Saturday, June 6, 2009

Nihilist Communism

Nihilist Communism

A critique of optimism
-the religious dogma that states there will be
an ultimate triumph of good over evil-

in the far left

Monsieur Dupont


Printing organized and paid for by Monsieur Dupont

No ISBN no future

In the old style this book is completely anti-copyright. Please feel
free to use whatever of it you wish, in any way you wish, we would
be especially pleased if you turned it into a West End musical. All
we ask is that you read it carefully, thoughtfully and use it as a tool
for self-reflection. If we truly want to get beyond the limits of all
politics and all tyrant ideology then we have to understand what is
written in this book.

Monsieur Dupont 2003

Monsieur Dupont can be contacted at[??]

Box A
Mill Road

Or via

Red and Black Notes
PO Box 47643
939 Lawrence Avenue East
Don Mills
M3C 3S7

Also recently published: Wind-down of the Clockwork Lips Available from the above addresses



This is the definition of class hatred(preamble).....5


This is the fable of the thirsty crow...................8

Introducing Monsieur Dupont............................9

We start, as we end, in simplicity....................11

Basic statement..........................................14

On consciousness.........................................15

A qualification............................................18

"Working class consciousness"?.........................22

Further thoughts and explanations...................31

Summary and counter-interpretation................33

The dictatorship of the proletariat..................34


Is Lenin on sale again?..................................35

Identity politics..........................................43

Militants and otherness.................................45

Political priorities and consciousness.................46

On economic determinism and autonomism..........48

The revolutionary subject...............................52

A recap of our perspective..............................53

Now way out...............................................54



The Optimism of Revolutionaries......................55

Language and consciousness............................61

Recent interventions:

May Days, Palestine and the material base..........71

The Ticklish Matter.......................................83

Reply to "The Real Movement"..........................95

To get over the wall we first have to get to the wall..102

Some notes concerning the future proletatrian insurgency: The
Dynamics of "Protest" Seen in the Recent Petrol Blockades in

Only we can prevent mythology.........................112

Anarchists must say what only they can say..........119

Dear Freedom?.............................................132

More on anti-imperialism................................138

We're all Claire Short now...............................141

Political 'activism'........................................144

Becoming Human
Do nothing
Events and effects
Ideas and the limits of ideas in numbers


Movement and movements
Owners of consciousness
The spectacle
State Capitalism

Part Two

or The Inclusion of the Distributive Sphere

The inescapable condition...............................172
Cost effective individuality: Expressivity..............185
How many of you are there?.................................198
Stop thinking Expressivity, start thinking Transcendence..201



This is the definition of class hatred

Death appears as the harsh victory of the law of our ancestors
over the dimension of our becoming. It is a fact that, as
productivity increases, each succeeding generation becomes
smaller. The defeat of our fathers is revisited upon us as the limits
of our world. Yes, structure is human, it is the monumentalization
of congealed sweat, sweat squeezed from old exploitation and
represented as nature, the world we inhabit, the objective ground.
We do not, in our busy insect-like comings and goings, make the
immediate world in which we live, we do not make a contribution,
on the contrary we are set in motion by it; a generation will pass
before what we have done as an exploited class will seep through
as an effect of objectivity. (Our wealth is laid down in heaven.)
The structure of the world was built by the dead, they were paid in
wages, and when the wages were spent and they were dead in the
ground, what they had made continued to exist, these cities, roads
and factories are their calcified bones.

The had nothing but their wages to show for what they had done
and after their deaths what they did and who they were has been
canceled out. But what they made continued into our present,
their burial and decay is our present.

This is the definition of class hatred. We are no closer to rest,
to freedom, to communism than they were, their sacrifice has
brought us nothing, what they did counted for nothing, we have
inherited nothing, we work as they worked, we makes as they
made, we are paid as they were paid. We do not possess either
our acts or the world that conditions us, just as they owned nothing
of their lives.

Yes they produced value, they made the world in which we now
live. The world that now weighs down upon us is constructed from
the wealth they made, wealth that was taken from them as soon as
they were paid their wage, taken and owned by someone else,
owned and used to define the nature of ownership and the class
domination that preserves it.


We too must work, and the value we produce leaks away from us,
from each only a trickle but in all a sea of it and that, for the next
generation, will thicken into wealth for others to own and as a
congealed structure it will be used as a vantage point for the
bourgeoisie to direct new enterprises in new and different
direction but demanding always the same work.

The class war begins in the desecration of our ancestors: millions
of people going to their graves as failures, forever denied the
experience of a full human existence, their being was simply
canceled out. The violence of the bourgeoisie's appropriation of
the world of work becomes the structure that dominates our
existence. As our parents die, we can say truly that their lives
were for nothing, that the black earth is thrown down onto
them blacks out our sky.



There has been an increasing tendency within the pro-
revolutionary milieu towards theoretical error since the 1960's. it is
our intention to hammer in to the milieu some theoretical nails to
halt this slide. To this end we have produced two essays in the
hope that the trend may be reversed. The first essay deals with
the decline of revolutionary perspective into political activism. It is
our intent to strongly delineate the limits we have observed in
practical activity, revolutionary ambition, the make-up of the
revolutionary subject and the role of the pro-revolutionary minority.
The second essay deals with the manufacture of pseudo-
subjectivities and how they have been contained within capitalism
as elements of its own self-organization and maintenance
(spectacular forms, as the Situationists would say), it also
considers the alleged role of consumerism and the consequences
of prioritizing the anti-capitalist struggle in commercial and financial

Above all it is our intent to restate the character of the real struggle
against capital. Capitalism is not an idea and it cannot be opposed
by ideas or by ideas-driven action. There is no debate to be had
with it, it has no ideas of its own except to say that all ideas are its
own, it has no ideas intrinsic to itself.

Capitalism is, at its most basic level, a social relation of force.
Capitalist society is made up of conflicting forces and it is only at
this level that it can be undone, firstly in the collapse of its own
forces and then in the revolutionary intervention of the proletariat.
If capitalism is to collapse then it will do so at the level of the
relation of economic forces, all of which (for the moment at least),
and including the proletariat, can be said to be capitalist forces. It
is during the collapse that revolutionary ideas begin to take hold.



This is the fable of the thirsty crow

Long ago in a southern country there lived a crow of determined
character. One hot summer's day this crow was flying over the
baking land of that country and felt the fire of thirst in its throat. It
had flown this way many times before and knew of a river nearby
where it cold safely drink. But when it landed beside the river it
found not even a trickle of water for its need, the river had not
flowed there for many weeks.

the land about was so hot and dry, nobody could hope to find
even a drip of water there, but the thirsty crow had to drink or it
would die for the heat of the day. It hopped desperately about
the river bank in search of water, if only it could just fine one drop,
one drop in that terrible desert, one drop to keep it alive.

The thirsty crow was about to five up its search when it saw with
its black eye a stone jar set on a wall beneath an olive tree. At
once the crow flew to the lowest branch of the tree so it could look
down in the jar, and with excitement it found that the jar did
indeed hold some water.

Quickly the bid hopped onto the wall and thrust its head into the
stone jar but, alas, the water was too shallow and jar too deep,
the water was just out of reach.

Luckily the thirsty crow was an intellectual, it knew that if it knocked
the jar over, the water would soon be absorbed into the dusty
earth. So it became the crafty crow and performed an old trick
known since the beginning of the world by all the crafty, thirsty
crows. In its beak it carried small pebbles from the ground to the
jar. by dropping the pebbles into the jar it would make the level of
the water rise and when the water had risen high enough the crow
would be able to drink. The industrious crow dropped one, two,
several stones into the water, again it tried to drink from the jar but
still its beak did not reach the water. So, it brought more stones,
many more stones, each of them was patiently carried in the thirsty
crow's eak and dripped hopefully into the jar. The crow was at a
loss. It has no explanation. The water did not increase, the trick of


the pebbles did not work. Was it not well known that the stones
always made the water rise? In accordance with this law it had
brought stones. Had the laws been suspended? If not then why
had the water not rise? The silly crow could make no sense of it.
Crows may be crafty, industrious, credulous and even thirsty but
they know only one trick on hot, waterless, sun-blistering days. So
the stubborn crow brought more stones. Many more stones. In
fact, so many stones that soon the jar was overflowing with stones
and they began building up beside it but never did one drop of
water rise up to meat that dry and eager beak.

Angry and despairing, the thirsty crow looked ever further afield for
more stones to pile around the jar, it was determined not to give in.
Soon its desire for water was forgotten, it cared for nothing but the
bringing of stone to the jar. In this way the wall beneath the olive
tree grew taller.

It is not certain if this unfortunate crow died of thirst, or if its is how
religion first began.

Introducing Monsieur Dupont

We are two communists who, for several years, have been
engaging with the anarchist and communist milieu in Britain.

Monsieur Dupont is the name we have decided to use for our joint
theoretical activity.

This book is a composite of texts that attempt to outline our
discontent with the concept of consciousness and in particular the
way this concept is generally used by those who regard
themselves as revolutionaries. It follows that these texts are also a
critique of the roles that 'revolutionary experts' and activists have
given themselves.

Unsurprisingly our criticisms of the gestures made by pro-
revolutionary activists (those who are, like us, for communist
revolution) and the assumptions on which they have been based
have caused us to become completely isolated in regard to that
milieu. For undermining the practice that status of political activism
we have been vilified for being ridiculous and slanderous and


insincere; indeed this name-calling has spread like village
gossip, and no contemplation of our ideas is possible without the
unintelligent repetition of exact wording of this judgment on
our moral lapse and our outsider status before any consideration of
our actual ideas is begun. It is enough to say that there have been
sporadic attempts to have us 'expelled', shut up, and calls for
others not to read our wicked ideas. These disparate communist
tendencies (they rarely agree with each other) area at least united in
their opposition to our critique of all of them!

Most of what appears below was developed in discussion with the
Anarchist Federation (of the UK) and later posted to an
international internet discussion list of communists; both groups
adopted an attitude of hostility towards us; there may be the
occasional reference to these groups in the texts.

It is likely that there are small contradictions in our text, this is
because our ideas are not fixed but float about within a set frame;
we have encountered people who have expressed their hatred of
us by trawling our texts in hope of 'exposing' us, we do not
think this is useful, we are, however, happy to attempt to clarify
anything that seems self-contradictory in correspondence, but
equally, we hope that our correspondence will put some effort in
themselves and think beyond whatever problems they find.

We see ideas as a process and make no claims for the status of
our writing other than it being a 'work in progress'.

Finally, although we have postal address in Cambridge, UK, we
have nothing to do with the academia there, or the dreadful
bohemians who grow like fungi outside its hallowed halls.


We start, as we end, in simplicity

The closest that the world has ever been to communism (it
probably wasn't that close) was at the end of the First World War;
there has never been a time before or since when the world was
so open to the possible. But what are to make of the
inscrutable events of this near miss? How applicable are those
facts now? And what of the context? What value should we place
on our pro-revolutionary theory on the part played by the objective
conditions, that is, the conditions not created by revolutionaries?
Or put another way, how much of what happens in revolution is
not designed or led by revolutionaries?

Many pro-revolutionaries argue that there can be no revolutionary
attempt without the significant input of a revolutionary
consciousness, but we are not so sure. In fact we are so unsure
that we cannot grasp the precise meaning that they project onto
the terms 'revolutionary consciousness' and 'working class
consciousness'. We are also unsure whether these pro-
revolutionaries really have a grip on the concepts they perceive to
be indispensable. We try to keep an open mind about the events
that will make up the revolution but we fail to see a revolutionary
role for any form of political consciousness, revolutionary or
otherwise. Quite the contrary, when we consider past
revolutionary attempts and pro-revolutionary organization and their
political interventions we see in the function of consciousness only
an inhibiting influence.

In our opinion a great number of pro-revolutionaries hold onto the
'consciousness' model as part of the habit of being a pro-
revolutionary, it is woven into their being: they muse sell their
paper, perform actions that are designed to inspire others, and
defend the integrity of their group. However, we also think that
most of them (and this also includes most of those who do not
belong to an official group, and who don't produce a regular paper)
do not have a properly formed conception of what working class
consciousness really is, or a working knowledge of how it is to be
transmitted to those who do not have it

Some formulations of consciousness by pro-revolutionaries are
extremely naive, one recently informed that it was 'being
awake', we chose to consider and investigate this statement


seriously even though it was intended as a piece of malicious
flippancy. (To illustrate the tendency to move towards absurdity in
the pro-revolutionary milieu, we were then condemned by one of
his colleagues for formulating revolutionary consciousness as
merely 'being awake'). As a consequence of all this confusion we
intend to formulate our critique of the communist objective of
consciousness as slowly as we can, without, of course,
abandoning the graphic an passionate qualities of our prose that
so many people have told us they really enjoy...

We think revolutionary expertise, which bases itself in
organizational certainty and theoretical rigidity, measures only pro-
revolutionary fabrication, it has but one relation to actual social
conditions, which is that it is wholly unable to escape its
determinations. Predictions for the future are hypothesized
out of past happenings mistake the very nature of revolution, which
we all agree is an event that is precisely not conditioned by the
past and is characterized as a complete transformation of humans
existence out of the economic mode. If we cannot recognize the
future in the present then we cannot decide which pro-
revolutionary activity or value of the present should be promoted or
carried through to the future. It is our contention that most pro-
revolutionary activity extends existing conditions and acts to
prevent the future. We think many pro-revolutionary rather enjoy
the antagonism of capitalist society and the part they place by
supporting a 'side'.

We cannot say for certain what is to be done. What we do know is
that the past appears, in one form or another, in the present,
before our eyes, and from this appearance of dead forms we can
identify what we think is counter-revolutionary. For example we
see that consciousness is a concept that has been consistently
deployed n past revolutionary attempts and because those
attempts all failed the concept of consciousness and its role must
be questioned. Our critique of consciousness begins with our
understanding of the failure of revolutions: we see that
consciousness, as an ogranizing principle, has always been
deployed by a certain section of the bourgeoisie which seeks to
use working class muscle to gain political power for itself.

As an alternative to the consciousness, which is, of course, also a
'recruiting' model, we argue that once factories have been seized


by workers and capitalist production halted then through the
resulting crack opened up in the structure of capitalist society
humanity may find it possible to assert itself for itself. We therefore
see revolution in two stages: (1) the seizure of production by the
working class in pursuing its self-interest; (2)the collapse of existing
forms of power brought on by the contradiction of working class
ownership. The collapse of established power will bring a new
material base of human society into existence, drawing from this
base the mass of humanity will have the opportunity to remake

How the working class goes about the first stage of the revolution
we can only guess at, but we can surmise that things will follow
similar patterns (positive and negative) to events that have
happened before, and those who have studied such things (pro-
revolutionaries) will bring their ideas (for good or ill - but will
happen, as we can see in history) to the frontline of communist
activity during such times.

It may appear to some readers that our consideration of the
question of consciousness becomes a little obscure in places, a
complete refutation of the concept is quite complex, but is should
always be kept in mind that we are concerned with the second
most basic activity of pro-revolutionaries: the communication of
ideas and the explanation of actions taken. It may also seem that
we are only concerned with old left formations and theories, and
that anti-capitalism as it has recently appeared already outflanks
us by its very modernity. It is true that this text does not attempt to
engage anti-capitalism in the modality of its own language but our
project was begun as an explicit critique of present day anti-
capitalism, and has been continued as a critique with its left-
communist supporters. At all times in our critique, when we refer
to the concept of consciousness we are in fact addressing the
actions of pro-revolutionaries on consciousness: we could equally
use the words 'organization' or 'propaganda', the meaning of the
deployment of which is a conjecture concerning the profound effect
of directionless bodies made by the application of externally
organized catalysts. What we have in our sights are the underlying
motivation and assumptions of pro-revolutionary activists.


Basic statement

The working class, as the revolutionary body, do not require
consciousness but a peculiar alignment of events, and a series of
causes and effects which produces a specific economic crisis that
ends up with workers holding the levers of production.

The revolution has two stages. The first is this naked, non-
conscious holding of the productive power by the working class (that is
to say, of course, it is conscious and some consequences are
foreseen, there is a clearness of perception and a definite
awareness of relative forces but there is no alignment with the
archetypal codes of political consciousness: "liberty, equality,
fraternity"). We see that the working class arrive at this first level
of revolution by force of circumstance. In defending their own
interest in an increasingly unpredictable world, and with capitalists
bailing out, they end up, almost by chance, in a charge of the
productive economy. We say that their brief period of ownership
will occur by chance because it will not have been actively, or
consciously pursued - the proletariat will have consistently
asserted its own interest and this steady course, when taken with
general economic breakdown, will be enough to cause a
proletarian dictatorship.

A material base will begin to come into existence at this point,
and all human activity will be determined by, and be reflective of
these different conditions. The second stage of revolution is made
by the vast mass of humanity realizing what the essential
proletariat have achieved and then escaping through the hole
created by events. The second phase is about becoming human
and throwing off the economic model entirely, during this period
the working class will cease to exist, as will all social
categorizations, and humanity will organize itself and its
relationship to the material base by itself and for itself.

On the role of consciousness, of course, there is reflection and
understanding of what is happening but it is not consciousness in
the Marxist/Hegelian sense, which we characterize as the co-
ordination of pre-set values among a great many people as a
preliminary stage for engaging with the world. Therefore it is
possible that a world-wide consciousness could come into
existence because of revolution because consciousness is not a


precondition of revolutionary action but a consequence of
revolution accomplished.

On consciousness

Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after
they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.

Many pro-revolutionaries argue that revolution cannot happen
without a revolutionary will propelling the revolutionary body
forward. For them the revolutionary body must be conscious of its
goal and of the connection between its actions and the goals, it
must be aware of the consequence of what it is doing when it is
engaging in revolutionary activity. For many pro-revolutionaries
this means the revolutionary body must consciously embody both
explicit revolutionary and post-revolutionary values. The question
of consciousness is therefore absolutely central to the
revolutionary project and to pro-revolutionary practice. But certain
problems become apparent when consideration is paid to the
specific formulations of consciousness and the means of its arrival
of manifestation in the revolutionary body. The first of these is the
relative but objective separation of pro-revolutionaries form the
revolutionary body, there seems little in common between the
political values of the pro-revolutionaries and the economic
struggles of the revolutionary body. This separation is most clearly
stated in class terms: all too few pro-revolutionary are
proletarians, this immediate distance calls for solutions to the
problem of how to reach out to the workers, what language to use,
which short term goals may be pursued without compromising the
revolutionary project, which revlutionary values are appropriate
for expression in this situation, and so on. Most crucially there is
the problem of reproducing class relations within the revolutionary
movement middle class intellectuals as leaders are and workers as,
well, workers. From our experience of the current pro-
revolutionary milieu, we have found no serious theoretical address
of this problem. Most pro-revolutionaries have no clear-cut
definitions of what revolutionary consciousness is, or how it is to be
transmitted by pro-revolutionaries to the revolutionary body without
the contamination of class domination. We have found that pro-
revolutionaries are simply not prepared to discuss why it is that
revolutionary consciousness has been steadily leaking out of the


proletariat since 1945, and why after fifty years of pro-
revolutionaries 'speaking the workers' language' this drift has not
been reversed. They have been busily dropping pebbles in the jar
but the level of the water has not risen. Why has the pro-
revolutionary movement had no success in conveying its
message? Why has the working class not listened to its

Consciousness is a political category. A world-wide or even
national conscious proletarian identity would involve a high degree
of organization, which is another word for consciousness. There is
no objectivity existing, separate sphere of revolutionary
consciousness and certainly none that is owned by a particular
section of humanity; the working class especially do not own
consciousness, they do not own anything (except their
playstations). So, if revolutionary consciousness does not exist
objectively, that is, as an immediate determination of the material
base, then organizations must bring it into the world. Organization
carries consciousness into the world; as consciousness is not
present 'naturally' it must be transmitted by and organizing agency,
but which organization?

It is the pro-revolutionaries themselves who contribute
consciousness to the revolution, but unless we understand pro-
revolutionaries as being an objective expression of the negation of
capitalist society then we are bound to see both their antagonism
to all aspects of the existing order (and not just to some political
issues) and their role of transmitting to the working class values
that transcend existing conditions, as being more than a little
subjective and therefore fallible. Most pro-revolutionary groups
view themselves as being objectively constituted by the need of
society to overthrow capital and therefore they see themselves as
qualified to prescribe values and strategies to the proletariat. We
completely refute this assumption; all pro-revolutionary groups are
subjective bodies, created by the subjective will of their
participants, their perspective therefore never escapes their
subjectivity (if this were not so, then there world not be many small
pro-revolutionary groups competing against each other, but only
one organization. Of course, most pre-consciousness
organizations have a tendency to see themselves as the one true
faith, and on this basis launch their critiques of each other). Pro-


revolutionary groups are not the historic party, they have not
been thrown up by the economic base, they are not an
inescapable result of capitalism's contradictions. In most cases
pro-revolutionary groups are created in response to purely political
events and have little connection to workers' struggles. Those who
argue for the transmission of revolutionary consciousness to the
working class by pro-revolutionaries see their role, effectively, as
one leadership. It is interesting for us to observe how those who
argue for the 'transmission of consciousness' model do not
practically escape from the confines of their milieu and do not
reach the working class, they seem content to exhort each other to
be more realistic, speak in a language the workers will understand,
etc etc. But nothing ever happens, if these activists were any good
then they would surely be locally recruiting five or more new
adherents every week. The fact that the message is not getting
through is, for us, the final critique of the concept of 'messages'.
To see in advance what ideological requirements are to be met by
the proletariat, despite all experience of the failure of this method,
is putting the cart before the horse and is a good example of
impatience, this is as true for 'councilists' as it is for vanguardists.

Because pro-revolutionaries have to learned how to wait, have
not learned to engage at the level of their experience - they are
always wanting to lead the way, wishing forward their hot-
brained solutions - they are forever looking back and wondering
why nobody is following them. Theories of consciousness and
organization are always attempts to impose past reflective forms
onto living struggles - consciousness in these schemes becomes
a stage, a precondition for the revolution. These pro-
conscious/pro-revolutionaries think that no matter how intense a
specific struggle might be, it is not explicitly political then it is
lacking in essence and therefore not wholly real - to the struggle
they bring always the political dimension but never consider how
the political dimension may, in reality, be lagging behind the
economic struggle.


A qualification

Echanges et Mouvement,from their tentative Basic Principles:

"In capitalist society the true contradiction is not one of ideas -
revolutionary, reformist, conservative reactionary, etc. - but one of
interests. No kind of will or desire can overthrow commodity
production or abolish the wage system. This will only break down
as a result of class struggle arising from the very position of the
working class in the system of capitalist production. According to a
widespread opinion "class consciousness" and "unity" are seen to
e the main and necessary conditions for what is considered as
"revolutionary behavior" or as "working class action". This view
overlooks or miniterprets how action and consciousness are
influencing each other. Workers don't act as a "revolutionary
class" because first of all they are or become "conscious" of what
they want. "Unity" is not a precondition for, but is crated in, and
as a result of, struggle. Workers are a "revolutionary class"
because their position as a class inside the capitalist system
makes it inevitable that the mere defense of their own interests
brings them into direct opposition to the fundamentals of the
existing order. Such struggles are fought continuously in the
factories and elsewhere, and potentially they are revolutionary.
The development of class struggle with all its changing forms is
therefore far more important than the development of the so-called
"revolutionary movement", regardless of the meaning given to this
word. The break with any form of exploitation of political practice
and thought (reformism, etc.) is not a matter of theoretical
discussion and conceptions but a matter of class struggle and
workers' practice, a practice which is the result of their daily
conditions of exploitation."

The text continues elsewhere:

"The bulletin [Echanges] was started as a means of spreading and
receiving information. Those participating in this project decided
not to bother with the clarification of standpoints held in common
(which usually accompanies the birth of a new group) but to accept
the exisiting tacit agreement. The basic implicit agreement which


underlay the content and form of the information published was
still badly defined at the start, but as the project developed, it
revealed a sufficiently unified approach among participants even f
participants were very diverse as explained above.
"This tacit agreement expressed itself in the analysis of various
phenomena of the class struggle taking place every day and
placed in the context of a more general understanding of the world.
These phenomena include what many other people think to be
individual forms of protest which are in fact part of a collective
movement (e.g. absenteeism, turnover, refusal of work, etc). This
is necessarily linked to the critique of the existing theories of
modern society.
"To do this, we must have information about these conflicts and
theories. If inside Echanges we sometimes draw different
conclusions from a specific fact or from a set of facts, we still think
that the information which describes these facts should have
certain qualities. Here too, a few simple principles guide our way of
selecting the information published in the bulletin...
"The raison d'etre of the bulletin is directly determined by the
double inadequacy of the official means of information: lack of
information on class conflicts, exaggeration of the importance of
political and economic information (two ways of making reality).
"Hence the double task of looking for information concerning the
experience of struggle of all sorts and of making a meaningful
choice from the mass of political, diplomatic and economical news.
"Class stuggle exists and develops independently of these
"revolutionary groups" or "movements". The level and size of the
so-called "intervention of revolutionary groups in the struggles"
never determine or fundamentally influence the level and size of
working class struggle. We may be individually involved in a
particular struggle or because we participate in one or another of
the host of temporary organisms created during a particular
struggle and for that struggle alone. We consider that outside
these struggles and exchange of information, discussions and the
seeking of theoretical insights are an essential instrument of our
own activity which eventually might serve others as well."

Despite their brilliant, simple and clear wariness of
"consciousness" a problem remains with the approach of


Echanges. This is that they are too, as it were, polite, and they
seem hesitant about the possible concrete role of left and pro-
revolutionary individuals and groups in moments of intense class
struggle (and even revolution). In their introductory text and
elsewhere Echanges appear coy about what they are doing
themselves and what practical effect they might have. It is clear
that their journals are only read by those who might understand
them, that is, a thin scattering of radicals across various countries.
Their journals are read by people who are like themselves, and not
by the working class in general or even by the workers involved in
the struggles that Echanges report and analyze. Echanges are
absolutely right about how the working class might become
revolutionary, but they seem to fail to acknowledge the role that
their readership and themselves (those who might understand
what they are talking about) could have in present class struggles
and future ones.

Because their modesty forbids them to give this scattering of
radicals, themselves included, any real importance in the
development of events they fail to see, or explain, just what it is
they are doing, or think they are doing. Of course, they are right to
understand that they have no (or extremely little) effect on class
struggle in the present time, but their modesty seems to have led
them to deny the role they have now and might have in the future.

What we have to understand is that the effect that we might have
on left radicals (that is, the only people who are able to listen to us)
is very important because, whether we like it our not, many of these
individuals will come to the fore in the times of revolutionary upheaval.
This will be due to their prolonged interest in "changing the world",
their knowledge of what might happen in certain situations and
their general silver-tongue-edness. Thus it is most important and a
matter of constant urgency that we engage this disparate group in
dialogue in order to get as many of them as possible to ditch their
leftist/liberalist/statist/managerial, etc, convictions and take on
communist positions. The process of development must be done
by engaging people bot on paper, in jouranls, and at discussion
meetings, and also in areas of practical struggles. [It goes without
saying that we can also engage, as a separate activity from
"political" work, with our fellow workers in struggles at our


workplaces, in the knowledge that we may also be listed to in
these situations, where rather than trying to install "consciousness"
we will provide, or suggest, concrete tactics and strategies.]

Echanges say that their "activity... eventually might serve others
as well", but they do not explore what this means in any real depth.
One reason why Echanges do not seem to explore this aspect of
their activity might be because the truth of what they must do, by
their own logic, is to actually go against most of the "revolutionary"
communist and anarchist milieu. The difference between
Echanges and the rest of the communist milieu is over the concept
of "consciousness", which Echanges almost completely reject. To
take the logic of their position into the arena of the communist
milieu, as an explicit argument, creates the risk of being totally
rejected by that milieu. To examine the concept of consciousness
in any depth leads to the equating of that concept with leadership
and organization of the working class by "revolutionary experts".
To go down this theoretical road leads to the realization that in an
important aspect there is little real difference between the projects
of anarchism and most of communism and their supposedly deadly
enemy, Leninism. If one is going to make this conclusion then one
is going to lose most of ones "friends" in the political milieu.
Echanges seem to have tried to avoid this, and, indeed, because
of this they have had some limited continuing respect amongst the
communist milieu down the years. [Monsieur Dupont have no wish
to be so circumspect.]


"Working class consciousness"?

1) The reason MD advocate the possibility of revolution via the
intervention of a relatively, numerically, small section of the
proletariat is very simple, we see that only a relatively small section
(a vast minority) of the proletariat have potential power over the
process of capitalist production.

The acts of most people do no effect the world but function at a
level wholly contained effects of the world's turning. In contrast
the proletariat's anti-act, the act of non-production or of ceasing
work, instantly has effect (like in a dream) on capitalism as a whole
(in the past few months, lorry drivers, postmen, tube workers and
now railway guards have stopped sectors of the British economy).
Most workers are now employed in sectors that are peripheral to
the economy's well being., if they take industrial action it causes
inconvenience only to the immediate employer and perhaps a few
companies up and down the supply chain. In contrast the
essential proletariat is that group of workers who can halt vast
areas of the economy by stopping their work.

These workers are employed in the economy's core industries,
industries that can only operate with a relatively high level of labor
input into their processes, which give to those workers an already
existing control over process; core workers' latent power can be
demonstrated immediately in industrial action which spreads its
knock-on effect to all businesses in the locality and beyond,
producing spiraling repercussions in society. Core-workers
include factory workers, dustmen, power workers, distributions
workers (post, rail, road haulage, ferries, dockers, etc); in all of
these examples the cessation of work causes immediate and
widespread problems for the economy, and this is why it is
precisely in these industries that wildcat action is more frequent,
quite simply, industrial action in these industries has a history of

Our certainty concerning the revolutionary potential of the essential
proletariat is not at all founded upon a presumption of the
superiority of life lived as a proletarian, or that working class
existence is an end itself that should be pursued by pro-
revolutionaries. We do not see the modes of working class
organization as an indicator of a possible, post-revolutionary


future, nor as an inherently preferable, that is, more morally
pure, existence in the present, as compared with middle class life.
We say this because these are the pretended presumptions of
many inverted snobs in the 'class struggle' movement, they tick off
proletarian characteristics like naturalists identifying a separate
species. We do not pointedly prefer football to opera, we do not
think it is better, more pure, more human to be poor than to be rich.
We do not think it is inevitable that human kindness is more likely
to be encountered in working class individuals than in middle class
individuals. We do not think working class people are better than
anybody else because they have been defined as belonging to one
or other social category. We are not interested in working class
culture. We don not accept that you can be working class if you are
not employed as a worker no matter what your family history (this
is not intended as an insult or slight on people's sense of
themselves and where they come from, but we are bored with
university lectures who use 'life was hard back then' as a means
of asserting their authority). Quite simply, we see the working
class as being an economic function organized as part of
capitalism and not an ethnic identity, if you are no longer employed
as an industrial worker then you are not and industrial worker. The
same goes for industrial workers when they are on holiday, off
sick, in the pub, or indeed anytime when they are not present on
the actual production line, that is, anytime they are not working or
having an effect on their work (in official or unofficial industrial
action, when they are preventing production).

We are not interested in theoretical expanding the working class
to include all militant formation from blacks, gays, women,
disabled peasants; we are not interested in the working class
becoming more human (that is, more political) by means of a
raising up through consciousness. We do not celebrate the
working class: working class life is rubbish, it is not a condition to
be aspired to, and the past thirty years of pro-revolutionary
fetishization of the proletariat as a thing in itself (the legend has it
that the leftists group Militant, used to force its activists to war flat
caps and donkey jackets on their paper sells so as to 'fit in') has
mistaken and confused the actually power of the working class and
reduced the proletariat to the status of just another oppressed
minority. Finally we do not endorse the delinquency of the
underclass or interpret it as rebelliousness, we see permanent
delinquency as the psychological absorption of dehumanization, no


more than a v-sign offered by one who is standing in quicksand.
Underclass delinquency fulfills the function ascribed to it by the
state: it causes life, particularity that lived on the housing schemes,
to be even more constrained than it is already employment.

The working class is nothing but the collective position of those
who are brought closest to the machinery of the capitalist system;
a human function in the capitalist machine; the working class are
the revolutionary body because of, and only because of, their
position in the capitalist economy, they are the one social body that
can close the system down.

From our experience we see the proletariat as being made up of
many individuals, all different, and with just one thing shared by all
of the - they have the same economic position, they all have the
same functional status (labor) and all have the same economic
value (wages). If general circumstances force you to work in an
essential industry (and by essential we mean those industries that
will make the continuation of capitalist society impossible by their
absence) then you are a proletarian, this social status is not
something to be fetishized, it's just a fact. The working class is
merely a function of the capitalist economy. We are interested in
the proletariat only to measure that the proletariat literally has
in its hands the levers of capitalism's power. Only those who can
be effective will be effective.

As for the left, everywhere we see unresurrectable and useless
acts, which no matter the intention connect only with institutions
that were formed ages ago: revolution has become, for too many,
the smashing of mirrors - at the moment this is called anti-
capitalism. There are no revolutionary means of connecting to
society, there are no means of escaping absolute containment by
institutional determinations, except in the locus of production;
factory production is where society's power originates and it is the
only place where it can be directly engaged for certain; outside the
factories all is spectacle, all is mirrors. Every non-productive social
form is more of less unreal and engaging with them in political
terms is always a move into falsity.


How is an anti-capitalist protester going to change the world?
By what mean exactly? We have given our formula, yes it is
simplistic, it is materialistic, mechanistic even, but even so,
everything in the world is made, and power derives from the
control of this making, if the making is stopped then the source of
this power is interrupted, that is our formula. So now let us hear
the plans of the anti-capitalist, what fro them is the source of
capitalist power, how is ownership maintained? How are the anti-
capitalists to engage the power they have theorized, and how to
overthrow it? If it is a good recipe then we shall use it, if however,
it begins: first take several million assorted people over the world
and get them all angry about the conditions of their life, and induce
them to catch a plane to some foreign city to march down the main
thoroughfare, perhaps breaking a few windows, then we say this is
not a good recipe but a continuation of miragic democracy by
means other than the vote.

The world will not be changed by millions of people voting for
change, or demonstrating for change, because capitalist power is
not constituted with reference to human feelings: political desires
and demonstrations, which are the social forms consciousness
takes, cannot touch capitalist domination but are merely
determined by it. We have no place for consciousness in our
scheme, we see no need for a generalized formulated desire for
revolution. Revolution belongs to the mute body and its resistance
to, and its giving out to, the imposition of work, what is needed in
the revolutionary struggle is precedence given to the needs of the
body (consumer culture is a contemporary echo of this). The
slogans are not inspiring or romantic: more rest, more pay, less
work, no deals on productivity. However, once this demand-
regime is set in motion it cannot be side-tracked except by
counterfeit political demands, or formulations of radical
consciousness made by those who seek to lead it. Once the body
tends toward rest, it cannot rid itself of that inclination unless it is
roused again to work for some political vision. In short the struggle
of industrial workers against capital will be conducted entirely in
selfish terms, which in the end describes itself as the struggle
against work in the interest of highly paid sleep. In the present
nothing has significance but the desire to extend half-hour lunch
breaks into hour lunch breaks. If all pro-revolutionaries grasp this


they will stop worrying about the precondition of consciousness.
It is within the political-economic figure of the imposition of work
and its negation, which is comfort, that pro-revolutionaries could
make a contribution to their workplace struggles. The struggle is
against the maximization of productivity and for the maximization
of rest, if workers could win their struggle in these terms then they
will have broken up the basic mechanism for the capitalist system.

The struggle of the body for rest is not the revolution, it is merely
the crisis of capital. A crisis because it brings the massed,
accumulated, fossilize acts of the past and the
sedimenting/accumulating dead acts of the present, along with the
possible conditions for the future, together in collision and in this
standstill all value ceases to be enforced, leaving the world in a
kind of zero hour/zero place where everything is contestable (when
the traffic stopped last September during the Fuel Protests, a man
on a bicycle passed me and said, 'I can hear the birds singing' - we
have heard what economic collapse sounds like). When industry
stops everything in society, otherwise absolutely determined by it,
floats free from its gravity. In this particular crisis of capital all hell
breaks loose; then comes the time for organization, you can call
that consciousness if you want. We don't care.

2) The question of consciousness is central because of the ease
by which it is defined and this counterfeited. The proximity of
consciousness to ideology is undeniable, a change in conditions
renders a truth false. Because this is what we are talking about
isn't it? Truth and Falsity, consciousness and ideology?

Our position is simple: all consciousness is in fact, by a roundabout
route, ideology. Consciousness is the appearance in thought of
the forms and content of objective conditions. We know that
objective conditions are capitalist and are anti-human, therefore it
would be naive to place any faith in the transformative properties of
consciousness if it fails so easily under the command of, and
exploitation by, the owners of material conditions.

Everything that appears (even the struggle against capital) is
mediated through infinite filters, nothing political has a direct
relation to the base. The truth and values that pro-revolutionaries
assert are equally subject to the distorting pressures of the


economy as are Religions, entertainments and reformist politics
(does no the 'party' or group have to be preserved as a thing in
itself, kept going by small clerical acts and cash raised? The acts
that uphold the group are not in themselves revolutionary and have
no connection to the revolution, they are dead acts, they are
labor; the group is maintained as the church is maintained: by
accumulation). All pretensions to consciousness are determined
by the same forces as ideology, they cannot escape their
determinate conditions, and so cannot be identified except as
ideology (more or less true, more or less false), these are not
grounds for building a reliable foundation for revolutionary practice.
In practice, the revolutionary subject (the working class) cannot
recognize consciousness, or it cannot distinguish it from ideology:
why, it may ask itself, is the truth of this agitator before me more
true than the truth of that last one which was proved by my
experience to be a lie, (and proved objectively in the ideological
co-option of every revolutionary body that has so far existed).

We are interested in the critique of the concept of consciousness
because many messiahs and spoonbenders are currently standing
up and demanding participation in the struggle against capital on
their terms (for example, the English website for the 2001
Barcelona anti-capitalist protests claimed the possibility of a pre-
revolutionary situation; this has proved to be, and was always
anyway, completely false). Our self-appointed task is to go around
pricking these millenarian bubbles if only to save gullible
individuals the costs of air travel and involvement with
opportunistic and exploitative groups (Globalize Resistance, for
example, rented a train - as you do- and ran an excursion down to
Genoa, thus the reinvention of the package holiday, or is it the
International Brigades? But this group or any other similar has no
presence in the estates where we live or our workplaces, it does
not touch real life; recruitment of those with disposable incomes
goes on, as does the process of accumulation in the name of

No amount of anti-capitalist protest can lead to a 'pre-revolutionary
situation' (by what mechanism would it force itself into a position of
revolutionary subject?) but the protests are called for in terms of
'raising consciousness' or, as some say, 'political radicalization',
but if the call to arms is false (that this is some pre-revolutionary
preliminary, and a stage in building consciousness) then surely the


consciousness raising aspect is, in fact, a lie and is therefore a
bomb-the-village-to-save-the-village ideology, which is something
we cannot accept. Even for buffoons like us in MD intelligence is
always negative, critical, so it is politically vital that our first reaction
to pro-revolutionary manifestations is one of cynicism. Praise and
affirmation of the pro-revolutionary milieu is the greatest sin of the
pro-revolutionary; it is not our job to affirm anything.

One defensive definition of a revolutionary consciousness we have
recently encountered is 'a definition or a tendency to action on the
part of the 'working class' (meaning: consciousness arises within
the workers in their daily struggles). We agree with the sentiments
of this 'definition' but we do not call it consciousness - for us
consciousness also includes a concept of overcoming present
conditions, of having a map of where everything is going to end up,
it therefore describes a position of objective authority which we do
not think is possible without a lapse into ideology - we do not think
the proletariat can possess consciousness until capitalism is
finished, otherwise it becomes reified and establishes specific rules
of behavior where certain interests are surreptitiously maintained
in present conditions, the stability of which become the end of
those who claim to desire their overthrow.

Consciousness, or overcoming the present situation with a
'strategy' or an intent to reorganize society as communism, must
come at some second stage of revolution, after the conflagration,
and from new material conditions. We said we agreed totally with
the definition above but that we do not call it 'consciousness', we
prefer the term 'interest'. In our scheme the working class act out
of solidarity in opposition to capital because they must defend their
interest, it is possible that the working class will never escape
'trade union' consciousness (ie. being selfish and without
tranformative vision), that is, they will never stop seeking to
defend their interest, never get past wanting more pieces of pie.
This is fine by us, it is possible that the working class could drive
capitalism into collapse and effect their own erasure and never get
beyond a bodily, single-minded pursuit of their own selfish interest.
So long as the proletariat's demands stay within 'economic' terms,
that is, so long as they remain impervious to political temptation
then so long do they stay on course for naked conflict with the


bourgeoisie in the factories: political demands obscure the clarity
of self-interest, political compromise in the times of crisis can easily be
reached: it doesn't cost the owners anything, which owner lost out
when the workers got the vote?

It is possible that the dictatorship of the proletariat itself would be
organized (and then left behind as unsatisfactory and self-
contradictory) as a more developed form of interest. This will
develop, perhaps, along a line of the social institution of efficiency
and use value, basically establishing a supplier-interest by getting
needed products to the populace (but then, or course, technology
is not neutral and much of what it produces is not useful and will be
necessarily abandoned - so the dictatorship will temporarily be
over a materially much more basic standard of living).

In short we see no need to marry the proletariat to consciousness
and therefore see no need to theoretically expand the proletariat to
include everyone (that is everyone paid 'a wage' regardless of
social status), which is the traditional means by which pro-
revolutionaries can inject consciousness: industrial workers can
use their revolutionary muscle and teachers and social workers
can bring the ideas (as if!).

For us the revolutionary function of the proletariat is very
mechanical, and only a relatively small number of people will be
significant in the mechanism. On the other hand we think it is
important that other groups also act selfishly (the disabled for
example, or local communities) and so drain energy from the
authorities: these other social and political struggles are marginal
and cannot finish the job (they cannot seize the means of
production) but they are never-ending in that they are concerned
with the articulation of needs which cannot be satisfied. However,
we think the damage caused to capital by the anti-capitalist is
outweighed by their falsification of their own role, that is their false
representation of, and hopes for, consciousness and the political
sphere in general and their neglect of production.

Incidentally, it may seem that our formulations of how a revolution
could take place are rather dystopian, a-human; certainly it gives
us little pleasure to slowly erase our previously held leftist


tendencies but at least our concepts are clear and lay down
precise criteria. This cannot be said of most pro-revolutionaries,
who get extremely vague when discussing how such-and-such of
their gestures will engage with, let alone overthrow, present
conditions. We would, perhaps, place more trust in pro-
revolutionaries and thus in a human-based, participatory
revolution, if it were not for the lamentable history of ideas-led
revolutions. Pro-revolutionary practice is synonymous with rivalry,
personal ambition, corruption, stupidity and failure. If the
supporters of these groups did not continue to predict imminent
revolution because of what they are doing and did not adopt a
slavishly affirmative attitude towards their groups, and if they could
maintain a skeptical and critical perspective then the meaning of
themselves might amount to more than the feeble attempts to
alleviate their personal experience of alienation by universalizing
their rebellions and resentments. It is our lot to be bequeathed a
legacy of bad acts, which forecloses the possibility of all acts. It is
our personal experience that 'revolutionaries', as often as not,
behave very badly in ethical terms (the surrendering of the Mayday
2001 crowd to the police in London being the latest example of
losses and defeats incurred through ridiculous stunts), as if their
heightened political consciousness gives them the right to neglect
ordinary decency; this degeneracy is characteristic as much of
anarchists as Trotskyites, anybody in fact, who thinks they have
consciousness and cannot bring themselves to reflect critically
upon it. So there it is, revolution cannot be left to 'conscious'
human actions and our only hope lies in the structural conflict of
social forces created by capitalism/the economy - again, the blind
mole tunneling in the dark.

Note, aside, interjection: We do not pretend articulacy in any
specialized language, our position is developed through our
personal experience. We, as MD, are not interested in explaining
capitalism as a totality of processes and forces, which we feel is
beyond our capabilities, we are content to describe capitalism as
we experience it directly. This is probably the source of our
'difference' to other pro-revolutionary groups. For example, the
theoretical conception of the working class in pro-conscious and
political terms by many pro-revolutionaries is unacceptable to us,
and we fail to see the purpose in these fantastical conjectures if


the pro-revolutionaries are in good faith. How can anyone say
the working class should act politically? surely this goes to the
heart of the problem of consciousness and the function of the
working class; it is not for the working class to support or oppose
nations, fascism, democracy, or any other political form; how could
this opposition organize itself? How could the Kosovan proletariat
oppose Serbia, or the Serbian proletariat oppose Slobbo, or indeed
the proletariat of the West oppose NATO? To live in a European
slum is surely better than dying in a concentration camp but how
could the proletariat intervene and make a choice in such an
alternative? The working class is not a politically constituted body,
it cannot make final judgments on political question by making a
bloc intervention - political strategies are more likely to divide the
working class than unify it, which is the purpose of democracy.
Politics always functions to obscure self-knowledge of self-interest.

Further thoughts and explanations

We do not say that consciousness is impossible although we
suspect it is (otherwise why has it been forgotten? How did it pass
into non-existence so that we must talk about it being resurrected
before a revolution can take place?), we simply cannot see
consciousness competing with ideology under present conditions.
Therefore, we suspect that all pretenses at consciousness in the
past shows themselves to be ideology that is, we suspect that all
ideas-led revolutions in the past were not a realization of working
class consciousness in society but seizures of state power by the
bourgeoisie, who used 'revolutionary consciousness' as an
ideology. The ruse of higher imperatives masked the illegality of
their appropriations. None of this necessarily forecloses the
possibility of an authentic consciousness, it is possible that the
great spirit of enlightenment will descend into the clayish heads of
the masses and they will at last see the truth. But we should all be
very skeptical when it is claimed that this is actually occurring. It
seems to us that every half-definition of consciousness given to us
during the months we have been formulating our critique is
precisely what we define as a leadership impulse - we have been
disappointed to discover such disagreeable codes flashing though
the texts of our comrades.


We think everyone we have so far encountered and who
supports the consciousness figure means exactly what we accuse
them of: there is always present in their theoretical models the
fundamentals of force and of hierarchy. even when they abase
themselves before the proletariat muttering, "we must learn from
the struggle itself." The pedagogic relation of revolutionary to
worker is downwardly directed. Even among, or especially among,
those who appreciate the centrality of the workers to the revolution
it is given that the workers' struggle must be politicized.

And then among the anarchists there is outright contempt for the
working class, 'the willing slaves' who comply with their bosses
and do not rebel, of these passive and useless automatons, the
pro-revolutionary group substitutes itself and its direct action; the
struggle becomes that of active groups against the state and so,
even in the heart of libertarianism, the concept of a vanguard and
substituted elite takes hold. because they have not addressed the
issue of what consciousness is, anti-capitalist groups model
themselves on and crudely reproduce previous authoritarian forms
based upon a conceptualization of passive masses and active

One of our critics wrote: "We must insist on 'opening up specific
struggles', on calling for their extension, generalization, on fighting
corporatism which wants to enclose workers in their little corner
with their specific demands...". These sentiments form the dreary
end of almost every single leaflet that emerges from the
communist camp. But the deliberate expansions and connections of
struggle always follow the line set by those doing the expanding
and connecting, the line deployed by these revolutionaries are not
purely objective but are developed subjectively and therefore carry
their own cultural/political baggage (you still meet anarchists who
go on about the struggles of the Irish and Palestinian 'peoples'
despite anarchism's explicit refutation of national liberation
struggles); in other words it is easy to vaguely call for the
expansion of struggles but that expansion has to have a specific
content and it is this political content which we reject - if this were
not a problem then there would not be thousands of tiny
revolutionary groups in the world, there would only be only be one all
inclusive revolutionary party; the fact that we all disagree with each


other even though we are all more or less saying the same thing
is the final disproof for consciousness, in the same way all the
various religious sects in the world are the final disproof for the
universal message of The Word of God.

Summary and counter-interpretation

Our main critique of the pro-revolutionary groups is simple and is the
form of a question: what do pro-revolutionaries do (and what is the
use of consciousness) when there is no revolution? The answer,
'make revolution', recreates the separation of 'the movement' from
'the people', the cycle of representation, leadership, the
reinstitution of particular cultures as universal objectives begins
again. Whilst the answer, 'build the movement up so it can force
conditions of revolution' merely initiates a cycle of accumulation.

From one perspective it could be argued that we, at MD, are
among the conscious, or the most pro-consciousness in the
pro-revolutionary milieu: we are against the reification of
consciousness, against its every political manifestation, against its
ownership and definition, against its subjective organization by
small groups that have no relation to the revolutionary body but are
related to, determined by, and cannot escape from the economic
base (as is the case for all social entities).

We are pro-consciousness if you understand our arguments as
being carried by the Hegelian stream: from simplicity towards
higher simplicity by route of the complexities of alienation; just as
in Marx, history rise from simple communism, and ends in
communism proper. We are certainly pro-human, and wish to see
the return of humanity to its essence as a simple, that is as a non-
alienated existence. Like Bataille said, as water moving through


The dictatorship of the proletariat

We would re-emphasize that we do not see the working class take
over of the factories as a revolution as such but simply the downfall
of capital, we see the revolution (and communist consciousness)
arising after this period of crisis when a a new material base of
reality is coming into existence
: we see revolution as being in two
stages (as we believe, did Marx) and it is in the second stage, the
becoming human stage, that the vast mass of human beings
participate (via consciousness by which we mean
organization/common values, etc, which is determined by the new
material conditions). The occupations of the factories are only a
means and not an end, therefore we are not 'ultra-councilist' as
those who would marginalize us would have it; we do not propose
workers' councils at all, we do not presume to call for any specific
political institution, we leave that to the participants at the time.
We say only that, for capitalist process to be suspended, the
ownership of production must directly pass to the workers, without
any mediation by political institutions or bodies.

Incidentally, by factory workers we mean those employed under
factory conditions and this includes distribution staff etc, we mean
those workers who have the power to stop the economy (this
shop-workers, teachers, politicized groups, the
unemployed, ethnicities and other marginal categories).


Our experience, and the experience of proletarians, is that there is
always more going on in revolutionary groups than the stated aims
and principles and it is this which has so thoroughly cheesed
everyone off with revolutionary consciousness (the reproduction of
leadership structures and authoritarian tendencies). The non-
appearance of consciousness in the working class is its critique of

The absolute refusal of pro-revolutionary groups to recognize the
failure of all pro-revolutionary groups in communicating their
message can only be explained if the communication of messages


is secondary to a leadership impulse. We see Lenin
everywhere, yes like Banquo's ghost, and a line of kings rising up.
We cannot bury him deep enough and no matter how e pile the
dirt on his head he reappears in every tuppenny-hapenny anarchist
group and communist sect. We are obsessed, this is the job we
have awarded ourselves.

Given the terrible history of the revolutionary movement and its
betrayals of the working class surely it is imperative that every pro-
revolutionary group reaches the level of integrity whereby it is able
to recognize and denounce its organizing tendencies and look for
other ways of acting. We do not say what pro-revolutionary groups
should do, we only say what they should not do; we also say what
we do, we are open to this critique, and welcome it.

Is Lenin on sale again?

When the way is lost the traveler looks up to the heavens, worlds
without number.

When the nightstorm wrecks the ship, the waterspouting survivor
embraces dawn's wavelapping shore.

When the gods fail and the harvest is lost, the good soud stares
into the totem's eyes.

We are searching for signs.

We are waiting for the mute and closed face of the objective to
speak to us.

We desire the affirmation of external forces, let the authority of
history affirm the rightness of our actions, for are our acts not

But only the sound is the winter wind singing in the wire, we are
alone and rudderless.


But what is really going on when pro-revolutionaries begin their
back to basics campaigns? Our engagements with other pro-
revolutionaries on the issue of consciousness are always re-rerouted
in a "going back to see what Lenin (and Kautsky said". The
search for legitimizing authorities happens when there is nothing
else to say, when the most important thing is to silence those
people whose proposals are taking the issue terrifyingly beyond
the confines of the sacred tradition. The star is Lenin, the shore is
Lenin, the fetish is Lenin.

We are slightly disoriented by the need for Lenin, we do not
share it, we cannot empathize. In this deity, this heavenly body,
this mariners' dreamed for horizon, we see only a gaudy statue, a
hole in the sky, a treacherous reef. It seems, in moments of crisis
and doubt, that many communist turn for home, to where they feel
most comfortable. They fall back to the fortifications of previous
positions. Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom,
let it be. The comfort, the authority, the harbor's arms. When
communist theory degenerates it does so always along the same
lines, like in timelapse films of fruit rotting in a bowl. The ecstatic
rebellious moment is one thing but how long can it be sustained
against the onslaught of ceaseless experience.

Is not all 'movement' the progress of decay?

Retreat is the removal of oneself under pressure of hostile
circumstance to a place of relative safety. In ideological terms it is
more than this: retreat is falling back onto the political frames that
really shape the 'revolutionaries' ambition - retreat is the stripping
away of ideological gloss and becoming what you really are. Thus
the common practices of right and left totalitarianisms in the
1930's; 1960's radicals becoming stockbrokers or youthful rebels
turning out like their conservative fathers; we hear the radicals talk
of anti-capitalists but we see int heir actions the creation of
alternative markets: we have seen many pro-revolutionary groups
and individuals retreat into personal nastiness in response to our
critique and thus exposing their true characters. During critical
events, or over time, we see who people really are, the radical
guise is dropped because of a perceived urgency or simple
exhaustion at maintaining the pretence, the false prole accent


adopted by Brighton activists is given up when they give up and
get on with their career.

In the fuel protests of 2000 the left and the greens forgot about 'the
police state' and eagerly called for a clampdown on
fascist/polluting lorry drivers who were "undemocratically holding
us all ransom". And during war there are an embarrassing many
who lose their cynical attitude and find a reason to become
patriotic. Which is the worse spectacle, leftwingers berating the
working class for their lack of enthusiasm for leftwing politics or
leftwingers berating the working class for their lack of enthusiasm
for war? The most repulsive attribute of the left is that first they
have to blah blah blah about how radical they are and then they
have to blah blah blah about their conversion to the the right. They
never shut up. It is possible to perceive a common driving force in
apparent adversaries: behind the rhetoric of political left
and right is the orchestrating interest of the owning class. So,
when we talk about consciousness and, in response, others look
for quotes in the collected works of Lenin, we seem them as being in
retreat, both refusing to engage with our ideas and refusing to
engage with the failure to achieve the purpose of their groups. We
see in the retreat to Lenin a revelation of many authoritarian
characteristics in small group life, the dominant motive of which is
a search for a means to shut us up. This is one source of our anti-
consciousness position: consciousness, and the owners of
consciousness, cannot be trusted because, quite rightly, under
pressure 'beliefs' will be dropped in favor of underlying class
interest. Middle class radicals will always revert to class affiliation,
no matter the political content of their values. The reality of the
world is that of defending the class-interests created by capitalism,
the only way to get beyond 'interests' is the collapse of its
determining frame.

Every 15 year old pro-revolutionary is disgusted by the figure of
Lenin, only later do they learn 'realpolitik' and swallowing their bile,
assert in the face of their own political defeats and
disappointments, 'at least he was right', he was right because he
won: and it is this achieved power, this victory, that excites
admiration. The seizure of state power seems real enough; real in
the sense that it appears to escape the determination of events by


conditions; by force of arms he did what he meant to do, and
this is the definition, is it not, of revolution? Or is it really? Wasn't
this just a case of inter-bourgeois strife, just spectacle played
around the shifting techniques of exploitation.

And so it is that every year some downhearted group, lost in the
desert, must turn to Lenin's writings for inspiration, so that they can
cut through the mess that surrounds them, so that they can start
again from the source. But there is no determinate connection
between Lenin's dullard writing and his Machiavellian genius for
political action. There is no example of Leninism that is not simple
Garibaldism, or Robespierreism, no example that does not finish
up in nationalism , does not end with lesser Lenins like Gerry
or Nelson Mandela, Carlos, the RAF and E. Germany and
Syria, anybody for the heroic PLO against the fascist Jewish state?

In the Russian Revolution we see two movements, one the
spontaneous abandonment of war and the nation, the dropping of
weapons and the seizing of land and factories; the other the re-
territorialization of the existent Russian revolutionary movement
onto the model of 1789 via an ideology that fetishizes state power
as a neutral, objective technique. Lenin belongs in world history
books because he was deployed by Germany as a weapon in the
Great War, without that aid he would be another Herzen, so what
can he say to us now?

For Monsieur Dupont, Lenin is as far away in time as Robespierre,
whereas we find Marx modern. This is because Marx failed, that
is, he remains human, he did not merge himself with an existent
political power, did not link into the carousel of ruling class forms.
Hegel observed that falsity is a moment in truth, the ideas of Marx
did not coincide with reality and therefore were in error and so fix
themselves to truth because thy negated actual conditions. In the
same way, we are not so harsh of pro-Leninists like Luxembourg,
Gramsci or Lukacs, who railed in the manner of Marx, and not that
of Lenin. They were quite wrong in their attempt to fuse their
theories with Bolshevik practice, and so, regardless of their intent,
and even in their affirmation of falsity, we can uncover some
viable negation, something useful. The actions of Lenin on the


other hand were very appropriate for the moment, being
affirmational, they belong to falsity.

What is the motive for the return to Lenin? It is a noted historical
phenomenon that religions are revitalized, become fundamentalist,
immediately preceding their abandonment: there is always one last
great bonfire, cathedral build, sacrifice of innocents, before
indifference. Groups and ideas decay always along the same lines
because they always encounter the same boundaries to their
effectiveness. The typical pro-revolutionary response to this
frustration is to bring in an element from the outside which is
intended to trump the impasse of present conditions but serves
only to suppress the function of the group. A better response
would be a clear eyed evaluation of failure and the limits of group
effectiveness, at that point you will find the end of the expediency
of consciousness. We see the return to Lenin in people's
responses to us as, on the one hand, an affirmation of the need for
a 'revolutionary movement' independent of the working class with
the Bolsheviks as the model (because they were the winners, they
are our example - there are some people who have tried to shut us
up, or expel us from debate, who perhaps are our own little
contemporary Lenin's. Bless them), and on the other hand it
seems to 'revitalize', previously subdued, Trotskyist (Leninist)
roots. More vaguely, but influencing every move the internet
discussion forum of communist where we have had much of this
debate, there is a Leninist urge to get to a stage of defined
position; the idea of the final word and supra-historical principle are
the great temptation. If we have not numbers then at least we can
have truth?

MD think not. Truth is always in numbers - curse the working class
- all they do is drop their guns, go home and start ploughing the
landlord's land again, damn them, it's so easy for them, and here
we are, revolutionary heroes, brooding on our non-connection.
The defeat of the revolutionary working class, their enclosure and
extermination is the truth of the Russian Revolution, and not Lenin
at all: why didn't they leave any writing that we could go back to
when we are presented with our own defeat?


We see the retreat by pro-revolutionaries to previous theoretical
fortifications as a complete loss of nerve, and an ugly
conservatism. When all pro-revolutionary theory of the Twentieth
Century was about leaving Lenin, we see this absurd return to
Kremlinism as anti-historical. The truth of our situation is precisely
the impossibility of the return to Lenin. The ambitions of a few in
seeking this reinvention of marxist-leninism, or even the pursuit of
their own taking leave of Lenin, is an attempt to escape addressing
actual historical conditions: it is a mad-eyed flight, a nervous taking
hold of neglected idols. There are no atheists in foxholes indeed.
The point is this: ever year, dozens of pro-revolutionary groups
expire, they go from theorizing themselves as revolutionary
vanguard, bringer of truth, to simple non-existence in months and
get this: the world neither registered their presence nor placed a
stone over their demise. Nobody took any notice, let alone cared.

We are not Lenin, the vari-determined Lenin, (who was only Lenin
because of a long-lived Russian pro-revolutionary milieu which
gave him his meaning and status, and, who was only Lenin
because of the intervention of the German state). Fortunately we,
the pro-revolutionary milieu, are more than Lenin, or less than
Lenin, we can never repeat his entrepreneurial audacity, that
market has been cornered and exhausted. It is possible that we
are nothing but he dying echo of that Bolshevik, that we are
figments of his cross-sectioned mind, we are becoming an
exaggerated periphery, further and further removed from reality,
sent on long ago issued order now irrelevant to the situation, and
as his significance fades and he becomes just another Black
Prince, we find ourselves mere archaeological curiosities. The
pro-revolutionary milieu is becoming irrelevant and we think that
this is a good thing. Our ineffectiveness means we escape the
damnation incurred by all those who impose themselves and do
not understand that they have been imposed upon by conditions
they have not considered. We, this political milieu, are destined to
become all those groups of the past that laid down and died
because in their vainglorious aspirations to be a historic party
they became irrelevant.

Some talk of "when such a ('revolutionary') movement gets off the
ground", and in this very affirmation demonstrate their reluctance


to engage with the 'why' this movement has not got off the
ground since 1939; they want to go back to a time when such
movements were possible because political revolutions are the
only revolutions that they can conceive.

We shall put this simply: there is no revolutionary movement.
There was a revolutionary movement but it collapsed because it
turned out not to be a revolutionary movement at all but an
ideological mystification of social and economic relations and
processes (ie., a political interpretation of capitalist social
mechanisms which saw itself as the mystified solution to the
mystified problem); it is possible that there will be, in the near
future, a revolutionary movement of the kind some hope for but it
will not really be revolutionary even though, or especially because,
it says it is.

We view revolutionary and anti-capitalist movement not as
mistaken forms of otherwise correct positions but as capitalist
movements in themselves; revolutionary movements effect only
the reorganization of capitalism and as such, at the end of their
acts, words are breath, are pro-capitalist. To be a Leninist is to be
as much a capitalist as a Keynesian, Trotsky was as capitalist as any
other liberal reformer. There are different forms and interpretations
but theoretical maintenance of the working class as workers
(whether for state owners or green collectives) and the emphasis
on the re-organization of production (whether in terms of
nationalism or with reference to the environment) means they
are always within the capitalist frame of definition.

Do these 'revolutionary experts' with their vague appeals to
'consciousness' think that nobody else has tried to build exactly
what they desire to build? They want to go back to Lenin but there
have been thousands of revolutionary groups, parties and
individuals in the eight decades since 1917, all of which failed. Do
they think their personal ardour is enough to bring billions into line?
These billions have not come for Lenin, or any other 'socialism' for
fifty years and nor will they. There is nothing any of us can do to
bring them to consciousness. Some of us, beginning with MD, do
not even wish for the 'movement', that means to an end which


always becomes the end. We wish for the opposite, for the
movement not to come into existence.

Let's accept it: the pro-revolutionary groups that exist and that will
come into existence will never escape the smallness of their
numbers, there will never be a mass revolutionary movement.
Now it is for us to understand precisely our smallness by
contemplating the smallness of all the small groups that
thought of themselves as a 'party', who equally awarded
themselves the right to talk turkey with the objective, just as we do,
those who called for the masses to join them or for the masses to
join some organization not yet in existence but to be forged out of
our consciousness and their number.

Let us contemplate that call for revolution in the terms it has been
set, and the dearness of the ears to which it was intended. If the
conditions of present reality allowed for a revolutionary movement
it would come into existence because a base of mass social
militancy would produce a receptivity for political messages. Even
so, a self-proclaimed mass revolutionary movement would still be
counter-revolutionary, but we are content that present conditions
have slammed the door on the possibility of such an eventuality.
There is not now and there will not be in the future a revolutionary
movement that is really revolutionary, and to look for it, plant for it,
or organize for it is futile and willfully ignores all past pro-revolutionary
forms and their fate.

The communist milieu will never be more than a few dozen and
each of us in our agitating will never contact more that a few
hundred. The structure of capitalism determines that only a few
dozen people will have revolutionary consciousness under these
conditions. The distribution of, and possibility for, communist
consciousness is something never adequately explored by the left-
communist milieu, which assumes a priori that all may acquire
consciousness as the Catholics believe we might all be saved, or
in the same way as the American dream says we can all be
millionaires. Of this were not so, in our everyday lives without even
trying, we would meet at least five people every week who we
could recruit into our organizations (or informal groupings), every
week our organizations would be growing. That is the necessary


ground in a world of billions of people for revolutionary
consciousness to form. It is because this ground does not exist,
because each of us are not spontaneously encountering hundreds
of would-be revolutionaries every year that the problem is not one
of 'getting' a message across. Information has removed the
meaning from all 'messages' and this is why we must consider
concepts of crisis, collapse and economic struggle within the
sphere of production, in other words, concepts that do not rely
upon political forms and their distribution. [The archived contents of
this discussion list should be available to anyone with internet
access if they contact the group Internationalist Perspective, or the
web page of Wage Slave X, or contact R&B Notes]

Identity politics

We do not know what anyone means when they describe the
proletariat as a social category. If they are implying that the
working class as a social body have something between
themselves other than their experience of work then we utterly
reject this. MD have a penchant for Champagne and Tarkovsky
movies whereas our neighbours prefer White Lightening and WWF
wrestling, our economic position, however, is identical. We refute
all identity politics as ideology and we absolutely refuse to view the
proletariat as a political/sociological constituency equivalent to
ethnicity, gender or sexual preference. The proletariat has no
existence independent of capitalism.

There is no space in the world that is not ultimately dominated by
capitalism - the proletariat is always collectively determined by
capitalist pressures. When/if the proletariat abolishes capitalism it
will be driven into that position by capitalist imperatives. There is
nothing outside the dominion of capital, perhaps occasional
fleeting moments, but not culture nor social form, how could there
be? To assert that there are other, as Autonomists do, processes
by which value is generated independent of capital is to mystify the
nature of exploitation. Activists go looking for signs, they create
narratives whereby discreet events are connected togetether in a
totalized movement towards revolution, they tend towards an
uncritical acceptance of liberationist politics which they see as part