Preamble: What’s the nature of politics? An argument for the mode of ruling concept

The next three posts are an argument exploring the nature of politics, including its temporal limits, that is, when it came into being, & how it may wither away. It’s an attempt at scientific communist analysis, with a focus on this glaring fact: perversely Marx, Engels, & those using their ideas, have a deeply underdeveloped conception of the political dimension of human living. Principally there is a need for the concept of mode of ruling, the generative means of political living. This spawns, amongst others, the concepts of ruling & anti-ruling, re-ruling & de-ruling, co-governing & self-governing.

Only anti-ruling can undermine politics. The sublation of political living (& of economic living & cultural living, with which it is necessarily symbiotic) results in its opposite, integral living: alienation is sublated as authenticity. With the sublating of ruling, the universal class for-itself comes into being, & the integral is its form, & hence also the form of communist society.

Exploitation & other oppressions are the result of ruling, & politics only exists when there’s ruling. Correspondingly, opposing ruling is to be anti-political. The communising effort tries to make politics wither, stripping it from decision-making, managing, administering, governing. What remains of political matters (the encouraging of widespread participation in deciding, implementing, monitoring, and back to devising, revising and deciding), the continuity within the discontinuity, amounts to nothing other than governing matters. The political dimension of human living has morphed into the governing dimension of human living, just one necessary process of integral living; this occurs because a figuration of modes of ruling has been undermined to extinction by using the generative means of governing, namely modes of governing, those of co-governing & self-governing.

The posts are quite lengthy, & without colour pictures, videos, etc., almost certainly a strain on the eye – if anyone wants them as PDF’s please just ask.

The three posts:
Deciding? Ruling? (context – responsibility – three transitions – Macnair’s argument)
The necessary elements of political living (intro – the necessary elements (8 no.) – the abstract conception of political living)
From ruling through anti-ruling to integral living (“the ruling class does not rule” – distinguishing power, force, etc. & rule – ways of ruling & of de-ruling – communising (again) – the Gotha analysis schema)

These paragraphs from a letter sent this week to the Weekly Worker, paper of the Communist Party of Great Britain, give a further flavour of the three posts:

[. . .] achieving socialism, communism ([. . .] synonyms), is engaging in a process of communising, which starts for us as undermining the capitalising of people’s lives, and it requires the decommodifying of goods and services. It involves the development of authenticity at the expense of alienation. Call it the integral living of the universal class for itself. Socialists need to reclaim talk of freedom, fun and pleasure, individual and collective responsibility, and be their champion. We need conceptions of freedom-from and freedom-to: emancipation from exploitation and other oppressions, and the living of liberation in individual and communal projects, some even exploratory and experimental. We promote human flourishing at the expense of suffering.

We are for developing self-control, making redundant the alter-discipline of authorities; in engendering awareness that the welfare of others is a need of one’s own, the boundary of one’s self is transformed, extending and involving others; enveloping others and being enveloped develops a more collective self. It is the practising of non-erotic love: communists are philanthropists. Democracy, ie widespread participation in decision-making, is simply the means giving us the best chance to develop the good life for the whole species, all the while respecting that freedom recognises necessity. Communising means discovering how to institutionalise enthusiasm in a non-commodity form.

If a scientific understanding of economic life requires a conception of mode of production then that of political life requires a conception of mode of ruling. Power is simply one way to rule; leading society, invoking fear and hope, are others. Communising consists in developing anti-ruling at the expense of ruling, with the former harbouring a dynamic of re-ruling and de-ruling, and de-ruling itself hosting a dynamic of co-governing and self-governing. Each of these dynamics marks a phase in the prospective history of communising. In all this, communising requires the working class and its allies to use a mode of anti-ruling to govern both control of access to valued, thus significant, entities, and control over the quality of relations. In being anti-ruling, communists are anti-political; it makes us integral, not political.

Communising is an attempt to create a community of self-governors. The organisation of communist society is regulation, order, association in an integral form, and it is achieved not by ruling but by governing, self-governing. This is the sublation of alienation. Human political history is a management struggle, the management of valued entities and relations. The scientific communist aim is none other than to make us all managers, make us all governors, make us all administrators. This gives a new meaning to ‘the managerial revolution’. It is contingent whether humanity is either capable of this or indeed desires it.

I have explored these ideas, and the nature of politics for scientific communists, in what would have been three articles for the WW. The editorial team wanted them re-written as two, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to make the time to do this. They are available however at

[Three changes made: in the first paragraph, corrected to “exploitation and other oppressions” because the former, the performance of social surplus labour & the appropriation of its product, is a crucial example of (economic) oppression; & two changes made in the penultimate paragraph: it’s more exact to speak of “in an integral form”, rather than “[t]he integral organisation of communist society”, because the latter can’t be organised in any other way (the quality is necessary, not contingent), & the paragraph’s final sentence is an addition.]


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