The Limits of Utopia | communists in situ

We should utopia as hard as we can. Along with a fulfilled humanity we should imagine flying islands, self-constituting coraline neighborhoods, photosynthesizing cars bred from biospliced bone-marrow. Big Rock Candy Mountains. Because we’ll never mistake those dreams for blueprints, nor for mere absurdities.

What utopias are are new Rorschachs. We pour our concerns and ideas out, and then in dreaming we fold the paper to open it again and reveal startling patterns. We may pour with a degree of intent, but what we make is beyond precise planning. Our utopias are to be enjoyed and admired: they are made of our concerns and they tell us about our now, about our pre-utopian selves. They are to be interpreted. And so are those of our enemies.




This world no longer needs explaining, critiquing, denouncing. We live enveloped in a fog of commentaries and commentaries on commentaries, of critiques and critiques of critiques of critiques, of revelations that don’t trigger anything, other than revelations about the revelations. And this fog is taking away any purchase we might have on the world. There’s nothing to criticize in Donald Trump. As to the worst that can be said about him, he’s already absorbed, incorporated it. He embodies it. He displays on a gold chain all the complaints that people have ever lodged against him. He is his own caricature, and he’s proud of it. Even the creators of South Park are throwing in the towel: “Its very complicated now that satire has become reality. We really tried to laugh about what is going on but it wasn’t possible to maintain the rhythm. What was happening was much funnier that what could be imagined. So we decided to let it go, to let them do their comedy, and we’ll do ours.” We live in a world that has established itself beyond any justification.



Fantasies of Secession: A Critique of Left Economic Nationalism | The Brooklyn Rail

“All the notions of justice held by both the worker and the capitalist, all the mystifications of the capitalist mode of production, all capitalism’s illusions about freedom, all the apologetic tricks of vulgar economics, have as their basis the form of appearance discussed above, which makes the actual relation invisible, and indeed presents to the eye the precise opposite of that relation.”

Marx, Capital, vol. I



The Futures Past of Internationalism: A Conversation with Benita Parry - Viewpoint Magazine

Beni­ta Par­ry: Although I think it is now accept­able to sub­sti­tute cap­i­tal­ism for impe­ri­al­ism, I cite Daniel Bensaïd’s defense of its con­tin­ued use:

Impe­ri­al­ism is the polit­i­cal form of the dom­i­na­tion that cor­re­sponds to the com­bined and unequal devel­op­ment of cap­i­tal­ist accu­mu­la­tion. This mod­ern impe­ri­al­ism has changed its appear­ance. It has not dis­ap­peared. In the course of recent cen­turies, it has under­gone three great stages: that of colo­nial con­quest and ter­ri­to­r­i­al occu­pa­tion … that of the dom­i­na­tion of finan­cial cap­i­tal or the “high­est stage of cap­i­tal­ism” ana­lyzed by Hil­fer­d­ing and Lenin … [and] after World War II, that of the dom­i­na­tion of the world shared between sev­er­al impe­ri­al­ist pow­ers, for­mal inde­pen­dence of for­mer colonies and dom­i­nat­ed devel­op­ment.1



How the Situationist International became what it was | communists in situ

How the Situationist International became what it was
by cominsitu


by Anthony Hayes

The Situationist International (1957-1972) was a small group of communist revolutionaries, originally organised out of the West European artistic avant-garde of the 1950s. The focus of my thesis is to explain how the Situationist International (SI) became a group able to exert a considerable influence on the ultra-left criticism that emerged during and in the wake of the May movement in France in 1968. My wager is that the pivotal period of the group is to be found between 1960 and 1963, a period marked by the split of 1962. Often this is described as the transition of the group from being more concerned with art to being more concerned with politics, but as I will argue this definitional shorthand elides the significance of the Situationist critique of art, philosophy and politics. The two axes of my thesis are as follows. First, that the significant minority in the group which carried out the break of 1962, identified a homology between the earlier Situationist critique of art — embodied in the Situationist ‘hypothesis of the construction of situations’ — and Marx’s critique and supersession of the radical milieu of philosophy from which he emerged in the mid- 1840s. This homology was summarised in the expression of the Situationist project as the ‘supersession of art’ (dépassement de l’art). Secondly, this homology was practically embodied in the resolution of the debates over the role of art in the elaboration of the Situationist hypothesis, which had been ongoing since 1957. However, it was the SI’s encounter with the ultra-left group Socialisme ou Barbarie that would prove decisive. Via Guy Debord’s membership, the group was exposed to both the idea of a more general revolutionary criticism, but also ultimately what was identified as the insufficiently criticised ‘political militancy’ of this group. Indeed, in the ‘political alienation’ found in Socialisme ou Barbarie, a further homology was established between the alienation of the political and artistic avant-gardes. This identity would prove crucial to the further elaboration of the concept of ‘spectacle’. By way of an examination of the peculiar and enigmatic ‘Hamburg Theses’ of 1961, and the relationship between these ‘Theses’ and the Situationist criticism of art and politics worked out over the first five years of the group, I will argue that the break in 1962 should be conceived as one against politics as much as art (rather than just the latter, as it is more often represented). Additionally, I will outline how the SI, through the paradoxical reassertion of their artistic origins, attempted to synthesise their criticism of art with the recovery of the work of Marx beyond its mutilation as Marxism. Indeed, it was the synthesis of these critiques that enabled the considerable development of the concept of ‘spectacle’, opening the way to the unique influence the SI exerted in the re-emergence of a revolutionary movement at the end of the 1960s.



11 Theses on Possible Communism - Viewpoint Magazine

1. Specter. Wher­ev­er the Com­mu­nist Par­ty is in the state [al potere], com­mu­nism is long gone. There is a mar­ket and there is exploita­tion, but with­out par­lia­ments and free speech. Com­mu­nism is a degen­er­ate, defeat­ed, and oblit­er­at­ed his­to­ry; in Europe and in the world. It rarely occurs that a defeat is also a specter, with the capac­i­ty to fright­en again; such is the indeed rare case of com­mu­nism. The word is unpro­nounce­able, its mean­ing or project dif­fi­cult to clar­i­fy. The ene­my, how­ev­er, con­tin­ues to have clear ideas; sure­ly it is not as ter­ror­ized as it was in 1848, and cer­tain­ly it has learned to pre­empt. Con­tem­po­rary cap­i­tal­ism fright­ens in order to not be fright­ened. We know, from Hobbes on, that fear con­sti­tutes the sov­er­eign: today fear, the per­ma­nent black­mail of pre­car­i­ous lives, makes exploita­tion pos­si­ble. But if this is so, there is some­thing that does not return: lives, while pre­car­i­ous and always at work, are a dan­ger, in addi­tion to being in dan­ger. Com­mu­nism is the name of this excess that, despite every­thing, con­tin­ues to fright­en. The vic­to­ry of cap­i­tal, as a neme­sis, does not cease pro­duc­ing this excess (of rela­tions, mobil­i­ty, inven­tive capac­i­ties, pro­duc­tive coop­er­a­tion, etc.). The vic­to­ry of cap­i­tal, as a neme­sis, does not cease pro­duc­ing the objec­tive con­di­tions of com­mu­nism: the reduc­tion of “nec­es­sary labor” to the social repro­duc­tion of labor-pow­er.