Negri/ Hardt

Wildcat: Subjectivity


“The Search for the Subject

Revolutionary Marxism after WWII has attempted to answer three questions: the question of the subject, the question of the class (which is also the question of who can revolutionarily change the world, and where a collective subject constitutes itself that can set this process in motion), and the question of their own role in the revolutionary process. We find workerism’s answers most interesting, then and now.

On the question of the subject, there are essentially three answers: the apology for the nineteenth-century bourgeois subject of civil society (Frankfurt School), the denial of the subject (structuralism, mainstream modern Marxism), and the concept of class composition.

The concept of class composition criticizes false materialism, which derives class struggle from the existing equal economic position of workers in capitalism. Simultaneously it is a critique of a philosophical class concept, which presents the class as a pure antagonist, as a subject that rebels and takes sides for itself, regardless of existing conditions of production. Class composition builds a bridge between subjectivity and material conditions. Marx did the prep work in his “Theses on Feuerbach,” in which he recognized human activity as something material. Therefore, the subject cannot be sought one-sidedly in the material independent of humanity, nor in an ideal independent of the material, but rather only in the co-incidence of the changes in humanity itself, its activity and thinking, with the changes of circumstances (“immanence”!).

The answer of the workerists was more fruitful than the two others, because they were developed directly out of running struggles: the class struggle didn’t work from outside “on capital,” but it constituted the capital relation. The class struggle expressed itself not only in a historical chain of conflicts, struggles and uprisings, but also in the accumulation of capital, in its “organic composition,” as Marx called it.

To the question what role we can take in this process, Marxism-Leninism gave an explicit answer: the organization into cadre parties, apart from the working class, but with the claim to be bringing it the correct “class consciousness.” This basic idea survives to this day, always popping up.

Contrary to that stands the position of the council communists, who deny any thought of a “special role” for left activists in class struggles, any “intervention from outside.” They see their own role in merely putting information at the disposal of the workers (“mailmen”).

The class-composition critique of the bourgeois subject can be formulated like this: the only material foundation on which one can speak of a subject is class composition. That is, it has to do with a collective subject that constitutes itself under the conditions of a determinate mode of production in struggle against the capital relation. Any material analysis of the subject must therefore go through the analysis of class composition. Whoever wants to revolutionarily change society must put themselves in relation to class composition.”

Notes on Commonwealth by Negri/ Hardt

Notes on Commonwealth by Hardt and Negri

(Most important of political projects on one level the political thought of CLR James and Antonio Negri. Second would be Loren Goldner and Negri. What does arming the Multitude mean? What is the equivalent of What is to Be Done for the Multitude? )

H/N open Commonwealth with a brutal and concise description of the world under terror, fire, and misery.  How can we deny the world is anything other than that, with Syria, Detroit, and Ukraine in mind.

They hope to articulate an ethical project in CW.  But they will only discover an ethical project through the study of what the multitude have done in struggle. At the same time they have a sense of becoming, when they write ‘becoming-prince’  vii.  Much is yet to be accomplished, the full ethical project cannot be thrown down, until what is becoming, becomes clearer, and perhaps finally becomes. In this becoming, the multitude must learn the art of self-rule and forming lasting democratic organizations.  We see the importance of democracy…

The centrality of the commons is clear on viii.  It is ideology which masks the truth of the commons, which in actuality is everywhere around is.

Commons as the coordinator of the coordination problem.  It is the commons or the squares which not only creates the spatial dimensions, but also the subjectivities.  There is a relationship between spaces and subjectivities. The commons is the space of a certain kind of subject. The worker, as such, does not exist anymore in the commons.  Of course workers are in the commons, but under a new coordination, under a new constellation. This is the effect of de-industrialization right here.  The worker cannot coordinate much at the workplace, so new coordination must occur in struggle, in new spaces, with new subjectivities, radically creating a new subject in motion, in the process of struggle itself. This is in contrast to the Marxist-Jamesian concept of coordination and subjectivity.  At the same time this is still Marxist-Negri.