Archive | October 2016

Communising & the need for the mode of ruling concept: from ruling through anti-ruling to integral living (Marx2016 – Stockholm, 15-16 Oct 2016)

I very much look forward to returning to Stockholm, this time to present the mode of ruling argument at Marx2016. The two-day conference is being held at the ABF (Workers’ Educational Association), who have co-organised it with the Centre for Marxist Social Studies (CMS), Clarté, Fronesis, the International Migration & Ethnic Relations Association (IMER), & Tidsignal. This follows the inaugural event held in 2013. There are four themes: ‘Capitalism in 2050 – expansion, destruction, transition?’, ‘Eco-Socialism and climate’, ‘Critical theories, platforms and movements’, & ‘To both understand and change’.

I also look forward to giving a report on the proceedings. There are links here to the programme & abstracts:

My own abstract (session UC-4):

Communising & the need for the mode of ruling concept: from ruling through anti-ruling to integral living

It is perverse that Marxists, given their preoccupations and intent, have significantly under-conceptualised the political dimension of human living. This can be rectified to an extent by building on the ruling class concept. Just as a scientific understanding of economic life requires the mode of production concept, that of political life needs the mode of ruling concept. This improves upon Mouzelis’ mode of domination concept, as demonstrated, in part, by Therborn’s account of subjugation and qualification. The latter forms the basis of a typology of sub-modes of ruling, freeing analysis from both an unwarranted focus on power and the constrictions of frameworks such as hegemony/domination, consent/force, consensus/legitimacy/force, false/true consciousness.

The principal political practical imperative is control – of access to valued entities, and over the quality of relations. Human political history is a management struggle, the management of control. The continual capitalising of people’s lives is opposed by their communising, the anti-force. The mode of ruling idea allows recognition that, in political terms, communising is 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. This complements Marx’s largely economic remarks on the Gotha programme. Freedom is lived less as freedom-from, emancipation, and more as freedom-to, liberation. De-ruling is the only political process and form with the capacity to realise, through communising, the universal class for-itself. As each of these necessary dynamics marks a phase in the prospective history of communising, they provide a meta-strategic framework. This contrasts with talk of seizing power, smashing the state, and the leading role of the party.

If systematic exploitation and oppressions can be ended, the hitherto content of ruling, that is, governing-over, then politics is reduced to co- and self-governing, namely to participation in deciding, implementing, monitoring, and back to devising, revising and deciding. This is the sublation of the mode of ruling as the mode of governing, and, in using forms of the latter, everyone becomes a governor, manager, administrator. With the sublating of ruling as governing, of alienation as authenticity, the universal class for-itself comes into being and the integral is its form, and so the form of communist society. In being anti-ruling, scientific communists are anti-political; it makes them integral, not political.

An unnecessary conceptual barrier is relying on politics and political theory – a practical and epistemic narrow conception of governing and governing theory, this an aspect of integral living and integral theory. Scientific communists should become accustomed, where appropriate, to formulating ideas in terms of governing rather than politics, and ruling rather than the less general such as power and hegemony. Discourse concerning the three modes of ruling, governing, and integral living is a reminder of the aim and purpose of emancipatory and liberatory activity.

The argument is in three posts, plus this preamble:

The set of animated PowerPoint slides used in my presentation: marx2016-2.