The Communist Necessity: Prolegomena To Any Future Radical Theory
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“There was a time when we proclaimed that we were part of a beautiful and fragmented chaos of affinity groups, conflicted organizations, disorganized rebels, all of whom were somehow part of the same social movement that was greater than the sum of its parts. We were more accurately a disorganized mob of enraged plebeians shaking our fists at a disciplined imperial army. Years ago we spoke of social movementism but now it only makes sense to drop the ‘social’ since this phase of confusion was incapable of understanding the social terrain. Disparate, unfocused, and divided movements lack a unified intentionality; they have proved themselves incapable of pursuing the necessity of communism.”
The Communist Necessity is a polemical interrogation of the practice of “social movementism” that has enjoyed a normative status at the centres of capitalism. Despite the fact that the name “communism” has been reclaimed by a variety of important intellectuals, J. Moufawad-Paul argues that, due to a failure to grapple with the concrete questions connected to historical moments of actually making revolution, movementist praxis remains hegemonic. More of a philosophical intervention than a historiography or political economy, The Communist Necessity engages in a quick and pointed manner with a variety of authors and tendencies including Alain Badiou, Jodi Dean, the Invisible Committee, Tiqqun, Théorie Communiste, and others. Moufawad-Paul argues that a refusal to recognize contemporary revolutionary movements from the 1980s to the present results in the reification of a capitalist “end of history” discourse within this movementist conceptualization of theory and practice.
Originally written as a small essay on the left-wing blog MLM Mayhem, The Communist Necessity has been expanded into a pocket-sized treatise that sketches out the boundaries of the movementist terrain, as well as its contemporary ideologues, so as to raise questions that may be uncomfortable for those who are still devoted to movementist praxis, particularly if they define themselves as marxist. Aware of his past affinity with social movementism, and some apprehension of the problem of communist orthodoxy, the author argues that the recognition of communism's necessity “requires a new return to the revolutionary communist theories and experiences won from history.”
these days) he is worth mentioning because so many of these “new” attempts at reclaiming communism often speak his name. There are other names and other attempts, and those that were not preserved by academic and publishing institutions were forgotten by the end of the 1980s when the communism they sought to revise was supposedly defeated. More than a critical reflection of supposedly “orthodox” communism, these eclectic or overly academic communisms are the symptom of a larger problem: the
science that automatically determines significant transformations in the mode of production. We cannot claim, however, that communist theory has never dabbled in these simplistic and quasi-superstitious historical claims. Even the great communist leaders and theorists have been wont to argue that communism’s necessity was also a destiny, an unavoidable truth produced by the argument of history. Whether or not these arguments were made for rhetorical reasons, or because those making the
the once-banned name is worth considering. Why self-proclaimed communists become annoyed when some of us speak of these actual revolutionary movements, complaining that they have heard enough about people’s wars, and yet become excited with every doomed uprising or moribund populism, should make us wonder. In many ways this excitement over banal movementist strategies represents a return to the utopian communisms that Marx and Engels once expended so much energy combatting in order to place
Terror—is not even experienced as a war by the masses who live at the centres of capitalism? Some of us have grown to adulthood with this war serving as an early childhood memory and yet, unlike those who have grown up in regions such as Afghanistan, have been able to live without experiencing the most direct and brutal affects of what George W. Bush once called, without irony, “the task that never ends.” From its very emergence, capitalism has waged war upon humanity and the earth. The
The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (New York: International Publishers, 1969), 15.  Friedrich Engels, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (New York: International Publishers, 1998), 36. We Are Everywhere, 511.  Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings (New York: New Directions, 1964), 39.