Forum

 

In this section we publish articles, statements and documents from other organizations and activists who are not affiliated with the RCIT and who, therefore, do not necessarily share our programmatic outlook. Usually, these documents remain on this page for a certain period after which they are replaced by others. This section is intended as a forum for the spread of ideas and information as well as one which encourages debate between forces which view themselves as part of the liberation movement of the workers and oppressed. We invite other organizations and activists to send us contributions for this section. Naturally the Editorial Board reserves the right to decide on the final acceptance or rejection of any submitted piece.

 

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Казахстан: социалистический подход к инфраструктурному кризису

 

France: Demonstration against “Green Pass” and Compulsory Vaccination in Angers (13.8.2021)

 

“It’s about our Identity!” - Interview with activists about the uprising of the Ahwazi Arabs in Iran

 

South Africa: Interview with a Revolutionary Marxist on the Hunger Riots in July 2021

 

From Cuba: a description of the protests

 

Compulsory Vaccination in France / Vaccination obligatoire en France 

 

The uprising as a part of the global circulation struggles  (NonPolitics / Achim Szepanski)

 

La victoria de Netanyhau, la imposibilidad de reformar el Estado de Israel y un debate histórico con el PO

 

Chile: derrota enorme del gobierno y duro golpe al régimen semi-pinochetista

 

Netanyahu, los capitalistas y la ley del bombero loco

 

Netanyahu, the capitalists, and the mad fireman law

 

De la guerra comercial a la guerra de las patentes

 

From the Trade War to the Patent War

 

Covid: laboratorios bloquean desarrollo de tratamientos eficaces y baratos

 

La izquierda argentina con las masas colombianas

 

1M y la izquierda que cambio Plaza de Mayo por la virtualidad

 

Gran victoria: sigamos el camino que marcaron los piquetes de Neuquén

 

Primero Chile, ahora Colombia, la llama de la rebelión sigue prendida

 

El homenaje a los Mártires de Chicago no puede ser virtual, sino en las calles

 

Gramsci y el abandono de la teoría marxista del Estado

 

El poderoso gremio portuario de Chile, va a la huelga

 

Argentina: Socialist Rally in Buenos Aires against the Lockdown

 

Argentina: Jornada de agitación en Casa de Gobierno contra toque de queda

 

Free Karen Marin!

 

Aufruhrgebiet: Zur Methodologie der Klimawissenschaft

 

Erasing People through Disinformation: Syria and the “Anti-Imperialism” of Fools

 

Louis Proyect: Book Review of Michael Pröbsting's 'Anti-Imperialism in the Age of Great Power Rivalry'

 

Victor Conti: Bare Life: Biopolitics and Covid Capitalism

 

Colectivo Emancipacion Proletaria: ¡¡Abajo el estado de sitio!! ¡¡La única pandemia es el capitalismo imperialista!!

 

 

Казахстан: социалистический подход к инфраструктурному кризису

 

Note of the Editorial Board: The following article has originally been published on the website of "Socialist Alternative", a Trotskyist organisation in Russia which takes a principled stance against Russian imperialism and on the side of the Ukrainian people defending their country against Putin's invasion. The article contains a highly informative and interesting analysis of the situation in Kazakhstan - a key country of Central Asia.

 

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Техногенная катастрофа в Екибаcтузе и национализация убытков

1 декабря 2022, https://socialist.news

 

27 ноября, на следующий день после инаугурации Токаева, произошла масштабная техногенная катастрофа в городе Екибастуз Павлодарской области. Екибастуз называют энергетическим сердцем Казахстана — это главный угледобывающий город страны.

Несмотря на свою ключевую роль для всей энергетической отрасли Казахстана, весь город оказался в момент лишен отопления, включая критическую инфраструктуру и социальные объекты — больницы, школы, детсады. Это случилось в тридцатиградусные морозы, которые сами по себе стали испытанием для инфраструктуры северных и центральных регионов Казахстана: случались перебои с электричеством, а, соответственно, и связью, были задержки железнодорожного сообщения в Петропавловске, Павлодаре, Оскемене, Семее, Астане, Караганды. Из-за погодных условий по соображениям безопасности были перекрыты многие магистральные автодороги, связывающие областные центры и крупные города.

На фоне недавних выборов и российских ракетных атак против энергетической инфраструктуры Украины распространились конспирологические версии причин случившегося. Дескать, это могла быть диверсия назарбаевских реваншистов или даже России, недовольной дипломатическими позициями Астаны. Но настоящие причины лежат куда глубже.

За несколько дней до этого, 24 ноября, произошел взрыв котлов на аркалыкской ТЭЦ. Казахстанский Аркалык — в некотором смысле город-призрак, инфраструктура там находится в куда более плачевном состоянии. Но то, что эти аварии случились почти синхронно, прямо показывает, что инфраструктура, построенная примерно в одно время в годы СССР, также одновременно и износилась — без должного системного обслуживания холодная зима их «добила».

За пару дней до аварии в соцсетях распространилось видео, которое записал один из рабочих екибастузской ТЭЦ: «Трубы разморозило, сварщик варит, как зимовать будем — я не знаю... Оборудование уже все старое, ничего не выдерживает, везде все бежит... Крепитесь, если морозы будут». В действительности, это очередной эпизод, показывающий абсолютный крах и кризис энергетической отрасли Казахстана после приватизации 90-х и нулевых, и слова рабочего отчетливо это подтверждают. Оба эпизода в Екибастузе и Аркалыке не являются чем-то новым: в этом же году в Петропавловске рухнула одна из труб ТЭЦ-2, которая обогревает город. Причины те же: износ, отсутствие инвестиций в капитальный ремонт и обслуживание, низкие зарплаты рабочих.

Masa.media со ссылкой на Международный фонд защиты свободы слова «Әділ сөз» пишут о том, что власти всячески препятствуют журналистской работе по освещению аварии в Екибастузе:

«Несмотря на просьбы журналистов, оперативный штаб не проводит брифинги и прямые эфиры. Пресс-служба акима области высылает уже вычищенные комментарии, иногда через три-четыре часа. Зачастую перед самыми эфирами ТВ-новостей... Журналисты недоумевают, почему не провели брифинг 29-го ноября днем, когда они все были в Экибастузе, или почему тогда не 30-го утром, когда СМИ могли бы приехать в город, почему решили провести ночью и без прямой трансляции? Складывается впечатление, что сейчас региональные власти стараются скрыть ситуацию» — говорится в сообщении фонда.

Первая реакция акимата Екибастуза была абсолютно лицемерной: «авария случилась из-за низких тарифов за отопление». Почему же тогда при более-менее сходных тарифах такие аварии не случаются в Астане — городе чиновников? Если о чем-то эта авария и говорит, так о критическом классовом разрыве в Казахстане между 99% рабочих и 1% олигархов и чиновников.

Власти каждый день обещают исправить ситуацию в ближайшее время, но сейчас реальную помощь жителям Екибастуза оказывают только волонтеры, собирающие средства на обогреватели, спальники и поиск пропавших.

Но вскоре власти заговорили в разных формулировках об изъятии «проблемных» энергетических предприятий из частных рук в государственную собственность. Дошло даже до речей о национализации таких предприятий!

Конечно же, это не настоящая национализация в том смысле, в котором ее понимают социалистки и социалисты, и в котором она могла бы принести благой эффект для трудящегося большинства. Речь идет лишь о «национализации убытков» — то есть устаревших, износившихся предприятий, прибыльность которых под угрозой из-за необходимости вложений в капитальные ремонтные работы.

При этом никто не говорит о национализации тех компаний в сфере ЖКХ, которые получают деньги напрямую от плательщиков. Такие компании — паразитирующие посредники между предприятиями критической инфраструктуры и конечными потребителями тепла, водоснабжения и электричества. В отличие от критической инфраструктуры, которую надо периодически «сдавать государству» для реновации за госсчет, посредники, которыми владеет средний и крупный бизнес, безо всякой национализации продолжат наживаться на завышенных ценах для населения.

Сама схема национализации убытков известна еще с начала приватизации в 90-х. Например, так же «национализировали» аэропорт в Петропавловске, который находится в плачевном состоянии: в частных руках остался заработок на авиабилетах, в то время как находящиеся в аварийном состоянии взлетные полосы были переведены на баланс государства. Без ремонта они стоят аж с 1970-х годов.

Такая «национализация» не решит никаких проблем. Что действительно нужно:

— Финансировать решение техногенных катастроф в Екибастузе, Аркалыке и Петропавловске за счет государственного бюджета;

— Национализировать всю энергетическую, добывающую, транспортную, телекоммуникационную отрасль страны, а также банковскую систему, под контролем организованных трудящихся коллективов, вырвав все источники прибыли и рычаги влияния из рук олигархов и связанных с ними чиновников;

— Обеспечить масштабные инвестиции в модернизацию инфраструктуры за счет перераспределения всех благ в пользу рабочего класса;

— Судить таких «предпринимателей», которые наживаются на трагедиях в жизнях простых людей;

— Обеспечить полную свободу журналистики, организаций и партий без препятствий в регистрации, мирных собраний — иными словами, настоящую рабочую демократию. Без нее невозможно обеспечить в перспективе стабильную работу экономики страны вообще;

— Организовать демократически планируемую социалистическую экономику, в которой во главе угла стоят интересы миллионов людей, а не единиц-миллиардеров.

 

 

The uprising as a part of the global circulation struggles

 

NonPolitics / Von Achim Szepanski / 2021-01-20 / https://non.copyriot.com/the-uprising-as-a-part-of-the-global-circulation-struggles/

 

 

 

The protests against the G-20 summit in Hamburg in the summer of 2017 culminated in a micro-riot in the Schanzenviertel.1 For the first time in a long time, a social antagonism flared up in Germany for a brief moment, the intensity of which no one had expected. The uprisings that have taken place worldwide since the 1970s – following the student movement – are by no means voluntaristic actions, but in their structural significance they possess historical conditions that are partly responsible for the forms of the uprisings, although each individual event retains its contingency.

 

We will try to illustrate this primarily by reading Joshua Clover’s book Riot.Strike.Riot2. Clover’s text is an impressive Marxist analysis of the genealogy of early and post-industrial insurgency and of the political and socio-economic conditions that repeatedly lead to struggles of the proletariat and the subaltern, bearing in mind from the outset that Clover’s analysis focuses on the leading capitalist industrialised nations, in particular the USA. In this, for Clover, Marxist theory is immanent to class struggles, but often enough these also precede the theory. The insurrection is theoretically conceived by Clover in much the same way as by the French philosopher François Laruelle as lived experience and confrontation (Laruelle usually uses the concept of the real in place of lived experience) rather than as the interpretation, analysis or descriptive of a thing, a movement or an object. The insurrection as a real event stands for transcendence ~ x, for an outside in which a new relation between the world and lived experience is invented, indeed much more, for an outside that escapes the world. The insurrection can serve as a referent for discourse and one can debate it almost endlessly, but it should never be the object of a political narrative that appropriates it.

 

The insurrection and the circulation (of capital)

 

For Clover, the primary insurrection (he ideally draws the line insurrection-strike-primary insurrection in his study) cannot be thought of without the economic and political transformations of global capital since the 1970s.3 A first thesis is that the uprisings that have taken place since that time are a constitutive part of the global circulation struggles against capital and its states, that is, they take place mainly in circulation, which must be understood firstly as an important constituent of capital and secondly as a social dispositif sui generis.

 

On a purely empirical level, the circulation of capital includes the various service sectors, commercial enterprises such as Walmart, Aldi or McDonald’s, as well as the enterprises and institutions of the international financial system. On a conceptual level, it is important to note that capital already ties the production process to (monetary) circulation, i.e. production itself is to be understood as a part of the circulation of capital, the general form of which can be written down in the following formula: G-W-P-W’-G’.

 

If capital (the subject position here is purely virtual, i. e. capital is a relation) has the capacity to set itself as an end in itself in an excessive, growth-oriented and spiral movement (the circle is a special case of the logarithmic spiral, namely a spiral whose growth is zero) – the starting point is here the end point and vice versa – then it comprehensively dominates the sphere of production as a sui generis monetary process in order to integrate it precisely into the primary “monetary circulation and distribution” G-W-G’.4 Production, distribution (the distribution of profits) and circulation are thus, in terms of their integration (both structural and temporary), necessarily to be understood as parts of the monetary economy of capital and its metamorphoses, as its phases, aspects and moments.5

 

If the capital principle is the engine of the breathing monster called total capital, then the financial system is its central nervous system. The financial system executes the competition, the coordination and the regulation of enterprises, which in turn are presupposed by total capital, which updates itself through the real competition of individual capitals, which for Marx is always not a ballet but a war. Financial capital constantly modulates the competition of all enterprises and reignites it – it is therefore an integral part of the capital economy and not a cancer that a doctor can remove in order to help the capital body back to health.

 

Today’s highly technical and globally networked infrastructures are unthinkable without the existence of logistics companies. Logistics today runs in lines around the globe and like capital, it processes in spirals and cybernetic feedback loops whose non-linearity and vectoriality is differential, a-linear – they are lines that spread out in all directions depending on effectiveness and geography. In this process, capital in real and virtual terms tends increasingly towards an economy of logistical and virtual space, shaped by series of intra-capitalist and inter-state competitive struggles. Financialised global shipping, logistics and containerisation signal this infrastructural change, with just-in-time production indicating the methodological and temporal capital aspect of the same change. The triumph of logistics began with containerisation, which has been integrated into global value chains since the 1970s in order to build them up, speed them up and make them more effective. Accordingly, it is also no coincidence that the blockades at the Port of Oakland were among the more radical actions of the Occupy movement. If capital is increasingly in the sphere of circulation in order to reduce costs through credit, the technological acceleration of transport and with the help of logistics, i.e. to shorten the turnover times of capital as a whole, then the struggles in these areas also become increasingly important for capital and the states. But think here not only of the barricades, blockades and struggles in the streets, but also of collective forms of resistance in other areas of society, such as debt strikes or the hacking of algorithms.

 

The surplus population

 

While the accumulation of capital at the beginning of the 20th century entailed a shift of the working population from agriculture to industry, at the end of the 20th century it led to the widespread transfer of capital from the industrial production sectors to the financial, service and information sectors, and at the same time entailed increased unemployment in the industrial centres. At this point, we should return to Marx’s law of capitalist accumulation6 which states that, depending on the conjunctural cycles of capital accumulation, both an industrial reserve army and a surplus population develop on the margins or outside the official labour markets, with both populations either being socially subsidised or employed at low wages, or somehow trying to secure their reproduction with slave labour, part-time jobs and illegal activities.7 The important membrane here is that between the industrial reserve army (as part of the official labour market) and the surplus population, which is outside the official labour market and pushed into informational, semi-legal or illegal economies worldwide. The global proletariat today includes not only the wage-dependent working class with relatively high wages (core workforce) in Western countries, which is still protected by collective agreements, but also the precariat and a surplus population of well over a billion people who are denied any access to the official labour markets and who have to reproduce themselves in informal and non-capitalist economies or vegetate, i.e. exist as accumulated corpses. It is these totally dispossessed, the masses of unemployed, the day labourers and the Asian and African migrant workers exploited under proto-industrial conditions, the post-colonial army of slaves, the old and the sick, but also the superfluous young, who are trained for jobs that will not even exist in the future by an education system that focuses above all on the everyday evaluation of everyone by everyone – all in all, the global lumpenproletariat that stands below the official labour system. The surplus population today vegetates on the fine line between survival and total liquidation.8

 

Gilles Deleuze already spoke far ahead in the 1990s of the universally indebted human being, but was quick to add, against any ontologisation of indebtedness, that for the powers of control the danger of revolts always arose – the indebted and the excluded were one.9 They are the same global surplus, whereby the indebted as borrowers still have an important economic function for financial capital, while the surplus population largely vegetates functionlessly for capital as human waste in the slums of the metropolises.10 Capital today must always find new agents capable of indebtedness, students, homeowners and part-time workers, without, however, being able to reduce the surplus population on a global scale even rudimentarily. Marx speaks of capital accumulation as a condition that multiplies the proletariat. If the insurrection is not only a collective action, but a kind of class struggle, then the surplus population must also have a mediating and explanatory power in this; it is to be understood as a constitutive part of the global proletariat, whose historical task consists in the negation of capital. For the more the better-off and tariff-protected sections of the working class in the Western metropolises have to affirm capital in order to still be able to reproduce themselves on a relatively comfortable economic and social level, the more massively the political signification of a globally expanding proletariat is revealed at the same time, large parts of which can no longer find access to the traditional forms of reproduction. According to Clover, we are in the midst of a long-running exodus of the dispossessed from all corners of the globe to the Western world,11 driven by increasing geopolitical volatility, wars and the inability of capital to adequately absorb the labour force in the states of the Global South – a diaspora inseparable from the expanding superfluidity of a simultaneously immobilised surplus population.

 

The insurgency and the surplus

 

Any theory of insurgency is always also a theory of crisis, that of an entire economy, but also that of a community or city, that of an hour or that of days. Surprisingly, Clover identifies the first important relation between insurgency and crisis in the concept of surplus,12 whereas insurgency is usually understood in the context of deprivation, lack and deficit, whereas for Clover it indicates precisely the experience of surplus lived in itself, such as surplus danger, surplus instruments and surplus effects.13 The most important surplus is the actively negating, the resisting population in the erupting moments of mass mobilisation, which condense into an event in which the insurrection explodes the police management of a concrete situation and at the same time radically decouples itself from everyday life. This kind of insurrectionary surplus production, however, always remains confronted with the conditions of socio-economic processes and transformations that respond to crises or constitute them in the first place. All this indicates insurgency not at all as a purely contingent, but also as a necessary form of political struggle. Given the existence of a huge surplus population and the insurrectionary politics of the surplus, Clover arrives at a first conclusion: insurrection is the modality through which the surplus is lived.14 Primary circulation is now primary insurrection, which is surplus life itself, however short-term; the latter is the subject of politics and thus the object of state violence. The violence of the police now itself becomes part of the insurgency or, to put it another way, the flashing coalition of the insurgent surplus exists in an economy of state violence.

 

In this context, the insurgency is the political sign of a historical situation that becomes absolute. And this is not because of a somehow wild nature of the insurgency, but because of a multiply unfolding deterritorialising situation in which it finds itself and which it itself produces, an intensity which makes change possible in the first place and which has neither a logical origin nor a comprehensively formulated goal, but owes itself entirely to the outside of the conflicts.15 Thus the primary insurrection makes no demands at all, but rather establishes civil war, concludes Clover in unison with Tiqqun.16 On the one hand, the insurrection must make itself absolute in order to invent new social affects beyond wage labour, capital circulation, and stifling and disciplining public spaces, as well as a movement towards the Commune that is inseparable from civil war; on the other hand, it is constantly confronted with the police violence that seeks to block such an absolutisation.17

 

The French Marxist Henri Lefebvre, in his comprehensive studies of everyday life,18 recognised early on that the purely affirmative reference of struggles to the everyday life of the population is too ephemeral and at the same time too cumbersome to strengthen in the long term the field of activities directed against the rules, institutions and everyday modes of work and consumption, Today, it is important to add, even the gaps, times and spaces that fall outside of capitalisation and functional consumption are constantly absorbed by the digital media and their large corporations and at the same time structured or even completely eliminated in the sense of a comprehensive financialisation of ways of life and existence. The decisive aspect of the 24/7 metric of everyday life today lies less in the standardisation and homogenisation of ways of life than in the consolidation of a redundancy of un-time, in which there is no longer any opportunity not to shop, not to consume, not to work or not to retrieve data and, in particular, not to act as a subject of risk, however precarious or socially disconnected.19 The thus motivated, the panic-stricken neoliberal subject is supposed to do nothing but exploit itself and occasionally still stare into a coma, while at the same time remaining locked into comprehensive quantification and control mechanisms of the state and private institutions that perpetuate its superfluousness. Yet algorithmic governance is now ubiquitous, invisible and materialised in decentralised networks; power is part of an interactive environment in which we live.

 

Nevertheless, the uprising must still also be understood as a spontaneous articulation against the intolerable structurings of everyday life, what Lefebvre calls contestation, which calls for the absolute rejection of the everyday, the imagined and experienced humiliations, and this contestation is therefore for him a movement of the subaltern born in the negative and in negation, a subtraction, an interruption of the political legitimacy of the state and its institutions and of the hegemonic forms of communication that today permeate all areas of the social; the contestation points to the improbable. One would now have to examine more closely the interplay of negation and surplus in the context of the insurrection, but this is something we cannot do within the framework of this contribution.

 

For Lefebvre, insurrections are always also struggles for the control of passages through space; they are now organised around buildings, passages, streets and squares. It is the short-term non-institutionalised urban spaces that, in the moments of insurrection, point to the political emptiness of the spaces of the state apparatuses.20 There is thus something genuinely urban in the insurrections, something architectural, not to say something that opens up space.21 The struggle here is something that is exposed to open space, inventing new guerrilla strategies of “back and forth” that turn out to be a disappearance and at the same time the “absence of this absence”. The barricade, one of the important instruments of insurrection, had the function in Paris during the struggles of the Commune in 1871, among other things, of sealing off neighbourhoods against the hostile attacks of the police, until the wide boulevards and industrial growth, including the equipment of the security forces, put an end to this instrument for the time being.

 

Lefebvre understands spontaneity, which appears and works in the uprising in a strangely continuous way, as an event or as that movens of the movement that resists and escapes the hardened and institutional of the apparatuses; it is constitutive of resistance and consequently spontaneity is the enemy of power. The event here is a surface on which the performance of struggles moves. Following this, Gilles Deleuze can write: “The battle is not an event example among others, but the event in its essence. “22 Such a statement is strongly contradicted by Leninist orthodoxy: There, spontaneism is rejected not only because it is characterised by a lack of organisation, but also because it is allegedly in direct opposition to the genuinely productive labour of the proletariat. In the Leninist concept of the proletarian vanguard party, then, spontaneous insurrection has no place; rather, it is denounced as a purely apolitical, spasmodic and anarchist-inspired chaotic disruption, a pure disorder that must be decisively rejected by the Marxist-Leninist party, which alone possesses a mature and scientifically grounded historical method, unless it organises and directs it. In this context, then, insurrection and strike are grasped as incompatible antipodes.

 

Indeed, insurrection seems to preserve or affirm nothing, perhaps a divided antagonism, a divided misery and a divided negation. In the sense of a fusing group (Sartre), which is always a group of the city, the insurrection lasts no longer than the actions of the rebels that constitute it, whereby these must proceed in a certain temporality, the speed and duration of which in turn remain dependent on the historical situation.23 Action and the fusing group are the practice of the participants, the moments of which are fleeting and precarious, and yet the fusing group insists with its actions on the problem of how to give the insurrection a certain duration without falling back into the hardened segments of a cadre organisation. In the fusing group adequate to the insurrection, seriality and alterity, inherent in any inert or, as Sartre says, inert group,24 are dissolved; the fusing group is, for Sartre, its own common reality and at the same time the mediation between the self and every other as the third. All members of the group are the third, each member of the group, totalising the reciprocity of the others, thus functions as the third by means of the group and only in this way can others be conceived as equals, while yet the relations of seriality continue to burden and affect the resistant forms of action and the fusing group and its axiom of equality.25 Equality here is what actually happens in the fire of the event, insofar as the participants of the fusing group succeed in punching holes in the state and social order with their actions or in emerging in its gaps.

 

The global proletariat, which comprises the surplus population vegetating in the slums of the metropolises, is today directly confronted with the state and the police when it rebels in the streets (in the early uprisings of the 17th century, the economy was close and the state far away). While the capitalist lines of production have become more and more branched out, huge quantities of goods are channeled through long global transport routes, and in the western metropolises even the basic foodstuffs are imported from other continents, leaving the global export of goods, not to mention the export of capital, largely invisible, the standing army of the state, the police, now highly militarised, ostensibly solely for the anti-drug and anti-terrorist war, is always present on the streets, especially in the so-called problem zones of the metropolises. The police can be spotted by the insurgents at every corner. Well-trained and militarised task forces, conditioned to use violence like workers are conditioned to assembly line work, now dominate public space at demonstrations to such an extent that any political dissent articulated in the streets has from the outset merely the character of the tolerated and at the same time of the eliminable at any time – and thus almost the destiny of absurdity. Nevertheless, as Clover shows in his study of the historical relations between insurrections and strikes, modern insurrections enable an important mode of struggle that is directly directed against the police, the state and capital.26 Insurrections, moreover, are not an exclusively spontaneous and short-lived expression of discontent, but are more broadly, to put it in the words of Stuart Hall, a mode through which the class struggle is lived. And, as the events in Hamburg have shown again, they point to the urgency of blockades insofar as global value chains and logistical networks depend on the regular and timely transport of goods around the clock.

 

The early uprising

 

Clover grounds his theory of insurgency with explicit reference to Marx’s theory of value and crisis, as well as along the analysis of the dynamics of the accumulation of capital on a global scale, but also along the study of local business cycles and finally the theory of long waves.27 The crucial economic fact that the theory of early insurgency has to study is the industrialisation in Europe that started in the 17th century, while for the contemporary or, as Clover says, the primary insurgency, the phase of deindustrialisation in some areas of the Western countries that has been going on since the 1970s is extremely relevant. The early local markets precede the historical imposition of capital and later remain an integral part of the surplus value production of capital, albeit at a completely altered qualitative level (this concerns the transition from insurrection to strike). While the early insurrection, usually associated with a violent disturbance of social peace, a lawless extravagance and chaotic frenzy, was gradually forgotten with the development of capitalism, the strike, which took its explicit form in the years 1790 to 1842, nevertheless took up certain forms of action of the early insurrection, but also stood in opposition to it. In certain temporal intervals, insurrection and strike coexisted, for example around the year 1968, until the crisis in 1973 led to a re-composition of the class, the transformation of the global division of labour and an extreme weakening of the political possibilities of militant workers’ organisations and thus to the declining relevance of the strike, which, however, already heralded a new age of insurrection. Although the long historical phases are not the exclusive defining moments for insurrection, it is precisely for the present insurrection that the aforementioned second long phase designates the temporal terrain in which, on the one hand, the insurrection is present and, on the other, the logic of capital becomes visible in its catastrophic autumn. For Clover, the new forms of insurrection respond to the global transformations of capital and thus always to objective conditions.28

 

Let us briefly summarise at this point: The early insurrection has its primary place in the marketplace or at the port, the strike has its place in front of the factory of industrial capitalism, and the contemporary insurrection occupies squares and blocks streets. Today’s uprisings in the metropolises do not take place in front of the granaries, but in direct confrontation with the police on the streets. Paradigmatic of this are the uprisings in Los Angeles in 1992, which lasted several days, when the mistreatment of Rodney King by the police was recorded by passers-by and quickly disseminated through the media.29 Contemporary uprisings in the USA always formulate themselves against the discourse of racism and refer less to the economy than to the state as the direct opponent.30

 

The British historian E.P. Thompson, in his important study The Making of the English Working Class, has examined the political economy of the early revolts in more detail.31 He emphasises in his historical research rather the practical aspects of revolt, more precisely the life-supporting practices directed against price increases of food and involving blockades, seizures and violence by the subalterns against traders and transporters. Thus, for the early revolts, it was hunger and political emotions that gave rise to the revolt, especially in the marketplace, which played an essential role here. Between 1740 and 1820, the so-called food riots in the European heartlands developed into the paradigmatic form of social conflict.32 From the beginning, revolt thus became a struggle in the sphere of circulation. The period in which the industrial transformation of agriculture had begun and industrialisation in the cities had not yet taken hold, this was the incisive historical passage that Clover calls the “golden age of insurrection”. However, the flowering of the early revolts already contained the seeds of their decline. England was the historical place where the transition from insurrection to strike took place. Clover refers here to the studies of Robert Brenner and Ellen Meiksins Wood, according to which the development of capitalism started from the transformation of class relations in the countryside.33

 

If in the early phases of the revolts the price increases for food offered at the local markets were the problem for the population that directly affected their survival, for the factory workers it was later the wages (themselves a price) that determined their conditions of reproduction. The insurrection is the backdrop through which price-fixing was struggled for in the markets, while in strikes the level of wages is fought for in front of the factories.34 In the insurrection, the actions include the entire social reproduction of the subalterns, while in the strikes the workers take on the role of both consumer and producer within a historically singular and common collectivity, which is absolutely necessary to reproduce the class. The social reproduction of workers is a double-edged sword: on the one hand, it includes those who rent out their labour power and have to take care of their reproduction in this form; on the other hand, it is related to the realisation of commodities in circulation, where they encounter the worker as consumer. This is one and the same process seen from two perspectives. Moreover, reproductive labour includes not only wage labour, but also women’s unpaid labour, which takes place in the home, in care and also in the marketplaces.

 

The strike

 

The transition from insurrection to strike, Clover argues, is related to or correlates with the transformations in the structure of capital and capital accumulation from an economic mode in which profit is generated in the market to a mode of industrial surplus value production by self-moving capital in production.35 The strike as a form of action emerges in the new world of capitalist production, initially still driven by seamen meeting urban artisans and merchants to fight together for higher wages. Once the wage-labour relationship is comprehensively introduced, the proto-capitalist market loses its central social significance and becomes part of self-regulating capital, thus subsuming all communal values that still belong to local markets to the profit motives of capital. The rural poor now become landless proletarians dependent on wage labour or part of the industrial reserve army. The workers’ struggles, including those of the Luddites, demand a wage that will at least allow them to survive, oppose unemployment and demand the right to form trade unions.36 The Luddites cannot easily be called machine strikers in this respect, insofar as in their struggles they mostly leave the machines, which do not replace workers, intact. Clover writes that in this context, the strike must be understood as a social struggle related to the preservation of employment, to higher wages and to better working conditions and rights, while the so-called machine storming marked the transition from insurrection to strike. There was a brief period of transition where food riots and the factory struggles met, that is, there were fluid transitions in the different sites of struggle (from the marketplace to the workplace) and from the struggle over the price of goods to that over the price of labour power, as the fulcrum of reproduction.

 

The strike is the dominant tactic of the workers or the central form of social and economic antagonism in the heyday of industrial capital; it also allows a view of insurrection (and vice versa) and always remains related to the metamorphoses and transformations of capital. It is a struggle for the level of wages or the price of labour power and for securing employment, led by workers in their function as workers in production. The narrow definition of the strike, as carried by the official workers’ movement, further characterises it as an orderly, legalistic and disciplined action that takes place in front of the factory and ultimately has to be considered as a temporary refusal. However, the textile workers’ strikes in Lyon in 1831, for example, show that they could well be accompanied by barricade fighting and guerrilla action.37 A large proportion of historians, however, deny that the strike could have any connection with the uprisings and place the two in clear opposition to each other. It was, after all, the trade unions that in 1839 sought to demarcate the disciplined strike of glass workers in Belgium against the smashing of glass panes by renegade workers – the strike is then exactly what the insurrection is not. However, this construction of an insurmountable opposition between insurrection and strike refers only to the mode of certain actions, without any examination of the social, economic and political content of the struggles and the environment of the forms of struggle in the first place. Moreover, the social content of strike and insurrection cannot be reduced to the collective will, beliefs and affects of the participants. Clover sees the strike in two folds, on the one hand as a confrontation with capital over the level of the price of labour power, on the other hand the strike also possesses a social explosive power in itself.38 Nevertheless, it takes place more strongly in the boom phases of capital accumulation and it becomes central to the workers’ movement when workers’ reproduction becomes entirely dependent on the wage, which in turn remains to this day, despite the growth of consumer credit, the most important part of workers’ reproduction.

 

In this context, it is worth pointing out a statement by Walter Benjamin according to which the technological conditions of production, its progress and success, are always in relation to the transparency of social content.39 Industrial production, progress and transparent and maintained glass architecture – they stand for the world of the strike. The ideology of the “good strike” absolutely adheres to the idea of transparency (think, in contrast, of the Black Bloc, the Invisible Committee and the idea of the imperceptibility of political action) and to the belief that one can see directly to the bottom of social conflicts through the perception of the surface. The strike here becomes strike by being explicitly formalised by the official labour movement against insurrection. It is order itself, the window pane that is not broken. Accordingly, the insurrection, now set in direct opposition, must also find its content in form. But this remains paradoxical, because its form is the disorder that now becomes its content. The insurrection thus wants nothing more than itself, its luminous opacity. Shine and shards of broken glass.40

 

Even still in the mode of the general strike, the traditional workers’ movement will ascribe to the strike a disciplined and disciplining form of organisation, an orderly form of confrontation against capital (and not against the state), while the alleged disorder and chaos of the anarchist-inspired actions in the insurrection, to which pointless spontaneity is also always imputed, mutate into objects of antipathy. Spontaneity appears here merely as a slave to the (natural) stimulus, although in a broader sense one could point out that Kant did indeed refer to the transcendental unity of apperception, the fact that I myself become aware of my own experiences, as a spontaneous act that is not exercised naturally but freely and willingly.41 Even tactics that arise spontaneously must, on the one hand, reckon with an already given order of space and time and, on the other hand, skilfully try to exploit their respective gaps, imponderabilities and inconsistencies.

 

In Leninist orthodoxy, the spontaneism of the insurgents is rejected not only because it is allegedly characterised by a lack of consciousness and organisedness, but also because it stands in direct opposition to the labour that is put into production (by capital!) and thus to the proletariat. In Leninism, one finds the conception of traditional Marxism explicitly formulated, according to which the capitalist economy, on the one hand, exploits labour power, which must be sold, and on the other hand, however, labour power – naturalised – at the same time represents the fundamental human potential for the generation of general social wealth in every social formation. The worker is thus not only seen as a productive force that is exploited by the capital economy in quantitative terms, but is at the same time metaphysically overcoded as the sole producer of social wealth. Traditional Marxism-Leninism thus tells the worker that he is exploited and alienated through the sale of his labour power, thus preventing the much more radical hypothesis that he is “alienated” as a labour power in itself, that is, as a force that creates value through its labour, already to be questioned.42

 

After the end of the Second World War, there was a period of stagnation in the militant struggles of the labour movement, which ended in the 1960s with a sudden interruption in which, due to the student movement, the New Left and radical workers’ struggles, something new appeared on the horizon, although there were still elements of continuity in the old struggles. At the same time, the labour movement in general is not to be equated with organised labour struggles; rather, from the end of the 18th century onwards, this was a mode of organisation, an apparatus and an urban machine that held workers together in their workplaces and neighbourhoods. Insofar as the labour movement succeeded in this, it always referred to an affirmative class identity, with the activists of the workers’ parties and the trade unions leading workers to suspend their interests as isolated sellers of their labour power in a competitively organised labour market and to act instead as a collective project, as a movement. The workers’ movement also embodied a certain idea of how capitalism could be replaced, opening up a communist horizon that enabled a positive dynamic of class struggles, but also showed their limits. In this, the workers were to build a new world with their own hands, a world in which they would be the only social group to expand, while all other groups, including the bourgeoisie, would diminish. The workers were not only the majority of the population, they also became a compact mass in the form of the collective worker, drilled in the factories in concert with the machines. They would nevertheless have been the only ones capable of managing the new world according to their own logic, following neither a hierarchy of command receivers or givers nor the irrationality of market fluctuations, but rather installing a finely graduated division of labour themselves. Moreover, the labour movement realised the truth of history in qualitative terms. These visions motivated the workers’ struggles, especially between the years 1873 and 1921, and partly explain the exponential growth of the movement.

 

Today, however, we are faced with the absence of those institutionalised forms of collectivity that formed the backbone of the workers’ movement. Today, the workers’ movements are reduced entirely to the politics of the trade unions, which at best still want to manage stable employment, to social democratic parties which implement austerity policies when the conservative parties fail to do so, and to a few anarchist and communist sects which wait in vain for their historic chance. The labour movement has long ceased to be a political force with the potential to change the world, because the coordinates of the struggles have changed. Therefore,