On the Mutual Non-existence of Capitalism and Communism

If “Full Communism,” understood as communism brought to its highest measure, is truly superior to all “logically prior” modes of production which historically precede it (such as slavery, feudalism, capitalism, and socialism), then it must “inclusively transcend” them all, which is to say that it must contain them all as partial abstractions of itself, which cannot be reduced to the sum of those parts.

Rather than being a truly “new” mode of production that comes “after” capitalism, full communism can be said to be that which is disclosed through the simple removal of capitalism. This would reveal that communism is actually the transcendental condition for the very possibility of capitalism, the original ground or genetic matrix from which capitalism is born, and through which it achieves its own identity by means of the systematic ignorance of and lack of accountability to the very ground upon which it depends.

Capitalism would cease to function if it were practically recognized that it adds nothing to the labor process; it is only by the assumption of capital by capital that capital is a real source of value and thus integral to the labor process that capital can exist in the first place, thus allowing it to circularly justify its embeddedness in the creative process. Capital assumes the existence of labor as a given, only to also assume itself to be the true origin of the production of novel value.

This ensures, ironically and paradoxically, that the closer that capital and its world achieve absolute identity through the universal quantification-commodification of everything (forgetting for a moment on whether or not this is even possible) through its complete transcendence from the ground (which would also coincide with the fulfillment of the patriarchal desire to achieve complete independence from the feminine, or the white supremacist desire to achieve independence from all racialized others, etc.), the closer it comes to its own end. This is because while capitalism genetically originates from communism, communism is its primordially ever-present condition. Hence,

Capitalism’s asymmetrical dependence relationship with Communism logically dictates that the self-valorization of capital is one and the same movement as its auto-annihilation, where “progress” and “regress” are both mutually entailing.

The transitional theories of communization which pervaded the 19th and 20th centuries and which still linger beyond their expiration date today, imagined communism to be just yet another mode of production which succeeded capitalism and thus could be posed in political opposition to it. This should give way to a historically and logically updated theory based on a disclosive paradigm in which communization is configured as principally a revelatory rather than a merely constructive praxis, realized through the sheer dissolution of capitalist relations rather than their replacement by some other imagined and fabricated set of relations.

Full Communism—the freedom of creative life, taken to its absolute limits—is not to be found in some futuristic kingdom to come, nor can it be confined to some distant golden age preceding the dawn of civilization: It is the ever-present origin in the here and now, momentarily occluded by the erroneous operations of the capitalist virtual world-order. Doomed to perish under the weight of its own systematic incoherence, the closure of capitalist history is one and the same movement as the disclosure of our primordial, creative ground.

Since capitalism can be likened to a forgetting of this creative ground, it does not truly exist, in the same way that the mere lack of knowledge of something does not have any positive existential content like actual knowledge of something does. But of course, systematically forgetting or ignoring something while also being deeply involved and entangled with it does have meaningful consequences that cannot be accounted for by the operations of the system, which is why capitalism must be ecologically, economically, politically, socially, interpersonally and personally transcended, for its own sake.

The liberation of capital, in which it achieves complete independence from its constitutive other, labor, entails at the same time its complete self-annihilation, since the perpetuation of its own identity depends upon the continued forgetting or ignorance of its existential dependence upon the ground from which it derives sustenance.

If to exist is to virtually not exist (which is to say that if something exists it must have the potential to not exist), and if communism is the primordial condition rather than a derivatively originated state born of some other condition, then communism also does not exist, since to exist is to have been born, abide and then eventually pass way. So if communism as a primordial condition is eternally unborn, it cannot be said to meaningfully exist in any real sense.

But due to the asymmetrical dependence relationship it has to capitalism, it is at the very least “more real” than capitalism ever has been or ever could be, much like how the reflection of a reflection is “less real” than the reflection it is reflecting, even if that reflection is also just a reflection. Communism itself might just be a reflection, but at least it would be the reflection closest to what it is being reflected, being the only child-sprout of this virgin ground.

I know in my heart of hearts that when the light of communism experienced as ultimately unbounded creative freedom (i.e. love) is finally unconcealed with the final dissolution of the omni-cloud of this racist and patriarchal techno-capitalist world-order, we would feel as if we were returning to a home we never left in the first place. Never having even left the warmth of mother’s arms, we would be like an innocent baby waking from a horrible nightmare, only to find herself always-already where she had sought sacred refuge during those trying times: suckling on dear mommy’s bosom.

2 Replies to “On the Mutual Non-existence of Capitalism and Communism”

  1. I liked this piece both for its sentiments and for the rigour in it’s argument; but, over all, I am unsettled by it’s reliance on a synchronic structure that has the effect of excluding the concept of experiential unfolding, historical process and material motion from the analysis. Of course it is possible to utilise thinking in this way to good effect but I think as a general tendency it often produces a contemplative orientation, over and against the active or “practical” side of thought – that is thought that is sensuously grounded in the actual or concrete conditions of existence of human beings in their historical, material and singular immediacy.

    This is also one of the difficulties I have with Laruelle’s thought, despite it’s aspiration to defend and advance the “human” in opposition to in-human and de-humanised operations at the philosophical, ideological and/or economic level. Such thinking, it is true, offers a sense of logical coherence but at the expense of a conceptual reduction of the entangled, inter-related, complex, and dynamic situations in which we find ourselves embedded and from which we think and act.

    All and all, and after a lot of conceptual struggle, I tend more and more to gravitate away from such modes of thinking and towards a more pragmatic, process orientated and material stance that engages with thinking transversally across multiple experiential domains. Such thinking allows one to do justice to the synchronic, noetic or transcendental mode, without losing sight of it’s material, historical, sensuous and practical dimensions.

    That said, it is possible perhaps to move between the diachronic and the synchronic as we see fit, or to engage both by way of a dialectical synthesis. But there is a devils advocate whispering in my ear about incoming tides and what time does to out conceptual castles.


  2. Just by chance, I followed a link and came upon one of your previous posts. Instead of writing my comment I could have quoted you :
    “But following Whitehead and Buddhism, the fundamental basis of reality is not a thingly substance, but a living process— the process of coming into being together, what Buddhism calls “Pratītyasamutpāda” or dependent co-arising: all dharmas (phenomena) come into being in dependence on all other dharmas; everything connects to and influences everything else, there is nothing behind or beneath phenomena that exists independently of them. This inter-dependent relationship of togetherness is the “transcendental condition” or the condition that makes possible, of the creative advance into novelty….In order to establish the liberation and free development of Commoning, and to realize the emancipation of the repressed feminine in actual practice, we need to fundamentally reevaluate what it means to Be. To Be is to be supported by active participation with all others—Being is Becoming. The question is not, “to be or not to be”, but rather: what can we become? And since Being is only possible as an abstracted part of the Becoming of the concrete whole, there is no real basis by which something can exist independently of everything else in order to be endowed with the property of ownership, whether that be an independent thing that is owned or an independent agent who can own.”
    I wonder now whether I jumped the gun and missed a crucial aspect of your latest post. Or maybe what unsettles me is actually a problem of my own. At the moment I am trying to formulate my attitude to Laruelle’s overall project. ( despite my own “investment” in his ideas over the past few years). I cannot escape the conclusion that, in general, his stance is overly synchronic in its approach and too dismissive and simplistic regarding the symbiotic relation between biological and social processes and the idea of inter-dependent co-production or “dependent origination”, all of which are lumped together as “decisionist” philosophical posits.
    For me, the crucial thing is to try to do justice to the idea of interdependent processes while not subsuming the freedom afforded by the thinking subject to creatively “become” both in relation to it’s own processes and the collective or shared circumstance of it’s interactions with the other forms of sentient life and the material processes that together bring the “human” into “being”.


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