View­point Mag­a­zine aims to under­stand the strug­gles that define our con­junc­ture, crit­i­cal­ly recon­struct rad­i­cal his­to­ry, and rein­vent Marx­ism for our time. View­point is there­fore nei­ther a social­ist news source nor an aca­d­e­m­ic jour­nal. It is a mil­i­tant research col­lec­tive.

Through rig­or­ous inves­ti­ga­tion, we seek to grasp the class com­po­si­tion of con­tem­po­rary social move­ments, extract the rudi­ments of a rev­o­lu­tion­ary polit­i­cal project already inher­ent in these strug­gles, and then artic­u­late this project in a way that empha­sizes strat­e­gy, rais­es ques­tions about poten­tial pro­grams, and explores his­tor­i­cal­ly appro­pri­ate orga­ni­za­tion­al forms. Our object is there­fore not news cycles but cycles of strug­gle. We see a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence between mil­i­tant inquiry and report­ing, just as there is a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence between sci­en­tif­ic research and aca­d­e­m­ic writ­ing. Our goal is to fuse the two sides: to force the­o­ry to learn from move­ments them­selves, and then to bring that the­o­ry to bear on those move­ments, work­ing towards a dynam­ic cir­cuit between sci­en­tif­ic the­o­ret­i­cal pro­duc­tion and real strug­gles while also reflex­ive­ly exam­in­ing the rela­tion­ship between them. This is an unsta­ble and flu­id kind of prac­tice, which requires us to oscil­late between the tech­ni­cal lan­guage of mate­ri­al­ist analy­sis and the prac­ti­cal lan­guage of the con­crete sit­u­a­tion.

It is there­fore nec­es­sary for us to con­stant­ly and crit­i­cal­ly inves­ti­gate our own the­o­ret­i­cal appa­ra­tus. We do not believe there is a sin­gle Marx­ist posi­tion on every ques­tion – even what seem to be first prin­ci­ples of Marx­ism emerge from spe­cif­ic sit­u­a­tions in which oth­er posi­tions were pos­si­ble. For this rea­son, our goal is not to pro­vide com­men­tary on cur­rent events from a fixed and invari­ant Marx­ist per­spec­tive. Instead, we must first ask what it even means to be Marx­ist in the twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry. This means engag­ing in a the­o­ret­i­cal decon­struc­tion that prob­lema­tizes many of our inher­it­ed assump­tions and con­cepts.

Relat­ed­ly, any rig­or­ous inves­ti­ga­tion of the con­cepts we deploy demands a firm engage­ment with rev­o­lu­tion­ary his­to­ry. His­tor­i­cal inquiry allows us to his­tori­cize and prob­lema­tize our own meth­ods and the­o­ry, pre­vi­ous cycles of strug­gle can serve as poten­tial lab­o­ra­to­ries from which there may still be much to learn, and it is only through study­ing the move­ments of the past – their ambi­tions, com­po­si­tion, lim­its, and defeats – that we can under­stand the bases of our own con­junc­ture, intel­lec­tu­al hori­zon, and present class com­po­si­tion. To that end, we reestab­lish con­nec­tions to the his­tor­i­cal mem­o­ry of past move­ments and strug­gle, return to neglect­ed strands of our rad­i­cal tra­di­tions, and pro­pose alter­na­tive genealo­gies of past strug­gles and move­ments.

The effort to grasp the con­tent of today’s strug­gles, rethink Marx­ism for our own time, and crit­i­cal­ly recon­cep­tu­al­ize the his­to­ry of rad­i­cal strug­gle requires a cre­ative engage­ment with the con­cepts of polit­i­cal research; we iden­ti­fy three key con­cepts here to illus­trate our approach.

View­point. Although seem­ing­ly pro­sa­ic, our tit­u­lar con­cep­tion “view­point” stands at the core of our entire project. By view­point, we sug­gest that the cap­i­tal­ist mode of pro­duc­tion may be approached from mul­ti­ple, par­ti­san stand­points. We choose that of the work­ing class, broad­ly defined. And since the pro­le­tari­at has its own ini­tia­tive, knowl­edge of this class can­not be derived from knowl­edge of cap­i­tal, but must be devel­oped on its own terms. It is at this lev­el, the per­spec­tive of the work­ing class, that the nec­es­sary inter­sec­tion of sci­en­tif­ic analy­sis and rev­o­lu­tion­ary strat­e­gy that con­sti­tutes Marx­ism might take place. Only by inves­ti­gat­ing this class and its stand­point can we devel­op con­cepts ade­quate to the needs of class strug­gle.

Com­po­si­tion. The work­ing class has always been het­ero­ge­neous. Dif­fer­ent work­ers labor, strug­gle, and dream in dif­fer­ent ways. We exam­ine both the ways that labor-pow­er is divid­ed, man­aged, exploit­ed, and repro­duced, and the ways work­ers seize hold of these con­di­tions to artic­u­late them­selves into a coher­ent polit­i­cal sub­ject. In this sense, class com­po­si­tion tracks the cor­re­la­tion between the man­ner in which a class is com­posed, or how it is mate­ri­al­ly con­sti­tut­ed, at a spe­cif­ic moment in his­to­ry, and the man­ner in which the class com­pos­es itself, or how it active­ly com­bines the dif­fer­ent parts of itself to con­struct into a sin­gle force. Study­ing class com­po­si­tion also nec­es­sar­i­ly involves under­stand­ing its con­stant dynamism: how class­es decom­pose, and pos­si­bly, recom­pose in each moment of capitalism’s devel­op­ment.

Encounter. We do not believe in telling our­selves sto­ries. His­to­ry, class strug­gle, and the pro­duc­tion of knowl­edge pro­ceed by way of unex­pect­ed encoun­ters, which do not cor­re­spond to the nar­ra­tives that com­fort our imag­i­na­tions. The course of his­to­ry is not fore­told at the begin­ning, but is rather the prod­uct of con­tin­gency. New polit­i­cal pos­si­bil­i­ties open only when dif­fer­ent class frac­tions encounter one anoth­er in strug­gle – some­times tak­ing hold, oth­er times dis­ag­gre­gat­ing, and in some cas­es cre­at­ing the con­di­tions for future recom­bi­na­tions. Many of the best polit­i­cal ideas emerge when dif­fer­ent cur­rents find them­selves forced to speak to each oth­er. We raise this insight into a guid­ing method­ol­o­gy for sus­tained intel­lec­tu­al pro­duc­tion. This is not eclec­ti­cism. We cre­ate spaces of encounter that allow for the con­ver­gence of per­spec­tives con­di­tioned by dis­tinct sets of strug­gles from dif­fer­ent times and places. Assump­tions are con­front­ed, new pos­si­bil­i­ties emerge, dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions appear.

Firm­ly sit­u­at­ing our­selves with­in the long his­to­ry of glob­al rev­o­lu­tion­ary move­ments, our project takes enor­mous inspi­ra­tion from the prodi­gious and unfin­ished work of those who pre­ced­ed us. At the same time, we see our­selves as part of a resur­gent wave of transna­tion­al strug­gle. We owe every­thing to the courage, inven­tive­ness, and vast polit­i­cal knowl­edge of recent social move­ments and work­ers’ strug­gles, and to the tire­less intel­lec­tu­al and polit­i­cal efforts of count­less com­rades, many of whom we have yet to meet. View­point is sim­ply one pole in a new­ly emerg­ing rad­i­cal ecosys­tem, and our work is a mod­est con­tri­bu­tion to the col­lec­tive strug­gles ahead.

We are not cur­rent­ly review­ing unso­licit­ed sub­mis­sions as we work to com­plete our next issue. For gen­er­al inquiries and feed­back, email view­point AT viewpointmag.com.

This site was built with Sami Keijonen’s Path theme as a foun­da­tion.