Communism & Nirvana: Two Aspects of the Same Process

It is possible that Communism and Nirvana are different, one-sided aspects of the same process.Communism would be the realization of the middle way between market-anarchy and state-totality. Nirvana would be the realization of the middle way between hedonism and asceticism.

Hedonism and market-anarchy are homologous (having the same governing structure) because they are about the accumulation of units of good feeling, either as the maximization of sensual gratification or the maximization of economic utility.
Asceticism and state-totality are homologous because both represent the exertion of a unilateral will imposed against its constitutive body, limiting freedom of expression.

The realization of a personal agency which is transcending and obliterating what the Buddha calls the “I-making, mine-making, and the underlying tendency to conceit,” may be a necessary condition for the possibility of the establishment of communism in its fullest, highest extent. For if we are still trapped within our own ignorance, how would it be possible to establish social harmony?

On the other hand, without the establishment of forms of social life conducive to “the universal development of individuals,” as Marx said, how would it be possible to achieve Nirvana? Without the free time required for an all-rounded development of each person, and the community to support that endeavor, how is such a realization possible in any lifetime?

In a significant sense, I think these two, hitherto one-sided, aspects of the same process of liberation, must associate through a successful exchange of each other’s natures, and fully establishing their unity-in-difference. However, it is important that in this process of unification, that a difference between the two would be respected. For without even the smallest amount of difference between the two, a process of unification could not make sense, because unification is unification of differences. This ensures that the process of unification does not amount to the subsumption of one by the other. One cannot replace the other because they constitute a mutual dialogue as aspects of the same process.

Imagine it like a wheel with two spokes: Accelerating and spinning ever faster in their cyclical revolution, the specific locations of their respective positions would no longer be discernible, leaving behind an appearance of the singular motion of the whole wheel. But without the spokes defining the radial extents of the circle, the wheel could not exist.

If acceleration is called for, it must be both an acceleration of the forces of production as well as an acceleration of the process of realizing enlightenment, which necessarily would transform the nature of the relations, to accommodate the developing forces and guide them to their proper destination: towards the production of real wealth. We have no time to wait through multiple lifetimes to gain enlightened awareness, for the conditions present in the current state of affairs (ecological destabilization, social disintegration, psychological deterioration) demands it. Thus, revolutionary practice does not merely consist of the organization of the multitude but also of the personal development of the individual.

4 thoughts on “Communism & Nirvana: Two Aspects of the Same Process

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  1. I like this crossing between Marxism and Buddhism very much.

    Two reservations:

    “In a significant sense, I think these two, hitherto one-sided, aspects of the same process of liberation, must integrate through a successful exchange of each other’s natures, and fully establishing their unity-in-difference.”

    As far as unity- in- difference is concerned I prefer the non-philosophical idea of dualysis in which the two poles are left in relation without synthesis. If they are mutually interacting why impose a third term? For me the synthesizing move is in danger of becoming a philosophical absolutism in which a grand unity (Dharma) is imposed that would render the dharmas philosophisable according to a Buddhism always and already embedded within definite historical social forms. Already and always worldly in other words, in a strictly buddhistic way. If darmas, as units of experience, function as quasi scientific designations, we should foreclose that incipient science to philosophical appropriation as an early instance of the empirical rather than an instance of philosophical postulation.

    “If acceleration is called for, it must be both an acceleration of the forces of production as well as an acceleration of the process of realizing enlightenment, which necessarily would transform the nature of the relations, to accommodate the developing forces and guide them to their proper destination: towards the production of real wealth.”

    I think you hit here on an important qualification here. Real wealth which is always a matter of harnessing the concrete bodily energy and intelligence of the human to produce use value, is a far different proposition from the idea of an abstract account of wealth accumulated in units of currency. It is this abstract fetishisation of the concrete expenditure of the energy of the worker that allows the product of labour to become exchangeable, so that the world itself stands over and against the worker as an alien world of commodities exchanged according to a set of objective laws of economy.

    Acceleration, in the “Landian” sense, is the structural imposition of this set of commodified social relations into the future, but one glossed in the aura of a Futurist vocabulary of the dynamic associated with the emergence of the fascisms of the last century. Far from being a matter of propulsion, speed and dynamism, Accelerationism is a philosophical/ideological cover for stagnation, one in which the worker remains a prisoner of the consumerist treadmill, which for all its noise and illusion of movement, delivers the worker over to a system of mechanical replication.

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    1. Thank you for your response 🙂
      I share your concern over synthesis, or the subsumption of duality by a third, monistic term. It is not my intent to do such a thing. I think any pretense towards a synthetic position only obscures the negative that underlies that position, and if that negative would ever (and eventually will) rise to the surface, the synthetic ad hoc position would become defined/consumed by anxiety, an anxiety which can express itself in violently fascistic forms.

      This is why I highlight the relationship of exchange between the poles, which is another expression of communicative dialogue. For me a proper dialectic, with the negative fulfilling its proper function, can only establish the pure symmetry between dualistic notions, and never allow for subsumption by a third. But with dialogic, there is an asymmetry in which one gives precedence to the other.
      In dialogue, this is when one remains truly silent, both in speech and mind, in order to give the other the possibility to express itself, and become receptive to this expression. But the asymmetry is not absolute, only relative to the exchange/communication relation—so each party takes their turn in giving precedence to the other. Without this giving precedence to the other, real communication and the realization of truth is not possible. Without remaining in silence when the other expresses themselves, one is merely filtering the received information through the lens of preconceived notions and convictions, and appearance stands in for reality rather than the reverse.

      So for me neither Buddhism nor Marxism should subsume the other into its own terms. Nor should they both be subsumed under a third, which would not respect their individual differences. Instead, there should be a communicative dialogue between the two, a dialogue that will necessarily transform their given natures, into higher forms of expression. Each can give to the other, what the other does not have alone, such that they can grow, mature and develop beyond their current states.

      Perhaps if we were able to look into the future, there would be something which appears, idealistically, to us as a singular movement. But perhaps what has merely happened is that Buddhism and Marxism become unrecognizable from their preceding forms, but without having been teared from their respective genealogies, and without having ended their communicative exchange with each other.

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  2. I agree with almost everything you say. Even where one thinks dialectic as describing a purely material process, one can still use the word dialogue to express the way entities relate — a realisation of the identity of each entity in the very fact of exchange; a self positing of finite entities eventually re-subsumed into the general field, be it material or discursive.

    I think it is better to think of entities as a nexus of “habitual” patterns”, each with a mentality congruent with the complexity of its organisation. In this way the hard dichotomy between substance and mind is dissolved, avoiding Whiteheads famous “fallacy of misplaced concreteness”. and re-enchanting matter. This solution frees us from having to resolve a false material/idealist opposition forced on us by philosophy as some sort of transcendent adjudicator of thought.

    I really like reading here, by the way, especially because you are able to relate levels and modes without losing the “habitus”,of any particular formation, be it material or discursive. Also you achieve a sort of purity of intention and enunciation without distancing yourself from the overtly “worldly” (politics for example). I would like to be able to do that.


  3. P.S I appear to have ignored your point about the relation between synthesis and anxiety but this is one of your insights I find very interesting. I have never thought of it in those terms but I see now that, of course, a synthetic discursive system must always be in tension and felt to be so by anyone interpellated into it’s “thought-world”. A thought, in other words, is also always a bodily affect, and an absolutist system of concepts when concreted as habitual patterns of social relations and modes of discourse is always a form of bodily harassment and felt to be so; which is why an aware dialogic practice is crucial, especially at the political level. Not the same thing, though, as fostering a false consensus. Far from it. What one could call the stranger-subject is always “in struggle” with received truths.


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