Tuesday, 14 January 2014

You’re so sheered, you’re so cheap: on the romance of extinguishment

There was a certain charm in horses born from the sea or magical dwarves dressed in gold, but they are in no way adapted to the demands of modern life. 
Ivan Chtcheglov
The material base of communism has thus far been imagined as a ‘harnessing’ of powers as they pass by - a sort of ‘hopping on’. The event of communism is conventionally understood to depend upon an intersection of proletarian organisation with the accelerating intensity of objective forces... and the dictatorship of the proletariat is nothing but the reining-in of productive horses - an act of domesticating husbandry. 
It has been supposed that this convergence of proletarian organisation and accumulated productive forces will result in a further ‘acceleration’ of capacities, a positive spiral of development, that will further intensify the relation between human will and productive power. New needs will be both manufactured and exceeded.

But the living having always occupied the space allocated to them by their forebears. They encounter the dead as the constraints of their existence. The dead are not dead, but press in upon the living from every side, like a boundary that encroaches into its own territory. 

The crowding-in of the dead upon the living, describes the ‘workings’ of The Law. The Law is the aggregate and accumulation, or is it the essence, of past failure. Only the errors of the dead survive them. Only their defeats are marked upon time, so as to appear in the world as its given character. The Law appears in the world as the harsh victory of the dead over the living. 

The living must inhabit the territory set out for them by The Law. They cannot directly confront the constraints of their space but are set in motion by them, set in motion from them. At those points where they are thwarted by The Law, which is at every point, the living must search through their books for mitigating arguments and unprecedented readings. 

The accumulation of productive forces, an unstoppable locomotive erupting from out of the past and approaching the end of the line, indicates a permanent and incremental tendency of the dead to erase the living. The human community's dereliction gains pace in inverse ratio to the extension of machines into world process. The dead increase in the world and the living diminish.

If communism, if it is understood as a relation of the living amongst the living, is to remain possible, then it must occur at the same frequency as, in accord with, the disappearance of the human community from the universe. The mode of communism is not to accelerate or advance or spread, it is not dependent on the principle of realisation. It is not an engineering project.

Communism is a relation of and between those who experience vanquishment in this moment. It occurs in a shrinking territory that is described by the encroaching forces of the dead. It is a movement of withdrawal that seeks to give distinct form to the disappearance of human beings from the world. 

Communism supposes the unharnessing of human beings from productive forces - it occurs as the set of relations that ensues from this final act of self-exile. Beneath the great turbines and cooling towers, amongst shale gas wells and research centres, before digitising pavlovian screens and machined experience parks, the human community encounters the romance in its own erosion. As it seeks to preserve its ruins, and explores its picturesque endangerment, the human community discovers the true material base of communism - which is to live in discord with process.