Archive for August 3, 2010

(this version is incomplete- it is missing section 5-8 to be added in the future.).Capitalist Domination and Working Class Sabotage

Domination and Sabotage

by Toni Negri

Author’s Preface

This booklet should be seen as a fifth chapter. The preceding chapters are the following: Crisis of the State-as-Planner: Communism and Working Class Organization (Feltrinelli, Milan, 1974); The Working Class Party Against Work (in Crisis and Working Class Organisation, Feltrinelli, Milan. 1976); and Self-valorisation of the Working Class and the Role of the Party ( in my book The State-Form, Feltrinelli, Milan ,1977).

As I say, a fifth chapter. And thus one which requires a reading of the preceding chapters.

While proof-reading this manuscript, I am thinking about how many things stand between each of these chapters. However, if nostalgia is possible within the revolution, then mine is not all melancholic.

A. Negri

Carona. 3rd Sept.1977

“Crime, through its constantly new methods of attack on property, constantly calls into being new methods of defence, and thus is as productive as strikes are in relation to the invention of machinery.”

Karl Marx: Theories of Surplus Value.

“What strikes me in your reasoning is that it remains within a schema of ‘up until today’. Now, a revolutionary undertaking is directed not only against the ‘today’, but also against the law of ‘up until today’.”

Michel Foucault: A Microphysics of Power

Chapter One: Lenin is supposed to have said…

Lenin is supposed to have said (a claim made by Keynes) that inflation is the weapon best guaranteed to bring about a crisis of the capitalist economies. The attribution of this statement to Lenin – a statement so much beloved by bourgeois economics and not just by Keynes, as evidenced by their continual repetition of it – is demonstrably apocryphal. This was recently shown by F.W.Fetter in Economica 44, Feb.1977, No.173, pp 77-80. The offending phrase is nowhere to be found in Lenin’s works. In fact, insofar as Lenin explicitly deals with the problems of inflation, his emphasis is along the lines of a moralistic denunciation of its effects on the poor classes – a denunciation well within the Socialist tradition.

This does not mean, however, that other Bolsheviks did not at various points stress the destabilising effect of inflation in relation to capitalist power. Preobrarzensky speaks for then all with his description of “paper money as a machine gun for the Finance Commissariat to fire at the bourgeoisie, enabling the monetary laws of that regime to be used in order to destroy it”. Also I am not implying that such a sentiment would have been uncharacteristic of Lenin: he was, after all, intent on grasping the interconnections between the revolutionary insurgence of the proletariat and the crisis of imperialism.

However, I am convinced that the sense of any such statement by Lenin would have been a complex thing. In fact, in Lenin’s teaching, any action that destabilises the capitalist regime is immediately accompanied by action that destructures capitalist’s system.

Insurrectional action against the State is articulated in relation to the task of destroying the State. I am not giving an anarchist interpretation of Lenin’s thought. I am simply highlighting the “destabilization-destructuration” nexus which is present in a precise and continuing manner in Lenin’s thinking, as in all revolutionary Marxist thinking (with the exception, realistically speaking, of anarchist immediatism). Thus, in this sense, F.W.Fetter is right when he says that the statement regarding the positive effect of inflation for the revolutionary process cannot be unreservedly attributed to Lenin: one cannot allow the destabilisation effect alone to predominate. The crisis of capitalism has to have a direction, which is imposed and controlled by the power of the proletariat. Destabilisation of the regime cannot be seen as distinct from the project of destructuring the system. The insurrection cannot be separated from the project of abolishing the State.

With this we arrive at the heart of today’s political debate. Two different positions are present within working class and proletarian autonomy. Destabilisation of the regime and destructuration of the system sometimes appear as divergent objectives, and as such they are built into differing tactical and strategic projects. Is it right that this divergence should exist?

Let us start by looking at the problem from capital’s viewpoint. For capital there is no problem: restructuration of the svstem is a precondition -the stabilisation of the regime, and vice-versa. The tactical problems arise within the relative rigidity of this relationship, and not outside it – at least, ever since capitalist development has rendered undesirable the option of operating force and duress (in the sense of mere physical force against the working class and the proletariat.

For capital the solution of the crisis consists in a restructuring of the system that will defeat and reintegrate the antagonistic components of the proletariat within the project of political stabilisation. In this sense capital is well aware of the importance of having the proletariat as antagonist and is also – often, in fact – aware of the quality of that antagonism. Capital has often accepted that the working class struggle is the motor of development – and has even accepted that proletarian self-valorisation should dicta the pace and nature of development: what it needs to eliminate is not the existence, but the antagonistic element of the working class movement. Taken this to (paradoxical) extremes, we could say that for capital there is no possibility of effective political stabilisation (ie no possibility of command and exploitation within a dimension of an enlarged reproduction of profit) except to the extent that it proves possible to take the proletarian movement as the base, the starting point for restructuration. The interests of the proletariat, however, are quite the opposite. The proletariat aims at a critical grasp of the nexus between stabilisation ard restructuration, in order then to attack it. To overthrow this relationship and to transform it into a project of destabilisation – and also destructuration – this is the interest of the working class. In general.

Now, to be particular: today we have two opposed fronts – that of capital and that of the proletariat. The divergent antagonism in the direction of the movement of the two fronts is absolutely clear. This is due to the singularity of the balance of power between the two classes in struggle. Both the classes have the ability to take action both on the system and on the regime; the actions of both are capable of directly affecting the nexus of the overall relationship. Thus, ‘if we do not focus our discussion on this nexus, on the way in which it is affected in an antagonistic manner by the two classes in struggle, we risk dangerously oversimplifying the debate.

For capital, as we have pointed out, the problem exists only in relative form. We could cite one or two examples. During the past 10 years we have seen such a continuous and active interpenetration of these two moments as to eliminate all “catastrophist” interpretations and theories of the crisis. The “crisis-State” has not for one moment ceased to be also a “planned-State”. All the elements of destabilisation that working class and proletarian struggle has brought into action against the State have one by one been taken on board by capital and transformed into instruments of restructuration. Inflation in particular, far from being a moment of destabilisation – has been transformed into its opposite – into a decisive instrument of restructuration. At a very high cost, admittedly: albeit within a deepening tendency of the rate of profit to fall, capital has been forced to take planned action which permitted the maintenance of (high) levels of working class valorisation and thus the non-devaluation of (overall) labour power. This notwithstanding, the “catastrophe” appears not to have materialised! Obviously this process has not been free of situations of subjective crisis for the capitalist class. But the constant, continuing operation of reinforcing the State-form -ie of the imposition of the law of value (albeit in continuously modifying form) as a measure and a synthesis of stabilisation and restructuration – has never faltered. When we speak of a crisis of the law of value, we must beware the fact that this law is in a crisis does not at all mean that it does not operate; rather it modifies its form, transforming it from a law of political economy into a form of State-command. But for capital there is no such thing as command without a content, and a quite specific content at that – a content of exploitation. Thus the rhythms of exploitation within which the social mechanism of the reproduction of exploitation is to be stabilised, must be dictated by the law of value. ‘Then the proletariat respectfully declines this invitation to dinner, when all the economic parameters of the relationship explode, then it is factory command (commando d’impresa), it is the political transformation of factory-command into the State-form which takes the upper hand in order to redetermine the functional relationship of value, the law of exploitation.

Recent studies ‘(Lapo Berti in Primo Maggio, or Christian Marazzi and John Merrington’s presentation to the British Conference of Socialist economists in 1977) have broadly confirmed and documented this process, with particular regard to monetary questions – questions which today are undeniably fundamental to any consideration of the transformation of the law of value. This has led ‘to a correct insistence upon the theorisation of the capitalist State (and of it’s development) as the authoritative form of the capital relation (eg John Holloway, Sol Picciotto, in Capital and Class No.2, Summer 1977, pp 76-101). Thus, within the critique of political economy an understanding of the structural relation of capitalist development (and of the capitalist crisis) has been developing, in Opposition to existing purely objectivist notions.

But all this is not enough. The working class consciousness within the critique of political economy must transform itself into awareness of the revolutionary project. The proletarian opposition has no choice but to consolidate itself into practical overthrow, into subversion. But it is the whole relationship which, both in its political aspects and in its structural foundations, is to be subverted. It is not possible to simply eliminate the complexity of the relation imposed by the State form of the organisation of exploitation; we cannot escape – either via subjective voluntarism or via collective spontaneism – the difficulties, the problems, the determinations which arise from this form. We have come perilously close to this during the last phase of the struggle. The divergence has, as I stated earlier, involved a tendency for strategic and tactical projects to diverge. Is it right that this divergence should exist?

In my opinion it risks proving fatal for the entire movement. And in this situation I am really not sure which is preferable – a rapid decease brought about by the plague of subjectivity, or the long, slow agony and delirium of the syphilis of spontaneism. However, counter-indications do exist; a constructive project is possible. It is to be found and is being developed through the articulations of the mass line, in the dialectic that the proletariat continually puts in motion, the dialectic between its ability to consolidate itself structurally (the strengthening of that mass counter-power, which, in itself, tends to disorientate and throw out of balance capital’s plans for restructuration) and its capacity for political attack, (a destabilising capacity which shatters the nodes of the enemy’s power, which emphasises and shows the emptiness of the spectacular nature of that power, and destroys its force). This dialectic is internal to the mass movement, and we need to deepen it further. As I have stated, the project of destructuring the capitalist system cannot be separated from the project of destabilising capital’s regime. The necessity of this inter-relationship is revealed at the level of the power-relationship between the two classes, today, inasmuch as the mass line has been completely developed into a project of proletarian self-valorisation.

I should explain: the concept of proletarian self-valorisation is the opposite of the concept State-form – it is the form that power assumes within a further-developed workerist standpoint. Proletarian self-valorisation is immediately the destructuration of the enemy power; it is the process through which working class struggle today attacks directly the system of exploitation and its political regime. The socialisation of capitalist development has permitted the working class to transform the diverse moments of communist strategy (the insurrection and the abolition of the State) into a process and to unify them into a project. Proletarian self-valorisation is the global, mass, productive figuration of this project. Its dialectic is powerful inasmuch as it is global, and global inasmuch as it is powerful. Elsewhere (in La Forma-Stato – “The State Form” – Feltrinelli, Milan 1977, pp 297-342) I have tried to demonstrate the formal conditions whereby the Marxist critique of political economy reveals the independence of the working class as a project of self-valorisation. Now we are forced by the constructive polemic that is going on in the Movement to think out the real and immediate political condition’s for this independence of the proletariat. And within the Movement we shall have a battle on two fronts: against the diseases of insurrectionism and subjectivism on the one hand; and on the other – most importantly – against the opportunism, streaked with pacifist Utopianism, which mythologises the gentle growth of an impotent “movement” of desires and nothing else.

It is clear that the polemic within the Movement can only develop if it takes as its practical and theoretical starting point the deepening of both the concept and the experiences of proletarian self-valorisation. This is something I shall attempt in the course of this book. But it may be useful to anticipate one particular polemical point of departure, in relation to two recent propositions: that of Lea Melandri (L’Infamia Originale, Milan 1977) and that of Furio di Paola (Quaderni di Ombre Rosse No.1, Rome 1977). In both these cases the discussion is built around a radical initial mystification, from which we must free ourselves right from the start. It is a mystification that arises from a radicalisation of the polemic against “power”, in which the specific and determined nature of power is denied. In fact, for these comrades power can be – in the words of the old philosophers – predicated only univocally – ie defined and qualified solely as an attribute of capital or as its reflection. This position is false, even if it does correctly pose the problem of the non-homologability of the concept of power as between its capitalist usage and its proletarian usage (ie the untranslatability of the term). But, precisely, this is a problem of method ‘which cannot be answered with a reply that is radically negative in its content. From this point of view you end up playing into the enemy’s hands – ie you maintain that the only meaningful linguistic horizon is that pertaining to the structure of capitalist power (a position which, apart from anything else, is contradictory with the spirit and the method of approach to the analysis of self-valorisation within women’s autonomy and youth autonomy which forms the substance of both these essays).

And it is this which is false. Power, party: Panzieri used to say “that in such conditions the party will become something wholly new, and it even becomes difficult to use that term”. Very true. But elsewhere, and in the same sense, he adds: “no revolution without a party”. And we might further add: “without power, no proletarian self-valorisation”. And then we could even change the terminology, if you like! But first let us reconquer the dialectical unity of the process of proletarian self-valorisation, its tendency towards the destructuration of the enemy power as a project for its own liberation, as a powerful and effective struggle for its own proletarian independence.

One final note, as a prelude. It is not hard to understand how important it is at the level of militancy to stress the necessary relationship between action that is materially destructuring and action that politically restabilises the enemy power. Here in fact, that slender but strong thread that feeds subjectivity with a mass-content, which transforms proletarian love into struggle against the enemy, which gives a joint basis and a bonding of class hatred and the passion for freedom, finds again its unifying wellspring. The personal is political, through this collective mediation. It is the collective praxis of proletarian self-valorisation that determines the unity of the subjective awareness. It is this dynamic and productive being that constitutes our dignity as revolutionaries. Thus, both objectively and subjectively, we have no choice but to fight to re-establish the complexity of the revolutionary proposition, in relation to the independence of proletarian self-valorisation.

Chapter 2 Parenthesis no.1: Regarding Method

When I theorise an independence of the process of proletarian self-valorisation, and when I examine the possibility of its having an internal dialectic of continuous recomposition between structural functions and attacking functions, I am bound to draw certain methodological conclusions. First, it seems to me fundamental to consider the totality of the process of proletarian self-valorisation as alternative to, and radically different from, the totality of the process of capitalist production and reproduction. I realise that I am exaggerating the position, and oversimplifying its complexity. But I also know that this “intensive road”, this radical break with the totality of capitalist development, is a fundamental experience of the movement as it stands today.

Today the process of constituting class independence is first and foremost a process of separation.

I am emphasising this forced separation in order to clarify the overall meaninglessness of a capitalist world within which I find myself constituted in non-independent form, in the form of exploitation. I thus refuse to accept the recompositional dialectic of capital; I affirm in sectarian manner my own separateness, my own independence, the differentness of my consitution. As H.J.Krahl understood (in his book Constitution and Class Consciousness -a book which, with the passing of the years, becomes increasingly important), the totality of class consciousness is first and foremost an intensive condition, a process of intensification of class self-identity as a productive being, which destroys the relationship with the totality of the capitalist system.

Working class self-valorisation is first and foremost destructuration of the enemy totality, taken to a point of exclusivity in the self-recognition of the class’s collective independence. For my own part I do not see the history of class consciousness in a Lukacsiam sense, as some future all-embracing recomposition; on the contrary, I see it as a moment of intensive rooting within my own separateness. I am other – as also is the movement of that collective praxis within which I move. I belong to the other movement of the working class. Of course, I am aware of all the criticisms that could be levelled at this position from a traditional Marxist viewpoint. For my own part, I have the sense of having placed myself at the extreme limits of meaning in a political class debate. But anyone who comes with accusations, pressing me with criticism and telling me that I am wrong, must, in turn, accept the responsibility of being a participant in the monstrosities we have seen in the development of “socialism” – with its illicit dealings with the most disgusting results of the capitalist mode of production. It is only by recognising myself as other, only by insisting on the fact of my differentness as a radical totality that I have the possibility and the hope of a renewal.

Furthermore, in my insistence on this radical methodological rupture I am in good company. The continuity of the history of the working class revolutionary movement is the history of the discontinuity of that movement, the history of the radical ruptures that have characterised it. The revolutionary working class movement is continually being reborn from a virgin mother. The hacks of continuity are still alive and well in the History Institutes of the labour movement. But luckily militant historiography is undergoing a renaissance too, spurred by the experience of the ruptures in our present movement – and in our history-writing we are now confident enough to present the notion of the “other workers’ movement”. Thus the methodological precondition of an initial radical rupture (which we consider fundamental for any renewal of the social practice of the proletariat) is empirically corroborated by an extensive documentation (limited, perhaps, in scale, but remarkable in its intensity). When Karl-Heinz Roth (Die Andere Arbeiterbewegung – “The Other Workers’ Movement”, shortly to be published by CSE Books), or Gisela Bock La Formazione dell ‘Operaio Massa ne li USA – “The Formation of the Mass Worker in the USA” – Feltrinelli, Milano, 1976 tell the formidable story of how the working class in struggle has continually destroyed its own traditional organizations they are certainly not animated by a spirit or iconoclasm: rather, they are highlighting the radical, irreducible differentness of the revolutionary movement. This is a perspective which could also provide us with a feel for other historical revolutionary experiences of the proletariat – experiences that have proved victorious and have (therefore) been betrayed and destroyed.

So, I must assume this radical “otherness” as a methodological precondition of the subversive case we are arguing – namely the project of proletarian self-valorisation. But what about the relationship with the totality of history, the relationship with the totality of the system? Here I must now face up to the second methodological Consequence of my assumption: my relationship with the totality of capitalist development, with the totality of historical development, is guaranteed solely by the force of destructuration that the movement determines, by the global sabotage of the history of capital that the movement enacts. There is only one way that I can read the history of capital – as the history of a continuity of operations of self-re-establishment that capital and its State have to set in motion in order to counter the continuous breakdown process, the permanent provocation-towards-separation that the real movement brings about. The present state of things is built upon a continuity of destruction, of abolition of transcendence that the real movement brings about. I define myself by separating myself from the totality; I define the totality as other than me -as a net which is cast over the continuity of the historical sabotage that the class operates.

And thus (here is the third methodological implication) – there is no homology, no possible immediate translatability of languages, of logics, signs, between the reality of the movement as I experience it and the overall framework of capitalist development, with its contents and its objectives.

Let us now pause and consider the question from another angle. The fundamental point, however you look at the question, is obviously still the nexus between the process of self-valorisation and its effects in destructuration. I have taken this nexus to extremes, and I have defined it as separation. Basing myself on the experience of the movement, I have stressed first and foremost the subjective element. If I now approach the question from the objective point of view – the viewpoint of the Crisis-State (Stato-crisi), the position is no different. When the State, faced with the crisis in the functioning of the law of value, attempts to reimpose that law by force, mediating its own relation to capital in relation to the commodity form, it registers upon itself, in effect, the crisis of all homologous functions. Force does not substitute for value, but provides a surrogate for its form.

The law of value may be forcibly reintroduced, in spite of the crisis of That law, and its operations may be imposed in modified form – but this does not remove the void of significations that Power is forced to register. The Crisis-State is a power which lives in a vacuum of significations, a void, a logic of force/logic which is itself destructured. This logic, this critical form, is a “dark night in which all cows are white”: in other words, the meaning of the whole is not in any way provided by the perfect connection of the parts. The State’s investment in the totality is purely negative, in terms of meaning. The rule of total alienation is the only possible content of this project. The totality is a void, is structured as destructuration, as a radical lack of value. Thus it becomes clear what we mean in this case by a lack of homology. All the elements of the whole are unified in a technical sense; they only hang together in their mutual untranslatability; only in the form of a forced relationship. So, from an objective viewpoint too, the system can be seen – must be seen – as destructured.

However, while our consideration of the objective aspect of the situation confirms our analysis of the subjective aspect, the objective aspect has neither the same logical extension nor the capacity to substitute for the subjective. One cannot move from the understanding of destructuration as an effect, to the identification of the process of self-valorisation as the cause. This is particularly clear in the analytic principles of Michel Foucault (and in particular his methodological treatment in La Volonte de Savoir), which have caught my attention because of the way they strain after a notion of a productivity, a creativity of an unknown quantity located beyond the cognitive horizon.

This is also clear – and, furthermore, scandalous – in the various surreptitious attempts that are being made to reimpose a sense of conclusiveness on this destructured horizon. (These attempts, be they humanistic in inspiration, or conceived in terms of Wille zur Macht, do nonetheless start from a correct perception of the blind objectivity of the development of capital’s system. Regarding Cacciari’s Krisis – Feltrinelli, Milan 1977 – see my review in Nos.155-156 of Aut-Aut). But this surreptitiously-restated homology this “revolution from above” in the absence of radical significance – can be seen clearly, in the light of what we have said, for what it is – a fraud.

The above considerations lead me now to confirm my original hypothesis of the prevalence of the subjective in the explanation of the present-day dialectic of capital. Taking the subjective viewpoint to extremes does not negate its methodological validity. Rather, it confirms and extends it. It permits me, in the articulation between self-valorisation and destructuration, to avoid both premature reductivist foreclosures of the problem (because in fact it is the productivity of the proletarian subject that structures the destructuration, ie negatively determines its own opposite); and, on the other hand, totalising dialectical extensions of the discourse, because, in this case, there are no longer any homologous functions.

We are not suggesting that methodology in any sense resolves the problems that face us (although a correct framing of the solution is greatly facilitated). We know that the methodological hypothesis requires confirmation from class analysis. It is only the theoretical-political determination of the composition of the working class that can offer a sound basis for a methodological hypothesis such as ours. And in fact the following methodological approximations, without pretending to be exhaustive, confirm our initial methodological assumption that, today, the establishment of working class independence takes place first and foremost in its separation. But separation in this instance means breaking the capital relation. Separation also means that, having reached the highest point of socialisation, the working class breaks the laws of the social mediation of capital. Marx in Capital Vol.11, 1, calls for “another mode of inquiry” in the analysis of the metamorphoses of overall social capital. Is this to be a logic of separation? Is it to be a Darstellung built on carrying to extremity this independent proletarian subjectivity, built on the movements of proletarian self-valorisation as such?

I think that these questions are important for the further development of this essay. However, before going further, they can be further articulated at a formal and methodological level, in order to constitute a framework for the ensuing debate. Let us look more closely. As I have said, the separateness of the proletarian subject is organised in the dialectic between self-valorising productivity and functions of destructuration. I know, however, that this dialectic does not produce effects of homology and of totalisation, because it is a dialectic of separation. But, equally necessarily it is inherent in The complexity of The events that are being determined. How? In particular, how does this articulation of a separate subject relate to the constitution of capitalist domination? Secondly and conversely, how precisely does the constitutive process of the collective subjectivity proceed, in all its radicality and intensity?

In short, what are the laws that govern (albeit in a situation of separateness, of lack of any homology) the parallel and opposed processes of the State-form and of proletarian self-valorisation?

The further development of this book will be dedicated to answering these questions. But in defining the problems we can now add a couple of further notes – first in relation to the self-valorisation/destructuration nexus. In the history of socialist thought and practice.The sense of proletarian self-valorisation has often been expressed with original intensity. (If Gramsci’s teachings can be retained in any useful sense today, it is certainly in this regard). But it is never expressed in terms of separateness – rather it is always expressed in a dialectical sense in relation to the totality. Reciprocation takes the place of opposition. In the social-anarchist tradition this reciprocity, this correspondence, has been played out in terms of the dialectic between centralisation and decentralisation. Thus it is not difficult, in a critique that starts with Marx and stretches through to Foucault’s edition of the Panopticon, to demonstrate the perfect compatibility of Proudhon and Bentham. But this compatibility also exists in the tradition of “scientific socialism” – this time not extensive (between centralization and decentralisation), but intensive between the general working class interest and the general interests of society, between socialism and democracy). This compatibility, of the process of self-valorisation with the productive structuration of society, is a myth. It is not Proudhon and Bentham, but Rousseau and Stalin who are the fathers of this much-loved synthesis. personally, I have no time for the so-called “nouveaux philosophes”, but I must say I am rather disconcerted when I see representatives of the historical parties of the working class, who have always been enamoured of the link between rationalism and productive Stalinism, insulting these young philosophers for having drawn attention to this mystifying connection”.

In short, they are addressing themselves to a problem which no longer has any real basis. Class self-valorisation has nothing to do with the structuration of capital. But it has a lot to do with its de-structuration. The whole of capitalist development, ever since the working class reached its present high level of composition, has been nothing other than the obverse, a reaction to, a following-in-the-footsteps-of proletarian self-yalorisation -a repeated operation of self-protection, of recuperation, of adjustment in relation to the effects of self-valorisation, which are effects of sabotage of the capitalist machine. Tronti is correct in his latest utterance that the modern State is the political form of the autonomy of the working class. But correct in what sense? In the sense – for him too, with his revamped socialism – of compatibility and convergence? Not at all, comrade: here the methodology of the critique of political economy has to be modified, taking as its starting point proletarian self-valorisation, its separateness, and the effects of sabotage that it determines. In particular it is within this perspective that we must frame our analysis of the State-form.

If our analysis of the nexus between self-valorisation and State structure leads us along a path of causality that is negative and destructuring, the situation is different when we come to consider our methodological approach to the nexus of self-valorisation with itself in its separateness. Here we shall have to stress and adequately analyse the synchronous dimensions of the process. But here, too, there can be no recourse to models of “continuity”, to functional determinations! What can be said straightaway -because it constitutes the heart and substance of the methodological proposition itself – is that the separateness of proletarian self-valorisation itself appears as a discontinuity, as aconjoining of leaps and innovations. The method of social transformation that derives from the self-valorising separateness of the proletariat has nothing in common with the homologies of rationalist or historicist progressivism. Proletarian self-valorisation is the power to withdraw from exchange value and the ability to reappropriate the world of use values. The homologies of progressivism relate to exchange value. The rupture and recognition of the class’s own independent productive force, removes any possibility of a resolutive dialectic. The dialectical positivity of method in the separateness of proletarian self-valorisation is wholly and solely innovative.

Chapter 3 The Form of the Domination

Having outlined our polemical methodological premises, we can now start on the substance of the matter. Facing us stands the State; among us -and sometimes within us – stands the form of the domination. To struggle means that we must recognise the monstrous nature of the power that stands facing us, recognise it with the same immediate clarity and on the same level as we have seen the relationship between self-valorisation and destructuration. Now, this monstrous nature of power is the effect of our sabotage; it is the negative result of our actions:

“Crime,” says Marx, “through its constantly new methods of attack on property, constantly calls into being new methods of defence, and thus is as productive as strikes are in relation to the invention of machinery”. (K.Marx, Theories of Surplus Value)

This is no paradox – Marx does not like the paradox label, not even in the case of Mandevilles Fable of the Bees; this pleasure he leaves to the “philistine apologists of the bourgeois school”. It is, rather, a key to understanding. In point of fact, the more we sabotage the State and the more we give expression to the self-valorisation/destructuration nexus, the more the rules governing the development of capital’s State-system become ferocious, monstrous and irrational’. So now let us l9ok at how the State and the system of social domination respond to the social sabotage which results from self-valorisation, and let us look at the logic that they express – a logic which is internally coherent, but which is nonetheless negative; a logic of destructuration which can never be sublimated, but only precipitated further.

Capital’s continual restructuration is its response to working class sabotage. Restructuration is the empty but efficacious content of the State-form. Empty, because it lacks any rationality save that accredited by working class sabotage; efficacious, because the form of the restructuration is command. But bourgeois economy’s critical consciousness is obliged to fill the vacuum of its own process by spreading a wafer-thin (recuperated and mystified) formal rationality, over the timings set by working class and proletarian struggles. Let us look at how it proceeds.

Within the critical consciousness of bourgeois political economy, the evolution of the logic of co=and has taken place in at least three distinct phases, following on the great Crisis of the 1930s. Each one of these phases is matched by a particular quality and intensity of working class and proletarian struggles. Elsewhere (in the articles published in Operai e Stato (“Workers and the State”), Feltrinelli, Milan 1972) I have indicated the fundamental characteristics of the Keynesian epoch. In that epoch, control of working class struggle was to be achieved in global terms. Keynes replied to the formation and the struggles of the mass worker with an overall balancing – in progressive terms – of supply and demand. But Keynes based himself on a political proposition that was pure and general – he had stressed the overall trend. But when the trend comes into contra-diction with the actual progress of the cycle (because working class conflictuality does not respect finalized equilibria), the Keynesian sate goes into crisis. Who commands in the crisis? The Keynesian-bred politicians try to invent a “political trade cycle”, try to form “intermediate regimes” etc: in practice, control is little by little slipping out of their hands -the control-dimension no longer matches the dimensions of proletarian and working class conflictuality. A second phase opens. Alongside the theoretical progresses” that lead Sraffa and his ilk to a dissolution of the aggregate categories of Capital, more concretely we can observe that the working class struggle has a continuity that is discontinuous, and that the apparent continuity of the struggle is the outcome of an infinite series of individual crisis-points. The economic and political sciences of restructuration must take account of this. It is no longer possible to invent indeterminate macro-economic equilibria which are independent of short-run variations and independent of the micro-economic components which are variable within the unforeseeable timing determined by the struggles of the collective worker. Based on this necessity, we now see the formation of the State-as-Crisis, the Crisis-State (Stato-crisi), on the following lines: to divide up the overall thrust of the working class; to control it from within the mechanisms of its own accumulation; and to forestall it, by attacking it in its class composition. Keynes’ broad equilibria are replaced by an internal operation of decomposition, within the class, in an attack that is precisely orientated towards dealing with single and particular class crisis points – a microphysics of political economy. “The long-term trend is nothing other than a component – which alters slowly – of a chain of short-term situations” … “it is not an independent entity”. (Michael Kalecki, in Trend and Business Cvcles Reconsidered, in Economic Journal, July 1968, pp 263 seq.). Thus it becomes impossible to produce a model of development unless it takes explicit account of the interruptions that occur in the process of production and reproduction, and thus a fresh foundation is laid for a theory of development based on the theory of cyclical fluctuations, incorporating the dynamics that occur at the microeconomic level.

A long phase of bourgeois economic theory now develops around these premises. Michael Kalecki is the leading light in this movement (see Joan Robinson in New York Review of Books, 4th March 1976 – and in particular George R. Feiweel, The Intellectual Capital of M.Kalecki, Knoxville, Tennessee, 1975). But this theory also falls short. Crisis-State theory is, after all, a reformist theory. It faces up to the emerging productivity of the mass worker, and tries to construct an “economy of oligopolies” – on two fronts: on the one hand the capitalist entrepreneurial oligopoly, and on the other hand the working class-trade union oligopoly in the factory (M. Kalecki, “Class Struggle and the Distribution of National Income”, in Kyklos XXIV, 1971, pp 1 seq.) But in the meantime, the struggle has advanced; the action of the mass ,worker has gradually laid siege to the whole of society. We now see the worker developing as a “social” worker – even (and particularly) if still remaining a “workplace worker”. The worker responds to the Crisis-State even more violently than previously to the State-as-Planner (Stato-piano). If this latter went into crisis because of its inability to control the quantities of working class demand, the Crisis-State is forced into an internal self-criticism of what is now a socially inescapable (and immediately efficacious) extension of working class action. The Crisis-State is not only a State-form that is reformist to its roots – it is also, and above all, a State-form that is still linked in to the dimensions of direct production, to factory command over living labour. But when working class sabotage extends to invest the whole of society, the entire mechanism of circulation, forcing aggregate social capital into a confrontation over the rifles governing the reproduction of the system, at that same moment the consciousness of bourgeois political economy – which had actually been consolidating itself up to that point – goes into a further stage or crisis and disintegration.

It is interesting to note the formation of a third phase of theoretical development in the political economy of the Keynesian epoch. It is in the process of formation today, and draws on the elements of crisis in the previous schemas. In particular it tries to operate in a more generalised way on the social movements of the working class. Its central arena of interest is the question of circulation. The simple transition from global control of production (Keynes), to dynamic control of production (Kalecki) is insufficient. The problem is that of the functional control of circulation, of the dynamic nexus linking production and reproduction. And here the problem of time becomes fundamental. Keynes never concerned himself with the temporal determination of equilibria and secondary equilibria. Kalecki, on the other hand, stressed the necessity of determining Keynesiamism via the redefinition of phenomena within individual “time units”. And now, today, the temporal dimension is being extended to the whole of the process. In analytic terms, the new approach is a sort of Einsteinian theory of relativity: it involves the insertion of another dimension of analysis, in order to relativise the contents of that analysis. But this is indeed a strange kind of relativity: it is above all a relativity of time, the reduction of time to an indifference of command. In practical political terms we have an analytic mechanism which assumes circulation-time as a terrain of both theory and control. The totality of circulation-time is drawn into the economic analysis; the totality of circulation-time is to be controlled by economic policy: the hypothesis of the simultaneity of functions and operations within the cycle is not assumed in advance and abstract (a la neo-classics), but operational and political (a la Milton Friedman and his monetarist bedfellows). The Kaleckian interruptions of the short cycle are still mediations between the trend and the overall cycle: here science does not become separated in its application, does not waste its efforts in forecasting, but intensifies its analysis on every moment, every transition. It is a physics of elementary particles – and science stands watchful, like a policeman, over everything.

It is not the Marxists’ job to observe that the temporal dimension is decisive in the relation between circulation and reproduction, and in general within the relation as it impinges on the class struggle in the sphere of reproduction (although Geoff Kay draws attention to the problem in his very useful Development and Underdevelopment, Macmillan,London, 1975). It is not surprising that the problem is arising again. Rather, what is surprising is the fact that the proposition arouses so much passion. The philosophers are well aware of the problems associated with the dimension of time: infinitely sub-divisible and infinitely extendable. So how should we grasp the analytic proposition in operational terms; how are we to concretise the political project? It is not our job to answer this: suffice it to draw attention to the indeterminateness of the project. Rather, our task is to note how the process of destructuration within the logic of political economy is taking a further step forward. (See, apropos, the fine essay by A.Graziani, introducing R.Convenevole”s book La Dinamica del Salarid Relativo (“The Dynamic of the Relative Wage”), republished in Quaderni Piacentini, No.64, pp 113 seq.). In its anxiety to keep up with the process of working class attack against the general dimensions of exploitation, bourgeois political economy strips even the appearance of coherence from its logic, and forces itself into the role of a technical instrument against the emergence of the destructuring power of the working class; it extends itself over the indefinite discontinuity of the movement of self-valorisation state restructuration becomes increasingly an indiscriminate succession of actions of control, a technical apparatus that is effective, but which has lost all measure, all internal reference-points, all internal coherent logic.

Good working class theory rejoices at this. But, being responsible people, we must recognise the enormous weight of suffering, of inhumanity, of barbarities that all this brings with it. This revelation of the internal void of capitalist restructuration, this successive self-destruction of the moments of capitalist control, and this dissolution of theory into a technique of power, bring closer the final outcome of the revolutionary struggle. But at the same time it makes it hard to endure the harshness of the daily struggle and the cruelty of capital’s continued existence. (Note that certain theoretical positions that exist within the official labour movement, and which have nothing to do with Marxism – such as the famous theory of the “autonomy of the political” – ape these bourgeois affirmations). And yet it is still the action of the working class that brings about these effects -to The extent that the destructuring tendency of these struggles has a direct effect on the very rationality of capitalist restructuring, and removes this rationality, even in its formal aspect, and leaves us with a whole that is destructured, technical and repressive. The varied and combined modality of working class action is respected in every moment of the restructuration of capital: from the actions of the mass worker, and from those of the social” worker, arise effects that are then matched, in the sense of a subsequent radical destructuring of the enemy power.

Thus it is no accident that today the big forces of capitalist reformism have adopted – at a world-wide level – a terroristic strategy of savage deflation (or “dis-inflation”, if you prefer). On the basis of the experience of the fiscal crisis of the American cities this political line has been correctly described as a “regressive distribution of income, of wealth, and of power” (see the articles by Robert Zevin, and Roger A. Alcaly and Elen Bodian in The Fiscal Crisis of American Cities, New York, 1977).

The destructured logic of the economic compatibilities must in fact be extended downwards, to reach single individual social groups, in such a way as to destroy any consolidation of proletarian seif-valorisation. At every level. Generalised control must be deepened and intensified, to act on every point of linkage in the process of reproduction; it must allow the destruction of every rigidity; it must fluidify, in a new manner, the cycle of capitalist reproduction. But – you say – this has always happened! This is one of the laws of capital! Certainly. But what makes the present situation specific is the depth, the intensity, the extensiveness of the control. Capital has been subjected to a class pressure at the social level, which has definitively destructured its terms of reference. Right down to the level of factory-command (commando-impresa), command is in crisis. Restructuration, at this point, is pure form-of-domination. It aims to be effective even at the level of the individual unit of production, the single social group, the single individual. Thus it is no accident that, acting at such a depth and within such micro-economic dimensions, State power is once again, for the first time in several decades, resurrecting the ideology of Freedom!

At this stage, the capitalist determination (whose articulations attempt to follow the social emergence of The processes of proletarian self-valorisation, and which has to face up to the destructuration effects that these engender), reaches a high point of its logical vacuity: here the reimposition of the law of value within restructuration is violence and is logically founded on criteria of indifference. However, this in no sense diminishes the efficacity of the project of restructuration. The specification of the indifference starts from command. If the social struggle of the working class has driven the capitalist brain into a position of formal indifference, then capitalist command tries to specify itself materially on this possibility. It is important to emphasise this transition. It is important because with it comes a fundamental shift in the development of the contemporary form of the State. That very social-democratic project, which since the time of Keynes has been at the centre of capital’s interests within the restructuring process, is now subsumed to the indifference of the possibilities of capital. This is perhaps a splendid example of how working class and proletarian self-valorisation has destroyed an instance of the enemy. The social-democratic project is beginning to disintegrate, and from this point of view, the euphoria That is accompanying the present development of the various Euro-communisms is slightly macabre.

So, concretely speaking, what is the centre of the capitalist restruct-uration project today? How is the form of domination being realised? The fact of command over living labour taking The upper hand over the law of value is not something new: but what is specific to today’s restructuration is the conjuncture of command together with the indifference of the contents of command and of its articulations. This capitalist conclusion derives from the powerful socialisation of the revolutionary movement of the proletarian class; it is the obverse of this. In this situation, capital’s initiative becomes regressive – in other words, it has to base itself on a logic that is as empty as it is separate. Once again a premise which, to us, is fundamental – ie the separateness of the cycles of capital and its State-form from the cycle of working class self-valorisation – is verified. But at this point a whole series of problems re-emerge. In particular, if we want to identify not so much the centre, as the specific content of capitalist restructuration. This terrible void and indifference, this terribly weak and at the same time ferocious freedom of capital – how is it determined today?

For the moment I know only one thing. That from the working class point of view – having arrived at this level of awareness – the effects of the destructuring action that I have set in motion force me to confront -in a destructive manner – capital’s powers of stabilisation. And this means, above all, confronting that power which ;provides the breeding ground for the multiple indifferent possibilities of domination. Destructuration of the enemy system involves the immediate necessity of attacking and destabilising its political regime.

Chapter Four. Parenthesis no.2: Regarding the wage

I find myself in a complex theoretical position. I must, at one and the same time, show how The form of capitalist domination is subordinated to the process of working class and proletarian self-valorisation – and at the same time show The resulting determinations in the destructured separateness of command. This, in fact, is the sense of the question that I posed earlier: how does one specify and determine the indifference of command?

As regards the first proposition, I think I have already gone some way towards proving my point. In short, at the same time as capital is living through The complete socialisation of the productive power of the working class, you rind that the (Keynesian and/or Kaleckian) instruments that it had at its disposal for controlling the relation between production and reproduction (based on a balancing of supply and demand, on the twin basis of an expanding employment base and an expanding production base) fail. Why do they fail? Because the mechanisms of capital’s reproduction and the mechanisms of reproduction of the working class are no longer operating synchronously. The social self-valorisation of the working class accentuates, in an antagonistic sense, both the quality and the quantity of working class needs. It radicalises the aspect of simple circulation, over against the global reproduction of all the dimensions of capital. At this point, as we have seen (and as Christian Marazzi describes so well in his Intervention on Public Expenditure, Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris, April 1977, mimeo, “the needs of social expenditure have to be met, inasmuch as they have to guarantee a continuity of production and reproduction of aggregate labour power. This Therefore sets in motion a State monetary phenomenon which, unlike Keynesian deficit spending, must make possible a simultaneity of both capitalist and working class reproduction”.

Thus all the channels of administration – and not merely the monetary aspect – must work to provide possibilities of reducing to zero the relation between supply and demand. Given the actual strength of the working class, the problem is thus to reduce the autonomous reproduction-time of the working class. Thus the separateness of capitalist command could not be clearer. Its destructuration springs from capital’s realisation that every attempt to match up to the given articulation of the working class and the proletariat fails, for this very reason of the split timings of capitalist and proletarian reproduction. Only command, conceived as indifference, conceived as a capacity for separate self-reproduction of itself -only this command can hope to succeed. Capital is driven to daydreams of self-sufficiency. It is no accident that, at this extreme, we see the re-emergence of economic theories that we Thought long dead and buried -theories of the self-sufficiency of cappital and its money – memories of neo-classicism, and quantitative monetarist practices.

But dreams are only dreams for all that: that noisy alarm clock of the class struggle is still there to wake you up. So the capitalist State now has to rearticulate in positive terms the separate essence of its command. From a practical and theoretical point of view, there has certainly been a profound and significant advance: here the destruction of the value-terms of the capitalist social relation is no longer a result, but a starting point; it is no longer a “result suffered”, but a proud and arrogant “act of will”. Indeed, never before has the capitalist State been so politically autonomous! It still remains necessary for capitalist command to be articulated, but henceforth its parameters will be based on this separateness. The source and the legitimation of power are no longer the law of value and its dialectic, but the law of command and its hierarchy. Having been forced into the most radical material destructuration, capital’s State must now restructure itself ideally. The free productive State characteristic of the capitalist revolution is now reduced to a corporative, hierarchical form – to the organisation of appearances. This is the only logic of the so-called “autonomy of the political”. Henceforth neither political economy and the critique of political economy, nor the analysis of class and class composition, can adequately explain this destructured reality: only descriptive sociology is fitted for following this phenomenon!

This is the State-based-on-Income-as-Revenue, the State-of-Revenue (Stato-rendita). A State of political income. The one absolute value against which all other hierarchical values must measure themselves is political power. And this one absolute value is the foundation for the construction of a rising ladder of differential incomes, whose value is calculated on the basis of one’s greater or lesser distance from the centre, from the point of production of power. (In addition to The work of Romano AIquati, see the article by G.Bossi in Aut-Aut No.159-160, pp 73 seq.). Power is the simultaneity, the point of perfect compatibility of the mechanisms of production and reproduction, and it is from this that circulation must proceed, accepting its authority. One’s location in the hierarchy, the nature of the corporative structure, and the respective positions of the various “separate bodies” (corpi separati) – all these are articulated according to this logic. These differential incomes are distributed according to the variability of one’s insertion within the hierarchy, within the articulation of command. This, then, is the only form within which the “indifference” can be determined. The party-State (Stato-de-Partiti) and the system of public administration tend to guarantee this specification of differential income as the form and the content of political power (see Sergio Bologna “The Tribe of Moles”, in Primo Maggio No.8, Spring 1977) (page 67 in this book).

Now, all of this is of direct relevance to productive labour. What, in short, is the nature of productive labour within the State-of-Income-as-Revenue? From capital’s point of view we can define it as that cart of social labour which has been trade-unionised, corporatised, placed and located within the “separateness” of the State hierarchy. From this point of view, the extent of your faithfulness to the system is watched more closely than the actual value you produce. The labour market – ie aggregate labour power in its relative independence – is sectionalised according to the hierarchical values advanced by the system (see Glen a Cain “The Challenge of Segmented Labour Market Theories to Orthodox Theory: A Survey”, in Journal of Economic Literature, December 1976). Of course, every time the State mechanism intervenes in the reality of The class struggle in a direct manner, the game becomes harder. In particular, when the intensity of the approach cannot be mystified, when the intervention takes place at the point of greatest contradiction. To take an initiative against the labour market in order to divide it, to sectionalise it, to hierarchise it (when it is precisely at this level that productive labour has made itself general, and where “small circulation” has made itself independent, and where reproduction seeks to be self-valorisation. See, apropos, the useful notes by M.Aglietta: “Panorama et nouveaux developpements sur les theories de l’emploi”. mimeo, INSEE 14/1/1977 MA/SP 320/ 3564) – to take such an initiative, as I said, against this concrete reality guarantees a maximum of violence and mystification. Because here the two extremes of the process that we are describing, meet: on the one hand the unified material base of the processes of proletarian self-valorisation, and on the other The active, repressive figure of the State-power that has been destructured by the struggles.

It is worth pausing for a moment to consider this central moment, and to emphasise some of the consequences of what we have been saying, as regards the theorisation of proletarian self-valorisation. Now, two elements are immediately clear. The first is that the wage is no longer at this point, in its economic identity, an independent variable. It is completely subordinated to the entire dynamic of power, to the entire framework of the political autonomy of the State. The wage is reduced to the hierarchy of command, in a process which is the counter-part, the obverse of, the repression of the unity of the proletariat at the social level. This leads us to the second consequence: the centre of the working class and proletarian struggle consists in the recognition of the general aspects of the wage as a cost of reproduction of the unitv of the proletariat, of its self-valorisation. The problem is political, on both fronts – even if, as in this case, it is obvious that the meanings of the term “political” are not homologous – because we are dealing with meanings that are mutually opposed, completely and precisely antagonistic. For capital, politics is division and hierarchy, for the proletariat it is unity and equality; for capital it means the subordination of labour, for the proletariat it means the process of self-valorisation; for the State it means the simultaneity of the processes of production and reproduction, for the proletariat it means developing the ~independence of its own processes of reproduction, its dissymmetry, its discontinuity.

At this point, therefore, the problem of the wage (as the pivot-point of the antagonistic capital relation) has to be seen in a different light. The logic of separation – which flow;s from the process of self-valorisation, and which capital undergoes in a destructured and idealised form – leaves no margins of compromise in this respect. So it becomes obvious by the capitalist reaction to the development of the class struggle has expressed – itself particular’y around the problem of public expenditure – understood as the terrain on which the thrust of the working class struggle was reshaping the thematic of the wage, in effective terms of an offensive, bringing it up to the level of the project of self-valorisation. In the struggle over public spending, capitalist hierarchisation, the differential incomes accorded by State rower, the corporative mystifications of the trade unions, were coming under heavy attack, while the unity of social productive labour as the basis of the process of self-valorisation was increasing. This was indeed a “battle for production”! It gave the working class the possibility of regaining its own productive dignity, its unity, outside and against the mechanisms of State income, of State parasitism, which the trade unions and the forces of State power sought to impose on it. It gave the working class the possibility of finding a material base for its own productive unity – a possibility of opposing exploitation by self-valorisation.

Public spending and the wage are themes to which the analysis, the theory and the practice of revolutionaries will continually have to return, because in a situation of discontinuity in the cyclicity of the class struggle, the problem of public spending will, in the coming years, assume the same importance as the wage, narrowly defined, has had in years past. But we must be clear here: in the discontinuity of the movement, once again, no homology, no equation of terms is permissible. In other words, the theme of fighting public spending cuts is not simply an extension, a completion of the theme of the wage-struggle. The problem of public spending is not that of the social wage. It is rather the recognition, the imposition of the recognition that the unity of social labour, of the whole of social labour, today constitutes the only possible’ definition of the productivity of labour: this is the base for which capital must pay. It must pay for it, giving regard to its quality, its articulations, its determinante nature. It must recognise the independence of working class self-valorisation.

But, as we have seen, this does not happen. Rather, the contrary happen – the whole of capital’s attention is directed to the operation of differential income (restructuration) and to the consolidation, in absolute terms, of its political basis (stabilisation). Now, the mechanism of income-as-revenue must be destroyed: the struggle against public spending cuts is a struggle that directly attacks the mechanisms of command and the determination of income, and destroys those mechanisms. It destroys them by quantitatively raising public spending to the point of making it incompatible with the maintenance of command over reproduction, and by blocking qualitatively the relative choice of options. But this is not enough. There is also the question of a need for direct action. As follows. Some groups of workers, some strata of the working class, remain tied to the dimension of the wage, to its mystified terms. In other words, they are living oft income-as-revenue Inasmuch as they are living from income-as-revenue (even some who work in the big factories), they are stealing and expropriating proletarian surplus value – they are participating in the social-labour racket on the same terms as their management. These positions – and particularly the trade union practice that fosters them – are to be fought with violence if necessary. It will not be the first tine that a march of the unemployed has entered a large factory so that they can destroy the arrogance of salaried income! (See the accounts in Wal Hannington’s Unemployed Struggles).This was what the unemployed were doing in Britain in the 1920s – and quite rightly so.

Here, however, it is no longer simply a matter of the unemployed. Here we are dealing with all the protagonists in the social production of value who are rejecting and refusing the operation that capital has set in motion in order to destroy their unity: the workers of the large factories need to be brought back again into the battle-lines of this struggle. This is fundamental. The social majority of the proletariat, of socially-productive labour power, must impose the theme and practice of unity, resubmitting it to the attention of the workers in the large factories. The mass vanguards of the large factories must struggle, in conjunction with the proletarian movement, in order to destroy the blue-eyed boy syndrome, guaranteed by the trade unions in the big factories. This is fundamental. Here, in fact, we are dealing with the project – the living, effective project – of working class self-valorisation, which refuses, and must destroy, the vacuity of the rentier logic of capital, and all of its apparatuses.

Now, at this point I should answer those jackal voices that I already hear howling: I am not saying that the Mirafiori worker is not an exploited worker (this is the extent to which you have to go, in order to polemicise with jackals!). I am saying that the “Party of Mirafiori” must today live the politics of the proletarian majority, and that any position which is restricted purely to the necessary struggle in the factory, and which is not linked to the wider majority of the proletariat, is a position that is bound to lose. The factory struggle must live within the wider majority of the proletariat.

The privileged place of the wage in the continuity of proletarian struggle must, today, be extended to the struggle over public spending cuts. Only this struggle can enable the full self-recognition of the proletariat; can fix the bases of self-valorisation; can attack directly the theory and practice of income-as-revenue. On the other hand, the capitalist practice of political income defined according to the hierarchy of power is utterly fragile – fragile because it is completely ideal, in the sense of being political. Here the problem is no longer that of income-as-revenue, but that of its political foundation. Now, this “absolute” foundation is itself ideal – it is the point at which the threat to the whole machinery of capitalist development becomes manifest, to the extent that it has registered the crisis of the law of value. It has, therefore, an absolute limit. And thus it is nothing more than an attempt at overall mystification of the system of exploitation.

When Marx criticises Ricardo’s theory of absolute rent, he admits nonetheless that its tendency must be to disappear: the ‘toverestimation” of Ricardo’s differential rent would in this context become plausible. But here we are already in the situation where the survival of moments of absolute rent has already given way to the global domination of the capitalist mode of production. Mere the re-appearance of income-as-revenue no longer has any material foundation. It is a phantasma. The State-of-income-as-revenue develops two mystifications. The first is the one which joins differential income and its mechanisms to a generic emergence of the law of value (which, as we have already said, has been transmuted into the form of command over living labour); the second is that which seeks to consider the absolute nature of income at the level of the source of power it self, as its fundamental condition. But this too, as it happens, is pure and simple mystification: here we are not seeing the expression of an historical necessity tied to the period of development of the law of value – we are seeing simply the expression of the extreme limit of mystification, of forced reimposition of a law onto a proletarian world which otherwise would be impossible to dominate. At the same time, this proletarian movement represents the extreme dissolution of the very concept of power. And now enough of tirades on the nexus between Lenin and Wax Weber! Here, as in the thought of Lenin, thought and practice go in two opposite directions – working class freedom and bureaucratic indifference are two polar opposites -with the first being rational, the second irrational; the first being struggle, the second mere formalisation of income-as-power.

The indifference of command, therefore, is specified in a sort of political practice of income-as-revenue, whose absolute foundations lie in political authority, and whose differential lies within the system of hierarchy. This situation brings about a conception (and a reality) of the wage system which differs radically from the experience of wage struggles conducted by the “other” workerist movement in other historical epochs. Today, in fact, the wage struggle cannot be other Than immediately political, general and egalitarian. The principal terrain on which it moves is that of public spending, of the self-valorising overall reproduction of the proletariat. This terrain has to be rebuilt, together with the workers in the factories; this straggle must re-unify the terrain of the proletariat. And it can. And anyway, there is no alternative: or rather – there is an alternative – it is to accept subordination, to plunge into the whirlpool of destructuration, to abandon ourselves to destruction.

Chapter 5 and Nietzsche went to Parliament

Now, once again, the only point that we are interested in pursuing is the relationship between self-valorisation and destructuration. Reformism fundamentally denies this relationship rather it asserts that selt-valorisation is compatible with structuration – not destructuration. Valorisation, for reformism, is univocal: there is only capitalist valorisation. The problem is how to gain command over it. Everything else is Utopian. Eurocommunism sets itself up as a candidate to represent the developed working class, as a party that mediates’ the process of proletarian self-valorisation with the restructuration of capital. Euroconmunism is the party of restructuration -it is the party of the synthesis between proletarian self-valorisation and capitalist valorisation. Raving picked out of the mud the banners of democracy that the bourgeoisie had let drop, Eurocommunism now sets about gathering the banners of the economic development which capital had destructured. Thus any discussion about power is based, is organised solely within the virtuous circle of restructuration. And as for Eurocommunism’s objectives, they are more than clear: the conscious extension of the capitalist mode of production to the whole of society, and its (“socialist”) State-management.

Our intention here is not to demonstrate that this project is wicked, nasty etc. Rather, we believe we can show it to be impossible – undesirable, in fact, because it is not realistic but mystified. We believe it can be shown that the working class is moving – increasingly so, as it becomes more socialised – in terms that are antagonistic to this project. The battle is on, and it is a battle between the true and the false. And to conclude, we believe it can be shorn that Eurocommunism, inasmuch as it moves on these lines, presents no alternative whatsoever to capitalist development, but rather is the representation of a catastrophic subordination of the class to capital, a fragile and transitory element of capital’s State-form.

So, self-valorisation and restructuration. In reality, the decision as to whether or not these two terms are compatible is not merely a question of fact. Eurocommunism is innovatory in terms of Marxism, not because it denies the empirical conditions of the process of self-valorisation, but because it denies the working class and proletarian nature, the radically antagonistic potential, and the political relevance of that self-valorisation.

First, the working class and proletarian nature. Eurocommunism does not use the term self-valorisation, but rather the term “hegemony”. This term allows the processes of socialisation of the working class struggle from below to be interpreted along the lines of the dissolution of the class into “civil society”. It substitutes for a Marxist, class terminology, a Hegelian and populist one. Operating through this framework, Eurocommunism shifts the focus from the class struggle and the antagonism within the reproduction process, the terrain of class recomposition in the crisis, to “society” understood generally, and “politics” as the sphere of institutional power. By this means the terrain of self-valorisation is robbed of its class content. For Eurocommunism it becomes a marginal “frontier zone”, meaningful only in the terms of the reconstruction of a social totality.

Second: the denial of the radically antagonistic potential of the processes of working class self-valorisation is the dynamic consequence of the first negation. Once it is seen only as an ephemeral emergent phenomenon, it can only be expressed dynamically by way of its suppression within the social totality. This is the totality that is determined by the society of capital. So we are not dealing with an antagonism, according to Eurocommunism, but with an organic and functional dialectic between the classes, the terms of whose solution are provided by the balance of power and by relative compatibilities within the general interest. And the general interest is the development of capitalism.

And finally, the political relevance of working class self-valorisation will only be able to be restored by a general function, external, such as to be able to discriminate the functions within the project of the globality of development. Immediately, no political relevance can be given to working class and proletarian self-valorisation, all the more so since it is interpreted as on the extreme margins of the phenomenology of the “productive aphere”. Its movements do not contain a generality; its separateness is to be politically mediated through society, with society, in society; and the particularity of its interest is to be articulated with the generality of capital’s development.

Now, from negation to the affirmative. Only restructuration – say the Eurocommunists in addition and in conclusion – will provide the possibility Li of restoring the formal conditions for proletarian self-valorisation, within the capitalist mechanism of development. Restructuration reorganises the logic of capitalist development and structures it in relation to the needs of the proletariat: it goes therefore from the general to the particular, and only by proceeding in this direction can it give meaning to the emerging movements of the proletariat at the margins of “society”. The only way that the particular interests of the proletariat can be repaid in economic terms (of course, in a different manner, a manner which is organic and compatible with development), is by destroying those touchy, antagonistic points of particular interests that arise along the road that leads to the centrality of the function of restructuration. The social brain of the working class – the reformists continue – is the centre of the process of restructuration: it negates the economism of its stimuli, and transforms them into political direction; it negates the political direction and moulds it into a force to manage capital. In the more refined versions (Trans: Cacciari and others in the PCI) the insistence on the centrality of the political functions of restructuration vis-a-vis the class mechanism of self-valorisation reaches an extreme form of essentialism: functional formalism of the bourgeois tradition (Weber, Nietzsche) is recuperated and inverted into a pure autonomy of workers’ political power.

I think I have done justice to Eurocommunism in expounding its theory in these terms. In reality the operation is so clear-cut that there is little point in descending to polemic. And in fact, as has quite often been demonstrated, quite apart from the debasement of Marxism that this conception entails, it is shown to be false simply by the reality of the movement. When we say self-valorisation, we mean that the woricing class sets in motion an alternative on the terrain of production and reproduction, by appropriating to itself power and by re-appropriating wealth, in opposition to the capitalist mechanisms of accumulation and development.

We face a point where the process of proletarian self-valorisation has begun to invest the entire terrain of the socialisation of production, and of the circulation of commodities (every-increasingly subsumed within the mechanism of capitalist reproduction). We face, in short, an extension of the processes of valorisation (inclining essential modifications that are inherent to the concept of productive labour). And at this point every possibility of bestowing an antagonistic or “generalising” political function (on the party as the working class “brain”, on an “independence of the political” however conceived) – outside the process of self-valorisation itself, becomes less and less viable. Certainly, it is true that, in line with working class socialisation, capitalist society has been permanently restructured: infrastructures, services, education, housing policies, welfare policies etc multiply and determine an ever-wider context for the processes of self-valorisation.. But precisely this process reveals the characteristics of that self-valorisation: in fact it reproduces within itself – the more so the further it extends – the antagonistic characteristics of working class power. The working class struggle imposes a reorganisation of society, a capitalist restructuration. This restructuration must prove capable of matching a series of needs that are imposed by the struggles themselves. It is the quantity and the quality of the struggles that determine the reforms. But these still remain capitalist reforms, and the effect of the working class struggle on them is immediately a double effect: it reopens the struggle within this restructured fabric; and – through the subsequent extension and generalisation of the struggle – it destructures capitalist command at this level too, at this degree of extension. Working class self-valorisation does not find a possibility of continuity within restracturation: in restracturation it sees only an effect of its min strength, an increase of its own attacking possibilities, an extension of its own power capacity for overall destructuration of capital. So, there is no mediation possible at this level, either in institutional terms or in terms of economic re-structuration. Eurocommunism, seen from this angle, is living a lie: it claims a continuity with the processes of self-valorisation, which is not given – and consequently it is forced to mystify and to fight the effective movement of self-valorisation on the terms in which that movement actually expresses itself – as a potential of destructuration.

So it is no accident that the positions within Eurocommunism which have laid claim to a correct institutional mediation of the processes of self-valorisation, have also ended by being overturned by the illusion of mediation. From the factory struggles to the struggles for reforms, they said; then, from the struggle for reforms to a campaign to restructure capitalist~ initiative, to restructure the State. Was this a necessary continuity? Only as a step along the road of mystification! In fact, after a short while, we then saw these bright sparks returning into the factory: of necessity, the continuity which had led “from the struggles to the State” had now been put into reverse. Now they were speaking from within the logic of the State, and the antagonistic content of the worker’s’ factory struggles and the struggles for reforms, were totally subordinated to The State. The ‘processes of self-valorisation were now to be seen as “functions” of the capitalist State.

Let us now look at the working class viewpoint (il punto di vista operaio). It extends and spreads from the factory to the society; it forces capital into the organisation of social productive labour; it re-opens on this terrain a struggle that is continuous and increasingly efficacious. In valorising itself socially, the working class destructures capital increasingly as capital is increasingly forced to extend its direct command over society. Within this framework, the action of reformism and of Euro-communism is an element of the State-form of capitalism – but, we should note, in a subordinate and threadbare form. It does not succeed – in effect it cannot succeed – in ensuring that the rationale of self-valorisation prevails within capitalist restructuration. It remains prisoner of a destabilised, destrctured rationality which cannot be recomposed; it is hemmed in by the indifference of power, the transcendent nature of its unity. The bargaining tempo which is proper to the practice of reformism in the Keynesian State has become dissolved into the new process of distribution of political income. In this context the only credibility of reformism today takes the form of corporativism, as a subordinate articulation of the State-form. The sole compensation for this subordination is the mystified “bad faith” of belief in a political will and vocation, which takes the path of repression of the struggle, terroristic suppression of working class and proletarian self-valorisation But at what a price! The historical lesson of Germany is once again demonstrated.

So this Netzschean presence in Parliament is something to rejoice at. The situation is such that every failure of mystification is a victory for the working class. Faced with the impetuousness and the force of the process of working class self-valorisation, the coalitions that have determined the State-form of late capitalism are necessarily surrendering to the working class antagonism. Oligopolies, trade unions, the “middle classes” have for half a century – and certainly since the Rooseveltian revolution -dominated the framework of the State-form and have determined its constitutional foundations in the whole of the Western world. The working class is now emancipating itself from the institutions, imposing a continuous investment in public expenditure which is now purely and simply appropriation, a fact of power, dastri destructuration of the enemy. The capitalist response is disinvestment, is the flight from the confrontation with the class. There is no alternative to the fall of the rate of profit in this situation: whatever road is followed – that of the defence and maintenance of employment, or that of public spending – come what nay, the rate of profit is decreasing. (see W. Nordhaus, “The Falling Share of Profits”, in Brooking Papers on Economic Activity, No.1, 1974).

The relation of self-valorisation to restructuration – which is the only basis for any remaining dignity of reformism and Eurocommunism – thus has no standing whatsoever, from any point of view. Neither as regards the working class, nor as regards capitalism. From both standpoints, the relation appears antagonistic. And yet, because Power recognises that mystification can be efficacious, it can still be part of the State-form. Up to what point can this reformist participation in the State have a stable existence? From the moment where its function has been totally subordinated, the point will be determined by the struggle between the classes over the question of power. For the moment, reformism and Euro-communism are living an opaque, subordinate role within the framework of the State-form of capital. Corporativism and parasitism are the qualities of their existence.

Chapter of Michael Hardt’s dissertation which discusses Negri’s relation to Lenin and Leninism.

calm before the storm

also obtained from classagainstclass site.

Interview with Max Henniger

From Sociological to Ontological Inquiry with Max Henniger

The State and Public Spending

Posted: August 3, 2010 in 1970's, 1975

from 1975- pdf from folks at class against class.com which is currently down.

the state and public spending

Archeaology and Project (pdf)

from Revolution Retrieved by Red Notes

Introduction

This text, like the preceding one, belongs to Negri’s period in prison and was published, in the same anthology, Macchina Tempo, Feltrinelli, Milano 1982. The problematic of these essays is outlined in the introduction to the article above, ‘crisis of the Crisis-state’. The underlying theme is the need to redefine the class antagonism in advanced capitalism, at a level corresponding to the real, total subsumption of society, of social labour as a whole, to capitalist domination. This means, as Negri argues here – but also in earlier articles included in this volume – that the conception of the ‘working class’ has to be broadened and extended to contradiction and antagonism in the sphere of social reproduction as a whole – ie beyond direct production as such.

It follows that the analysis of the Italian workerists of the 1960s is in urgent need of being updated in the light of the structural crisis of labour power as such, the main motive force underlying the present permanent state of crisis. This change in class composition, the recomposition of class antagonism at a social level, is the major issue addressed in this essay. Here Negri traces the analysis and method of class composition from its early exponents, in the Italian workerism of the 1960s, to the new problems posed for analysis of the recomposition of the class movement today, the ‘remaking of the working class’ at the level of social antagonism which has now been reached.

For Negri, in contrast to the various theories of neo-functionalism and post-industrial sociology, the new movements of struggle in the social sphere represent a new level of class antagonism, which cannot be- reduced to a mere proliferation of new subjectivities around life-needs ‘signalling the end of any class relation based on the production of value and suplus-value.The crisis of the value form, seen as a class relation,is rather the starting point for a new level of class antagonism. And this analysis has to go beyond the narrow definitions of productive work, the ‘factoryist’ definitions of the working class that had dominated in orthodox Marxism for so long.

The emergence of this new social dimension of class struggle from the early-mid 1970s meant for Negri that the class analysis based on the concept of the ‘mass worker’, developed in the 1960s, had become too narrow to encompass the new level of antagonism, now extended beyond production to repoeduction as a whole. Hence the references to the need for a critique of and surpassallof the ‘political economy of the mass worker’. It should be pointed out – and Negri makes this clear – that the old workerist analysis was never simply a ‘factoryist’ conception of the class. In Tronti, for instance, the extension of the factory, and of production relations, to society was central to his whole theory of class antagonism in advanced capitalism. And his definition of ‘refusal of work’ at the strategic direction of the class struggle was not subsequently abandoned; indeed, for Negri it remains key in his updated class analysis. What had changed was that this ‘social extension ‘ could now no longer be seen simply in terms of the extension of wage demands from factory struggles. Through restructuration and the regime of austerity, the ‘extensivity’ of the factory wage struggle had been cut off , by division and segmentation of the labour market, between ‘guaranteed’ and ‘non-guaranteed’ sectors by expansion of the casual, part-time and underground economy etc, in short by what in italy is defined by the term ‘diffused factory’. This was one factor in requalifying the new social nature of the working class. The other was the social nature of the capitalist response to the crisis, which consisted in an attack on the social wage as a whole, through cuts in public spending, to bring back what Negri calls the ‘synchronisation’ between the independent reproduction of a fully socialized labour-power and the discipline of the wage/work relation.

Negri’s dynamic approach and analysis of the class antagonism today as that of fully socialised labour-power clearly puts him at variance with traditional, monolithic and corporation class definitions, restricted to waged workers in ‘direct’ production only. His emphasis on the growth of mobility, of part-time, casual and domestic work, the absence of job fixity, the diffusion of production in the ‘nformal’ economy, the unity of production, circulation and reproduction etc, in no way signals the ‘end of the working class’, but rather a higher level of socialization of the class antagonism over the whole social working day. The new social subjects of struggle are by no means ‘marginal’ – rather, their marginalisation is political.

This indeed was the key issue in the debate between the autonomists and the established Left in italy from the mid- 1970s onwards. Negri’s orthodox critics – particularly from PCI quarters, and including the erstwhile workerists of the old school – cast him in an ‘anti-worker’ role, a theme taken up by his prosecuting judges (see below). For the PCI, the new social struggles were defined as marginal movements of a new ‘dpetty-bourgeoisie’ or ‘lumpen proletariat’ etc, in other words in terms from the traditional Marxist vulgate for defining movements of the far Right! For the ex-workerist PCI spokesman Asor Rosa, the autonomists represented ‘non- privileged parasitic strata’; for Enrico Berlinguer, secretary of the PCI, nothing but ‘plague carriers’ and so on. For a major statement of the PCI positively supporting ‘democratic’ austerity at this time, see Enrico Berlinguer, Austerity, Occasione per Trasformare l’Italia (‘Austerity – An Opportunity for Transforming lta1y’), Ed. Riuniti, Rome 1977. It is sad to see that this official thesis of marginality (and the portrayal of Negri as ‘anti-workerist’) has been broadly accepted in the few reviews and comments on Negri that have appeared from English would-be critics of the PCI (for example, Alex Callinicos, Socialist Worker Review, July-August 1984; or Tobias Abse, Judging the PCI , New Left Review 153, 1985), For such commentators, the ‘marginals’ remain marginal, and the working class is a static, monolithic entity defined in narrow trade-union terms. As for how far Negri’s work ‘anticipates André Gorz’ (!) and represents ‘everyday anarchism’ (Callinicos), readers may iudze for themselves.

Negri himself answered the criticism that he denied the ‘centrality of the working class’ in a lengthy interview in 1978 ‘From the Mass Worker to the Social Worker’, cited above). He also drew attention to his emphasis on the word ‘worker’ in the term he uses to define the composition of the new class subjects. This analysis of class recomposition, of the multiple subjectivities and movements for communism today, has continued to be the major focus of Negri’s work, in dialogue with French collaborators, since his exile in France post- 1983: see Negri and Guattari, New Lines of Alliance, Semiotextte), Foreign Agents Series, New York 1986. For those who read French, the issues of contemporary class analysis in Italy are discussed further by Negri and others in a recent anthology: Italic, le Philosophy et le Gendarme, VLB Editeur, Montreal 1986. (European distribution: Réplique Diffusion, 66 rue René Boulanger, 75010 Paris, France.) The questions raised in this article are further developed in Negri’s recent work Fin de Siecle; forthcoming English edition entitled Politics of Subversion, Polity Press, Cambridge 1989; and in Fabbriche del Sozgetto, XXI Secolo, Livorno 1987.

Archaeology and Project: The Mass Worker and the Social Worker

1. Functions and Limitations of the Concept of the Mass Worker

In the wake of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1956, the critique of Stalinism which developed within the Italian labour movement above all put into question the traditional conception of the trade union. This had become an area of key concern. In 1953, there had been a resounding defeat of the Communist union at FIAT; in the years that followed, there were equally resounding defeats in line for the farm workers’ unions and the public sector unions (railway workers, postal workers etc). The fading (or downright disappearance) of any immediate prospect of a seizure of power, and a series of confusions at the ideological level, meant that the trade unions were being undermined as the transmission belt of the system; both their organizational form and their ideological basis were thrown into crisis.

But this crisis did not affect the radicalism of the working class. There began to appear a mass form of behaviour which was spontaneous, multiform, violent, mobile and disorderly -but which, nonetheless, was able to compensate for the lack of trade union leadership in ways that were both original and powerful – and while the union leaderships stuck to a repetition of the old forms, the working class reacted in ways that were autonomous. The union would call strike action and the entire workforce would go in to work – but then, after a week, a month, maybe a year, that same working class would explode in spontaneous demonstrations. The farm workers of the South also began spontaneous struggles. However, they had been defeated in the movement to take over agricultural land; they had been sold out by the government’s agrarian reforms which condemned them to the poverty of having to work small holdings. As a result, the rural vanguards chose the path of large-scale emigration. This was a mass phenomenon – its causes and effects were complex, certainly, but its quality was political. Then things began to move: Milan in 1959, Genova in 1960, Turin in 1962, and Porto Marghera in 1963- a series of struggles which pushed to the forefront of the political scene. This succession of labour struggles involved every major sector of industry and all the major urban concentrations. They were all more or less spontaneous, mass events, and revealed a degree of general circulation of modes of struggle that had not previously been experienced, One might well ask for a definition of the spontaneity of the struggles. Because, while it is true that the struggles were in large part independent of the control and the command of the trade unions (and the unions were, sometimes, not even aware of them), at the same time, they appeared – and were – strongly structured. They revealed the existence of new working-class leaderships which were – as we used to say – ‘invisible’. In part because many people simply didn’t want to see them, But also (and mainly) because of their mass character’, because of the new mechanisms of cooperation that were coming into play in the formation of workers’ political understanding’, because of the extraordinary Ability of these new forms of struggle to circulate’, and because of the degree of understanding (understanding of the productive process) that they revealed. And whilst these new forms of struggle were at first seen by most people as ‘irrational’ in the course of their development they gradually began to reveal a coherent project and a tactical intelligence which finally began to problematise the very concept of working-class rationality – economic rationality? Socialist rationality? Rationality of the law of value? Rationality of trade union control? Rationality of law and order? Etc, etc. In effect, we could identify elements in the form that was taken by these struggles which were directly contradictory with the whole structure of trade unionist/ socialist ideology. The wage demands, and the extremes to which they went, contradicted the way in which, in traditional trade union practice, the wage had been used as a political instrument, as a means of mediation. The partisan nature (egotism) of the struggles ran heavily counter to the socialist ideology of the homogeneity of working-class interests which had prevailed up till then. The immediacy and the autonomous nature of struggles ranging from wildcat strikes to mass sabotage, their powerful negative effect on the structures of the cycle of production, ran counter to the traditional view that fixed capital is sacrosanct, and also counter to the ideology of liberation of (through) work – in which work was the subject of liberation, and Stakhanovism or high levels of professional skill the form of liberation, Finally, the intensification (whether at group or individual level) of heightened forms of mobility. of absenteeism, of socialization of the struggle, ran immediately counter to any factory-centred conception of working-class interests, of the kind that has come down to us from the workers’ councilist tradition. All this gradually uncovered, in increasingly socialized forms, an attitude of struggle against work, a desire for liberation from work – whether it be work in the big factory, with all its qualities of alienation, or work in general, as conceded to the capitalist in exchange for a wage.

The paradox of the situation was the fact that this mass spontaneity, highly structured within itself, negated in principle the very definition of spontaneity. Traditionally, spontaneity has been taken to mean a low level of working-class consciousness, a reduction of the working class to simple labour-power. Here, though, it was different. This spontaneity represented a very high level of class maturity. It was a spontaneous negation of the nature of the working class as labou power. This tendency was clearly present, and later developments were to reveal it still further. Thus anybody who wanted to analyse the new forms of struggle was going to have to be prepared to problematise the entire theoretical tradition of socialism. Within these struggles, there were new categories waiting to be discovered.

And this was what was done. In the early 1960s, on the fringes of the official labour movement, a number of working-class vanguards and a number of groups of intellectuals active within the class struggle produced a theory in which the mass worker was understood as the new subject of working-class struggles.

On the one hand, their studies identified the objective characteristics of this class-protagonist. These characteristics were determined as follows:

1) within the organization of the labour process, by Taylorism;

2) within the organization of the working day and the organisation of wage relations, by Fordism;

3) within economic/political relations, by Keynesianism;

4) within general social and state relations, by the model and the practice of the Planner-state.

On the other hand, they succeeded in defining (this was absolutely imperative) the new subjective characteristics of this new configuration of the class. These subjective characteristics were described in terms that were dynamic and highly productive. In other words, every aspect of the capitalist or animation of the factory society was to be seen as the product of a dialectic between working class struggle and capitalist development (including developments in technology; in the form of the wage; In economic policy; and in the form of the State) – the product a dialectic whose active and motion central force was the mass worker.

As our old friend Marx says, machines rush to where there are strikes. All the mechanisms of capitalist control of development were brought to bear at critical points within the system. By means of a continual theft of the information generated by the struggles, capital created increasingly complex mechanisms of domination. It was within this framework that the analysis undertaken by workerism unstitched the capitalist Moloch, following the indications provided by working-class struggle. The comrades arrived at a fundamental theoretical conclusion: that, given a certain level of capitalist development, the concept of labour-power (understood as an element of the dialectical relationship between workers and capital, a relationship in which capitalist logic has the upper hand) becomes dissolved. A dialectical relationship most certainly remains, but now the relationship of capital/labour-power becomes the relationship of capital/working class. Thus the dialectic of capitalist development is dominated by the relationship with the working class. The working class now constituted an independent polarity within capitalist development. Capitalist development was now dependent on the political variable of working-class behaviours.

The concept of labour- power could no longer be substantiated;only that of working-class was adequate. 1 have to admit that our theoretical and political positions in this period, while very rich in some respects, were very poor in others. Their richness lay in the fact that they provided a basis from which we could then develop an entirely political concept of labour-power. We learned a lot from developments in the capitalist revolution of the 1930s and 1940s. In particular, we learned that it was possible to carry forward revolutionary struggles having a marked effect both on the structure of the labour process, and on the structure of economic and political domination – in other words, struggles that were capable of winning against Taylorism and within Keynesianism. On the other hand, the poverty of our theoretical and practical positions lay in the fact that, while individual struggles and the struggles of individual class sectors proved capable of understanding capital and taking it on, at the same time, the potential of that struggle, its strategic dimension, the re-establishment of a centre of revolutionary initiative, remained beyond our grasp. Practice, even the very highest working-class practice – at this level of the class struggle – always contains an element of uncertainty as regards its synthesis and resolution – what Lenin used to call the ‘art of insurrection’, an art which the workers, today, are seeking to turn into science. This science still had to be constructed – a science which the practice of the mass worker was demanding, but which it did not provide.

In fact, capital’s science of domination was far ahead of us.At the time when we were introducing the concept of the mass worker, and, by implication, a critique of the category of labour-power in favour of a concept of the dynamism of the working class, capital, for its part, had already made tremendous advances in its own practice, as regards its theory of domination and redressing the balance of power. (Note that within the specificities and the isolation of a few national situations – Italy in particular – we were successful in developing a remarkable level of subjective action, and in bringing about moments of deep capitalist crisis.) For, while from the working-class viewpoint the revolutionary practice of the mass worker was being advanced within individual factories, and within the overall interlocked system of factories and companies, capital was already responding in overall, global and social terms – in terms of global domination and control. Keynesianism at its roots had already demonstrated this: an awareness not only that the wage relation extended betweensubjects that were different (capital and the working class), but also – and above all – that the solution (favourable to capitalist development) was to be soughtacross the entire span of production and circulation – in other words, involving the entire sociality of the relations of production and reproduction. In the Keynesian system, state budgeting was the means of recuperating and neutralizing the class struggle in the factory, and monetary policy was the means of subordinating the wage relation. Fordism, for its part, had already transformed the high level of cooperation on the assembly line (and thus corrected those elements of weakness which labour struggles, at that level of production, were able to turn against capitalist command) into a conscious policy, one might say, of the socialite of the assembly line – in other words, a policy of command over the relation between industrial production and the reproduction of labour-power, a capitalist intervention within the social flexibility of labour-power, privileging social command and divisions within society as conditions for command and division on the assembly line. dism recuperated social motivations and made them functional to the Taylorist organization of workit posed them as the prime and fundamental terrain of command in the factory. Gradually, the labour market and the fabric of relations between production and reproduction was becoming an operative field (this also from the theoretical point of view) for the capitalist theory of factory command: hence the development from Keynes to Kaldor’s planning techniques, to Kalecki’s micro-analyses of the political cycle, to the present systemic theories of neo-functionalism, Faced with these developments in capital’s understanding of the articulations of command, not only was the concept of the mass worker late in developing, but also, crucially, it now proved incapable of if for itself a theory able to match the new dimensions of command. Of course, the old workerists of the ’60s knew that they had to go beyond the ‘epirical’ category of the factory, and that the mass worker had to become effective over the entire span of the social factory – but the factoryist content of the concept and the circumstances of its genesis prevented its theoretical potential from becoming practical reality. Thus, in the end, this impotence of the mass worker left the way open for surreptitious operations of mediation and representation – and the whole old machinery of the party-form was wheeled out as the means whereby issues could be posed at the social, political and general level.

We should also add (and this is not only merely of historical relevance)that this was the basis whereby the trade union was able to re-establish its powers of control over the working class. This had a paradoxical consequence: the trade union accepted the delegation of power and the general functions that the working class had restored to it, and then went on to impose rules which separated, in a corporation sense, the working class from the other proletarianised strata of society. When the trade union (ie in its traditional function as half party and half merchandiser, in the sense that it both represents labourr power within the bourgeois political market, and also sells labour as a commodity on the capitalist market) finally caught up with and grasped (post-’68) the new composition of the mass worker, it only reduced it to corporation, and divided it off from the rest of social labour.

Hence it follows that a methodology such as I use, which seeks to indicate possibilities for subjective genesis within the categories of class struggle, cannot rest content with this old version of the concept of the mass worker. And indeed, the conditions for further theoretical progress on this front were plentiful, especially in the years immediately following the upheavals of 1968-69. Working-class struggles, which were extremely powerful in spite of (or perhaps because of) their ambiguity as struggles both within and against the system of the relative wage, now brought about a crisis in the mechanisms of capitalist control. The capitalist response during this period developed along two complementary lines – the social diffusion, decentralization of pro- duction, and the political isolation of the mass worker in the factory.

The only possible answer to this, from the working-class viewpoint, was to insist on and fight for the broadest definition of class unity, to modify and extend the concept of working class produvtive labour and to eliminate the theoretical isolation (insofar as this concept had inevitably become tied to an empirical notion of the factory – a simplified factoryism – due to the impact of the bosses’ counter-offensive, the corporation of the unions, and the historical and theoretical limitations of the concept itself). On the other hand,th emergence & growth ofdiffused forms of production(the “diffuse factory”), while it enlarged the labour market enormously, also redefined as directly productive and “working class” a whole series of functions within social labour that would otherwise be seen as marginally latent. Finally, there was a growing awareness of the interconnection between reductive labour and the labour of reproduction, which was expressed in a wide range of behaviours in social struggles, above all in the mass movements of women and youth, affirming all these activities collectively as labour. This development made necessary an innovation in the vocabulary of class concepts, As we used to put it: ‘from the mass worker to the social worker’. But it would be more correct to say: from the working class, ie that working class massified in direct production in the factory, to social labour-power, representing the potentiality of a new working class, now extended throughout the entire span of production and reproduction – a conception more adequate to the wider and more searching dimensions of capitalist control over society and social labour as a whole.

There are numerous problems which arise at this point, and I have no intention of trying to avoid them. In what follows I hope to confront at least some of them. It will suffice at this stage to introduce what I consider to be the key methodological concept – that of class composition – which will help to clarify much of my further argument. By class composition, I mean that combination of political and material characteristics – both historical and physical – which makes up: (a) on the one hand, the historically given structure of labour-power, in all its manifestations, as produced by a given level of productive forces and relations; and (b) on the other hand, the working class as a determinate level of solidification of needs and desires, as a dynamic subject, an antagonistic force, tending towards its own independent identity in historical-political terms. AlI concepts that define the working class must be framed in terms of this historical transformability of the composition of the class. This is to be understood in the general sense of its ever wider and more refined productive capacity, the ever greater abstraction and socialization of its nature, and the ever greater intensity and weight of the political challenge it presents to capital. In other words, the re-making of the working class! It is by reference to this framework and these criteria, for example, that we can qualify more precisely a term like spontaneity. The concept of composition allows us to introduce a specific, determinate quality into our theoretical definition of spontaneity; it prevents us, in other words, from falling into the trap of ideological definitions (whether political – in which case spontaneity is conceived as an indifferent category’, or econometric – in which case spontaneity is reduced to the semantic emptiness of the concept of labour-power pure and simple). The category of ‘mass worker’ must accordingly be re-assessed, in its functions and limitations, within this temporal framework of the transformations of the composition of the working class. And under today’s conditions, it seems to me that this transformation is taking place througha process of real subsumtion of labour on the part of capital, which has now reached a level that encompasses the whole of’ society. “Hic Rhodus, hic salts.”

2. CapitalistRestructuring: From the Mass Worker to Social Labour- Power

So, let us return to the moment when the pressure of this new spontaneity (that is, the spontaneous – but, as in the paradox we have described, both structural and structured – forms of expression of the new class composition, ie of the mass worker) brings about a crisis in the means of capitalist control over the production and reproduction of commodities.

I would suggest that this moment can be located chronologically within the decade 1960-1970. In that period, strikes and struggles created an upheaval within the existing framework of development, inducing a major series of critical phenomena (crises of capitalist control), of which the following seem to be the most important:

1) The mass worker set in motion a mobility within the labour market. The subversive characteristics of this mobility appear to consist in an uncontrollable increase in the speed of flow/turnover of demands, and, at the same time, in a rigid and homogeneous escalation of those demands. If we include within our definition of the mass worker the fact that the mass worker represents a certain qualitative solidification of abstract labour (which is another way of saying a high level of subjective awareness of abstract labour), then these mobility-related phenomena reveal simply the centripetal potential of abstract labour (towards averageness, mediety) in a framework of mass production in modern capitalism. And this might be consistent with development. But instead, the forms and modes in which the mobility (subjectivity) of the mass worker expressed itself threw capitalist development out of proportion, subjected it to intolerable accelerations, and in particular confronted it with the quality of this very composition – those historical differences ‘ and divisions of sex, age, culture, etc, which were now tending towards a deeply-rooted political homogeneity. Mobility of abstract labour equals tendency for subjects and for struggles to unify.

2) On the other hand in a complementary process, the mass worker set in motion -both within individual factories and within the productive fabric of the metropolis – a downward rigidity of expectations and wage demands. This in itself (the demand for ‘parity’) became a subversive force. Drives towards egalitarianism served to reinforce this rigidity: we saw the collapse of all – or virtually all – the weaponry of division in the factory (piecework; employers’ unilateral control of timings of the labour process; internal mobility, etc) and of the hierarchy which controls the labour process and the organization of production. In this period, sackings – together with all the other various forms of exclusion and marginalisation – were powerfully contested, resisted, and in large part blocked. Furthermore, the overall rigidity of the class brought about a reduction in effective labour time; it also provided defence and back-up for individual experiences of resistance to work, or refusal of work. The wage struggle, in both its qualitative and quantitative aspects, became a powerful independent variable of development: a kind of economic-political dual power which came into existence. In some instances we find this registered in factory legislation – most notably in Italy, for example). Rigidity of abstract labour equals qualitative consolidation of the above-mentioned unification of subjects and of struggles.

3) Thirdly, the social mobility and the political/wage rigidity of the social worker was also articulated within the sphere of circulation. But, for the mass worker, circulation means a radical change in the relation between daily work-time and non-worked time. We were not yet at the point where the latter had hegemony over the former. However, this was a phase in which the social relation of production (the relation between production and reproduction) was an area of powerful contestation. Without succeeding in fully controlling and carrying through this leap in the class struggle, the mass worker nevertheless spread the infection of his subjective behaviour into the fabric of proletarian society. First – just to take one example – although opt yet at the point of directly contesting the ‘oedipal wage’ (in other words, . the wage paid for the male worker’s domination over his family), the mass worker nonetheless induced an awareness of the urgent need for . new wage forms in the management and development of the social sphere – new wage forms likely to have a decisive and dissolving effect on the unified family wage, and to liberate new labour power at an extremely high level of needs. The mass worker was an active factor in the circulation of working-class objectives, and in propagating the equality implicit in abstract labour. As such, the mass worker induced subversive effects within society which tended to ne ate the division between reductive and reproductive labour, and also to alter the established proportion between them. The circulation of the forms of behaviour of the mass worker was an extension of the unification of the subjects and of the struggles. 4) Finally, we have to stress that it is only by moving to a political expression that the series of subversive conditions implicit in the existence of the mass worker could be further advanced. The concept of the mass worker had an existence that was purely relative’, the fact that s/he was the point of a class evolution which had not yet been fully realized, often permitted the surreptitious reintroduction of old political concepts and practices, such as the notion of vanguard and mass, and thus permitted the re-emergence of party representation and the mirroring of past forms. This political inadequacy results from, precisely, the social indeterminateness of the figure of the mass Worker. We should never underestimate this limitation, but if we look beyond it, we can see that a framework of new values was beginning to take shape – ideas of freedom to match the fact of mobility; ideas of community, as an aspect of the rigidity mentioned above; ideas of new life and universality, as a synthesis of people’s relation to reproduction and liberated time. This framework of new values was incipient, was still dawning, but was nonetheless efficacious, because it existed at a mass level.

At this point, the capitalist crisis in the management of this labour power, with all its strength and richness, became decisive. Capital goes into crisis every time that labour-power transmutes to become working class – by working class I mean a level of composition incompatible with command, at a given historical leveled maturity of the productive forces. (lt is evident that consciousness cannotbe defined outside of this relation; so that it is possible to find extremely high levels of consciousness which remain totally ineffective, and, on the other hand, spontaneous levels of consciousness which are powerfully effective in revolutionary terms). As I say, every-time that labour power effects a revolutionary transformation in its comosition and becomes working class, at that point capital enters relations of crisis, and has only one weapon with which to respond: restructuration.An attempt to alter and tramsform class composition. In other words, for capital, restructuring is a political, economic and technological mechanism aimed at the enforced reduction of the working class to labour-power. To put it more correctly: capital aims to reduce the intensity of the political composition of the class. At this point, the problem becomes specific again. How did capital respond to the crisis in relations of production that was induced by the class offensive of the mass worker? How was restructuration articulated at this level of political composition of the class and its struggles? What happened after the 1960s? , It is not hard to identify and describe some major elements of the capitalist response. [Obviously, the notes that follow are very partial and indicative. They limit themselves to questions of class relations in the sphere of production, To deal adequately with the restructuring of labour power, we would really have to consider two fundamental shifts in imperialist development in the early 1970s – the freeing of the dollar from gold parity (1971) and the energy crisis of 1973-74. There is no space to deal with them here, and so the argument, as well as being partial and indicative, is frankly insufficient. However, I would ask you to trust the author and believe me when 1Isay that I have given a lot of thought to these other fundamental determinations of the overall framework. These, in my opinion, are not contradictory with the phenomena which are now studied at the level of production and reproduction. Rather, they present an overdetermination, an extension and a deepening of the logic which lies at the root of these phenomena.]

So, let’s return to our initial question, to the analysts of the groundwork of capitalist restructuring. Let’s begin by looking at mobility. In my opinion, as regards mobility, capital was already taking into account developments within the composition of the mass worker, and was in fact acting on their tendency to become realized, in order to throw the working class back to the position of being labour-power. While the composition of the mass worker from the 1960s onwards tended – via mobility – towards a unification in general of potential abstract labour, capital’s restructuration project effectively grasps the social tendency towards abstract labour. It is against this abstract labour that capital exercises its capacity to repress, to fragment and to introduce hierarchical division. Capital does not mobilize against abstract labour and the social dimension which it assumes, but against the political unification which takes place at this level. Capital assumes subsumption of labour (abstraction and socialisation) as a process that has been realized. Experiments in job-design, segmentation of the labour market, policies of regrading, reforms of methodologies of command within production cooperation, etc – all this became fundamental. A restless, practical process of trial and error was now set in motion, aimed at destroying any possibility of proletarian unification. If we understand mobility as a tendency towards freedom, as a definition of time which is alternative to commanded time within the classic working day – and if we assume that from now on, in a parallel movement, it becomes impossible for capital to establish any fixed ‘reserve army’ of labour – then we understand why, in political and economic terms, it is so urgent for capital somehow to fix this labour- power (the first, spontaneous and structural manifestation of an abstract labour that has become subjectively realised) within mobility and via mobility.On the other hand,the class struggles within and against capitals’s system.On the other,capital struggles within and against the new composition:within its mobility,its socialisation,its abstraction and against the subjective attitudes which these elements engender. All manpower and job-design interventions are to be understood as policies which learn from the progress of abstract labour towards its social unification: they intervene in order to stop further development of its subversive potential.

Capital’s reaction against the rigidity evident within the composition of the mass worker was even more rigorous. This is because in this area mystification is harder to achieve, Policies aimed at segmenting the labour market (which are posed as ‘positive” as against the ‘negative’ of mobility of abstract labour) tend to produce a galvanization of the labour market, and above all, important new effects of marginalisation. Marginalisation in the form of political blackmail repression and degeneration of values – much more than the familiar blackmail of poverty. l have said that the rigidity in the forms of behaviour of the mass worker (particularly on the wages front) expressed an essence that was qualitative – a complex of needs which became consolidated as power. Capital’s problem was how to defuse this power, quantitatively and qualitatively.

Thus, on the one hand, we have seen the promotion of various forms of diffuse labour – ie the conscious shifting of productive functions not tied to extremely high degrees of organic composition of capital, towards the peripheries of metropolitan areas: this is the quantitative response, of scale and size. (The scale of this project is multinational, and should be understood against the backdrop of the energy crisis). On the other hand, capital has attacked the problem of qualitative rigidity, and has planned for one of two solutions:-it must be either corpratised or ghettoised This means a sytem of wage hierarchies, based on either simulated participation in development and/or on regimentation within development, and, on the other hand, marginalisation and isolation. On this terrain – a terrain which the experience of the struggles of the mass workers had revealed as strongly characterized by political values – capitalism’s action of restructuration has often made direct use of legal instruments. It has regarded the boundary between legality and extra- legality in working-class behaviours as a question subordinate to the overall restoration of social hierarchy. Not even this is new – as we know, it has always been the case – and Marx, in his analysis of the working day, makes the point several times. Law and the regulation of the working day are linked by a substantial umbilical cord. If the organization of the working day is socially diffuse, then sanctions, penalties, fines etc will be entrusted to the competence of penal law. Capital also acted against the way in which the mass worker had made use of circulation – in other words, of the increasingly tight links between production and reproduction. Restructuration once again adopted the method of displacement – in other words, capital takes as given/realised th tendency set in motion working class struggles: it subsumes its behaviours (i.e the awareness of the circularity between production time and reproduction time) and begins working on how to control this situation. The ‘welfare state’ is the principal level geared to synchronizes this relationship.The benefits of the welfare state are the fruit of struggles, are counter-power. But the specific application of restructuration aims to use welfare in order to control, to articulate command via budgetary manoeuvrings. ‘Public spending cuts’ are not a negation of the welfare state’, rather, they reorganize it in terms of productivity and/or repression. lf subsequently proletarian action within this network of control continues to produce breakdown, and to introduce blockages and disproportions, then capital’s insistence on control reaches fever-pitch. The transition to the internal warfare state represents the corresponding overdetermination of the crisis of the welfare state. But it is important to stress once again capital’s capacity for displacement. The restructuring which has followed the impact of the mass worker’s struggles and the tendencies which the mass worker has instilled within the general framework of class power relations, is geared to match a labour-power which exists as completely socialised-whether it exists or potentially exists is not important. Capital is forced into anticipation. However, marginalisation is as far as capital can go in excluding people from the circuits of production – expulsion is impossible. Isolation within the circuit of production – this is the most that capital’s action of restructuration can hope to achieve. It does not succeed in bringing about a restoration of the status quo, and in the struggle against the mass worker it is likely to assist in the even more compact formation of a completely socialized labour-power. There is much craftiness of proletarian reasoning in all this!

Things become even clearer when we come to the fourth area in which capital’s activity of restructuration has to prove itself and be proven. In other words, the terrain of politics. Here, every attempt at mystification – this seems to me the most interesting aspect – is forced to assume the complete socialization of labour-power as normal, as a fact of life – a necessary precondition of any action against the proletarian antagonism. In other words – as many writers now accept – the only remote possibility of mystifying (mystifying, controlling, commanding etc) struggles is conditional on an advancement of the terms in which the problem is considered: in other words, an approach to the problem at the level of policies of capitalist command which see its enemy subject in proletarian society as a whole. Capital relates to the phase of real subfunction as antagonism at the highest level. Capitalist analyses of command move from this awareness to develop two possible lines of approach.The first, which I would call empirical, regards social labour- power as a purely economic subject, and therefore locates the necessary control-oriented manoeuvrings within a continuous trial and error process of redistribution and reallocation of income – eg consumerism objectives, inflationary measures, etc. The other, which I call systemic, is more refined. This assumes that the empirical policies pursued thus far have resolved nothing. Thus the only way of ensuring the effective exercise of command, with an ongoing reduction of the complexity of class conflict, is to maintain command over systemic information and circulation’, to maintain a pre-ordered mechanism of planning and balancing inputs and outputs. At this level, capital’s science and practice of command reveal themselves as a set of techniques for analysing the social sphere – and as an undoubtedly involuntary recognition of the immediate socialite, structure and density of labour-power.

I consider it important to understand these fundamental changes and to highlight their conceptual character. Thus I define restructuration as a parenthesis within the evolving process if the composition of the working class. Obviously, this is a necessary parenthesis: the interaction of productive forces (capital and the working class) is in no sense illusory. But at the same time, we should stress that within this process, the motor force of working-class struggles is fundamental, as is the intensity of their composition, and the emergence of abstract labour as a social quality and as a unifying factor within production (and reproduction). As we used to say: capital’s great function is to create the conditions for its own destruction. This is still the case. Thus we must recognise that in the restructuring process currently under way, these critical conditions of capitalist development are still respected. Obviously, such a recognition is possible only if our theory is up to it. And one of the fundamentals of adequate theory is to have a concept of labour power which is not conceptually indiscriminate, but which is historically and politically pregnant, is continually and materially in tune with class consciousness – in other words, with degrees of struggle and of capacity to effect change which come increasingly close do the classic concept of proletariat. However, I feel it is still necessary to live through that ambiguity of production and the relations of production, and the way they are always being newly determined.

3. Towards a Critique of the Political Economy of the Mass Worker, from Social Labour Power to the Social Worker

So, our project is to resolve this fundamental ambiguity in the relationship that labour-power (whether posed as individual commodity or as socialized abstract labour) has with class consciousness and with capital. In other words, at this point we have to ask ourselves whether the linear mechanism of Marx’s analysis, which locates the socialization and the abstraction of labour within the process of real sublimation of labour under capital, is not perhaps incorrect. The process of real sublimation, in Marx, concludes in a real and proper Aufhebung: the antagonism is transcended via an image of communism which is the necessary outcome of the dialectical process developed up to that point. In the more banal of the socialist vulgates, the Aufhebung – whose schema, in Marx, is conceptual, structural and synchronic – becomes diachronic, utopian and eschatological. To further clarify this point, I shall spell out my thesis: at the level ifreal subsumption (ie at the level of the complete socialization and abstraction of all the productive and reproductive segments of labour) , we are dealing not with linearity-and catastrophe but with seperation and antagonism. It seems to me that proof of this theory is to be sought first and foremost from empirical analysis (historical, sociological and political) of the movements of the working class. In other words, from considering the characteristics of labour-power when posed as social labour-power.

Concretely, our argument could proceed from examination of a familiar historical conjuncture: if, as sole authors have done, we construct historical charts mapping developments in the quality of work, then we can see how the entire direction of capitalist development is towards the destruction of skilled labour (of specific ‘skill’), reducing it to abstract labour (the multilateral ‘job’). The socialization of educational processes (schooling, skill training, apprenticeships etc) goes hand in hand with the process of the abstraction of labour, within a historical series of episodes which span the entire period since the Industrial Revolution. Within this time-span, the tendency is pro- gressive and broadly balanced, beginning from the 18th century, and moving through to the 1920s-1930s: but at this point a break takes place in the balanced continuity of the historical series.The collapse of ‘skilled work’ can be located precisely in the period between the two big imperialist wars – ie in the 1920s and 1930s. This resulted in the hegemony, as from that period, of the semi-skilled worker, the ouvrier specialist (O.S.) – in other words, what we call the mass worker. But it also turns out that this hegemony is transitory, because the mass worker is in fact just first figure in the ‘collapse’ of the balanced relationship between ‘skill’ and ‘job’; the mass worker is the first moment of an extraordinary acceleration towards a complete abstraction of labour- power. The mass worker, the semi-skilled worker (whatever his subjective consciousness) is not so much the final figure of the skilled worker, but rather the first impetuous prefiguration of the completely socialized worker.

This premiss has a number of important consequences. Without losing ourselves in casuistry, it is worth highlighting just one consequence, which seems fundamental in characterizing a critique of the political economy of the mass worker. As follows: if ‘skill’ collapses into an indifferent element; if the division of labour as we know it (based on vertical scales of relative intensity and of structural quality) dissolves’, if , in other words, every theory of inhuman capital” (ie the self- investment of labour-power) reveals itself to be not only a mystification of a reality which is both exploited and subjected to command, but also pure and simple fantasizing apologetics’, if , as I say, all this is given. it does nothing to remove the fact that capital still needs to exercise command by having and maintaining a differentiated and functional structuring of labour power to match the requirements of the labour process (whether this be individual or social).

In the previous section, we noted some o the basic characteristics of capitalist restructuring in the transition from the mass worker to socialized labour-power. We can grasp the theoretical kernel of the matter by returning to them for a moment. As I said, once there is a lapsing of such vertical differentiations as between ‘skill”and (job’ then collective capital (and State command) tend to advance new differentiations on the horizontal terrain of command, over the labour market, over the social mobility of labour power. In relation to relatively advanced capitalism this is familiar territory: it is the terrain of new industrial feudalism (what we would call corporatism). From within this particular balance of forces, there proliferates a host of theories about the division of labour-power: the debate as to whether labour-power is primary, secondary or tertiary’, whether it is ‘central’ or ‘peripheral’ etc. What is the substance of the problem? Social labour-power is understood as mobility, and it is as such that it is to be regulated. [A short aside: In this regard, all static theories about industrial reserve armies – and similar nineteenth century archaeological constructs – as well as needing to be politically rejected by us, are obviously logically untenable.]

But let me be more precise about what l mean when I say that social labour-power is understood as mobility. I mean that labour-power is understood as social, mobile and subjectively capable of identity. I mean that capital understands as a present reality what, for the mass worker, weighed down by the contradictions implicit in his own social gestation, was present purely as tendency. And above all I mean a substantial modification in the level at which we consider the problem.

Mobility is time, flow and circulation within time. Marxism bases its categories on the time-measure of the working day.In certain well- known Marxist texts, the convention of time-measure becomes so solid and unquestioned as to postulate as its base a working day that is ‘normal’. Now, in our present situation, of all this there remains no trace. The time of social labour-power is a working day so extended as not only to comprise within itself the relation between production time and reproduction time, as a single whole, but also and above all to extend the consideration of time over the entire life-space of the labour market. From the working day to the labour market, from working hours to the mobility of labour – this transition means countermoving two opposing conceptions of time: the capitalist conception of time-measure, and the conception of working-class freedom over the temporal span of life. The capitalist operation of reducing life-time to abstract labour time- measure becomes an operation which is absolutely antagonistic. In its conception of time and of development, it reveals a substantial dissymmetry with proletarian life, with the very existence of social labour-power. Here we can say that the dissymmetry of command in general (the dissymmetry revealed by theories of the state) and in particular the dissymmetry which regulates the categories of exploitation, become dislocated and reshaped in the face of the long and social time of proletarian existence.

In arguing my case, 1 want to stress this point. The reason is clear. lf it is true that the terms of exploitation are now relocated on the social terrain, and if, within this social terrain, it is no longer possible to reduce quantity and quality of exploitation, absolute surplus value and relative surplus value, to the time-measure of a ‘normal’ working day – then the proletarian subject is reborn in antagonistic terms, around a radical alternative, an alternative of life-time as against the time-measure of capittal. But even if we limit our arguments to a critique of the political economy of the mass worker, we are still able to achieve positive results on this question. Namely that the ambiguous concept of the mass worker here reveals its structural indeterminacy and instability: its ambiguity is that between a system of domination still internalized by the mass worker (capital’s time-measure) and a perspective of work which is calculated and envisaged over the time of an entire life. The mass worker is still prey to ideology – his memory is of slavery, while his actions speak of freedom. The capitalist restructuration which anticipates and out manoeuvres the struggles of the mass worker by introducing the dimension of social labour-power, at this point arrives at a definitive contradiction, inasmuch as any transcendence of the mass worker has to be not a reproduction and reformulation of domination over socialized labour-power, but a resolution of the contradictory tensions within the figure of the mass worker, and the structural realization of the antagonism in a new form.

The social worker. Let us define the way the antagonism has besom subjectivised at this level, and call socialized labour-power ‘the social worker’. In this way, we are clearly introducing a specific methodological difference – in any event a position which differs from those developed in earlier phases of the theory of the mass worker and in the methodology which was considered adequate for the maturation of that theory. The specificity and the difference lie in the quality of the antagonism which appears at this point. In other words, this abstract, social and mobile labour-power – to the extent that it subjectivises itself around its own concept of time, and a temporal constitution of its own (which are irreducible to the time measurement of capitalist command) – brings about an irreducible antagonism. That is, irreducible not only to labour power conceived as variable capital, and to the theoretical dialectic of value – all of which is perfectly obvious – but also and above all an irreducible antagonism to the far more refined dialectic of composition/restructuration/recomposition which, from a class point of view, had been developed as a portrayal integral to the historical experience of the mass worker. In reality, this portrayal, in its further versions, maintained a concept of the working day which was modelled on the capitalist conception of time-measure. But when the whole of life becomes production, capitalist time measures only that which it directly commands. And socialized labour-power tends to unloose itself from command, insofar as it proposes a life-alternative – and thus projects a different time for its own existence, both in the present and in the future. When all life-time becomes production-time, who measures whom? The two conceptions of time and life come into direct conflict in a separation which becomes increasingly deep and rigidly structured. But we shall come to all this in the next section.

Let’s now return to our critique of the political economy of the mass worker. At the cost of repeating myself, l must stress once again both the importance and the ambiguity of that category. Its importance lies in the fact that, with the historical emergence of the mass worker, the concept of labour-power removes itself definitively from the theory- imposed destiny of being a component – albeit variable – of capital. But in the act of revealing itself as an independent variable (and clashing with a capitalist restructuration which relentlessly tracks, adjusts and recomposes the struggles), the constitutive activity of the mass worker – even though it is moving within a situation of a complete socialization of production – failed to reach a sufficient degree of maturity. This brought about powerful ambiguities, and alloy in the 1970s, a degree of political retrogression: a corporation of certain strata of the mass worker, new divisions within the class, etc. But this is the point where the character of the social worker emerges as a new force, and as a subjective qualification of social labour power. The social worker completed and concluded the dynamic which existed within the mass worker as a tendency, and transformed the independent variable into independence tout court. This antagonism develops at a pace dictated by the rhythms of the real sublimation which capital puts into operation in relation to social labour. As real sublimation advances, so the social worker is brought into existence, as irresolvable antagonism. Antagonism as regards conceptions of life, the liberation of time, and thus in bringing about spatial-temporal conditions which are wholly alternative. A sort of ‘a priori’ of liberation.

But before I resume this line of argument, allow me to point out an apparent paradox in the theory – which in this case turns out to be a function of mystification. In the so-called post-modern (or ‘post- capitalist’) conceptions which are so current in political debate today, the process of subsumption is conceived in terms of linearity and catastrophe. In some instances, these terms can also be found in Marx – and in far more developed form, and sometimes completely explicitly, in the socialist vulgate. Subsumption is given as a system, as labour-power realized within capital’s social domination, as a levelling-off of the antagonism – and therefore the antagonism is conceived as a utopian and catastrophist alternative. Such positions are fairly widespread, and sometimes also include exponents of the mass-worker theory. In these workerist theories which are flirting with theories of post-modernism (stressing tendency and objectivity, and eliminating antagonism and subjectivity), some would say that workerism is committing hari kiri. The paradox, and at the same time the mystification, consists in the fact that here Marx’s thinking (and the considerable tensions which run through it, right up to the point where he defines real sublimation, whether in the Unpublished Sixth Chapter, or, a good while previously, in the Fragment on Machinery in the Grundrisse – texts which must be seen as complementary) appears to be respected, whereas in fact it is deeply and irreparably misrepresented. In fact, the focus in Marx is always the actuality and the determinacy of the antagonism. It is indeed true that the theoretical tendency of capital, which Marx also describes (but only episodically: and, as I have said, in terms rather subordinated to the antagonistic spirit of his overall argument), on occasion accepts this criticism, and fights shy of the more banal mystifications. Nevertheless, when pushed to the limit, the most we can get from this conception of the antagonism is to see it in an exogenous form: catastrophe. But our task, in going beyond Marx, is to grasp the antagonism in its endogenous form, also at the level of real sublimation. By this I mean that: real sublimation of labour is a form of the crisis of capital. Understanding real sublimation of labour as crisis is one of the discoveries in store for communism as it goes ‘beyond Marx’.

But this is not enough.In our rejection of post-modern ideologies (without, of course, denying their analytical efficacity), we also retrieve another element of the theoretical history of our Italian movement since the 1960s. Namely: while the ambiguous theory and methodology of the mass worker implied a dialectic of value which today the social worker rejects, there was also articulated therein an inherent practical activity of subversion, a self-valorising independence(autonomy) ,which now the social worker lives as his own dignity and essence. Massimo Cacclari, [trans: PCI member since 1969] the philosopher of Krisis cries:

Where there is crisis, there is no dialectic. Crisis is not a form of the dialectic. Or, rather, crisis can only be dialecticised in the form of its transcendence – an Aufhebung. (M. Cacciari, Krisis, Feltrinelli, Milano 1978)

No, replies the social worker, here there can be no Aufhebung, because here the confrontation is between subjects which are different.

In moving from formal subsumption to real sublimation, capital overcomes obstacles, lives the continual reduction of the working class to labour- power in terms of a continuous, long-term and progressive socialization of labour – in terms of a transition between class compositions at increasingly high levels of intensity and potential. Once subsumption is completely realized, the only possible development ia a transition from socialized labour-power to the social worker, to the new classs subject. The tradition and theory of the mass worker can still be of help in stimulating us towards this new definition.

4. A Political Conception of Labour Power: the Proletariat.

Some Problems

Having reached this point, we can now attempt a summary of some basic methodological assumptions which should help us to reach a partial conclusion, and to pose new problems. To start with, I regard as logically untenable any theory of labour power as a logical construct, an ambiguous and volatile essence, caught in a dichotomy between a tendency to become variable capital (the variable part of organic capital) and a tendency to become working class (ie a receptacle for consciousness which derives from the outside, the substance of a new Aristotelian synolus). This instrumental and pure- logic definition of labour power, which is both abstract and open to manipulation, has, historically speaking, been progressively negated through (if I may simplify) at least three concomitant processes. -The first process is the advance in the organic composition of capital which, as it internalizes massively labour-power’s relation to the structure of capital, at the same time eliminates from it all measure of proportionality, in terms of the relationship between the work done by the individual worker and the level of productivity achieved.Labour- power as presented within the labour market as a multiplicity ofindividual labour powers can now only be concieved of as a totally marginal phenomenon.

The second process, which takes the development of the organic composition of capital beyond the scope of the single firm, and which goes beyond its phenomenological appearance to see it in terms of the realization of the subsumption official labour within collective capital, has shown labour-power to be a social entity. That which is marginalised in individual terms becomes transformed, at the social level, into mobility, into an equivalence of abstract labour, into a global potentiality which has within it that generalized social knowledge which is now an essential condition of production.

The third process, concomitant with those of individual marginalisation and collective socialization, has brought about a conjunction between (a) the refusal of labour-power to make itself available as a commodity (I see this as the effect of individual marginalisation and the collapse of any relationship between ‘job’ and ‘skill’) and (b) the socialization of this mode of class behaviour, l designate this as a ‘third’ process, and I consider it both innovative and conceptually very rich, since the coming together of individual marginalisation with collective socialization is no simple process of addition. Rather it is a historical process which both combines material elements and becomes at the same time subjectivised; this in the sense that historical experience becomes transformed into irreversible qualities, into a second nature. Through the genesis of this process, new subjective forces make their appearance.

As a result of these processes, it should now be clear that labour- power, at this level of subsumption of social labour by capital, so far from presenting itself as an intermediate entity, suspended between being a function of variable capital and becoming working class, now presents itself as a social subject: a subject that has internalized at the social level its refusal to be a commodity.

At the political and social level, this subject presents a complete materialization of consciousness within the structures of its own ‘existence. Class consciousness, in other words, comes neither from outside nor from afar: it must be seen As com betel internal to, a fact, a thing, of class composition. The concept of class composition, which was developed originally through the analysis of the mass worker – as a means of classifying changes in the nature of labour-power, and as a critique of purely logical and econometric characterizations of these changes, can now be updated as a historico-political, subjective, social definition of labour-power. In view of this, we can appreciate the importance of the theoretical current that developed through the analysis of the mass worker, and above all we can appreciate how the specific antagonistic subjectivity of this class protagonist contributed, through its struggles, to go beyond and overcome the limitations of the original theoretical conception. It seems to me that the mythical term proletariat has been given a historical dimension and has become founded as a specific material reality through the development of this theoretical approach.

Major consequences derive from all this. First, a demystification of a number of concepts and practices existing within the traditions of the labour movement. Second, in my opinion, important consequences (and, more particularly, problems) arise at the strictly theoretical level – in other words, relating to our conceptions of work and communism. Third – and not to be under-estimated in their importance – we also find indications for method.

Let’s take the first point. This social labour-power which exists as a political reality, this social worker, this proletariat, embraces within itself so many dimensions, both intensive and extensive, as to render many categories obsolete. In other words, proletarian antagonism (within real subsumption) poses itself on the one hand (intensively) as an irreversibility of the given levelly needs that has been arrived at, and, on the other hand, (extensively) as a potentiality of action, as a capacity to extend its action across the entire span of the working day. If we want a tighter conceptual definition, we mightily that this socialized labour- power not only (a) dissolves any possibility for capitalism to consider it as a commodity, as the variable component of capitalist command for exploitation, but also (b) denies capitalism any possibility of transforming necessary labour into the wagee and transforming surplus value (absolute or relative) into profit. Clearly, profit and the wage continue to exist, but they exist only as quantities regulated by a relation of power – a relation of forces which no longer admits the threefold partition of the working day into necessary labour time, surplus labour time, and free time or reproduction-time. We now have a labour-power which is both social and subjective, which recognises the value-partition of the working day only as a system of command which capital may or may not succeed in imposing over and against the continuous flow of labour-power within the working day. The conditions for the extraction of surplus value now exist only in the fonts of a general social relation. Profit and the wage become forms of the division of a value content which no longer relates to any specific mechanisms of exploitation, other than the specific asymmetry of the relationship of command within society. Capital has the form and substance of profit, as an average, a mediacy of command’, labour-power has the form and the substance of the wage: but in no way can a ‘natural rate’ be said to exist between the two of them. In other words, the mechanism of transformation and mediation which characterizes the Marxian genesis of these concepts has now reached its point of fullest maturity. Exploitation consists in command. It is violence against the antagonism of sociaI subjects that aare fighting for liberation.

As a consequence, the marketing of labour-power is no longer an undertaking for minions and sycophants: if anything, the marketing of labour-power today has become a totally political operation. This consists in extending Marx’s çiwar between capitalism’s tendency towards the limitless working day and the tendency of the proletariat to limit (to nil, if possible) the provision of labour-power, and transforming that ‘war’ into formalized and viable political procedures which extend from the concrete labour process (within production and reproduction) to the overall scenario of the organization of command – ie to political and state forms of the management of the economy, management of the labour market, of public spending, etc, etc. Only in this political dimension can success or failure in the marketing of labour-power now be gauged.

All of which is another way of saying that at our given level of development, the old dialectic of labour-power within/against capital (la dialectics dellaforza Iavoro) is now played out, has become obsolete, is only of archaeological interest. lf there exists any real negotiation or bargaining, this can no longer be encompassed by trade union forms of bargaining, or other such antique practices. In other words, dualism- of power is now the norm. The working day can only be described in terms of an active dualism of power, wherein the old dialectic of unity, transcendence and equilibrium is obsolete. In making this point, l need only refer, by way of example, to the inadequacy of the most normal, everyday and (as it often seems) obvious institutional form of the traditional labour movement – the trade union.

Far more dangerous, as regards potential mystification of our own (rediscovered and reconstructed) concept of the proletariat, are those ideologies which take labour-power as a material that can be led to class consciousness (although they are also more ineffective, given the historical experience of ‘realised Socialism’ in the East). To turn labour-power into what? To transmute exploited labour into liberated labour, via the magic wand of a mystical ‘political consciousness’, in other words of its vanguard representatives. What has changed in reality? Nothing – only words. The dialectic of labour functions here perfectly. The word ‘labour’ replaces the word capital : the system remains the same. The working day is not touched. Time-measure continues to be the regulative function of command and of partition/division. No – the new (and even the old?) concept of the proletariat really cannot accept these mystifications. The truth is that, from the proletarian point of view, the process of real subsumption brings about such a massive intensification of the composition of the working class, and such an extension of its potentiality, as to eliminate any dualism between being-and consciousness, any isolation of single aspects within it. The proletariat acts directly over the entire-.span of the social working day. Production and reproduction are now in parallel and on equal terms, the spheres of action proper to and adequate to the reality of labour-power. Consciousness is an attribute, entirely within and of its material structure.

And now let’s look at work, labour. Here we come to the second set of consequences deriving from our political concept of socialized labour- power, of composition (ie of the social worker). Labour is the essence of capital. It always has been so. It is also the essence of man, inasmuch as man is productive activity. But capital is real – while human essence is only a dream. The only human essence of labour which a approximates to the conctretness of capital is the refusal of work. Or, rather, that kind of productivity which, for capital, is purely negative – because while it represents a sine qua non of production, capital nonetheless tends to reduce it, and, precisely insofar as it is an essence of human nature, to eliminate it from production. Human labour, when posed as proletarian reality, is a negative element in capitalist production. Of course, it is true to say that only labour produces. But it is also true that bosses are only happy with production when the labour within it is totally under command: command is sadistic, it requires the presence of human labour, but only in order, then, to deny it, to nullify it. This process has functioned in the past, as the classic steely scourge of capitalist domination – until and unless labour-power presents itself as a social subject. In other words, we have here, within the intensity and extension of the composition of the proletarian subject, a negative form of labour, which has such broad dimensions and is so articulated as to render problematical its very definition as ‘negative’. We often refer to it as ‘alternative’ ‘self-valorising’ etc. But I prefer to continue calling it ‘negative labour’, not in order to flirt with the language of crisis, but simply because I do not yet feel the strengthto be able to call it liberated work (ie work that is wholly positive). It is difficult to describe any work as ‘positive’ so long as it is contained within capital, such is the quantity of death and pain that it bears within it. For us to call working-class and proletarian work ‘positive’ and socially useful, we would have to be capable – the proletarian subject in its overall complexity would have to be capable of the statement in prefigurative terms of its alternative form of production. We would require a vision of how its own productive potential could unfold. (Only certain sectors of the proletariat within the area of reproduction – the feminist movement chief among them – have so far proved capable of producing a positive image of forms of work that could be proletarian, alternative and revolutionary. But the fact that we cannot spell it out does not necessarily mean that it does not exist. It exists as a murmuring among the proletariat. Negative work, amid the whispers of everyday life and the noise and shouting of the struggle, is beginning to gain a general form of expression. What I think needs stressing particularly is the material character of negative work, its institutionality. The concept of proletariat is becoming an institutional reality. A practical emergence – not lifeless, but living. A different conception of time. A universality held within that second nature, entirely factitious (in etymological terms: velum ipsum factum). An institutionalism, thus, which seeks order and a systematization of its own values. The levels, the spaces of this experience are truly thousand-fold. But they all have a centripetal impulse which increases according to the extent of their liberty, their expansively. If we are to translate the word ‘communism’ into present- day language, then perhaps it means reinforcing and solidifying this proletarian institutionalism and developing its potential contents.

However, for the moment, we still require a long period of clarification, of study, and of specific struggles. The method remains tactical. Methodological consequences derive from our definition of the proletarian subject as antagonism within realised subsumption – and they derive, above all, from our understanding of the various aspects of the transition from mass worker to socialized labour-power, to the social worker. Within this transition, simultaneously with the breakdown of the regulatory principles of capitalist development (the market; value’, the division between production and reproduction etc), there also unfolds the impossibility of any homogeneous/unified determination not only of the overall design of development, but also – and particularly – of its categories, its norms. When the concept of labour-power is realized within a socialized and subjectivity class composition – and this, precisely, takes place at the highest point of unity from capital’s viewpoint (real subsumption) – then all the established terms of scientific argument break down. They become blocked, definitively non-recuperable for the old dialectical logic of unity and transcendence. The only way that any scientific category, whether in logic or in ethics, in politics or in political economy, can constitute itself as a norm, is as a negotiated settlement: a formalization and balancing of opposing forces’, in the human sciences, as a moment of voluntary agreement. It is clear that none of what defined the old conception of scientific norms is present here. What we have instead, exclusively, is the logical results brought about by the development of class composition – subsumption’to capital realized in the form of permanent crisis. What we are presented with is the positive emergence of negative labour as an institutionalized counter-power acting against work that is subsumed within capital. While labour subsumed within capital corresponded to a logic of unity, of command, and its transcendence, negative labour produces instead a logic based on separateness a logic that operates entirely within, is endogenous to, hat separateness. The institutionalized forms now assumed by labour-power as a separate entity also represent its de- institutionalisation in relation to the present framework of economy and politics, to capital and the state. This relation is precisely a negative one, and inasmuch as negative labour has the power and possibility of imposing it on the system, the only unifying logic that remains is one of duality, two-sidedness: a logic that is ephemeral, that is reduced to mere semblance. In reality, it can only represent a moment in a historical phase of crisis, in which the point of reference for all rationality or intelligibility is being rapidly shifted towards a fully socialized labour- power, the new class subject, the ‘social worker’. So, we have covered, in outline, some aspects of the formation of labour-power into a social subject. A very rich phenomenology could be provided for this transformation, starting from the mass worker and the history of the mass worker’s struggles. I think that such an account would confirm the theoretical and methodological assumptions I have outlined here.

In conclusion, however, I would stress that so far this is only a half- way stage in the analysis. For, if it is true that every scientific category concerning the relation of capital can now only be understood within a dualistic matrix, then a further logical problem is posed: the question of the multiplicity and mobility of the forms of this transformation of the class subject, and how this multiversity can be grasped within a mature political concept of labour-power. In other words, how we can develop a theory of the new institutionalism of the proletariat in its multiple matrices. But this will have to wait for another occasion.

And now let’s look at work, labour. Here we come to the second set of consequences deriving from our political concept of socialized labour- power, of composition (ie of the social worker).

Labour is the essence of capital. It always has been so. It is also the essence of man, inasmuch as man is productive activity. But capital is real – while human essence is only a dream. The only human essence of labour which a approximates to the conctretness of capital is the refusal of work. Or, rather, that kind of productivity which, for capital, is purely negative – because while it represents a sine qua non of production, capital nonetheless tends to reduce it, and, precisely insofar as it is an essence of human nature, to eliminate it from production. Human labour, when posed as proletarian reality, is a negative element in capitalist production. Of course, it is true to say that only labour produces. But it is also true that bosses are only happy with production when the labour within it is totally under command: command is sadistic, it requires the presence of human labour, but only in order, then, to deny it, to nullify it. This process has functioned in the past, as the classic steely scourge of capitalist domination – until and unless labour-power presents itself as a social subject. In other words, we have here, within the intensity and extension of the composition of the proletarian subject, a negative form of labour, which has such broad dimensions and is so articulated as to render problematical its very definition as ‘negative’. We often refer to it as ‘alternative’ ‘self-valorising’ etc. But I prefer to continue calling it ‘negative labour’, not in order to flirt with the language of crisis, but simply because I do not yet feel the strengthto be able to call it liberated work (ie work that is wholly positive). It is difficult to describe any work as ‘positive’ so long as it is contained within capital, such is the quantity of death and pain that it bears within it. For us to call working-class and proletarian work ‘positive’ and socially useful, we would have to be capable – the proletarian subject in its overall complexity would have to be capable of the statement in prefigurative terms of its alternative form of production. We would require a vision of how its own productive potential could unfold. (Only certain sectors of the proletariat within the area of reproduction – the feminist movement chief among them – have so far proved capable of producing a positive image of forms of work that could be proletarian, alternative and revolutionary. But the fact that we cannot spell it out does not necessarily mean that it does not exist. It exists as a murmuring among the proletariat. Negative work, amid the whispers of everyday life and the noise and shouting of the struggle, is beginning to gain a general form of expression. What I think needs stressing particularly is the material character of negative work, its institutionality. The concept of proletariat is becoming an institutional reality. A practical emergence – not lifeless, but living. A different conception of time. A universality held within that second nature, entirely factitious (in etymological terms: velum ipsum factum). An institutionalism, thus, which seeks order and a systematization of its own values. The levels, the spaces of this experience are truly thousand-fold. But they all have a centripetal impulse which increases according to the extent of their liberty, their expansively. If we are to translate the word ‘communism’ into present- day language, then perhaps it means reinforcing and solidifying this proletarian institutionalism and developing its potential contents.

However, for the moment, we still require a long period of clarification, of study, and of specific struggles. The method remains tactical. Methodological consequences derive from our definition of the proletarian subject as antagonism within realised subsumption – and they derive, above all, from our understanding of the various aspects of the transition from mass worker to socialized labour-power, to the social worker. Within this transition, simultaneously with the breakdown of the regulatory principles of capitalist development (the market; value’, the division between production and reproduction etc), there also unfolds the impossibility of any homogeneous/unified determination not only of the overall design of development, but also – and particularly – of its categories, its norms. When the concept of labour-power is realized within a socialized and subjectivity class composition – and this, precisely, takes place at the highest point of unity from capital’s viewpoint (real subsumption) – then all the established terms of scientific argument break down. They become blocked, definitively non-recuperable for the old dialectical logic of unity and transcendence. The only way that any scientific category, whether in logic or in ethics, in politics or in political economy, can constitute itself as a norm, is as a negotiated settlement: a formalization and balancing of opposing forces’, in the human sciences, as a moment of voluntary agreement. It is clear that none of what defined the old conception of scientific norms is present here. What we have instead, exclusively, is the logical results brought about by the development of class composition – subsumption’to capital realized in the form of permanent crisis. What we are presented with is the positive emergence of negative labour as an institutionalized counter-power acting against work that is subsumed within capital. While labour subsumed within capital corresponded to a logic of unity, of command, and its transcendence, negative labour produces instead a logic based on separateness a logic that operates entirely within, is endogenous to, hat separateness. The institutionalized forms now assumed by labour-power as a separate entity also represent its de- institutionalisation in relation to the present framework of economy and politics, to capital and the state. This relation is precisely a negative one, and inasmuch as negative labour has the power and possibility of imposing it on the system, the only unifying logic that remains is one of duality, two-sidedness: a logic that is ephemeral, that is reduced to mere semblance. In reality, it can only represent a moment in a historical phase of crisis, in which the point of reference for all rationality or intelligibility is being rapidly shifted towards a fully socialized labour- power, the new class subject, the ‘social worker’.

So, we have covered, in outline, some aspects of the formation of labour-power into a social subject. A very rich phenomenology could be provided for this transformation, starting from the mass worker and the history of the mass worker’s struggles. I think that such an account would confirm the theoretical and methodological assumptions I have outlined here.

In conclusion, however, I would stress that so far this is only a half- way stage in the analysis. For, if it is true that every scientific category concerning the relation of capital can now only be understood within a dualistic matrix, then a further logical problem is posed: the question of the multiplicity and mobility of the forms of this transformation of the class subject, and how this multiversity can be grasped within a mature political concept of labour-power. In other words, how we can develop a theory of the new institutionalism of the proletariat in its multiple matrices. But this will have to wait for another occasion.

The second process, which takes the development of the organic composition of capital beyond the scope of the single firm, and which goes beyond its phenomenological appearance to see it in terms of the realization of the subsumption official labour within collective capital, has shown labour-power to be a social entity. That which is marginalised in individual terms becomes transformed, at the social level, into mobility, into an equivalence of abstract labour, into a global potentiality which has within it that generalized social knowledge which is now an essential condition of production.

The third process, concomitant with those of individual marginalisation and collective socialization, has brought about a conjunction between (a) the refusal of labour-power to make itself available as a commodity (I see this as the effect of individual marginalisation and the collapse of any relationship between ‘job’ and ‘skill’) and (b) the socialization of this mode of class behaviour, l designate this as a ‘third’ process, and I consider it both innovative and conceptually very rich, since the coming together of individual marginalisation with collective socialization is no simple process of addition. Rather it is a historical process which both combines material elements and becomes at the same time subjectivised; this in the sense that historical experience becomes transformed into irreversible qualities, into a second nature. Through the genesis of this process, new subjective forces make their appearance.

As a result of these processes, it should now be clear that labour- power, at this level of subsumption of social labour by capital, so far from presenting itself as an intermediate entity, suspended between being a function of variable capital and becoming working class, now presents itself as a social subject: a subject that has internalized at the social level its refusal to be a commodity.

At the political and social level, this subject presents a complete materialization of consciousness within the structures of its own ‘existence. Class consciousness, in other words, comes neither from outside nor from afar: it must be seen As com betel internal to, a fact, a thing, of class composition. The concept of class composition, which was developed originally through the analysis of the mass worker – as a means of classifying changes in the nature of labour-power, and as a critique of purely logical and econometric characterizations of these changes, can now be updated as a historico-political, subjective, social definition of labour-power. In view of this, we can appreciate the importance of the theoretical current that developed through the analysis of the mass worker, and above all we can appreciate how the specific antagonistic subjectivity of this class protagonist contributed, through its struggles, to go beyond and overcome the limitations of the original theoretical conception. It seems to me that the mythical term proletariat has been given a historical dimension and has become founded as a specific material reality through the development of this theoretical approach.

Major consequences derive from all this. First, a demystification of a number of concepts and practices existing within the traditions of the labour movement. Second, in my opinion, important consequences (and, more particularly, problems) arise at the strictly theoretical level – in other words, relating to our conceptions of work and communism. Third – and not to be under-estimated in their importance – we also find indications for method.

Let’s take the first point. This social labour-power which exists as a political reality, this social worker, this proletariat, embraces within itself so many dimensions, both intensive and extensive, as to render many categories obsolete. In other words, proletarian antagonism (within real subsumption) poses itself on the one hand (intensively) as an irreversibility of the given levelly needs that has been arrived at, and, on the other hand, (extensively) as a potentiality of action, as a capacity to extend its action across the entire span of the working day. If we want a tighter conceptual definition, we mightily that this socialized labour- power not only (a) dissolves any possibility for capitalism to consider it as a commodity, as the variable component of capitalist command for exploitation, but also (b) denies capitalism any possibility of transforming necessary labour into the wagee and transforming surplus value (absolute or relative) into profit. Clearly, profit and the wage continue to exist, but they exist only as quantities regulated by a relation of power – a relation of forces which no longer admits the threefold partition of the working day into necessary labour time, surplus labour time, and free time or reproduction-time. We now have a labour-power which is both social and subjective, which recognises the value-partition of the working day only as a system of command which capital may or may not succeed in imposing over and against the continuous flow of labour-power within the working day. The conditions for the extraction of surplus value now exist only in the fonts of a general social relation. Profit and the wage become forms of the division of a value content which no longer relates to any specific mechanisms of exploitation, other than the specific asymmetry of the relationship of command within society. Capital has the form and substance of profit, as an average, a mediacy of command’, labour-power has the form and the substance of the wage: but in no way can a ‘natural rate’ be said to exist between the two of them. In other words, the mechanism of transformation and mediation which characterizes the Marxian genesis of these concepts has now reached its point of fullest maturity. Exploitation consists in command. It is violence against the antagonism of sociaI subjects that aare fighting for liberation.

As a consequence, the marketing of labour-power is no longer an undertaking for minions and sycophants: if anything, the marketing of labour-power today has become a totally political operation. This consists in extending Marx’s çiwar between capitalism’s tendency towards the limitless working day and the tendency of the proletariat to limit (to nil, if possible) the provision of labour-power, and transforming that ‘war’ into formalized and viable political procedures which extend from the concrete labour process (within production and reproduction) to the overall scenario of the organization of command – ie to political and state forms of the management of the economy, management of the labour market, of public spending, etc, etc. Only in this political dimension can success or failure in the marketing of labour-power now be gauged.

All of which is another way of saying that at our given level of development, the old dialectic of labour-power within/against capital (la dialectics dellaforza Iavoro) is now played out, has become obsolete, is only of archaeological interest. lf there exists any real negotiation or bargaining, this can no longer be encompassed by trade union forms of bargaining, or other such antique practices. In other words, dualism- of power is now the norm. The working day can only be described in terms of an active dualism of power, wherein the old dialectic of unity, transcendence and equilibrium is obsolete. In making this point, l need only refer, by way of example, to the inadequacy of the most normal, everyday and (as it often seems) obvious institutional form of the traditional labour movement – the trade union.

Far more dangerous, as regards potential mystification of our own (rediscovered and reconstructed) concept of the proletariat, are those ideologies which take labour-power as a material that can be led to class consciousness (although they are also more ineffective, given the historical experience of ‘realised Socialism’ in the East). To turn labour-power into what? To transmute exploited labour into liberated labour, via the magic wand of a mystical ‘political consciousness’, in other words of its vanguard representatives. What has changed in reality? Nothing – only words. The dialectic of labour functions here perfectly. The word ‘labour’ replaces the word capital : the system remains the same. The working day is not touched. Time-measure continues to be the regulative function of command and of partition/division. No – the new (and even the o1d?) concept of the proletariat really cannot accept these mystifications. The truth is that, from the proletarian point of view, the process of real subsumption brings about such a massive intensification of the composition of the working class, and such an extension of its potentiality, as to eliminate any dualism between being-and consciousness, any isolation of single aspects within it. The proletariat acts directly over the entire-.span of the social working day. Production and reproduction are now in parallel and on equal terms, the spheres of action proper to and adequate to the reality of labour-power. Consciousness is an attribute, entirely within and of its material structure.

And now let’s look at work, labour. Here we come to the second set of consequences deriving from our political concept of socialized labour- power, of composition (ie of the social worker). Labour is the essence of capital. It always has been so. It is also the essence of man, inasmuch as man is productive activity. But capital is real – while human essence is only a dream. The only human essence of labour which a approximates to the conctretness of capital is the refusal of work. Or, rather, that kind of productivity which, for capital, is purely negative – because while it represents a sine qua non of production, capital nonetheless tends to reduce it, and, precisely insofar as it is an essence of human nature, to eliminate it from production. Human labour, when posed as proletarian reality, is a negative element in capitalist production. Of course, it is true to say that only labour produces. But it is also true that bosses are only happy with production when the labour within it is totally under command: command is sadistic, it requires the presence of human labour, but only in order, then, to deny it, to nullify it. This process has functioned in the past, as the classic steely scourge of capitalist domination – until and unless labour-power presents itself as a social subject. In other words, we have here, within the intensity and extension of the composition of the proletarian subject, a negative form of labour, which has such broad dimensions and is so articulated as to render problematical its very definition as ‘negative’. We often refer to it as ‘alternative’ ‘self-valorising’ etc. But I prefer to continue calling it ‘negative labour’, not in order to flirt with the language of crisis, but simply because I do not yet feel the strengthto be able to call it liberated work (ie work that is wholly positive). It is difficult to describe any work as ‘positive’ so long as it is contained within capital, such is the quantity of death and pain that it bears within it. For us to call working-class and proletarian work ‘positive’ and socially useful, we would have to be capable – the proletarian subject in its overall complexity would have to be capable of the statement in prefigurative terms of its alternative form of production. We would require a vision of how its own productive potential could unfold. (Only certain sectors of the proletariat within the area of reproduction – the feminist movement chief among them – have so far proved capable of producing a positive image of forms of work that could be proletarian, alternative and revolutionary. But the fact that we cannot spell it out does not necessarily mean that it does not exist. It exists as a murmuring among the proletariat. Negative work, amid the whispers of everyday life and the noise and shouting of the struggle, is beginning to gain a general form of expression. What I think needs stressing particularly is the material character of negative work, its institutionality. The concept of proletariat is becoming an institutional reality. A practical emergence – not lifeless, but living. A different conception of time. A universality held within that second nature, entirely factitious (in etymological terms: velum ipsum factum). An institutionalism, thus, which seeks order and a systematization of its own values. The levels, the spaces of this experience are truly thousand-fold. But they all have a centripetal impulse which increases according to the extent of their liberty, their expansively. If we are to translate the word ‘communism’ into present- day language, then perhaps it means reinforcing and solidifying this proletarian institutionalism and developing its potential contents.

However, for the moment, we still require a long period of clarification, of study, and of specific struggles. The method remains tactical. Methodological consequences derive from our definition of the proletarian subject as antagonism within realised subsumption – and they derive, above all, from our understanding of the various aspects of the transition from mass worker to socialized labour-power, to the social worker. Within this transition, simultaneously with the breakdown of the regulatory principles of capitalist development (the market; value’, the division between production and reproduction etc), there also unfolds the impossibility of any homogeneous/unified determination not only of the overall design of development, but also – and particularly – of its categories, its norms. When the concept of labour-power is realized within a socialized and subjectivity class composition – and this, precisely, takes place at the highest point of unity from capital’s viewpoint (real subsumption) – then all the established terms of scientific argument break down. They become blocked, definitively non-recuperable for the old dialectical logic of unity and transcendence. The only way that any scientific category, whether in logic or in ethics, in politics or in political economy, can constitute itself as a norm, is as a negotiated settlement: a formalization and balancing of opposing forces’, in the human sciences, as a moment of voluntary agreement. It is clear that none of what defined the old conception of scientific norms is present here. What we have instead, exclusively, is the logical results brought about by the development of class composition – subsumption’to capital realized in the form of permanent crisis. What we are presented with is the positive emergence of negative labour as an institutionalized counter-power acting against work that is subsumed within capital. While labour subsumed within capital corresponded to a logic of unity, of command, and its transcendence, negative labour produces instead a logic based on separateness a logic that operates entirely within, is endogenous to, hat separateness. The institutionalized forms now assumed by labour-power as a separate entity also represent its de- institutionalisation in relation to the present framework of economy and politics, to capital and the state. This relation is precisely a negative one, and inasmuch as negative labour has the power and possibility of imposing it on the system, the only unifying logic that remains is one of duality, two-sidedness: a logic that is ephemeral, that is reduced to mere semblance. In reality, it can only represent a moment in a historical phase of crisis, in which the point of reference for all rationality or intelligibility is being rapidly shifted towards a fully socialized labour- power, the new class subject, the ‘social worker’.

So, we have covered, in outline, some aspects of the formation of labour-power into a social subject. A very rich phenomenology could be provided for this transformation, starting from the mass worker and the history of the mass worker’s struggles. I think that such an account would confirm the theoretical and methodological assumptions I have outlined here.

In conclusion, however, 1 would stress that so far this is only a half- way stage in the analysis. For, if it is true that every scientific category concerning the relation of capital can now only be understood within a dualistic matrix, then a further logical problem is posed: the question of the multiplicity and mobility of the forms of this transformation of the class subject, and how this multiversity can be grasped within a mature political concept of labour-power. In other words, how we can develop a theory of the new institutionalism of the proletariat in its multiple matrices. But this will have to wait for another occasion.