Academic journal article Capital & Class

Interstitial Revolution: On the Explosive Fusion of Negativity and Hope

Academic journal article Capital & Class

Interstitial Revolution: On the Explosive Fusion of Negativity and Hope

Article excerpt

Introduction

He preferido hablar de cosas imposibles, Porque de lo posible se sabe demasiado. (Silvio Rodriguez, 'Resumen de Noticias') (1) If they don't let us dream, we will not let them sleep/(M15)

John Holloway's Change the World Without Taking Power (2002) was a stormy piece of work that opened a 'crack' within radical thought. A decade ago, Holloway made a provocative proposition: that we can (and should) change the world without the need to take control of the state. Revolution today, claimed Holloway, means precisely the opposite of the traditional formula, and means rejecting state power in favour of developing a counter-power that allows people to invent new worlds. Two opposed views emerged in response to Holloway's proposal, reflected in various international workshops, talks, journal special issues and forums, one of them in this journal (see Dinerstein, 200%). On the one hand, the book was embraced and celebrated as informing and engaging with autonomous movements, particularly with the Zapatistas, whose uprising in 1994 offered a significantly different way of thinking about 'revolution'. On the other hand, it produced bewilderment in some Marxist circles for its radical departure from traditional views on the relationship between reform and revolution, the party, the working class and the state.

Written similarly in the author's sophisticated yet accessible style, Crack Capitalism deepens and expands Holloway's controversial ideas. As in Change the World, the philosophical point of departure from which Holloway declares his ambition of 'rephrasing' revolution and 'forming a new language' (p. 12) (2) is that the world is wrong. Indeed, philosophy, as Critchley (2008: 1) suggests, 'does not begin in an experience of wonder ... but ... with the indeterminate but palpable sense that something desired has not been fulfilled'. This is followed by the assumption that we, as ordinary people engaged in a multiplicity of resistances, 'want to break. We want to create a different world. Now. Nothing more common, nothing more obvious. Nothing more simple, nothing more difficult' (p. 3). Why, asks Holloway? Because capitalism is 'threatening to crush us all to death' (p. 8). According to Holloway, we are all involved, whether we are aware of it or not, in the resistance against this suffocating system of money, which constantly pressurises us through war, repression, poverty, bureaucracy, managerialism and public policy. We are angry. Our multiple resistances (cracks) constitute spaces and/or moments created in order to resist a world that we believe is wrong.

Holloway's basic argument can be summarised as follows: radical change can only be achieved by the creation and expansion of 'cracks' in capitalist domination: 'the only possible way of conceiving revolution is as an interstitial process' (p. 11, emphasis added)) By rejecting narratives of the revolution as an orchestration with a definitive end point, Holloway claims that the method of the interstitial revolution is not a movement towards the total transformation of society by means of taking the power of the state, but the permanent opening of the world by the creation of 'cracks': the revolutionary replacement of one system by another is both impossible and undesirable. The only way to think about changing the world radically is as a multiplicity of interstitial movements running from the particular (p. 11). How can this be effective? Every society, suggests Holloway, is based on

   some sort of social cohesion, some form of relation between the
   activities of the many different people. In capitalist society,
   this cohesion has a particular logic often described in terms of
   the laws of capitalist development. There is a systemic closure
   that gives the social cohesion a particular force and makes it very
   difficult to break. To underline the close-knit character of social
   cohesion in capitalist society, I refer to it as a social
   synthesis. … 
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