What is the Movement.......

Mike Ballard swillsqueal at yahoo.com.au
Fri Dec 27 11:17:14 MST 2002

When a `revolutionary' organisation reproduces
hierarchical structures or when being an `activist'
becomes like a job, capital — which is, after all,
about the ceaseless imposition of work — is
But, when we use work-time to pursue our own projects
— downloading or uploading free software or music
files or communist literature from/to the Internet,
teaching our students about Marx rather than
neoclassical economics and refusing to grade them —
then capital is
not reproduced and its whole existence is threatened.

But, for all the time we manage to steal from our
bosses whilst `at work', we frequently find ourselves
thinking about work projects, that is, working, in our
`free time'. And we have also found ourselves
using at work skills learned through political
activity: skills of chairing meetings, designing
documents, public speaking and so on.

We provide other unwaged labour for capital too.
Housework,schoolwork, etc., have long been recognised
as work for capital. Now we are also forced to spend
time on the telephone — much of it twiddling our
thumbs in telephone queues — sorting out bills and
trying to get better deals on utilities, mortgages,
etc. This is just
more unpaid labour, helping produce the use-value for
capital of more competitive markets. In fact, many
communists have become interested in call-centre
workers and their conditions. But those proletarians
who have to call the call centres provide at least as
much labour for capital, all of it unpaid.

We created the world we now live in. The blurring of
work and non-work is part of capital's response to our
struggles of the 1960s and 70s, our attempts to flee
from domination and oppression in the factory, in
fields and offices, in the home, in schools and
universities. As capital pursued us out of these
traditional workplaces, it has been forced to adopt
guerrilla tactics, to encircle us, to try and
recuperate all of our activity. But as capital
struggles to reduce all human activity to abstract
labour, the spaces in which it is contested
simultaneously expand. As Negri has written, `[t]he
proletariat is everywhere, just as the boss is'.[2]

Only a tiny proportion of this
gainst-and-beyond-capital doing is consciously
anti-capitalist or revolutionary, and `we' —
activists, revolutionaries, communists — certainly
rarely recognise it. Yet it exists in and emerges from
every crevice of social life, though often
in confused ways. Every day, people volunteer (gift)
their time (according to their ability) to help others
according to their needs. Think of people helping a
parent, who may be a stranger, search for their
missing child. This behaviour is human behaviour and
people begin to create human relationships, unmediated
by the value relation. Reflect again on this example.
It's so easy to say, `yes but...' It's true, sometimes
the media pick up on particular incidents and
encourage public involvement in order to sell
newspapers. But they
happen every day, everywhere, human beings organise
themselves according to ability and need, the child is
found unharmed and nothing is reported. `Yes, but...,
it's not political'. Think again. Perhaps the problem
is `politics'.

We see the struggle between capital and
ainst-and-beyond capital in the most unlikely places.
Post-September 11, `the world will never be the same
again'. But, commercial interests (the New York Port
Authority and the Lower Manhattan Development
Corporation) are already
gearing up to fight families and lovers of those who
died in the World Trade Center over the redevelopment
of Ground Zero. Most would probably not recognise it,
but those who wish to ban any building on the site (a
majority of those who've gone to meetings on the
redevelopment plans) are fighting capital. Their doing
is a doing against capital and in this sense is part
of the anti-capitalist movement.


"Man first begins to philosophize when the necessitites of life are supplied."  Aristotle

"determinatio est negatio"  Spinoza

"There are no ordinary cats."  Colette


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