Crisis of the Crisis-state
To begin with, let us summarize some developments in capitalist and state policies that seem to characterize the 1980s. These are just approximations, examples that come immediately to mind:
(1) the transition from the 'welfare state' to the 'warfare State';
(2) the 'negative' use of Keynesian economic policy as a means of reactivating a 'positive' use of the market;
(3) the restructuring of the interstices of the economy (the interstitial economy), involving a new attack against any element of homogeneity in the social composition of the class, especially in the critical area that links production with reproduction',
(4) the massive political and social retrenching of a 'new Right', which aims, for reasons of consensus and productivity, to recompose the fragmentation of the working class in terms of new institutional and state values.
Given the small amount of information that I have at my disposal (trans: Negri is writing from prisons, the following comments must be taken as extremely provisional and subject to further documentation. Here are some comments, under each of the four headings listed above.
By the transition from 'welfare'' to 'warfare' state, I am referring to the internal effects of the restructuration of the state machine - its effect on class relations. This produces a much greater rigidity in the reproduction of the relations of production and in the class structure as a whole. Development is now planned in terms of ideologies of scarcity and austerity. This transition involves not just state policies, but most particularly the structure of the state, both political and administrative. The needs of the proletariat and of the poor are now rigidly subordinated to the necessities of capitalist reproduction. The material constitution of the state is certainly reshaped as regards the way in which political parties function - the pluralism party framework of the 'representative state' is transformed. More importantly, there is a transformation in terms of the forces admitted to the bargaining table (parties, trade unions, localities, class strata etc). These are admitted to negotiations only insofar as the may be functionaL to the system-and can serve its ends. From a mechanism based on formal procedures, we see a shift to a political process that is structurally geared to 'benefits' (constitutional, economic etc; in general those of productivity) which have to be safeguarded. The state has an array of military and repressive means available (army, police, legal etc) to exclude from this arena all forces that do not offer unconditional obedience to its austerity-based material constitution and to the static reproduction of class relations that goes with it.
This represents the final phase in the transformation of the state-form which I define as the 'crisis-state'. It is not surpassed, merely reformulated along functional lines. I shall return to this point in the sections that follow.
The basic weapon that capital uses for its restructuration is the deployment of monetary policies. These involve a subtle combination of controlled inflationary manipulation together with various means (financial, credit, fiscal etc) made available to the capitalist entrepreneur as an aid to reconstituting profit margins - these means being conditional on high rates of productvity, Here, in other words, We have an interaction between the instruments of monetary control, which are perfectly manipulable on the part of the state, and the proportionalities required to reproduce the relations of capitalist domination, Thus we have seen, in the long period of high inflation for example, high unemployment and irreversible cuts in public spending moving in parallel with an increase in the financing of industry and an increasing concentration of means designed to guarantee the circulation of goods and the flow of capital. Hence Keynesian instruments of intervention have been used throughout this process, with a view to restoring and bringing back into balance the 'natural' framework of the market, the necessary conditions for the 'spontaneous' reproduction of relations of profit and command.
To say (as is often said) that this combination represents a huge paradox, that it has little chance of succeeding, that the capitalist ideal of 'spontaneous' reproduction via the market is a lurid utopia, is to say effectively nothing. What counts is that the instruments of coercion will be multiplied to ensure that the gains are made, equivalent to those that this market utopia offers. The counter-revolution of the capitals; entrepreneur today can only operate strictly wthin the context of an increase in the coercive powers of the state. The new Rightideology of laissez-faire implies as its corollary the extension of new techniques-of coercive and state intervention in society at large: or, to put it better, a decisive new increase in the subsumption of society within the state. This 'neo-liberal' version o the crisis-state form only brings into sharper relief what were the essential characteristics of the Keynesian state- planner form, translating them into explicitly authoritarian terms.
Over the past few years, I have been drawing attention to the socialization of the proletariat as the fundamental element in the genesis of the present capitalist crisis. This proletariat is fully social- Keynesian, one might say - and it has extended the contdadiction/antagonism against capitalist accumulation of profit from them factory area to the whole of society.It is responsible- for upsetting and destabilizing the whole circuit circuit from production to reproduction. And it has developed the contradiction of the social conditions of the reproduction of labour- power as an obstacle against capitalist accumulation. The formation and social quality of this new proletariat has not been just an ideal force behind recent class struggles. It has above all represented a new quality of labour. This in the sense that it represents a mobile sort of labour force, both horizontally and vertically, a labour-power which is abstract, and which projects new needs. This new labour force has, for a long period, bargained its working hours (susceptible to commodity production and exchange), while maintaining a relative independence at the level of the whole working day. This fact has enabled it to create conditions for equality and homogeneity in the working class; it has acted as a factor strengthening class power.
In the face of this new, mobile, abstract and fully socialized proletariat, we saw a sort of armistice in the class war, as the initial response of the collective entrepreneur throughout the developed capitalist world. Indeed, for a first period, the expansion of the underground economy (mobile part-time work etc) diffused throughout the interstices of the system, went ahead in proportion to the expansion of welfare. For this Keynesian proletariat, wage gains went hand in hand with advances in the social wage and the conquest of free time. The struggles and goals of the new proletariat were organised in this perspective.
The capitalist counter-revolution of today is directed precisely against this homogeneity, this subjective and material quality of mobility of a fully socialized labour-power. Hence the activation of powerful instruments of control, to stabilize and restructure this interstitial economy. And hence, also, attempts to break political and behavioural unity in the struggles of this social proletariat, whenever and wherever this shows signs of appearing. Capital's need to restructure this process directly involves the whole sphere of reproduction. It has involved, for example, reactionary attempts to stroll back'' the autonomous struggles of feminist movements etc; above all, attempts to reconstitute the imperatives of the family and to attack any elements tending to impair the smooth reproduction of capitalist relations. It is within this same framework that we should understand the basic role of capital's present attempts to reconquer spatial control over the territorial reallocation of the forces of production.
All these mechanisms of restructuration have an important theoretical implication. In the process of this transformation, capital, through state power, recognised its own existence as collective social capital. Hence, and quite contrary to the principle of pure market competition (the ideology of the new Right), capital is being increasingly centralized at a societal level as a social factory.It is attempting to to reorganise its command over social labour time,through a 'correct administrative flow' over the entire time and space of proletarian life conditions and possibilities. It follows that the question of public spending and cuts is not just a question of state expenditure in the obvious sense that the state wants to extend and strengthen its control over overall spending. It is a problem, above all in the sense that through public spending, the problems facing social capital as a whole, and the contradictions brought about by this fully socialized proletariat, are taken on board as problems which crucially concern the very basis of the capitalist state as such; ie have to be directly subordinated by imposing a general command over labour.
It is clear that there remain strong elements of contradiction in this relation between the composition of the class and the corresponding form of capitalist command over labour. There are points of rupture, difficulties in bringing the two processes into synchronisation, in treating them as homologous. This problem makes its appearance at the level of political consensus. And this 'legitimation problem' is a serious one for capital. It is serious because, seen formally, the urgent needs of 'output' from the point of view of command over labour are not symmetrical with the 'input' of consensus. And they must be made symmetrical, at least in hypothesis. Without this consensus,without an effective mystification,and the continuous manipulations this allows the whole system of the social factory, ie command over total social labour time cannott function.
This is where t e political activity of the 'new Right' is so important, in all the developed capitalist countries, both in terms of economic ideology, and above all in ideological control of the mass media. What is presented is a package of values - tradition, authority, law and order, the family, centralized leadership etc - which are asserted as principles which can transcend, go beyond, the supposed privatized 'balkanisation' of interests, and at the same time match the need for re-establishing overall command over labour. Both the ideological and the administrative apparatuses of the state have to be purged; the contradictions brought about by the class struggle at this level too have to be expunged.
Hence the new Right, in the first instance, is a sort of 'anti-body', capable of counteracting conflicts within and between state institutions, between the corporate bodies of the state, preventing any residual elements of the old dialectic of conflict-mediation from reaching a critical point of breaking apart the institutions themselves. (In Italy this is achieved by the durational solidarity'' pact of the party system). Secondly, the new Right is a powerful poison against forces that do not accept this material constitution of the state, that are not attached to those 'constitutional benefits , and which demand a fundamental transformation in the class relation. In both these instances, the production of ideologies of consent and their manipulation, turning them into industrial commodities to the point where they emerge as 'common sense' and 'public opinion' play a vital and relevant role, economically as well, in the contemporary form of the crisis-state.
Having Sketched these Points by way of example, I do not Suggest that they represent an exhaustive treatment of the innovative aspects of the present phase of development of the crisis-state form. These are only illustrations- to which others could be added -of the basic characteristic of the crisis-state: the adoption of a series of means to institutionalist, from the capitalist standpoint, and in military terms, the total rupture of any balance or proportionality between the struggles and needs of the proletariat on the one hand, and capitalist development on the other. We are now at the stage of the full maturation of this crisis-state form. What were the earlier stages in its development'? Its first emergence can be traced to the rupture in the relation between class struggle and capitalist development in the 1960s - a relation which had provided the basis for postwar reforming and democratic cohesion. This rupture came about through the quantitative emergence of disproportionate wage struggles, and, as a result, an upsetting of the 'virtuous circle' of proportions on which Keynesian development depended. In the second stage, in the 1970s, this split became deeper. The wage variable developed its own independence, its own autonomy, to a critical point at which it no longer simply represented a quantitative disproportion: it was now transformed, in an irreversible way,into a qualitative assertionof the wage as an expression of the sociality of the working class.[Trans: 'political wage'] At this point, capital began to respond by attempting to fragment and disperse the productive circuit on which the unity of sociall abour-power was based. But it had to do this by taking as its basis, as its point of departure the socialization of the working class, the irreversible recomposition of the class brought about by this advanced stage in the subordination of labour to capital.
It is this final level in the unfolding of the problem, as I have already emphasized, that leads to the 'crisis of the crisis-state', in which the crisis-state is forced, as a result, to perfect its own mechanisms. (In case the title of this article reads like a tautology, it should now be clear that I am alluding simply to the fuller realization of this crisis-state form). And it seems to me that the capitalist restoration of the 1970s, which began with a politics of national solidarity in its various forms, l represents in this sense a real counter-revolution. I am not arguing a rigidity of cause and effect in the coincidence between political changes and changes in economic policy. I am only indicating obvious points of coincidence. What I want to emphasize is that anyone who thinks that the connection is purely coincidental, between the more profound regulation and use of the instruments of crisis, and the new special forms of state persecution against working-class struggles and their subjects, is denying not just causality in this relation, which is always a debatable point. They also end up denying that this coincidence must be considered, even when it is not regarded as necessary or essential, as a permanent fact, on which there is 'no going back' and hence as a medium term forecast for the 1980s. It is only by seeing these problems as stable and ongoing, that we can present them in such a way as to make them amenable to rational explanation. This is the point which I want to develop in the following two sections.
What does this accentuation of the crisis-state form comprise, specifically? It means, above all, a definitive point of rupture with any. possible social contract. for planned developement. It means that democracy (as it was understood in the good old days, as a contractual regime - whether in its liberal or socialist forms) becomes obsolete. In other words, a form of state power structurally based on a dynamic relation between capitalist development and the development of working class and proletarian struggles - the latter acting as the motive force behind the former - no longer has this dynamic basis. The result is a profound change in the ways in which social conflict is registered at the political level. In institutional terms, this rupture is marked by a shift to a new relation of power, which is demonstrably on the side of capital. With this shift, the 'natural' (ie historical) basis of modern democracy is torn away. . There is an analogy between this definition of the crisis-state form and that of fascism, provided that we do not stretch this to the point of any historical similarity. It lies in a common basic dependence of the specific nature of the form of command (separated) on the specific nature of the relationship (interrupted) between forces and relations of production. In other words, the analogy can be drawn in formal terms only and, as such, has to be filled out analytically. Nor can this analogy be seen as linear in its consequences', the crisis-state form and the fascist type of regime do not lead to the same kind of predetermined result. If a 'fascist' state exists, this is not to say that there exists a fascist political economy. What does exist is a political form, a type of fascism: that is, a state-form premised on the rupture between capitalist development and working-class struggles, and the use of crisis as the institutionalists of capitalist command.
While keeping to this analysis at the level of general tendencies, l want to focus especially on the way this deepening of the crisis-state has taken place in our more immediate situation in the European countries. There is no doubt that in Europe the maximum development of democracy corresponded to the period of greatest working-class and proletarian struggles at the end of the 1960s. The dualistic and crisis- ridden nature of capitalist development and its democratic regime was extremely evident in that period. The degree of unity in the class movement was by now considerable. The widespread sense of being a 'state within the state' enabled the proletariat to be inventive and innovative in its own ways of being. It was now able to improve its quality of life. It was able to use its power to promote legislation, and to legitimate a whole area of 'counter-power'. There were also high points of struggle - and notable successes - in the fight for shorter working hours (which has always been a prime terrain of working-class and proletarian initiative). These struggles involved, in particular, a redefinition of what was meant by 'politics' in the movement. The critique of official politics, which has always been a driving force of all working-class and proletarian discourse and struggle, now not only destroyed the old ways of making politics - it also developed a new method of autonomous class politics, absorbing and integrating into the collective politics of direct action all aspects of the social reproduction of labour-power. One recent commentator, Claus Offe, certainly no revolutionary, has emphasized the qualitatively new subjective features of these 'new boundarys of the political'.According to him,this new quality of political subjectivity leads to the emergence of a new conflictual pardigm- institutions as well as outside - which stretches the framework of traditional-democracy-to its ultimate limit.
The capitalist response in what we may define as the first phase in the development of the crisis-state consisted in the analysis and practice of functional means to overturn these working-class successes. The working class and proletariat had forced the state to devolve a growing proportion of its budget towards maintaining and guaranteeing the process of social reproduction. The recognition on the part of capital of this social nature of its accumulation was imposed upon it forcibly, as always happens in the class struggle, and at once became the basis for immediate, organised and monetarists bargaining demands on the part of the working class.
The capitalist response consisted first in blocking, then in controlling, and finally in attempting to overturn the functions attributed by the proletariat to the expansion of public spending - precisely the terrain of mobility and unification of proletarian power. Capital, together with the forces of reformism, now imposed on public spending the productivity criteria characteristic of private enterprise. This ''productivity paradigm'' was neatly timed, launched and managed ,through the co-option of the Trade Union movement(planning agreements etc). Thus the static principle of incorporation made its appearance through the period of the 1970s, as the main instrument for breaking up the unity of class behaviours and smoothing the way for capitalist reorganization. A similar line was also pursued with the aim of imposing divisions on the new areas of aggregation of labour-power, such as intellectual and tertiary sectors: these had emerged as an organised and antagonistic force in the 1960s, through the increasing socialization of production. This strategy, which we may call 'separating the ghetto from the new strata of a corporate bourgeoisie', was pursued far more fully in other European countries than in Italy. Over a long period of the 1970s, the crisis-state operated a conscious policy of demolishing all the parameters of any general equilibrium;political relations based on income policies of the Keynesian type were generally rejected. This phase can be said to have lasted for as long as the process of fragmentation and demilitarization of class forces, of proletarian strata, could not yet allow the further leap forward, beyond corporative responsibilisation, to the creation of a new basis of equilibrium, this time based on relations of pure command. This final step probably requires, in most cases, the active demystification monition of the corporatist framework of the pact or at least those elements of it that had been adopted in the intervening period on a transitory basis. This is indicated by the nature and outcome of several of the major workers' struggles that occurred at this critical turning-point - such as Ford Cologne (1973); the Lorraine steel strike (1978); and the FIAT strike and mass sackings of 1980.
This, then, provides us with a three-phase schema: first phase - indiscriminate expansion of welfare and recognition of the new socialized nature of the labour force; second phase - a plan of control based on the productivity paradigm and a strategy of corporation combined with ghettoisation; third phase - reconstruction of a general equilibrium of a 'fascist' type (in the sense defined above) -which Aldo Moro, ironically, described as tithe third period''. This schema we find broadly applied by all the major governing forces in Europe. It was theorized and developed through the decade of the 1970s; and the origins of the model can be traced to certain anticipatory developments in the USA. It should, moreover, be emphasized that we find a strong coincidence of these phases in all the European countries, and, in particular, a coincidence of key support given to these state-strategies by established left or labour movements etc. This is true at least as regards t he second phase of restructuration. The PCI's Historic Compromise from 1974, the EUR line, the Pandolfi plan, are by no means exclusively Italian in their political meaning. Similar labour pacts occurred throughout Europe: an illusory practice of organising working- class consensus along corporation lines as a defence against the Protean onward march of capitalist restructuration - while on the other hand isolating and marginalising the new socialized proletariat, which became relegated to mere subsistence level, This was the politics of socialist and communist parties throughout Europe - and especially that of the various trade union organizations. But this kind of pact is, in reality, an old and extremely two-edged political instrument', corporation itself is a good example. Not only did this strategy fail to block the movement towards an authoritarian, command-based regime. It actually assisted in the full realization of the crisis-state form! And so the vain and self- defeating nature of these projects was in the end made manifest. What fostered this illusion of the established Left, and led to its failure, must be made clear. Right from the onset of the crisis, it was not simply the political structure of the state that was disarticulated, requiring a new consensual basis through the party system (PCl). What had broken down was the basic structural relation between command and consensus, between administrative structures and the real world of work. And at the roots of this structural crisis lay the irreversible emergence of a new class composition.
Let us now go back to the characteristic tendencies of the crisis-state form in this latest phase. Two basic elements should be stressed. The first is the further maturation of the theory of command:command becomes ever more fascistic in form, ever more anchored in simple reproduction of Itself, ever more emptied of any rationale other than the reproduction of its own effectiveness. The second element is the necessity for this command to be exercised in a way that is intrinsic to the totality of social relations, given the real sublimation of labour to capital.Posed in these terms, however, the overall project in this 'third phase' is clearly highly problematical. It implies two contradictions. The first is functional: how can command hope increasingly to transcend a reality of which it has to be increasingly part and parcel? The second contradiction is structural: how can command be articulated in a situation in which the rupture between command and consensus, between capital and the proletariat, is structurally irreversible?
The first of these contradictions has been covered in an extensive and helpful literature. Analysis has come to focus on capital's capacity to reproduce a simulacrum of society and to formulate command through an effective simulation of the social totality, to develop its constrictions through a duplication of social processes. This phenomenon should not surprise economists, who have always defined the sphere of monetary command in similar terms (functions of simulacrum). In the social factory, money is the prototype of this control within social relations. But while we should certainly stress this need for control over and within the social totality, of which monetary control is the prototype and lynch- pin, it is nonetheless probably the cultural dimension of command that is fundamental- culture, that pale allusion to the power of money. The velocity of mystifications, and their adequacy to the process of real transformation going on, becomes a fundamental condition for command to be exercised. The first of our contradictions, in other words, is not so much overcome as deflected, overdetermined by the functions of simulacrum, organised through the automatic micro- functioning of ideology through information systems. This is the normal, 'everyday' fascism, whose most noticeable feature is how unnoticeable it is. It would, however, be wrong to locate this control exclusively at this level. Not only are these mechanisms themselves susceptible to crisis; they also have effects which are secondary in relation to the real transformations taking place in the sphere of circulation. And this crisis of circulation corresponds to the real sublimation of labour to capital. It is a 'secondary' crisis (if we are to continue to use Marxist terms); provided that the concept of circulation is now ridded of its econometric connotations (the term 'economy' can at best only be put in inverted commas). Circulation must now be redefined at the level of the real and total subsumption of labour.
The second contradiction, on the other hand, is structural and determinant. Its crisis-inducing character must be seen as primary. For the productive quality of social labour-power - and not simply that of the working class in traditional terms - poses a contradiction that is insoluble. The various political theories that have been put forward on this issue, attempting to resolve the functioning of the system - for example in the work of Luhmann [Trans: cf. Truth and Power and Differentiation and Society, Columbia University Press] - are as faltering and fragile as they are utopian. Luhmann takes the productive contradiction out of its proper sphere - thus consciously contributing to the mystification of power', he then resolves it on the basis of its false duplication. The result is falsity and illusion at the point where science ceases to be meaningful; the concept of 'sociological fallacy' sums up the effective mystification functions of this operation, which is perfectly consonant with capitalist interests. But in terms of practice, such a discourse cannot even serve as an ideological cover', in terms of the exercise of real power, it has to be dispensed with. The only theoretical guarantee to overcome the contradiction on the terrain of circulation, to construct a simulacrum functional to a real power, immediately appears for what it is: a coercive, violent negation of the contradiction on the terrain of production itself , both in theory and in practice.
In Marxist terms, this second contradiction must be located within class relations, relations that have indeed been transformed, but are no less real. On the one hand, we have the productive forces now completely embodied in a fully socialized proletariat', on the other, we have the relations of production completely reconstituted as systematic functions of mystification and domination. Moreover, this productive power of the proletariat is also exercised - directly - over the entire spatial and temporal dimensions of the reproduction process, which has now become a key sphere of antagonism, Thus the authoritarian character of the state has to be developed in this sphere with maximum coherence and power. It is only the negation of any mediators mechanisms in the real, direct area of class relations that can allow the totalitarian scope of the state system to be effective. The basic, structural contradiction has to be forcefully - and above all preventively - negated and turned into a functional contradiction that is susceptible to manipulation. The state transforms society into its simulacrum, into mostly, so that capital can spend it! In these features lie the fascistic characteristics of the crisis-state in this ulterior phase of its development.
Do these features also define the Warfare State? They would appear to do so. If we go beyond the purely formal definition, a series of characteristics can be summarised: a maximum technological objectification of the state's rationale of power (the nuclear state); the maximum articulation of the state's production of consensus (information-system state); the possible - though not necessary - mediation in static terms through interest groups (the corporative state); the consequent pushing to the limit of mechanisms of exclusion, marginalisation and selective repression (the fascistic state) - and so on. Last but not least, we have the calculated and cynical use of internal war as an instrument of control. It is worth noting that, at the level of real sublimation of labour and as a solution to the problem of circulation seen as a problem of consensus, the terrorist factor is fundamental; as 'natural' to the contemporary state as fiscality was to the state of the ancien regime. Once again, crisis repeats and reproduces the genesis of the state form. It is a veritable Leviathan that presides over and against the forces of today's proletarian struggles.
Working-class science today is faced with a Socratic task - that of reimposing the principle of reality. Today's climate is a strange one, reminiscent of the 1920s; but Hoover's vendetta, the seditionist attack on the working class which many think is being repeated today, is itself a phantasms, a simulacrum of reality. The transformation of the composition of the working class, on the other hand, is the real and irreversible development, and has been since the 1960s. And the more capital attempts to track down and mystify this recomposition - in the knowledge that class antagonism has become widened and extended to the social sphere as a whole - the more it finds itself bereft of any positive logic, and is forced simply to arm itself with violence and brutality in order to exercise its domination.
It seems clear, however, that while we can identify a phase of the movement in the 1960s that saw an acceleration of this transformation, and a phase of political maturation at the social level in the 1970s, the present phase should be seen as one of a war position in the relation between classes. Certain theoretical and practical tasks arise from this definition of the current phase. Here I shall limit the discussion to some theoretical aspects of the question.
My own forecast is that, as far as the working class and proletariat are concerned, the 1980s will be dominated by the search - over a medium- term period - for more solid forms of political mediation within the class itself; between social groupings and different strata of wage labour, between the genders, across generations etc. The problems that have been passed down to us from the latest stage of confrontation are both negative and positive. The negative problem is how to break down the corporation strategies of domination (where, as seems likely, these are not already liquidated by the dialectic within the state institutions themselves); the task here is to build a generalized terrain of resistance. The positive problem is how to find a way of asserting as an effective force the qualitatively new social recomposition of subordinated labour in all its forms. Hence the key theoretical task is that of completing and updating the Marxist analysis based on the mass worker class composition of the earlier period of the 1960s. The "mass worker'' class composition must now be considered as a phenomenon subordinated to the socialized, abstract and mobile characteristics of the proletariat in the epoch of the transition to communism. In other words, we have to develop a phenomenology of mediations of the new proletarian subject, able to grasp its cultural and social, spatial and temporal, horizontal and vertical mobility, as the basis for an entirely new chapter in the communist theory of the present. A number of theses put forward by a growing body of Marxist theorists (for example, De Gaudemar, Fox Piven and Cloward, Hossfeld or O'Connor) suggest that the theory of class composition should once again be taken up and systematically updated within the framework of a theory of time: in other words, in a dynamic form Which encompasses the internal relations within the class in their temporal dimension, and sees mobility as the key characteristic of the formation and process of reformation of the working class.
In a self-critical sense, we should consider the 'impasse' which the proletarian movement underwent in Italy at the end of the 1970s as the product of the capitalist ability to impose new strategies of division and to choose various tactics in order to discipline different sections of the class movement over time. The defeat by the corporation pact, the blockage imposed on the further expansion of revolutionary activity of important sectors - and above all of the mass worker sector- took place in a precise time dimension. If we were to put this in philosophical terms, we could say that the constitutive time of the revolutionary tendency was opposed by the analytical time of capitalist command; and that the task now is to reduce the capitalist analysis of time to working-class and proletarian constitutive time. But philosophical modes of problematising the issue are not in order, even though these are probably the only way correctly to pose the problem of organization in a war of position. Hence empirical analysis should be developed in the time perspective of the recomposition of the class movement; while recognising that the analytical time dimension is fundamental as regards determining class antagonisms in their relation to capitalist strategies and inititatives of command.
In this strategic perspective, the importance of restructuring the class enemy should not be forgotten - indeed, it remains decisive. Temporal analysis of class relations must essentially be based on the subjectivity of proletarian forces. of the various strata of the c class, of their plurality. And the pluralism of proletarian subjectivity has to be seen in the temporal dimension of the total working day. As we know, class subjectivity is not a spiritual element; it is as material as all other elements that have a bearing on the working day. What we have to do is to consider dynamically the cultural, age, gender differences etc, in the process of class recomposition, in order to reach anew definition of class subjectivity. The basic task of today is to define and make possible an organizational synthesis out of these subjective processes. To clarify my argument, it is worthwhile going back for a moment to the problematic posed for the movement in the 1970s. From capital's side, as we have already said, the restoration was carried out through policies of division and corporation strategies of co-optation. Fox Piven and Cloward have demonstrated this process quite clearly, at least as regards the USA, in their study of 'Poor People's Movements.' But what is lacking in their analysis is precisely a constitutive time dimension, capable of going beyond the various divisions imposed from above and grasping that new quality of class composition which is implicit in their analysis and which indicates the revolutionary tendency within the class movement as a whole. In other words, what we really need to understand is how the new quality and level of needs and new forms of mobility produce material circuits of recomposition within the class, In the old 'workerist' framework of analysis, centrality was accorded to the labour process - as distinct from the productive process as a whole. Analysis of the mass worker as such, within the labour process, was seen as sufficient to trace a sort of subjective circulation of struggle which was a simple reversal of the commodity process. This subjective circulation in turn provided the key to characterizing the subjectivity of the struggles that took place. In a vulgar sort of way (and not only in the italian workerist current), this technique of ('reversal'' was then extended to the analysis of public spending, to identify the circuits of struggle of the social worker alongside those of the mass worker:public spending is part of your wage packet'. Clearly, this analysis was insufficient.
Similarly, what is needed now is not simply an analysis of working-class mobility, showing it to be the 'reverse side' of the paradigm of command, and indicating the possibility of a long-term convergence in agitational terms between unemployed and factory workers, exploited housewives and old-age pensioners, students and youth working in the black economy etc. Obviously we need this - but it is still not enough. The analysis has to be rooted in a communist perspective. Clearly, this must encompass the practical problems of struggle against the articulations of capitalist command, the problem of resisting and overthrowing the blackmail of public spending and the discipline of the total working day in a global sense - but the connecting thread of the analysis can only be found through a progressive movement, both theoretical and practical, which anticipates a communist future.
Let us examine a specific instance of this problem by looking at another aspect of the defeat of the movement in the late 1970s. This defeat took place, not only as a result of corporation state policies, but also through the ghettoisation of the movement itself ; the repression and/or isolation of particular struggles which proved incapable of being generalized at the level of the new quality of the class interest as a whole, and which consequently became prey to the repressive paradigm of capitalist control over public spending. This process has been particularly evident in the large European metropolitan centres. Recently, Karl Heinz Roth (in the journal Autonomie - Materialen gegen die Fabrikgesellschaft - Neue Folge, no. 4-5) has directly confronted this problem in the case of Germany, where these phenomena of ghettoisation and englobement have been exceptionally evident. In Germany, the defeat of the movement was entirely due to the inability to grasp and build upon that new quality of class separation and antagonism which alone could provide general goals for the movement as a whole; not in any sense externally imposed goals, but goals arising from the quality of proletarian existence itself .
This raises a serious problem. The abandonment of the old Marxist framework of programmatic 'general demands' and of scientific rationalism in the movement - which everyone has flirted with at some time or other, and which was needed precisely in order to grasp the new quality of subjects and struggles - has also led to a collapse of possibilities of reconstructing particular subjectivities as links in any general material project. The result, as Roth shows, is that the productivity of movements of self-valorisation (particularly evident in the ghetto underground) has been recuperated within the capitalist segregation of labour markets and within the reorganization of the interstitial economy; and this to such an extent that capital is now free to reshape and manipulate this sector at will. Thus freedom becomes drug trafficking', self-valorisation is reduced to a business; the exercise of counter-power is negated through terrorism. The issues that provide partial contents of the struggle (anti-nuclear or ecological) themselves become detached and re-integrated within the general power of the simulacrum of social relations that governs capitalist production. The only solution to this impasse, according to Roth, is a radical recovery of the Marxist method of analysis in order to grasp the new quality of class behaviours; in a perspective that can reconstitute the class subject as a whole with its communist content and goals. However,I do not want these remarks to be misinterpreted as a plea for a sort of new, updated Gramscianism. In no sense am I suggesting that the concept of hegemony, with its obvious theoretical weaknesses and idealistic derivation, can now simply be given a more materialist consistency, translated into the terms of contemporary society. The differences in method that divide us from any 'hegemonic' resolution remain substantial, and no amount of self-criticism concerning the events of the past few years and the prospects ahead can bridge this gulf . Nor is it a question of self-criticism as regards analytical approach; indeed, the method must remain the same - a radical continuity of subversive method aimed at the destructuration and sabotage of the system. Any political determination of the future from a class point of view now requires a further leap forward in the cultural revolution of the proletariat. All the cards will have to be reshuffled in this process. What is required is a sort of Leninist 'New Economic Policy' which overturns the relations of production in order to bring out the subjectivity of the transformation engendered by the new socialized proletariat. Corporativism has to be destroyed as the major static force blocking any revolutionary emergence. And we have to grasp fully the central t importance of class mobility as the key element in the circuits of struggle leading to class recomposition. If the concept of hegemony - the classical conception of class unity in Leninist political science is to have any relevance to this process, this can only be within a perspective that sets the organization of mobility-in the continuous process of formation and re-formation of proletarian unity - against capitalist reproduction of the simulacrum (political, economic and informational) which is today's basic weapon of domination. We have to reinterpret mobility as a proletarian weapon, discover its working-class use as a means of conquering free time and redefining the working day. And we have to see this use of mobility as a key weapon against the rigidified and fascistic forms of command of the Warfare State - the petrified and illusory command over monetary liquidity, together with its cultural and institutional reflections.
From the Italian standpoint,I think that for future indications we have to go back to FIAT. This is as true now as it has been in all previous critical turning points in the class struggle - as in 1962, 1969, or 1973. But now it is no longer sufficient to go back to the pickets on the pates. Gone are those times when the wildcat strike, the first primitive form of the insurgency of the mass worker, and the generalization of the mass worker's struggle-behaviour in the mass pickets, was a sufficient basis for indicating the direction of the class struggle as a whole. Now analysis has to encompass the whole metropolis and class recomposition has to be seen in terms of mobility; working-class freedom can now only be understood in terms of the total social working day, which - at the level of real, social subsumption of labour - is the same as life-time itself. We return to FIAT today for new answers: to prove the hegemony and the majoritarian status (both quantitatively and qualitatively) of the movements of recomposition of the social worker over all other sections or strata of the class.
The time has come to break definitively with all those who have mystified, divided and held back the proletariat, above all on the terrain of public spending; to push the schizoid possibilities of public spending to the limit, to accept with extractive irony the capitalist restoration of t e market, while materially revealing and attacking its ideal, utopian and reactionary nature; and to affirm, above all, that principle of reality which imposes the fundamental, structural contradiction against its functionalist distortions. In so doing, we can also render ineffective the state's deployment of its military capacities against the class movement. While all this will certainly not produce a celebration banquet for us, we can now say finally and definitively:"it won't be a picnic for them either''
Trani Special Prison:
(Introduction & main text taken from Revolution Retrieved,a collection of Negri's work,published by Red Notes 1998,)
Back To Class Against Class