The Common in Communism

Michael Hardt
The common must be the foundation of any communist hypothesis today. This is true due primarily to two interconnecting and conflicting conditions of the common with respect to capitalist production. First, contemporary capitalist production relies ever more centrally on the production and productivity of the common. And, second, the common, since it must be shared and open to free access, is antithetical to property. In other words, the common and its productivity are destroyed when relations of property (private or public) are imposed on it; and, in turn, the affirmation of the common implies the destruction of property. The dynamics of class struggle today and the project to overcome class society develop on the terrain of the common.

I generally agree with the efforts of Alain Badiou and Slavoj Zizek to renew the idea of communism and the communist hypothesis. The concept of communism, like that of democracy, has been corrupted so that today in standard usage it has come to mean its opposite, that is, state control of economic and social life. I would like to shift the discussion slightly, however, or recenter it from Badiou’s and Zizek’s focus on the political decision to the critique of political economy and the project for the abolition of property. To realize the communist hypothesis for our times we need to move, so to speak, from Lenin to Marx. Indeed one of the reasons that the communist hypotheses of previous eras are no longer valid is that the composition of capital – as well as the conditions and products of capitalist production – have altered. Most importantly the technical composition of labor has changed. How do people produce both inside and outside the workplace? What do they produce and under what conditions? How is productive cooperation organized? And what are the divisions of labor and power that separate them along gender and racial lines and in the local, regional, and global contexts? In addition to investigating the current composition of labor, we also have to analyze the relations of property under which labor produces. Along with Marx we can say that the critique of political economy is, at its heart, a critique of property. “The theory of the Communists,” Marx and Engels write in the Manifesto, “may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.”1

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Marx contre-attaque

Created 16/03/2009 -Published on Bibliobs (http://bibliobs.nouvelobs.com)

«L’idée de communisme» retrouverait-elle, par temps de crise, une vigueur inattendue? Alain Badiou [1], Slavoj Zizek [2], Toni Negri [3], Michael Hardt [4], Jacques Rancière [5] et plusieurs autres grands noms de la philosophie politique radicale mondiale étaient réunis, ce week-end, à Londres, pour un colloque sur cette notion. Aude Lancelin a suivi les débats

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On ignore si la tombe de Marx [6], située au cimetière de Highgate à Londres, a été spécialement fleurie durant ce week-end. Il est certain en revanche qu’un hommage autrement plus stimulant vient d’être rendu au penseur au cœur même de la capitale britannique. Trois journées durant, du vendredi 13 au dimanche 15 mars 2009, les plus prestigieux noms de la philosophie politique radicale mondiale, de Slavoj Zizek à Alain Badiou, Toni Negri, Michael Hardt, Jacques Rancière et bien d’autres, se sont succédé à la tribune de la «Birkbeck university of London» [7] pour réfléchir ensemble à l’avenir de l’idée communiste. Un amphithéâtre de neuf cent places avait été mis à disposition pour ce colloque à tous égards exceptionnel, sobrement intitulé «On the idea of Communism». Il aura à peine suffi à contenir une foule spectaculairement jeune, attentive et rieuse, venue de l’Europe entière avec carnets de notes, canettes de Coca light et caméscopes high-tech pour entendre les grandes figures d’un concept politique qu’on disait salutairement mort.

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Examined Life. Astra Taylor

Interview: Astra Taylor, Director EXAMINED LIFE

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrnzMpgISgo[/youtube]

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and raised in Athens, Georgia, 29-year-old writer and filmmaker, Astra Taylor is a good case study for a life well-lived.  Unschooled until she was a preteen and raised by two independent thinkers to become one herself, Taylor currently occupies herself with wrangling high intellectual pursuits and philosophical theories into wonderful pieces of cinema.  Her non-traditional upbringing, or as she calls it, her  “super weirdo hippy background,” stood her in good stead, providing a strong sense of confidence and an affirmation in her own abilities and artistic vision.

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¿Han reescrito Michael Hardt y Antonio Negri el Manifiesto Comunista para el Siglo XXI?

Por Slavoj Žižek | 2001

Capitalismo no es sólo una época histórica entre otras. En cierto modo, el alguna vez de moda y ahora medio olvidado Francis Fukuyama tenía razón: el capital global es “el fin de la historia.” Un cierto exceso que era mantenido bajo control en la historia anterior, percibido como una perversión localizable, como un exceso, una desviación, es en el capitalismo elevado al principio mismo de la vida social, en el movimiento especulativo del dinero que engendra más dinero, de un sistema que sólo puede sobrevivir revolucionando constantemente su propia condición, es decir, en que la cosa sólo puede sobrevivir como su propio exceso, excediendo constantemente sus propios constreñimientos “normales.” Y, quizás es sólo hoy, en el capitalismo global en su forma “posindustrial”, digitalizada que, para ponerlo en las términos hegelianos, realmente el capitalismo existente está alcanzando el nivel de su noción:

quizás, uno debe seguir de nuevo el viejo lema antievolucionista de Marx (a propósito, tomado literalmente de Hegel) de que la anatomía de hombre proporciona la clave de la anatomía del mono – esto es que, para desplegar la estructura nocional inherente de una formación social, uno debe empezar con su más desarrollada forma.

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