Male - 30 Years Old
|With respect to politics, the horizon that conditions our experience is communism. I get the term “communist horizon” from Bruno Bosteels, who gets it from Alvaro García Linera, vice president of Bolivia. Garcia Linera was the running mate of Evo Morales on the ticket Movement to Socialism-Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples (MAS-IPSP). He is the author of multiple pieces on Marxism, politics, and sociology, at least one of which was written while he served time in prison for armed uprising (before becoming Vice President of Boliva, he fought in the Tupac Katari Guerrilla Army).|
Bosteels quotes García Linera’s response to an interviewer’s questions about his party’s plans following their electoral victory:
“The general horizon of the era is communist.”
García Linera doesn’t explain the term. He invokes the communist horizon
“as if it were the most natural thing in the world.”
Assuming it as an irreducible feature of the political setting, he says:
“we enter the movement with our expecting and desiring eyes set upon the communist horizon.”
Some on the US left think the communist horizon is a lost horizon. This is a mistake that capitalists, conservatives, and even liberal-democrats don’t make insofar as they see the threat of communism everywhere, twenty years after its ostensible demise. To think further about how this communist horizon manifests itself to us today, how we feel its force, how it formats our setting, I treat communism as a tag for six features of our conjuncture:
1. a specific state formation that collapsed in 1991;
2. a present, increasingly powerful, force;
3. the sovereignty of the people;
4. the force of the common and commons;
5. the collective desire for collectivity; and
6. the actuality of revolution.
My goal is to highlight the actuality of communism as an ideal for us, one worth fighting for in a struggle that is ever more urgent and necessary.
As Bosteels argues, invoking the communist horizon produces “a complete shift in perspective or a radical ideological turnabout” such that “capitalism no longer appears as the only game in town.” With communism as our horizon, the field of possibilities for revolutionary theory and practice starts to change shape. Barriers to action fall away. New potentials and challenges come to the fore. Anything is possible. We can set “our expecting and desiring eyes here and now on a different organization of social relationships.”
Instead of a politics thought primarily in terms of resistance, playful and momentary aesthetic disruptions, the immediate specificity of local projects, and struggles for hegemony within a capitalist, parliamentary, setting, the communist horizon impresses on us the necessity of the abolition of capitalism and the creation of global practices and institutions of egalitarian cooperation. The shift in perspective the communist horizon produces turns us away from the democratic milieu that has been the form of the loss of communism as a name for left aspiration and toward the reconfiguration of the components of political struggle, in other words, away from general inclusion, momentary calls for broad awareness, and lifestyle changes, and toward militant opposition, tight organizational forms (party, council, working group, cell), and the sovereignty of the people over the economy through which we produce and reproduce ourselves. In short, the communist horizon orients our politics such that we are fighting not just against but for (and this may be why some on the left have been reluctant to embrace the communism—it fearlessly advocates the collective power of the people).......
The actuality of revolution requires discipline and preparation, not because the communist party can accurately predict everything that will occur—it cannot—and not because it has an infallible theory—it does not. Its theory, like the conditions in which it is set, is open to rigorous criticism, testing, and revision. Discipline and preparation enable the party to adapt to circumstances rather than be completely molded or determined by them. The party has to be consistent and flexible because revolution is chaotic. The actuality of revolution is thus a condition of constitutive non-knowledge for which the party can prepare. It’s a condition that demands response, if the party is to be accountable to the exploited and oppressed people.
A communist party is necessary because neither capitalist dynamics nor mass spontaneity immanently produce a proletarian revolution that ends the exploitation and oppression of the people. A revolutionary period brings together and confuses multiple and changing groups and classes. Different spontaneous tendencies, degrees of class consciousness, and ideological persuasions converge. The Leninist party doesn’t know what the people want. It’s a form for dealing with the split in the people, our non-knowledge of what we, as a collectivity, desire. As Lukács writes, “If events had to be delayed until the proletariat entered the decisive struggles united and clear in its aims there would never be a revolutionary situation.” What the party knows is that such a lack of knowledge must not impede action because it cannot forestall the actuality of revolution. The party, then, is an organization situated at the overlap of two lacks, the openness of history as well as its own non-knowledge.
Collectivity—common cause and common determination—is difficult. It involves giving up what we don’t have for something we can’t achieve. We are and cannot name a whole. We are and cannot fully justify the coercive and productive forces we unleash. The communist party is a form for maintaining this gap without yielding to fantasy or fatalism—which is why Badiou theorizes its operation in terms of courage as well confidence. Neither instantiation nor representative of the people, the party formalizes its collective desire for collectivity; when the party fails to keep open the gap of desire, it ceases to be a communist party.
The actuality of revolution is the press/pressure that we feel, that we can’t put off but must redirect. The communist horizon is what we must focus on and use as a guide if this redirection is compelled by the force of the common rather than the speculation of the few.