Fragments and notes on the possibility of consciousness and revolution

These are scattered notes serving as a place holder, not hypotheses or completed thoughts.

Consciousness- This problem is generally framed in relation to marxist conceptions of the internal conflict and contradictions of capitalism itself. People position themselves along how much work they believe that internal contradiction to do, ranging from determinism to Kautskyist voluntarism (with faith in marxist scientism replacing faith in contradiction). Yet what if in fact the objective conflicts within capitalism are not enough to produce movement that abolishes class, power, and oppression? In other words, the capital-wage labor relation are not actually productive of or sufficiently corollary to the drive towards the transformation of society in anarchist communism? Certainly history indicates limitations to proletarian struggles, and some thinkers like Camatte and other ultralefts believe that the workers movement was effectively defeated in previous periods followed by class recompositions that altered the position of the proletariat within struggles. If we see anarchist communism as more than simply base economic demands, but the creation of a new order, new people, and new desires, then it should be asked whether merely innate or produced conflicts generate such?

Crisis- One thing that crisis in our times seems to create is not neat class conflict, but cross-class conflicts. It seems as though crisis is less directed along the lines of work relationships, than around spreading delegitimization of existing structures and systems. Power is crucial there to understand such, and indeed in society in general it seems as though factory work relations have become displaced by more general relationships of domination. Part of late capitalism appears to be the undermining of previous structuring of class neighborhoods and workplaces, and the replacement with flexible class organizations within broad spaces, caste-like relations, and false freedoms integrated into a system that challenges precarity, flexibility, and class mobility, into a system that flourishes outside the workplace as well as within. How do we make sense of events like Argentina 2001, Occupy, Greece, etc., where crisis and rupture increasingly seem to occur not simply around wage labor and value production, but directed by sections of the populace against systemic reproduction itself?

Levels- the intermediate level analysis seems systematically distoring because of it’s apparent effect of encouraging timeless analysis, and building block approaches. Rather than solidifying schematic views of organization, we need concepts that allow us to see the role of history, collective mood, and power in generating, excluding, and transforming fronts of rupture and resistance. Perhaps all the language of mass, intermediate, and political levels needs to be abandoned.

Things I’m reading in thinking about this stuff

Paul Mattick Spontaneity and Organization
Gilles Dauve The Renegade Kautsky and his Disciple Lenin
Rosa Luxembourg <a href="”>The Mass Strike
Jacques Camatte On Organization


5 thoughts on “Fragments and notes on the possibility of consciousness and revolution

  1. Another thought. Much of the above playing with concepts reflects a rejection of traditional marxist determinism about the inevitability of communism and class struggle along dialectical lines. If we reject that (which most now do), then what are the implications of the contingency of such struggles? What kind of struggles happen? Is the proletariat’s centrality as productive workers logically necessary? What role does mechanization in displacing the role of proletarians in production play over not 10 years but hundreds, to where now objectively the numbers necessary in direct agricultural and commodity production have been reduced (not simply displaced geographically)? Likewise, if not inevitable, is the struggle for anarchist communism contained within an analysis of objective conditions of work relationships at all, or is it something all together distinct though related and prefigured? If so, what is it’s basis and victory?

  2. sounds like you are definitely reading a lot of camatte…some of this is a little dense for me tho less dense then the former…

    on crisis you seem mostly concerned with struggles around reproduction then? there is all that neat stuff in endnotes somewhere about the intersection of reproduction and production. i think i have already went over this a bit with you before.

    on levels are you just saying there should be a lot more gray area? this is some super post-bordigist shit…

  3. I think all that stuff above in the links is pretty bad. Camatte is bad too. But he raises ideas around whether conflict is internalized to capitalism, and whether the antagonism generated by internal conflicts are sufficient either for objective or subjective factors for communist society. I think there’s reason to think, there’s missing elements there. His stuff about individuals and groups and all that is an appendage, and seems more ’emotional’.

    Levels- I guess I just mean that it’s systematically misleading. Levels sound timeless, but the whole analysis is about history and the differences in how we do work. Yet most people seem to want to do the opposite with it, and try to impose levels on work that doesn’t reflect that. Lately I’ve been feeling like most of the time the intermediate level is all that functions in most period, and that only in high points of struggle where there’s ruptures with the normal means of settling disputes do these other levels come into being in any real sense, and then often in a conservative or repressive function.

    Crisis- Not sure, it’s all really sketchy. When I look at neighborhoods, my workplace, occupy, etc., I just see things break down differently from the traditional wage relation division. The social factory stuff does speak to some of that. I will read that endnotes thing stat!

  4. hey Scott,
    Quick thing for now, on levels and whether or not to keep the terms, respectfully I’d like to suggest that keep the terms or not isn’t the right question. I mean, keep them if they help you think, drop them if they don’t. Language is material and context is out of your hands — people do things with term and you can’t control what people do with terms. Which is to say, if you change terms the same problems can recur because the problems aren’t solely conceptual but also social. That said, writing about the role of history would be pretty cool.
    take care,

  5. I mean I think I have written explicitly warning against those interpretations, but I wonder if borrowing the concepts of the mass and political level didn’t imbue the ideas with that stuff. In otherwords, if there’s an increasing break going on from traditional forms of organization, and a different methodology being put forward, perhaps the concepts need to change to. There’s the words and then there’s the concepts. Both probably need to change, but the words are not that important I suppose.

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