2 of 3: The necessary elements of political living

[Suggested title; not the snappiest but it accurately describes what’s here. ‘The elements of politics’ isn’t so stilted but it misleads: I don’t address contingent matters; & politics is quite different from political living in the conceptualisation made here.]


Last week I commented on Mike Macnair’s conception of politics (December 18 2014), having placed it in the context of a partial account of the nature of the communist project. Now I’ll outline how political activity (one meaning of politics) can be understood as just one result of the process of politicisation, a process which itself forms part of what can be called the political dimension of human living. I’ll identify and briefly describe this dimension’s necessary elements, and in the final, third, article I’ll apply the conception to the communising process and to Marx’s analysis of the draft Gotha programme. Some of my suggestions may be unfamiliar, but I think they pass the literary Flora test, the collegiate and generous Liam Mac Uaid principle, “’I can’t imagine anyone will find that controversial’”.1

It’s important to bear in mind that Mike’s argument wasn’t the main concern of his article, and no doubt he has much more to say on the matter. Even so, his surprising conception of politics was unambiguous, identifying its necessary aspect as disagreements subject to decision-making, the latter’s most efficacious conditions being collective decisions, binding in nature, implemented by collective action. So his focus in how to conceive of politics is upon the practical task of how to proceed in the face of people disagreeing. That task requires that a certain kind of decision has to be made, namely, an agreement on action. This conception of the necessary aspect of what’s involved in politics is included within the one I argue for, but only as a small part of it.

Mike’s conception of politics is unnecessarily narrow, but it is expandable. It’s behavioural, describing a particular practice, one complying with a procedure. It wasn’t a word he used, but these disagreements, including discussions of options, concern issues. It’s what people have become aware of. So in a real sense there was a time when they weren’t aware of them, and as such those issues were then non-issues. This is an interesting road into how we can better understand politics.2 There are a number of processes here: why non-issues remain non-issues, how they’re kept that way, how non-issues become issues, how attitudes and opinions are formed, and why action may take place. All this is part of the problematising of reality, and it’s a key political process; it’s the politicising of daily life, of our lives, it’s a process necessary for setting us free. If politics is the behaviour then politicising, through practices such as problematising reality, is the proximate means of its genesis. And any comprehensive conception of politics needs to explain why politics has its different contents and forms, and so, crucially, also its absences; that is, it needs to describe how all this, absences as well as presences, come into being. Simply saying people will always disagree is insufficient.

Reality isn’t always represented in language and other media, as is demonstrated when we experience surprise, make discoveries, live tacitly, and learn. We necessarily live ideologically, we live in and through practices that qualify us to act and to suffer, the principal suffering being our subjugation to exploitation and other oppressions, to being ruled. Our ideological living is practically adequate for the kind of society we live within and collectively produce. This develops within us a spontaneous understanding and feeling of both ourselves and the world more generally; it means this suffering is usually recognised as its effective opposite: an imperfect society, sometimes harsh, often frustrating, but with lots of opportunities, largely satisfying, pleasurable, exciting, fun – not dreary like politics and all those politicos.3

However, in recent centuries the species has developed scientific practices that can temper the unavoidable distorting effects of ideological living, furthering our efforts to develop less alienating, more authentic, less opaque, more transparent, understandings, feelings, and behaviours. Communists and anarchists aspire to be part of this scientific endeavour, not least in helping the great majority of workers to become qualified to decisively undermine the rule imposed upon them by the value dimension of the capital relation and other ruling forces.

Problematising reality can really upset the apple-cart. It’s a skilled accomplishment to recognise, identify, explore, and adequately represent a problem, and to learn about it, discovering within it issues that matter, how best to contextualise them, to frame them, and then promote them. Living dominant ideologies often makes it very difficult to problematise reality, even to discover issues whose pursuit one would benefit from. Nevertheless, once an issue is presented in an attractive, engaging way it can interest others, mobilising them, even becoming one of their perceived interests.

Turning non-issues into issues drags both the future and the past into the present: hitherto potential issues are now discussed, the-future-is-now-born; and hitherto non-issues are now issues, the-past-is-now-known. In both cases, the first ontic, the other epistemic, until ‘the turn’ unknown presences couldn’t be acknowledged as absences and then put to political use.

This problematising perspective, in breaking with immediacy, strikes at the heart of one of today’s most pervasive capitalist ideologies, the saccharine practice of issues-and-concerns, the one best delivered with a smile that melts. As Mikhail Sholokhov and Pete Seeger didn’t say, where have all the problems gone?

Mike would surely not deny any of this. The point is, his conception as stated, cannot admit, as political matters, the problematising of reality, the existence of non-issues, nor politics being the proximate result of politicising. However, they do exist, and do so in the first instance as political potentials, as resources that can be involved in political practice.

Consider another matter. Surprisingly Mike was silent on whether political conditions could ever do without any of these long-lasting powerful (and patientive) realities: commodities, money, alienated political society (usually termed the state, including its conditions of practice), power, domination, law, the vices of bureaucracy, classes, exploitation (systemic or occasional), other oppressions (ditto), rulers and ruled, ideology, and the twofold sense of human alienation, namely, relinquishment and estrangement. All 14 of them.

And when discussing the possible end of politics, why no reference, if only because of reader expectation, to the formulation found in our ABC: “[t]he government of persons is replaced by the administration of things and by the direction of processes of production” (my emphasis)?4 Likewise, why the silence on the idea of freedom as the recognition of necessity, a cautionary, disciplinary restraint upon voluntaristic decision-making?5 That idea is at the core of Marxist political prescriptions for any kind of society, not least one without a state.

The necessary elements of political living

Mike’s conception of politics, with its focus on the behavioural aspect of practice, with just one purpose identified, leaves out of consideration most of the elements of Marx’s generative and productionist processual ontology. Crucially, it means he fails to communicate that the complexity of human living has a lot to do with it consisting in both generative and generated dimensions – not a ‘flat’ ontological idea but ‘stratified’, sometimes called negative and positive reality.

As may seem obvious now, just as we wouldn’t regress from a critique of political economy to behavioural economics, this generative and productionist processual ontology suggests that we might need a conception not of politics as such, a behaviour, or even of politicising, a proximate generative means, but an expansive conception, such as the one I’ll outline here, what I term the political dimension of human living, an aspect of which is indeed behaviour.

So the central political concept wouldn’t be politics, nor politicising, but mode of ruling. This is the correlate of that for economic production, and, not surprisingly, it’s a figuration of human relations used to organise ruling forces (powers and susceptibilities), a relatively enduring generative means, imposed by some upon others to encourage societal order. What the mode of production is to economic living, the mode of ruling is to political living, to politics.

This alternative conception reveals itself best by focusing on identifying the necessary aspect of the political dimension. (What participants think they are doing is quite another matter.) It means decision-making is simply one moment of one kind of political practice. The conception is ‘broad and deep’, and explaining this draws attention to qualities that the political shares with other dimensions of human living. Hence the need for a general and quite abstract discussion, and this will be summarised in eight sections: the three ologies (methodology, etc); differentiating ontology; ideology/science; kinds of human needs; forces; kinds of human relations; ways (modes) of living; and the nature of practice.

(1) People often talk generally of philosophy, indeed, you even get former Eurocommunists turning it into a football-related business. (Were they always petty bourgeois chancers, I can hear some wondering?) Professed Marxists, and the pioneers, have also been known to speak a lot about dialectics.6 Indeed, one may ask, and I don’t know whether this is a matter of the dialectics of nature or of society or of both, but do crabs think we walk sideways? In any case, all practice worth its salt is said to accord with a method, and all methods of working, including those used when trying to discover knowledge of the world, are defended, they’re justified, as being the best available for the job (methodology). One justification is that what the methods yield conforms to a conception of what it is that counts as knowledge, that it satisfies the conditions of knowledge (epistemology). In turn, an attempt may be made to justify this ology by saying it is the nature of an examined entity that permits what can be known about it (and that it is the nature of examining humans that puts limits on our access to this), and this quality of the entity is part of what it is, of its being, and this may come to be known (becoming part of its ontology).

It is the case that any conception is a putative contribution to knowledge, it claims epistemic status, and it also necessarily presupposes the truth of claims to the nature of the being of the particular that is examined, it makes ontological claims whether these are stated or simply implied. Furthermore, any body of knowledge necessarily has as accompaniments all of these three ologies, and this is so even if this dependence is unacknowledged – or denied.

(2) There are important differences between being, becoming, and the development of being-becoming. Any entity is an example of its class, its type, and necessarily has those properties; and the class lacks independent existence: kill the generative forces that created the entity and you kill the class, depriving its members of their ability to reproduce. The entity, through interaction with others, can acquire and lose both necessary and contingent qualities, but its being and identity remain the same if there is no change in its capacity to be something, to have possibilities. This is its generative dimension, its figuration of necessary (essential) and contingent forces, be they powers or susceptibilities, the exercise of the former causing activity, and of the latter, passivity, perhaps indifference. In contrast with being, becoming is not change as such but change in the entity’s generative dimension. And when becoming itself changes, becoming develops.

These are the three orders (qualities) of being. Unless demonstrated to the contrary we can assume they apply to all entities, more accurately to their generative dimension. The first order can be called the ontic, plain being (from the Greek, on, meaning being; the present participle, be-ing, denoting the usual exertion of force); the second order, becoming, the genomic (hence the Genome Project, and an entity being ontogenomic); and the third, the development of being-becoming, the ontogenomogenic (because entities exhibit ontogenomogeny). Knowledge of these three are, not surprisingly, ontology, ontogenomology, and ontogenomogenology. Bit of a mouthful, but that’s science for you.

The last-mentioned ology, when applied to our species, can improve upon materialism by being, as in Marx’s hands, human geo-historical sensuous naturalism, a humanism: “[h]ere we see how consistent naturalism or humanism differs from both idealism and materialism, and is at the same time their unifying truth”; see also the first, fifth, ninth, and tenth theses on Feuerbach.7

And the societal realisation of humankind’s potential to overcome its alienation is the achievement of communism, which is the enactment of a practical naturalism, of a practical humanism, the deed complementing the word that is humanist naturalism: “[t]his communism as fully accomplished naturalism is humanism, and as fully accomplished humanism is naturalism”.8

(3) When we try to get to grips with the nature of politics, perhaps not even its nature in capitalist society, we need to be especially wary of the common sense we dwell within, the spontaneous understandings, the ideology, we cannot but live. It’s an important reason why scientific endeavour is valued, its unavoidable heuristic procedure being retroduction, ie examining by methods of abstraction-concretion what is generated by people and others, and trying to identify and describe the exercise of causal forces constituting the ways of being-becoming (mechanisms) that explain what has happened; these mechanisms, working singly or together, being labelled laws.

We should be clear about our attitude to science and any ism, be it Marxism, Leninism or whatever-ism: we should not aspire to be Marxist or Leninist but to be scientific, scientific communists. Marx was not an Engelsist. Engels was not a Marxist. Both tried to be scientists. Indeed, Engels contrasted utopian socialists with scientific ones. In their time socialism and communism referred to the same state of affairs. For example, in 1875 Marx’s Gotha analysis only spoke of “kommunistische Gesellschaft” (communist society); in 1878 Engels’ critique of Eugen Dühring talked only of “Sozialismus”. Today they are not synonyms, but it was the case before the outbreak of the First World War.

(4) To help us develop a satisfactory conception of the political dimension of human living, investigating human needs should be heuristic as without these being satisfied it would all be over.

I’ve been saying human living, not life, to emphasise that the referent is alive, vital, active, involved in a process (and not simply a practice, as should be clear by now), and that it isn’t just its product (life), that it’s dynamic, not static, not a fixed ‘that’s life, it’s there, in the display cabinet, with a pin right through its heart’.

Needs are rarely peculiar to an individual, they’re generic, with some necessary, others contingent. And they are temporally specific, being variously eternal (they win out, so we perish), transhistorical (outliving a dominant mode of production), historical, epochal (or phasic), conjunctural, or ephemeral.

At a certain degree of concretion-abstraction, needs are exhaustively biotic, psychical, economic, political, and cultural. Concerning the inescapable force of the first, Sebastiano Timpanaro had to remind those who should have known better (many of whom are now dead – or chronically ill).9 Psychical needs include mental stimulation, play, having fun, being appreciated, companionship, and the touch of a fellow human being – hence the design of imprisonment and psychical torture. Economic ones are satisfied by the providing of goods and services (use-values). The political, by the achievement of rule, establishing order. And the cultural, by the providing of meaningfulness and feelingfulness, in a word, sensefulness.

An important complexity here is akin to Marx’s identification in the Grundrisse that necessarily occurring within production, as its co-constituting conditions, are distribution and consumption: a spatial (and temporal) distribution of the productive forces, and their consumption during the very act of labouring.10 Similarly, as each person has all of these five generic needs, each dimension is also lived within all the other dimensions; so, eg, the political dimension isn’t just found in explicit politically-directed practices, it’s also a necessary co-constituting condition in biotic, psychical, economic, and cultural practices as well. Call these first-order and second-order expressions of the dimension. This ‘multiplies’ human living, making it matricular, as in the mathematical operation when rows are thrown into columns and out pop generated terms, something bigger and new. And so Kurtz and immigration: we called for labour, and people came instead.

Satisfying needs

[a possible wording if a sub-heading is needed to break up the text; but the previous sub-heading refers to all 8 points]

The last four sections concern how attempts are made to satisfy needs. That is, forces are organised by people using human relations and relations with other things to constitute arrangements, modes, and through these the forces are exercised as people go about their business. Importantly, the correlate of needs is the practical imperatives.

(5) As said, forces are exhaustively either powers or susceptibilities, respectively the capacity to act or to suffer. In perhaps every society the attempted satisfying of each kind of need is consciously pursued, in directed and dedicated practices, and in establishing a standard way of working, a pattern, a regularity in behaviour, each dimension of human living partially arises as a distinct institutionalisation. Hence talk of separate spheres, levels, fields, areas, regions, realms – all these spatio-visual thing-like (reified) metaphors. But this static imagery of human living is misleading, a false friend, not least because of the second-order expressions of each dimension that I just mentioned. Given this it makes more sense to speak more abstractly, of dimensions, aspects, instances, or even moments – a forceful, temporal, a dynamic imagery favoured by Hegel and Marx.

Given that most analyses largely ignore susceptibilities, especially their causal effect, it’s worth looking at two examples. Colonisation is usually explained in terms of the exercise of power. However, in trying to explain why most of the Muslim world was colonised, Malek Bennabi argued that stagnation and decadence had made it colonisible, it had acquired the social quality of colonisability (colonisibilité).11 This is the point: in an encounter all parties exercise forces, with even the colonised at times being passive in their activity, their suffering, in exercising their capacity to be led, to be dominated, to be ruled in those different ways. The Iraqi, on his leash, in Abu Ghraib. One can also apply this idea to the imperialist working classes since the late 1970s.

Another example concerns “das Arbeitsvermögen oder die Arbeitskraft” (the capacity for labour or labour-power).12 However, Kraft means force, and labour-force is really warranted here as in its capitalist form the referred to capacity consists in at least four forces, not all of which are powers: a capacity for labour (that is, to create use-values); a capacity to create value; a capacity to create surplus-value; and a capacity to be formed by the capitalist. The last is a susceptibility, an affordance, a providing, an offering – hence the current ideology of the flexible worker: available, adaptable, supple, manipulable, malleable, mouldable, to be formed, re-formed, de-formed. Indeed, at times Engels chose to speak not of labour-power but of labour-force; in English, in 1881, he wrote in Labour Standard, the weekly newspaper of the London Trades Council, “[t]he average price of a commodity is equal to its cost of production […] If this be true of all commodities, it is true also of the commodity Labour (or more strictly speaking, Labour-force)” and “the free working man – free from servitude but also free from any earthly possessions save his own labour force” (original typography).13

(6) At a certain degree of abstraction-concretion, exhaustively five kinds of human relations are necessarily involved in each dimension of human living: intrapersonal, interpersonal, groupal, inter-groupal, and social. None exists without the others, each is simply an aspect of the complexity of human living. Marx described each of them in Capital: the trials of the individual worker (and capitalist) are detailed; the relationship between a worker and her employer; the life of the trade union trying to combine and protect workers; the collective struggle between workers and capitalists; and, in terms of social scientific knowledge, Capital provides a unique understanding of the capitalistic social, the capitalist ontogenomogene, identifying the most abstract and forceful determinants of how humans live in societies largely regulated by the capital social relation. Discovering the nature of capitalist sociality, and relating it to the socialising of the working class, was his primary heuristic activity, the focus of his epistemic labours.

Sociality, as a quality of humanity, is found in one kind of the relations both between people and between people and other entities. The social is not the conceptual opposite of the individual: no, it is an aspect of the historical organisation of a kind of living, such as the economic. So the social aspect of the human relation called capital is what is used to organise the forces of production, distribution, exchange, and consumption in particular ways. The social aspect of the capital relation, in virtue of it coming to constitute the economic ontogenomogene of humanity, instigates the historical society or formation called capitalism, regulating economic life largely by means of the law of value (and within this by the disciplinary force of socially necessary (abstract) labour time), the causal forces that are the being-becoming of a particular form of the capital relation, the value relation. The capitalist ontogenome has development because some processes at work cannot but undermine others, their joint operation is contradictory, and eventually crisis erupts, threatening societal reproduction. The scientific communist argument is that one class, the working class, is being educated to rule, to manage a communising ontogenomogene and the forms of its corresponding society.

(7) Bringing together the last two sections, relations are used to organise forces into an arrangement, a figuration, and with agents (or patients) exercising those forces the three elements co-constitute a way, a manner, of acting (or suffering), what Marx called eine Weise, usually translated as mode. It means the mode, the way, has both a generative dimension and a generated dimension. Best known is his application of the concept to capitalist economy, but neglected is a list he gave, showing that he saw this onticity as pervasive: “[r]eligion, the family, the state, law, morality, science, art, etc, are only particular modes of production”; saying straight away, “and therefore come under its general law”, which is, “[…] the movement of private property or, to be more exact, of the economy. This material, immediately sensuous private property is the material, sensuous expression of estranged human life. Its movement – production and consumption – is the sensuous revelation of the movement of all previous production, ie the realization or reality of man.”14 The “general law”, suffusing current human living, is the being-becoming, the ontogenome, of alienated human living (in its capitalist form), generating both subjugation and qualification to act and to suffer. In the late 1850s Marx was able to detail this as the law of value.

So it’s reasonable to apply this concept to generic needs other than the economic kind. It means we have modes of political production, cultural production, affective production, and cognitive production; and modes of non-consciousness production, and consciousness production; and modes of fantasy production. Question is, why hasn’t this been said before? Why hasn’t this been applied, if only mechanically, just to see what it can yield? This is truly puzzling.

Similarly, we can apply to the other dimensions Marx’s idea that economic living transforms when current social relations of production are having such a deleterious effect upon productive forces that crisis eventually leads to new social relations coming into being, resolving the contradiction. So perhaps the principal political contradiction is that between the ruling forces and the social relations of ruling. It makes the job of politics either managing this contradiction or exacerbating it. We know where Varoufakis stands on this.

As each mode is an arrangement of relations used to organise forces it means there are sub-modes which can be used to promote particular ways of being-becoming. Hence how societal leadership (hegemony) is exercised is a sub-mode of ruling. Likewise the exercise of power (resulting in domination). Inquiry can establish whether these sub-modes exist on their own or do so analytically (ie discursively) as part of an arrangement. Also, as each figuration involves people, it is necessarily sensuous, and as it usually endures it can be said to constitute itself as a sensuous structure. Although the arrangements can prove to be temporary, most of the time people either reproduce or modify them, rather than effect transformation.

The development of social forces, perhaps not always internally connected to classes, can motivate political forces to develop competing modes, not of anti-ruling but of re-ruling; hence the transitions through ‘passive’ revolution, and times of dual power (more exactly, dual ruling). The opposite of this is the means implicit in Marx’s argument that the working class can transform humanity into a universal class for-itself, of humanity realising in practice what the working class currently lives as a potential: an adequate mode of de-ruling. As we know all too well, what this involves is part of our 140 years of inadequate conceptualisation and practice. A focus of the third, final, article will be an elaboration of anti-ruling, re-ruling, and de-ruling.

(8) Before examining the political dimension itself there is one more step, identifying and describing the nature of practice. Much of it has already been said, it just needs dressing. Practice consists in these six elements: in conditions (the relations between them constituting a condition in its own right, a second-order one), a subject using means upon an object creates both a product and other outcomes, causing practical imperatives to be satisfied to a particular degree.

The product is then usually distributed (that is, circulated), sometimes exchanged, to be consumed. The product of each kind of human living is within its own generic continuum: economic products are either use-values or waste (including intended use-values that fail to be socially recognised); political ones are in a continuum between order, through resistance and rebellion, to mayhem; the cultural is the sensefulness-senselessness continuum; the affective experiences affects, feelings, emotions, passions, moods, sentiments, and its quasi-absence, flat affect; and the cognitive is the meaningfulness-meaninglessness continuum.

If it wasn’t clear, other outcomes are that each of the other five elements of practice is either reproduced, modified, or transformed, as are the relations between them – and this also applies to the supervening mode of practice itself, which the individual practice instantiates.

A practical imperative, the practical correlate of need, arises from the way of living, and it’s a disciplinary property of practice: if it isn’t satisfied it upsets the status quo, even endangering the whole population – witness the ‘zoning’ of Greece by an act of omission, the Eurozone shovelling sand all over the cogs of the Greek banking machine. A practical imperative is a social condition co-produced by the exercise of forces and the needs of people and other entities. Abstracting from it being largely human in its nature, some inquirers conceptually objectify it, reify it, even personify it, calling it systemic needs.

In politics, symbols are readily recognised as useful in promoting a message, in encouraging ‘the right’ cognitive practice, for the right thoughts, ideas and opinions to spring forth. But affectivity, well, it just happens, right? Well, no. In an affective encounter people exercise their affordance to be affected, to experience affects, feelings, emotions, etc; and what they experience are often the potential feelings, emotions, and moods, as it were, that are being actively presented to them, borne, evoked, by what can best be called pathophors. This is almost never an automatic process: people have to be sensitised, to be trained, ‘to feel the right way at the right time’. The obvious political prescription is that we systematically identify which pathophors would be useful in our work. Wilhelm Reich sensed this when trying to explain the success of fascists in Germany.15 Symbols too can be pathophors – witness the swastika, or even the word.

The consciousness of experience is acognitive because it is solely affective: what’s experienced requires interpreting before we have a thought about it – but it’s felt immediately. It means that cognitive processes can generate representational consciousness, whereas affective processes can produce presentational consciousness. Correspondingly, in an interpersonal, groupal, and social sense we have collective representations and collective presentations.

Lastly, necessary conditions of successful activity and passivity include two mental aspects of being-becoming, namely a practically adequate consciousness and a practically adequate non-consciousness (the unconscious and more), all being the result of the exercise of psychic forces. The constituents here are cognitive and affective, conative and averse, and the fantastic.16 We must never forget the political salience of wishes, daydreams, longings, fantasies, dreams – and of their impoverishing, pervasive absence. This is a rich area for political communication – witness capitalist advertising. So what is it to be: the privatising of hope and desire or the socialising, the communising, of hope and desire? (Insert your own emoticon.)

This corrects the ‘being determines consciousness’ formula, which has become a dualist, dichotomous, torn-asunder, mechanical, unidirectional causal complex, either denying or denigrating the prospect of mental activity being causal, of it becoming leading, of it being other than derivative: reasons, feelings, and longings are indeed causes. Albeit requiring practice, hope is a potential not-yet.17 The correction helps make intelligible Marx’s remark, noted in section (2), that “consistent naturalism or humanism differs from both idealism and materialism, and is at the same time their unifying truth”. Recognising natural necessity (both mentative and behavioural), with mentation as an emergent property of the person (not of the brain), conceptually transcends by sublation the idealism/materialism ontological opposition.

The abstract conception of political living

We can summarise the relatively abstract nature of the political dimension of human living, improving upon the approximation made in the final paragraph of my previous article. The elementary, the simplest necessary, political relation is between the rulers and the ruled. The elementary political dynamic is between ruling and anti-ruling. So the elementary political generative means are the mode of ruling and the mode of anti-ruling. The elementary political conditions are a dynamic between ‘superordination and subordination’ and ‘freedom as the recognition of necessity’. The elementary political contradiction is between the contesting groups as they undermine one another in trying to control ruling forces. The elementary political behavioural dynamic is ‘order or rebellion’. Politicisation involves the problematising of reality, generating issues to be framed and then pursued. The purpose of political behaviour, politics, is – even if unacknowledged – the attempted satisfaction of political practical imperatives, the practical correlate of political needs. The elementary and principal political practical imperative is control: control of access to valued, thus significant, entities, and control over the quality of relations – the first, a crucial form of the second. Political outcomes range from order through resistance and rebellion to mayhem. All this provides the ontogenomogenic setting, the distal causal forces, the meta-strategic context, for considering more concrete matters such as class-party-state and programme.

The final article will explore ideas around the mode of ruling concept to better understand what’s necessarily and contingently involved in the political dimension of human living. Through a consideration of the communising process we will be able to infuse into Marx’s Gotha analysis much more detail about the necessary politics involved. This is the dynamic world of ruling and anti-ruling, with the latter harbouring a dynamic of re-ruling and de-ruling, and de-ruling itself hosting a dynamic of co-governing and self-governing. We’ll also see what futures are possible for the political dimension, and for politics narrowly conceived.


1. Paul Demarty ‘Headlong into a trap’ Weekly Worker April 9: http://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1053/headlong-into-a-trap/.
2. Matthew Crenson The un-politics of air pollution: a study of non-decisionmaking in the cities Baltimore 1971.
3. An exemplar in how not to evangelise, spreading the news of exploitation and other oppressions, was brilliantly described last year by Pablo Iglesias (a co-founder of Podemos) in a way that may surprise readers; every ‘leftist’ publication should carry the text: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/12/pablo-iglesias-podemos-left-speech/; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-T5ye_z5i0 (with English sub-titles).
4. “An die Stelle der Regierung über Personen tritt die Verwaltung von Sachen und die Leitung von Produktionsprozessen” Friedrich Engels Anti-Dühring [1878]: http://www.mlwerke.de/me/me20/me20_239.htm#Kap_II. This is a transition of Aufhebung, sublation, superseding whilst partially preserving, but it seems Engels preferred here a linguistic construction that emphasised discontinuity within the continuity – see my previous article on the uniqueness of this transition. Another translation (hereafter ‘cf’), by Emile Burns, is Marx Engels Collected Works Vol 25 Valentina Smirnova (ed) London 1987 p268 (all volumes accessible and downloadable at mega.nz via http://thecharnelhouse.org/2016/01/02/open-source-marxism-2016-fresh-batch-of-pirate-scab-pdfs, number 245).
5. Anti-Dühring: http://www.mlwerke.de/me/me20/me20_032.htm#Kap_XI; MECW Vol 25 pp104-6; John Hoffman The Gramscian challenge: coercion and consent in Marxist political theory London 1984 chapter 5.
6. The arguments of Joseph Dietzgen: https://www.marxists.org/archive/dietzgen/index.htm; Stuart Macintyre A proletarian science: Marxism in Britain 1917-1933 Cambridge 1980.
7. “Wir sehn hier, wie der durchgeführte Naturalismus oder Humanismus sich sowohl von dem Idealismus, als dem Materialismus unterscheidet und zugleich ihre beide vereinigende Wahrheit ist” Karl Marx ‘Economic and philosophical manuscripts’ (‘EPM’) [1844; David Riazanov (ed) 1927 (incomplete in Russian) and Vladimir Adoratsky (ed) 1932 (complete in German)]: https://www.marxists.org/deutsch/archiv/marx-engels/1844/oek-phil/3-5_hegl.htm; cf MECW Vol 3 Lev Golman (ed) Martin Milligan and Dirk J Struik (trs) London 1975 p336. On Feuerbach: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/theses/theses.htm.
8. “Dieser Kommunismus ist als vollendeter Naturalismus Humanismus, als vollendeter Humanismus Naturalismus” K Marx ‘EPM’: https://www.marxists.org/deutsch/archiv/marx-engels/1844/oek-phil/3-2_prkm.htm; cf MECW Vol 3 p296.
9. S Timpanaro On materialism [1970] Lawrence Garner (tr) London 1975: excerpts at amazon.com.
10. K Marx Grundrisse [1857-8; Pavel Veller (ed) 1939] Martin Nicolaus (tr) Harmondsworth 1973 pp88-100.
11. M Bennabi Islam in history and society [1954] Asma Rashid (tr) New Delhi 2006 pp14, 47-8. Bennabi has been considered “the Muslim world’s first social philosopher and social scientist since Ibn Khaldūn” (Badrane Benlahcene The socio-intellectual foundations of Malek Bennabi’s approach to civilization Herndon 2011 as abridged by Alison Lake, Herndon 2013 pp1-2: http://www.iiit.org/uploads/4/9/9/6/49960591/books-in-brief_the_socio-intellectual_foundations_of_malik_bennabis_approch_to_civilization.pdf).
12. K Marx: http://www.mlwerke.de/me/me23/me23_161.htm#Kap_4_3; Capital: a critique of political economy Vol 1: the process of production of capital [1867] Ben Fowkes (tr) London (Penguin) 1976 p270.
13. F Engels ‘The wages theory of the Anti-Corn Law League’ July 9 and ‘Social classes – necessary and superfluous’ August 6 1881 MECW Vol 24 Valentina Smirnova (ed) London 1989 pp402, 415.
14. K Marx ‘EPM’ Gregor Benton (tr) Early writings Harmondsworth 1975 pp349, 348-9; relevant is “[sie] sind nur besondre Weisen der Produktion” (link as note 8).
15. W Reich Sex-pol: essays 1929-1934 Lee Baxandall (ed) Anna Bostock, Tom DuBose and Lee Baxandall (trs) New York 1972; all editions of The mass psychology of fascism comply with Reich’s decision to gut the Marxist arguments he had made in the first two German-language editions (1933 and 1934).
16. A fantastic fantastic analysis is Yael Navaro-Yashin Faces of the state: secularism and public life in Turkey Princeton 2002: https://books.google.com/books?id=nJ-hh9pNAzQC&printsec=frontcover&dq=yael+faces+state&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=yael%20faces%20state&f=false.
17. Ernst Bloch The principle of hope [1959] 3 volumes Neville Plaice, Stephen Plaice and Paul Knight (trs) Oxford 1986: excerpts at amazon.com.

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