Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Right To Be Greedy

Modeled on Paul Lafrague's "The Right to Be Lazy", this proto situationist text from thirty years ago is still unmatched in its 'ruthless critique of everything existing' and its humourous ironic negation of Ayn Randist individualism in favour of communist individualism.

It is the ultimate reply to those who assert that when workers go on strike they are being 'greedy', while those who reap the profits from their labour are of course being 'reasonable'.

The whole text is well worth reading. I am reproducing the Introduction and section on Individualism and Collectivism as a way of introducing what Libertarian Communism really means.

Only when you and I really get fed up enough with the system that continues to steal our lives from us will we be willing to really consider taking our power back, and breaking the machine as our Luddite predecesors did.

As long we are happy as we are, then all our efforts will be to patchup the machine and make it work a little better while remaining cogs to be run down, ground up and spit out.

The Right To Be Greedy

Theses On The Practical Necessity Of Demanding Everything


Council for Generalized Self-Management



Greed in its fullest sense is the only possible basis of communist society.


The present forms of greed lose out, in the end, because they turn out to be not greedy enough.


The repression of egoism can never totally succeed, except as the destruction of human subjectivity, the extinction of the human species itself, because egoism is an essential moment of human subjectivity. Its repression simply means that it returns in a hidden, duplicitous form. If it cannot show itself in the open market, it will find itself or create for itself a black market. If it is not tolerated in transparent n1 relations, the repressed self will split in two; into a represented self, a personal organization of appearances, a persona, and that which cringes and plots behind this character-armour n2. The repression of egoism, contrary to the dictates of every one of the so-called “Communists” (in opposition to Marx and Engels), from Lenin right down to Mao, can never be the basis of communist society.

Moreover, the repressive conception of “communism” misses precisely the whole point. It misses out on the validity of the egoistic moment. This is true even in the inverted form in which it emerges from an immanent critique of altruistic ideology: if I die, the world dies for me. Without life, I cannot love another. However, what it misses in “theory” - i.e., in its ideological representations - it nonetheless preserves in practice, and precisely with the help of that very ideology: its real basis is the egoism of the state-capitalist bureaucracy. This ideology of self-sacrifice serves admirably the task of extracting surplus-labour from the proletariat.
The actual negation of narrow egoism is a matter of transcendance (“aufhebung” n3), of the transition from a narrow to a qualitatively expanded form of egoism. The original self-expansion of egoism was identically the demise of the primitive community. But its further self-expansion will resolve itself into a community once again. It is only when greed itself at last (or rather, once again) beckons in the direction of community that that direction will be taken. Here the ancient Christian truth that no earthly force can withstand human greed rejoins us on our side of the barricades.


It was the struggle over their growing wealth which rent asunder the early tribal and village communities n1. The elaboration of the patriarchal pattern, the growth of exchange-relations, of usury, debt-slavery, and war can all be traced to this. It is only when the same motive which originally occasioned this dissolution of community calls for its reconstitution that community can be constituted again. And this motive is, simply, the struggle for a richer life. For only that motive is irresistible: only that motive - greed - can undo its own work. It is only when that subjective moment, through the historical deepening of its own possibility, turns against its own present objectification - in a word, capital (capitalist private property, privative appropriation; that is, privatization, exclusion - “society” as an association of strangers, of estrangement - in short, the totality of alienation) - that the threshold of the great transformation is reached. And the struggle of this new subjectivity against the previous objectification (global capitalist society; in a word, capital), the process of the negation of that objectification IS the communist revolution.


We have no doubt that people are corruptible, but we know for ourselves that there are things more tempting, more seductive, than money, capital, and Power n1 - so much so that no genuinely greedy human being could possibly resist their allure - and it is upon this corruptibility of man that we found our hopes for revolution. Revolution is nothing other than the self-accelerating spread throughout society of this more profound corruption, of this deeper seduction. Currently, greed is always pursued and associated with isolation and privatism simply because everyone under the reign of capital is condemned to pursue greed in this narrow way. Greed doesn’t yet know its own potentiality.

We say once again: the present forms of greed lose out in the end because they turn out to be not greedy enough.


Narrow greed is a holdover from times of natural scarcity. Its desires are represented to itself in the form of commodities, power, sex(-objects), and even more abstractly, as money and as images. We are told in a thousand ways that only these few things are worth having - by rulers who work to insure that these are the only things available (to be bought). The survival of the narrow greed in a world of potential plenty is propagated in the form of ideology by those very people who control access to these things. Ultimately, in our daily lives, we suffer the humiliation of being forced accomplices in the maintenance of this "scarcity," this poverty of choices.


Narrow greed will turn against itself. No more powerful weapon against greed could possibly be found than greed itself. There could be no more formidable tool for transforming narrow selfishness than this selfishness itself. In its own process, through its own development, it must discover a fuller form of greed, and a richer form of wealth. It must discover its own narrowness.

A frontal assault on someone's narrow selfishness will run up against his strongest defenses. Wouldn't it be easier to turn that strength around upon itself? Wouldn't it be easier to induce that person to transform (him)/(her) self n1 through (his)/(her) own desires? This is the method of seduction. It involves speaking from what is most radical in you to what is most radical in the other person; that is, speaking from what you really have in common: root subjectivity; radical subjectivity, the basis, at last historically discovered, upon which to work out the construction of authentic community. This is the method of immanent critique n2; of the evocation of self-critique. It is the practice of dialectic itself. Hic Rhodus! Hic Salta!


The perspective of communist egoism is the perspective of that selfishness which desires nothing so much as other selves, of that egoism which wants nothing so much as other egos; of that greed which is greedy to love - love being the “total appropriation” n1 of man by man.


Our reversal of perspective on egoism n1, our detournement n2 of "greed," and the scandalous effect which this produces and is intended to produce in the prevailing consciousness, is no mere formal trick, and no arbitrary play on words. Words, and precisely because of their meanings, are a real part of history, of the "historical material," and of the historical process. To abandon them to their usurpers, to invent new words, or to use other words because of the difficulty of winning back the true, historic words, is to abandon the field to the enemy. It is a theoretical concession, and a practical concession, which we cannot afford. To do so would only add to the confusion, a confusion which, in part, forms the basis of the established order n3.

Our reversal of perspective, on the contrary, is clarifying within the very terms of the confusion. It is already a revolutionary act at the level of the subjective conditions of revolution: the reversed perspective - the revolved perspective - is the perspective of revolution itself. Ideology is the sublime hustle. The use-value of ideology is as a tool for exploitation - the ideologue uses ideology to con you into letting him put his egoism above yours, in the name of altruism, morality, and the "general interest." Our winning back in a positive connotation of a word like "greed" or "selfishness" - the central, universal, and mutually agreed upon prejoratives of the two extreme representations of modern capitalism, private capitalist and state capitalist ideology, which try to confine the totality of possible opposition within the universe bounded by their polar pseudo-opposition - is such an act because it locates precisely the point of their essential unity, the exact point of departure for a revolutionary movement which, by breaking away there, simultaneously, identically, and singularly breaks with both.

No less is our expropriation of a word like "communism" such an act, for it is already an "expropriation of the expropriators." c1 The "Free World" is not free and the "Communist World" is not communist.


We use the words "communist society" to mean the direct opposite of that which masquerades as such in the present world namely, bureaucratic state-capitalism n1. That the classical private capitalist societies of the "West" - themselves maturing toward a form of state-capitalism - collude with "Eastern" powers in the propagation of this lie, is hardly an accident, and should come as no surprise. It is, rather, one facet among myriads of an "antagonistic cooperation" n2 which reveals the hidden essential unity binding together these pseudo-opposites.

The true communist society begins with the expropriation of the whole of capitalist society by " the associated producers, c2 which, if we are to judge by the numerous n3 historical attempts at this process so far, will take the form of global organization of workplace, community, regional, etc., councils; the workers' councils, or, to use their original, Russian name, expropriated (in fact, as in name) by the Bolshevik bureaucrats - the Soviets.


We conceive the realized social individual, "communist man," as having for his property - that is, for the object of his appropriation - his whole society, the totality of his social life. All of society is wealth for him. His intercourse with his society - i.e., his living relations with the rest of the social individuals and their objectification - is in its totality the appropriation of social life. Productive activity becomes a form of individual consumption just as consumption itself is a form of (self) production.

The activity of simultaneous appropriation by each individual of all the rest, or of the appropriation of society by all at once inter-appropriation (realized inter-subjectivity, or co-property) - itself constitutes the totality of social production. This appropriation by all at once of all is none other than the resonance n1 state of egoism:

"Communism is the positive abolition of private property, of human self-alienation, and [is] thus the real appropriation of human nature through and for man. c3
In communist society, according to its concept, the "form, of intercourse c4 becomes the total appropriation of man by man. Social individuals can appropriate one another subjectively (i.e., as subjects), and all-sidedly, through all the forms of human intercourse -by talking together, producing together, making love together, etc., etc., and all the fruits of their appropriation, i.e., themselves in their developed richness, become thus the property of themselves, and of all society, of all the other social individuals.

The fruits of your appropriation, of your consumption of physical and emotional riches, is something from which I am excluded at the level of immediacy, of immediate consumption: you eat the pear, therefore I cannot eat just that bite of just that pear; you share your love with this person, and I am perhaps excluded from sharing myself at this moment with you. But this is not at all a problem for me, for I am busy elsewhere, with the same project and praxis of self-enrichment on my own and together with others. But later, mediately, when I come back to you, your appropriation, and the self-enrichment you derive from it, comes back to me, becomes my consumption, my appropriation, in my appropriation of you, and is the richer for it. Today, we have to be jealous of each others' pleasures not because our pleasures are so many and so great, but because they are so meager and so few. Here, on the other side of poverty, on the other side of scarcity, my jealousy would only deprive myself, my exclusion of your pleasure would only exclude my own, and I am free at last to take pleasure in your pleasure. Whereas, within the realm of poverty, your strength is a threat to me, your development is at the expense of mine, and in general your addition is my subtraction; on the contrary, in the society of realized wealth, your strength is my strength, the inner wealth of your being is my wealth, my property, and every one of your human powers is a multiplication of my own. Thus, the contradiction between my consumption and yours, between my appropriation, my property, and yours; the conflict between my well-being and yours becomes its opposite: synthesis; identity; inter-reinforcement; interamplification; resonance.


The positive conception of egoism, the perspective of communist egoism, is the very heart and unity of our theoretical and practical coherence. This perspective is the essence of what separates us from both the left and the right. We cannot allow its fundamental importance to be obscured, or ourselves to be mistaken for either the right or the left. We cannot allow any Leninist organization to get away with claiming that it is only 'a little bit pregnant' with state capitalism.



"To be avoided above all is establishing 'society' once again as an abstraction over against the individual. The individual is the social being." n1 The expression of his life - even if it does not appear immediately in the form of communal expression carried out together with others - is therefore a manifestation and affirmation of social life. The individual and generic life of man are not distinct, however much - and necessarily so - the mode of existence of individual life is either a more particular or a more general mode of generic or generic life a more particular or universal mode of individual life.

"...Though man is therefore a unique individual - and precisely this particularity makes him an individual, a really individual communal being - he is equally the totality, the ideal totality, the subjective existence of society as thought and experienced." c9


"Altruism is the other side of the coin of "hell-is-other people"; only this time mystification appears under a positive sign. Let's put an end to this old soldier crap once and for all! For others to interest me I must find in myself the energy for such an interest. What binds me to others must grow out of what binds me to the most exuberant and demanding part of my will (volonte) to live; not the other way around. It is always myself that I am looking for in other people; my enrichment; my realization. Let everyone understand this and 'each for himself' taken to its ultimate conclusion will be transformed into 'all for each.' The freedom of one will be the freedom of all. A community which is not built on the demands of individuals and their dialectic can only reinforce the oppressive violence of Power. The Other in whom I do not find myself is nothing but a thing, and altruism leads me to the love of things, to the love of my isolation.... For myself, I recognize no equality except that which my will to live according to my desires recognizes in the will to live of others. Revolutionary equality will be indivisibly individual and collective." c10


"Let us notice first of all that the so-called rights of man... are simply the rights of a member of civil society, that is, of egoistic man, of man separated from other men and from the community.... Liberty is, therefore, the right to do everything which does not harm others. The limits within which each individual can act without harming others are determined by law, just as a boundary between two fields is marked by a stake. It is a question of liberty of man regarded as an isolated monad, withdrawn into himself.... Liberty as a right of man is not founded upon the relations between man and man, but rather upon the separation of man from man. It is the right of such separation. n1 The right of the circumscribed individual, withdrawn into himself.... It leads every man to see in other men, not the realization, but rather the limitation of his own liberty." n2, c11


"Too many corpses strew the path of individualism and collectivism. Under two apparently contrary rationalities has raged an identical gangsterism, an identical oppression of the isolated man." c12


Is it necessary once again to point out the self-absurdity of the one-sided abstractions "the individual" and "society," and of the ideologies founded on this one-sidedness - "individualism" (or "egoism") and so-called "socialism" (or "collectivism")?

We can be individuals only socially.

We can be social only individually.

Individuals constitute society.

Society constitutes individuals.


Dig deeply enough into the individual and you will find society. Dig deeply enough into society and you will find the individual. Dig deeply enough into either and you will come out the "other" side. The concept named "the individual," fully grasped, is the same as the concept named "society." The concept named "society," fully grasped, is also "the individual." One is impossible, does not exist, without the other. At the heart of society is its "opposite," the individual. At the center of the individual is his "antithesis," society. We must speak of the social individual. Both of the abstract universals, "society" and "the individual" find their concrete universal in the social individual.


Society, without the individual, is empty, is without its existence, just as the individual, without society, is without its existence - and even outside human society, is not a human individual (even if it should chance to survive as a biological individual. However, even as such, it is the issue of a human social - in this case, sexual - relationship). Unless both these moments can be affirmed simultaneously, univocally; grasped as a single, unitary concept - in fact as a conceptual singularity - their contradiction having been transcended (to begin with, in thought), then neither "the individual" nor "society" has been understood.


Self-production can only be social; society is self-production, that is, society is the only possible means-of-production of selves. You cannot ever talk about the "self" without identically implicating or talking about "society." The "self" exists only in association with other selves, i.e. in and as an association of selves, a society. It is no accident that the Latin root of 'consciousness' - conscienta - means literally "together-knowledge"; "to know together." c13 Subjectivity is essentially intersubjective, that is, essentially social.


Your "individuality" is already a "social structure," and has been so from its very inception (including, from its very conception).


Individuals are produced only by society. Society is produced only by individuals.


Society can be realized only egoistically, just as the ego can be arrived at, can be realized, and is possible at all only socially.


The self is pre-eminently and essentially social; society is pre-eminently and essentially selfish.


If the philosophers of one-sided individualism, of narrow egoism - that is, of the axiology of the self - want to understand Marx's socialism, they should reflect on his statement to the effect that the other is a necessary part of your self. c14


The principle "I want nothing other than myself" - the principle of self-desire, self-attachment (self-cathexis, or self-centration) - becomes the principle of daily life in communist society once it is socially actualized that the other is a necessary part of my self. c15 Society becomes an object of cathexis without this any longer necessitating projection-identification - i.e., the alienation of cathexis from the self - once the social nature of the self, and the "self nature" of society has become a palpable and transparent truth of experience.


State-capital, in sublating n1 private capital, negates or represses private capital. The ideology of anti-individualism - that is, of collectivism or one-sided socialism - so essential to Maoism in particular and to revolutionary ideology n2 in general is congruent precisely with the project of the repression of private capitalism and private accumulation, together with the characterological tendencies corresponding to these, on the part of bureaucratic capitalism (state-capitalism). This policy of repression, typified by the Maoist slogan "smash self" n3, also has the effect of inhibiting the emergence of communist egoism within the home proletariat; a form of egoism which the bureaucracy confounds, consciously or unconsciously, with bourgeois egoism.


Even privatism itself is a social expression (see Thesis 23); an expression of social life in a definite historical form of society. That is, privatism is itself an expression of the social individual produced by contemporary society. People who do not think dialectically end up making enormous errors here, practically as well as theoretically, because they can not grasp contemporary as itself a social truth, an (admittedly self-reproducing) subjectification (i.e., internalization), of capitalist society, which is precisely an antisocial society. So much so that 'the socialization of society' is, where capitalist society is concerned, but another name for the project of social revolution itself.

The ideologies of anti-socialism are based on the misery of association (collective boredom, inauthentic association, etc.) a1 under contemporary conditions, that is, on the misery of association-as-alienation and as-estrangement. They are expressions of the poverty of social life - its virtual nonexistence as such - in the world of strangers, the bellum omnium contra omnes, which is capitalist society.


The leftist, trapped in the permanent false choice between following his own immediate desires and sacrificing for his ideals, despises the "selfish" person who unhesitatingly chooses immediate, private satisfaction. The genuine communist also despises this latter type, but for the opposite reason: being restricted to immediate private satisfaction is not satisfying enough. To the communist, furthermore, for such "selfish" people to remain satisfied with their privatized, alienated lives is a direct barrier to the realization of the communist's own expanded self-interest. Somewhere in every rank and file leftist lurks a confused intuition that this is the real reason for his contempt: but this intuition is continually stifled by the leftist's own insistence on the "necessity" of sacrifice.


The lonely individualism of Ayn Rand c16, et. al., is only alienation accepted and alienation perfected.

Communist individualism or individualist communism is the name for the solution to the riddle of pre-history, which, while it has momentarily, at times and places in this century, existed, as yet knows not its own name.


Any "collectivism" on our part is an individualist collectivism. Any "individualism" on our part is a collectivist individualism.


"Nothing is more to me than myself." c17

Fine. As it stands, this theorem is wholly acceptable. This is a classic statement of the egoistic postulate by the classic exponent of individualist anarchism and narrow egoism, and an early antagonist of Marx, Max Stirner. His latter-day followers, conscious and unconscious, include the "Objectivists," the "classical liberals", and the so-called "libertarian right" in general. The problem is that, in the further elaboration of his own book, Stirner's own understanding of his own statement proved to be unequal to it. Stirner proved to be insensitive to what the concept of "self" - in order to be adequate to reality - must entail; what must be its content, if it is expanded (i.e., developed) beyond the level of its self-contradiction - namely all of the other selves which intermutually "constitute" or produce it; in short, society. This error in general must be attributed to undeveloped concrete self-knowledge; Stirner did not know himself, his own true identity. He did not know himself as society, or society as his real self.


If the validity of the egoistic moment has not been understood, then nothing has been understood. For each social individual, when his life is at stake, everything is at stake. If I allow myself to be sacrificed, then I have allowed the whole world - all possible values - to be sacrificed as far as I am concerned. If I am lost, then all the world is lost to me. Each time a person dies, a world dies.


The community of egoists is the only possible community not founded on the repression of individual development and thus ultimately of collective development as well.


"Communist egoism" names the synthesis of individualism and collectivism, just as communist society names the actual, material, sensuous solution to the historical contradiction of the "particular" and the "general" interest, a contradiction engendered especially in the cleavage of society against itself into classes. This "solution" cannot be of the form of a mere idea or abstraction, but only of a concrete form of society.


The global and exclusive power of workers' councils, of the anti-state n1, of the associated producers n2, or "generalized self-management" a1 that is, concerted egoism, is the productive force and the social relation of production which can supersede all the results of the uncoordinated egoistic activity of men. These are, in their totality, alienation; the unconscious development of the economy, and the unconscious production by the proletariat of the economic "laws" of capitalism, with all their disastrous consequences for the proletariat. The theory of communist egoism is complete only as a theory of revolutionary organization and as a theory of revolutionary practice in general; as a theory of the new social relations and as a theory of the practice of the councils. That is, it is adequate only as a theory of communist society and as a theory of the transition from (state) capitalist to communist society. Obviously then, these theses have still a long way to go toward the concrete.


The essence of communism is egoism; the essence of egoism is communism. This is the world-changing secret which the world at large still keeps from itself. The unraveling of this secret as the emergence of radical subjectivity is nothing other than the process of the formation of communist society itself. It already contains the objective process.


"But man is only individualized through the process of history. He originally appears as a generic being, a tribal being, a herd animal -though by no means a "political animal" in the political sense. Exchange itself is a major agent of this individualization." c26


Thus, in a sense, all history has (in the long run and if only implicitly) been a process of individualization. This individualization reaches its highest point of advertisement in the epoch of corporate capitalism. But private property's "individualism" is naught but its most cherished illusion. The predominant characteristic of private property is a materialized reification where the egoism of its subjects (capitalists and workers alike) is suppressed and subordinated to the pseudo-subjectivity of the "economy for itself." n1 The truth of the capitalist society and its private property is not individual property, but dispossession - viz., the proletariat. The truth of private property is nothing other than the production, reproduction, and growth of a dispossessed and propertyless class, i.e., the class of wage-labour. Private property is thus the very negation of individualism and of individual property. For the overwhelming majority of its subjects, i.e. the proletariat, private property is by no means individual property, but rather it is loss (i.e. sale - alienation) of self, being-for-another. Even the capitalists are at best mere agents of capital - managers of their own (and of the general) dispossession. The mythical "individualism" of capitalist society can only be realized in its own negation and in the negation of the society from which it sprang. Thus the Paris Commune of 1871, the first realized "Dictatorship of the Proletariat," n2, c27 attempted to abolish private property in order "to make individual property a truth." c28 "The capitalist mode of appropriation, the result of the capitalist mode of production, produces capitalist private property. This is the first negation of individual private property, as founded on the labor of the proprietor. But capitalist production begets, with the inexorability of the law of Nature, its own negation. It is the negation of the negation. This does not reestablish private property for the producer, but gives him individual property [!] based on the acquisitions of the capitalist era: i.e., on cooperation and the possession in common of the land and of the means of production." c29 The revolution of generalized self-management is the movement from narrow to full egoism, egoism's own self-enrichment. It is egoism's ascent from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom.


Preamble To The Founding Agreements of

Council for Generalized Self-Management

We have woken up to discover that our lives are becoming unlivable. From boring, meaningless jobs to the humiliation of waiting endlessly in lines, at desks and counters to receive our share of survival, from prison-like schools to repetitious, mindless "entertainment," from desolate and crime-ridden streets to the stifling isolation of home, our days are a treadmill on which we run faster and faster just to keep the same pace.

Like the immense majority of the population, we have no control over the use to which our lives are put: we are people who have nothing to sell but our capacity to work. We have come together because we can no longer tolerate the way we are forced to exist, we can no longer tolerate being squeezed dry of our energies, being used up and thrown away, only to create a world that grows more alien and ugly every day.

The system of Capital, whether in its "Western" private corporate or "Eastern" state-bureaucratic form, was brutal and exploitative even during its ascent: now, where it is in decay, it poisons air and water, produces goods and services of deteriorating quality, and is less and less able to employ us even to its own advantage. Its logic of accumulation and competition leads inexorably toward its own collapse. Even as it links all the people of the world together in one vast network of production and consumption, it isolates us from each other; even as it stimulates greater and greater advances in technology and productive power, it finds itself incapable of putting them to use: even as it multiplies the possibilities for human self-realization, we find ourselves strangled in layers of guilt, fear and self-contempt.

But it is we ourselves - our strength, our intelligence, our creativity, our passions -that are the greatest productive power of all. It is we who produce and reproduce the world as it is, in the image of Capital; it is we who reinforce in each other the conditioning of family, school, church and media, the conditioning that keeps us slaves. When we decide together to end our misery, to take our lives into our own hands, we can recreate the world the way we want it. The technical resources and worldwide productive network developed under the old system give us the means: the crisis and continuing collapse of that system give us the chance and the urgent need.

The ruling ideologies of the world superpowers, with their interlocking sets of lies, offer us only the false choice of "Communism" versus "Capitalism." But in the history of revolution during this century (Russia, 1905; Germany, 191920; Spain, 1936-37; Hungary, 1956) we have discovered the general form through which we can take back power over our own lives: workers' councils. At their highest moments, these councils were popular assemblies in workplaces and communities, joined together by means of strictly mandated delegates who carried out decisions already made by their assemblies and who could be recalled by them at any time. The councils organized their own defense and restarted production under their own management. By now, through a system of councils at the local, regional, and global level, using modern telecommunications and data processing, we can coordinate and plan world production as well as be free to shape our own immediate environment. Any compromise with bureaucracy and official hierarchy, anything short of the total power of workers' councils, can only reproduce misery and alienation in a new form, as a good look at the so-called "Communist" countries will show. For this reason, no political party can represent the revolutionary movement or seize power "on its behalf," since this would be simply a change of ruling classes, not their abolition. The plan of the freely associated producers is in absolute opposition to the dictatorial Plan of state and corporate production. Only all of us together can decide what is best for us.

For these reasons, we call upon you and upon all the hundreds of millions like you and us, to join us in the revolutionary transformation of every aspect of life. We want to abolish the system of wage and salaried labor, of commodity exchange-value and of profit, of corporate and bureaucratic power. We want to decide the nature and conditions of everything we do, to manage all social life collectively and democratically. We want to end the division of mental from manual work and of "free" time from work time, by bringing into play all of our abilities for enjoyable creative activity. We want the whole world to be our conscious self-creation, so that our days are full of wonder, learning, and pleasure. Nothing less.

In setting down this minimum program, we are not trying to impose an ideal on reality, nor are we alone in wanting what we want. Our ideas are already in everyone's minds, consciously or unconsciously, because they are nothing but an expression of the real movement that exists all over the planet. But in order to win, this movement must know itself, its aims, and its enemies, as never before.

We do not speak for this movement, but for ourselves as of it. We recognize no Cause over and above ourselves. But our selves are already social: the whole human race produces the life of each one of its members, now more than ever before. Our aim is simply to make this process conscious for the first time, to give to the production of human life the imaginative intensity of a work of art.

It is in this spirit that we call upon you to organize, as we are doing, where you work and where you live, to begin planning the way we can run society together, to defend yourselves against the deepening misery that is being imposed on all of us. We call upon you to assault actively the lies, the selfdeceptions born of fear, that keep everyone frozen in place while the world is falling apart around us. We call upon you to link up with us and with others who are doing the same thing. Above all, we call upon you to take yourselves and your desires seriously, to realize your own power to master your own lives.

It is now or never. If we are to have a future, we ourselves must be that future.


February 16, 1974



Thesis 3

n1 By "transparent" relations we mean relations beyond duplicity; relations in which the essential is also visible, i.e., in which the essence appears. "Transparency" is when you can see from the surface of social phenomena through into their core; when their truth is apparent on the surface. On the contrary, the social relations of capitalist society are opaque; shot through with a contradiction between appearance and essence; things are, more often than not the exact opposite of what they appear to be. For example, in capital, the apparent social imperative of the production of maximal use-value - "we're here to serve you"; "to produce a quality product", etc. - conceals their ulterior motive of the production of maximal exchange-value (profit), and this hidden, essential imperative reveals itself only where the two imperatives come into conflict, in which case the use-value is sacrificed to exchange-value (planned obsolescence, production of worthless products, fad products, destruction of crops and other products to keep prices up, and in general, the tendency of all products produced as commodity-capital to deteriorate in quality over time; the "tendency of use-value to fall." Marx envisioned the emergence of transparency in social relations as an aspect of the emergence of communist society, in the following words:

"Let us now picture ourselves, by way of change, a community of free individuals, carrying on their work with the means of production in common, in which the labour-power of all the different individuals is consciously applied as the combined labour-power of the community .... The social relations of the individual producers, with regard both to their labour and to its products, are in this case perfectly simple and intelligible, and that with regard not only to production but also to distribution .... (mystification] can, in any case, only then finally vanish, when the practical relations of everyday life offer to man none but perfectly intelligible and reasonable relations with regard to his fellowmen and to Nature....”
- Karl Marx, Capital, A Critique of Political Economy, book I, International Publishers, (New York, 1967). pp. 78-79, in Chapter 1, Section 4: "The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof".
n2 Character: An individual's typical structure, his stereotype manner of acting and reacting. The orgonomic concept of character is functional and biological, and not a static, psychological or moralistic concept.

Character Armour: The sum total of typical character attitudes, which an individual develops as a blocking against his emotional excitations, resulting in rigidity of the body, lack of emotional contact, "deadness." Functionally identical with the muscular armor.
- Wilhelm Reich, The Function of the Orgasm, Meridian (New York. 1971), Glossary, pp. 359-360.
Generally, character-armor may be viewed as frozen modes of otherwise normal behavior - the point is the inability of an individual to choose or to change certain aspects of his behavior. Metaphorically, it is the unseen shield that blocks expression and perception of a person's "core", their subjectivity, keeping it from the surface and usually from consciousness. It is the inauthentic self - the fictitious or non-self - that conceals and harbors the real self.

The involuntary modes of behavior that characterize armor are generally "learned" during childhood as a "rational" response to an irrational, oppressive world. Thus, armor is essentially not a thing located in each individual, but a social relation, a layer of callous, deadened to the self and other, built up in the wear and tear of (anti-)social interactions; in the agony and constant danger of alienated association. This is demonstrated in the following observation: change a person's social relations and his armouring, his character adjustment, will also begin to change to re-adapt, to become congruent again with his social life, his new relationships. Thus, it is erroneous to locate armour simply in the individual taken separately, although it is true that his social relations, his way of relating and surviving socially, may be “reflected” - mapped onto his body - in the form of muscular armouring; of a pattern of chronic contraction in the various muscular segments.

Character-armour is thus (1) the personal aspect of the spectacle. It is the personal organization of false appearances: self-representation; the self-spectacle. It is the self-image one seeks to project to others; the "front" one puts up; the role one plays: the "reputation" one accumulates. The projected, surface motives belonging to character are at the same time a surface denial and repression of certain forbidden, impermissible motives, which persist beneath the surface of character as ulterior motives, conscious or not. In their more conscious part, these ulterior motives express themselves as character in the form of lying, cheating, trickery, the con, hypocrisy, etc. - all the familiar backstage of the spectacle of "good character." Character is the very locus of interpersonal duplicity - precisely the "duplication" of the self (cf. Karl Marx, "Theses on Feuerbach", thesis IV, in The German Ideology, Progress Publishers (Moscow, 1968). p. 666, see also Marx's remark in his Preface to A Contribution To The Critique of Political Economy; "Just as our opinion of an individual is not based on what he thinks of himself, so we can not judge of such a period of transformation by its own consciousness." in Lewis Feuer, op. cit., p. 44.)

Character-armour is also (2) the personal aspect of capital. In the proletarian, character is the locus of his "nature" as a commodity, his use-value to capital as an obedient pseudo-object, and hence his exchange-value - his exploitability - as "labour-power"; as a worker. Character-armour is the encrustation surrounding his self; a shield shielding both the world and his pseudo-self from his own potential subjectivity. It is built up through long years of social labour-time bestowed upon him by other individuals - his parents, priests, school teachers, policeman, and authorities of every sort, including his own peer group - and is part of the labour time socially necessary to produce a usable proletarian wretch from the available human raw-material, hence is included in the (exchange-) value of labour-power. It is the "value-added" to the individual as he "matures" by the labour of the social authorities, the immediate and (semi-conscious) agents of class society, who must see to the reproduction of individuals characterologically congruent with Capitalist social relations: with capital.

The production-process of character must thus be comprehended within the critique of political economy, as an aspect of the reproduction-process of capital, of capitalist society, as a whole. This process, the production process of proletarians, a special form of commodity production carried out in special factories known as "schools", "churches", "prisons", "families", etc., is usually referred to, in general, as "child-rearing", "education", or "socialization". It consists in (a) the destruction of subjectivity in its direct form, and (b) the development of a narrow form of subjectivity, in an indirect (perverted) form, mediated by authoritarian permission. It is the totality of the processes of "adaptation" necessary to make the proletarian "fit" to endure the "life" of a worker. When the process miscarries, as it often does these days, the product is said to be "unemployable" -useless to capital. In the "finished" product, the adult, character-armour is the repository, the objectification of this process, the location of all the stored programs, habits, practices, roles, and behavior patterns necessary to the proletarian survival kit - submissiveness, slavishness, self-contempt, passivity, obedience, irresponsibility, guilt, fear of freedom, and so on. Character-armour is the layer of frozen subjectivity that makes the worker functional as a worker in capitalist society, i.e., manipulatable as a pseudo-object. It is what makes the worker suitable for authoritarian management. It is what makes him (presently) incapable of self-management. The way through the problem is to have people not armored but “armed” - physically, psychologically, and theoretically - to bring what is involuntary more under conscious control.

n3 “To transcend (aufheben) has this double meaning, that it signifies to keep or preserve and also to make cease, to finish. To preserve includes this negative element, that something is removed from its immediacy and therefore from a Determinate Being exposed to external influences, in order that it may be preserved. - Thus what is transcended is also preserved; it has lost its immediacy and is not on that account annihilated. - In the dictionary the two determinations of transcending may be cited as two meanings of this word. But it should appear as remarkable that a language should have come to use one and the same word for two opposite determinations. It is a joy for speculative thought to find words which in themselves have a speculative meaning....”

- G.W.F. Hegel, Science of Logic, volume I, "Objective Logic", translated by W.H. Johnston and L.G. Struthers. Humanities Press, (New York, 1966), pp. 119-120; "Transcendence of Becoming." Observation: the Expression "to transcend"

Thesis 4

n1 "All previous forms of society foundered on the development of wealth - or, which amounts to the same thing, on the development of social productive forces. Therefore ancient philosophers who were aware of this bluntly denounced wealth as destructive of community."

- Karl Marx, Grundrisse der Kritik der Politischen Oekonomie. Quoted in, Karl Marx, The Grundrisse, translated and edited by David McLellan, Harper & Row, (San Francisco, 1971, p. 120).

Thesis 5

n1 By "Power" with a capital "P", we mean separate power; alienated power, whose major modern examples are state power and that social power known as "capital'. In state-capitalism, the highest form of capitalism, these two, always interpenetrate essentially, become one visibly. In pre-modern times, in Medieval Europe, the Church would be another example of separate social power.

We have no quarrel with "power' as such, that is, with self-power - the power of social self-determination and self-production; creative, productive faculties and power over one's own life. On the contrary; this is the very development and enrichment of individuality itself. On the contrary; The re-appropriation of ourselves, the repossession of ourselves from capital, the re-owning of alienated self-powers, is the essential purpose of our revolution, the communist revolution; and is our purpose in it. It should be obvious, then, from what has been said, that Power is the opposite of power. The greater the Power of the State and Capital, the more powerless, the more impotent are we, the proletariat, for that Power is nothing other than our lost, our alienated power; the labour power we sell to capital and the political power we give up to our "representatives".

It was necessary to say this because of the legions of moralistic masochists and worshippers of impotence presently traipsing through the spectacle, for whom we might otherwise have been mistaken. These self-castrated passivists believe that not just Power, but power also, corrupts, absolutely, and desperately “fear to touch it”, along with money and capital, out of dread of being instantly corrupted by it. They have never let themselves grasp that the only way to be safe from this pathetic “corruption” is to be - not beneath it, but beyond it.

For an account, unsurpassed in its brilliance, of the dialectic of self-powers and their alienation, see Lorraine and Fredy Perlman's book-length detournement of revolutionary ideology, Manual For Revolutionary Leaders, "by Michael Velli" (BLACK AND RED, P.O. Box 9546, Detroit, Michigan, 48202; pp. 11-49). (Unfortunately for all of us, the Perlmans decided to truncate their theory just at the threshold of its practice, by abstractly negating revolutionary organization - to the effect that all organization is hierarchical organization and all revolutionary organization is necessarily Leninist organization - and so end up embracing impotence for themselves as revolutionaries).

Thesis 7

n1 From here on out, unless otherwise specifically indicated, the use of masculine pronoun forms is meant to include the feminine, since this is the closest thing to a unitary pronoun the English language contains, for most purposes.

Immanent critique is critique which bases itself in the same foundation, logical, etc., which forms the core or essence of the object of the critique; critique which locates itself inside its object. It thus locates the internal contradictions of its object - the self-contradictions - becoming a critique which is essential to the object of critique itself. Thus immanent critique is an intimate, internal critique, in fact, a self-critique of the object, a critique based on the internal standards of the object of the critique itself, and not an external or alien critique - a judgment from a standpoint outside that which is judged.

Thesis 8

n1 By "total appropriation" we mean, in general, all-sided appropriation - that is, social relations not restricted to a specialized and compartmentalized interchange of "things" or of parts of people as "things" (money, commodities, images, etc.) -as in the present organization of social interaction according to roles, which enforces a strict separation of the various aspects and interests of life, "Total appropriation" is, among other things, where you are no longer confined to "talking shop" even in the shop.

By "total" appropriation of another person we mean, in particular, an appropriation of them which included in itself their appropriation of you; i.e. it can occur only when it is reciprocal, when each person is both appropriator and appropriated. This is unlike either the case of the appropriation of an object, which can't "appropriate back," or the partial appropriation (exploitation) of a subject; the appropriation of a subject as if an object, excluding, disregarding his or her desires, needs, expectations, and reciprocal appropriation of the appropriator. That is, we would mean that you appropriate their appropriation of you as itself a necessary part of them; include in the "them" that you "totally" appropriate their desires, needs, attitudes, and expectations with regard to you in some way; appropriate their subjectivity as the essential part of them; relate to it. “Total appropriation” is thus the encounter by a subject of another subject as a subject. It would involve the appropriation of the other person’s response to you, including of their response to your responses to them. True infinity. Total appropriation exists when you can (actually and directly - not just vicariously) appropriate someone else’s joy as your own.

One might very well say that there is plenty about contemporary "subjects" that one not only doesn't want to appropriate 'totally', but in fact doesn't want any part of. And to this we could only agree, with however the additional commentary that (1) most of what we don't want any part of is non-self, non-subjectivity (frozen subjectivity; armour) to begin with, and: (2) this negated subjectivity has to be dealt with in one way or another anyway: no matter what, it has to be faced, even in present-day society - perhaps 90% of the fuck-ups in present-day capitalist business-practice are due to such characterological "personality factors". And in the context of associated production, where sustained association is an egoistic necessity, the problem becomes a question of what is the best way of confronting these "factors", from an expanded-egoistic point of view. There is no doubt that "total appropriation" will be, among other things, a conflictual process, a fight. Direct "appropriation" - i.e., here-and-now contestation - of such "personality kinks" as they come up in the social (re)productive process, rather than in their avoidance or polite toleration which bespeaks an attitude of resignation to the person tolerated as a static being incapable of further self-development, and to the person tolerating as impotent to provoke change -can, where appropriate, render daily social interaction itself an accelerated "psychotherapeutic" growth process.

Expanded egoism, that is, total appropriation, is a process. Only as exploitation in social relations lives out its use-value will we begin to develop expanded egoism concretely. At the beginnings of communist society, radical subjectivity will not miraculously manifest itself in everyone, at the same time, to the same degree of intensity or sustainedness. The development will be an irregular process. To abstractly affirm an idyllic, non-conflictual image of total appropriation of another when in fact the other remains to varying degrees a frozen subject is to morally project and idealize total appropriation.

Total appropriation is a social-historical process which grows out of people's collective transformation of the world and themselves. The fact that we feel a need for such transparency shows that the process has already begun. But already this process has come into conflict with the objective conditions (i.e. the present social relations). Ultimately, only in revolution can we succeed in ridding ourselves of all the muck of ages and become fitted to found society anew.

Thesis 9

n1 By "egoism" we mean something which, in its full development, is quite different from, in fact, "infinitely" different from or opposite to "egotism". Egotism is personal practice in favor of one's self-spectacle, one's social image, one's persona. It is precisely, therefore, activity in the interest of one's non-self, truly selfless activity. Whereas, by egoism we mean, on the contrary, personal activity in the interest of one's authentic self, to the extent one recognizes and knows this self at any given time, however narrowly or expandedly. Egotism is spectacular, other-centered (alienated), the vicarious living of your own life; egoism is autonomous, founded on self-centration and on concrete, social self-knowledge. Egotism is thus one of the lowest forms of egoism. It is, like moralism, egoism by means of a projection, and turns into into its opposite.

n2 The term "detournement", employed especially as a technical term by Situationists, has been defined as the revolutionary practice "by which the spectacle is turned back on itself, turned inside out so that it reveals its own inner workings." See Loaded Words: A Rebel's Guide To Situationese, NEW MORNING, February, 1973, New Morning Collective (P.O. Box 531, Berkeley, California, 94701), p. 14 [also see: Loaded Words download in the at the Lust for Life website]

This mode of practice is not confined merely to the turning-against-themselves of the words, the language, of spectacular ideology. The technique has also been applied to the momentary seizure of the spectacular images of various dominant ideologies and institutions for the purpose of broadcasting through said images a revolutionary critique. Such "momentary expropriation" of the means of communication has been used, for example, in cases where fraudulent memorandums attributed to prominent bureaucrats, posters announcing events or opinions in the name of dominant spectacular organizations, press releases and other works attributed to government officials or other spectacular (imaged) personages, issues of newspapers or other periodicals, advertising materials, etc. have been disseminated and the resulting scandal or confusion of denials used as a lever to gain publicity for revolutionary theory.
n3 Words - written and spoken - are, in the beginning, the only means of production which we, as proletarians, possess: the very means of production of revolutionary consciousness itself.

Thesis 10

n1 "State-capitalism" is a term used to describe the form (stage) of capitalist society which is characterized in different ways and to different degrees by state management of the economy, while definitively capitalist relations (separation of the producers from the accumulated means of production, wage-labour, etc.) are left intact. Historically, state-capitalism has taken widely varied forms, ranging from relatively minor regulation of the private institutions to total nationalization of basic industries into a state-monopolized national Capital. Its forms vary from right-wing (fascist) to left-wing (Leninist/Stalinist) and other forms "in-between" (Social Democratic, Nasserist, and "African Socialist" in general, Peruvian militarist, "communalist", etc.). "In any case... the official representative of capitalist society - the state - will ultimately have to undertake the direction of production... But the transformation... into state ownership does not do away with the capitalistic nature of the productive forces.... The modern state, again, is only the organization that bourgeois society takes on in order to support the external conditions of the capitalist mode of production against the encroachments of the individual capitalist as of the workers. The modern state, no matter what its form, is essentially a capitalist machine, the state of the capitalists, the ideal personification of the total national capital. The more it proceeds to the taking over of productive forces, the more does it actually become the national capitalist; the more citizens does it exploit. The workers remain wage-workers - proletarians. The capitalist relation is not done away with. It is rather brought to a head." c57

n2 "...the global decomposition of the bureaucratic alliance [world Stalinism] is in the last analysis the least favorable factor for the present development of capitalist society. The bourgeoisie is in the process of losing the adversary which objectively supported it by providing an illusory unification of all negation of the existing order.”
- Guy Debord, The Society Of The Spectacle, BLACK AND RED, (Detroit, 1973), thesis 111.
“Until now, the most durable source of support for sustaining and enlarging the operation of the state-management has been the pattern of antagonistic cooperation between the U.S. state management and its Soviet counterpart."

- cf. Seymour Melman, Pentagon Capitalism: The Political Economy Of War, McGraw-Hill, (San Francisco, 1971), Chapter 9, "1984 By 1974? Or, Can The State-Management Be Stopped?", p. 215:

n3 Workers' councils have emerged historically as a revolutionary force beginning with the Paris Commune of 1871, where they took the form of a community council without workplace councils (given the underdeveloped state of the factory system in the Paris of that time); in Russia in 1905 and again in 1917 in the form of city-wide (and later nationwide) Soviets, and factory committees; in Germany during 1918-1919 as the classical 'Soldiers' and Workers' councils'; in Italy in 1920 (the Turin Soviet, etc.); in the Kronstadt Soviet of 1921; in Spain during 1936-7 in the form of the Catalonian workers' councils and peasant cooperatives; in Hungary in 1956, where for the first time since Kronstadt workers' councils appeared as the organs of revolutionary struggle against a state-capitalist bureaucracy instead of a bourgeoisie; in Algeria in 1963; and most recently in Chile (1970-73) in embryonic forms such as the commandos communales (community proto-councils) and the cordones industriales (multi-workplace proto-councils), which were, however, still largely dominated by various bureaucracies.

Thesis 11

n1 The root definition of "resonance" coming from physics, from the mechanics of oscillators, is revealing here. For example: "(a) an abnormally large response of a system having a natural frequency, to a periodic external stimulus of the same, or nearly the same, frequency. (b) the increase in intensity of sound by sympathetic vibration of other bodies."

- C.L. Barnhart & Jess Stein, The American College Dictionary, Random House, (New York, 1964), p. 1033, "resonance, n.".

That is, mechanical resonance occurs when the natural frequency of oscillation -the 'immanent', 'essential', or internal frequency - of the resonating object is identical to the frequency of externally "forced" oscillation, i.e., to the external frequency.
Social resonance occurs as inter-recognition; when social individuals recognize themselves in each other, the other in themselves, and themselves in the world they produce; when they recognize their concrete universality. It occurs when what "society" needs of them is also what they need of themselves: their own production; their own development; their own self-realization; when what "society" needs of them is not imposed as an external, alien force, coercively by the state or unconsciously, as the "law of value," by capital, but as their own, internally generated self-force, welling-up spontaneously within them. From each according to his desire, to each according to his desire. This is possible sustainedly only once the necessary social conditions for such a recognition and such a need have been produced historically, i.e., only once certain relations of humanity to itself, - namely, inter-production - grasped early in an alienated form as the “eternal truths” of religions, have become fact, that is, become historically materialized.

Thesis 23

n1 The passage may appear to be confusing here and throughout, perhaps in part because the translators did not comprehend the dialectical concepts being used nor the full radicality of what was being asserted, which, to the Kantian or "Flatland" mind is impossible or absurd. For instance, "social being" = "the being of society"; "the existence of society"; "social existence" -and not just "a" social being. Marx is asserting here that the social individual is the essence of society: the substance and "nature" of society-the place where the character of society, the social character, becomes visible, manifest.

Thesis 25

n1 Capitalistic liberty is the official sanction for each to enhance and garnish his own separate misery in private, with the blessing of law. Capitalistic liberty is the right to put ribbons onto shit.

n2 The concept of freedom used here by Marx is obviously the non-linear, super-additive concept as opposed to the linear, atomistic one central to bourgeois society.

Thesis 37

n1 The term "sublation" is sometimes used as the technical English equivalent for the German "aufhebung" as developed by Hegel (see the third note to Thesis 3).

n2 Revolutionary theory and revolutionary ideology are not only different, but opposed. 'Revolutionary theory' names the theory of the production of social revolution: of the practices necessary to this production - the coherent system of ideas of how to create communist society. ‘Revolutionary ideology' names the representation of this revolutionary theory by state-capitalist bureaucracy; the transformation of revolutionary theory into a spectacle through which the last stand of capital, as state-capital, momentarily strengthens its position by masquerading as the very negation of capital, i.e. as communist society. The distinction has never been more aptly put than in these words of Guy Debord:

"Revolutionary theory is now the enemy of all revolutionary ideology and knows it."
- Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, BLACK AND RED, (Detroit, 1970), last thesis in Chapter IV, "The Proletariat As Subject And As Representation".
n3 The slogan "smash self!" was introduced during the period of the so-called "Cultural Revolution" in China. See for instance the pamphlet which was compiled out of 'exemplary stories' which appeared in the official press around the time of that spectacular rukas, entitled (appropriately) "Fear Neither Hardship Nor Death In Serving The People" (Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1970), which pamphlet discusses "the principle of wholly and entirely serving the people and utter devotion to others without any thought of self." (p. 55.)

Thesis 46

n1 The term "anti-state" was employed by the Situationists to designate the organization of social self-management, the power of the workers' councils which, although it would be an administration of society, would not be a "state", but, on the contrary, hostile to every form of "state".

A well-known authority on Marx' views described the anti-state character of the Paris Commune thusly: "This was, therefore, a revolution not against this or that, legitimate, constitutional, republican, or Imperialist form of State Power. It was a Revolution against the State itself, of this supernaturalist abortion of society, a resumption by the people for the people of its own social life. It was not a revolution to transfer it from one fraction of the ruling class to the other, but a Revolution to break down this horrid machinery of Class domination itself.

The Commune - the reabsorption of the State power by society as its own living forces instead of as forces controlling and subduing it, by the popular masses themselves, forming their own force instead of the organized force of their own suppression -the political form of their social emancipation, instead of the artificial force (appropriated by their oppressors) (their own force opposed to and organized against them) of society wielded for their oppression by their enemies. The form was simple like all great things.... It begins the emancipation of labour - its great goal - by doing away with the unproductive and mischievous work of the state parasites, by cutting away the springs which sacrifice an immense portion of the national produce to the feeding of the state-monster on the one side, by doing, on the other, the real work of administration, local and national, for workingmen's wages. It begins, therefore, with an immense saving, with economical reform as well as political transformation." c18

n2 See Citation 2. Even as early as the Paris Commune of 1871, at a time and place where the objective socialization of the means of production had not proceeded very far (in terms of large factories, etc.), this theory of associated production had begun to become consciously revolutionary practice. The document quoted below, a mandate from two labour unions for their delegates to the Commune's Commission on Labour Organization, proposes a form of what would appear to be council-capitalism, and employs the term "associate" to designate the producers after they have ceased to be proletarians:

"At its meeting of April 23rd, 1871, in keeping with the Commune's decree of April 16th, the Mechanics Union and the Association of Metal Workers have designated two citizens to the Commission on Labour Organization and given them the following instructions, "Considering: That with the Commune, product of the Revolution of March 18th, equality must not be an empty word; That the valiant struggle to exterminate the clerical-royalists has, as its objective, our economic emancipation; That this result can only be obtained through the formation of workers' associations, which alone can transform our position from that of wage-earners to that of associates; "Therefore instruct our delegates to support the following objectives; "The abolition of the exploitation of man by man, last vestige of slavery; "The organization of labour in mutual associations with collective and inalienable capital." c19

Thesis 49

n1 "The spectacle subjugates living men to itself to the extent that the economy has totally subjugated them. It is no more than the economy developing for itself. It is the true reflection of the production of things, and the false objectification of the producers."

"The spectacle within society corresponds to a concrete manufacture of alienation. Economic expansion is mainly the expansion of precisely this industrial production. That which grows with the economy moving for itself can only be the alienation which was precisely at its origin."
- Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, op. cit., respectively Theses 16 and 32.

n2 It is important above all here to note that this "dictatorship of the proletariat" can be nothing other than the international power of the workers' councils itself. It is a dictatorship of the still-proletarian class over the remnants of the bourgeoisie and the bureaucracy, because it acts coercively against their efforts to re-expropriate social power and, whenever it (that is, the general assemblies of the workers) deems necessary, by force of arms. But it is an anti-state dictatorship, especially with regard to the suppression of the state-capitalist bureaucracy, with respect to which, the suppression of the state and the suppression of the class are one in the same (it goes without saying that the "suppression" of a class as a class, its destruction as such, does not necessarily entail the "destruction" or "liquidation" of the individuals who composed it; it is the class determination which is to be determinately negated here, not biological individuals, and social relations can not be negated without "negating" individuals). On the concept of the "anti-state", see first note to Thesis 46.

In a letter to August Bebel (March 18-28, 1875) Engels (as a delegation of himself and Marx) gave a critique of the draft programme of the United Social-Democratic Workers' Party of Germany. His severe criticism, particularly of its muddledly statist aspects, is of much significance not only for this particular programme, but furthermore it sheds much light toward a correct interpretation of virtually all of his and Marx's works:

“The whole talk about the state should be dropped, especially since the Commune [the Paris Commune of 1871], which was no longer a state in the proper sense of the word. The ‘people's state’ has been thrown in our faces by the Anarchists to the point of disgust, although already Marx's book against Proudhon [The Poverty of Philosophy] and later the Communist Manifesto directly declare that with the introduction of the socialist order of society the state will dissolve of itself and disappear. As, therefore, the state is only a transitional institution which is used in the struggle, in the revolution, to hold down one's adversaries by force, it is pure nonsense to talk of a free people's state: so long as the proletariat still uses the state, it does not use it in the interests of freedom but in order to hold down its adversaries, and as soon as it becomes possible to speak of freedom the state as such ceases to exist. We would therefore propose to replace state everywhere by Gemeinwesen, a good old German word which can very well convey the meaning of the French word ‘commune!’ “ c58
This critique is perhaps one of the most important statements ever made by Engels or Marx.


Thesis 9

c1 "Along with the constantly diminishing number of magnates of capital, who usurp and monopolize all the advantages of this transformation, grows the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation; but with this too grows the revolt of the working class, a class always increasing in numbers, and disciplined, united, organized by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist reproduction itself. The monopoly of capital becomes a fetter upon the mode of production, which has sprung up and flourished along with, and under it. Centralization of the means of production and socialization of labor at last reach a point where they become incompatible with the capitalist integument. This integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist-private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated."

- Karl Marx, Capital, A Critique of Political Economy, Vol. I, International Publishers, 1967, p. 763, emphasis ours.

Thesis 10

c2 The phrases "the associated producers", "free and associated labor", or "the associated workers", occur again and again throughout Marx' works when he seeks to name or characterize the social relation of production of communist society: association itself. This is something that Leninists of every variety scrupulously avoid mentioning for, with all their talk of the "socialist state" and "workers' governments", etc. they would much rather all this be conveniently forgotten. No more apt phrase could be contrived to name and describe the management of society as a system of workers' councils than precisely "the associated producers". A few selected citations of representative passages where this description occurs, are listed below:

  • Karl Marx, Capital, A Critique of Political Economy, Vol. 1, International Publishers, (New York, 1967). p. 80; vol. III, p. 437, p. 607, p. 447.
  • David McLellan. The Grundrisse, (Harper and Row, 1971) pp.152.
  • Karl Marx, Capital (Vol. IV): Theories of Surplus Value (Part III), Progress Publishers (Moscow, 1971) p. 273.
  • Karl Marx, “Writings on the Paris Commune” in The Civil War in France (First Draft), Hal Draper, Editor, Monthly Review Press, 1971, p. 155.
  • Karl Marx, "Instructions For The Delegates of The Provisional General Council: The Different Questions" #5: "Co-operative Labour". p. 81 in Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Volume 2, Progress Publishers, (Moscow, 1969). Karl Marx, "The Nationalization of The Land." p. 290, ibid.

Thesis 11

c3 Karl Marx, "Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts" in T.B. Bottomore, Karl Marx, Early Writings, McGraw-Hill, (New York, 1963), p. 155.

c4 This is Marx' early term for what he later calls the "social relations of production". See: Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, The German Ideology, Progress Publishers, (Moscow. 1968), pp. 89, 92, etc.

Thesis 23

c9 Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1644 (our translation) cf. T.B. Bottomore, op. cit. p. 158 and Easton and Guddat, op. cit. pp. 306-307.

Thesis 24

c10 Raoul Vaneigem, Treatise On Living For The Use of the Young Generation (English translation of part I available from Bureau of Public Secrets, P.O. Box 1044, Berkeley, Calif., 94701) p. 45-46.

Thesis 25

c11 Karl Marx, Bruno Bauer, Die Judenfrage, in T.B. Bottomore, op. cit., pp. 24-25.

Thesis 26

c12 Raoul Vaneigem, op. cit., p. 11.

Thesis 30

c13 Heinz von Foerster, "Logical Structure of Environment and its Internal Representation", in Proceedings of the 1962 Design Conference, Aspen, Colorado, R.E. Eckerstrom, editor, (Herman Miller, 1963).

Thesis 35

c14 Karl Marx, "Free Human Production," in Easton and Guddat, op. cit., p. 281:
"Suppose we had produced things as human beings: in his production each of us would have twice affirmed himself and the other.... I would have been the mediator between you and the species and you would have experienced me as a reintegration of your own nature and a necessary part of your self....”

Thesis 36

c15 Ibid.

Thesis 40

c16 Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness; A New Concept of Egoism, New American Library, (New York, 1965), et. passim. Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, New American Library, (New York, 1964).

Thesis 42

c17 Max Stirner, The Ego And His Own, Libertarian Book Club, (New York, 1963), p. 5, in "All Things Are Nothing To Me".

Thesis 46

Citations 20-25 are found in annotation 1 of Thesis 46.

c18 Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, “Writings On The Paris Commune” (from the first draft, by Marx, of The Civil War In France), Hal Draper, editor, pp. 150-154.
  • See also: Karl Marx. The Civil War In France: The Paris Commune, International Publishers (New York, 1968), pp. 54-61, especially p. 58.
  • See also: Guy Debord, Society Of The Spectacle, BLACK AND RED (P.O. Box 9546. Detroit, Michigan, 48202), (Detroit, 1970), thesis No. 179 in Chapter VII "The Organization of Territory".
  • See also: “Situationist International No. 1”, Review of the American Section, June, 1969, p. 27.
  • See also: Raoul Vaneigem, Notice To The Civilized Concerning Generalized Self-
  • Management.

c19 Eugene Schulkind, The Paris Commune of 1871: View From The Left, Jonathan Cape, (London. 1972), p. 164. [The documentation contained in this book of the socialist tendencies within the Commune, and the influence therein of the First International, are, in general, astounding relative to what has been available before and quite thrilling.]

c20 Karl Marx, Capital, A Critique of Political Economy, op. cit., p. 592. Vol. I.

c21 Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, International Publishers, (New York, 1964), et. passim. in the chapter "Estranged Labour" see also Pre-Capitalist Economic Formations, op. cit., p. 85-99 where this concept is developed considerably.

c22 Karl Marx; see Citation 40; see Thesis 78.

c23 For Ourselves, “Preamble To The Founding Agreements” (see Appendix).

c24 Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, The German Ideology, (Progress Publishers, Moscow or international Publishers, New York) closing line of Part One. In one edition (The German Ideology, Part One, with selections from Parts Two, Part Three, and Supplementary Texts. New World Paperbacks, New York, 1970) the text is arranged somewhat differently and the passage appears on p. 85.

c25 Karl Marx, The Grundrisse in "Pre-Capitalist Economic Formations," loc. cit., p. 96.

Thesis 48

c26 Karl Marx, Grundrisse in "Pre-Capitalist Economic Formations," loc. cit., p. 96.

Thesis 49

c27 In the words of Frederick Engels: "Look at the Paris Commune. That was the Dictatorship of the Proletariat!" (Karl Marx, The Civil War in France: The Paris Commune, op. cit., p. 22, closing line of the introduction by Frederick Engels.)

c28 Karl Marx, The Civil War In France, op. cit., p. 61.

c29 Karl Marx, Capital, A Critique Of Political Economy, vol. I, op. cit., p. 763.


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