If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
TS Eliot Ash Wednesday
He records [erfasst] the constellation in which his own epoch comes into contact with that of an earlier one. He thereby establishes a concept of the present as the time of now which is shot through with chips of messianic time.
On the Concept of History, Walter Benjamin
Today, the overcoming of revindicative struggles as revolutionary struggle i.e. as communisation is presaged whenever, in these struggles, it is its own existence as a class that the proletariat confronts. This confrontation takes place within revindicative struggles and is first and foremost only a means of waging these struggles further, but this means of waging them further implicitly contains a conflict with that which defines the proletariat. This is the whole originality of this new cycle of struggle. Revindicative struggles have today a characteristic that would have been inconceivable thirty years ago.
Théorie Communiste, Much ado about nothing
Endnotes is constrained to think only within the constraints of its own thinking.
There is the set of chosen constraints (I will only paint in shades of blue) and then there are the hidden constraints (I get a creepy feeling if I hear the word flotilla). But which of these, do we think, shall we decide, is the most decisive in the unfolding of theory?
Self-imposed constraints are formally rewarding if they are not overdone. However, whenever a set of constraints becomes a sort of orthodoxy, the means of self-legitimation, a trademark, a rigidification, it results in a sort of theoretical hyperinflation where data may only be drawn from an overfished, and ever-dwindling, pool of reference.
The conclusions that Endnotes finish with, and through which its further inferences are played, are based on an already slanted history of statements, and of statements referring to statements, and of theory deduced from theory. There is reference, there is tradition, there is citation, but then there is dependency, addiction, over-adaptation. There is purity of lineage. And then there is incest.
It is not what Endnotes says to us that is most decisive in its statements, but what has been said to it... those factors which have caused it to be other than those factors which it claims have caused it to be. The most hidden, and thus most decisive, influence within its historicism makes itself felt, as is the nature of such things, prior to the production of its conscious categories. Something is already set. Something has already spoken.
For Endnotes, that which is already present in the conscious orientation towards historicism, is, as is the nature of such things, an a-historical urge towards historical directionality. Specifically, within the theorised recompositions of the productive relation there sticks a fixed conception of causality, and a fixed conception of the direction of those movements that are patterned into that teleological sequence.
The invisible, and subjectively inaccessible, conditions of theory ensure that theory itself must always fall prey to some or other deductive fallacy. In the case of Endnotes, this failure to articulate everything decisive appears along lines described in its assumption that what will be manifested imminently from within a closed system of relations will also be immediately revealed identically within, and through, the theoretical presentation of it.
Endnotes examine how the limits of the past become apparent, but do so unreflexively. The proposal is something like, the theory of class struggle and the relations of class struggle must converge. But what is the force that enforces this must? One consequence of the hard-programming of its theory is that Endnotes must show how what is present now becomes immediately shown in its theory, which, by miracle or mechanism, is also calibrated as the theory of this historical moment.
This is the moment and this is the theory of the moment, is as naive an initial historicist proposition as it is possible to imagine. And it is sealed proposition. Without irreparably damaging the basis of the entire theory, there can be no recourse to reconceptualisations of delay in the conditioning of historical events, nor of the historically determinative relation and the theory that (purportedly) expresses it.
The absence in its project of reference to other possible mediations, which may be working upon both its object and in its writing, by means of this absence, becomes the most significant factor in Endnotes’ position. It is a significance that Endnotes, bound by its self-imposed constraints, cannot even begin to desire to engage without having to abandon everything by which it has defined its project.
The supposition of an accord between class struggle and the thought of class struggle does not allow for the possibility of complexity in that relation. Bizarrely, there is no ambivalence in Endnotes’ presentation of the proletariat, even though the proletariat is presented as a specifically ambivalent object... i.e. it is an object which, through its own actions, must both realise and suppress itself.
How then might the object’s objective ambivalence express itself in theory? We get no clue from Endnotes, which seems content with a plodding, index-linked historical three legged race, where theory and its object are moved forward at the same strict historical tempo. There is no account of regression. There is no retroactivity. There is no shortcutting. There are no anticipatory departures. There is no flowing against the flow. No alarms and no surprises.
The difficulty which the theory of Endnotes cannot engage lies in that which conditions its appearance but which also resolutely refuses to be drawn out into the theory. The limit may be succinctly stated, the constraints upon a field do not also appear within the field. For this reason, the object (social production), and the conditions of the object (the relations of production), are always beyond the capacities of all and any theoretical accounts of it. If this limit is ignored there is nothing left for theory in this direction but the telling of stories.
The object cannot appear in consciousness. And whatever object may appear in theory, it is not the object. There may be a theory of social production, there may be a theory of relations of production, but these do not actually appear as what they are as themselves within the theory. But thought doesn’t have to oblige itself to be seen to expropriate the world, it doesn’t have to index itself to the object in this simply false way.
That thought which addresses the object social production is only ever one thought of social production. It is not ever the thought or even its (social production’s own) thought. Complexity, totality, and whatever emerges from it, are never theoretically predictable objects – there is always in the object an escape from theory, a twisting away, an effusion. To be sure, theory itself may also escape, twist and effuse, but never in accord with its object. Thought does not converge but only departs from its object.
Materialist theory cannot evade the following propositional limit on its project: the object always exceeds the thought of the object.
Endnotes may have correctly traced a historical development in the relations of production, but they have not, and can not, identify a contradiction or mechanism through which those relations must be overcome.
The proletariat is confronted by its own determination as a class which becomes autonomous in relation to it, becomes alien to it. The objectifications in capital of the unity of the class have become palpable in the multiplication of collectives and the recurrence of discontinuous strikes (the strikes of spring 2003 in France, the strike of the English postmen). When it appears that autonomy and self-organisation are no longer the perspective of anything, as with the transport strike in Italy or that of the workers at FIAT Melfi, it is precisely there that the dynamic of this cycle is constituted and the overcoming of revindicative struggles is presaged through a tension within revindicative struggles themselves.
Théorie Communiste, Much ado about nothing
Endnotes assumes a dynamic capacity in capitalism to transform its internal relations; it assumes cycles and periodisations within this relation, but can cite no more evidence in support of this hypothesis, than can be cited against it. Endnotes do not entertain the possibility that the fundamental relation of capital and labour has remained unchanged, and that the periodisation which it proposes belongs to its theory, and not the object itself.
The comfort to be derived from the theory of periodisation is related to that sense of satisfaction in closing and locking a door for the last time. It is imbued with a sense of closure and departure. The mess of wiring behind the door is no longer relevant, it can be safely factored out of present considerations. Unfortunately, doors rarely remain locked and the mess of the past tends to burst back unexpectedly. The thought belonging to the passage through a sequence of rooms, each of which is locked upon exiting, is self-comforting, and self-affirming. It is a form of thinking that may present itself as wholly integrated, a pure outcome, but therefore truly compatible with current historical configurations.
The conclusion to Endnotes thought, which is also its original hypothesis, assumes that its position is precipitated at the most forward point of an objective movement through the world’s sequential reproduction of itself, and that it is from the vantage point of this last room, that it may tell the history of social relations. However, the hypothesis of an objective Real Movement and Endnotes integration into it, cannot be tested.
The failure to access a means of reframing a hypothesis on evidential terms, must always undermine any objectively verifiable claims and the predictions that have been generated from it.
It is true that Endnotes may select exemplars in order to illustrate its theory, but the very process of selection indicates that such examples are always distorted. Aside from isolated illustrations, of strikes and demonstrations, which have never interpreted themselves in the same terms as those of Endnotes, the totality of productive relations is not producing the mass of objectively generated evidence that would otherwise be expected if the working class really had entered a phase of critique of its productive role.
And nor is there verifiable evidence which would suggest that Endnotes own appearance is the objective theoretical appearance of the proletariat’s self-critique.
Like the knapper, Endnotes strike flint from flint with flint; it derives affirmations, and not genuine inferences, from social events. It asserts that a particular set of struggles, a set of perhaps related, perhaps unrelated, events, or both related and unrelated, which Endnotes itself has collected together (erasing the marks of the process of skewed selection), are indicative of a particular alteration in a general set of social relations. This is not so much a flawed methodology (where highlighted incidents are not properly related to a control group) as a false conception of what theory is capable of.
All this would suggest that Endnotes have adopted both the wrong form and the wrong role for theory. Every theoretical tendency which relies upon evidence in support of its hypothesis eventually ends in ideological falsification (through the suppression of internally generated other ideas.) Verification is necessary for realist theories but it is also the means by which such theories depart from their adherence to reality. For this reason, and in defence of the integrity of theoretical critique, it is not necessary for theory to shoulder the burden of proving itself (unless it aspires to some sort of extra-theoretical political role, or perceives itself as the manifestation of Truth of the world).
An alternative methodological approach might assume that it is sufficient for theory to engage in self-correction as it attempts to achieve internal coherence. It is for others though to uncover the contradictions in such coherence.
But what is it that Endnotes thinks it has achieved in the solidification of its historical position? It seems to reside in, as in Ash Wednesday, the mystical derivation from, a premonition of, the negative conditioning (and limiting) of a term by the term itself. For Endnotes the proletariat encounters its limits in the struggles of the proletariat whilst for Elliot, there is a ‘not turning in the not turning’, ‘there is violet hour threading through the violet hour’, ‘there is a light folded into the light.’
But unlike Elliot, Endnotes seem to, ‘find it impossible to envisage’ that there might be found old fragments of garden in the desert, and returning drifts of desert within the garden. Endnotes cannot countenance the possibility of an untraceable emergence from the scattered white bones of the other – the sedentary lapsing into nomad. And any acknowledgement of the resurgence of allegedly earlier phases, the finding of different determinations, would destabilise the strict historical periodisations in Endnotes’ analysis.
To put unemployment and precarity at the heart of the wage relation today; to define clandestinity (TN: undocumented, black-market work) as the general situation of labour power; to pose as in the direct-action movement the social immediacy of individuals as the already existing foundation of the opposition to capital, even if this opposition describes the whole limit of this movement; to lead suicidal struggles like those of Cellatex and others of Spring and Summer of 2008 to refer class unity back to an objectivity constituted by capital, as in all the collectives and discontinuous strikes; to target all that defines us, all that we are, as in the riots in the French suburbs of 2005; to find in the extension of revindicative struggles the questioning of revindication itself, as in the struggles against the CPE; are contents, for all of these particular struggles, which determine the dynamic of this cycle within and through these struggles. The revolutionary dynamic of this cycle of struggle, which consists in the class producing and confronting in capital its own existence, that is to say putting itself in question as a class, appears in the majority of struggles today. This dynamic has its intrinsic limit in that which defines it as a dynamic: action as a class.
Théorie Communiste, Much ado about nothing
Having fallen into the tail-consuming logic of its own theory, Endnotes cannot even register the actual determinations of its own position. Even though it is driven by an orientation-urge to place itself historically, it cannot use its theory to orientate itself beyond the world it has theoretically constructed. It is stuck in a nightmare of corridors where the theoretical presentation of productive relations ends with Endnotes theory of productive relations. There is no built-in reality check by which it might reflect upon the miracle of events unfolding before it.
There are to be found no means in Endnotes’ theory by which its reference points might be recontextualised, or self-corrected – which is the very basic requirement of any critical project. The fundamental question, which it should be capable of asking itself, goes something like this: why is it that the theoretical presentation of six billion presently active existences, has somehow fallen, like divine inspiration, into the heads of a few intellectuals involved with this obscure journal?
Perhaps it would be advisable, in order to get a better hold of the implications, for Endnotes to return to the recursive categories of its theoretical presentation of events. It needs to set out clearly for itself (like a fairy tale monster set a task of needlework) the basics by which productive relations produce events, and by which the subsequent theoretical presentation of this cycle between events and relations thereby becomes a theoretical presentation.
Its readers understand that Endnotes generate a positivist theory from the appearance of self-limiting defined events. This positivism follows a prewritten line: incidents of the struggle of the proletariat against itself are fed into the theory of the development in productive relations as these reach a climatic internalised contradiction – the proletariat being presented in its own role as the limit to its revolt against conditions. Readers also see from this that Endnotes positively value the movement of the proletariat’s self-critique.
However, the problem in this presentation involves theoretical objects producing a feedback in the theoretical apparatus. Theoretical objects are reinterpreted back as if emerging from outside the theory, thus confirming it, resulting in further projections/introjections. This feedback is subsequently translated into an externally projected outcome which should be considered as ‘applicable’ to the real world – a confusion of categories which will only accelerate the problems of feedback runaway (or ‘inflation’). It seems necessary therefore for Endnotes to factor in random errors, correctives from other registers and what may be called the accidental into their analysis – as these are the only chosen constraints through which the truly negative, that is the speech of the other, may be registered.
From this it can be inferred that theory ought not be utilised to simply confirm (more or less dishonestly) a hypothesis by means of referencing (more or less selected) illustrative incidences. It is the role of theory to gain access to the unknown through its own attempts at internal rigour and coherence. The unexpected that it records by such means should then be fed back into the theory in order to further modify it, enabling it to register other elements of the hitherto unknown unknown. Unfortunately, at present, Endnotes theory is not up to this objective task, and remains at the level of asserting itself as the manifestation of the consciousness of social relations.
In Argentina, in the productive activities which were developed, principally within the Piquetero movement, something occurred which was at first glance disconcerting: autonomy appeared clearly for what it is the management and reproduction by the working class of its situation in capital. The defenders of revolutionary autonomy would say that this is due to the fact that it didn't triumph, although its triumph is precisely there. But at the moment within productive activity when autonomy appeared as it is, everything on which autonomy and self-organisation are founded was upset: the proletariat cannot find in itself the capacity to create other inter-individual relations (we deliberately do not speak of social relations) without overturning and negating what it is in this society, that is to say without entering into contradiction with autonomy and its dynamic. In the way that these productive activities were put into place in the effective modalities of their realisation, in the conflicts between self-organised sectors the determinations of the proletariat as a class of this society (property, exchange, division of labour) were effectively upset. Self-organisation was not superseded in Argentina, but the social struggles pointed beyond themselves to such a supersession; it is in this way that the revolution becomes credible as communisation. The generalisation of the movement was suspended, its continuation conditioned upon the ability of every fraction of the proletariat to overcome its own situation, that is to say the self-organisation of its situation.
Théorie Communiste, Much ado about nothing
Communism is not the destruction of class relations. It has no relation to this world. Communism cannot be established within a world otherwise organised upon the terrain of class antagonism, but all that is another story. Communism is not a movement into the future, it is rather a movement to release the determinations of the past, that mess of wires and misery that has been shut behind locked doors. As Benjamin observes, The proletariat’s struggle is nourished on the picture of enslaved forebears, not on the ideal of their emancipated heirs. There is no necessary connection between class struggle, that is capitalist social relations, and communism at all. The only necessary relation of humanity to itself is to its past. That is, in the release of itself from its past.
To act as a class today means, on the one hand, to no longer have as a horizon anything other than capital and the categories of its reproduction, and on the other, for the same reason, to be in contradiction with ones own reproduction as a class, to put it into question. These are two faces of the same action as a class. This conflict, this divergence in the action of the class (to reproduce itself as a class of this mode of production / to put itself into question) exists in the course of the majority of conflicts. To act as a class is the limit of the action of the proletariat as a class. This contradiction will be a practical question in need of resolution, a question much more difficult, risky and conflict laden than the limits of programmatism.
Théorie Communiste, Much ado about nothing
The critique of capital converges with capitalist technique where keeping going as a fragile resistent becomes unbearable but must be compensated for by some or other theorised strong capacity. In the place of vulnerability appears the borrowed power of organisation. And given the origin of organisation in psychological traumas inflicted by the hostile environment, all such compensatory formation implies an element of fist-shaking, and pursuit of vengeance. Generally this is mediated through political discourse and is expressed as the need for strategic ruthlessness, as the orientation towards the bigger picture against the small crimes committed, as the forcing through of decisions. In short, where the human trace was, in a state of perpetual erasure, ‘communisation’ now appears in organised activity, as introjected political performance.
But these weak moments, where humans sense what they cannot be, this draining sense of incommensurability between life lived now and the inertia of accumulated past acts, may only be seized hold of and ‘communised’ to the further detriment of what is human. Where the communists take on the role of expropriating the expropriators, they find themselves reproducing the already existing set of relations; communisation becomes a hostile take-over bid.
It is in the expropriative movement, where the motif of seizing hold is repeated but as a communist act, that atavistic mechanisms are activated in the core of the theory of historicisation. Intolerably, at the critical moment where the historical core itself becomes available, Endnotes is found to be not historicising enough. Its theory is foreshortened upon the shores of affirmation – in its narrative, despite everything, there is still a happy ending. For this reason, it cannot present the theory of the impossibility of what it desires most of itself to be affirmed in the world.
In overcompensation for this failure in its obligations to fragility, Endnotes has pushed to its limit that affirmative element of the bourgeois analysis of accumulated productive forces, as this is identified by a movement towards deregulation, relativisation, historicisation and flexibilisation. This movement is identified as ‘anti-humanism’ and is defined by the breaking down of, the practices of, and preconceptions about, what it is to be ‘human’.
Anti-humanism itself is a further reconceptualisation of the bourgeois insistence on the mutability of man. The theory of capitalist periodisation, upon which anti-humanism is grounded, was accelerated in the 60s and appeared radically in various forms as ‘post-structuralism’, a sort of return to Futurism – however, the sanctioned purpose of post-structuralist innovation was to positively re-imagine the exponential increase of the productive process as ‘liberation’, and thereby negate the idea of the human which appears ideologically only as an archaic fetter on this objective increase of forces.
The function of anti-human theory in relation to production was to affirm the unrelenting pressure of accumulated dead labour over the events and experiences of lived activities – this pressure is affirmatively presented by anti-humanists as the release of human drives from normative restrictions. But anti-humanism itself has ended with a presentation of lived existence that is severely truncated, hollowed out, relativised and reduced by the very ‘drives’ of the flexibilisation process that are supposed to liberate it. The objective function of anti-humanist theory is thus to caper about in celebration of bio-exploitation, which it presents as the opening up of new horizons for human ‘becoming’.
The hidden purpose of anti-humanist theory, as it furthers the interest of the productive apparatus, is to attack the early bourgeois ‘fetters’ of eternal and natural rights and thus facilitate the rationalisation of productive acceleration. Meanwhile, the interest of bio-power is defined by the further integration, to the point of disappearance, of the human into the inertia of dead labour.
Endnotes’ anti-humanism also feeds into the ideology of flexibilisation, i.e. the theorisation of the absence of a human scale, which has proved such an utilisable smokescreen to the processes of real subsumption, domestication and bio-power.
In seeking to theorise the movement of history, the moving horizon of communist possibility, Endnotes only affirms the general tendency within capital to assert the malleability, and the secondary status, of human affect in its determination by productive forces. Strangely, the historicist theory of historical proletarian forms as this develops objectively towards a predicted final form, also describes a parallel theory of relinquishment before the mechanism of the productive relation. That is to say, this line of argument for formal proletarian self-critique is also an argument in favour of the intensification of real subsumption:
The alliance between the autonomy of the proletariat and the negation of classes, the worker and man, which is an emergent ideology from a particular historical situation (that of May 68 and its failure) has been presented by Dauve and Nesic as the invariant substance of a tension within the proletariat between the submission to work and the critique of work. Their essentialist and invariant problematic of the proletariat and communism prevents them from having a historical conception of revolution and communism. The concept of programmatism is the basis of such a conception, a conception that they declare false in regard to the facts, and even more so in regard to the method.
Théorie Communiste, Much ado about nothing
But what is the point of this analysis anyway? What purpose does it serve if it is only an effect of interpellation, if it is merely the record of present objective conditions? Who gives a damn about what Endnotes analysis is? Especially when the only permissible analysis is that which is limited to its already manifesting conditions, i.e. when such an analysis cannot make a difference, but may only confirm an already active objective process.
If consciousness is generated by distance, its object being removed elsewhere and otherwise, then the alleged historically conditioned immanence of Endnotes’ analysis indicates the decisive absence of a conscious element.
Whilst pretending to the method of objective analysis, the anti-humanist manoeuvre functions rhetorically only to prove the position, the placement, the vantage point of the anti-humanist author, who through the very assertion of his anti-humanism retrieves the vestiges of the human, but only to legitimise his own purposes. The last misdirection of the self-delimiting authorial subject is his post-oedipal self-denunciation, I alone have denied the self. The anti-humanists ambivalently present themselves as the only humans who have dared to theorise anti-humanism.
Paradoxically, and in accordance with the objective constraints of the productive relation, anti-humanists must finally renounce what is malleable, flexible, unregulated, fleeting in social existence, even as these are also validated as representations and fetishes for the different. The array of anti-human objects, being irreducibly mysterious, must pass beneath the radar of the reproductive drives, and thus cannot be integrated as objects into production.
Under the pretext of taking apart normative representations of mystified humanity, anti-humanism performs a type of archaeological classification, or audit, of marginal traits and transforms them as representations, as logistical units, and fixes them into the mechanisms of sociobiological reproduction. However, the outcome of bringing anti-subjects or post-subjective formations to the fore has run counter to the predicted liberation from normative ‘repression’, and has only further exacerbated the anticipatory mechanisms of bio-power over potential modes of non-quantifiable resistance.
One can always search out evidence to the contrary in isolated actions and events which appear at first sight to oppose themselves to the general movement, and seek to detach such moments from the movement and consider them in isolation. In this way Dauve and Nesic only show how the incomparably larger part of the movement contradicts their affirmations. By failing to integrate these moments into a totality they limit themselves to opposing isolated activities to each other without grasping their unity.
Théorie Communiste, Much ado about nothing
Perhaps Endnotes does not have the courage to take that one last step away from its urge towards a political optimism. To do so would oblige it to theorise the unsalvageable decomposition of proletarian subjectivity. And in turn this would require it to turn and face the paltry actinium of ‘communisation’, and then abandon it as viable ‘means’.
Endnotes holds to the orthodoxies of marxist faith in the progressions of the real movement. It cannot permit its project to lapse into nihilistic hilarity, and thereby acknowledge its own déclassé, bohemian, dilettante, decadence. It, that is we, as bearers of consciousness, are separated from the class, and yet in this separation we are also tied to it as it decomposes. Our very separation articulates our connection... we are the description in theory of the impossibility of proletarian consciousness.
This hilarious realisation is something Endnotes is very close to but finds that it cannot, and must not, accept. As a political entity, it has more in common with anarcho-syndicalist re-enactment societies, and other workerists, than it supposes. Above all, it wishes for the wish to infer positive traits from within the condition of its total isolation. The old pedantic milenarianism, its complex of affirmations drawn from its very marginality, insists on how the end could not have been before, but now must soon be.
But on what grounds does Endnotes conclude with an affirmation when all around is decomposition and destruction? How is it possible to interpret the proletariat positively at the very point of its self-refusal?
Endnotes’ predicament is to be found somewhere between these co-ordinates: in this untheorised relation of affirmations piling up against an invariant barrier of negation; in the theorising group’s tendency to self-identify with theorised process; in the arguments made for an unself-conscious proletariat from a position set outside it by the qualitative distinction of bearing consciousness.
The difficulty is located where a dehistoricised, and un-self-limiting factor, comes into play within a position that is wholly dependent on strict historicisation, and the self-limiting of terms.
It is this non-registering of the true scale of negation of life by value production in theory (i.e. a scale which has already cancelled out, by anticipation, the proletariat’s self-negation) but which, on the contrary, pegs itself to the development of productive forces thus far, and then assumes a unaudited extra-capacity for jumping ship, which is most concerning about so much marxist theory. How is it possible exactly to seize hold of that which determines your appearance in the world, and make it responsive to your decisions?
The predilection for a positive outcome to class struggle cannot but be treated with suspicion, especially when it has been generated from a theory, and the theory itself may only draw on the data set of outcomes that does not at all support the theory.
If we say today that the revolutions were beaten on the basis of what they were, that their intimate relationship to the counter revolution was found within them (as certain left communist tendencies perceived), if we do not replay history supposing that the revolutions could have been anything else, we nonetheless dont say that they lacked anything, we dont attribute to them the consciousness which results precisely from their failures and counter-revolutions. The Russian proletarians of 1917, German of 1919, or Spanish of 1936, acted as such, they carried out the revolutionary movement which was theirs in all consciousness and all contradiction. The limits of their movement were imposed on them by the counter-revolution that they had to fight. What we can say now of these movements, we say now, and if we say why they failed we owe it to the combats as they were waged. Our analysis is a result; the result doesn't pre-exist the thing. Anyone is free to explain what was on the basis of what ought to have been, and to imagine the latter; that isn't our method.
Théorie Communiste, Much ado about nothing
In the place of this further contortion, which is performed to maintain the posture of perverse optimism, it would have been preferable to lapse into pessimism, and negate the present in totality. Endnotes should abandon the proletariat as it lapses into its historical slump, and do so without any intention of redeeming it. From the objectively fixed position of almost total isolation in which communists now find themselves, it is preferable, as Endnotes might phrase it, to refuse the combat as it is imposed.
Almost inevitably, for communists, the move towards pessimism seems a step too far. As with any protagonists of the ideology of last gasp affirmation, Endnotes cannot take that little step into relinquishment. It cannot allow itself to contemplate the proletariat reduced to ashes and dust; there is something of itself, written deep into its self, which compels it to hold onto its own assumed role, in which it both selects and affirms, plucks out and raises up. For this reason, the flaw in the project is to be found in the representation of the project itself in relation to historical forces. That is, in the representation of itself as the vantage point on present relations.
The point of view is a good one because, today, its the only one we have, because it is ours. We dont aspire to an eternal grasp of communism because such a thing doesn't exist. Of course we may be constrained by our limits, but for as long as the combat continues these limits are what we are, our force which will perhaps become our undoing. We know that if, in the current cycle, the limit of the class activity of the proletariat is to act as a class, then nothing is determined in advance, and overcoming this contradiction will be arduous. But we also know that for us, now, communism is the abolition of all classes and that it is the overcoming of all previous limits of class struggle.
Théorie Communiste, Much Ado About Nothing
Endnotes’ historicism is faux-structural and quasi-formulaic... it thinks it is articulating present relations but has really only constructed an imaginary world. It is not including all its material. It is not saying all that it could say. It is withholding the next step of its thought in order to preserve its already formulated findings. And whilst Endnotes is capable of rehearsing the limitations of the proletarian revolutionary subject, it doesn’t register as theory the formal limits of its theory. It is yet to find the crazed laughter which is located at the edge of it all; it is yet to understand that it is the past and not the future which lies before us and which must be brought into consciousness. Whatever it is that Endnotes might find impossible to envisage, it is that very thing that it must summon up, and orientate its project towards.
We dont believe in the unchanging being of the proletariat or in the invariant need of the human community since time immemorial. We think the situation in which we find ourselves: our cycle of struggle carries such a content and such a structure of the confrontation between capital and the proletariat, and for us it is the communist revolution, because for us it is rigourously impossible to envisage other forms and other contents.
Théorie Communiste, Much Ado About Nothing