“Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.
Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men – friends, coworkers, strangers – giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them. I’d want to grab the poor guy by his lapels or messenger bag and say: The bitch doesn’t really love chili dogs that much – no one loves chili dogs that much! And the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be. Oh, and if you’re not a Cool Girl, I beg you not to believe that your man doesn’t want the Cool Girl. It may be a slightly different version – maybe he’s a vegetarian, so Cool Girl loves seitan and is great with dogs; or maybe he’s a hipster artist, so Cool Girl is a tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics. There are variations to the window dressing, but believe me, he wants Cool Girl, who is basically the girl who likes every fucking thing he likes and doesn’t ever complain. (How do you know you’re not Cool Girl? Because he says things like: “I like strong women.” If he says that to you, he will at some point fuck someone else. Because “I like strong women” is code for “I hate strong women.”)”
“When these girls first come in, they often deny they have been hit or pimped. We were told not to write down those statements,” a law-enforcement source said. “The clear inference by everybody in that room was that we were being told not to write down the statements so that we would not have to turn them over.”
The Socialist party introduced the bill, which was co-signed by all other parties affiliated to the Socialists as well as the Communist and Left parties, so there is already a majority in favour of the law. The right wing might vote with them as well. Even MPs who are against the law will probably vote for it, out of party discipline and to avoid being labelled as sexist, pro-pimp and pro-prosti-killers by feminists (prosti-tueurs is the new name they give to men who buy sex).
In parliamentary hearings two former prostitutes were invited to speak, both affirming the shame, degradation and self-destruction of prostitution. Current sex workers were not asked to testify; one of us spoke along with the health organisations. We have held many demonstrations and shown all the evidence, but we are ignored. The sponsors use flawed evidence and anonymous testimonies; they don’t care about NGOs or research.
Sponsors of the bill claim all the time that 90% of prostitutes are victims of trafficking. This percentage may be their estimate for non-French sex workers, not trafficking victims, but abolitionists don’t distinguish between the two. No source is given for the figure. All migrants are defined as trafficked.
Sex workers who oppose the bill are accused of being a non-representative and privileged minority, so selfish that we defend our own interest and those of pimps and willing to sacrifice the majority of poor victims of trafficking and rape. They insist they will not pass a law on behalf of sex workers who claim to consent to prostitution. They say that our consent is flawed due to poverty and other constraints, and believe that if we were to leave prostitution and go into therapy we would recognise that we had lied to ourselves and that prostitution is, in fact, harmful.
Migrant sex workers from all parts of the world increasingly join the sexworker union STRASS, but they don’t participate in public debates because of the language barrier and the stigma. During our last demonstration there were many migrants, but they were ignored by mainstream media. The bill would make it possible for migrant sex workers to get a six months’ residence permit on condition they agree to stop prostitution.
Sponsors of the law don’t care that only 22% of the French population are in favour of fining clients 1500€, because they say in Sweden the law succeeded in changing people’s minds about prostitution. They share the same goal to educate people in France. The bill would mandate school programming to teach that buying sex is like rape and that prostitution is degrading.
The bill says street soliciting will be permitted, but local by-laws can be passed to maintain public order, so sex workers would not even be decriminalised.
The bill would instruct Internet Service Providers to alert authorities and give power to block access to websites suspected of profiting from prostitution, which means even escort advertising could be targeted. One MP said it would be possible for police to use our phone numbers, which we fear means they could listen to conversations in order to identify and arrest clients and lead to forced entry into our homes and workplaces.
A few days ago a group of reactionary right-wing men started defending the right to buy sex in a very sexist manner. They are being widely reported in the media, and sex workers who oppose the bill are made to look as if we side with them, which is terrible for us.
Roxy Freeman never went to school. But at the age of 22, she decided to get a formal education, forcing her to face up to the prejudices that blight her Gypsy community â and to shackle her wandering spirit
I. In 1999, a journal based in Paris and calling itself TIQQUN published an essay with the title “Theses on the Imaginary Party.” The journal’s exotic name was derived from a Hebrew word used in the Lurianic and Sabbatean kabbalistic traditions to mean “repair” or “restitution.” It was claimed the name was in fact neither a collective signature nor even the title of the journal itself, but the name for the objective historical process the pages of the journal bore witness to. This process was nothing less than “muffled advance of the Imaginary Party” whose acts of sabotage and whose dissemination of terror in the margins of a contemporary spectacular form of domination were deciphered as so many “anonymous acts of Tiqqun,” actions heralding the imminent and catastrophic overturning of that same domination. The Imaginary Party is the name for a novel form of antagonism that emerges in the space evacuated by the previous form of social war: the frontal battle between class enemies, the civil war between proletarian monstrosity and vampiric Capital. The journal speaks instead of a “coming rebellion [la rebellion qui vient]” appealing to no form of transcendence that can be socially and historically identified, no determined cause in the name of which it revolts. This rebellion will be a properly “metaphysical” insurrection, whose possibility will not be found lurking in the existing technical composition of labor and the production process. The emergence of the Imaginary Party signals, to the contrary, the definitive dissipation of the social substance; and this dissipation, paradoxically enough, is deemed the condition itself for the unleashing of a communist politics.
The vision of the communist process proposed by the group is strange enough. With the imminent collapse of the spectacular mode of domination, the Imaginary Party will turn its attention away from this enemy in order to elaborate the internal dynamics of the Party itself, the circulation of energies among the “metaphysical communities” and forms-of-life that people it. “It is foreseeable,” the essay concludes, “that as victory approaches, the men of the Imaginary Party will no longer enter into battle in order to dispatch an enemy whose powers are already so weakened, but instead to give free reign to their metaphysical disputes [differends], which they intend to have out both physically and through play.” Now, some two years later, the journal will return to this passage from the antagonism between the spectacle and the Imaginary Party to the agonistic, sovereign play between metaphysical communities in another long essay, this time with the provocative title Introduction to Civil War. Here again, we encounter a strange, agonistic figure of communism in which the sharing of the common takes the form of the sovereign play—physical, violent—between communes or forms-of-life defined not by a shared substance, predicate or common production but by the discrete organization of affective and ethical intensities: by existential or ethical differences that can be mediated by no juridical or organization mechanisms. This play between forms-of-life is now given a seemingly misleading name: “civil war.” The elliptical movement of this text, in fact, is suspended between two propositions or theses. First, a definition of civil war: “Civil war is the free play of forms-of-life; it is the principle of their co-existence” (P10). And, then, just pages later, this minimalist definition of communism: “I call ‘communism’ the real movement that elaborates, everywhere and at every moment, civil war” (P30). Spliced together, these two propositions produce this formula: communism is the elaboration of the play between and among forms-of-life.
In the only genuinely critical engagement with the writings of TIQQUN and its latter-day mutation “The Invisible Committee” to date, Alberto Toscano underlines the importance of this introduction of the figure of the commune into contemporary discussions around the renewal of the communist legacy. The commune, he notes, is not only a form of organization to be used strategically within a given field of forces; it is just as much a form-of-life, a mode of existence and an “ethical disposition.” And yet what is lacking in TIQQUN’s specific deployment of this form, he argues, is its refusal to examine the contemporary forms of production and the composition of labor, resulting in a “Manichean opposition” between the theme of collective experimentation, at once political and ontological, opened by the attention to forms-of-life, and the dispersed but still localizable sphere of metropolitan production. As a result, the proliferation of communes envisioned at the end of The Coming Insurrection and, by extension, the metaphysical disputes between forms-of-life proposed by TIQQUN’s agonistic communism, fail to draw upon possibilities that are “immanent to the resources of immaterial labor and cognitive capitalism.” In a similar vein, Michael Hardt has recently distinguished two tendencies within the recent renewal of the communist hypotheses: those who, like Alain Badiou who emphasize the problems of cultivating subjective capacity and those who, like Antonio Negri and Hardt himself, look toward the internal dynamics of objective social processes in order to seek out immanent possibilities of social transformation. Insisting on the continuing relevance of analyzing the technical composition of labor for clues to the political and subjective capacities available for proletarian initiative—first and foremost, forms of struggle and of organization—Hardt argues that any viable renewal of the communist project must begin with a critique of political economy and an examination of already existing tendencies within capitalism: in the form of property, on the one hand, and the organization of the labor process, on the other. Here and in his most recent book with Negri, Commonwealth, he insists on the immanent nature of these possibilities and on the increasing proximity of a communist mutation. The emergence of the paradigmatic nature of immaterial property, whose internal structure no longer obeys the logic of scarcity, and the increasingly autonomous production of the “common” outside of capital both point to possibilities that are alreadyactual. In conclusion, Hardt argues that the common created by new forms of immaterial labor is, ultimately, subjective capacity itself: that is, not the production of commodities or of surplus value, but—and this is Hardt speaking—“forms-of-life.”
II. I want to keep this correlation between the common and the form-of-life that Hardt proposes in mind as I turn back to TIQQUN and their characterization of communism as the elaboration of the play between forms-of-life. To do this, I want to quickly formalize their own characterization of the form-of-life as it is presented in the first section of Introduction to Civil War.
We begin with bodies. There are forms-of-life because a body is never neutral. A form-of-life is what makes a body lean one way or another, what makes it fall in with some bodies and fall away from others. To be affected by a form-of-life is, then, to take sides; it is to favor one side rather than another, to be attracted by some bodies and repulsed by others. Forms-of-life are sensibilities, configurations of the sensible. They are worlds, differentiated by the difference between their logics of appearing. A consensus orders the internal composition of a form-of-life; between them, dissensus reigns. This dissensus is irreducible. It does not prevent the liaison between worlds; it is what makes possible the play between and among them. This process, the distribution of bodies according to their partiality results in the formation of parties that are, to use the minimal definition of the political found in Carl Schmitt’s The Concept of the Political, “existentially something different and alien” and whose concrete, real relations can be mediated neither by “a previously determined general norm nor by the judgment of a disinterested and therefore neutral third party.” In Introduction to Civil War, TIQQUN call this original inflection of a body’s course that makes it swerve toward other bodies, its clinamen. The theory of the constitution of forms-of-life is, therefore, rigorously materialist. As Lucretius and the atomistic tradition more generally contend, what precedes the formation of a world is merely the void and the bodies or atoms that rain down in parallel through it. Bodies encounter one another only with the intervention of an event that cannot be explained on the basis of the existing elements, the void and its bodies. This event, the deviation that makes bodies come together and, if their coming together takes hold, form a world is without reason and without why. Its occurrence can be explained neither on the basis of pre-existing conditions nor with reference to a final cause. The aleatory encounter between modies is, nevertheless, an irreducible fact, preceding any decision or choice. Freedom takes this form: either renounce one’s form-of-life and flee it, or assume this form-of-life in order to draw out it most inward possibility and, through a strategy of intensification, seek out its point of exhaustion.
A singular form-of-life’s force of existence is determined both by its internal composition and by its encounters with other forms-of-life: that is, by the “metaphysical disputes” and the “civil war” elaborated between and among them. Two bodies affected by a single form-of-life experience community. An encounter between two forms-of-life resulting in the elevation of communities degree of existence is friendship. Conversely, an encounter—like all encounters, contingent, unforeseeable, unavoidable—resulting in the elevation of one form-of-life’s power and the diminution of the other’s is enmity. For TIQQUN—in a gesture synthesizing Schmitt and Spinoza—this sphere of friendship and enmity, this space of good and bad encounters, is the sphere of the political. Its elaboration is the process of communism. “Civil war,” then, is the expansion of the area of friendship and enmity; it is, more precisely, a movement immanent to the Imaginary Party, an endless sequence of encounters that, at each instant, redistributes degrees of power according to the nature of those encounters and the quality of the affects that circulate within and among the parties involved. These sequences are less productive than aesthetic in nature, would work out, in detail, “the whole gamut of highly differentiated affects and all the crisply defined degrees of intensity that can arise when bodies come into contact” (24gA). The relation between forms-of-life can be described as the “play” between them because their relations are contingent, dependent on an encounter that can never be entirely anticipated; but this play must be elaborated in order that the consequences of an encounter are worked out, drawn out, refined, patiently and deliberately detailed. Because each form-of-life is defined is a singular distribution or sharing out of the sensible, what must be elaborated are differences in affective and tonal sensibilities, the entire scale of possible tonal variations that circulate within and between forms-of-life. These encounters are always open to the possibility of conflict, violence and even war since what is at stake is the elaboration of a difference, the distribution of degrees of power.
III. The ontological considerations of the first section of Introduction to Civil War are followed, in the second and third sections, with a history of the modern State told from the perspective of what they call, at one point, the “ontological obviousness of civil war.” This history, unfolding over the course of four centuries, arrives at a crucial, catastrophic point, dated by the text at around 1940:
Ultimately the “state-ification” of the social had to be paid for by the socialization of the State, and thus lead to the mutual dissolution of both the State and society. What THEY called the “Welfare State” was this indistinction (between society and state) in which the obsolete State-form survived for a little while within Empire. The incompatibility between the state order and its procedures (the police and publicity) expresses itself in the current efforts to dismantle the Welfare State. And so, on the same note, society no longer exists, at least in the sense of a differentiated whole. There is only a tangle of norms and mechanisms through which THEY hold together the scattered tatters of the global biopolitical fabric, through which THEY prevent its violent disintegration. Empire is the administrator of this desolation, the supreme manager of a process of listless implosion. (P47)
The importance of this historical argument outlining the transition to imperial governance is found not in the by-now banal and obvious thesis concerning the exhaustion of the State-form. What is at stake in this argument is a second, and more catastrophic, consequence: the volatilization and dissipation of the social substance itself, the dispersion of the conflictual unity of civil society in favor of a “continuous biopolitical tissue.” This argument represents the synthesis of two theses concerning the modern State. On the one hand, that of Carl Schmitt, who in the late 1920s and early 30s developed a theory of the “total state,” defined by the increasingly airtight identification of state and civil society and the resulting dispersion of the political itself, formerly monopolized and localized in the state, across the social surface. The total state, whose “soft” and “hard” variants are the social democratic welfare state and the fascist corporate state—their difference is one of degree, not kind—would make every point of the social tissue, whether it be the production and distribution of wealth or the sexuality and well-being of its population, a site of potential intervention and exercise of state power. Such a scenario politicizes everything; in turn, state power, immanent to a society it once hovered above in a claimed stance of neutrality, is revealed to be less a mediator and management of social conflicts than a party to those conflicts themselves, an agent in a low-intensity social war with no clearly identifiable front. On the other hand, and more importantly, there is the integration of Foucault’s theories on governmentality, specifically two theses. First, the immanence of power to society or a population results both in the absolute indiscernibility of state and society and, consequently, the supplanting of the institutions of civil society and their mediating function with an accumulation of apparatuses [dispositifs] and flexible norms that have no internal rationality and whose deployment is justified by no reason other than the maintenance of control over a determined point in this post-social bipolitical fabric. Second, the moment power becomes immanent to society, the nature of power itself mutates. Rather than acting on a given set of identities, desires and interests in view of organizing, training, managing or suppressing their energies, power assumes the task of producing those identities and desires itself. And yet, and here is the final phase of TIQQUN’s argument, contemporary imperial governance does not produce identities but ruins them; it steps in the moment the anthropological conditions of liberalism—the individual subject as a locus of interest—begin to decompose, producing in its wake not the individual but the “dividual,” the statistical deviation, the citizen as a calculable factor of risk. Imperial governance is founded, then, on these two conditions: the decomposition of the anthropological conditions of liberalism, the individual invested with interests, on the one hand, and the dissipation of the social or civil society, on the other.
IV. The most provocative theoretical intervention in Hardt and Negri’s most recent work is their insistence on the asymmetry between the social and the common and, by extension, between socialism the public ownership and management of the production process on the one hand and communism as the definitive collapse of the property form itself and the emergent autonomous production of the common. And yet the distance between Hardt’s proposal and that found in TIQQUN is easily located: in the absence of the problematic of production in TIQQUN, as Toscano has underlined, and the corresponding lack of any attention to so-called “immanent” possibilities of social transformation in their work. This lack of attention, is however, a direct consequence of the historical thesis cited above, a thesis Hardt himself at one point broadly shared: the withering, or rather, the implosion of the social itself and its replacement by a biopolitical “tissue” held together by networks of dispositifs and norms. The social as a system of needs founded both on the abstraction of socially necessary labor and the isolation of labor-power as the sole source and measure of value gives way to a profusion of apparatuses and techniques—the regime of work being the most crucial of these—whose function is the pure and simple implementation of discipline or command, without any pretense to mediate social contradictions and measure out the social substance. Production can only be, if we accept this historical analysis, the production of control: that is, precisely, the production of subjectivity. It is with this turn of events that it becomes necessary to distinguish the individuation of forms-of-life from the production of social relations, to draw a line of demarcation between the disputes between and among different configurations or distributions of the sensible—poles of affective intensity—and what Hardt calls the “sharing of resources” and the “modes of co-operation” characteristic of the relatively autonomous production of biopolitical capitalism.
In 1914, in his rage at the opportunism and social chauvinism of the Second International, Lenin thundered that the “the only correct proletarian slogan” was “turn the present imperialist war into civil war” (“War and Social Democracy”). TIQQUN, in a perverse way, do nothing more than repeat this slogan. They, too, with Lenin, cry “Let us raise the banner of civil war.” But between them lies the abyss between two imperialist wars and two figures of civil war. Civil war will no longer be the prelude to a socialization of production and the institution of worker self-management, nor will it play itself out in the asymmetry between dual powers or in the insurrectionary seizure of the productive forces and the machinery of state as a weapon in a war to destroy the class enemy. What they propose, instead, is a resurfacing, amidst the ruins of the social—a wreckage induced by the socialization process itself—of the political as such, that is to say, communism as the “play” between forms of life. This play will be less the ludic “playing with power” that characterized, according the Situationists, the joyous disorder of the Paris Commune than the disciplined “elaboration” of differences of power among communes. Civil war, then, as a highly refined game of alliances and avoidance; communism, then, as an art of distances.
In the fourth book of Spinoza’s Ethics, we read that a specific affect will endure as long as it is not “checked or destroyed by a contrary affect which is stronger than the affect which is to be checked” (EIVP7). Spinoza’s theory of finite modes considers these modes—that is, these collective bodies—in their dynamic interaction, in which their limits are defined by “mutual constraint,” that is, by the pressures they exercise on each other. The internal organization of a mode, the internal relations between its parts, varies at each instant, without these variations necessarily inducing changes in the mode’s characteristic structure. At each instant, then, a mode expresses a force of existence, a degree of power; to this degree of power corresponds an affective tenor, and with each variation in power, we endure a change in the sensible texture of existence, a change in the way we are what we are. It is Spinoza’s communist ontology that forms the horizon of TIQQUN’s identification of “communism” with the real movement that “elaborates, everywhere and at every moment, civil war.” I want to conclude, however, with a final remark about this term “civil war,” a term that has always been, since Plato, a conceptual thorn in the side of political thought. Some philological attention is necessary. For the term civil war referred to in the title is, in the first place, an abusive translation of the Greek stásis ).” If we turn to Nicole Loraux’s magisterial study of the signifier stásis, we are asked to heed the following precautions: “We need a language that can avoid referring to the notion of civil war, which I have used and will continue to use for lack of a better term. In bellum civile, the ‘vast mutuality’ of the Roman city is thought within the substance of war. Stasis is something different” (Divided 107-08). Stasis is neither sedition, secession or outright war between citizens. It is, as Loraux, beautifully formulates it, “movement at rest, a front that does not yield and introduces into the city the paradoxical unity that characterizes the simultaneous insurrection of two halves of a whole” (ibid.). This definition identifies civil war or stasis as both the free space within which forms-of-life can encounter one another as well as the principle or rule governing their articulation. Forms-of-life are parties whose “simultaneous” insurrection alone ensures the paradoxical wholeness of the common space they share or partake in.
I say by extension, but among the major differences between TIQQUN and Coming Insurrection is that the “communities” of the former are not organizational forms, but forms-of-life, that is, modes of existence.
“The War Against Preterrorism: The Tarnac 9 and The Coming Insurrection,” Radical Philosophy 154 (2009).
Michael Hardt, “On the Common in Communism”
Concept of the Political, 27.
Citation of English translation of Schmitt’s Concept of the Political, pp. 28-29n
“As Moses I. Finley notes simply and forcefully, stasis refers etymologically only to a position; that the position should become a party, that a party should be constituted for the purpose of sedition, that one faction should always call forth another, and that civil war should then rage is a semantic evolution whose interpretation should be sought not ‘in philology but in Greek society itself.’” (24)
“[E]veryone must take a side, for this is the only way to re-create a totality out of the divided city—that is, through the remainderless engagement of all its members—and the only way to glue the antagonistic halves back together. The apathetic citizen will thus be deprived of his rights as a citizen—he will be politically dead—as if stasis had taken on the role of civic duty. Neutrality does not exist” (103).
They took over factories in Italy, fought neo-Nazis and the police to a standstill, militantly opposed nuclear proliferation, squatted large urban areas, and attempted to transform gender relations and the politics of everyday life. Radical scholar George Katsiaficas discusses the formidable European autonomist movements of the 1970s and ’80s.
Franco “Bifo” Berardi, Italian political philosopher, writer, and media theorist, discusses money, precarious labor in an age of information and heightened alienation, and why a mantra might be a powerful weapon. He also talks about the autonomist movement in Italy in the 1970s and his involvement in the iconoclastic pirate radio station based in Bologna, Radio Alice.
“I remember very distinctly at the age of fourteen, a friend, who was verging on adulthood, announced to me that she was suicidal. I simply could not grasp the notion of ceasing to exist. I asked if maybe instead of killing herself she could just drastically change her identity and begin a different life… just say to yourself I’m no longer me, I’ll ‘kill’ me and just start living in some different way. It seemed to me very plausible and logical. Based on my optimistic and / or pragmatic approach to her suicidal urge, I never could have foreseen my own melancholic tendency toward listlessness, but I do have one. So what do I do when I’m listless? I kind of am now, and what if I said I’m too sad to tell you? OK, that’s a little forced, however, ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I tend to get depressed, and bogged down and sometimes even cry when my work is undone. That is when I start to think about following my old advice and start considering abandoning my identity. That would entail forgetting my past and all my handy anecdotes that reside there. More importantly – to abandon my identity – I would have to quit being an artist, quit doing art. I’d have to quit my job… and my job is my life. One hundred years ago, my favorite artist, author Robert Musil, wrote this in a letter to a friend: ‘Art’ for me is only a means of reaching a higher level of the ‘self’. One day ago, a friend of mine wrote, in a letter to me: ‘I think I am addicted… to my identity as an artist… (which is) probably detrimental to the ideal of art making itself, I think you realize this.’ I wrote back: ‘When I think about eradicating the identity – short of killing myself, incidentally or on purpose – the artist-ego always elbows in, making it all seem like a staged burning of the paintings, only to be followed by an exhibition of their ashes.’ And Zarathustra spoke thus: “I love him who makes his virtue his addiction and his catastrophe: for his virtue’s sake he wants to live on and live no longer.””
In a nutshell the notion of communisation is summed up by Gilles Dauve and Karl Nesic:
The idea is fairly simple, but simplicity is often one of the most difficult goals to achieve. It means that a revolution is only communist if it changes all social relationships into communist relationships, and this can only be done if the process starts in the very early days of the revolutionary upheaval. Money, wage-labour, the enterprise as a separate unit and a value-accumulating pole, work-time as cut off from the rest of our life, production for value, private property, State agencies as mediators of social life and conflicts, the separation between learning and doing, the quest for maximum and fastest circulation of everything, all of these have to be done away with, and not just be run by collectives or turned over to public ownership: they have to be replaced by communal, moneyless, profitless, Stateless, forms of life. The process will take time to be completed, but it will start at the beginning of the revolution, which will not create the preconditions of communism: it will create communism.
“Those who developed the theory of communisation rejected this posing of revolution in terms of forms of organisation, and instead aimed to grasp the revolution in terms of its content. Communisation implied a rejection of the view of revolution as an event where workers take power followed by a period of transition: instead it was to be seen as a movement characterised by immediate communist measures (such as the free distribution of goods) both for their own merit, and as a way of destroying the material basis of the counter-revolution. If, after a revolution, the bourgeoisie is expropriated but workers remain workers, producing in separate enterprises, dependent on their relation to that workplace for their subsistence, and exchanging with other enterprises, then whether that exchange is self-organised by the workers or given central direction by a “workers’ state” means very little: the capitalist content remains, and sooner or later the distinct role or function of the capitalist will reassert itself. By contrast, the revolution as a communising movement would destroy - by ceasing to constitute and reproduce them - all capitalist categories: exchange, money, commodities, the existence of separate enterprises, the State and - most fundamentally - wage labour and the working class itself.”
Value, like gender, necessitates its other, “natural” pole (i.e. its concrete manifestation). Indeed, the dual relation between sex and gender as two sides of the same coin is analogous to the dual aspects of the commodity and the fetishism therein. As we explained above, every commodity, including labour-power, is both a use-value and an exchange-value. The relation between commodities is a social relation between things and a material relation between people.
Following this analogy, sex is the material body, which, as use-value to (exchange) value, attaches itself to gender. The gender fetish is a social relation which acts upon these bodies so that it appears as a natural characteristic of the bodies themselves. While gender is the abstraction of sexual difference from all of its concrete characteristics, that abstraction transforms and determines the body to which it is attached — just as the real abstraction of value transforms the material body of the commodity. Gender and sex combined give those inscribed within them a natural semblance (“with a phantomlike objectivity”), as if the social content of gender was “written upon the skin” of the concrete individuals.
"As a designer, William Morris thought that interior design had a fundamental role to play in the transformation of everyday life. His hand printed textile and wallpaper designs are highly schematised representations of nature, where it is always summer and never winter; the plants are always in leaf, often flowering, with their fruits available in abundance, ripe for picking, and with no human labour in sight. This is a utopian vision, an image of Cokaygne, the medieval mythical land of plenty, but easily acceptable to the upper middle classes and even some aristocrats of the time. Today his work is very safe and comfortable, and his wallpaper and fabric designs are widely reproduced in machine printed form and can be found furnishing the most conservative semis of middle England. Although a form of democratisation of Morris’ designs, their wide availability is also a debasement, as a compromise is made whereby what Morris called ‘beauty’ is sacrificed for mass production. It is the space opened up by the contradictions between how Morris’ designs can be read, and how they have subsequently come to be used and understood, that the prints navigate.”
"Those of us with sex working experience have worked in many sectors of the industry, and from many perspectives: many of us are migrants, some are British; many of us work (or have worked) in criminalised conditions - for example on the street, or in working flats - and we’ve all worked for different reasons, at different times in our lives: to support our families; to support our drug use; for the flexibility; to fund our education, or simply because there has been no other work available, and we need to pay our bills."
Articles on: Arab spring, indignados, Occupy, England riots, austerity and anti-austerity; the logic of gender; class identity; Jasper Bernes on logistics, counterlogistics and the communist prospect; Chris Chen on race; redefining central concepts of revolutionary theory—spontaneity, mediation, rupture.
"Work is an idol, albeit a fallen one. Its imposition is no longer of a moral or religious kind (‘You shall gain your bread by the sweat of your brow’), but profane and down-to-earth. In some Asian countries, labour is now being disciplined better by the pressure of consumerism than by an appeal to Confucianism. In Tai-Peh as in Berlin, public concern is about creating and getting jobs, not suffering to enter some earthly or heavenly paradise. So work now calls for a critique different from the time when an aura of self-inflicted pain surrounded it. Mobility and self-empowerment are the present slogans of capital…In 2002, work rules, but the work ethic is no longer sacrificial: it calls upon us to realise our potentials as human beings. Nowadays, we don’t work for a transcendent goal (our salvation, a sacred duty, progress, a better future, etc.). The consecration of work was two-sided: any object of worship is a taboo to be broken. But our age is one of universal de-consecration. Transcendence is out. The pragmatic pursuit of happiness is today’s motive: we are Americans. This, however, does not lead to a growing subterranean rejection of work. A de-christianised society substitutes the desire to feel good to the fear of sin. Religion gives way to a body and health cult: the me generation is more concerned with keeping fit than saving souls. So work is no longer worshiped because it does not need to be: it’s enough for it to simply be there." (To Work or not to Work? Is That the Question?)