May 1, 2011


Here, from the cobweb-covered vault,

a discussion document from  1992, on writing:


Communists Must Write, and how!

There are various ways in which the political vacuum which we have so sorely felt in recent years can be countered. The need for a party, its support and discipline, its organisational strengths and sense of purpose has the potential to turn rhetoric into activity. Without doubt we are all well sick of people saying what must be done[1] and having the words carried away in the wind. There has been much conversation among friends, in pubs and elsewhere, in the meetings of our various organisations, at demonstrations and amongst the collectivities of social movements and NIMBY protests, etc., etc., but there is not enough, as yet, to show.

It has also been admitted that among our urgent tasks are the self-educational work of reading groups, writing papers, and the development of a left culture which includes a practical-theoretical analysis of the conditions in which we work. As much has often been stated. Rhetorically!

There are those who may say that communism is verbose, and any set of collected and/or selected works of Marx, Lenin, Mao, Luxemburg, Dunayevskaya, Leon, Joseph, Mazumdar[2], etc., will show that these communists wrote all the time — letters, tracts, pamphlets, monographs and more. Yes, we may now live in the era of late-night-television capitalism, yes the written word is a privileged form and draws accusations of stylised alienation, rhetorical authority, intellectualism, elitism, theory and that bitter term of abuse, journalism, but, I think, we are still obliged to write. The question I want to pose is how.

As a preliminary step, which we must repeat over and over, we might read some of the many and various communist texts which refer to writing. It is not possible to mention them all, nor desirable — since I think this issue must be kept under discussion all the time, continually renewed. Nevertheless, a few scattered points might offer us something to go on with now. It is important to take these older texts seriously even while agreeing with Guattari and Negri on “the reopening of a revolutionary cycle” which shall proceed “Not by the repetition of old slogans, but through the intervention of new perspectives on action, and by a redefinition of communism as enrichment, diversification of community and consciousness” (Guattari and Negri 1990:28) What follows is a proposal which, while looking to past work, sets out towards writing now.

[Keep reading – the entire paper is COMMSMUS2]

[1] Much more work must be done on this paper. I’m sorry that these are very rough notes for a discussion paper — and so for several reasons I don’t want them to be copied or circulated further than this meeting. The reasons include my embarrassment at how obvious much of this is, the fact that it is a rushed job, and that any serious treatment of the topic of writing would be best pursued in a more collaborative manner than this first draft can reflect. I have also not made use, in the paper, of section five of Lenin’s What is to be done? (1902) which bears directly on this topic and which would be an unavoidable reference point for our discussion.

[2] Marx wrote for many newspapers; Lenin wrote endless numbers of letters; the texts of Mao’s speeches were widely distributed within and beyond the party; Raya Dunayevskaya was an assistant to Trotsky for a while, but left for ‘ideological reasons’ to write a great fat book called Philosophy and Revolution 1973, Columbia University Press, and another called Rosa Luxemberg, Women’s Liberation and Marx’s Philosophy of Revolution, 1981, Uni of Illinois Press; Charu Mazumdar was a leader of the Maoist Naxalite uprising in India which formed the basis of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), he wrote many pithy and sharp pamphlets against the Landlords in India under the slogan “Annihilate the class enemy!”. The pen can be brutal when necessary.

[Keep reading – the entire paper is COMMSMUS2]

2 thoughts on “May 1, 2011

  1. From Shao Loong: Sebagai kapitalis, ia hanyalah kapital yang dipersonifikasikan. Jiwanya adalah jiwa kapital. Sedangkan kapital hanya memiliki satu desakan hidup tunggal, desakan memvalorisasi dirinya sendiri, menciptakan nilai-lebih, membuat bagian konstannya, alat-alat produksi, menyerap jumlah kerja lebih yang sebanyak-banyak mungkin. Kapital adalah kerja mati yang, bagaikan vampir penghisap darah, hanya hidup dengan menghisap kerja hidup, dan semakin hidup, dengan semakin banyak kerja yang dihisapnya.


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