07 July 2014

Resuscitating Communism?

My own view is that progressive politics need not be held captive either to the renewal of communism or to the assumption that critics of capitalism must be communist.* Indeed, I think that the prospect of communism is a non-starter if, in fact, it requires relinquishing reliance on markets as central political economic institutions or writing off the vicious, violent acts taken in the name of communism over the course of the twentieth century. (Among the the massive flaws of the resuscitation effort, it seems to me, is a more or less total refusal to talk about actual or possible institutional arrangements.) Nevertheless, there are those eager to resuscitate communism - Benjamin Kunkel, Jodi Dean, Simon Hardy, and Alberto Toscano, for instance, who are publishing their advocacy at The European.
* In general terms, I think this assessment (also drawn from the symposium at The European) is on point: 

"But if we are no longer to define ourselves negatively, by our opposition to Capital, what will be the name of our positive project? I don’t believe that the old signifier communism can be revived for this purpose. It is now irretrievably tainted by terrible associations, forever tied to the nightmares of the 20th century. At the moment, our desire is nameless – but it is real. Our desire is for the future – for an escape from the impasses of the flatlands of Capital’s endless repetitions – and it comes from the future – from the very future in which new perceptions, desires, cognitions are once again possible. As yet, we can grasp this future only in glimmers. But it is for us to construct this future, even as – at another level – it is already constructing us: a new kind of collective agent, a new possibility of speaking in the first person plural. At some point in this process, the name for our new desire will appear and we will recognize it." ~  Mark Fisher

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