I am often criticized, including in the 'camp' of potential political friends, for not taking account of the characteristics of contemporary capitalism, for not offering a 'Marxist analysis' of it. Consequently, for me communism is an ethereal idea; at the end of the day, I am allegedly an idealist without any anchorage in reality. Moreover, I am inattentive to the astonishing mutations of capitalism, mutations that authorize us to speak (with an eager expression) of a 'postmodern capitalism' .
For example, during an international conference on the idea of communism, Antonio Negri - I was (and remain) very pleased he participated - publicly took me as an example of those who claim to be communists without even being Marxists. In short, I replied that that was better than claiming to be Marxist without even being communist. Since it is commonly held that Marxism consists in assigning a determinant role to the economy and the social contradictions which derive from it, who isn't 'Marxist' today? The foremost 'Marxists' are our masters, who tremble and gather by night as soon as the stock market wobbles or the growth rate dips. Put the word ' communism' in front of them, on the other hand, and they will jump up and take you for a criminal.
Here, without concerning myself with opponents and rivals, I would like to say that I too am a Marxist - naively, completely and so naturally that there is no need to reiterate it. Does a contemporary mathematician worry about demonstrating fidelity to Euclid or Euler? Genuine Marxism, which is identified with rational political struggle for an egalitarian organization of society, doubtless began around 1 848 with Marx and Engels. But it made progress thereafter, with Lenin, Mao and a few others. I was brought up on these historical and theoretical teachings. I believe I am well aware of the problems that have been resolved, and which it is pointless to start reinvestigating; and of the problems that remain outstanding, and which require of us radical rectification and strenuous invention. Any living knowledge is made up of problems, which have been or must be constructed or reconstructed, not of repetitive descriptions. Marxism is no exception to this. It is neither a branch of economics (theory of the relations of production), nor a branch of sociology (objective description of 'social reality'), nor a philosophy (a dialectical conceptualization of contradictions). It is, let us reiterate, the organized knowledge of the political means required to undo existing society and finally realize an egalitarian, rational figure of collective organization for which the name is 'communism'.
However, I would like to add that when it comes to the 'objective ' data about contemporary capitalism I do not think I am badly informed. Globalization? The relocation of numerous sites of industrial production to countries with low labour costs and an authoritarian political regime? The transition during the 1980s in our old developed countries from an auto-centred economy, with a continual increase in workers' wages and social redistribution organized by the state and trade unions, to a liberal economy integrated into global trade and therefore export-orientated, specializing, privatizing profits, socializing risks and assuming a planetary increase in inequalities? A very rapid concentration of capital under the leadership of finance capital? The utilization of novel means whereby the velocity of circulation of capital initially, and of commodities subsequently, has significantly accelerated (generalization of air transport, universal telephony, financial machinery, the Internet, programmes geared to ensuring the success of instantaneous decisions, and so on)? The sophistication of speculation thanks to new derivative products and a subtle mathematics of risk combination? A spectacular decline of the peasantry, and the whole rural organization of society, in our countries? The absolute imperative, as a result, of constructing the urban petty bourgeoisie as a pillar of the existing social and political regime? The widespread resurrection, in the first instance among extremely rich grands bourgeois, of the conviction as old as Aristotle that the middle classes are the alpha and omega of 'democratic 'life? A planetary struggle, sometimes muffled and sometimes of an extreme violence, to secure cheap access to raw materials and energy sources, particularly in Africa - continent of every variety of 'Western' despoliation and, consequently, atrocity? I know all this reasonably well, as in truth does everyone .
The issue is whether this anecdotal compendium amounts to a 'postmodern' capitalism, a new capitalism, a capitalism worthy of Deleuze and Guattari's desiring machines, a capitalism that by itself generates a collective understanding of a new kind, which provokes the rising up of a hitherto subjugated constituent power, a capitalism that bypasses the old power of states, a capitalism that proletarianizes the multitude and makes workers of the immaterial intellect out of petit-bourgeois - in short, a capitalism of which communism is the immediate flip-side, a capitalism whose Subject is in a way the same as that of the latent communism which supports its paradoxical existence. A capitalism on the eve of its metamorphosis into communism. Such, roughly but accurately, is Negri's position. But such, more generally, is the position of all those who are fascinated by the technological changes and continuous expansion of capitalism over the last thirty years and who, dupes of the dominant ideology (' everything is changing all the time and we are chasing after this memorable change '), imagine they are witnessing a prodigious sequence of History - whatever their ultimate judgement on the quality of this sequence .
My position is the exact opposite: contemporary capitalism possesses all the features of classical capitalism. It is strictly in keeping with what is to be expected of it when its logic is not counteracted by resolute, locally victorious class action. As regards the development of Capital, let us take Marx's predictive categories and we shall see that it is only now that their self-evidence is being fully attested. Did not Marx refer to the 'world market'? But what was the world market in 1860 compared with what it is today, which people have in vain seen fit to rename 'globalization'? Did not Marx conceive the ineluctable character of capital concentration?What did this concentration amount to? What was the size of firms and financial institutions when he predicted it, compared with the monsters thrown up every day by new mergers? It has long been objected to Marx that agriculture remained characterized by a system of family farms, whereas he announced that concentration would definitely affect landed property. But today we know that in fact the proportion of the population living off agriculture in the so-called developed countries (those where imperial capitalism is established unchecked) is, so to speak, insignificant. And what is the average size of landed property today, compared with what it was when the peasantry represented 40 per cent of the total population of France? Marx rigorously analyzed the inevitable character of cyclical crises, which testify, inter alia, to the absolute irrationality of capitalism, and the compulsory character of imperial activities and wars alike . In his lifetime several very grave crises confirmed these analyses; and colonial and inter-imperialist wars rounded off the proof. But when it comes to the quantity of value that went up in smoke, all of this was as nothing compared with the crisis of the 1 930s or the current crisis, or compared with the two world wars of the twentieth century, various ferocious colonial wars, and the Western 'interventions' of today and tomorrow. If we consider the situation in the world as a whole, and not just in our backyard, even the pauperization of enormous masses of the population is increasingly self-evident.
Basically, today's world is exactly the one which, in a brilliant anticipation, a kind of true science fiction, Marx heralded as the full unfolding of the irrational and, in truth, monstrous potentialities of capitalism. Capitalism entrusts the fate of peoples to the financial appetites of a tiny oligarchy. In a sense, it is a regime of gangsters. How can we accept the law of the world being laid down by the ruthless interests of a camarilla of inheritors and parvenus? Cannot those whose only norm is profit reasonably be called 'gangsters'? Individuals who are ready, in the service of this norm, to trample over millions of people if necessary? That the fate of millions of people actually depends on the calculations of such gangsters is now so patent, so conspicuous, that acceptance of this 'reality', as the gangsters' scribblers call it, is ever more surprising. The spectacle of states pathetically frustrated because a small, anonymous troop of self-proclaimed evaluators has given them a bad mark, as would an economics prof to dunces, is at once farcical and highly disturbing. So, dear voters, you have put in power people who tremble at night like schoolchildren when they learn in the early hours that representatives of the 'market' - i.e. the speculators and parasites of the world of property and capital - have rated them AAB rather than AAA? Is it not barbarous, this consensual hold over our official masters by unofficial masters, whose sole concern is their current and future profits in the lottery in which they stake their millions? Not to mention that their anguished bawling - 'a! a! b ! ' - will have to be paid for by compliance with the mafia's commands, which are invariably of the following kind: ' Privatize everything. Abolish help for the weak, the solitary, the sick and the unemployed. Abolish all aid for everyone except the banks. Don't look after the poor; let the elderly die. Reduce the wages of the poor, but reduce the taxes of the rich. Make everyone work until they are ninety. Only teach mathematics to traders, reading to big property-owners and history to on-duty ideologues.' And the execution of these commands will in fact ruin the life of millions of people.
But here too Marx's forecast has been confirmed, even surpassed, by our reality. He characterized the governments of the 1 840s and ' 50s as ' Capital's executives' . This supplies the key to the mystery: at the end of the day, the rulers and the gangsters of finance come from the same world. The formula ' Capital's executives' is perfectly correct only today, and all the more so in that no difference exists here between right-wing governments (Sarkozy, Merkel) and 'left-wing' ones (Obama, Zapatero, Papandreou) .
So we are indeed the witnesses of a retrograde consummation of the essence of capitalism, of a return to the spirit of the 1850s, coming after the restoration of reactionary ideas that followed the 'red years' ( 1960-80), just as the 1850s were made possible by the counterrevolutionary Restoration of 1815-40 after the Great Revolution of 1792-94.
Admittedly, Marx thought that proletarian revolution, under the banner of communism, would cut short, and spare us, this full unfolding of capitalism, whose horror he clearly perceived. In his view it was indeed a case of communism or barbarism. The tremendous efforts to vindicate him on this score during the first two-thirds of the twentieth century did in fact significantly check and deflect the logic of capitalism, especially after the Second World War. For around thirty years, following the collapse of the socialist states as viable alternative forms (the case of the USSR), or their subversion by a virulent state capitalism following the failure of an explicitly communist mass movement (the case of China in the years 1 965-68), we have had the dubious privilege of finally witnessing the confirmation of all Marx's predictions about the real essence of capitalism and the societies it rules. As to barbarism, we are already there, and are rapidly going to sink further into it. But it conforms, even in detail, to what Marx hoped the power of the organized proletariat would forestall.
Contemporary capitalism is therefore not in any sense creative and postmodern. Reckoning itself shot of its communist enemies, it is merrily proceeding along the lines whose overall direction was perceived by Marx, following the classical economists and continuing their work from a critical perspective. It is certainly not capitalism and its political servants that are bringing about the rebirth of History, if by 'rebirth' is understood the emergence of a capacity, at once destructive and creative, whose aim is to make a genuine exit from the established order. In this sense, Fukuyama was not wrong: the modern world, having arrived at its complete development and conscious that it is bound to die - if only (which is plausible, alas) in suicidal violence - no longer has anything to think about but 'the end of History', just as Wotan, in Act II of Wagner's Die Walkiire, explains to his daughter Briinnhilde that his only thought is 'the end! The end! '.
If there is to be a rebirth of History, it will not come from the barbaric conservatism of capitalism and the determination of all state apparatuses to maintain its demented pattern. The only possible reawakening is the popular initiative in which the power of an Idea will take root.
Alain Badiou 'THE REBIRTH OF HISTORY' (Times Of Riots and Uprising)
Speculating Freedom: Addiction, Control and Rescriptive Subjectivity in the Work of William S. Burroughs
Jose Rosales - ON THE END OF HISTORY & THE DEATH OF DESIRE (NOTES ON TIME AND NEGATIVITY IN BATAILLE’S ‘LETTRE Á X.’)
Jose Rosales - BERGSONIAN SCIENCE-FICTION: KODWO ESHUN, GILLES DELEUZE, & THINKING THE REALITY OF TIME
Obsolete Capitalism - THE STRONG OF THE FUTURE. NIETZSCHE’S ACCELERATIONIST FRAGMENT IN DELEUZE AND GUATTARI’S ANTI-OEDIPUS
Obsolete Capitalism - Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 1)
Obsolete Capitalism - Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 2)
Obsolete Capitalism: Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 3)
Obsolete Capitalism - Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 4)
Obsolete Capitalism: Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 5)
Steven Craig Hickman - David Roden and the Posthuman Dilemma: Anti-Essentialism and the Question of Humanity
Steven Craig Hickman - The Carnival of Globalisation: Hyperstition, Surveillance, and the Empire of Reason
Steven Craig Hickman - Shaviro On The Neoliberal Strategy: Transgression and Accelerationist Aesthetics
Steven Craig Hickman - Hyperstition: Technorevisionism – Influencing, Modifying and Updating Reality
Terence Blake - CONCEPTS OUT OF THE SHADOWS: Notes on Deleuze and Guattari’s “What is Philosophy?” (2)
Terence Blake - GUATTARI’S LINES OF FLIGHT (2): transversal vs transferential approaches to the reading contract
Himanshu Damle - Games and Virtual Environments: Playing in the Dark. Could These be Havens for Criminal Networks?
Himanshu Damle - Hegelian Marxism of Lukács: Philosophy as Systematization of Ideology and Politics as Manipulation of Ideology.
Nick Land - The unconscious is not an aspirational unity but an operative swarm, a population of 'preindividual and prepersonal singularities'