Academic journal article Criticism

Communizing Currents

Academic journal article Criticism

Communizing Currents

Article excerpt

COMMUNIZING CURRENTS Communization and Its Discontents: Contestation, Critique, and Contemporary Struggles edited by Benjamin Noys. London: Minor Compositions, 2011. Pp. 280. $24.00 cloth, $21.64 paper.

Despite what sometimes appear as fundamental differences within communization theory, its coherence proceeds from particular claims about class relations today or, more specifically, the forthright negation of standard political protocols to which class formation serves as the first of many steps towards communism. At least on paper, today's communization theory finds its precursors certainly in Karl Marx's Capital, but more specifically in twentieth-century theorists of the value-form associated with Neue Marx-Lektüre (New Marx Reading) in Germany, Jacques Camatte in France, and Amadeo Bordiga in Italy.1 Though communization's constellation is certainly not limited to these schools or the years surrounding 1968, its collective contribution to Marxism amounts to a position altogether antagonistic to other more gradualist or programmatic leftisms that take either labor or the state, rather than the value-form, as the political horizon of critique and struggle.

Implicit in communization's many valences today is that there is no "towards communism." In this account, a "towards" implies a provisional series of steps or a program, which our recent historical experience provides no reason to trust, much less to think possible. Instead, communization's immediacy, according to the Endnotes collective's contribution to Communization and Its Discontents, means an intensive, generalized "self-abolition of the working class, since anything short of this leaves capital with its obliging partner, ready to continue the dance of accumulation" (26). Although its history under the specific name communization stretches back at least to Amadeo Bordiga's writings in the 1950s, at present communization is most closely associated with the collectively written journals Endnotes in the United States and United Kingdom (formerly Aufheben), and Théorie Communiste (TC) and Tiqqun in France. Yet, it would perhaps make no sense as a theory should its own reproduction not depend on rather serious tensions internally and externally. The tensions specific to our historical moment were finally gathered for an Englishspeaking audience in 2011, under the title Communization and Its Discontents and the editorship of Benjamin Noys. Of course, the collection itself is not, as Noys admits, exhaustive. The point, however, is "to find what paths there might be, to not accept the (capitalist) desert as 'natural phenomenon,' and to begin to detect the struggles that will (re)make this terrain" (17). While section 2 ("Frames of Struggle") and section 3 ("Strategies of Struggle") collect accounts of communization's logical and historical limits, and section 4 ("No Future?") reboots the assumptions carried forward from the volume's first page, Communization and Its Discontents as a collection models precisely the necessary internal contradictions of the theory it addresses.

"The Moment of Communization," section 1 of Communization, gives us three timely reflections on what an analysis of communization would look like in relation to our contemporary moment. For the Endnotes collective in "What Are We to Do?" this means working backwards through a critique of the Invisible Committee's The Coming Insurrection (2007) and Call (2004)-book-length texts affiliated with the Tiqqun collective and its journal to which the name communization increasingly links itself-in order to highlight crucial differences between a theory of communization that imagines a "we" ready to subvert the rhythms of an enemy typically called Empire, and one instead grounded in the labor theory of value. The discourse of something like a Deleuzian theory of substance, for the Endnotes collective, distracts us from the more systematic, malicious condition of today's capitalist political economy. …

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