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Communization and Dis

Communization and Dis

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Published by: Jasper Bernes on Apr 09, 2012
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TC present these ideas in a highly difcult form, and their tracts are writ-
ten in a dense theoretical shorthand whose esotericism arises, in part, from
their placement within a highly specifc theoretical milieu (broadly, the
French post-ultra-left) defned by equally specifc questions and debates.135
One of the clearest accounts of this dialectic of limits, however, emerges
in their essay on the Greek uprising of 2008, Te Glass Floor (Le plancher
de verre), where the eponymous metaphor of the glass foor serves as a
fgural elaboration of the limit. Te Greek events are ‘a theoretical and
chronological landmark’ because in them a minority fraction of the prole-
tariat put its own class identity into question, attacked it and rendered it
visible as an exterior constraint, a barrier.136 But unlike the moment of the
anti-globalization movements and its anonymizing black blocs, which TC
describe as involving a merely voluntaristic or willed suspension of class
identity, in Greece such a suspension took place as a matter of necessity,
rather than will, and abandoned with voluntarism all of the sterile claims
for ‘another world,’ all sense of the possibility of constructing an ‘alterna-
tive.’ What we note in Greece is the instantiation of a swerve or gap (écart)
within the limit:

To act as a class entails a swerve towards oneself [agir en tant que
classe comporte un écart par rapport à soi], to the extent that this ac-
tion entails its own putting into question in relation to itself: the
proletariat’s negation of its existence as class within its action as
class. In the riots in Greece, the proletariat does not demand any-
thing and does not consider itself against capital as the basis for
an alternative, it simply does not want to be what it is anymore.137

Te limit, in this sense, is a positive (or generative) one: it promises the
possibility of proletarian self-abolition. But it carries with it a limit in the
sense of constraint. Tough the Greek uprising marks the advent of a su-
perseded class belonging, it does so in a manner that stands outside the site


Communization and its Discontents

of production, focused instead on the institutions charged with reproducing
the class relation (labor unions, social welfare ofces); on the market and
the commodity (looting and burning of luxury shops); and on the police
as a disciplining moment of social-reproduction. Fractions of the working
class proper confront capital as circulation or reproduction, as storefront
and trade-union ofce, prison and university, as riot cop and shopping
mall. But the point of encounter between capital and labor in the work-
place remains quiet: ‘By their own practice, they put themselves in question
as proletarians in their struggle, but they only did it by separating, in their
attacks and in their objectives, the moments and the institutions of social
reproduction.’138 We might take as a particularly illustrative moment here
the following resonant sentence in a communiqué issued by ‘fellow precari-
ous workers in the occupied ASOEE’ (the Athens University of Econom-
ics and Business): ‘Work during the morning, insurrection at night.’139 Te
glass foor, here, appears in diurnal terms, between the day of exploitation
and the night of revolts, but it also appears in spatial terms: the occupiers
had disrupted or blocked not the economy itself but its ideological mani-
festation in the school of business, an institution charged with reproduc-
ing class relations through the training of managers, entrepreneurs and

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