11 Theses on Possible Communism

Las­z­lo Moholy-Nagy, Com­po­si­tion, 1921

In Jan­u­ary 2017, com­rades from across the globe gath­ered in Rome to assess the con­di­tions of con­tem­po­rary cap­i­tal­ism and to plan com­mu­nist strate­gies for our present. View­point, as a co-spon­sor of the con­fer­ence, par­tic­i­pat­ed in dis­cus­sions local­ly and trans­lat­ed inter­views with key par­tic­i­pants. Today, one year lat­er, we present our trans­la­tion of “11 The­ses on Pos­si­ble Com­mu­nism,” a man­i­festo writ­ten by the Col­let­ti­vo C17 and root­ed in the con­tri­bu­tions of the wide range of mil­i­tants and the­o­rists who con­verged in Rome.  


The fol­low­ing “The­ses on Pos­si­ble Com­mu­nism” are the fruit of a com­mon labor, which kicked off with the Rome Con­fer­ence on Com­mu­nism last Jan­u­ary held at ESC Ate­lier and the Gal­le­ria Nazionale, and was then devel­oped, in writ­ing, by the “C17” col­lec­tive. The The­ses are not a bal­anced syn­the­sis of the con­fer­ence. The The­ses sim­ply try to repeat the pow­er of those extra­or­di­nary days, in qual­i­ty and in par­tic­i­pa­tion. But they do take a stance. Par­tial, assertive, just like the has­tened, even pro­vi­so­ry, present form. They are not a mat­ter, indeed, of con­clud­ing a debate, but of relaunch­ing what has only just  – with the con­fer­ence – been opened. With the theme pre­sent­ed, it is then a mat­ter of insist­ing on vari­a­tions and, when it will be pos­si­ble again in per­son, to impro­vise cease­less­ly. Only in this way will the The­ses have had a non-mar­gin­al func­tion. If the The­ses are already, as they undoubt­ed­ly are, the way cho­sen by the “C17” col­lec­tive to cel­e­brate Octo­ber, then above all – and in view of a new Con­fer­ence on com­mu­nism – they call for response and for dis­agree­ment: they call for the future.

1. Specter. Wher­ev­er the Com­mu­nist Par­ty is in the state [al potere], com­mu­nism is long gone. There is a mar­ket and there is exploita­tion, but with­out par­lia­ments and free speech. Com­mu­nism is a degen­er­ate, defeat­ed, and oblit­er­at­ed his­to­ry; in Europe and in the world. It rarely occurs that a defeat is also a specter, with the capac­i­ty to fright­en again; such is the indeed rare case of com­mu­nism. The word is unpro­nounce­able, its mean­ing or project dif­fi­cult to clar­i­fy. The ene­my, how­ev­er, con­tin­ues to have clear ideas; sure­ly it is not as ter­ror­ized as it was in 1848, and cer­tain­ly it has learned to pre­empt. Con­tem­po­rary cap­i­tal­ism fright­ens in order to not be fright­ened. We know, from Hobbes on, that fear con­sti­tutes the sov­er­eign: today fear, the per­ma­nent black­mail of pre­car­i­ous lives, makes exploita­tion pos­si­ble. But if this is so, there is some­thing that does not return: lives, while pre­car­i­ous and always at work, are a dan­ger, in addi­tion to being in dan­ger. Com­mu­nism is the name of this excess that, despite every­thing, con­tin­ues to fright­en. The vic­to­ry of cap­i­tal, as a neme­sis, does not cease pro­duc­ing this excess (of rela­tions, mobil­i­ty, inven­tive capac­i­ties, pro­duc­tive coop­er­a­tion, etc.). The vic­to­ry of cap­i­tal, as a neme­sis, does not cease pro­duc­ing the objec­tive con­di­tions of com­mu­nism: the reduc­tion of “nec­es­sary labor” to the social repro­duc­tion of labor-pow­er.

2. Neolib­er­al­ism. “Cap­i­tal­ize the rev­o­lu­tion”: from 1968 on, this is the sign of the great trans­for­ma­tion in which we are immersed. If with the strug­gles, life leaves the cor­ner­stones and the fac­to­ry, it is nec­es­sary to fol­low it every­where, to val­orize its unique and unre­peat­able traits, to do busi­ness with aes­thet­ic tastes and the behav­ior of each life, trans­form­ing machin­ery into pros­the­ses of the “social brain” (dig­i­tal and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies: from the PC to the Web, from smart­phones to social net­works), and the gen­er­al intel­lect into an algo­rithm. This has hap­pened while glob­al­iza­tion was run­ning fast and a vio­lent accu­mu­la­tion assailed the glob­al South and East. Think­ing the two process­es sep­a­rate­ly, or in oppo­si­tion, is an error laden with fate­ful con­se­quences: neolib­er­al glob­al­iza­tion is a weave of mul­ti­ple and het­ero­ge­neous tem­po­ral­i­ties, a com­mon space that is sep­a­rat­ed. We under­stand Sil­i­con Val­ley with the eco­nom­ic zones of Chi­na or Poland, and vice ver­sa. Neolib­er­al­ism, more pre­cise­ly, is the counter-rev­o­lu­tion, the cap­i­tal­ist response to 1968, an event of strug­gle that was – from the Sor­bonne to Viet­nam, from Berke­ley to Prague, from Rome to Tokyo – com­plete­ly glob­al. Think­ing glob­al­iza­tion with­out hav­ing under­stood the decolo­nial upris­ings means not think­ing it at all. To focus on the econ­o­my of knowl­edge with­out pay­ing atten­tion to the stu­dent move­ments or the work­ers’ refusal of (repet­i­tive) labor means entire­ly sur­ren­der­ing tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion to cap­i­tal­ist com­mand. Neolib­er­al­ism has rein­tro­duced – on a glob­al scale, with dif­fer­ing inten­si­ties, ren­der­ing them chron­ic – phe­nom­e­na of prim­i­tive accu­mu­la­tion: the dis­pos­ses­sion of mil­lions of peo­ple by way of land grab­bing as much as the enclo­sure of knowl­edge by patents; the ero­sion of indi­rect wages through regres­sive tax­a­tion and wel­fare cuts as much as the com­pres­sion of the direct wage via process­es of the pre­car­i­ti­za­tion of labor; the mass incar­cer­a­tion of the poor as much as the use of migrant labor-pow­er to desta­bi­lize wage rigid­i­ty; the asso­ci­a­tion, always moral­ly con­demned, between the crim­i­nal econ­o­my and “clean” busi­ness; the impov­er­ish­ment, but gen­er­al­ized access to con­sump­tion, to tech­nolo­gies; renewed mobil­i­ty and the dif­fu­sion of bor­ders; the exal­ta­tion of dif­fer­ences and rad­i­cal­iza­tion of exploita­tion: neolib­er­al­ism is the com­bi­na­tion, always re-acti­vat­ed, of these process­es.

3. Cri­sis. The econ­o­mists say that the cri­sis we have con­tin­ued to plunge into for the past ten years is a Great Depres­sion, like that of the 1870s or that which explod­ed in 1929 and sub­sided, only after the death of tens of mil­lions of peo­ple, in 1945. Tak­ing up the les­son of the 1930s, sev­er­al econ­o­mists speak of “sec­u­lar stag­na­tion”: decades of low growth, low wages, high unem­ploy­ment, high pover­ty. Always some­thing to hope for… In this sense, cri­sis is no longer just an ill­ness, but the “treat­ment” received each day because the dis­ease flares up. The ques­tion impos­es itself: why, if cap­i­tal­ism has won every­where, is there a need for cri­sis to gov­ern the world? A first answer shows us that the world is any­thing but gov­erned: Amer­i­can hege­mo­ny wanes; a new mul­ti­po­lar­ism presents a threat; war kills in the periph­ery and the cen­ter, and is made with weapons, attacks, mon­ey, and trade. A sec­ond answer, instead, tells us that cri­sis is a form of gov­ern­ing labor-pow­er. Pre­cise­ly because the vic­to­ry of cap­i­tal does not cease pro­duc­ing, in spite of itself, the objec­tive con­di­tions of com­mu­nism, the com­mand of cap­i­tal relent­less­ly renews that extra-eco­nom­ic vio­lence that had char­ac­ter­ized its ori­gins since the 16th cen­tu­ry. The more robots replace human labor, the less cap­i­tal­ism can afford social jus­tice and democ­ra­cy. The more sub­jects incor­po­rate pro­duc­tive instru­ments, the more it will be nec­es­sary to demor­al­ize, impov­er­ish, and dis­ci­pline them. The neolib­er­al man­age­ment of the cri­sis con­nects the con­trol of behav­ior with the renew­al of dis­ci­pline, whether it takes the form of the divi­sion of labor, mas­cu­line vio­lence against women, the repres­sion of the poor and migrant (from intern­ment to expul­sion). The best-known face of the cap­i­tal­ism-cri­sis is Don­ald Trump: a bil­lion­aire close to Gold­man Sachs, and there­fore Wall Street, he does not scorn but defends and, when he can, foments the nation­al­ist and racist right. Neolib­er­al­ism, which for years has rhymed with glob­al­iza­tion, strength­ens its aggres­sive and author­i­tar­i­an pole; the space of finance is com­bined with that of bor­ders, dis­crim­i­na­tion, the father­land. And what’s more: in the cri­sis, the archa­ic of Sov­er­eign­ty, the civ­il war waged against the poor, reemerges. In this sce­nario, if the neolib­er­al left – the one in vogue in the time of Clin­ton, Blair, and Schröder – shrinks almost every­where, the (neolib­er­al) chau­vin­ist right is redis­cov­ered, and this does not exclude fas­cist rhetoric.

4. Pro­le­tari­at. If what has been writ­ten so far is true, it is no longer pos­si­ble to define the pro­le­tari­at in a way that does not take into account the hybridiza­tion of pro­duc­tion and repro­duc­tion, glob­al­iza­tion (and its cri­sis), the het­ero­gene­ity of his­tor­i­cal times of cap­i­tal (“the con­tem­po­rane­ity of non-con­tem­po­rane­ity”). Labor, indeed, strug­gles to dis­tin­guish itself from life; not so much and not only because the time of labor and the time of life tend to coin­cide, but also and above all because in order to labor and pro­duce sur­plus-val­ue, it is essen­tial to draw on those affec­tive, rela­tion­al, and sym­bol­ic resources that artic­u­late life itself and its repro­duc­tion. In the same way, it is impos­si­ble to describe pro­duc­tive sub­jects with­out putting mobil­i­ty at the cen­ter; even inso­far as the lat­ter is pre­vent­ed or large­ly used in order to encour­age new process­es of the hier­ar­chiza­tion of the labor mar­ket. Again: high-tech com­pa­nies, capo­rala­to and semi-slav­ery in agri­cul­tur­al pro­duc­tion, under­paid care work, and the infor­mal and crim­i­nal econ­o­my can all cohab­it in one and the same ter­ri­to­ry. Pro­le­tari­at must there­fore always be expressed in three sens­es: sex­u­al dif­fer­ence, the transna­tion­al dimen­sion (new migra­to­ry regimes; hier­ar­chies accord­ing to the col­or line); the mul­ti­pli­ca­tion of labor (and forms of exploita­tion). The mas­cu­line, all too mas­cu­line, white work­ing class has nev­er been the whole pro­le­tari­at. The Russ­ian Rev­o­lu­tion, for exam­ple, begins with the women’s strike on March 8, 1917 (Feb­ru­ary 22 on the Julian cal­en­dar). The pro­le­tari­at, which clear­ly also includes the glob­al work­ing class (with major atten­tion to Chi­na or Bangladesh, etc.) is today more than ever woman, it is edu­cat­ed youth, it is black, it is migrant. In the inter­sec­tion of these ele­ments, we find the exploit­ed sub­jects on the con­tem­po­rary scene. A pro­le­tari­at that is a major­i­ty, but made up of minori­ties, a hybrid weave that escapes iden­ti­ties.

5. Class Strug­gle. When pro­duc­tion and repro­duc­tion inter­twine, and often become con­fused, there is no class strug­gle that is not also a con­flict for the affir­ma­tion and defense of forms of life. The eco­nom­ic strug­gle, his­tor­i­cal­ly del­e­gat­ed to the trade union, los­es its bound­aries, flood­ing con­tin­u­ous­ly onto the ter­rain of sex­u­al­i­ty, edu­ca­tion, the right to the city, anti-racism, and com­mu­ni­ca­tion. In this sense, the tra­di­tion­al dis­tinc­tion between eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal strug­gles has col­lapsed; if any­thing, we are wit­ness­ing process­es of politi­ciza­tion that press and dis­place as much in pro­duc­tion as in social coop­er­a­tion, in behav­ior as well as in the defense of the com­mons, in inti­ma­cy as well as in rela­tion­ships. Class strug­gle is as much the Inter­na­tion­al Women’s Strike as Gezi Park, Black Lives Mat­ter as the clash­es – fierce and endur­ing – for wage increas­es in Chi­na and India, or the ear­li­er strikes of Uber and Foodo­ra work­ers. As women in par­tic­u­lar have shown us, the Strike is no longer an exclu­sive tool of the unions, but a prac­tice that runs through strug­gles against patri­ar­chal vio­lence, against exploita­tion and wage dis­par­i­ty, for the demo­c­ra­t­ic re-appro­pri­a­tion of wel­fare, for social and civ­il rights. The Strike, after the Inter­na­tion­al March 8th, is (final­ly) a process of politi­ciza­tion. In the exam­ples cit­ed, the moments that still appeared arranged into a sequence in Marx and Engels’ Man­i­festo – the “col­li­sion” between the local pro­le­tari­at and indi­vid­ual cap­i­tal­ist, “coali­tion” of work­ers, polit­i­cal strug­gle – are imme­di­ate­ly present and con­quer ter­rain pre­vi­ous con­sid­ered extra­ne­ous to class strug­gle. But this co-exis­tence or co-artic­u­la­tion keeps intact, and if any­thing rein­forces and com­pli­cates, the thrust of the con­stituent process: from the bot­tom – life and its pow­er [poten­za], social rela­tions and exploita­tion, mol­e­c­u­lar strug­gles, lan­guage and its con­ta­gion, etc. – upwards – towards estab­lished pow­er [potere]. Vio­lence, which is also an indis­pens­able com­po­nent of the class strug­gle and of pow­er [potere], redis­cov­ers the traits of the right to resis­tance [ius resisten­ti­ae]: it is not so much polit­i­cal and mil­i­tary enmi­ty that defines its phys­iog­no­my and rhythm as it is the “defense of the works of friend­ship,” social coop­er­a­tion, alter­na­tive forms of life.

6. Com­mu­nists. Who are the com­mu­nists today? Or bet­ter: what are they doing? We can depart, schemat­i­cal­ly, from some indi­ca­tions in Marx and Engels’ Man­i­festo: com­mu­nists “ bring to the front com­mon inter­ests,” beyond the local/national perime­ters of strug­gle; they ded­i­cate them­selves patient­ly and with deter­mi­na­tion to the “for­ma­tion of the pro­le­tari­at into a class”; they bat­tle to take polit­i­cal pow­er; they express in a gen­er­al way the “actu­al rela­tions spring­ing from an exist­ing class strug­gle” (“from a his­tor­i­cal move­ment going on under our very eyes”). Com­mu­nists thus, in the first place, con­quer or con­struct the com­mon in the strug­gles. An effort that is all the more nec­es­sary if seri­ous about deal­ing with irre­ducible mul­ti­plic­i­ty and the glob­al hori­zon of these strug­gles, the dis­par­i­ty of his­tor­i­cal rhythms, the pri­ma­cy of dif­fer­ences over iden­ti­ties. Form­ing the pro­le­tari­at in the class, when the for­mer escapes homo­ge­neous cod­i­fi­ca­tion, means shift­ing atten­tion from the sub­ject to process­es of sub­jec­ti­va­tion. The com­ing class can only be “an infi­nite patch­work” or “harlequin’s coat”; the method of the com­mu­nists, com­po­si­tion. Let us again rely on the metaphors of the philoso­phers: com­pos­ing the pro­le­tari­at into the class means mak­ing an arch­i­pel­ago, delin­eat­ing con­stel­la­tions. Only in the midst of this process, which is also always a lab­o­ra­to­ry of self-study, is it pos­si­ble to gen­er­al­ize strug­gles, to grasp trans­ver­sal aspects. The com­mu­nists, in bat­tle, express these aspects with their own lives, they do not rep­re­sent them with chat­ter.

7. Com­mu­nism. Com­mu­nism is often con­fused with the shar­ing of goods, whether nat­ur­al or arti­fi­cial. Instead, it’s worth being lit­er­al: com­mu­nism is “the abo­li­tion of bour­geois pri­vate prop­er­ty.” With the aware­ness that this means a social rela­tion of exploita­tion, equiv­a­lent to the theft of oth­ers’ labor. Bet­ter yet: what is stolen from oth­ers’ labor is that excess, or what is unnec­es­sary for the pro­duc­tion of the life of those who labor. If this hard core is not grasped, com­mu­nism is con­fused with the sim­ple prob­lem of a fair dis­tri­b­u­tion of wealth. It is true, how­ev­er, that there is no exploita­tion with­out dis­pos­ses­sion (of land, of means of pro­duc­tion, gen­er­al­ly of the objec­tive con­di­tions of repro­duc­tion): what is sold on the mar­ket is labor-pow­er, by the poor, who have noth­ing else avail­able. But today, dif­fer­ent­ly from the 16th cen­tu­ry, the poor are imme­di­ate­ly thrown into a net­work of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and mobil­i­ty which the new mode of pro­duc­tion, and glob­al­iza­tion, despite every­thing and accord­ing to dif­fer­ent regimes of inclu­sion, have made pos­si­ble. In a sig­nif­i­cant part of the world pro­duc­tive tools, among oth­er things, have been large­ly social­ized (infor­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gy, dig­i­tal labor, etc.), and the repro­duc­tion of life has been large­ly finan­cial­ized (debt). Cap­i­tal, in this sense, is qual­i­fied as a high­ly artic­u­lat­ed set of “extrac­tive oper­a­tions.” The extrac­tion of val­ue takes place upstream from the pro­duc­tion process (land, nat­ur­al resources, urban rent, etc.) through mech­a­nisms of dis­pos­ses­sion and enclo­sure; it takes place in the process itself, of course, leech­ing absolute and rel­a­tive sur­plus-val­ue; but it also takes place, increas­ing­ly, down­stream, in cap­ture and com­mand, by means of algo­rithms and finance, coop­er­a­tion and social cre­ativ­i­ty. “Expro­pri­at­ing the expro­pri­a­tors” (or class strug­gle), then, means abol­ish­ing this pri­vate prop­er­ty: the com­mon of com­mu­nism con­cerns both goods and wel­fare – their shared use, their demo­c­ra­t­ic man­age­ment – and the rejec­tion of labor under a boss, the inven­tion of new mon­e­tary mea­sures as much as the auton­o­my of col­lec­tive intel­li­gence and its con­struc­tive­ness (sci­en­tif­ic, polit­i­cal, eco­nom­ic, artis­tic).

8. Forms of Life. Com­mu­nist appro­pri­a­tion – or the rejec­tion of wage labor, the democ­ra­ti­za­tion of wel­fare, etc. – is also the abso­lu­tion of the “per­son.” In bour­geois soci­ety, Marx and Engels point out, only cap­i­tal is “inde­pen­dent and per­son­al,” while liv­ing labor is “imper­son­al.” Where cap­i­tal ends, so also does the indi­vid­ual fic­tion, with its perime­ters. The lib­er­al polit­i­cal tra­di­tion, and today, much more strong­ly, neolib­er­al gov­ern­men­tal­i­ty, insist on the undis­put­ed pri­ma­cy of the indi­vid­ual in the face of soci­ety. At the begin­ning of the counter-rev­o­lu­tion, while squash­ing the min­ers and more gen­er­al­ly the unions, Mar­garet Thatch­er repeat­ed the mantra: “there is no such thing as soci­ety; there are only indi­vid­u­als.” It is a slo­gan embod­ied in the exces­sive exten­sion of the enter­prise form (the entre­pre­neur of the self), in the cel­e­bra­tions of human cap­i­tal, and the pro­lif­er­a­tion of self-employ­ment. To do away with exploita­tion – now that it takes the form of the cap­ture of val­ue beyond the walls of the fac­to­ry, in the sub­sump­tion of social coop­er­a­tion, the coin­ci­dence between the time of life and the time of labor – means doing away with com­pet­i­tive indi­vid­u­al­ism. Com­mu­nism is the auton­o­my of liv­ing labor, the pri­ma­cy of the present over the past (cap­i­tal, accu­mu­lat­ed labor), and thus the affir­ma­tion of the irre­ducibly social char­ac­ter of the indi­vid­ual. Fur­ther: there is no abo­li­tion of the per­son­al­i­ty of cap­i­tal with­out the demo­li­tion of the fam­i­ly and the patri­archy, with­out the inven­tion of new amorous insti­tu­tions. This is not all. Pre­cise­ly because today cre­ativ­i­ty and the aes­thet­ic dimen­sion are com­bined with tech­no­log­i­cal and pro­duc­tive inno­va­tion in an unprece­dent­ed way, we repeat the adage of the young Marx: “the abo­li­tion of pri­vate prop­er­ty is there­fore the com­plete eman­ci­pa­tion of all the sens­es.” Beyond Marx, we say that the con­quest of new modes of feel­ing is not only a point of arrival, but what accom­pa­nies every process of lib­er­a­tion.

9. Pro­gram. As with the class, the pro­gram is com­posed. From this point of view, it is not so much “social ques­tions” that are deci­sive as it is strug­gles and process­es of sub­jec­ti­va­tion. This is worth insist­ing on in order to dis­tin­guish com­mu­nist pol­i­tics from pop­ulist pol­i­tics. The irre­ducible mul­ti­plic­i­ty of ques­tions makes the peo­ple an “emp­ty sig­ni­fi­er,” to be filled through a set of dis­cur­sive and hege­mon­ic moves. The irre­ducible mul­ti­plic­i­ty of strug­gles and the phe­nom­e­na of politi­ciza­tion linked to them, instead, embody the claims, and per­form them on an at once polem­i­cal and con­struc­tive lev­el; hege­mo­ny is no longer only about dis­course, but instead insists on forms of life. In this sense, the com­mu­nist pro­gram is not sim­ply a pro­gram of gov­ern­ing. Form­ing the pro­le­tari­at into the class means “con­quer­ing democ­ra­cy,” here and now. And con­quer­ing democ­ra­cy, here and now, means expro­pri­at­ing the expro­pri­a­tors, to make the com­mon against cap­i­tal and its extrac­tive oper­a­tions. We there­fore present, with­out any hier­ar­chy, a pro­gram already strong with­in the many con­flicts we have men­tioned so far: uni­ver­sal basic income, decou­pled from labor per­for­mance and pro­vid­ed by gen­er­al tax­a­tion; glob­al min­i­mum wage; the reduc­tion of labor time; free­dom of move­ment for peo­ple; tax­a­tion of assets, of finan­cial trans­ac­tions, of robots; elim­i­na­tion of tax havens; devel­op­ment of pro­duc­tions of the com­mon and for the com­mon (health, care, inno­va­tion, etc.); unin­ter­rupt­ed sup­port for pub­lic edu­ca­tion; unre­lent­ing strug­gle, start­ing from kinder­garten, against the patri­archy; the imple­men­ta­tion of beau­ty (urban, coun­try­side, cul­tur­al); etc.

10. Sovi­et. In April 1917, Lenin wrote: “the fun­da­men­tal prob­lem of all rev­o­lu­tions is state pow­er.” We thus start from the fol­low­ing ques­tion: what is state pow­er today? Is the state still, as it appeared to Lenin, and, along with him, to the 19th cen­tu­ry com­mu­nists, the place of the max­i­mum con­cen­tra­tion of polit­i­cal pow­er? We agree with those who, describ­ing neolib­er­al ratio­nal­i­ty, have chal­lenged the rhetoric in recent years insist­ing on the evap­o­ra­tion of the state, or cel­e­brat­ing the “min­i­mal state.” The Euro­pean ordolib­er­al mod­el, on the one hand, but also more gen­er­al­ly the brunt of states in process­es of neolib­er­al­iza­tion which have swept through the glob­al East (par­tic­u­lar­ly Chi­na and Rus­sia), show a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent sce­nario. Equal­ly, how­ev­er, we know how much neolib­er­al glob­al­iza­tion has upend­ed space and pow­ers [poteri]. Nation­al eco­nom­ic bor­ders have been replaced with spe­cial eco­nom­ic zones, cor­ri­dors, flows, transna­tion­al agree­ments, etc. So much so that it is no longer pos­si­ble to make polit­i­cal pow­er, its effi­ca­cy, coin­cide with the pow­er of the state. The lat­ter, if any­thing, is an impor­tant actor with­in process­es of neolib­er­al­iza­tion (“struc­tur­al reforms”), with­out ever being the only or priv­i­leged direc­tor of them. The exhaus­tion of Amer­i­can hege­mo­ny, the def­i­n­i­tion of a prop­er­ly mul­ti­po­lar world, does not annul glob­al­iza­tion; they artic­u­late it accord­ing to unprece­dent­ed tra­jec­to­ries, as well as from the point of view of war crises. The brief text from Lenin recalled above, ques­tion­ing state pow­er after the Feb­ru­ary rev­o­lu­tion, autho­rizes a deci­sive polit­i­cal phe­nom­e­non: “dual pow­er.” On the one hand, bour­geois rule, on the oth­er, although embry­on­ic, the rule of the Sovi­ets of work­ers, peas­ants, sol­diers. The lat­ter is a pow­er [potere] – in Lenin’s words – “of the same kind as the Paris Com­mune in 1871”: for norms and par­lia­ment, the direct ini­tia­tive from the base is sub­sti­tut­ed; for the army and police, the armed peo­ple; for bureau­cra­cy, the imper­a­tive man­date. With­out dual pow­er, with­out exem­pli­fi­ca­tion and deep­en­ing of anoth­er form of rule, the over­throw of bour­geois rule, the rev­o­lu­tion, is impos­si­ble. In crit­i­ciz­ing unions, Anto­nio Gram­sci pre­sent­ed the fac­to­ry coun­cil – where the sin­gle waged work­er is sub­sti­tut­ed for the “pro­duc­er,” a sub­ject who decides on social coop­er­a­tion – as “the mod­el of the pro­le­tar­i­an state.” Pre­cise­ly now that the state no longer con­cen­trates the entire­ty of polit­i­cal pow­er, now that new assem­blages artic­u­late glob­al gov­er­nance, today when liv­ing labor has con­quered rela­tion­al, lin­guis­tic, affec­tive den­si­ty, dual pow­er los­es its tem­po­rary char­ac­ter in order to become the priv­i­leged and per­ma­nent ter­rain of com­mu­nist ini­tia­tive. This does not pre­vent us, on the con­trary, from seiz­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ties and going to rule, when pos­i­tive con­junc­tures allow for it. And it does not erase the aware­ness that the neolib­er­al regime often mobi­lizes and cap­tures the process­es of self-orga­ni­za­tion, mak­ing them a con­test­ed ter­rain. This means, how­ev­er, that with­out a (strong­ly) transna­tion­al, dense net­work of counter-pow­er, of Sovi­ets, even the con­quest of the state makes no dif­fer­ence, it is des­tined to not leave last­ing traces. The Com­mune must there­fore be accom­pa­nied by the phe­nom­e­na of rev­o­lu­tion­ary syn­di­cal­ism, gen­uine insti­tu­tions of liv­ing labor where class strug­gle and process­es of politi­ciza­tion, con­flict, and self-rule go hand in hand.

11. Future. Even if in the real move­ment of liv­ing labor, in the strug­gles that imme­di­ate inter­ests bring to light, the com­mu­nists dis­play the “future of the move­ment” itself: with this, the Man­i­festo of 1848 con­cludes. Dis­play­ing the future, mak­ing it live in sin­gu­lar strug­gles, means – we heard it a moment ago with Gram­sci – con­sol­i­dat­ing “insti­tu­tion­al expe­ri­ences of the oppressed class­es.” It means, as well, recon­quer­ing the future, pre­fig­u­ra­tion, after too many years influ­enced by dystopia, with a present that holds tight and breath­less, as if it were a cage; years of neolib­er­al deval­u­a­tion of the refined pro­le­tar­i­an art of orga­ni­za­tion and project. Mak­ing plans, clear­ly, has noth­ing to do with forced col­lec­tiviza­tion by means of state vio­lence. But it does mean, in the hor­i­zon­tal­i­ty of the strug­gles, widen­ing the pos­si­ble excess; stay­ing in the move­ment by elab­o­rat­ing – insti­tu­tion­al­ly – its vir­tu­al­i­ties; out­lin­ing par­a­digms and instru­ments for a gov­ern­men­tal­i­ty of the com­mon. A com­mu­nist project, then, is a new con­struc­tivism, where pro­duc­tion, repro­duc­tion, polit­i­cal deci­sion, and forms of life are (final­ly) made insep­a­ra­ble.

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