational autonomy and of street violence, the proletarian class today is fighting against the capitalist order almost everywhere, but this is not sufficient: in the end, the proletariat is revolutionary or it is nothing, and it’s only revolutionary when it struggles, not for “a life that is just and dignified” as the working class, but to cease to be it. Yes, the proletariat is only revolutionary when it struggles to cease being the proletariat, that is, when it fights for its self-abolition. Of this there are certain symptoms and elements in some current struggles (e.g. struggles not for more work and more State but for another life, although they appear to be “suicidal” struggles) but still there’s a long way to go, because in their majority the proletarians continue to reproduce themselves as the class of labor and, therefore, as the class of Capital, and they continue to negotiate with the State about their demands in that reproduction. At the moment, then, the working class flows and ebbs between being an exploited class and being a revolutionary class. This is the fundamental contradiction, still unresolved, of the proletarian revolt today and, therefore, the principal reason for which it doesn’t transform into social revolution.
At the same time this happens because, in this era of real and total subsumption (integration and subordination) of work and life into Capital, Capital and the proletariat reciprocally imply each other – as the comrades of Endnotes say-, they mutually reproduce “24/7”, sometimes they identify with each other and other times they are in direct confrontation. A class relation in which, of course, the proletarian social pole is that which suffers all this human alienation as an exploited and oppressed class, and therefore once and awhile it rebels against such a condition. To which the Capital-State responds with repression and, above all, with co-opting and recuperation of the proletarian struggles into its logics, mechanisms, institutions, ideologies and discourses. Because if it doesn’t do so, it would seriously compromise its own existence. Like so then, from the point of view of the revolutionary and dialectical materialist, in the current historical cycle of class struggle the abolition of Capital necessarily implies the abolition of the proletariat and vice-versa.
Indeed, because in the end it’s not a matter of taking pride in being a proletarian and fighting for a “proletarian society”, and even less for a “proletarian State”. Alienation can’t be destroyed through alienated means, that’s to say with the arms of the system itself (as it is believed by the partisans of the “transition period”, meaning the so-called “socialism” of State capitalism, whatever the “path” may be), since that is “giving more power to Power”. On the contrary, it’s a matter of assuming the fact of being a proletarian as a condition that is socially and historically imposed, as the modern slavery from which one must liberate themself collectively and radically. It’s a matter of ceasing to be an exploited and oppressed class once and for all, eliminating the conditions that make the existence of social classes possible. Given that the proletariat condenses all forms of exploitation and oppression within itself, at the same time as all forms of resistance and of radical alternative, Capital, the State and all forms of exploitation and oppression would be abolished (sex/gender, “race”, nationality, etc.) This is the social revolution. And without a doubt this will not be a magical occurrence that happens over night in a pure and perfect manner, but a historical and contradictory process which nevertheless will have this consistent foundation or will not be.
Yet at the moment that is not what’s happening because, in spite of being in revolt in many countries, the proletariat in their majority continue to struggle to reproduce their “life” as the working class and not to put an end to their slavery, waged and citizenized. (I say in their majority, because there also exist proletarian minorities that agitate against work, the class society and the State, but that unfortunately don’t have a greater social impact.)
And they don’t do it just because of ideological alienation or “lack of class consciousness”, but because of the material necessity of survival: selling their labor force in the current precarious conditions and at whatever price in order to be able to cover their basic needs, trying to valorize their commodity-labor power in the work market as much formal as informal (or in the market of goods and services, in the case of self-management and barter), to struggle to subsume their life even more to Capital, reproduce and bear its social relations and its forms of living. The capitalist class relationship is in crisis, but it remains standing. The working class today is more precarious and miserable than ever before, but it continues to be a working class.
If indeed Capital can no longer maintain so much surplus or excess population which its own historical development has produced all over the world, but rather it gets rid of them by means of wars, pandemics, famines, etc., just as it also tends to generate new class conflicts, principally on part of the workers against the increase in exploitation and the pauperization or the so-called “austerity measures” taken as much by the left and the right; at the same time, the capitalist counterrevolution has still not been defeated by the proletariat on the socioeconomic and everyday terrain, and therefore, not on the political and organizational terrain, despite the ideological illusions that the different leftists create in this respect.
For example currently in Chile, a country in which, on one hand, despite the community soup kitchens and other practices of solidarity between proletarians, the revolt doesn’t provide a livelihood, or not for a long awhile. The majority of the people have to work (formally and informally) in order to eat, pay the rent, education, health care, basic services, telephone and internet, etc.; that’s to say, they must reproduce the capitalist relationships of production, circulation and consumption.
and on the other hand, in spite of the existence of the autonomous territorial assemblies, their major demand is the “constituent assembly”; meaning that, instead of taking power over their own life in order to change it radically and in every aspect, the majority of our class would again delegate it to the bourgeois-democratic State. But above all, because in their majority the proletarians continue reproducing the capitalist relationships of alienation, oppression, exploitation, competition and atomization amongst themselves, including in the the assemblies, the barricades and the territorial recuperations. And although the revolt in Chile is the most advanced at an international level at the moment, it is not therefore “the revolution to commence” as the comrades of the blog “Vamos Hacia la Vida” say, but rather it is a revolt that is being defeated by its own limits and obstacles, regardless of the organizational autonomy and the street violence which still manifests in it. As the comrades of the Círculo de Comunistas Esotéricos say, “The revolution has been postponed, but the larval possibility of assuming it has been implanted. It’s necessary to continue nourishing its possibilities as one waters a plant, as one suckles an infant, as bonds of affection are built: constantly, daily. The battle in these moments has been lost, but only partially. There are inroads that are necessary to maintain. Just as there are setbacks that need to be evaluated” And as another comrade from there, of the blog “Antiforma” says, paraphrasing Vaneigem: “those that speak of revolution and class struggle without referring to the destruction of the social and biopsychic fabric that could sustain a decisive change, speak with a corpse in their mouth.” Nevertheless, whatever happens in the next months in this country (especially , after the plebiscite which was announced for April 2020 but temporarily suspended due to the coronavirus), it will be a milestone in the transition – or not – of a possibly revolutionary historical period on a global level, which without a doubt leaves revolutionaries everywhere with multiple and valuable lessons.
For such reasons the thing is that, in this era and all over the world, the proletariat oscillates between being a class which is exploited and oppressed by Capital-State and being a class that is revolutionary or self-abolishing. It fluctuates between the one and the other, with or without consciousness of what it is doing and what it can do. This is – and it’s worth reiterating – the fundamental ambiguity, paradox or contradiction of the current day proletarian revolt that is still unresolved , and therefore, the principal reason for which it doesn’t transform into a social revolution.
Indeed, the revolt is not a revolution. The intermittent re-emergence of the worldwide proletariat, and its autonomous and violent actions against the forces of repression (of which spectacle and illusion are also made, e.g. the romanticizing of “the front line”), are not a revolution. But “the socialist transition State” and “rank-and-file workers’ self management” aren’t revolution either (they never were). The key to the social revolution is the self-abolition of the proletariat, which goes hand-in-hand with the abolition of value, because these are the roots or the foundations of capitalism, understood as the social dictatorship of value valorizing itself at the cost of a proletarianized humanity and of nature.
The self-alienation and self-destruction of the proletariat as a class of Capital
On the contrary, when they don’t fight against the capitalist conditionsand class relationships, when they don’t fight in an autonomous and conscious way to produce the conditions and the weapons (practical and theoretical) of their own liberation, the proletariat is a class of Capital and for Capital, because it is Capital that produces and reproduces it daily and in every sense, as much objectively or materially as subjectively and spiritually. Not only producing and reproducing economic value and surplus value, but also cultural value and surplus value, ideological and psychological – that is, producing and reproducing human alienation in all its levels and forms, upon the basis of the the fundamental and transversal alienation of the capitalist society: commodity fetishism, meaning the objectification, commodification and monetary valorization of human relations -. Not only by means of wage slavery and voluntary servitude – that is, being a citizenry disciplined by work/consumption and fragmented into thousands of particular identities-; but, above all, when the proletarians don’t recognize or assume themselves and among themselves to be as such, when they disregard and isolate themselves and neither act in solidarity nor mutual aid, when they compete, cheat, snitch, defraud, exploit, dominate, violate in every possible form and even kill each other (in all of these, without a doubt the women, children, homosexuals, blacks and indigenous bear the brunt of it).
In summary, the problem is the reproduction of capitalist social relations and of power in everyday life, principally within the proletariat itself, not only because of how the proletarian men and women relate with the exploiting and ruling class, but because of how they relate amongst the oppressed themselves in order to reproduce themselves as such, being, as they are, the majority of the society. And the thing is that, throughout majority of historical time (there are exceptions: revolts and revolutions) and in every part of the world, the proletariat has passed it by self-alienating and self-destructing as humanity to the benefit of Capital (of commodity fetishism, of value, of the money-god for which they work) and of all the forms of exploitation/oppression that are subsumed within its mode of social production reproduction (patriarchy, racism, nationalism, etc.) instead of directing all the subversive aspect of their misery, rage, and violence against it; and above all, instead of fighting to reappropriate their own lives and live them in real freedom and community.
Now, as Marx said, a society doesn’t ever disappear before all of its productive forces and forms of living (and of dying) are developed, or before the material conditions for new and superior social relations there already exist at its bosom. Therefore, the bourgeois society will not disappear until the proletariat neither can nor want to live under the capitalist mode of production and of living, and therefore begin to produce for themselves, by need and by desire, anarchic and communist social relations and forms of living, which can only be developed freely and fully by means of the social revolution, in the heat of the class antagonism and the reproduction of daily life. It is there, in the real and practical social struggles where the proletarians do this, where the seed of revolution, of communism and anarchy, can be found.
As Endnotes and other comrades like Kurz explain well, the revolutions of the 19th and 20th centuries, despite their elements and tendencies of a communist and anarchic character (e.g. rejection of work and of the State, of mercantile exchange and of democracy) didn’t dynamite the roots and fundamental categories of capitalism, but rather they developed, modernized and spread them throughout the world from the opposition, not only through the counterrevolutionary (re)action of the worldwide bourgeoisie, but also thanks to the worker-union, peasant and popular movement and its leftist vanguards that took bourgeois state power or, in the absence of that, managed to make the state concede economic, political and social reforms in terms of welfare, development and nationalism. It’s needless to say here, but anyway just in case, what existed in Russia, China, Yugoslavia, Cuba, etc. was not communism but State capitalism with other administrators and other headings. For their part, the anarchist and autonomist experiences of self-management (from Barcelona in 1936 to Chiapas and Rojava today in the 21st century) didn’t manage to break away from and overcome the social and impersonal dictatorship of value, money, the commodity and work, and that’s to say capitalism, either.
In short, all the past revolutions failed to realize the fundamental objective of the communist revolution: the abolition of class society, beginning with the proletariat itself, which is the principal producer and product of capitalist social relations.
Today we know that, despite such revolutionary elements and tendencies, it wasn’t due to causes pertaining to the ideological-political – meaning program and party – and military – meaning arms and the use of violence – but rather quite precisely material and historical causes – namely: a transition from formal subsumption to the real subsumption of work into Capital, a surge and crisis of the workers’ movement as opposition to/developer of capitalism, new cycles of crisis/restructuring and of class struggles -, which determined that communism would not be realized in past eras and that it really hadn’t been possible yet until today or from now on to realize it. And this is not “to justify the leninist and stagist theory of statist and capitalist development of productive forces”, as a comrade of the ICG says. It’s “applying historical materialism to historical materialism itself”, as Korsch said; in this case, the historical materialist conception of communist revolution. Furthermore in the communizing perspective leninism is also openly criticized as a counterrevolutionary force, and communism is understood as a real global-historical movement that, due to the causes that have been mentioned, still has not been able to transform into a new society.
Then, how could it be possible- even inevitable – that the current historical and international cycle of capitalist crisis/restructuring and of class struggle could be pushing the proletariat towards the worldwide communist revolution, in the same time that it is pushing towards extinction? Because the technological progress of the multinational companies, with the aim of competing and obtaining more profits and power, has turned them in their majority into a superfluous or excess population (surplus proletariat) which becomes more and more difficult to guarantee under this system, not only the production of commodities and of surplus value, but the reproduction of their very life in every aspect. The contradiction of capital, sooner or later fatal, is that it almost completely devalues its principal source of value and of wealth: the collective labor force, the working class. The fact that today there exists so much technology (as to reduce human labor to the necessary minimum) and so many foods (as much to feed more than the existing world population), but at the same time there is neither as much work, nor money, nor stability, nor housing, nor uncontaminated environment, nor health, nor anything, for the majority of the population, creates malaise and social protest. In which the proletariat, which is so precaritized today, has fought not only for work and for another kind of government, or not only for more money, more things and better services, but also against the State-Capital, with or without consciousness that it had done so. Producing communities of struggle and of life not mediated by competition, money or authority, that’s to say where new social relations are experimented with that subvert the capitalist social relations – another world inside of and against the bowels of this world -, but that last only as long as such struggles last… like everything in these “liquid” and “diffused” times.
It’s no coincidence then, that this era of crisis and social revolts be, at the same time, the era of the labor reserve army or of the workers who are unemployed, underemployed and impoverished, composed in a considerable percentage by youth with higher education, internet access and “social networks”, and with experience in massive rebellions and even in insurrections and “communes”. But up until there and no more, because the revolt is not the revolution. Capitalism remains standing. And this, at the same time, is because the proletariat is the living contradiction which today fluctuates between self-alienation/self-destruction and self-emancipation/self-abolition through its revolts and returns to normality.
The revolution is the positive resolution of this movement in contradiction: the revolution is the radical self-suppression/self-overcoming of the proletariat and, therefore, of Capital, not because of ideology but because of concrete vital necessity, that is to say when the proletariat feels and assumes in social practice the necessity to produce communism and anarchy in order to live, no more and no less, Meanwhile, capitalism, with the plasticity which has always characterized it, will continue to dialectically recycle the assaults of the proletariat to its own favor. And its leftist organizations will continue reproducing Capital and the State, although they think and say the opposite (see below).
All of this – and not “the lack of a party” nor “the lack of a program” – is what materially and historically explains why the proletariat, despite being the social majority numerically, has still not destroyed once and for all this system of alienation, exploitation, misery and death which is ruled over by the bourgeoisie, who are numerically the social minority. This is the response to the question that many proletarians have made sometimes or often, above all in this era of real and total subsumption of humanity into Capital.
Indeed, the problem is not only the “perverse” bourgeoisie and the “damned” capitalist system, but that, through subsumption, the proletariat itself IS the capitalist system: let’s be realist and honest, our class is not, nor must it be seen as “victim”, “saint”, nor “heroine”, in this history: the majority of the time and all over the place it keeps on self-alienating and self-destructing as humanity, reproducing the capitalist relationships of exploitation and oppression. But also, as an exploited and oppressed class, the proletariat has been and can be the revolutionary class, not necessarily but potentially, depending on what it does or doesn’t do in the class struggle to negate and suppress its own current condition, to transform the capitalist social relations into communist social relations.
Because it’s humanly comprehensible and assertable that our class becomes fed-up and attacks such a subhuman condition of being an exploitable and disposable commodity-thing. Because, dialectically speaking, within its self-alienation pulsates the possibility of its self-abolition, given that the de-alienation runs the same route as the alienation (from the economic alienation to the religious and ideological alienation). Its self-abolition, then, necessarily implies its self-liberation (“the emancipation of the workers will be the task of the workers themselves” or it will not happen), and its self-liberation necessarily implies its radical self-critique as a class. Because the self-critique allows it to learn the lessons of its defeats for present and future battles; that’s to say, because self-critique is the key to self-liberation, just as the “revolution within the revolution” is the key to the revolution. and above all because, as Camatte said “currently, either the proletariat prefigures the communist society and realizes the [revolutionary] theory, or it continues to be what society already is.”
This includes and implicates principally its organizations, parties, movements, collectives, groupuscules, sects or “rackets” of the left (marxist-leninist and postmodern) and of the ultra-left (radical communists and anarchists), because these also reproduce the capitalist relations, logics, dynamics, practices and behaviors. Principally, by means of their multiform political and ego competition to be the self-proclaimed vanguard that takes power over the State “when the historical moment arrives”, for some, or that self-manages Capital “from below and to the left” for “everyone” in daily life, for “others”. It’s all the same, because all these different leftist organizations are, due to their practices and their relations, just another gear in this generalized mercantile society of atomization, competition, spectacle and ideology (ideology understood as the deformed consciousness of the reality that, as such a real factor, at the same time exerts a real deforming action, in the words of Debord). Products and agents of the ideological-political and identitarian market, these leftist organizations are the caricaturesque and miserable spectacle of the struggle for revolution… ad nauseam. They are capitalism with an “anticapitalist” appearance.
Above all in moments of post-revolt or of a return to normalcy, like for example the leftist organizations in Ecuador after the revolt of October 2019 (in which we participated spontaneously as thousands of proletarians “without a party”), or like what happened also in Brazil after the revolt of June 2013… and in general all over the world, before and after the current wave of revolts.
Still so, the problem is not only the reformist or left-wing of Capital and its multiple divisions and competitions. The problem isn’t per se the ideology or the organizations either. The problem is how the proletariat itself and its proletarian minorities reproduce capitalism in daily life, in practice, despite how their ideology and discourse say the opposite.
The self-abolition of the proletariat as the key to the communist revolution and communism as a real and contradictory movement
Nevertheless, the only way to combat, destroy and really overcome all this shit is the autonomous and revolutionary struggle of proletarianized humanity, including its radical minorities. As well as the everyday and anonymous forms of resistance and solidarity between the oppressed or the nobodies “without a party”. Indeed, it is in the dialectic contradiction itself where the possibility of revolution can be found, understood as a negation and overcoming of the negation. This contradiction really exists and it IS the proletariat: an exploited class and a revolutionary class. Because the same vital energy that reproduces this system of death can be used to combat it, destroy it and overcome it. Starting by questioning, revolutionizing, and abolishing itself and by extension all other social classes, towards the aim of reappropriating human life itself, in the heat of, and only in the heat of, the class struggle. Assuming in practice that the struggle against Capital necessarily implies the struggle against its class condition itself. That might sound “suicidal” but, on the contrary, it’s liberating from the chains of wage slavery and of all oppression and alienation. Because, as the comrade Federico Corriente says, “today there’s no other horizon than that of the catastrophic reproduction of Capital and the inevitable and uncertain leap “into the void” that is paramount for putting an end to it, that will happen through the assault of the proletariat against the contradictions of its own reproduction.”
In fact, the only power which must be of interest to proletarians – because they possess it, at least potentially – is the power to self-eliminate as such and to so eliminate the capitalist and statist class relationship. As the comrades of Les Amis du Potlach said, “the revolution will be proletarian for those that realize it and anti-proletarian through its content” That is what the historical and revolutionary materialist dialectic really consists of, no more and no less: in assuming that the proletariat and the class struggle are a fundamental or substantial part of Capital, with the aim of struggling to cease be so and thus – and only thus – to render the classes and such a “systematic dialectic” itself abolished. This, and not anything else, is the proletarian revolution, the communist revolution. Obviously assuming it and doing it (the concrete) is a million times more complicated than understanding it and saying it (the abstract). And in spite of the current proletarian revolts, there is still a long way to go towards that, for the reasons expressed in the first part of this work.
In the sense that it’s still necessary to pass through many more crisis, struggles, insurrections, civil wars, pandemics, tragedies, counterrevolutions and defeats so that the proletariat finally manages – or not- to assume that human and historical necessity for the revolution, to become conscious of their revolutionary power, to act as a revolutionary subject and to make the social revolution, the key of which – and it’s worth insisting upon – is the self-abolition of the proletariat (the bourgeoisie will no longer have someone to exploit and oppress), which is intrinsic to the abolition of value (human relations will return to being human, since they will no longer be mediated by commodity-things or by money), and the transformation of the capitalist and authoritarian social relations into communistic and anarchic ones in every aspect. Not because of any ideology or politics, but because it will be a material question of life or death, in account of the current capitalist catastrophe which, in the future, will be increasingly worse. All of this, in increasingly more accelerated and violent times.
Yes: abolishing the proletariat in order to abolish capitalism must be – and really has always been – the objective and the principal measure of the communist or communizing
revolution, in practice and, therefore, in the theory and revolutionary strategy.
And meanwhile? And meanwhile, as it has been said: the autonomous and revolutionary struggle of proletarianized humanity, class antagonism and solidarity as much within counterrevolutionary everyday life (or in the non-revolutionary class struggle) as in the revolts and insurrections (or in the revolutionary class struggle), and above all the creation and development of new social relations and forms of life that break with and overcome the capitalist relations. Because it’s not only a matter of reappropriating and having clear the historical and invariant program of the communist revolution, and of fighting to impose such a program upon the class enemy by means of revolutionary power. It’s not just a matter of fighting for and making the revolution, it’s a matter of BEING the revolution. As the comrades of the Invisible Committee had said well, “the question is not only the struggle for communism, but the communism that is experienced in the revolution itself.” Therefore, the only “meanwhile” or the only “transition” to communism is communism itself, understood as a real and historical social movement that fights to destroy the capitalist society in order to transform into a new society without classes or States.
Indeed, because communism is not the utopia or the ideal to implant in an uncertain and indefinitely postponed future ad infinitum. As Marx said “communism is the real movement that abolishes the current state of things”, the premises of which can only be realized on the global-historical plane. It is the real movement of the proletariat tired of being so that destroys and overcomes the capitalist world, not because of ideology but because of material necessity and for freedom (freedom understood as consciousness acting out of necessity. Certainly, as Marx also said, a mass communist consciousness can only be produced through participation in a revolution or mass transformation of the material and spiritual conditions of existence.):
This movement has reemerged in the last decade and is once again “a spectre that haunts the world” and which frightens the worldwide bourgeoisie. Communism is “a corpse that doesn’t cease to be born” it is a real, living movement, that threatens the basis of the capitalist system itself, but which still hasn’t killed and buried it, due to its own limits and internal contradictions (see below).
But communism is not an ensemble of measures that are applied after the taking of power, as the leninists believe. It’s a movement that already exists, but not as a mode of production (there can’t be a communist island within capitalist society, as the self-managerialists believe), but as a tendency towards the community and the solidarity that can’t be realized in this society, the key of which lies precisely in the practices of solidarity and of community among proletarians while they struggle for their own lives against the capitalist system until being able to abolish it and overcome it, knowing or not what they are doing. Above all in situations of crisis and of extreme necessity:”In extrema necessitate, omnia sunt communia”: “in extreme necessity, everything is for everyone”.
Communism is not an ideal or a program to realize; it already exists, not as an established society, but as a seed, a task, an effort and a tension for preparing the new society. As Dauvé says “communism is the movement that tends towards abolishing the conditions of existence determined by wage labor, and it effectively abolishes them through revolution.”
Metaphorically speaking, communism is the fetus and the revolution is the birth of the new world. This is communization.
When it is real, the revolutionary movement is not pure and perfect but impure, imperfect, limited and contradictory. Hence, what really makes it revolutionary is assuming, sustaining and tensing that internal contradiction in order to eradicate and overcome it; concretely, eradicate and overcome the reproduction of the capitalist social relations at its heart along with the rest of the society. In other words, the revolutionary movement or the real community of struggle of the proletariat is the living contradiction and, at the same time, the conscious, voluntary and impassioned “tension” (in the sense that comrade Bonanno gives it) to eliminate and overcome this imposed contradiction; that is, by creating revolutionary situations, relations and subjectivities – communitarian and libertarian – that manage to confront, strike, debilitate, crack, destroy and overcome capitalism in the concrete life of concrete individuals, so much that it constitutes another form of being and living in this world.
One step forward in this real and anonymous proletarian movement is worth more than a dozen programs and “rackets” or groupuscles of the left and ultra-left.
Only then does the real community of struggle prefigure or anticipate the real human community. Only then exists the coherence between revolutionary ends and means (one of the lessons of the historical anarchist movement). And that is to make and to be the revolution understood as communization.
None of this is either pure or perfect, but it is impure, imperfect, limited, contradictory, as it was said: there exists a tension, rupture and leap or change more or less permanent – or rather intermittent – within it, as a real and living movement. In effect, the real anticapitalist movement is the one in which the deeds subvert and overcome the capitalist conditions of existence and its own internal contradictions determined by such conditions. Where direct action, the abolition of private property, solidarity, gratuity, horizontality in the taking of decisions that affect everyone’s lives, are facts and not only words and ideas. I’m thinking of Exarchia (Greece) and the Mapuche territories (Araucanía), just to mention a few current and concrete examples. There exist the seeds and the tendencies of communism and revolution today.
So, a period of communization instead of a “period of transition”. This means that communization will not occur overnight, nor through the existence of a mass class consciousness (incarnated and directed by “the party”) nor through the existence of many “self-managed communes” (capitalism with an assembleary and self-managed appearance), but by means of a process or a contradictory and historical-concrete cycle of capitalist crisis/restructuring and of real and international class struggle that, at the same time, is a result, critical balance and surpassing synthesis of all the past cycles of struggle (since the birth of capitalism up until then).
Concretely, the current historical cycle, in which the proletariat, at the same time that it is totally subsumed to Capital, resumes its class struggle against it and, therefore, against their own condition as an exploited and oppressed class, in order to so reappropriate their own lives. Which is inseparable, lastly, from the struggle to communize all the conditions and material and immaterial means of existence.
In effect “the communist production of communism”, as the comrades of Théorie Communiste say, can only be realized at the heart of the real class struggles and, more specifically, at the heart of the autonomous struggles of and within the proletariat itself in order to out a stop to the catastrophic capitalist progress in course and therefore defend nothing more and nothing less than Life, by material and concrete necessity, and also because of the acting and emergent consciousness of such a necessity. Tensing, breaking and overcoming its own limits as a class of and for Capital. Questioning, negating and overcoming their own condition as a social class determined and divided by work and money. Resisting, advancing and leaping from their defensive self-organization towards their positive self-abolition as such. Taking immediate communist measures to this effect.
Immediate communist measures? Yes, because the current historical-material conditions, these being the high level of capitalist progress and of catastrophe in every aspect of social life, as well as the existing communist practices in some current proletarian struggles, not only make it possible but urgent to take immediate communist measures. Furthermore, as Jappe says, this is the only revolutionary or “radical realism” that is possible today, while all kinds of reformism of the “period of socialist transition” type not only were, are, and will be counterrevolutionary by being capitalist and statist, but also because it’s objectively impossible in this era. In effect, given that the current crisis of Capital is the crisis of labor, of value and of the class relationship, the revolution not only must consist of abolishing private property, meaning expropriating from the bourgeoisie by force and communizing the means of production and the consumer goods: it must consist – and in reality it always has consisted- in abolishing wage labor, the division of labor, money, mercantile exchange, value, businesses; and, in turn, in generalizing the minimal necessary labor, the gratuity of things and the collective and individual making of decisions, in order to so abolish all the social classes and all forms of state power over the real community of freely associated individuals that must be formed in order to produce and reproduce their own lives according to their real human needs. As a banner recently unfurled on a balcony of an italian city says: “Work less. Everyone work. Produce what’s necessary. Redistribute everything.” All of this, in concrete local territories and with real international ties. Also, inseparable from that, are those communist measures that eliminate all forms of segmentation, privilege and oppression based upon sex/gender, “race” and nationality. And if it’s possible to speak and write about all that, it’s because there exist practices in some current anti-system revolts and movements that already prefigure or anticipate them as real seeds and tendencies.
A current and concrete example of an immediate communist measure; the looting of supermarkets in the south of Italy, one of the countries most afflicted by the “coronavirus crisis”, which was done by proletarians who are already in precarious situations and now desperate, given that, as they themselves say, “the problem is immediate, the children have to eat.” Why is it an immediate communist measure? Because, despite it not directly affecting the sphere of production (as on the other hand the recent wildcat strikes in the same country have indeed done), it eliminates by the deed the sacrosanct private property, the commodity, wage labor and money, and satisfies the common and basic needs of the proletarians and their families. The spontaneous, autonomous and anonymous networks of solidarity and mutual aid among proletarians, which have been created in these precise moments everywhere, are also a concrete communist practice. How can these kinds of measures be sustained over time an space? That’s another subject. On the other hand, it’s also possible to consider as an immediate communist measure the call for a “universal rent strike” (to not pay rent and to occupy empty homes for people that are homeless) from many countries of the world (Spain, France, Sweden, United Kingdom, USA, Canada, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, etc.).
On the other hand, the other possible meanwhile is that the proletariat in their majority continue working (including police and military work, and that of “telework”), buying, consuming, contaminating, voting, studying, facebooking, tweeting, watching netflix, eating “junk food”, going out to party, listening to reggaetón and getting drunk on the weekends, drugging themselves to the veins, going to the bordello, to the stadium, to the concert and the tavern… or to the church, and being nationalist, xenophobic, macho and violent (including fascist) towards other proletarians but not towards the bourgeois and their uniformed guard-dogs; or looking for work and dying of hunger, from depression or of cancer; or going delinquent to later rot in jail; or going “crazy” to later rot in the asylum; or falling into social paranoia, consumerism and individualism in the supermarkets and everywhere else, when there are pandemic situations (e.g. coronavirus), health emergency, austerity measures and massive disinformation/idiocy; or – what seems to be the opposite but is not – joining up to be militants in the ranks of their left/ultra-left organizations, believing that they are “fighting for the revolution” and “being coherent” by that, when in reality they are only participating in capitalist political competition between proletarians, a competition that only differs in the form and level of violence from other non-political forms of fratricidal war (gangs, mafias, etc.) at the same time that such political sects have a similarity to religious sects in their dogmatic way of seeing the world and by treating their peers like sheep and soldiers for their war against “the enemy” and for “the cause”.
To sum it up, the other possible meanwhile is alienated survival and, in the long-term, suicide; that’s to say, that the proletariat continue self-alienating and self-destructing in a million ways to the point of becoming extinct as humanity, not before devastating the planet, clearly, under the yoke of the capitalist Leviathan (businesses and States).
Communism or extinction
Therefore, the current and inexorable dilemma for humanity is: communism or extinction, revolution or death. But the revolution doesn’t only take place at exceptional moments in history. The revolution itself is an eruptive and decisive exception in the history of the class struggle and the capitalist social normality. But it’s not a fate or destiny but a possibility. It’s not inevitable but rather it’s contingent: it can as much as can’t happen. It depends on what the proletariat does or doesn’t do in respect. Because capitalism will not die by itself or peacefully.
The revolution is not an occurrence which happens overnight, instilling paradise on Earth either, but rather it’s a historical process, concrete, contradictory and even chaotic, that contains flows and ebbs, advances and retreats, ruptures and leaps, times of stagancy and new leaps. It’s a process of social transformation of a radical and total character which has always been, and above all at these heights of history, necessary and urgent, because it’s the only way that proletarianized humanity – which is the majority of humanity – can cease to self-alienate and self-destruct as humans, and at the same time to cease to destroy non-human nature.
Yes: communization is the only revolutionary exit from the crisis of capitalism or, which is the same thing, the only radical solution for the civilizatorian crisis, because it’s the only way to guarantee the reproduction of Life, or as Flores Magón would say, for its “regeneration” or reinvention.
It’s necessary to produce, then, that exception or historical eruption that is the revolution, no more and no less than for vital necessity. It must be gestated and born. Communism is the fetus and the revolution is the birth of the new world. But, as it has already been said, this depends on what the proletariat does or doesn’t do in order to transform the current social conditions and their own life, their own collective being and the ecosystem.
In the case that our class doesn’t fight for the total revolution until the end, the counterrevolution will continue to reign and the capitalist or dystopian catastrophe in course (systematic economic crisis, cutting-edge technology/”artificial intelligence”, massive unemployment and poverty, devastation of nature/ecological crisis, pandemics, wars, suicides, etc.) will finally end up making us as a species extinct. Perhaps there are only a few generations left before that. And the countdown increasingly accelerates.
Therefore, the current worldwide capitalist crisis and the current worldwide wave of proletarian revolts constitute possibly the last historical chance to finally start the irrevocable process of the global communist revolution, of the abolition or the overcoming of the society of classes and fetishes… or to perish.
Exaggerated? Apocalyptic? We’re already living in the capitalist apocalypse that is the the current crisis of civilization! The dystopian future is now! Our historical cycle of crisis and struggles will possibly be the cycle of 2019-2049…
Communism or extinction!
The self-abolition of the proletariat is the end of the capitalist world!
Proletarians of the world: Let’s self-organize in order to cease to be proletarians!
A proletarian fed-up with being one
A revolutionary “pessimistic” postscript in times of coronavirus
“The outbreak of the new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19), which has wrought havoc in China since the end of last year, has surged over borders and impacted the rest of the world, and with it, the imminent economic crisis has but further advanced. The world economy is in full-on crisis, the administrators of power are pending on immense financial relief, the bourgeoisie are beginning to close factories and lay off employees using the lucky pretext of the “quarantine” as excuse. The disaster is immanent. Nevertheless, it’s important to know that the monetary losses don’t signify the fall of the capitalist system. Capitalism will seek at every moment to restructure itself on the basis of austerity measures imposed on proletarians in order to palliate all the catastrophic consequences that it will bring along with it. And this is due to the fact that the “blows” that capitalism has been dealt due to these phenomena are simply losses in its rate of profit, but those losses don’t at all change its structure or its essence, meaning the social relations that allow it to remain standing: the commodity, value, the market, exploitation and wage labor. In fact, it’s in these structures that capitalism most reaffirms its necessities: sacrificing millions of human beings to the favor of economic interests, making the polarization between classes sharpen and revealing more forcefully in what position the dominant class is to be found, who will use all the efforts in their reach in order to preserve this state of things.
The ever-more contradictions heightened contradictions of this mode of production (crisis, war, pandemics, environmental destruction, pauperization, militarization), which exasperate our conditions of survival, won’t clear the way either mechanically or messianically for the end of capitalism. Or better said, such conditions, although they will be fundamental, won’t suffice. Because for capitalism to reach its end, it’s imperative for there to be a social force, antagonistic and revolutionary that manages to direct the destructive and subversive character towards something completely different from what we know and experience now.
If we want it or not, we can’t let a question as important as the revolution to drift aimlessly, to leave it to luck. It’s necessary to experience the resolution of this problem on the basis of the organization of tasks that can go on to present themselves, that’s to say, the grouping for the appropriation and defense of the most immediate necessities (not paying debts, rent, or taxes), but also, the rupture from all the dreams and mirages that carry us to manage the save miseries behind another facade.
It’s not necessary to wait for the dystopia or the hollywoodesque scenes of apocalypse, because these are already materially manifesting in different parts of the globe, and in fact they greatly surpass any attempt at representation by cinematic fiction.
The current pandemic of COVID-19 is one more stage in the degradation to which this society of commodity production brings us.
A stage before which it is reaffirmed that the true future only hangs from two strings:
Communist revolution or to perish in the twilight!”
Contra la Contra n.3
Collapse of the capitalist system? A few notes on current events.
taken from here