Contrary to the petty Puritanism of those bourgeois scientists who, for centuries, have been describing the primitive societies as unspeakable monstrosities, as beastly societies, not human yet, evoking pictures of barbarian dragging their women by the hair and unchristian love, "Quest of fire"-style,... revolutionary Marxism analyses these primitive societies as being natural communities, as being primitive communism. Where those narrow-minded pen pushers see nothing but barbarism, we see the expression of "what is human in man" (Marx), that is, societies which ignore the separations between labour and leisure, education and pleasure, man and nature, life and death,... real communities where there is no class, no state, no private property, no family,... where the communal being of man is nothing else but man himself, where the atomised individual, so cherished nowadays, does not exist, where the community corresponds to the interests of the species.
"In natural and primitive communism, even if humanity is kept within the bounds of the horde, the individual does not seek to steal from his brother's welfare, and he is ready to sacrifice himself fearlessly for the survival of the great phratry." - Bordiga, "In Janitizio we do not fear death" -
And despite all the trash spread around by our "professors", it is getting clearer and clearer that these primitive societies, this natural communism, were societies of abundance in which, moreover, there existed rites for the redistribution of riches, for the destruction of surplus (e.g. the "potlatch" amongst the Iroquois...) (2).
Yet, if we regard primitive communism as an embryonic prefiguration of the future human community, it is nevertheless true that this community was still imperfect and limited (we do not intend to revive the myth of "paradise lost") because it was strictly subordinated to the external natural conditions, inclement weather, melting ice, earthquakes,... which at times, caused scarcity and therefore the necessity to produce stores, to accumulate. The dissolution of natural community through exchange - brought about, on one side, by the accumulation of surplus for exchange, and on the other side by scarcity (the first and essential scarcity being historically that of women) - first takes place on the outskirts of the community, and then causes more and more strongly the gathering and hunting societies to become agricultural/stock-breeding societies, which means: production for exchange, emergence of value and then of money as a medium of exchange, expropriation of men, division of labour, division into classes etc., in short, the destruction of primitive communism and the emergence of class societies and the State as the organ defending the interests of the ruling class - a process summed up here in a few lines, but which actually lasted thousands of years.
Alienation, in the Marxism sense of dispossession, or more precisely extraneousness (3) appears along with the dissolution of the primitive society, but, in these societies, prior to this extraneousness there existed an alienation: natural alienation. This natural alienation is of course qualitatively different from the alienation/extraneousness such as it is developed in class societies and culminates - absolute domination - in the capitalist mode of production. Indeed, natural alienation derives from the necessity to explain, to understand natural phenomenon which seem unconceivable and unearthly, and which determine the whole life of the community. That is why all the cults, myths, divinities,... in these communities refer to the essential elements of human life, of reproduction of the species: fecundity, sun, life, moon, fire,...
"Religion, as the word tells it, is a relation between the beings. It appears only when the activity of men has been fragmented, just as their community has been fragmented. It makes use of the rituals, the magic, the myths of previous societies. Before that, there was no religion." - Camatte, "On alienation" in "Capital and Gemeiwesen -
That is also why these myths, these rituals,... expressions of the primitive communal life, represent much more an outline of human consciousness than of a false, mystified consciousness: religion.
"The myth, in its innumerable forms, was no delirium from minds which had their physical eyes closed to reality - natural and human reality in an inseparable way as in Marx - but it is an irreplaceable step on the only way towards the real conquest of consciousness which, in class forms, is built through large and distant revolutionary rending, and which will develop freely in the classless society only (...). Well, these myths and these mystiques were a revolution; the respect and admiration that we show for them, as struggles constituting rare and remote movements forward through which human society progressed, are in no way lessened, for us, by the fact that their formulations are awkward and those of our doctrine have another texture." - Bordiga, "Comments on the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts" B
Though these phenomenon are by no means understood consciously, the primitive man finds a solution for them, a mystical reason; but this mystification is not external to life, is not inhuman - reality is merely distorted, mystified by the very limits of the primitive man. The alienation has still a human character. The representations of primitive life - which have become, in value societies what they call "art" - even when distorted by the mystique, are not yet totally separated from life itself, "art" is not yet the lifeless representation of survival, because there still exists an art of living.
The dissolution of the community, just as it means separation among men, brings about all the separations; alienation becomes purely inhuman. The stronger the development of the several kinds of class societies, the stronger the dispossession of man, his material dispossession, hence that of his consciousness.
"In the form of exchange, of money and of classes, all sense of the perenniality of the species disappears, while the sordid sense of the perenniality of saving arises, embodied in the immortality of the soul which acquires its felicity outside nature, with an usurious god managing this odious bank. In these societies that pretend that they have raised themselves from barbarism to civilization, one fears personal death and one prostrates oneself before infamous mummies, even like the mausoleums in Moscow." - Bordiga, "In Janitzio we do not fear death" -
The worldwide domination of capitalism is radically different from all the previous modes of production, with its universal essence as a precondition to the unification of the history of humanity. Capitalism is not just the product of the simple linear succession of the modes of production, which preceded it in such or such geographical area; its presupposition is the world market. Thus the capitalist mode of production is the first worldwide mode of production - the only one that destroys and unifies all the other modes of production which co-existed before (feudalism, slavery-system, Asiatic mode of production,...) and at the same time makes of communism a possibility and a necessity. Capitalism thus synthesizes and simplifies the class antagonisms, which have made the entire human prehistory; the fundamental contradiction now lies between capitalism and communism, between bourgeoisie and proletariat.
In this contradiction the proletariat is the negating pole, the art of destruction. And whereas capitalism sums up the history of the ruling classes, the proletariat sums up and makes possible the everlasting struggle of the exploited classes (cf. Spartacus, T.Munzer, the Anabaptists, the Enrages, the Levellers, etc.) (4). Therefore, as Marx says, if "the propertied class and the class of the proletariat present the same human self-estrangement", it is the proletariat only that embodies, that personifies, in destitution, the revolt against this destitution, "a revolt to which it is necessarily driven by the contradiction between its human nature and its condition of life, which is the outsight, resolute and comprehensive negation of that nature." - Marx, "The holy family" -
Capitalism, which concludes the cycle of value (in generalizing to the whole world the commodity production - formula M-C-M'), sets the serf free from his last fetter - the tie to the glebe -; but, just as it frees him from this tie to the ground, it breaks the last link that still bound man to nature, and which, moreover, enabled him to subsist, since, in the feudal social relations, one part of the serf's labour-power was owed to himself, the other part being owed to the lord. The free serf - that is, the modern proletarian - is thus left with his labour-power and his children as his only property (5).
"Light, air and the simplest animal cleanliness cease to be human needs. Filth, this corruption and putrefaction which runs in the servers of civilization (this is to be taken literally) becomes the element in which he lives." - Marx, "Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts" -
It is in, and through, this total destitution that the proletariat finds out its destructive power; having nothing to lose, it has everything to win. As Lenin said: "What we want: everything". Here we find again, in the utmost atomisation of the "proletarian citizen", in his "liberation", the base of the community of capital, the negation of classes: democracy (6).
"Feudal society was dissolved into its basic element, man; but into egoistic man who was its real foundation. Man in this aspect, the member of civil society, is now the foundation and presupposition of the political state. He is recognized as such in the rights of man. But the liberty of egoistic man and the recognition of this liberty is rather the recognition of the frenzied movement of the cultural and material elements, which form the content of this life. Thus man was not liberated from religion; he received religious liberty. He was not liberated from property; he received the liberty to own property. He was not liberated from egoism of business, he received the liberty to engage in business." - Marx, "On the Jewish Question" 1843 -
The emancipation, the liberation achieved by the bourgeois society is thus the liberty to be fully exploited, the complete dispossession of the proletarian is his liberty to be forced to sell his labour-power, in order not to starve. This constrained act of sale/purchase of human labour marks the completion of the historical process of dehumanisation. Alienation/extraneousness is total; man is nothing but a mere commodity, a dead thing. Man's alienation is wage-labour, alienated labour, alienation of labour. It is this act of sale - commodity exchange - that totally separates the workers, the producer from the means of production. He is compelled to sell himself, in order to be able to value himself with means of production which are alien and external to him though they actually are nothing but crystallized human labour.
"The worker puts his life into the object and this life then belongs no longer to himself but to the object. The greater his activity, therefore, the less he possesses. What is embodied in the product of his labour is no longer his own. The greater this product is, therefore, the more he is diminished. The extraneousness of the worker in his product means not only that his labour becomes an object, assumes an external, but that it exists independently, outside himself, and alien to him, and that it stands opposed to him as an autonomous power. The life which he has given to the object sets itself against him as an alien and hostile force." - Marx, "Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts" -
The product of labour is, therefore, an object alien to the worker, which dominates him. The worker does not dominate the machine; it is capital, the social relations, the wage slavery that dominate the worker's life in a totalitarian way. Thus the capital social relations appear too as an external, alien, somehow "natural" power that dominates the proletarians and which, furthermore, seems eternal. What is more, alienation of labour also means that work is not a natural need to which worker submits willingly, quite the contrary, since it is the only way for him to satisfy his vital needs. Thus the historical struggle of the proletarians against alienation is their struggle against work (7).
"The external character of work for the worker is shown by the fact that it is not his own work but the work for someone else, that in work he does not belong to himself but to another person. It is the loss of himself." - Marx, Id. -
Yet, at the same time, this "loss of himself" makes it materially possible for the worker to become aware of this loss, to struggle, to destroy this wage slavery system.
"That is to say, it is true that the worker is objectively transformed into a mere object of the process of production by the methods of capitalist production (in contrast to those of slavery and servitude) i.e. by the fact that the worker is forced to objectify his labour-power over against his total personality and to sell it as a commodity. But because of the split between subjectivity and objectivity induced in man by the compulsion to objectify himself as a commodity, the situation becomes one that can be made conscious. In earlier, more organic forms of society, work is defined 'as the direct function of a member of the social organism' (Marx, "A contribution to the critique of Political Economy"): in slavery and servitude the ruling powers appear as the 'immediate mainsprings of the production process' and this prevents labourers enmeshed in such a situation with their personalities undivided from achieving clarity about their social position. By contrast, 'work which is represented as exchange value has for its premise the work of the isolated individual. It becomes social by assuming the form of its immediate antithesis, the form of abstract universality.' (...). Above all the worker can only become conscious of his existence in society when he becomes aware of himself as a commodity. As we have seen, his immediate existence integrates him as a pure, naked object into the production process. Once this immediacy turns out to be the consequence of a multiplicity of mediations, once it becomes evident how much it presupposes, then the fetishistic forms of the commodity system begin to dissolve: in the commodity the worker recognizes himself and his own relations with capital. Inasmuch as he is incapable in practice of raising himself above the role of object his consciousness is the self-consciousness of the commodity, or in other words, it is the self knowledge, the self-revelation of the capitalist society founded upon the production and exchange of commodities." - Lukacs, "Reification and the consciousness of the proletariat", Merlin Press -
This long quotation explains the permanent and tendency-like process that goes from "the self-consciousness of the commodity" among the atomised proletarians, from "non-class", up to the constitution of the class into "class for itself", the conscious class organized into a party (8).
Thus we have seen that the essential characteristic of the capitalist mode of production lies in the fact that:
"In the first place, it produces commodities. But that does not distinguish it from other modes of production; it is rather that the prevailing and decisive feature of this production is to be a production of commodities. That implies first that the worker himself appears only as seller of commodities, hence as a free wage labourer and therefore that labour appear essentially as wage labour... The main agents of this mode of production, the capitalist and the wage-labourer, are as such mere embodiments, mere personifications of Capital and Wage Labour." - Marx, "Capital", Book One -
It is therefore the commodity that determines life; in order to exist under capitalism, everything must posses the characteristic of a commodity, that is, the quality of exchangeability: to possess an exchange value (9), in addition to its support, use value. The human labour power thus becomes something alien to man, a commodity, a mere dead, inhuman thing: this is objectification. From this, it ensues that for the proletarians:
"The relations connecting the labour of one individual with that of the rest appear, not as direct social relations between individuals at work, but as what they really are, material relations between persons and social relations between things." - Marx, "Capital", Book One -
Under capitalism, man is but what he brings, what he possesses as value to exchange. Money totally replaces the community, for the only thing that men have in common is their possession of a more or less great sum of money. It is money that connects the separated, extraneous beings; their relation is totally inhuman, is monetary. It is under the form of money that capital appeared historically. Money is the universal mediation; everything must become money (see Marx - Grundrisse, The Chapter on Money -). An example of this community of money is marriage which - beyond the discourses upon crazy love and love at first sight - is nothing but the sharing, with a monetary contract, of... misery. "Money is itself the community and can tolerate none other standing above it" (Marx).
Thus the worker appears as the owner of the commodity-labour power, and he sells himself, as a thing, with it. The process of extraneousness is therefore twofold: it appears first through the separation between the human forces and the products of their creators' labour, and then with their autonomization; the consequence of this is: the man is dominated by the material objective form of his own labour (10). Thus the fetishist character of the commodity is unveiled: every social, human relation under capitalism must assume the characteristic of a commodity (11), and therefore appears as a relation among dead, non-human things.
"Because the relation of the producers to the sum total of their own labour is presented to them as a social relation, existing not between themselves, but between the products of their labour. (...) There it is a definite social relation between men that assumes, in their eyes, the fantastic form of a relation between things. (...) This I call fetishism which attaches itself to the products of labour, so soon as they are produced as commodities, and which is therefore inseparable from the production of commodities." - Marx, "Capital" Book One -
The general characteristic of the capitalist mode of production lies in the fact that the production of relations among men settles not only for things, but, above all, by means of things. The commodity (and its fetishist character) being the obligatory mediation of all production, all the relations among men, and especially those between proletarians and bourgeois, are being veiled, mystified extraneous. The general form of this phenomenon is reification. And this relation among reified men is itself represented by a personified relation - personification of the capitalist production relations - with, on the one hand, the capitalist, and on the other hand, the proletarian - both being expressions of the bourgeois social relation.
"Economy does not deal with things, but with relations among persons and, in the last instance, between classes; now these relations are always connected with things and appear as things." - Engels, "About Marx's Critique of Political Economy" -
We shall have to decompose artificially, into two parts, the whole process of reification, in order to grasp its distinct yet inseparable elements:
A) Reification is the process through which the capitalist production relations (which determine the relations among men, essentially between capitalists and proletarians) bestow a definite social form, or definite social characteristics, upon the things by means of which men enter into mutual relations. This is objectification.
B) What enables the owner of things having a definite social form to appear in the personified form of capitalists, and to enter into concrete production relations with other men. This is personification.
In other words, under the capitalist mode of production, the relations among men assume the general character of a commodity - exchange value, exchangeability - and therefore become reified relations, relations among things - sale of labour power for a wage. But these reified relations which have become external, dominating things (simply because they seem to have proprieties "of their own") are themselves personified by the capitalists, "living" representatives of a relation among dead things. "The capitalist is merely capital personified" (Marx, Capital). And of course, the fetishist character of the commodity reaches its highest point with value, which begets itself, with money begetting money. Money possesses the inhuman gift of begetting "in itself" still more money, just as an apple-tree begets apples. The entire process is obturated; reification is absolute; nothing is left of man. This is the realm of things: money, machines, labour, leisure,... capital. This is the realm of death.
The reification of the production relations is thus reinstated in the central position that Marx already attributed to it in his theory of value, in his "necrology of the capitalist mode of production": Capital.
"Already implicit in the commodity (...) is the reification of the social features of production and the personification of the material foundations of production, which characterize the entire capitalist mode of production" -Marx, Capital, Book Three-
And of course, the entire "work" of "Marxist" economists consists in separating "the objective and scientific analysis of capital" from the remnants of "Hegelian philosophy" - the central question of reification - which, according to them, still obscure the analysis. This falsification has only one purpose: trying to prove that Marx's gigantic work is but a mere analysis - biology - of capital, and not the implacable demonstration ("the terrible missile") of the unavoidable catastrophic collapse of capitalism, of its violent destruction by the personification of the entire human poverty: the proletariat which, by this very act, liberates humanity from the realm of necessity and man from alienation.
"Vulgar economists who do not understand that the process of 'personification of things' can be comprehended only as the result of the process of 'reification of production relations' among men, regard the social characteristics of things (value, money, capital,...) as natural characteristics inherent in things themselves. Value, money,... are not considered as expressions of human relations "connected" with things, but as the direct characteristics of things themselves, characteristics which are 'directly intermingled' with their natural, technological characteristics. There lies the fetishism of the commodity that characterizes vulgar economy and the common views of the agents of production, entrapped in capitalist economy. Here lies 'the reification of social relations, the immediate interconnection of the material production relations with their historico-social determinations'." - "Capital", Book Three, quoted by L. Rubin -
We therefore had to restore the theory of reification at the very centre of the totality that Marxism - "the theory of the conditions of liberation of the proletariat" (Engels) - is. This essential conception, according to which the very motive power of human liberation lies in the fact that the proletariat is itself totally made extraneous, totally dominated by a monstrous heap of lifeless objects - expressing that life is objectless -makes it possible for us to understand and describe what integral communism will be.
The vulgar comprehension always shows contempt for communism, on behalf of immediacy, that is, on behalf of domination by capital. Revisions are always justified by "new conditions", by "special cases", by "changes in the evolution of capital", failing to understand that our movement, the workers' struggle, is not subordinated to such or such incidental change in the domination of capital, but to communism in a direct and invariant way. It is only from the standpoint of communism that revolutionaries can transform reality. It is the totality of the historic cycle - from natural communities to integral communism - that determines the revolutionary program, which the working class will carry on. This movement is taking place under our eyes; it is the negation of capitalism by the proletariat, which, in negating itself - negation of the negation - realizes the human community. That is why the whole of Marx's work, as well as that of all revolutionaries, is also the description of communism. That description of communism is the description of what the humanity will be historically compelled to achieve - the human community - and at the same time, the description of the concrete action of the proletariat, of the communist movement, which will impose communism. Thus it is also the description of the new community in its prefiguration: the party. Marx's classical description of communism was as follows:
"Since human nature is the true community of men, by manifesting their nature men create, produce the human community, the social entity, which is no abstract universal power opposed to the particular individual, but is the essential nature of each individual, his own activity, his own life, his own spirit, his own wealth". - Marx, Comments on J. Mill -
Once the human community, the "true community" is defined, it is easier for us to comprehend the fictive character (12) of the commodity of capital, of a pseudo-community, of a real community of extraneous, self-estranged men.
"To say that man is estranged from itself, therefore, is the same thing as saying that the society of this estranged man is a caricature of the real community, of his true species-life, that his activity therefore appears to him as a torment, his own creation as an alien power, his wealth as poverty, the essential bond linking him with other men as an unessential bond, and separation from his fellow men, on the other hand, as his true mode of existence, his life as a sacrifice life, the realization of his nature as making his life unreal, his production as the production of his nullity, his power over an object as the power over him, and he himself, the lord of his creation, as the servant of this creation". - Marx, Comments on J. Mill -
And, as we have seen, from the negation of capitalism by the proletariat negating itself, Marx draws the positive description of communism:
"Communism is the positive abolition of private property, of human extraneousness, and thus the real appropriation of human essence through and for man. It is therefore the complete return of man himself as a social, i.e. really human being, a complete and conscious return which assimilates all the wealth of previous development."
"Communism as a fully developed naturalism is humanism and as a fully developed humanism is naturalism. It is the definitive resolution of the antagonism between man and nature, and between man and man. It is the true solution of the conflict between existence and essence, between objectification and self-affirmation, between freedom and necessity, between individual and species. It is the solution of the riddle of history and knows itself to be this solution."
Communism means the realization of the human species, means the destruction of the petty, infamous bourgeois individual: "Communism suppresses the individual to realize the human being." (Le Communiste No.9) (13)
The suppression of the particular individual on behalf of the species also means the disappearance of egoism:
"Need and enjoyment have thus lost their egoistic character and nature has lost its mere utility by the fact that its utilization has become human utilization." - Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts -
All the separations disappear along with the abolition of private property, classes, money, labour, the State (and all its apparatus: justice, schools, armies, churches,...) but also of the basic structure of the bourgeois society: the family (with its hypocritical panoply: cuckolds, prostitutes, lovers,...), to be replaced by a human community which assumes, in a communal way, the entire life and reproduction of the species.
"We have the right to follow the century - old thesis - no wage, no money, no exchange, no value - with thesis quite as century - old and original: no god, no state, no family." - Bordiga, The Immuable Tables of the Communist Theory -
In this sense, love is no longer what we "know" today - the fusion of two atomised beings (a fusion which means their non-existence) sharing their misery and their anguish but the assuagement and development of all the desires, impulses, longings, needs,... of the social man.
"In a non-monetary communism, love will have, as a need, the same importance and meaning for both sexes, and the act which consecrates it will achieve the social formula according to which the other's need is my need as a man insofar as the need of one sex is being fulfilled as one need of the other sex." - Bordiga, Comments on the Economic and Philisophical Manuscripts B
"I would have been for you the mediator between you and the species and therefore would become recognised and felt by you yourself as a completion of your own essential being and as a necessary part of yourself, and consequently would know myself to be confirmed both in your thought and your love. In the individual expression of my life, I would have directly created your expression of your life, and therefore in my individual activity I would have directly confirmed and realised my true being, my human being, my communal being." - Marx, Comments on J.Mill, 1844 -
Likewise, time under capitalism is one of the monsters, which consumes us every day, for the reason that time is the measure of value; it is time that quantifies value. Under capital, time is the only social measure; it is the standard according to which our non-life is calculated. Everything is determined by labour-time; and as the famous saying goes: "Time is money". Marx already conveyed this idea when he wrote: "Time is everything, man is nothing; he is, at most, time's carcass".
"The pendulum of the clock has become as accurate a measure of the relative activity of two workers as it is of the speed of two locomotives." - Marx, The poverty of Philosophy, 1846 -
Under capitalism, time is the measure of our loss; we are losing our time to win our survival. On the contrary, communism will abolish all measure by time, for it will abolish what time measures: the value production. All the decisions leading to communism counteract the law of value; hence destroy the foundation of the capitalist production relation (14).
"In a future society, in which class antagonism will have ceased, in which there will no longer be any classes, use will no longer be determined by the minimum time of production, but the time of production devoted to an article will be determined by the degree of its social utility." - Marx, The poverty of Philosophy -
Communism will not take, as a basis, labour-time (=capital), but the available time, the free disposal of one's life, hence of time. It will no longer be necessary to fight in order to 'take one's time for living', since our lives will take place all the time.
It remains to be known whether, for us communists, communism means "the end of the history", means the realization on earth of the celestial paradise which all priests promise us. Here as elsewhere, let the classics answer:
"Communism posits the positive as negation of the negation and is, consequently, for the next stage of historical development, a real and necessary factor in the emancipation and rehabilitation of man. Communism is the necessary form and the dynamic principle of the immediate future, but communism is not itself the goal of human development, the form of human society." - Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts -
Causing once more idealists as well as vulgar materialists to fidget, Marx here asserts that communism is but a transitory society, is not the end of history, but, on the contrary, the beginning of the human history, of the conscious history; it is just the end of the prehistory. Communism is the suppression of class antagonism and its consequences. It is not the suppression of all contradiction, that is, of all movement. The social humanity will still be in movement, a movement no longer determined by class contradictions but for the very first time by new contradictions, human contradictions at last. Communism is the dawning of a new era, is the reappropriation by the humanity of its history, its consciousness, as well as all of its riches.
From the primitive man's natural alienation to the citizen's extraneousness under capitalism: that is how the cycle of class societies is completed, the cycle of the still more alienated quest for abundance. Whereas communism, being "the supremacy of man over his conditions of living" (Marx, The German Ideology), abolishes alienation...
(1) The general framework of study, the central question of the Marxist method, that is, how Marxism abolishes philosophy (and economy, science, art as well) by realizing it, is to be found in our text "Notes critiques sur le matérialisme dialectique" in Le Communiste No.13.
(2) For readers interested in these questions, we refer to Engel's classic "The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State" as well as to the text "Abundance and Destitution in Primitive Societies" (published in the review "La Guerre Sociale" No.1) which, though sometimes verges on the apology of the natural community, is nonetheless a very good illustration of the essential human character of primitive societies - and that from the communist standpoint.
(3) This essential concept in Marx, restored by Camatte, enables us to express more accurately the worker's complete dispossession, man's total externality to his production.
"We therefore translated 'Entfremdung' with extraneousness, thus modifying the word coined, with good reason, by Hippolyte. In effect: it cannot be translated with alienation, for this would mask reality, or more precisely, veil the moment which alienation has reached. Now the term implies that man has become a stranger to himself, to his Gemeinwezen, and that his activity estranges him more and more, and removes him farther and farther from his human reality. This is a very important stage in the development of the capitalist society. The ultimate one is reached when atomised social relations, made independent by capital, dominate the human being whose activity was their original generator. There it is reification, which inevitably produces the complete in mystification of reality." (Invariance)
(4) It is obvious that the proletariat only can carry out this old project of the humanity, the communists from the past had their eyes turned to the past, and intended to revive the ancient community (cf. Spartacus' City of the Sun) because they had not the material possibility yet to impose the new human community, integral communism.
(5) Hence the word 'proletarian': from prole = child - that is, he who only possesses his children.
(6) On this subject, we refer our readers to our text "Fasciste ou anti-fasciste, la dictature du capital c'est la démocratie" in Le Communiste No.9, and "Against the Myths of Democratic Rights and Liberties" in Communism No.1.
(7) See our text "A bas le travail" in Action Communiste No.4.
(8) The extreme position of the proletariat as a "non-class" reveals its existence "for capital" only, its complete atomisation, its dissolution into the people. The utter domination of the counter-revolution through purified democracy - fascist or anti-fascist - has almost completely achieved this negation of the classes during the period before WW II (see Bilan). As for us, we prefer to use the concept of "non-class", instead of the "classical" term "class-in-itself", because it shows more precisely that the distinction between "class-in-itself and "class-for-itself" expresses, on the one hand, the inexistence of the proletariat as a revolutionary class - a class in the full sense of the term, that is, organized into a party - and, on the other hand, its affirmation as such.
(9) Here, of course, we distinguish the form that value takes under capitalism (exchange value) from the substance of value: abstract labour.
(10) On all these questions, we refer the reader to the book by F. Jakubowski "The ideological superstructures in the materialist conception of history", which is not devoid of critics.
(11) The first sentence of "Capital" already synthesizes this reality: "The capitalist mode of production presents itself as 'an immense accumulation of commodities'".
(12) When we define the community of capital as a fictive community, we mean that it is fictive as a community, as "the essence of man" but is completely real as a community of atomised citizens, as a non-human community. The fictive community of capital exists; we must therefore destroy it.
(13) When we assert this central position of revolutionary communism, in direct relationship with Marx's and Bordiga's works - The human being is the true Gemeinwezen of man - we consider, like Bordiga, that "in this grand construction, economical individualism is abolished, and the social man emerges, whose limits are those of the human society, or better, of the human species." Yet this essential, impersonal, anti-individualistic conception -man exists only as social man, as human species - also means the realization of the "particular" man, of what is human in each man. The suppression of the individual - the narrow-minded, stupid and egoistic individual - means the realization of the social man, hence the complete realization of each "particular" man. "The danger with Bordiga lies in that he maintains his thesis on the negation of the individual up to communism included; in negating man as a unity, communism eventually appears as the triumph of the species only." - Camatte, Bordiga and The Passion for Communism -
(14) We are not dealing, within the framework of this article, with the question of the "labour coupons" in the period of transition - a highly incidental proposal made by Marx in his critique of the Gotha program. Nevertheless, we can briefly assert that the very problem of labour coupons must be set aside, since they still are a form of measure of labour made extraneous by time. On the contrary, integral communism means the suppression of labour, hence its measure. The immediate measures decided by the worldwide dictatorship of the proletariat should be directed towards communism, should run counter the law of value, hence directed towards the abolition of labour - for example, the drastic shortening of labour time. These measures, instead of being the implementation of a new mode of calculation of labour by time, such as the labour coupons, shall counteract capital's logic and shall therefore correspond to the reappropriation by the proletariat of the whole of the social production - for instance, measures such as: free transports, free lodgings, free health cares,... Marx's proposal - the labour coupons -though quite anachronic in view of the present technological development, had at least the great advantage of being put forth from a communist standpoint, in contradistinction to capitalist development; that is not the case, far from it, of all his "successors" and "interpreters" for whom communism is but capitalism seasoned with some democratic reforms...
On this subject, we refer our reader to the debate between Bilan and the Group of Internationalist Communists from Holland (G.I.K.) in Bilan No.19 and 20, and to the text "Communism and the Measure by Labour Time" in La Guerre Sociale No.1.
(15) Contrary to Hegel who, being a perfect idealist, puts an end to his dialectic, hence to history (a finality of the human history which has been attained with the ideal embodied by the German State), Marx maintains the dialectic and history up until the end as the motive power, and therefore do not consider communism as the end of the movement, the end of all human development.