Decolonial communization?

Race, religion, and class:
Problems and pitfalls of
a theoretical synthesis

Overview of the problem

For whatever reason, at least from the outside, there seems some sort of slow convergence unfolding between communization theory and decolonial critique. Whether this attests to any inner necessity in the logic of either field, or from accidental affinities common to enthusiasts of both, is difficult to tell. My bet is that it’s the latter. Geographical proximity often compresses unlike milieux, with only vaguely related groups suddenly shoved into a single space, made to live side by side. People are able to pass through any number of circles, carrying with them a cumulus of curiosities and concerns. Sometimes this leads to interesting intellectual cross-pollination or collaboration. Berlin in the decades following Hegel’s death. Vienna around the fin de siècle. Oakland has given us Endnotes, which by itself is enough to forgive it many minor sins. Usually these scenes just result in ill-conceived eclecticism, though, fruitless exchanges and shambling conceptual absurdities. Academic conferences offer a suitably fetid ecosystem in which such bogstandard theories can thrive. Russell Jacoby observed this phenomenon some forty years ago in Dialectic of Defeat:

Literature about Marxism threatens to drown both the theory and its students. To the cynical it confirms the obsolescence of Marxism: It has fled the streets and factories for the halls and offices of the university. The struggle to publish replaces the class struggle. Academics jet to conferences to hawk competing brands of Marxism; a consumer’s guide is practically required to stay abreast of all the offerings and recalls: structural Marxism, semiotic Marxism, feminist Marxism, hermeneutic Marxism, phenomenological Marxism, critical Marxism, and so on.

Not a lot has been done as yet to bring these two discourses into conversation in the Anglophone world. George Ciccariello-Maher is, in all probability, the person who would be best situated to broker a meeting. He’s already intervened in a roundtable on “Dual Power and the Dialectic of Communization,” as well as presented a paper on “Communization, Venezuela Style,” though it’s not clear he has all that much in common with the communisateurs beyond shared verbiage and a few mutual friends on Facebook. Ciccariello-Maher broadly understands his own critical outlook as “decolonial.” LIES: A Journal of Materialist Feminism dabbles in communization, and it has mentioned “contemporary decolonial subjecthood” in the past. But there’s been no sustained effort to synthesize communization theories and decolonial critiques, which might ultimately be for the best. Of the two, I find communization to be a far more promising theoretical field. Even if I disagree with its prognostications about the sun having set on programmatism, it poses serious questions to the present and seeks to take stock of emerging struggles and shifting realities. Decolonial criticism is, by contrast, in my opinion a complete waste of time. Reading Ramón Grosfoguel has actually made me dumber. (I know that’s hard to believe). Walter Mignolo, Enrique Dussel, etc. don’t say anything all that earth-shattering or insightful. Achille Mbembe is occasionally great, but I do not think he is even remotely similar to the other figures just named.

Since there haven’t really been any works in English to combine or negotiate these perspectives, this post deals with a French author who has devoted quite a bit of time to precisely this: Patlotch. My reading comprehension of French isn’t great, but he is a lively and entertaining writer with extensive knowledge of communization as well as decoloniality. Also, he has the virtue of having “conducted his philosophical education in public,” as Hegel wrote of Schelling, so we can actually see his thought process as he tries to work out some of these issues. His comments about Jews are pretty fucked up, to say nothing of his race-baiting of Yves Coleman. To be sure, other syntheses of communization theory with decolonial critique may be possible — his work doesn’t exhaust all possibility — but this at provides a place to start.

Introducing Patlotch

is an enigmatic character. Claude Guillon explains that his handle is an (unimpressive) anagram derived from the Situationist journal Potlatch, with just two letters switched. An erstwhile fellow traveler [compagnon de route], from roughly 2005 to 2010, of the communization current in France, Patlotch had initially approached Guillon after reading a short piece from in 2013 critiquing Léon de Mattis and the international communist review Sic. Communization was an “unthinkable project” [l’impensable projet], as Guillon put it at the time, an appraisal that resonated with the young Patlotch. Eventually, the impetuous lad turned on kindly old Guillon, cursing him as a “cadaver” with a wink at André Breton before slinging his body into a ditch alongside Yves Coleman and his ilk. The offense? Well, to have written “And ‘God’ Created Islamophobia,” of course. Frankly, I don’t hold this apprehension against him, when it comes to this term’s possible censorious use. Guillon knows what it’s like to be censored firsthand. Suicide: A How-to Guide [Suicide, mode d’emploi], a survey of the various methods and techniques people have used to kill themselves, was written with Yves le Bonniec in 1982 and released that same year. Just five years later, however, it was banned by the French government and promptly withdrawn from circulation. But Patlotch, enfant terrible of the online ultraleft circuit, grants no such leniency to poor Guillon.

Young Patlotch has many scores to settle and axes to grind, as will be shown in the course of this post. Anselm Jappe, Clément Homs, Bernard Lyon, and Jacques Wajnsztejn are all summoned to stand trial next to Coleman and Guillon, charged as crypto-Zionists, race traitors, and Eurocentric chauvinists… or worse.

Attempts at a synthesis

Until a few months ago, Patlotch made it his task to reconcile two streams of contemporary radical thought which prima facie appear unrelated, if not totally irreconcilable — communization theory and decolonial critique. In one of his earlier efforts to synthesize these two elements, dated May 2015, he begins by highlighting points of contact between them. Even if only a preliminary sketch, it boldly affirms that “communization theory justly criticizes everything that falls under the scope of proletarian programmatism, or its heritage in radical democratism.” Furthermore, “it criticizes those who use the concept of communization without having understood that the rationale [justification] for setting forth… immediate ‘communizing’ interventions derives from [the fact that] ‘realities of communism’ are presented not as struggles, a movement, but as achievements [réalisations], a postcapitalist world avant la lettre.” As recently as February 2016, Patlotch can still be seen touting this thesis as the chief theoretical contribution of the communisateurs: “The concept [sic] of communization is the only one to have clearly signified the impossibility of any revolutionary affirmation of workers’ identity… and theorize its foundation in the reality of capitalist crisis as such. No other communist theory poses the question in this way.” Hence Patlotch’s interest in retaining communization’s insights (or, at any rate, in using them as a point of departure for his own inquiries). One gets a sense of the directions he’d like to take it in by reading some jottings from January 2014, playing around with the idea of introducing “intersectionality” to expand its methodological scope, looking “for an update of communization theories” [pour une mise à jour des théories de la communisation].

Patlotch adds that theories like communization cannot be verified politically and strategically, of course, as this would entail a return to programmatist principles. Rather, it can only be falsified insofar as it proves disconnected from existing social realities, or perhaps if ideological inconsistencies are discovered in the sphere of ideas. Decolonial theory clearly faces many of these same problems. “We do not envision a theoretical ‘syncretism’ between communization and decoloniality as the definitive corpus of a separate theory, but as an intellectual component in the communist fight aiming at the abolition of capital, racism [racialism], and masculine domination,” writes Patlotch in a July 2015 entry, emphasizing the practical and provisional character of his proposed synthesis. Two months prior, he had presented himself as uniquely qualified to mediate between these respective poles. “In a way, I am in an awkward position [en porte-à-faux] in both fields, that of communization as well as that of decoloniality,” he states drolly. Still, Patlotch keeps his distance from each, as he is in the midst of breaking with communizers like Mattis and drifting toward decolonizers like Saïd Bouamama et al.; yet with respect to the latter, he clarifies: “our theory of decolonial communization [notre théorie de la communisation décoloniale] is not theirs” — i.e., there’s some novelty involved here on Patlotch’s part. Communization nonetheless seems to lend itself to decolonial reworking. “[F]ar from being opposed or intrinsically contradictory, communization and decoloniality are complementary and mutually reinforce each other’s practical efficacy [efficience] and theoretical pertinence in struggles of the decolonial class.” Leaving aside the issue of whether “indigenous” portions of the populace constitute a class in the Marxian sense, it’s obvious communization theory and decolonial critique are judged to be congruent.

A brief note concerning this peculiar nomenclature: Patlotch states that he “distinguishes the concept of the indigenous [as] racialized proles [prolos racialisés], from its usage in the political strategy of the Parti des Indigènes de la République, a self-deprecating [auto-dérisoire] provocation or ironic appellation that claims to represent the terrain of political and media institutions.” To be clear, though, he does not draw this distinction in order to discredit the PIR’s use of such language or question its choice of terminology. Merely, he hopes to thereby add a class content to the condition of indigineity or decoloniality. Yet another instance of Patlotch’s attempt to bring decolonial thought into dialogue with communization theory, along with other strains of Marxism. “By adopting the title of decolonial communism,” he wrote in July 2015, stressing the latter term, “we address several criticisms: 1) On the one hand, we brush away the reproach that we ‘support’ the PIR, most of whose leaders — even those who’d been Trotskyists — reject Marxism and communism, a fortiori. 2) On the other, we deflect any attempt to assimilate that which has led Marxism and anarchism to reject the very need for a self-organization of indigenous struggles. Combining [réunissant], in a dynamic manner, communization’s fight to abolish capital with immediate struggles.for the decolonization of the world, we battle along inverted fronts — à propos the articulation of classes/‘races’.[classes-‘races’].— against these two leftisms, which confront each other as fraternal enemies on the terrain of political representation between competition and alliance.”

Nevertheless, Patlotch does not grant these sides equal weight. He seems to assign priority to the decolonial side of this synthesis, to ground communization in the breakdown of colonial empires along the periphery and the self-assertion of racial minorities around the metropolitan core of global capitalist society in the sixties. Quoting Sic’s own framing of its historical outlook, which Patlotch sees as a major improvement on that of Theorie Communiste, he reflects on one of its offhand references to periodization. Sic asserted in 2009 that “it is the impossibility for proletarians to affirm themselves as what they are in this society, as well as the new forms of women’s struggles and struggles over ‘race’ (i.e., against racialization) that have developed since the 1960s, which makes the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ and the ‘transition period’ obsolete today.” Indeed, for Patlotch the “racial” dimension [la dimension «raciale»] takes on an almost structural significance, since only from the non-white position within the power structure of white supremacy is the total abolition of white Western colonial dominance possible. One of the repercussions of 1492 (according to Sadri Khiari, whose authority Patlotch.invokes),.is.that.racial.minorities are never fully integrated into the political economy of capital or subjected to normal market pressures. They thus partially escape the grip of real subsumption, a difference usually compensated for through the direct application of force as objects of extraordinary state repression (e.g., policing, imprisonment, strikebreaking, other extra-economic compulsions). Chris Chen argues along similar lines in his essay, “The Limit-Point of Capitalist Equality,” albeit from a viewpoint already amenable to communization theory, turning the tables on the prevailing Marxist account of bürgerliche Gesellschaft: “From the point of view of the classical workers’ movement, racism is an unfortunate impediment to… integration into a larger laboring class… Yet it is precisely this racialization of the unwaged, unfree, and excluded that constitutes civil society as the space where recognition is bestowed via formal wage contracts and abstract citizenship rights for its members.”

Search for a subject

A corollary of this, simply put, is that “the racialized [les racisé-es] then become fully-fledged and exclusive revolutionary subjects, as workers were back during the old days.” Some reminiscences from January 2016 are revealing. Patlotch’s goals and objectives had in the meantime shifted somewhat. Many of the suspicions, hunches, and even certainties that inspired his original plans for a synthesis had evaporated. He explains: “I’d been engaged with the topic of revolutionary subjectivation [subjectivation révolutionnaire], since this seemed to me an important aspect of the process of building a revolutionary subject; or in other words, a class of communization [classe de la communisation].” Referring to Walter Mignolo’s idea of “pluriversality,” Patlotch elsewhere contends that “the Western proletariat in the old sense as a worker — on which the universal proletarian program rested — came to an end in the sixties, as the theory of communization maintained between 1975 and 2010. It is no longer definitively at the heart of any process of revolutionary subjectivation of a class. There is no single path [chemin] to follow toward ‘human community’ anymore, but rather pluriversal paths [voies] toward communism without unity of content, by which one can overthrow the mode of production and the economic, political, cultural, ideological, and psychological reproduction of capital that is so destructive of life on this earth and beyond… toward a living community.” George Ciccariello-Maher, the decolonial theorist and Bolivarian specialist, provides Patlotch with ample food for thought in a passage the latter excerpts:

Class-centrism is itself Eurocentric and reflects a colonial blindspot. This is not to say that class is not important. Quite the opposite. Whereas most Marxists and anarchists universalize a particular model Marx observed in the origins of capitalism in England, however, class structure in the colonized and formerly colonized world has always been very different.

Building a revolutionary politics around questions of race is a central — if not the central aspect of global colonial-capitalism.

Patlotch appeals to Ciccariello-Maher’s critique of the Eurocentrism implicit in “class-centric” analyses in order to bolster his challenge to the conventional Marxist wisdom that the proletariat constitutes the sole universal class, pushing his own pluriversal panacaea. He also borrows from Kevin B. Anderson’s Marx at the Margins (2010) in its focus on the “multilinear themes” [«thèmes multilinéaires»] already present in Marx’s mature theory, in contrast to the narrow unilinear schema of the earlier works. Abandoning the conceit that the industrial working class alone is capable of truly revolutionizing society, Patlotch looks instead to the unanswered question of race, reciting some lines from P. Valentine’s 2012 essay on “The Gender Rift in Communization” for Mute:

The “race question” has yet to be put on the table for communization theory. Theorists who analyze race and racialization as a fundamental social relation that grounds and reproduces capitalist society (from Cedric Robinson’s epic Black Marxisms to the recent “Afro-pessimists” like Frank Wilderson and Jared Sexton) have not been addressed within communization… This is a testament to the persistent Eurocentrism of current communization theory — even as it’s drawn into the American context.

Race now even begins to suffuse the category of class, inheriting many of its problematics. “By virtue of its suppression of the ‘race’ question, and through its constant assertion of abstract proletarian universalism,” Patlotch asseverates, “the Eurocentric character of Marxist and revolutionary theoretical assumptions has arrived at a radical ‘imposture’ here on the issue of class… Class can no longer be posed apart from [indépendamment] the race question, as the sublation [dépassements] and production of ‘racial’ identities and the term ‘proletarian’.” Suggested by all this is the notion that the working-class has itself become racialized, or its composition more diverse, as the old centers of production move away from Europe. “You can’t do away with decolonial moves yet to be taken between theory, strategy, action between intellectualism [intellectualité] and the ‘revolutionary subject’ as self-grounding subject [s’auto-subjective]in the face of class adversity aggravated by ‘racial’ origins, ethnic or religious, which results in dynamic consequences that can’t be predicted. However, you can hope to reverse abstract universality into a concrete ‘pluriversal’…” Non-European subjects are needed to advance “an alternate narrative of decolonization,” as Maia Ramnath proposes in Decolonizing Anarchism.

1492 assumes an increasingly prominent role within this narrative. Patlotch takes up a line of criticism Norman Ajari deployed against Malika Amaouche, Yasmine Kateb, and Léa Nicolas-Teboul, whose materialist critique of Houria Bouteldja he rebutted. Essentially the argument is that the rise of capitalism was itself predicated on the spread of European colonialism from 1492 on down: with primitive accumulation based as it was on the flow of precious metals from the New World to the Old, on conquest of native territories, and on racialized chattel slavery via the transatlantic trade. Whether this massive buildup of value was by itself a sufficient condition for the development of capitalism, or one of several necessary conditions, is a matter of much debate within Marxist historiography. I happen to think that a contingent and unique set of circumstances existed, mostly in England, which led to a dynamic standoff between feudal lords and deracinated peasants in the preindustrial countryside. A second issue, loosely related to the first, is whether capitalism still requires a non-capitalist “outside” from which it must continuously and forcibly extract fresh value once it’s already been established. Rosa Luxemburg is probably the single figure most responsible for first formulating and then promulgating this interpretation, though others followed in her wake. David Harvey is among its latter-day adherents, especially with his concept of ongoing “accumulation by dispossession” from the book The New Imperialism, which Patlotch examines at length. Notwithstanding the controversy that attends some finer points of detail or overall historic arc, the implications of these interpretive moves are myriad.

First, the contention that the origins of capitalism could be traced entirely to acts of foundational violence in Africa and the Americas implies that there’s a basic “dependency” of the developed core on the underdeveloped periphery of the “modern world-system.” Most of the theoreticians behind this influential analysis came out of the Monthly Review school of Marxist economics (Andre Gunder Frank, Immanuel Wallerstein) or else some branch of the Maoist tradition (Samir Amin). Patlotch does not deal with these authors directly, but rather as they are vectored through the writings of decolonial critics — Frank by way of Mohammed Taleb, Wallerstein by way of Ramón Grosfoguel, and Amin by way of Abdellatif Zeroual. (He has commented here and there on Amin’s theories, but only cursorily). Consequently, Patlotch is able to reverse the causality assumed by mainstream Marxist accounts of racialization as a process borne of capitalism’s global spread. Ajari fends off the claim of Amaouche, Kateb, and Nicolas-Teboul that “the dynamics of racism exist only in conjunction with the development of global capitalism” by doing precisely this. “It is not absurd from a decolonial perspective,” he writes, “to formulate the exact opposite hypothesis: it is capitalism which is born of racism.” Second, the contention that accumulation by dispossession has persisted beyond the initial phase of capital’s reproduction, indeed that primitive accumulation has never ended, implies that there must be some source of surplus other than that acquired through ordinary mechanisms of exploitation/wage-labor. “Based on this hypothesis,” Ajari continues, “since the ‘discovery’ of America in 1492 and its ensuing conquest, was born a project of European civilization (in which the moral, intellectual, and physical superiority of whites would be an integral part)… Europe was born at that time, and has not ceased to reap the benefits.”

Communization and the question of race

Lately, Patlotch seems to have lost what little patience he had left for the communisateurs. “Just so we’re clear,” he interpolates in a note dated February 16, 2016, “no syncretism is possible between communization theory and decolonial thought, as their approaches globally contradict one another [globalement contradictoires] from an epistemological point of view.” Since around January 2016, he’s given up on the plan to “interrogate communization theory from a decolonial point of view [interroger la théorie de la communisation du point de vue décolonial].” As of that time, Patlotch proclaims, it has become possible to “think together the Eurocentric theories of communization… parallel to the rest of proletarian programmatism as the dying flames [les derniers feux] of Marxist universalism (or a truly orthodox, post-Marxist universalism)… These theories can’t find the revolutionary subject anywhere, because it either doesn’t exist or doesn’t exist in the places they’re looking.” What changed Patlotch’s mind? Is there anything in communization theory worth salvaging, in his opinion? Certainly, this reckoning had been in the works for quite some time, but what was the final straw? How are we to make sense of the charge that TC is not simply oblivious to questions of race, but in fact drifts towards racism in cultivatating “a white, male, average theoretical field”?

Understanding.the.long-term reasons behind the break is a difficult enough task on its own, let alone the approximate cause. In order to grasp Patlotch’s motivations, it helps to familiarize oneself with some of the recurring motifs in his rants. One of his main themes is what he calls “the double crisis of capital and the West” [double crise du capital et de l’Occident], by which he means both the shift from formal to real subsumption and the shift away from European and North American geopolitical hegemony. The first (more or less the thesis of TC) can be understood as a temporal restructuring of Capital, while the second (more or less the thesis of the PIR) can be understood as the spatial recentering of the State. Both started sometime during the seventies, both relatively coextensive in their spread. For Patlotch, the realignment of social struggles since the sixties and seventies owes, in the first instance, to the emergence of a “decoloniality of power.” Programmatism’s obsolescence, the eclipse of the proletariat as the viable revolutionary subject-object of history, is not solely due to changes in the temporal mediation of wage labor by capital, as TC claimed in “The Present Moment,” but also due to changes in the antagonistic structure of society as a whole, which entails a shift from struggles oriented around class to struggles oriented around race. Klassenkampf finally gives way to Rassenkampf… Again he quotes Ciccariello-Maher, to the effect that “race emerged to disqualify certain peoples from humanity to legitimize dispossession of their land and extraction of their labor. To truly understand capitalism, we need to understand that it has always been a global, colonial, and racial system.” Race is thus an “essential starting point” for any movement that would aim at the overthrow of capitalism.

Karen and Barbara Fields have cogently argued that racism is both logically and historically prior to race. “Race is not a physical fact,” Barbara explains in a 2014 interview, “but a product of racism.” In other words, there is no biological basis for determining someone’s race; its basis is rather sociological. Marx was driving at this same point when in 1847 he rhetorically asked: “What is a Negro slave? A man of the black race… Only under certain social conditions does he become a slave.” TC captured this neatly in their 2012 reply to a series of questions on gender, paraphrasing Marx in a pithy little bon mot quipping that “the uterus does not make the woman, any more than the [amount of] melanin makes the slave.” (Estrogen is doubtless a better analogue to melanin, since this is a quantitative measure and not a separate organic quality). An addendum to the questionnaire clarified that the example was intended to show that anatomical differences are not enough to account for differences in social status. “Utérus versus mélanine” acknowledges that there is a more obvious biological rationale for the historic role assigned to women as socially constructed — childbearing capacity, along with the subsequent sexual division of labor — than with the relegation of “the darker races” to uncompensated labor. Distinctions of race, at least in the modern sense, are more arbitrary and more recent than distinctions of gender. Slavery in the ancient Mediterranean, for instance, was not based on “race” (let alone superficialities like skin pigment or complexion). Patlotch nevertheless is dissatisfied, both with this text by Lyon and a similar one by Kosmoprolet, “De l’antiracisme,” from 2015: “Lyon does not pose the question of the sublation [dépassement] and production of racial segmentations in the proletariat through struggles. He doesn’t have at his disposal a conceptualization that could answer such a question, no theory of racial identities in the fragmentation of the proletariat.”

Denial of the racial dimension of capitalism is, for Patlotch, closely bound up with denial of its colonial dimension. More specifically, it bespeaks a deeper disavowal of the hemispheric origins of modern colonialism in Europe, that metaphysical entity we call “the West.” Communization theory is in Patlotch’s view especially guilty of this. He thus complains that “the concept of the West does not exist for communization theory… A permanent denial [un déni permanent] since 1975!” Roland Simon’s post-Charlie Hebdo musings on “The Citizen, the Other, and the State” (also titled “‘To Be or Not to Be’ is Not the Question”) evidently rattled dear Patlotch; the bit about how “[t]he West can legitimately seize the monopoly on universal values, if needs be with F-16s and Dassault Rafales” troubled him in particular. “False!” he exclaims. “Universal Western values were progressively produced from 1492 (slavery as the ‘capitalist mode of production’! poor Marx… if Simon is now such an expert) down through their philosophical formalization by the Enlightenment and the politics of the French Revolution, all this before capitalism was fully-formed as a mode of production.” Every other contradiction is suppressed, Patlotch suspects, so as not to disturb TC’s notion of capitalism as an overarching and all-encompassing unity, in which all difference is subsumed beneath equivalent commensurability. “Simon knows this story well,” alleges Patlotch, “but he has to tell it in reverse to preserve his hypothesis that the restructuration of capitalism is almost complete, and forms a comprehensive whole overwhelming all other contradictions, including the one here: i.e., of ‘race,’ or to be more precise, by denying that the colonialities of Western capitalism are still dominant.”

With regard to the “denial” imputed to Simon, moreover, Patlotch then launches into a bizarre divagation/insinuation about how “one denial might hide another,” an oblique reference to the scandalous ultraleft tract “Auschwitz: Or, the Great Alibi.” Often, this article is mistakenly attributed to Bordiga, when in fact it had been written by Martin Axelrad, a French Bordigist militant of Jewish extraction, whose parents died at Treblinka. Citing an arcane dispute between Simon and Dauvé over the latter’s decision to republish this text, Patlotch denounces the former as a hypocrite for objecting to its republication. For on what grounds could Simon possibly object, if he himself is guilty here of a kind of “negationism” in his failure to acknowledge the Western character of capitalism? His “Eurocentric blindness” [aveuglement eurocentrique] prevents him from being able to adequately relate race to class, which remains an aporia. “TC is stuck — at a strictly political level — along with the rest of the (post-)ultraleft, because they’re so virulently against anything that’s ‘anti-imperialist,’ anti-colonial, postcolonial, or decolonial…” Against Lyon, another longtime member of TC and author of “We are Not Anti-’,” he openly identifies himself with this prefix, writing “Patlotch is ‘Anti-’”: “I’m not ashamed to call myself an anti-racist, anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist, anti-Zionist, etc., etc.” Elsewhere, yet again contra Lyon: “Communism is a movement, a fight in the present, under actual conditions… which always presupposes being concretely ‘anti-’ [concrètement «anti»].” Similarly, Patlotch takes exception to Lyon’s “predictably provocative” sendup of activism in his introductory remarks to the classic 1970s essay “Militancy: The Highest Stage of Alienation,” reposted by Sic.

Islam and religion

Patlotch’s polemic against communization — and by extension, the ultraleft tout court — isn’t limited to its tonedeaf “colorblindness” and lack of interest in the lingering legacy of colonialism, but also its dismissive attitude toward religion. Like Ciccariello-Maher, who writes that “secularism has become a powerful dogma” and warns of “a dogmatic secularism of occasionally religious proportions,” he sees the anticlerical component of past communist movements as a Eurocentric residue. “Modernity is the opium of the people,” says Bouteldja, and Patlotch repeats after her. “Secularism is the opium of the extreme Left [«la laïcité est l’opium de l’extrême-gauche»],” he adds, somewhat more originally. At any rate, Patlotch is aware that “French proletarians are massively atheistic, who oppose any revolution in the name of God, not engaging in struggles animated by religious morality. The question doesn’t even arise. However, it could arise for Muslims, or those considered to be such, that their Islamic faith at least wouldn’t object to them entering a revolution. One of the lessons of the Arab Spring [Révolutions arabes] is just this, no offense to Bernard Lyon, who at that time considered the ‘Islamic moment’ historically surpassed. Bernard’s always good for a laugh, that ‘clairvoyant’ [préviseur] of Theorie Communiste.” Yet again, the controversy around Islamophobia discussed in a couple recent posts here is central.

It should immediately be said that Patlotch is far more ambivalent about this concept than Ciccariello-Maher or certainly Bouteldja, in fact is scathing when it comes to “the Arab-Muslim slave trade” [la traite négrière arabo-musulmane] in Africa, considering the notion either too vague or not really relevant [ce concept d’islamophobie n’est pas pertinent]. Worse, Patlotch thinks the term carries with it an illicit “essentialization” (i.e., indiscriminately assigning the label “Muslim” to Arabs, Easterners [Orientaux], Africans, Indonesians), as others have said. For Patlotch, Islam is “an ideal enemy” [«un ennemi idéal»] in both senses of the word “ideal”: it’s at once the perfect antagonist for secular nationalist republicans as well as the ideological superstructure of a determinate material infrastructure, or a phantasmic foe. Ciccariello-Maher, by contrast, goes so far as to situate it at the center of the longue durée of historical racism, saying that “it is no coincidence that this racial disqualification was based on the blueprint of an earlier religious disqualification aimed above all at Islam… Europe was effectively built on Islamophobia… from the twelfth century on.” Ramón Grosfoguel, an inspiration for both Patlotch and Ciccariello-Maher, even declares that “[i]n social science we see concrete manifestations of epistemic Islamophobia in the classical Eurocentric patriarchal social theory of Karl Marx.” For his part, Patlotch confines his criticisms to the communisateurs and a few others rather than Marx. Here Coleman, Guillon, Homs, and Wajnsztejn reenter the picture.

Guillon’s satiric salvo on Islamophobia, mentioned at the outset, is likely what set Patlotch off in the first place. “About the article,” he innocently informs readers on Indymedia Bruxsel. “Claude Guillon is not a racist. In fact, he even loves Arabs! Or at least that’s what he says, anyway — this typically French little colonizer [petit-colon franchouillard], this self-castrated professor of suicide.” Patlotch is again astounded by the pointlessness of the dispute. “Why bother arguing endlessly about the ‘concept’ of ‘Islamophobia’?” he asks. He mocks Guillon for mindlessly repeating anarchist slogans over a century old, but then makes a somewhat more serious point about how there’s no need to worry. Because “it’s not the Guillons of the world who are made victims of racial profiling [racisme au faciès], or chased under the pretext of protection from ‘Islamic terrorism’,” after all. “The text remains at this superficial, personal level… and all of this with the ambiguous ‘concept’ [le «concept» ambiguë] of Islamophobia.” Some of the jibes by Patlotch are a bit vicious, but others hit their mark. Unfortunately, however accurate these may be, any effect they might have is soon nullified by an inexplicable outburst. “Naturally,” writes Patlotch, “Guillon relayed this article to his Zionist neocon master, Yves Coleman, just like a good little ultraleft doggie [chien-chien d’ultra-gauche]. Coleman and Guillon are busybodies [mouches du coche, literally gadflies or nuisances] of the ruling Western capitalist ideology in general, and the French ideology in particular…” Everything else is generally forgotten after this embarrassing display.

Following this mini-tirade against Guillon, Patlotch takes aim at his onetime mentor, Mattis, who also at one time had passed through the crosshairs of Guillon’s critique. Noting the “strange complicity” between Mattis and Guillon, who not three years ago were at each other’s throats, Patlotch cuttingly remarks that the two men now are united by what he calls “the French ideology” (less of a serious intellectual theme than a running joke)… Together, they comprise the “[u]niversal white anarchist wing of Western capitalism” [l’aile anarchiste blanche universelle du capitalisme occidental]. Patlotch likens Mattis, along with Coleman and Guillon, to the conservative philosopher Francis Cousin, who’s an associate of Alain de Benoist. “Mattis resorts to all the pseudo-critical commonplaces that exist in this so-called ‘debate’,” comments Patlotch, “beginning with the amalgam of ‘political Islam’ and ‘anti-imperialist creed,’ before he gives us his warped interpretation of Marx. It is symptomattis [dull wordplay] that the anarchist milieu presumes to give any lessons about ‘the relation between proletarians and the ruling class,’ as if the war it’s waging against ‘anti-Islamophobia’ were distinguished by a serious critique of the political economy of Capital… As if this were the real heart of the matter [cœur du sujet] in dynamics of crisis in the capitalist West. Decolonial movements are not focused on Islam and religion — this French ideological obsession that has taken hold of all political currents, from extreme right to ultraleft.” Communizers are all implicitly or explicitly eschatological, Patlotch says: the message of Dauvé and the other grandpas [message de Dauvé ou d’autres pépé] is to just sit around patiently and wait for the end (“immanentize the eschaton” and so forth).

On the Jewish question

Unlike Mattis, Simon, and Lyon, Wajnsztejn is no communisateur. Like Homs, Coleman, and Guillon, Wajnsztejn is an ultragauchiste soixante-huitard, as Patlotch puts it. In a fascinating lecture series on “Islamism, Fascism, Clash [choc] of Civilizations, Religions, and etc.,” Wajnsztejn scrutinizes some of the well-known responses to the deadly Paris attacks in November 2015: “Our Wound is Not So Recent: On the Paris Atrocities” by the Maoist metaphysician Alain Badiou, “The Islamization of Radicalism” by the scholar of political Islam Olivier Roy, and finally La guerre des civilisations n’aura pas lieu: Coexistence et violence au XXIe siècle by Raphaël Liogier. He emphatically rejects Badiou’s contention that radical Islam is just a “new fascism” [l’islamisme radical n’est pas un nouveau fascisme], also rubbishing the hysterical liberalism of Roy’s claim that foreign fighters in Daesh are today’s brigadists [«brigadistes», communist volunteers in Spain] (the only difference being the color of the flag [ au vert]). Furthermore, Wajnsztejn disputes Liogier’s postulate that religious ideology is wholly reducible to social causes or that jihadism is the mere reflex of Western imperialism. But Patlotch is not impressed, scolding Wajnsztejn for even pointing out antisemitism sometimes masquerades as anti-Zionism: “No attempt at argument here, only calumny; it’s all simple for those who feel pressed to establish this equation, anti-Zionism = antisemitism… They don’t feel so pressed to consider the damages [dégâts] of racism in the world when it’s [propre communauté identitaire],[]..Jacques Wajnsztejn does it here. Elsewhere it’s Clément Homs of Wertkritik.” At other times, it’s the association of Wajnsztejn with Coleman that counts, albeit against him. “Yves Coleman and Jacques Wajnsztejn, those ineffable duelists, the Thomson and Thompson of ultraleft Zionism [Dupont et Dupond du sionisme ultragauchiste] — loyal auxiliaries [supplétifs] of the French ideology, they are always ready to keep imperialist crimes quiet and make excuses for the anti-Muslim line of French leaders — the colonial legacy doesn’t exist.”

Here we arrive at one of the less savory aspects of the Patlotchian Weltanschauung, all too common among those who see everything in terms of race. Patlotch particularly resents the rather desultory designation of racial politics as “identitarian” and “communitarian.” For Patlotch, some particularism is required to counterbalance and combat the haughty universalism of Eurocentric discourse, as well as to elevate the peoples and cultures this discourse has trampled underfoot. The focus on “identity” is supposedly warranted by how central this has become in the constitution of political subjectivity. When Coleman and others enumerate the manifold ways that this perversely mirrors right-wing rhetoric, as I’ve been known to do at times, it’s seen as providing ideological cover for the preponderant universalist pretenses of the West. Are Wajnsztejn, Homs, Guillon, etc. the unwitting dupes of “state philosemitism,” as Bouteldja has argued? Do they not see how the opportunistic embrace of the Jew by Western powers furthers the latter’s imperial ends, with Israel as their proxy in the Middle East? Now here’s the killer question [la question qui tue], according Patlotch:

Why are these principal theorists — among the radical humanists, workerists, and communizers — all Jews? Jews who, moreover, refuse to consider “race” as historically structural to capitalism? Jacques Wajnsztejn of Temps Critiques. Clément Homs of Critique radicale de la valeur [Wertkritik]. Bernard Lyon, born Dreyfus, and Roland Simon of Theorie Communiste. Lyon: “Race does not render gender secondary.” Simon: “Black is black, and white is white; there is no relation to the structure of capital.” Yves Coleman of Ni Patrie ni frontières, 2015: “Ms. Houria Bouteldja of the PIR passes her entrance exam to the French extreme right.”

A major problem for all these people is the immigration of people who aren’t white Europeans, in the name of humanist, proletarian, Zionist universalisms before the state of Israel, vanguard of Western democracy… Those who denounce “left identitarians” (Germinal Pinalie, in the name of Marx) or the “communitarianism” that haunts the racialized proles in the banlieues (“radicalization,” “Islamist”) all use the same arguments or the same silences as Identitaires de Lorraine or others, Fdesouche, Riposte laïque and its feminists, who come close to the jingoistic anarchist Claude Guillon, anarchists infiltrated by ultra-Zionist neocons like Yves Coleman (whose “anti-confusionism” assimilates anti-Zionism to antisemitism… from the Left), etc. etc.

Pourquoi sont-ce principalement des théoriciens radicaux humanistes, prolétaristes et communisateurs juifs, qui refusent de considérer la «race» comme structurelle historiquement au capitalisme ? Jacques Wajnsztejn de Temps Critiques, Clément Homs de la Critique radicale de la valeur (Wertkritik), Bernard Lyon né Dreyfus : «la race ne doit pas secondariser le genre», et Roland Simon de Théorie Communiste : «un Noir est noir, un Blanc blanc, aucun rapport avec la structure du capital…» pendants de Yves Coleman, Ni Patrie ni frontières : 2015 «Mme Houria Bouteldja : les Indigènes de la République réussissent leur examen d’entrée dans l’extrême droite gauloise».

Ceux qui dénoncent les «identitaires de gauche» (Germinal Pinalie, au nom de Marx…), le «communautarisme» qui hante les prolos racialisées dans les banlieues de «radicalisation» … «islamiste» … ont les mêmes arguments ou les mêmes silences que les Identitaires de Lorraine ou d’ailleurs, Fdesouche, Riposte laïque et ses féministes dont se rapproche l’anarchiste cocardier Claude Guillon, anarchistes infiltrés par les néo-cons ultra-sionistes (dont Yves Coleman est une tête de pont «anti-confusionnisme» assimilant antisionisme et antisémitisme… de gauche), etc. etc.

Unfortunately, passages like this are not rare in Patlotch’s online oeuvre. “You cannot get more communitarian Jewish than Jacques Wajnsztejn without theoretically dying [plus communautariste juif que Jacques Wajnsztejn, tu meurs théoriquement]… Frankly, why should we give a fuck about the mental states of a petty booj who gives lessons in human revolution without knowing the first thing? Gazing at the navel of the universal Jewish ultraleft [regardant son nombril juif universel ultragauche], you can’t get more colorless… All this… just to provide an ultraleft version of the Zionist ideology put forth by Manuel Valls, Alain Finkielkraut, and Clément Homs of Wertkritik.” Patlotch counterintuitively suggests that this abstract, Jewish universalism is in fact the secret behind the Jews’ particular communitarian identity. By no means is it limited to figures such as Coleman, Wajnsztejn, and Homs, moreover. “With the others,” he explains, “including Roland Simon, it’s the same communitarian identity… but more discreet. In the name of the colorless universal proletariat [prolétariat universel incolore], Simon accuses the PIR and Bouamama (those Arab bastards) of being ‘entrepreneurs of racialization’ promoting a ‘communitarianism of religious essence,’ which of course attends the conceptual unity of his proletariat, the structural phantasm for its own self-abolition… via communization [prolétariat, structurellement fantasmé, pour son auto-abolition… dans la communisation].”

Finding fault with Jews for their “abstract universalism” (i.e., their “rootless cosmopolitanism”) is of course nothing new. It’s in fact a time-honored antisemitic gibe, as Patlotch is doubtless aware. You know what those Jews are like. Rational, calculating, universalistic, cerebral. Can’t be counted on to appreciate the emotions stirred by God and country. Patlotch should have remembered those lines from Sartre, which Fanon so lovingly quoted in Black Skin, White Masks. “Like all good tacticians, I wanted to rationalize the world and show the white man he’s mistaken,” Fanon wrote. “Jean-Paul Sartre states the Jew possesses a sort of impassioned imperialism of reason: for he wishes not only to convince others he’s right; his goal is to persuade them that there is an absolute, unconditional value to rationalism. He thus feels himself to be a missionary of the universal against the universality of the Catholic religion, from which he is excluded; he asserts the ‘catholicity’ of the rational, an instrument by which to attain to the truth and establish a spiritual bond among men.” Disavowing the unabashed particularism of the Jewish religion, with its tribalistic category of “the Chosen People,” the lesser-known Frankfurt School theorist Leo Löwenthal wrote in a 1926 essay on “Ferdinand Lassalle and Karl Marx”: “Marx, more than any other figure and to a very profound extent, succeeded in filtering and refining the whole genetic and psychological legacy of his Jewishness into a universalistic, theoretical worldview…” None of this is to suggest that the Jews are preternaturally predisposed to universality or rationality; indeed, the ideological ascendance of Zionism among Jews the world over, since 1946, proves they are every bit as susceptible to particularistic attachments as others. It is only by aspiring to the universal that individuals can participate in human history, insofar as it exists, and this option is available to everyone irrespective of race, gender, or nationality (humanity might even only exist to the extent these categories disappear). A great deal of Marx’s greatness can be summed up by the motto he took from Terence: homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto [I am human; nothing human is alien to me].

Returning to Patlotch: We must pause a moment to unequivocally condemn his execrable behavior toward Coleman, an author who I greatly respect. In an outrageous comment titled “Yves Coleman, ultraleftist agent of the capitalist West” [agent ultragauchiste de l’Occident capitaliste], Patlotch refers to him not only as a “Zionist neocon undercover cop” [flic néo-cons sioniste infiltré], but also as “the ‘colorblind’ halfbreed, the typically French sub-ideologue Yves Coleman” [le demi-négro colorblind, sous-idéologue franchouillard Yves Coleman]. Translating demi-négro as “halfbreed” is perhaps a bit generous, too. Honestly, I wasn’t even aware that Coleman is black, not that it matters. (Although Patlotch uploaded a picture of him). Vivek Chibber’s universalist polemic against postcolonialism and subaltern studies is what so enraged Patlotch… to the point where he used this racist epithet. Coleman had invoked Chibber in an article. Patlotch continues:

Even though I’m white, I’m a thousand times more black than Yves Coleman, a traitor to his race — if not his class, as he was never a proletarian. Neither were Guigou and Wajnsztejn, nor Claude Guillon, nor those with whom they love to exchange silk panties, like Anselm Jappe and Clément Homs of Wertkritik. All of them are on the side of obsessive antisemitism, all on the side of the ideology that’s dominated since 1948, which changed the wandering Jew into the citizen of a racist, colonial nation-state, for the sake of Western capitalism. They criticize it everywhere, preferring to see antisemitism (Wajnsztejn) in the criticism of Jewish bankers who supported Hitler, who armed the South African apartheid regime to the end, precisely against Mandela. Yves Coleman is a useful idiot, an ultraleftist agent of Western capitalism, a pseudo-anarchist anti-communist, simply put.

Même blanc, je suis mille fois plus nègre qu’Yves Coleman, traître à sa race, pas à sa classe, car prolétaire, lui ne le fut jamais, ni ses potes Guigou et Wajnsztejn, ni Claude Guillon, ni ceux avec qui ils aiment échanger, en culotte de soie, entre soi, Anselm Jappe et Clément Homs de la Wertkritik, tous du côté de l’antisémitisme obsessionnel, tous du côté de l’idéologie dominante depuis 1948, qui a changé le juif errant en juif citoyen d’un Etat-Nation raciste, colonial, pour les beaux yeux du capitalisme occidental : celui qu’ils ne critiquent nulle part, préférant voir l’antisémitisme dans la critique des banquiers juifs (Wajnsztejn), les mêmes qui ont soutenu Hitler, les mêmes qui ont armé le régime sud-africain de l’apartheid jusqu’au bout, contre Mandela précisément. Yves Coleman idiot utile, agent ultra-gauchiste du capitalisme occidental, pseudo-anar, anti-communiste, tout simplement.

Later, after Coleman correctly called Patlotch out for insulting both him and Germinal Pinalie as demi-négros. Responding, Patlotch sheepishly falls back on the idea that he’s following Frantz Fanon’s pathological study of “the mestizo” [métis] — or the prototypical self-loathing black (I have my doubts about this). Doesn’t Patlotch know this whole language of “self-loathing” goes back to Theodor Lessing’s 1930 classic on Der jüdische Selbsthaß, the entire point of which was to shame Jews who weren’t “nationally conscious” into becoming Zionists? Simply disgusting.

If I might be permitted to revise or rework Patlotch’s thesis of “the double crisis of capital and the West,” at least somewhat, I’d begin with the unfortunate phrase “crisis of capital.” Capitalism is crisis, permanent and profound, so “crisis of capital” is rather redundant. More accurate, I would contend, especially when it comes to the main restructuration.argument advanced by TC, is the prospect of a “crisis of the proletariat” in which the programmatic aims of the working class have finally run their course. As for the “crisis of the West,” Patlotch is a bit late to the game. Spengler already in 1919 was prophesying The Decline of the West, the plantlike decay of a whole hemisphere as the Faustian spirit exhausted itself in its vain pursuit of the infinite. Europe was thereby provincialized, its great peoples reduced to fellaheen. Yet the very thing which heralded its rise for Patlotch and Bouteldja, was for Spengler what heralded its fall: capital or, that is, civilization. “Vital culture suddenly hardens, it mortifies, its blood congeals, its force breaks down — it becomes civilization. Rising gigantic in the imperial age, Classical civilization clung to a false semblance of youth and strength and fullness as it robbed budding Arabian culture and the East of light and air. What will occupy the first centuries of the coming millennium is signaled already and sensible in and around us today. Namely, the decline of the West.” For this reason, then, Adorno reexamined Spengler’s diagnosis of the age, not because he decried civilization (Bouteldja does this as well), but because “[w]hat can oppose the decline of the West is not a resurrected culture, but rather the utopia silently contained in the image of its decline.”

10 thoughts on “Decolonial communization?

  1. le COMMUNISME FÉMINISTE et DÉCOLONIAL est un combat au présent dans les contradictions du capital, pas un modèle conceptuel de révolution comme la communisation

    Merci pour votre présentation. Elle est intéressante, mais comporte encore de graves incompréhensions, et des déformations. Elle ne prend pas en compte le cœur de la méthodologie et de la démarche : le communisme est mouvement dans le présent, il n’est pas l’anticipation d’un modèle conceptuel de la révolution. J’écris “communisme décolonial” en raison de la dynamique décoloniale dans le moment actuel, pas comme moteur d’une révolution communiste à terme. Je pense que ce moment décolonial débouchera sur une restructuration mondiale du capital, pas sur une révolution communiste “dans ce cycle de luttes”. Votre titre : “decolonial communization” est donc un contre-sens d’où découle une polémiqe de peu d’intérêt

    L’ensemble de votre texte est construit comme si mon travail n’était qu’une une synthèse, un syncrétisme et des polémiques avec ou avec d’autres auteurs : cette surface vous plaît manifestement, pour assurer votre petit spectacle plutôt qu’aller au fond des choses. De ce fait, vous m’attribuez des idées qui sont les leurs, pas les miennes. J’ai mis en cause, par exemple, la façon dont Grosfoguel critique Marx. J’ai souligné combien la pensée décoloniale est hétérogène, et comporte des aspects réformistes voire populistes

    Une part essentielle de mon forum est consacrée à l’exploitation du prolétariat (qui n’est pas seulement le prolétariat industriel) et à la critique de l’économie politique, qui sont absentes des discours décoloniaux du PIR, entre autres (de vos considérations aussi, comme de celles de Guillon, que vous défendez tant). La question de “la race” ai-je dit, n’est pas centrale dans cette approche (c’est ici que j’utilise Mbembe et Saskia Sassen), j’ai critiqué l’intersectionnalisme sur une base de classe, avec une “structure à dominante” du capital :

    Dans votre texte, aucune allusion à la place que je donne aux luttes des femmes, ce qui se retrouve dans le titre, “communiste féministe et décolonial”, comme combat, pas comme modèle révolutionnaire conceptuel terminal
    ‘FEMMES’ & ‘hommes’… Domination masculine et machisme structurel : luttes et théories

    De même pour les rapports entre humanité et nature
    HUMAIN et NATURE, AGRICULTURE, SCIENCES et TECHNIQUES : progrès ou destruction ?

    etc. concernant la critique de l’État, la poétique… tout cela étant relié dans et à l’ensemble comme critique du capitalisme contemporain et examen des luttes qu’il produit : aucun écho dans votre texte !

    Nulle part n’est exposé mon concept central, “le dépassement à produire d’identités de luttes, par des luttes auto-théorisantes”. En effet, j’use encore de la dialectique des contradictions en mouvement…

    Je ne me contente pas de rhétorique dans une logique linaire ou binaire pour alimenter des polémiques dans un milieu qui se caractérise par son incapacité à débattre honnêtement. Mais quelle importance sinon celle qu’il se donne, n’ayant aucun poids dans les luttes réelles

    Bref, je propose une approche théorique nouvelle avec une méthodologie nouvelle. Vous n’avez compris ni l’un ni l’autre

    merci de votre incompréhension

  2. bonjour,

    mes précédentes réactions étaient à chaud. J’ai poursuivi cette discussion ici : CRITIQUE DÉCOLONIALE et THÉORISATIONS COMMUNISTES : remises en perspectives révolutionnaires

    Decolonial communization? Race, religion, and class: Problems and pitfalls of a theoretical synthesis

    j’apprécie que l’on prenne soin de moi outre-Atlantique alors qu’on me boude dans ma patrie même

    je trouve dans ce texte, dépassant la difficulté de la langue, un réel effort de suivre les méandres et l’évolution de mes positions depuis les controverses sur la race avec Théorie Communiste, et il est dommage qu’il consacre tant de lignes aux aspects polémiques accessoires avec des Claude Guillon et autres Léon de Mattis (qui dit en passant n’a jamais été mon “mentor”), étant donné l’absence de toute prétention théorique du premier, et le souci de propagande militante du second, qui ne s’embarrasse pas pour déproblématiser, c’est-à-dire éviter, ce qui fait problème dans la théorie de la communisation

    si cette présentation se veut objective, elle n’embrasse néanmoins qu’une faible partie de mon travail, oublie que l’exploitation du prolétariat (pas seulement industriel) et la critique de l’économie politique demeurent centrales dans le forum, oublie la place accordée aux luttes des femmes, à l’extractivisme impérialiste, les rapports humanité-nature, l’individu, la poétique, tous champs qui permettent aussi de comprendre le lien entre combats communistes et décoloniaux, de les comprendre concrètement et non au seul plan des idées auquel en reste Ross Wolfe. Désolé, je ne suis pas qu’à moitié matérialiste

    > “communisation décoloniale” n’a pas de sens pour moi

    le premier risque de contre-sens est dans le titre “Decolonial communization?”, puisqu’il est repris de celui du forum il y a plus d’un an. J’ai expliqué en avoir changé, pour mettre au même niveau la dynamique décoloniale mondiale dans la crise de l’Occident capitaliste, et le communisme comme mouvement au présent des contradictions entre classes. La communisation est le moment futur d’une éventuelle révolution communiste. Par Communisation & décononial j’entendais non la révolution comme communisation mais la “théorie de la communisation”, dont je retiens certains fondements, ce qui signifie que pour moi “communisation décoloniale” n’a pas de sens. J’ai changé en Communisme féministe et décolonial pour éviter cette ambiguïté et insister sur le caractère de combat actuel du communisme intégrant les luttes des femmes et les luttes décoloniales, qu’elles revendiquent ou non ce label

    > l’Islam n’est pas mon opium

    le deuxième risque est de passer à côté de l’essentiel de mon propos, en le réduisant comme le fait le sous-titre Race, religion, and class: Problems and pitfalls of a theoretical synthesis, Race, religion et classe : problèmes et pièges d’une synthèse théorique, ce que ne manque pas confirmer le texte de Ross Wolfe, malgré quelques précautions : si j’ai expliqué la nécessité d’abandonner l’entrée par le concept de “race” et même la trilogie intersectionnelle classe-race-genre, ce n’est pas pour considérer comme centrale une entrée par la religion. Ce glissement vers le religieux, dans l’argumentation de Wolfe, et parler de mon travail comme d’une tentative de synthèse, alors qu’il cite les passages où j’explique en quoi elle est impossible, n’est pas le meilleur moyen d’ouvrir un débat

    > l’idéologie française est notre bain quotidien

    s’il y a une si grande attention apportée à la question religieuse, et particulièrement à l’Islam, et par ricochet au judaïsme, c’est pour la place qu’elle tient dans l’idéologie française, qui n’est pas chez moi qu’un « running joke” autour de Guillon Mattis, ils n’en sont que des symptômes marginaux avec lesquels effectivement je m’amuse, un peu moins de Cousin. Laisser entendre qu’idéologie française ne relèverait pas chez moi d’une réflexion intellectuelle* assise sur des constats dûment documentés, dans lesquels l’auteur ne s’embarrasse pas de rentrer, le restreignant aux controverses avec ses versions ultragauche-ultradroite, alors que je l’utilise concernant tout le champ politique français, et son idéologie spécifique comme “Structure of Feeling” (Raymond Williams) donc phénomène sociétal autant que culturel

    * « “the French ideology” : less of a serious intellectual theme than a running joke »

    mais que connaît Ross Wolfe de la société française, et que comprend-il vraiment à « la laïcité est l’opium de l’extrême-gauche »?, alors que ce merdier nous plombe depuis un siècle dans la République et la Nation française, de pire en pire depuis quinze ans, ce dont les Guillon et autres Mattis sont les héritiers bien plus qu’ils ne le pensent car sans la moindre critique conséquente de ce côté-là, puisqu’ils chevauchent mentalement la thématique gouvernementale. Hé bien, oui, j’appelle ça un esprit franchouillard : quoi de plus haïssable au nom de l’anarchisme ?

    contrairement au petit milieu qui prouve sa radicalité par une phraséologie gauchiste hors-sol, la cible principale de mes attaques, c’est l’État du capital et ses valets de toutes obédiences

    > la preuve d’une théorie s’établit sur et dans les faits

    le troisième risque, c’est de précisément considérer comme nulle et non avenue ma méthodologie et l’importance qu’elle accorde aux faits, aux considérations de quantité, aux événements et à leur évolution, tout ce par quoi une théorie s’enlise dans les choses en transformation (11ème des Thèses sur Feuerbach de Marx) : il ne sortira aucune vérité d’une confrontation entre textes, surtout quand ils sont sourds les uns aux autres

    > classes impures, nous voilà

    j’en passe et des meilleures, comme aboutir à voir chez moi « un changement des luttes orientées autour des classes vers des luttes orientées autour de la race : la lutte des classes cède enfin la place à la lutte des races (Klassenkampf finally gives way to Rassenkampf). Il me faudra vérifier ce que j’aurais laissé entendre à la lecture de George Ciccariello-Maher, parce qu’il ne me semble pas lui avoir accordé une place dans mes travaux aussi importante que Ross Wolfe ne le dit, et lui accorde lui-même dans ce débat entre communisation et décolonial

    > la double crise est sous nos yeux, pas dans les livres

    alors on peut gloser sur l’absence d’intérêt du concept de Crise de l’Occident pour le critiquer dans son lien intrinsèque avec le capitalisme historique comme avec la crise économique mondiale, sans jamais parler, entre autres, de ses guerres actuelles tant militaires qu’économiques : la Chine ne bombarde pas Nice, mais elle achète les aéroports, l’Occident bombarde car il ne peut plus se payer les aéroports, même chez lui

    quand il y a d’authentiques “running joke” de ma part, ils sont pris avec l’esprit de sérieux, et l’on voit des jeux de mots dans les conceptualisations sérieuses : la faute à qui ? La guerre des classes serait-elle une guerre entre différents sens de l’humour, ou un problème de traduction ?

    PS : j’ai sorti cette réponse du sujet où j’avais référencé un premier texte de Ross Wolfe DÉCOLONISER le MARXISME, l’ANARCHISME, l’ULTRAGAUCHE et la “COMMUNISATION”… Histoire et nécessité actuelle d’un clivage, pour en finir avec les dogmes universels eurocentrés . C’est en quelque sorte une promotion, à laquelle n’ont jamais eu droit les Guillon et autres Mattis, contrairement à Théorie Communiste, parce que leurs textes n’ont aucun intérêt à ce niveau d’enjeux théoriques

    >>> une ré-ouverture américaine au débat sur le communisme et les décolonialités ?

    alors que le différend majeur de 2012, entre Théorie Communiste et les “Américains” tant États-Uniens que Canadiens/Québecquois semblait avoir sonner le glas de l’intérêt pour la théorie de la communisation outre-Atlantique, parallèlement à son marasme en Europe, il n’est pas impossible que la critique que me fait Ross Wolfe relance la problématique, un peu comme j’en faisais le vœu en janvier 2015 dans le texte rebaptisé Communisation 2015 : ruptures communiste et décoloniale dans la théorie de la révolution

    ce serait la meilleure des nouvelles, pour sortir de l’isolement, en espérant de la matière sérieuse à féconder hors des ornières et œillères de la post-ultragauche française

    ironie du sort, sortie par la porte du rejet de prise en compte de la “race”, la communisation referait son entrée par la fenêtre du décolonial : que demande le peuple de Patlotch ?

    suite à cette (in)compréhension et ces critiques, j’estime nécessaire une nouvelle reformulation synthétique de “communisme féministe et décolonial”, c’est l’objet du commentaire suivant. Je pense préférable de suivre cette histoire sur mon forum plutôt que d’encombrer ce blog de mon monologue ;-)

    désolé, je ne traduis pas en anglais, ce serait trop mauvais, et j’espère moi-même n’avoir pas fait de contre-sens sur le texte de Ross Wolfe

    Sorry, I don’t translate in English, it would be too bad ;-), and I hope I did not wrong direction on the text of Ross Wolfe

  3. Decolonial communization seems to describe perfectly my own synthesis of the likes of David Harvey and Hardt and Negri. I am surprised Ross, that as someone with and interest in architecture and urbanism, you do not see the utility of such a synthesis. Communization, as a mode de’ employ of architects, developers, planners, can be a great enhancement to domestically “colonized” communities (predominantly of a particular color and/or class).

    Take for example, the lower-class suburb that is mostly african/hispanic, but has a sprinkling of lower-middle to middle-class white people. The white people, who can afford to keep up their single family homes and lawns, see the blight as a disease, not a symptom, and the cure is gentrification. The problem is that the culture and coping mechanisms specific to poor African Americans is unique to them, just as the culture and coping mechanisms of Hispanic Americans are unique to them. While everyone in the community wants a wealthier, happier, more productive environment to live in, the method of doing it, and I see the means as inherently architectural and manifested in the urban context, need to be informed by the culture of the people being transformed and not just those with the public or private means of doing it.

    The pitfall that patloch et al fell into, is that after critiquing the Marxian universal proletarian for being a product of white, male, eurocentrism, they proceeded to weigh in on the struggles of particular races, religions and other identities they have no basis for making comment on. As I see decolonial communization, the white, male, euro/American communizers can only push identarian struggles to adopt tangible communization projects. Critiquing their internalize oppression and/or reactionary tactics is fruitless and counterproductive.

    • bonjour et merci de votre intérêt

      laissons tomber l’idée que mes propositions seraient celle d’un « émule de David Harvey, Hardt et Negri…», ce que ne soutiendrait pas un regard de plus de cinq minutes sur la page d’accueil du forum. Dans sa présentation, Wolfe a accumulé mes références sans les hiérarchiser et leur donner du sens, genre “Patlotch a cité Truc et Machin, il pense comme Truc et Machin”, procédé d’amalgame propre aux entrepreneurs en confusion qui ne vont pas au fond des problèmes soulevés, comme tels, questions plus que réponses

      le second paragraphe renvoie à la critique que j’ai faite du texte de Ross Wolfe concernant le communisme décolonial, et non “la communisation décoloniale” dans un renvoi exclusif à une articulation réductrice de la classe avec la race et la religion, autrement dit à ne pas mieux saisir que Wolfe l’essentiel de mon approche, mise au point faite dans le commentaire précédent celui de David

      le dernier paragraphe serait somme toute pas trop mal vu, sauf qu’il ignore ce que je retiens de la critique marxienne de l’économie politique (excusez du peu), et renverse la problématique stratégique : il ne s’agit pas de “pousser les luttes identitaires vers le communisme”,- car elles font ce qu’elles font et ne peuvent que faire dans leurs contradictions, et je n’ai pas de leçons à leur donner -, mais à l’inverse d’indiquer, au sens de pointer dans l’affrontement de classe au présent une contradiction et sa dynamique actuelle, que le point de vue décolonial pourrait avantageusement être adopté par le prolétariat blanc dans une perspective révolutionnaire, double choix dont on ne peut aujourd’hui que constater qu’il lui tourne le dos, puisque ce qui monte partout, y compris en variantes post-marxistes et même décoloniales, c’est le populisme

      l’écueil dans lequel est tombé David est de croire sur parole la présentation de mes thèses par quelqu’un qui ne les a pas comprises

      encore une fois, le choix de ne pas faire de la théorie surplombante dans une perspective peu ou prou déterministe de la révolution communiste a des implications lourdes et soulève, comme disait Roland Simon (Théorie coçmmuniste) à propos de “dépassement à produire”, des problèmes redoutables. Il faut s’y confronter sans revenir en arrière sur les ruptures accomplies du point de vue idéologique, théorique et stratégique, ce que suppose un pragmatisme concevant le communisme comme mouvement dans les luttes au présent, ni plus ni moins

      lire mes “thèses” avec les yeux de ce qui est pour moi du point de vue de la posture définitivement caduc, est le meilleur moyen de passer à côté, et ne peut justifier que ce type de mises au point, sans possibilité d’ouvrir un débat : on ne parle pas avec les sourds, c’est comme ça, et je n’y suis ici pour rien

      dernier commentaire dans :
      CRITIQUE DÉCOLONIALE et THÉORISATIONS COMMUNISTES : remises en perspectives révolutionnairesévolutionnaires

      bonne continuation,


      • Greetings, Patlotch.

        I’m pleased to see that you have responded more extensively to my posts. You’re right that I probably conflated some of your positions with those of authors like David Harvey, Ciccariello-Maher, etc. Sometimes it can be a little hard to tell where you fall on a particular issue, unless of course you intersperse sporadic commentary here and there (which you often do, but not always). Certain articles you simply repost without commentary, and so I’m not sure whether you endorse their viewpoint or reject it.

        Needless to say, I consider you a smarter commentator on both communization and decoloniality than Ciccariello-Maher.


  4. Pingback: Communization with a human face | The Charnel-House

  5. merci de votre compréhension, Ross

    toute critique peut être intéressante, même quand elle relève d’une incompréhension, parce que cela permet de voir où l’on (moi) n’est pas clair, et donc de préciser la formulation. Je préfèrerais des critiques négatives pertinentes, mais à ce stade, j’en ai fort peu, ce qui me rend difficile de prendre du recul par rapport à mon propre travail : je dois en permanence être mon propre critique

    il est vrai que je ne suis pas facile à suivre, parce que ma pensée ne cesse d’évoluer, parfois par bonds. Il serait utile que je fasse plus de synthèses, par exemple pour définir ce que j’appelle “l’idéologie française”, dans sa généralité capitaliste et occidentale, et dans ses spécificités historiques et contemporaines (Les Lumières, “nos valeurs universelles”, “la laïcité”, la dérive actuelle de l’État français et de la population qui suit de façon grave…)

    ma pensée avance avec d’autres penseurs sans considérer leur œuvre comme un tout fermé, à prendre ou à laisser : c’est ma manière de penser en chantier permanent. C’est le cas avec des “marxistes”, y compris Théorie communiste que j’ai beaucoup critiqué, Stuart Hall ou Raymond Williams pour certains concepts plus que leurs positions politiques pratiques, Negri parfois fécond mais très ambigüe, mais aussi par exemple Edouard Glissant (créolisation, poétique de la relation) qui n’est pas à proprement un penseur décolonial et qui a abandonné le marxisme anticolonialiste de sa jeunesse, etc.

    pour ce que j’ai lu de Ciccariello-Maher, je ne le considère pas vraiment comme un théoricien. Il polémique avec le marxisme et l’anarchisme, mais le problème n’est pas de controverses avec des partis ou des “idéologies”, parce que cela sous-entend toujours l’idée d’une avant-garde à promouvoir, politique ou théorique. Le problème est dans la confrontation directe avec le monde concret, et celle-ci a naturellement des aspects théoriques, à condition de les faire reposer sur quelque chose de tangible : le cours quotidien du capital et ses contradictions actuelles avec les luttes qui s’y produisent en tous sens comme indicateurs des écueils et des possibles

    je signale, pour qui s’y intéresse, qu’une personne a théorisé un croisement entre marxisme et pensée décoloniale. Il s’agit d’Ana Cécilia Dinerstein, d’Argentine. Elle n’est pas dans une perspective explicitement de la communisation, mais part plus précisément du “principe espérance” d’Ernst Bloch, qu’elle mélange avec le concept d'”autonomie”, en vue d’une “utopie concrète”, et se réfère à d’autres penseurs “marxistes” (certes Negri, Holoway…) autant qu’aux fondateurs de la pensée décoloniale.
    je peux difficilement comprendre ses textes en espagnol, et si je vois bien des problèmes par rapport à mes thèses, elle introduit pour moi une question importante : quelle place à l’utopie quand on refuse tout déterminisme ? Je pense que c’est en relation avec ma conception de “lien organiques à créer entre luttes et pensée des luttes”, pour “tisser une subjectivation révolutionnaire”, et donc encore avec la question de “dépassements à produire” sur la base de contradictions telles qu’elles apparaissent dans les luttes. Autrement dit, pour moi, l’idée d’utopie concrète ne s’oppose pas à celle de s’en tenir à ce qui se passe au présent, sans eschatologie révolutionnaire comme guide de l’action

    c’est un exemple de ma façon de penser avec les autres, sans chercher à leur donner entièrement tort ou raison

    je ne fais pas toujours des commentaires aux textes que j’importe, faute de temps, et je considère que cela doit être compris dans le cadre de ma ligne générale, sans quoi ce serait contradictoire et sans cohérence. Là, je fais confiance à des lecteurs avancés ayant saisi cette ligne générale et capables donc de voir par eux-mêmes l’intérêt de ces textes

    en résumé, l’important quand on veut avoir une approche théorique, plutôt que d’apporter des réponses toutes cuites pour la propagande, c’est de cerner des problèmes en sachant que personne ne peut les résoudre immédiatement, et de les garder sur le feu de ce qui se passe dans le monde : l’humanité les résoudra, un jour, mais il faut bien que quelqu’un les pose (Marx, etc.), et c’est à mon avis le rôle des thé d’en repérer l’émergence dans les réalités présentes

    en tous cas merci pour votre idée d’ouvrir ce débat, et bonne continuation


    PS : je ne traduis pas, ce serait trop mauvais ;-)
    I do not translate, it would be too bad ;-)

  6. bonjour,

    un nouveau sujet dans mon forum

    “Vers un MARXISME DÉCOLONIAL” / MARX et ‘marxismes’ dans la pensée DÉCOLONIALE / citations, recensions, contradictions, réflexionséflexions

    1) citations chez les fondateurs de la pensée décoloniale
    2) citations chez un théoricien et activiste de la pensée décoloniale : Ramón Grosfoguel
    3) citations chez les militants décoloniaux français (PIR, etc.)
    4) repérages de Marx et des marxismes dans les origines indianistes de la pensée décoloniale avant la lettre
    5) pensée marxiste et décoloniale vivante[/b]

    il s’agit de tirer au clair le rapport à Marx et aux marxismes des penseurs ou militants décoloniaux

    par ailleurs Ana Cecilia Dinerstein prépare un livre sur le ”Marxisme décolonial” pour Pluto Press ed, en anglais

    j’ai également répondu à vos critiques concernant la nourriture décoloniale (Meaningless gibberish and decoloniality), le 26 août :
    “NATURE”, Rapports sociaux et LUTTES de CLASSES
    “Abolish The Colonial Bourgeois Food System”
    View story at


    bonnes lectures, bonne continuation,


  7. Pingback: Class, segmentation, racialization: Reading notes | The Charnel-House

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