An experimental thread on the commune & communism

We originally posted this on twitter here. We learned that some of the text formatting on there made it difficult for people to read it. So we share it here de-twitter-ized.
We don’t deny the necessity of organization in toto but we reject the primacy of The Mass Organization™ as an a priori necessity for class struggle. The organizational forms necessary to class struggle (proletarian self-abolition) arise from the struggle itself. As we see it, the commune is not necessarily a thing to be built in the absence of a general struggle but rather it is a communist way of life that arises from the struggle itself. Its arrival is not merely due to an ‘organizational’ preference by proles. It simply is the beginning of a way to sustain the antagonism of the struggle, to help prolong a rupture in capitalist space/time logic so that the revolt can further generalize & de-specialize.

The commune is mobile because it’s not just a thing in space/time but how people relate to each other and to the land. A re-integration into the metabolism of the world, not a domination over it (as Marx once noted)
The commune is not the end goal, but it is a form (filled with communist content) likely to arise as part of the proletarian communist movement set to destroy the world we live in. Some attempts to build the commune now end up as enclaves or the work of self-selected specialists who have the capacity to independently suspend their condition as proles. Or perhaps they never were proles at all, or are intentionally déclasséd. Collective living is not itself revolutionary. The media has published instances of very wealthy white young professionals now seeking “collective housing” as a way to network or unload the burden of social reproduction: someone else washes their clothes, does the dishes or turns are taken in cooking meals. It seems even the bourgeois long for connection in our hyper-atomized society.

Now the commune is not meant to be a space for the self-selected or specialists. The commune is not intended to be the center of communal life nor is it really a place. Though it would be a recognizable node within a largely decentralized mesh network. It would be porous & allow movement in and out of it. It would not be a new Nation-state with borders.

Struggle specialists will have us think radical democracy would be a feature of the commune. We maintain democracy is what we do with those we don’t trust (or for life or death situations). Would we need to gather for a vote to decide who will be the DJ at the harvest party? Decisions would be made but no longer will decision-making be a specialized and alienated sphere from everyday life. It’s just what we do cuz life requires decisions. This immediacy means the commune is inherently anti-political.

The commune is mobile because it’s not just a thing in space/time but how people relate to each other and to the land. A re-integration into the metabolism of the world, not a domination over it (as Marx once noted). This is why communism must be anti-colonial. Those of us who have maintained a deep connection to an original human culture borne of a deep interaction with the land we are on have a knowledge more necessary to our lives than anything Western science has ascertained in the last 500 years.

The strength of the commune would not merely be its defensive measures but the the intensity of need that proles-in-abolition have for it. This is why it would have to abolish race & gender as a site of oppression, though this does not entail the abolition of difference. If anything social-communal life would deepen & enrichen because no longer would the basics of life be meted by the market based on who you are, how you choose to live and express yourself. Culture, now de-commodified, returns to its pre-capitalist richness & malleability.
Communists who view life only economically have historically created a social life that is flattened and impoverished. They confuse means with ends. They view meeting “needs” as the goal of social life; rather than social life as a way of meeting our primary need: each other. Further the division of human life between needs & not-needs is an economistic way of viewing things. We are more than machines requiring fuel. Communism would necessarily overcome this economistic way of viewing ourselves & our lives.

4 thoughts on “An experimental thread on the commune & communism

  1. Hi,

    Here’s a letter in the Fall 2017 issue of the NYC magazine N+1 which addresses some problems I’m seeing here.

    Best of luck,

    Kevin Keating

    There was a factual error in your review (“The Bleak Left,” Issue 28) of the ultraleft journal Endnotes. The ultraleft theorist Gilles Dauvé was not involved in the journal Invariance. Since the 1970s, Dauvé has been involved in publications ranging from Le Mouvement Communiste and Mordicus to Troploin. Jacques Camatte was one of the main authors of Invariance and there is a world of difference between Dauvé’s perspectives and those of Camatte. A wrong answer on something as crucial as this could get you bounced out of the final round on Jeopardy.
    Regarding Endnotes: my understanding is that after Marx died, Engels reminisced that when the two began their partnership as young men, they resolved to write all their works at a level that would be readily comprehensible to persons of average intelligence and educational level. Anything other than this they regarded as being irrelevant to the real movement to abolish existing conditions. A set of theories that can contribute to a liberatory downfall of the global market order must emerge from ongoing involvement in public action that has some potential to generate this. It must try to suggest practical strategies and tactics of use to nonacademic working people. It has to grow and adapt as it engages with the complex, contradictory reality outside a theorist’s comfort zone. This does not take place in Endnotes.

    It is difficult to imagine anyone who doesn’t have a doctorate in advanced Marxoid studies reading Endnotes. It is even more difficult to see how its insights can be put to use. If transit-system operators, transit-system riders, supermarket cashiers, and enlisted people in the armed forces will never encounter Endnotes, then in real-world subversive terms, Endnotes does not exist. Pessimism about the possibility of global revolutionary change is understandable, but the specific kind of pessimism exhibited in Endnotes is consistent with its subjectively insurrectionary authors’ lack of a credible will to act on what they believe — outside a cosseted academic echo chamber, in contexts where they can be taken seriously by friend and foe alike.

    For all its undoubted brilliance, Endnotes inadvertently proves that there is an impermeable firewall separating all college Marxist theory, no matter how subjectively radical, from life outside academia. What happens within the precincts of the bourgeois academy stays there. Ongoing collective action against what capitalism does to our lives has never been more necessary, and the conditions that give rise to it in the United States grow more promising by the day. If a body of supposed revolutionary theory does not contribute to mass collective resistance to capitalism, this theory adds up to nothing.
     — Kevin Keating

    1. Ediciones inéditos is a project by non-academics. If anything this project is anti-academic. Everything we have learned of the ultra-left milieu has been outside of academia. We write at a variety of registers, from the one exhibited in this piece to outright Chicano English (which you may have trouble understanding). In many ways, what we hope to produce & reproduce is a digest of what may be found in Endnotes, Dauvé, Camatte, Théorie communiste, etc. and introduce what is missing (which is a lot) and in doing so broaden its readership. The people behind this project are the children of undocument immigrants and are quite proletarian. While we might understand why you may confused the intent & demographics of this project, we hope that now you can find other ad hominems to deploy.

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