“All power to the communes!” … What resonances must occur for such a call to be heard? It is not an appeal to strike an external, foreign enemy; there is none, for there is no longer any inside or outside. It is a possibility, a possibility within Empire, but that is in dissonance with its rhythm, its reality. It is the ethical possibility of being other, with others.
The fear of the commune as a consequence of the discipline of work and consumption: “Communism is not another way of distributing wealth, of organising production, of managing society; communism is an ethical disposition. A disposition to let oneself be affected … by what is common to us. A disposition to share what is common.”
In the midst of crisis, the solutions proposed are more work and more consumption. We must buy our way out of misery. If less of everything is sold, then fewer workers are required. And for those that remain, they must work more, longer, for less, and then shop.
Crisis is not an exception, but a mode of government.
“More work to the people!”, “Save the 35hr work week!”, “Save our pensions!” … so many appeals for protection, from the state that oversees our welfare, but to what avail, for what purpose? Is it so that we can possess more of the same in our isolation? There is no social solution to the present situation, a present that is without issue. The social engineers, managers, gurus and prophets can only offer up a happiness of managed consumption: dialogue in the place of confrontation, participation in the place of rebellion … a good day’s sleep.
A false fiction: “I am my work, source of dignity and honour.” The violence of work, commoditised labour, resides in all that is denied and destroyed which is not work. The society of wage labour discipline cannot and should not define the limits of political goals, for as work has triumphed over all other forms of being, workers have become ever more superfluous; we live in a society of workers without work. And what is produced by what work there is? What can “All power to the worker’s councils” mean in the production of rubbish? Why save General Motors for the purpose of making more automobiles?
Economics as politics: work produces a society of producers and consumers; it is not driven by the necessity of producing goods. Production is a gigantic machine that manages and consumes the energy of those who have become superfluous labourers and that separates out and denies those who refuse work. To organise oneself beyond and against work, to collectively desert the mobilisation for work, to display vitality and organisation in demobilisation, is a crime, but the only manner by which to survive the violence of commodity production.
The fiction of return: agrarian, green collectives organised against growth. The city is now a metropolis; the city and the countryside have ceased to exist, except as fetishes: the escape into a bucolic rural paradise or an urban historical authenticity … all properly policed for safe, eventless consumption. To withdraw from the economy is to remove oneself from concerns with growth or degrowth, it is to refuse progress, it is to live communally.
The time of freedom, of the commune, is not the time of progress. It is an eternal present that is hostile to the management of work time.
The commune is a space-time of collective creativity, of self-definition; labour is a time of necessity, which must not be commoditised.
Oppositional movements, organisations (political parties, unions, etc.), are far too often trapped in a logic of progress, promising at best a better, more justly managed path towards material well being. Private accumulation of wealth, private responses to collective needs, is what must be overcome.
All is war: classical politics must be deserted for a politics opposed to sovereignty.
The individual self is a fiction of disciplinary labour and consumption, yet a fiction that we believe to be the source of our freedom. The “search” for one’s self, for the meaning of one’s life, as the self is created, diffused and “lost” in relations of power. The very same diffusion however reveals the commune as the source of our “selves”, as the source of our singular freedoms … what we understand by communism.
“Communism therefore, as presupposed and as experimentation. The sharing of a sensibility and the elaboration of a sharing. The evidence of what is common and the construction of a force. Communism as the framework for a detailed, audacious assault against domination. As an appeal and as a name of all the worlds resistant to imperial pacification, of all the irreducible solidarities against the reign of commodities, of all the friendships that assume the necessities of war. COMMUNISM.”
To speak of insurrection is to speak of the multiplication of communes, of their expanding and intensifying relationships and articulations which increase our capacity to act autonomously. The aim is to create territories of conviviality, not to occupy territories of alienation. Generalised, they can block networks of domination and open spaces and times for creativity.
To act truthfully is not to represent anyone, but to assume a form of life, an ethics, as true. The purpose of the commune is not to organise for survival, but to exist communally, to be with others, in friendship.
The commune, it is what happens when beings find themselves, when they understand each other and decide to act together. The commune, it is perhaps what is decided upon at the moment when normally one would separate from others. It is the joy of the encounter that survives its rigorous stifling. It is that which allows us to say ‘we’, and that which is an event. What is strange is not that beings who agree should form communes, but that they remain separate. Why don’t communes multiply themselves to infinity?
The politics of insurrection: friendship.