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IV. The Proletariat as Subject and Representation

The equal right of all to the goods and enjoyment of this world, the destruction of all authority, the negation of all moral restraints — these, at bottom, are the raison d'être of the March 18th insurrection and the charter of the fearsome organization that furnished it with an army.
Enquête parlementaire sur l'insurrection du 18 mars


THE REAL MOVEMENT that abolishes reigning conditions governed society from the moment the bourgeoisie triumphed in the economic sphere, and it did so visibly once that victory was translated onto the political plane. The development of the forces of production had shattered the old relations of production; every static order had crumbled to nothing. And everything that had formerly been absolute became historical.


IT IS BECAUSE human beings have thus been thrust into history, and into participation in the labor and the struggles which constitute history, that they find themselves obliged to view their relationships in a clear-eyed manner. The history in question has no goal aside from whatever effects it works upon itself, even though the last unconscious metaphysical vision of the historical era may view the productive progression through which history has unfolded as itself the object of that history. As for the subject of history, it can only be the self-production of the living: the living becoming master and possessor of its world — that is, of history — and coming to exist as consciousness of its own activity.


THE CLASS STRUGGLES of the long revolutionary period ushered in by the rise of the bourgeoisie have evolved in tandem with the "thought of history," with the dialectic — with a truly historical thinking that is not content simply to seek the meaning of what is but aspires to understand the dissolution of everything that is — and in the process to dissolve all separation.


FOR HEGEL IT was no longer a matter of interpreting the world, but rather of interpreting the world's transformation. Inasmuch as he did no more than interpret that transformation, however, Hegel was merely the philosophical culmination of philosophy. He sought to understand a world that made itself. Such historical thought was still part of that consciousness which comes on the scene too late and supplies a justification after the fact. It thus transcended separation — but it did so in thought only. Hegel's paradoxical posture, which subordinates the meaning of all reality to its historical culmination, while at the same time revealing this meaning by proclaiming itself to be that culmination, arises from the simple fact that the great thinker of the bourgeois revolutions of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries strove in his philosophy merely for reconciliation with the results of those revolutions. "Even as a philosophy of the bourgeois revolution, it does not reflect the entire process of that revolution, but only its concluding phase. It is thus a philosophy, not of the revolution, but of the restoration" (Karl Korsch, "Theses on Hegel and Revolution"). Hegel performed the task of the philosopher — "the glorification of what exists" — for the last time, but, even for him, what existed could only be the totality of the movement of history. Since the external position of thought was nevertheless maintained, this could be masked only by identifying that thought with a preexisting project of the Spirit — of that absolute heroic force which has done what it willed and willed what it has done, that force whose achievement is the present. So philosophy, as it expires in the arms of truly historical thinking, can no longer glorify its world without denying it, for even in order to express itself it must assume that the total history in which it has vested everything has come to an end, and that the only court capable of ruling on truth or falsehood has been adjourned.


WHEN THE PROLETARIAT demonstrates through its own actions that historical thought has not after all forgotten and lost itself, that thought's conclusions are negated, but at the same time the validity of its method is confirmed.


HISTORICAL THOUGHT CAN be saved only if it becomes practical thought; and the practice of the proletariat as a revolutionary class cannot be less than historical consciousness applied to the totality of its world. All the theoretical strands of the revolutionary workers' movement stem from critical confrontation with Hegelian thought, and this goes for Marx as for Stirner and Bakunin.


THE INSEPARABILITY OF Marx's theory from the Hegelian method is itself inseparable from that theory's revolutionary character, that is to say, from its truth. It is under this aspect that the relationship between Marx and Hegel has generally been ignored, ill understood or even denounced as the weak point of what has been fallaciously transformed into a Marxist dogma. Deploring the less-than-scientific predictions of the Manifesto of 1848 concerning the imminence of proletarian revolution in Germany, Bernstein perfectly described this connection between the dialectical method and a historical taking of sides: "Such historical autosuggestion, so grievously mistaken that the commonest of political visionaries would be hard pressed to top it, would be incomprehensible in a Marx — who by that period had already become a serious student of the economy — were it not possible to recognize here the traces of a lingering loyalty to Hegel's antithetical dialectics, from which Marx, no more than Engels, had never completely emancipated himself. In view of the general turbulence of the times, this was all the more fatal to him."


THE INVERSION THAT Marx effected in order to salvage the thought of the bourgeois revolutions by "transplanting" it was no trivial substitution of the material development of the forces of production for the unfolding of the Hegelian Spirit on its way to its rendezvous with itself in time, its objectification being indistinguishable from its alienation, and its historical wounds leaving no scars. For history, once it becomes real, no longer has an end. What Marx did was to demolish Hegel's detached stance with respect to what occurs, along with the contemplation of a supreme external agent of whatever kind. Theory thence-forward had nothing to know beyond what it itself did. By contrast, the contemplation of the movement of the economy in the dominant thought of present-day society is indeed a non-inverted legacy of the undialectical aspect of the Hegelian attempt to create a circular system; this thought is an approbatory one which no longer has the dimension of the concept, which no longer has any need of Hegelianism to justify it, because the movement that it is designed to laud is a sector of the world where thought no longer has any place — a sector whose mechanical development in effect dominates the world's development overall. Marx's project is the project of a conscious history whereby the quantitative realm that arises from the blind development of purely economic productive forces would be transformed into a qualitative appropriation of history. The critique of political economy is the first act of this end of prehistory: "Of all the instruments of production, the greatest productive power is the revolutionary class itself."


THE CLOSE AFFINITY of Marx's thinking with scientific thinking lies in its rational grasp of the forces actually at work in society. Fundamentally, though, Marx's theory lies beyond science, which is only preserved within it inasmuch as it is transcended by it. For Marx it is the struggle — and by no means the law — that has to be understood. "We know only a single science," says The German Ideology, "the science of history."


THE BOURGEOIS ERA, though eager to give history a scientific foundation, neglects the fact that the science available to it must certainly have been itself founded — along with the economy — on history. On the other hand, history is fundamentally dependent on economic knowledge only so long as it remains merely economic history. History's intervention in the economy (a global process that is after all capable of changing its own basic scientific preconditions) has in fact been overlooked by scientific observers to a degree well illustrated by the vain calculations of those socialists who believed that they could ascertain the exact periodicity of crises. Now that continual tinkering by the State has succeeded in compensating for the tendency for crises to occur, the same type of reasoning takes this delicate balance for a permanent economic harmony. If it is to master the science of society and bring it under its governance, the project of transcending the economy and taking possession of history cannot itself be scientific in character. The revolutionary point of view, so long as it persists in espousing the notion that history in the present period can be mastered by means of scientific knowledge, has failed to rid itself of all its bourgeois traits.


THE UTOPIAN STRANDS in socialism, though they do have their historical roots in the critique of the existing social organization, are properly so called inasmuch as they deny history — inasmuch, that is, as they deny the struggle that exists, along with any movement of the times beyond the immutable perfection of their image of a happy society. Not, however, because they deny science. On the contrary, the utopians were completely in thrall to scientific thinking, in the form in which this had imposed itself in the preceding centuries. Their goal was the perfection of this rational system. They certainly did not look upon themselves as prophets disarmed, for they believed firmly in the social power of scientific proof — and even, in the case of Saint-Simonism, in the seizure of power by science. "However did they imagine," Sombart wonders, "that what needed to be proved might be won by fighting?" All the same, the utopians' scientific orientation did not extend to knowledge of the fact that social groups are liable to have vested interests in a status quo, forces at their disposal equipped to maintain it and indeed forms of false consciousness designed to buttress their positions. Their idea of things thus lagged far behind the historical reality of the development of science itself, which was by this time largely governed by the social demand arising from factors, such as those mentioned above, which determined not only what was considered scientifically acceptable but also just what might become an object of scientific research. The utopian socialists remained prisoners to the scientific manner of expounding the truth, and they viewed this truth in accordance with its pure abstract image — the form in which it had established itself at a much earlier moment in social development. As Sorel noted, the utopians took astronomy as their model for the discovery and demonstration of the laws of society: their conception of harmony, so hostile to history, was the product, logically enough, of an attempted application to society of the science least dependent on history. This conception was introduced and promoted with an experimental ingenuousness worthy of Newtonism, and the smiling future continually evoked by the utopians played "a role in their social science analogous to that played by inertia in rational mechanics" (Matériaux pour une théorie du prolétariat).


THE SCIENTIFIC-DETERMINIST side of Marx's thought was indeed what made it vulnerable to "ideologization"; the breach was opened in Marx's own lifetime, and greatly widened in his theoretical legacy to the workers' movement. The advent of the subject of history was consequently set back even further, as economics, the historical science par excellence, was depended on more and more as guarantor of the necessity of its own future negation. In this way revolutionary practice — the only true agent of this negation — tended to be thrust out of theory's field of vision altogether. It became important patiently to study economic development, and once more to accept, with Hegelian tranquility, the suffering it imposed — that suffering whose outcome was still a "graveyard of good intentions." All of a sudden it was discovered that, according to the "science of revolutions," consciousness now always came on the scene too soon, and needed to be taught. "History has proved us, and all who thought like us, wrong," Engels would write in 1895. "It has made it clear that the state of economic development on the Continent at that time was not, by a long way, ripe...." Throughout his life Marx upheld his theory's unitary standpoint, yet in the exposition of that theory he was drawn onto the ground of the dominant forms of thought, in that he undertook critiques of particular disciplines, and notably that of the fundamental science of bourgeois society, political economy. It was in this mutilated form, later taken as definitive, that Marx's theory became "Marxism."


THE WEAKNESS OF Marx's theory is naturally part and parcel of the weakness of the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat of his time. The working class failed to inaugurate permanent revolution in 1848, and the Commune went down in isolation. Revolutionary theory was thus still unable to come into full possession of its own existence. That Marx should have been reduced to defending and honing that theory in the detachment of scholarly work in the British Museum can only have had a debilitating effect on the theory itself. What is certain is that the scientific conclusions that Marx drew about the future development of the working class — along with the organizational practice founded on them — would later become obstacles to proletarian consciousness.


ALL THE THEORETICAL shortcomings of a scientific defense of proletarian revolution, be they in the content or in the form of the exposition, come down in the end to the identification of the proletariat with the bourgeoisie with respect to the revolutionary seizure of power.


AS EARLY AS the Manifesto, the urge to demonstrate the scientific legitimacy of proletarian power by citing a sequence of precedents only served to muddy Marx's historical thinking. This approach led him to defend a linear model of the development of modes of production according to which, at each stage, class struggles would end "either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes." The plain facts of history, however, are that, just as the "Asiatic mode of production" (as Marx himself observed in another connection) preserved its stasis in spite of class conflict, so too no jacquerie of serfs ever overthrew the barons and no slave revolt in the ancient world ever ended the rule of freemen. The first thing the linear model loses sight of is the fact that the bourgeoisie is the only revolutionary class that has ever been victorious; the only class, also, for which the development of the economy was the cause and consequence of its capture of society. The same simplified view led Marx to neglect the economic role of the State in the management of a class society. If the rising bourgeoisie appears to have liberated the economy from the State, this is true only to the extent that the State was formerly the instrument of class oppression in a static economy. The bourgeoisie developed its autonomous economic power during the medieval period when the State had been weakened, when feudalism was breaking up a stable equilibrium between powers. The modern State, on the other hand, which first supported the developing bourgeoisie thanks to the mercantile system, and then went on, in the time of "laisser faire, laisser passer," to become the bourgeoisie's own State, was eventually to emerge as wielder of a power central to the planned management of the economic process. Marx was already able, under the rubric of Bonapartism, accurately to depict a foreshadowing of modern State bureaucracy in that fusion of capital and State which established "capital's national power over labor and a public authority designed to maintain social servitude"; the bourgeoisie thus renounced any historical existence beyond its own reduction to the economic history of things, and permitted itself to be "condemned along with the other classes to a like political nullity." Already discernible in outline here are the sociopolitical bases of the modern spectacle, which in a negative way defines the proletariat as the only pretender to historical existence.


THE ONLY TWO classes that really correspond to Marx's theory, the two pure classes that the whole thrust of Capital's analysis tends to bring to the fore, are the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. These are also the only two revolutionary classes in history — but they are revolutionary under different conditions. The bourgeois revolution is a fait accompli. The proletarian revolution is a project, formulated on the basis of the earlier revolution but differing qualitatively from it. To neglect the originality of the bourgeoisie's historical role serves only to conceal the concrete originality of the proletarian project, which can get nowhere unless it advances under its own banner and comes to grips with the "prodigiousness of its own aims." The bourgeoisie came to power because it was the class of the developing economy. The proletariat will never come to embody power unless it becomes the class of consciousness. The growth of the forces of production cannot in itself guarantee this accession to power — not even indirectly, via the increase in dispossession that this growth entails. Nor can any Jacobin-style seizure of the State be a means to that end. The proletariat cannot make use of any ideology designed to pass partial goals off as general ones, because it cannot maintain any partial reality that is truly its own.


IT IS TRUE that during a certain period of his participation in the struggle of the proletariat Marx overrated the value of scientific prediction — indeed he went so far in this direction that he provided the illusions of economism with an intellectual justification; however, he clearly never fell prey himself to such illusions. In a well-known letter of 7 December 1867, accompanying an article criticizing Capital which he himself had written, and which Engels was supposed to publish as if it were that of an opponent, Marx clearly indicated the limits of his scientific stance: "The author's subjective tendency (imposed on him, perhaps, by his political position and his past) — that is to say, the way in which he himself pictures, and portrays for others, the ultimate outcome of the present movement, the present social process — has nothing whatsoever to do with his real analysis." By thus censuring the "tendentious conclusions" of his own objective analysis, and by interpolating an ironic "perhaps" apropos of the unscientific choices supposedly "imposed" on him, Marx in effect reveals the methodological key to tackling the two aspects of the matter.


THE FUSION OF knowledge and action must be effected within the historical struggle itself, in such a way that each of these poles depends for its validation on the other. What constitutes the proletarian class as a subject is its organizing of revolutionary struggles and its organizing of society at the moment of revolution: this is the point at which the practical conditions of consciousness must be assembled and the theory of praxis verified by virtue of its transformation into theory-in-practice. This pivotal issue of organization, however, received but the scantest attention from revolutionary theory during the founding period of the workers' movement — the very period when that theory still possessed the unitary character which it had inherited from historical thought (and which it had rightly vowed to develop into a unitary historical practice). As it turned out, organization became the locus of revolutionary theory's inconsistency, allowing the tenets of that theory to be imposed by statist and hierarchical methods borrowed from the bourgeois revolution. The forms of organization developed subsequently by the workers' movement on the basis of this dereliction of theory have tended in turn to bar the construction of a unitary theory, to break theory up instead into a variety of specialized and fragmentary types of knowledge. Thus ideologically alienated, theory cannot even recognize the practical verification of the unitary historical thought that it has betrayed whenever that verification emerges in spontaneous workers' struggles; on the contrary, all it can do is help to repress it and destroy all memory of it. Yet such historical forms, thrown up by the struggle, are the very practical medium that theory needs in order to be true. They are in fact a requirement of theory, but one that has not been given theoretical expression. The soviets, for example, were not a theoretical discovery; and, to go back even farther, the highest theoretical truth attained by the International Workingmen's Association was its own existence in practice.


EARLY SUCCESSES IN the First International's struggle enabled it to free itself from the confused influences that the dominant ideology continued for a time to exercise upon it from within. But the defeat and repression that it soon confronted brought to the surface a conflict between two conceptions of the proletarian revolution, each of which had an authoritarian dimension spelling the abandonment of the conscious self-emancipation of the working class. The rift between Marxists and Bakuninists, which eventually became an irreconcilable one, had a dual aspect in that it bore both upon the question of power in a future revolutionary society and upon the current organization of the movement; and both the opposing factions reversed their own position in moving from one of these issues to the other. Bakunin denounced as an illusion the idea that classes could be abolished by means of an authoritarian use of State power, warning that this course would lead to the reconstruction of a bureaucratic ruling class and to the dictatorship of the most knowledgeable (or of those reputed to be the most knowledgeable). Marx, who held that the combined maturation, of economic contradictions on the one hand, and of the democratic education of the workers on the other hand, would reduce the proletarian State's role to the short phase needed to give the stamp of legality to new social relations brought into being by objective factors, charged Bakunin and his supporters with the authoritarianism of a conspiratorial elite that had deliberately placed itself above the International with the hare-brained intention of imposing on society an irresponsible dictatorship of the most revolutionary (or of those self-designated as such). Bakunin unquestionably recruited followers on just such a basis: "in the midst of the popular tempest, we must be the invisible pilots guiding the Revolution, not by any kind of overt power but by the collective dictatorship of all our allies, a dictatorship without badges, without official titles, without any official status, and therefore all the more powerful, as it does not carry the trappings of power." This was clearly a clash between two ideologies of workers' revolution; each embodied a partially correct critique, but each, having lost the unity of historical thought, aspired to set itself up as an ideological authority. Powerful organizations, among them the German Social Democracy and the Iberian Anarchist Federation, would subsequently faithfully serve one or the other of these ideologies; in every case the result produced was greatly different from the one sought.


THE FACT THAT the anarchists regard the goal of the proletarian revolution as immediately present is at once the great strength and the great weakness of the real anarchist struggle (I refer to the struggle of collectivist anarchism; the claims of anarchism in its individualist variants are laughable). Collectivist anarchism retains only the terminal point of the historical thought of modern class struggles, and its unconditional demand that this point be attained instantly is echoed in its systematic contempt for method. Its critique of the political struggle consequently remains an abstract one, while its commitment to the economic struggle is framed only in terms of the mirage of a definitive solution to be achieved at one stroke, on the economic battleground itself, on the day of the general strike or insurrection. The anarchist agenda is the fulfillment of an ideal. Anarchism is the still ideological negation of the State and of classes, that is to say, of the very social preconditions of any separated ideology. It is an ideology of pure freedom which makes everything equal and eschews any suggestion of historical evil. This position, which fuses all partial demands into a single demand, has given anarchism the great merit of representing the refusal of existing conditions from the standpoint of the whole of life, not merely from the standpoint of some particular critical specialization. On the other hand, the fact that this fusion of demands is envisaged in the absolute, at the whim of the individual, and in advance of any actualization, has doomed anarchism to an incoherence that is only too easy to discern: the doctrine requires no more than the reiteration, and the reintroduction into each particular struggle, of the same simple and all-encompassing idea — the same end-point that anarchism has identified from the first as the movement's sole and entire goal. Thus Bakunin, on quitting the Jura Federation in 1873, found it easy to write that "During the last nine years more than enough ideas for the salvation of the world have been developed in the International (if the world can be saved by ideas) and I defy anyone to come up with a new one. This is the time not for ideas but for action, for deeds." No doubt this attitude preserves the commitment of the truly historical thought of the proletariat to the notion that ideas must become practical, but it leaves the ground of history by assuming that the adequate forms of this transition to practice have already been discovered and are no longer subject to variation.


THE ANARCHISTS, whose ideological fervor clearly distinguished them from the rest of the workers' movement, extended this specialization of tasks into their own ranks, so offering a hospitable field of action, within any anarchist organization, to the propagandists and defenders of anarchist ideology; and the mediocrity of these specialists was only reinforced by the fact that their intellectual activity was generally confined to the repetition of a clutch of unchanging truths. An ideological respect for unanimity in the taking of decisions tended to favor the uncontrolled exercise of power, within the organization itself, by "specialists of freedom"; and revolutionary anarchism expects a comparable unanimity, obtained by comparable means, from the people once they are liberated. Furthermore, the refusal to distinguish between the opposed situations of a minority grouped in the ongoing struggle and a new society of free individuals has led time and again to the permanent isolation of anarchists when the time for common decisions arrives — one need only think of the countless anarchist insurrections in Spain that have been contained and crushed at a local level.


THE ILLUSION MORE OR LESS explicitly upheld in all genuine anarchism is that of the permanent imminence of a revolution which, because it will be made instantaneously, is bound to validate both anarchist ideology and the form of practical organization that flows from it. In 1936 anarchism really did lead a social revolution, setting up the most advanced model of proletarian power ever realized. Even here, though, it is pertinent to recall, for one thing, that the general insurrection was dictated by an army pronunciamento. Furthermore, inasmuch as the revolution was not completed in its earliest days — Franco, enjoying strong foreign backing at a time when the rest of the international proletarian movement had already been defeated, held power in half the country, while bourgeois forces and other workers' parties of statist bent still existed in the Republican camp — the organized anarchist movement proved incapable of broadening the revolution's semi-victories, or even of safeguarding them. The movement's leaders became government ministers — hostages to a bourgeois state that was dismantling the revolution even as it proceeded to lose the civil war.


THE "ORTHODOX MARXISM" of the Second International was the scientific ideology of the socialist revolution, an ideology which asserted that its whole truth resided in objective economic processes, and in the gradual recognition of their necessity by a working class educated by the organization. This ideology exhumed utopian socialism's faith in pedagogics, eking this out with a contemplative evocation of the course of history. So out of touch was this attitude with the Hegelian dimension of a total history, however, that it lost even the static image of the totality present in the utopians' (and signally in Fourier's) critique. A scientific orientation of this variety, hardly capable of doing anything more than rehash symmetrical ethical alternatives, informed Hilferding's insipid observation in Das Finanzkapital that recognizing the necessity of socialism "gives no clue as to what practical attitude should be adopted. For it is one thing to recognize a necessity, and quite another to place oneself in the service of that necessity." Those who chose not to understand that for Marx, and for the revolutionary proletariat, a unitary historical thought was itself nothing more and nothing less than the practical attitude to be adopted could only fall victim to the practice which that choice immediately entailed.


THE IDEOLOGY OF the social-democratic organization placed that organization in the hands of teachers who were supposed to educate the working class, and the organizational form adopted corresponded perfectly to the sort of passive learning that this implied. The participation of the socialists of the Second International in the political and economic struggles was concrete enough, but it was profoundly uncritical. Theirs was a manifestly reformist practice carried on in the name of an illusory revolution. It was inevitable that this ideology of revolution should founder on the very success of those who proclaimed it. The setting apart of parliamentary representatives and journalists within the movement encouraged people who had in any case been recruited from the bourgeois intelligentsia to pursue a bourgeois style of life, while the trade-union bureaucracy turned even those drawn in through industrial struggle, and of working-class background, into mere brokers of labor — traders in labor-power as a commodity to be bought and sold like any other. For the activity of all these people to have retained any revolutionary aspect whatsoever, capitalism would have had to find itself conveniently unable to put up with a reformism on the economic plane that it was perfectly able to tolerate on the political, in the shape of the social democrats' legalistic agitation. The "science" of the social democrats vouched for the inevitability of such a paradoxical occurrence; history, however, gave the lie to it at every turn.


THIS WAS A CONTRADICTION that Bernstein, being the social democrat farthest removed from political ideology, and the one who most unabashedly embraced the methodology of bourgeois science, was honest enough to draw attention to; the reformism of the English workers' movement, which did without revolutionary ideology altogether, also attested to it; but only historical development itself could demonstrate it beyond all possibility of doubt. Though prey to all kinds of illusions in other areas, Bernstein had rejected the notion that a crisis of capitalism must miraculously occur, thus forcing the hand of the socialists, who declined to assume any revolutionary mantle in the absence of such a legitimating event. The profound social upheaval set in train by the First World War, though it raised consciousness on a wide scale, proved twice over that the social-democratic hierarchy had failed to educate the German workers in a revolutionary way, that it had failed, in short, to turn them into theoreticians: the first time was when the overwhelming majority of the party lent its support to the imperialist war; the second time was when, in defeat, the party crushed the Spartacist revolutionaries. The sometime worker Ebert still believed in sin — declaring that he hated revolution "like sin." He also proved himself to be a fine herald of that image of socialism which was soon to emerge as the mortal enemy of the proletariat of Russia and elsewhere, by precisely articulating the agenda of this new form of alienation: "Socialism," said Ebert, "means working hard."


AS A MARXIST THINKER, Lenin was simply a faithful and consistent Kautskyist who applied the revolutionary ideology of "orthodox Marxism" to the conditions existing in Russia, conditions that did not permit of the sort of reformist practice pursued in parallel fashion by the Second International. The task of directing the proletariat from without, by means of a disciplined clandestine party under the control of intellectuals who had become "professional revolutionaries," gave rise to a genuine profession — and one disinclined to make compacts with any professional strata of capitalist society (even had such an overture — presupposing the attainment of an advanced stage of bourgeois development — been within the power of the czarist political regime to make). In consequence the speciality of the profession in question became that of total social management.


WITH THE ADVENT OF the war, and the collapse of international social democracy in face of it, the authoritarian ideological radicalism of the Bolsheviks was able to cast its net across the globe. The bloody end of the workers' movement's democratic illusions made a Russia of the whole world, and Bolshevism, reigning over the first revolutionary rift opened up by this period of crisis, proposed its hierarchical and ideological model to the proletariat of all countries as the way to "talk Russian" to the ruling class. Lenin never reproached the Second International's Marxism for being a revolutionary ideology — but only for having ceased to be such an ideology.


THIS SAME HISTORICAL MOMENT, when Bolshevism triumphed for itself in Russia and social democracy fought victoriously for the old world, also marks the definitive inauguration of an order of things that lies at the core of the modern spectacle's rule: this was the moment when an image of the working class arose in radical opposition to the working class itself.


"IN ALL EARLIER REVOLUTIONS," wrote Rosa Luxemburg in Die Rote Fahne for 21 December 1918, "the opponents confronted one another face to face: class against class, program against program. In the present revolution, the troops that protect the old order, instead of intervening in the name of the ruling classes, intervene under the banner of a 'social-democratic party.' If the central question of the revolution were posed openly and honestly — in the form 'Capitalism or socialism?' — then no doubt or hesitation would be possible today among the broad proletarian masses." Thus, a few days before its destruction, the radical current within the German proletariat uncovered the secret of the new conditions brought into being by the whole process which had gone before (and to which the image of the working class had largely contributed): the spectacular organization of the ruling order's defense, and a social reign of appearances under which no "central question" could any longer be "openly and honestly" posed. By this time the revolutionary image of the proletariat had become both the main element in, and the chief result of, a general falsification of society.


THE ORGANIZATION OF the proletariat according to the Bolshevik model stemmed from the backwardness of Russia and from the abdication from the revolutionary struggle of the workers' movement in the advanced countries. Russian backwardness also embodied all the conditions needed to carry this form of organization in the direction of the counterrevolutionary reversal that it had unconsciously contained from its beginnings; and the repeated balking of the mass of the European workers' movement at the Hic Rhodus, hic salta of the 1918-1920 period — a balking that included the violent annihilation of its own radical minority — further facilitated the complete unfolding of a process whose end result could fraudulently present itself to the world as the only possible proletarian solution. The Bolshevik party justified itself in terms of the necessity of a State monopoly over the representation and defense of the power of the workers, and its success in this quest turned the party into what it truly was, namely the party of the owners of the proletariat, which essentially dislodged all earlier forms of ownership.


FOR TWENTY YEARS the various tendencies of Russian social democracy had engaged in an unresolved debate over which conditions were most propitious for the overthrow of czarism: the weakness of the bourgeoisie, the weight in the balance of the peasant majority, the decisive role to be played by a centralized and militant proletariat and so on. When practice finally provided the solution, however, it did so thanks to a factor that had figured in none of these hypotheses, namely the revolutionary bureaucracy which placed itself at the head of the proletariat, seized the State and proceeded to impose a new form of class rule on society. A strictly bourgeois revolution was impossible; talk of a "democratic dictatorship of workers and peasants" had no real meaning; and, as for the proletarian power of the soviets, it could not be maintained at once against the class of small landholding peasants, against a national and international White reaction, and against its own externalized and alienated representation in the shape of a workers' party of absolute masters of the State, of the economy, of the means of expression and (before long) of thought. Trotsky and Parvus's theory of permanent revolution — which Lenin in effect espoused in April 1917 — was the only theory that held true for countries that were backward from the point of view of the social development of the bourgeoisie, but even here it only applied once the unknown quantity of the bureaucracy's class power had come into play. In the many clashes within the Bolshevik leadership, Lenin was the most consistent defender of the concentration of dictatorial powers in the hands of this supreme ideological representation. He invariably had the advantage over his opponents because he championed solutions that flowed logically from the earlier choices made by the minority that now exercised absolute power: a democracy refused to peasants on the State level should be by the same token refused to workers, and hence also to Communist union leaders, to party members in general, and even, in the end, to the highest ranks of the party's hierarchy. At the Tenth Congress, as the Kronstadt soviet was being put down by force of arms and deluged in slander, Lenin passed a judgment on the leftist bureaucrats of the "Workers' Opposition," the logic of which Stalin would later extend into a perfect division of the world: "Here with us — or out there with a gun in your hand — but not as an opposition. We have had enough of opposition."


FINDING ITSELF the sole owner of a state capitalism, the bureaucracy at first secured its power internally by entering, after Kronstadt, and under the "New Economic Policy," into a temporary alliance with the peasantry; externally, in parallel fashion, it defended its power by using the regimented workers of the bureaucratic parties of the Third International to back up Russian diplomacy, to sabotage revolutionary movements and to support bourgeois governments on whose support in the international sphere it was counting (the Kuomintang in the China of 1925-1927, Popular Fronts in Spain and France, etc.). In pursuit of its self-realization, however, bureaucratic society then proceeded, by means of terror exercised against the peasantry, to effect history's most brutal primitive accumulation of capital ever. The industrialization of the Stalin era reveals the bureaucracy's true nature: the prolonging of the reign of the economy and the salvaging of all essential aspects of market society, not least the institution of labor-as-commodity. The economy in its independence thus showed itself so thoroughly able to dominate society as to recreate for its own purposes that class domination which is essential to its operation. It proved, in other words, that the bourgeoisie had created a power so autonomous that, so long as it endured, it could even do without a bourgeoisie. The totalitarian bureaucracy was not, in Bruno Rizzi's sense, "the last property-owning class in history," for it was merely a substitute ruling class for the market economy. A tottering capitalist property system was replaced by an inferior version of itself — simplified, less diversified and concentrated as the collective property of the bureaucratic class. This underdeveloped type of ruling class was likewise a reflection of economic underdevelopment, and it had no agenda beyond correcting this backwardness in particular parts of the world. The hierarchical, statist framework for this cheap remake of the capitalist ruling class was supplied by the party of the workers, organized on the bourgeois model of separation. As Anton Ciliga noted from the depths of one of Stalin's prisons, "Technical questions of organization turned out to be social questions" (Lenin and Revolution).


AS THE coherence of the separate, the revolutionary ideology of which Leninism was the highest voluntaristic expression governed the management of a reality that was resistant to it; with Stalinism, this ideology rediscovered its own incoherent essence. Ideology was no longer a weapon, but an end in itself. But a lie that can no longer be challenged becomes a form of madness. Eventually both reality and the goal sought dissolved in a totalitarian ideology proclaiming that whatever it said was all there was. This was a local primitivism of the spectacle that has nonetheless played an essential part in the spectacle's worldwide development. The ideology that took on material form in this context-did not transform the world economically, as capitalism in its affluent stage has done; it succeeded only in using police methods to transform perception.


THE IDEOLOGICAL-TOTALITARIAN class in power is the power of a world turned on its head: the stronger the class, the more forcefully it proclaims that it does not exist, and its strength serves first and foremost to assert its nonexistence. This is as far as its modesty goes, however, for its official nonexistence is supposed to coincide with the ne plus ultra of historical development, which is indeed owed to its infallible leadership. Though everywhere in evidence, the bureaucracy is obliged to be a class imperceptible to consciousness, thus making the whole of social life unfathomable and insane. The social organization of the absolute lie reposes on this fundamental contradiction.


STALINISM WAS A reign of terror within the bureaucratic class. The terror on which the bureaucracy's power was founded was bound to strike the class itself, because this class had no legal basis, no juridical status as a property-owning class that could be extended to each of its members individually. Its real proprietorship was masked, because it had become an owner only by means of false consciousness. False consciousness can maintain absolute power only through absolute terror, where all real motives soon vanish. Members of the ruling bureaucratic class have the right of ownership over society only collectively, as participants in a basic lie: they have to play the part of the proletariat governing a socialist society; they are actors faithful to the text of ideological betrayal. Yet their effective participation in this counterfeit being has to be perceived as real. No bureaucrat can individually assert his right to power, because to prove himself a socialist proletarian he would have to present himself as the opposite of a bureaucrat, while to prove himself a bureaucrat is impossible because the official truth of the bureaucracy is that the bureaucracy does not exist. Thus each bureaucrat is completely dependent on a central guarantee from ideology, which acknowledges the collective participation in "socialist power" of all such bureaucrats as it does not liquidate. As a group the bureaucrats may be said to make all the decisions, but the cohesiveness of their class can only be ensured by the concentration of their terroristic power in one person. In this person reposes the only practical truth of the lie in power: the power to lay down an unchallengeable boundary that is ever subject to revision. Stalin thus had the power to decide without appeal exactly who was a bureaucrat, and hence an owner; his word alone distinguished "proletarians" in power from "traitors in the pay of the Mikado and Wall Street." The atomized bureaucrat could find the shared essence of his juridical status only in the person of Stalin — that lord and master of the world who takes himself in this way to be the absolute person and for whom there exists no higher type of spirit: "The lord of the world becomes really conscious of what he is — viz., the universal might of actuality — by that power of destruction which he exercises against the contrasted selfhood of his subjects." He is at once the power that defines the field of domination and the power that devastates that field.


BY THE TIME IDEOLOGY, become absolute because it possesses absolute power, has been transformed from a fragmentary knowledge into a totalitarian lie, truly historical thinking has for its part been so utterly annihilated that history itself, even at the level of the most empirical knowledge, can no longer exist. Totalitarian bureaucratic society lives in a perpetual present in which everything that has happened earlier exists for it solely as a space accessible to its police. A project already formulated by Napoleon, that of "monarchically directing the energy of memories," has thus been made concrete in a permanent manipulation of the past, and this not just in respect of the past's meaning, but even in respect of the facts themselves. The price paid for this emancipation from all historical reality, though, is the loss of the rational orientation indispensable to capitalism as a historical social system. We know how much the scientific application of an ideology gone mad has cost Russia — one need only think of the Lysenko fiasco. The internal contradictions besetting totalitarian bureaucracy in its administration of an industrialized society — its simultaneous need for rationality and refusal of it — also constitutes one of its chief shortcomings as compared with normal capitalist development. Just as the bureaucracy cannot resolve the question of agriculture as capitalism does, so too it turns out eventually to be inferior to capitalism in industrial production, which it seeks to plan in an authoritarian manner on the twin bases of a complete lack of realism and an adherence to an all-embracing lie.


BETWEEN THE TWO world wars the revolutionary workers movement was destroyed by the action, on the one hand, of the Stalinist bureaucracy and, on the other, of fascist totalitarianism, the latter having borrowed its organizational form from the totalitarian party as first tried out in Russia. Fascism was an attempt of the bourgeois economy to defend itself, in extremis, from the dual threat of crisis and proletarian subversion; it was a state of siege in capitalist society, a way for that society to survive through the administration of an emergency dose of rationalization in the form of massive State intervention in its management. Such rationalization, however, inevitably bore the stamp of the immensely irrational nature of the means whereby it was imposed. Even though fascism came to the aid of the chief icons (the family, private property, the moral order, the nation) of a bourgeois order that was by now conservative, and effectively mobilized both the petty bourgeoisie and unemployed workers panic-stricken because of the crisis or disillusioned by the impotence of revolutionary socialism, it was not itself fundamentally ideological in character. Fascism presented itself for what it was — a violent resurrection of myth calling for participation in a community defined by archaic pseudo-values: race, blood, leader. Fascism is a cult of the archaic completely fitted out by modern technology. Its degenerate ersatz of myth has been revived in the spectacular context of the most modern means of conditioning and illusion. It is thus one factor in the formation of the modern spectacle, as well as being, thanks to its part in the destruction of the old workers' movement, one of the founding forces of present-day society. But inasmuch as fascism happens also to be the costliest method of maintaining the capitalist order, it was normal enough that it should be dislodged by more rational and stronger forms of this order — that it should leave the front of the stage to the lead players, namely the capitalist States.


WHEN THE RUSSIAN BUREAUCRACY at last successfully disencumbered itself of relics of bourgeois property standing in the way of its hegemony over the economy, once it had developed this economy in accordance with its own purposes, and once it had achieved recognition from without as a great power among others, it sought to enjoy its own world in tranquility, and to remove the arbitrariness to which it was still itself subjected; it therefore proceeded to denounce the Stalinism of its beginnings. Such a denunciation was bound, however, to remain Stalinist, arbitrary, unexplained and subject to continual adjustment, for the simple reason that the ideological falsehood that had attended the bureaucracy's birth could never be exposed. The bureaucracy cannot liberalize itself either culturally or politically because its existence as a class depends on its monopoly of an ideology — which, for all its cumbersomeness, is its sole title to ownership. Admittedly this ideology has lost the passion that informed its original self-affirmation, yet even the pithless triviality which is all that is left retains the oppressive role of prohibiting the least suggestion of competition and holding the entirety of thought captive. The bureaucracy is thus helplessly tied to an ideology no longer believed by anyone. What inspired terror now inspires derision, but even this derision would disappear were it not for the fact that the terror it mocks still lurks in the wings. So it is that at the very moment when the bureaucracy attempts to demonstrate its superiority on capitalism's own ground, it is exposed as capitalism's poor cousin. Just as its actual history is at odds with its judicial status, and its crudely maintained ignorance in contradiction with its scientific pretensions, so its wish to vie with the bourgeoisie in the production of an abundance of commodities is stymied by the fact that an abundance of this kind contains its own implicit ideology, and is generally accompanied by the freedom to choose from an unlimited range of spectacular false alternatives — a pseudo-freedom, yes, but one which, for all that, is incompatible with the bureaucracy's ideology.


AT THE PRESENT STAGE in the bureaucracy's development, its ideological title to ownership is already collapsing internationally: a power set up on the national level as a basically internationalist model must now renounce any claim to maintaining its false cohesion irrespective of national frontiers. The unequal economic development experienced by those competing bureaucracies that have succeeded in owning "socialism" in more than one country has led only to a public and all-out confrontation between the Russian lie and the Chinese lie. Henceforward each bureaucracy in power, and likewise each of those totalitarian parties aspiring to a power that has outlived the Stalinist period within one national working class or another, will have to find its own way. Considered in conjunction with the expressions of internal negation which first became visible to the outside world when the workers of East Berlin revolted against the bureaucrats and demanded a "government of metalworkers," and which have since even extended to the setting up of workers' councils in Hungary, this crumbling of the worldwide alliance founded on bureaucratic mystification is in the last analysis the most unfavorable portent for the future development of capitalist society. For the bourgeoisie is now in danger of losing an adversary that has objectively supported it by investing all opposition to its order with a purely illusory unity. A rift in the pseudo-revolutionary component of the established division of spectacular labor can only herald the end of that system itself. This spectacular aspect of the dissolution of the workers' movement is thus itself headed for dissolution.


THE MIRAGE OF LENINISM today has no basis today outside the various Trotskyist tendencies, where the conflation of the proletarian project with a hierarchical organization grounded in ideology has stolidly survived all the evidence of that conflation's real consequences. The gap between Trotskyism and a revolutionary critique of present-day society is in effect coextensive with the respectful distance that the Trotskyists maintain toward positions that were already mistaken when they played themselves out in a real struggle. Until 1927 Trotsky remained fundamentally loyal to the high bureaucracy, though he sought to gain control of this bureaucracy and cause it to resume a properly Bolshevik foreign policy. (It is well known that at this time he went so far, in order to help conceal Lenin's famous "Testament," as to disavow slanderously his supporter Max Eastman, who had made it public.) Trotsky was doomed by his basic perspective; the fact was that as soon as the bureaucratic class knew itself, on the basis of the results of its action, to be a counterrevolutionary class on the domestic front, it was bound to opt for a counterrevolutionary role on the world stage, albeit one assumed in the name of revolution — in short, to act abroad just as it did at home. Trotsky's subsequent struggle to set up a Fourth International enshrined the same inconsistency. Having once, during the second Russian revolution, become an unconditional partisan of the Bolshevik form of organization, Trotsky simply refused, for the rest of his life, to see that the bureaucracy's power was the power of a separate class. When Lukacs, in 1923, pointed to this same organizational form as the long-sought mediation between theory and practice thanks to which proletarians, instead of being mere "spectators" of events that occur in their own organization, consciously choose and experience those events, what he was describing as actual virtues of the Bolshevik party were in fact everything that the Party was not. The depth of his theoretical work notwithstanding, Lukacs was an ideologist speaking for a power that was in the crudest way external to the proletarian movement, believing and giving his audience to believe that he himself, his entire personal being, partook of this power as though it were truly his own. While subsequent events were to demonstrate exactly how the power in question repudiated and eliminated its servants, Lukacs, with his endless self-repudiations, revealed with caricatural clarity precisely what he had identified with, namely, the opposite of himself, and the opposite of everything for which he had argued in History and Class Consciousness. No one better than Lukacs illustrates the validity of a fundamental rule for assessing all the intellectuals of this century: what they respect is a precise gauge of their own contemptible reality. It certainly cannot be said that Lenin encouraged illusions of this kind concerning his activities, for it was Lenin who acknowledged that "a political party cannot examine its members to see whether contradictions exist between their philosophy and the party program." The real subject of Lukacs's purely imaginary — and inopportune — portrait was a party that was indeed coherent with respect to one precise and partial task only — to wit, the seizure of State power.


THE NEO-LENINIST mirage entertained by present-day Trotskyism is contradicted at every moment by the reality of modern capitalist society, whether of the bourgeois or the bureaucratic type. It is therefore not surprising that it gets its best reception in the formally independent "underdeveloped" countries, where a variety of fraudulent versions of state and bureaucratic socialism are consciously passed off by local ruling classes as, quite simply, the ideology of economic development. The hybrid nature of such classes is more or less directly associated with their position on the bourgeois-bureaucratic spectrum. Their international maneuvering between these two poles of existing capitalist power, along with ideological compromises (notably with Islam) corresponding to their heterogeneous social bases, together serve to strip these last retreads of ideological socialism of all credibility except for that of their police. One type of bureaucracy has established itself by providing a common framework for nationalist struggle and peasant agrarian revolt; in such cases, as in China, the Stalinist model of industrialization tends to be applied in societies even less advanced than the Russia of 1917. A bureaucracy capable of industrializing a nation may also arise out of the petty bourgeoisie, with power being seized by army officers, as happened for instance in Egypt. In other places, among them Algeria following its war of independence, a bureaucracy that has established itself as a para-State authority in the course of a struggle seeks stability through compromise, and fuses with a weak national bourgeoisie. Lastly, in those former colonies of black Africa that have maintained overt ties to Western bourgeoisies, whether European or American, a local bourgeoisie is constituted — generally reposing on the power of traditional tribal chiefs — through possession of the State: in such countries, where foreign imperialism is still the true master of the economy, a stage is reached at which the compradors' compensation for the sale of local products is ownership of a local State that is independent of the masses though not of the imperialist power. The result is an artificial bourgeoisie that is incapable of accumulating capital and merely squanders its revenue — as much the portion of surplus value it extracts from local labor as the foreign subsidies it receives from protector States or monopolies. The manifest incapacity of such a bourgeoisie to fulfill normal bourgeois economic functions leads to its soon being confronted by a subversive opposition, structured on the bureaucratic model and more or less well adapted to local conditions, that is eager to usurp what the bourgeoisie has inherited. But the successful realization by any bureaucracy of its fundamental project of industrialization itself necessarily embodies the prospect of its historical failure, for as it accumulates capital it also accumulates the proletariat, so creating its own negation in countries where that negation did not yet exist.


IN THE COURSE OF the complex and terrible evolution that has brought the era of class struggle under a new set of conditions, the proletariat of the industrialized countries has lost the ability to assert its own independence. It has also, in the last reckoning, lost its illusions. But it has not lost its being. The proletariat has not been eliminated, and indeed it remains irreducibly present, under the intensified alienation of modern capitalism, in the shape of the vast mass of workers who have lost all power over the use of their own lives and who, once they realize this, must necessarily redefine themselves as the proletariat — as negation at work in the bosom of today's society. This class is objectively reinforced by the peasantry's gradual disappearance, as also by the extension of the logic of the factory system to a broad sector of labor in the "services" and the intellectual professions. Subjectively, though, this is a proletariat still very far removed from any practical class consciousness, and this goes not only for white-collar workers but also for wage workers who as yet know nothing but the impotence and mystifications of the old politics. But when the proletariat discovers that its own externalized power conspires in the continual reinforcement of capitalist society, no longer merely thanks to the alienation of its labor, but also thanks to the form taken on by unions, parties and institutions of State power that it had established in pursuit of its own self-emancipation, then it must also discover through concrete historical experience that it is indeed that class which is totally opposed to all reified externalizations and all specializations of power. The proletariat is the bearer of a revolution that can leave no other sphere of society untransformed, that enforces the permanent domination of the past by the present and demands a universal critique of separation; the action of the proletariat must assume a form adequate to these tasks. No quantitative relief of its poverty, no illusory hierarchical incorporation, can supply a lasting cure for its dissatisfaction, for the proletariat cannot truly recognize itself in any particular wrong it has suffered; nor, therefore, in the righting of any particular wrong — nor even in the righting of many such wrongs; but only in the righting of the unqualified wrong that has been perpetrated upon it — the universal wrong of its exclusion from life.


SIGNS OF A NEW and growing tendency toward negation proliferate in the more economically advanced countries. The spectacular system reacts to these signs with incomprehension or attempts to misrepresent them, but they are sufficient proof that a new period has begun. After the failure of the working class's first subversive assault on capitalism, we are now witness to the failure of capitalist abundance. On the one hand, we see anti-union struggles of Western workers that have to be repressed (and repressed primarily by the unions themselves); at the same time rebellious tendencies among the young generate a protest that is still tentative and amorphous, yet already clearly embodies a rejection of the specialized sphere of the old politics, as well as of art and everyday life. These are two sides of the same coin, both signaling a new spontaneous struggle emerging under the sign of criminality, both portents of a second proletarian onslaught on class society. When the enfants perdus of this as-yet immobile horde enter once again upon the battlefield, which has changed yet stayed the same, a new General Ludd will be at their head — leading them this time in an onslaught on the machinery of permitted consumption.


THAT "LONG-SOUGHT" political form whereby the economic emancipation of labor might finally be achieved" has taken on a clear outline in this century, in the shape of revolutionary workers' councils vesting all decision-making and executive powers in themselves and federating with one another through the exchange of delegates answerable to the base and recallable at any time. As yet such councils have enjoyed only a brief and experimental existence; their appearance has invariably occasioned attack and defeat by one or another of class society's means of defence — often including, it must be said, the presence of false consciousness within the councils themselves. As Pannekoek rightly stressed, the decision to set up workers' councils does not in itself provide solutions so much as it "proposes problems." Yet the power of workers' councils is the one context in which the problems of the revolution of the proletariat can be truly solved. It is here that the objective preconditions of historical consciousness are assembled, opening the door to the realization of that active direct communication which marks the end of all specialization, all hierarchy, and all separation, and thanks to which existing conditions are transformed "into the conditions of unity." And it is here too that the proletarian subject can emerge from the struggle against a purely contemplative role, for consciousness is now equal to the practical organization that it has chosen for itself, and it has become inseparable from a coherent intervention in history.


ONCE EMBODIED IN the power of workers councils — a power destined to supplant all other powers worldwide — the proletarian movement becomes its own product; this product is the producer himself, and in his own eyes the producer has himself as his goal. Only in this context can the spectacle's negation of life be negated in its turn.


THE APPEARANCE OF workers councils during the first quarter of this century was the high point of the proletarian movement, but this reality has gone unnoticed, or else been presented in travestied form, because it inevitably vanished along with the remainder of a movement that the whole historical experience of the time tended to deny and destroy. From the standpoint of the renewal of the proletariat's critical enterprise, however, the councils may be seen in their true light as the only undefeated aspect of a defeated movement: historical consciousness, aware that this is the only environment in which it can thrive, now perceives the councils as situated historically not at the periphery of an ebbing tide but rather at the center of a rising one.


A REVOLUTIONARY ORGANIZATION that exists before the establishment of the power of workers' councils — which must discover its own appropriate form through struggle — will know that, for all these historical reasons, it cannot represent the revolutionary class. It must simply recognize itself as radically separated from the world of separation.


THE REVOLUTIONARY ORGANIZATION is the coherent expression of the theory of praxis entering into two-way communication with practical struggles; it is thus part of the process of the coming into being of practical theory.


THE REVOLUTIONARY ORGANIZATION must necessarily constitute an integral critique of society — a critique, that is to say, which refuses to compromise with any form of separated power and which is directed globally against every aspect of alienated social life. In the revolutionary organization's struggle with class society, the weapons are nothing less than the essence of the antagonists themselves: the revolutionary organization cannot allow the conditions of division and hierarchy that obtain in the dominant society to be reproduced within itself. It must also fight constantly against its own distortion by and within the reigning spectacle. The only restriction on individual participation in the revolutionary organization's total democracy is that imposed by the effective recognition and appropriation by each member of the coherence of the organization's critique, a coherence that must be borne out both in critical theory proper and in the relationship between that theory and practical activity.


AS CAPITALISM'S ever-intensifying imposition of alienation at all levels makes it increasingly hard for workers to recognize and name their own impoverishment, and eventually puts them in the position of having either to reject it in its totality or do nothing at all, the revolutionary organization must learn that it can no longer combat alienation by means of alienated forms of struggle.


THE PROLETARIAN REVOLUTION is predicated entirely on the requirement that, for the first time, theory as the understanding of human practice be recognized and directly lived by the masses. This revolution demands that workers become dialecticians, and inscribe their thought upon practice; it thus asks much more of its men without qualities than the bourgeois revolution asked of those men with qualifications that it enlisted to run things (the partial ideological consciousness constructed by a segment of the bourgeois class had as its basis only a key portion of social life, namely the economy, where this class was already in power). It is thus the very evolution of class society into the spectacular organization of non-life that obliges the revolutionary project to become visibly what it always was in essence.


REVOLUTIONARY THEORY is now the sworn enemy of all revolutionary ideology — and it knows it.

V. Time and History