revolutionary joy

Doug Henwood dhenwood at
Thu Aug 31 09:09:11 MDT 1995

At 11:30 PM 8/30/95, Jon Beasley-Murray wrote:

>Back to the text on Italian autonomia... this one's for Doug:
>"What is perhaps most attractive about these Italian theorists and the
>movements they grow out of is their joyful character.  All too often
>Leftist cultures have identified a revolutionary life with a narrow path
>of ascetism, denial and even resentment.  Here, however, the collective
>pursuit of our pleasures is always in the forefront--revolution is a
>desiring-maching.  Perhaps this is why, although these authors follow
>many aspects of Marx's work, they seldom develop either the critique of
>the commodity or the critique of ideology as major themes.  While
>certainly important projects, both of these analyses run the risk of
>falling into a kind of asceticism that would predicate revolutionary
>struggle on a denial of the pleasures offered by capitalist society.  The
>path we find here, in contrast, involves no such denial but rather the
>adoption and appropriation of the pleasures of capitalist society as our
>own, intensifying them as a shared collective wealth.  This is far from a
>vision of communism as equally shared poverty, and much less a refernce
>back to precapitalist communal forms.  Communism rather will emerge out
>of the heart of capitalism as a social form that not only answers the
>basic human needs of all but also heightens and intensifies our desires"
>        (Michael Hardt, "Laboratory Italy")

Thank you thank you. Gotta love those Italians. "Paradise of exiles," as
Shelley said.

Isn't it possible to question the commodity form without condemning the
pleasures of consumption themselves? Both the production of commodities and
the production of desire for commodities are mastered by capital; isn't the
idea to socialize both forms of production?



Doug Henwood
[dhenwood at]
Left Business Observer
250 W 85 St
New York NY 10024-3217
+1-212-874-4020 voice
+1-212-874-3137 fax

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