Financialization, precarity and reactionary authoritarianism: From Roarmag

(art by penny)

What would a politics look like that promised not to end but to embrace precariousness, not as an inescapable economic “reality” (which is what our current system of financialized austerity pledges) but as a socio-ontological sine qua non?

Max Haiven

Contemporary Capitalism promises a future of mastered precariousness; it seduces with the pleasures of domination.  The promise is a fiction, for the proffered future is nothing but a repetition of the present, extended forever.  In other words, that mastery is pure and violent hubris.  And yet, in tapping into the most basic human passions and needs, and channeling them towards a bio-politics-towards-death, capitalism renews itself.  And even among its critics, the illusory hope is that that precariousness can be managed for the good. 

Against the exploitation of fragility for gain and power, what needs to be imagined and thought through is a politics of fragility; a politics where autonomy is conceived of on the basis not of sovereignty, but of mutual aid and dependence. 

Reflections on the precariousness of human life, under capital and beyond …

An essay by Max Haiven, published with roarmag (16/1o/2017).

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What is to be done? The question of a proletarian revolution

(photograph by Sebastião Salgado)

proletarian

1650s (n.) “member of the lowest class;” 1660s (adj.) “of the lowest class of people;”; with – iant + Latin proletarius “citizen of the lowest class” (as an adjective, “relating to offspring), in Ancient Rome, propertyless people, exempted from paying taxes and military service, who served the state only by having children; from proles “offspring, progeny”.

Where, then, is the positive possibility of a German emancipation?

Answer: In the formulation of a class with radical chains, a class of civil society which is not a class of civil society, an estate which is the dissolution of all estates, a sphere which has a universal character by its universal suffering and claims no particular right because no particular wrong, but wrong generally, is perpetuated against it; which can invoke no historical, but only human, title; which does not stand in any one-sided antithesis to the consequences but in all-round antithesis to the premises of German statehood; a sphere, finally, which cannot emancipate itself without emancipating itself from all other spheres of society and thereby emancipating all other spheres of society, which, in a word, is the complete loss of man and hence can win itself only through the complete re-winning of man. This dissolution of society as a particular estate is the proletariat.

Karl Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right

Much has been said of the death of the working class.  And if by this notion one is to understand modern industrial labourers as the self-conscious and socially determined bearers of a future post-capitalist or communist society, then there is no reason to declare its death, for it never existed.  Workers there were and are, but nothing has ever rendered them the inevitable agent of capitalism’s destruction.  Nothing, in other words, marks them intrinsically as the anti-capitalist revolutionary subject.

Does it still then continue to make sense to speak of the working class, of the proletariat, in this sense?  Is the proletariat even to be identified with the working class?  And is the proletariat capitalism’s grave digger, without which we are condemned to its violence?  In sum, is there anything resembling a proletarian (or any) revolutionary subject?  Indeed, what remains of the very concept of revolution?

The essay below, in translation, was published with the french media collective paris-luttes.info and is intended to open a debate.  Whatever differences we may have with the theses herein presented, the text is valuable, both for what it says, and perhaps for what it leaves unsaid.

One paradoxical idea that whispers below the surface is that the proletariat is both the victim of capitalism and its necessarily assimilated foundation.  Revolution then must be made both against capital and the capitalist self within.  Which is to say that the proletariat is both enemy and friend of capital, or stated different, that there is no longer any outside to capitalism, or again, that we are all, in our lives (existentially, if one wishes) and to varying degrees, capitalists, while being proletarians.

We are capitalists not in being materially wealthy, nor in being the owners of the means of production, but in having been increasingly transformed into indistinguishable workers-debtors-consumers (varying only to the depth to which that can assume these identities) essential to the production and reproduction of capitalist social relations.  Beyond this global, anonymous petite-bourgeoisie are the vestiges of pre-capitalist social forms, increasingly besieged by capital, and the many forgotten and discarded, below them, and the capitalists themselves who are proportionately fewer and fewer in number (though also richer), but who are also not immune to superfluousness before the reign of commodity-spectacles, above them.

But then if most of us are both proletarians and capitalists, does not revolution, or anti-capitalism, lie in the refusal of both, in the preference to be neither? Continue reading

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Scenes from the class struggle in france: From Crimethinc

Left to their own devices, the police found themselves for the first time in a troublesome quandary. Suddenly stripped of the compass of the law, unable to decide which of the emergent governments should be considered lawful, and realizing the fictitiousness of any government outside the ring of the cordon, the unemployed blue people swiftly came to realize that they were less real creatures with every passing day, becoming metaphysical fiction.

Bruno Jasienski, I Burn Paris

We share a report from the Crimethinc collective on the trial those who would burn machines of authority.  The trials are for those who rebel.  Those who violently reign stand above the law.  In solidarity with the convicted …

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The russian revolution of 1917: Bruno Jasienski

We think that a powerful and vigorous movement is impossible without differences — “true conformity” is possible only in the cemetery.

Joseph Stalin, “Our purposes” Pravda #1, (22 January 1912)

For many of those who threw themselves into the russian revolution, with whatever understanding or naivety, ideology or goals, the passions that the events grew from and that were generated therefrom were often heroic, frequently tragic, and by the end of the regime, only pathetic: no one of the regime knew any longer what purpose Stalin’s cemetery served. 

Yet the memory of the movements’ revolutionaries should not be simply dismissed, or worse ignored; for it is in part on this ground that the possibility of revolution is kept alive.

On this centennial year of russia’s 1917 revolutions, we add one further testimonial to our series: a brief account of the life and work of the militant poet, playwright and novelist  Bruno Jasienski.  We present below, in translation, a short text by Thomas Misaszek, published with the french journal Ballast (02/10/2017).

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The question of the independence of catalonia: From Crimethinc

We return to the referendum on the independence of catalonia, to the struggle between the spanish state and the state of an aspiring new republic, to where anarchists may find their ground …

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A wall of exclusion and domination

The actual physical borderland that I’m dealing with …
is the Texas-U.S Southwest/Mexican border. The psychological
borderlands, the sexual borderlands and the spiritual borderlands
are not particular to the Southwest. In fact, the Borderlands are
physically present wherever two or more cultures edge each
other, where people of different races occupy the same territory,
where under, lower, middle and upper classes touch, where the
space between two individuals shrinks with intimacy.

I am a border woman.. I grew up between two cultures, the
Mexican (with a heavy Indian influence) and the Anglo (as a
member of a colonized people in our own territory). I have been
straddling that tejas-Mexican border, .and others, all my life. It’s
not a comfortable territory to live in, this place of contradictions.
Hatred, anger and exploitation are the prominent features of this
landscape.

However, there have been compensations for this mestiza,
and certain joys. Living on borders and in margins, keeping intact
one’s shifting and multiple identity and integrity, is like trying to
swim in a new element, an “alien” element. There is an exhilaration
in being a participant in the further evolution of humankind,
in being “worked” on. I have the sense that certain “faculties”-
not just in me but in every border resident,. colored or noncolored-and
dormant areas of consciousness are being activated,
awakened. Strange, huh? And yes, the “alien” element has
become familiar-never comfortable, not with society’s clamor
to uphold the old, to rejoin the flock, to go with the herd. No, not
comfortable but home.

Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera

Prototypes for the Trump wall aimed at securing the united states against mexicans, or rather, at guaranteeing the controlled and exploitable flow of mexican and central american labour, and other commodities, into the united states, began last month …

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For Daniel Guérin

My move in the direction of socialism wasn’t objective, or of an intellectual order,” Guérin writes of his political transformation in Vietnam. “It was more subjective, physical, coming from feeling and the heart. It wasn’t in books, it was in me, first of all, through years of sexual frustration, and it was through contact with young oppressed people that I learned to hate the established order. The carnal quest freed me from social segregation.

Daniel Guérin, Autobiography of Youth

Essayist, historian, writer, poet, militant who moved across multiple “leftist identities” throughout most of the 20th century.  Anti-authoritarian, anti-fascist, anti-nationalist, anti-colonialist, anti-racist, gay militant, finally anarchist, Guérin was above all always free, always allowing passion to override ideology.  We celebrate the life of Daniel Guérin with a short essay by Cole Stangler, The Red and the Rainbow (Dissent Spring 2017) and the documentary, Daniel Guérin (1904 – 1988) – Combats dans le siècle.

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The russian revolution of 1917: Daniel Guérin

The Russian Revolution was, in fact, a great mass movement, a wave rising from the people which passed over and submerged ideological formations. It belonged to no one, unless to the people. In so far as it was an authentic revolution, taking its impulse from the bottom upward and spontaneously producing the organs of direct democracy, it presented all the characteristics of a social revolution with libertarian tendencies.

Daniel Guérin

Without being a direct testimonial, Daniel Guerin’s essay, Anarchism: from theory to practice, remains one of the most significant libertarian reflections on the russian revolution.  As part of our ongoing series on the revolution, we share below the chapter of the essay dedicated to the events in russia. (From libcom.org, where the full essay can also be consulted).

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The catalan referendum: From Crimethinc

Reflections on the catalan referendum, from the Crimethinc. collective …

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The catalan referendum: anarchy and/or self-determination?

Sunday, October 1st, was the day in which the residents of catalonia were asked to vote on the region’s independence.  The referendum, having earlier been declared unconstitutional by the spanish courts, became then the object of an active judicially driven prohibition with police seizures of voting bulletins, ballot boxes, the closure and barring from probable voting spaces, the shutting down of websites supportive of the referendum, arrests or threats of arrest against local civil servants and politicians involved in the organisation of the vote (for the crime of sedition which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years), debates on the referendum within public spaces were prohibited, and the like.  With the Rajoy government hiding behind the law, it did what it does best in the face of opposition: send in the police.  Over 10,000 Guardia Civil and national police agents were sent to the region from the across the country, along with hundreds of special mobile units of the national police, for the October 1st date.  And the result was inevitable mass police violence, with over 800 people hurt and wounded, some seriously.  In most instances, the violence was against those trying to protect voting stations, election material and ballots cast.

The “law” showed its face in spain: a constitutional order before peaceful dissidence, rebellion, depends ultimately upon the threat and/or use of violence, even when that rebellion wishes to express itself through the ballot box.

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