The Ex-Worker #24

From Crimethinc

#24: Communization – From the incendiary writings of The Invisible Committee prompting arrests on charges of rail line sabotage in France, to the calculated analysis of Theorie Communiste and Aufheben, we may have skipped a few things in our previous two episodes about communism. The current known as communization emerged out of the struggles of May ’68 in France, and to this day the question remains: can we enact communism ourselves, here and now? In this episode of the Ex-worker, we’ll take another angle on communism, away from the backstabbing, newspaper-hocking, withering-state-types profiled in Episodes 20 and 21, instead focusing on those who share our dream of breaking with the misery of our conditions and dismantling this world (even if they still talk like Marxists.) In this episode we experiment with different ways of breaking through some of the heavy theoretical language and ideas, including a reportback from a rather unusual Endnotes reading group, and transmit a theme segment from an autonomous, anonymous podcasting cell. We’ll travel to North and South Korea in our listener feedback section, hear an interview from Anarchist prisoner Michael Kimble about prison struggle in Alabama and the importance of supporting long-term prisoners, and round it out with news and prisoner birthdays.

You can download this and all of our previous episodes online. You can also subscribe in iTunes here or just add the feed URL to your podcast player of choice. Rate us on iTunes and let us know what you think, or send us an email to You can also call us 24 hours a day at 202–59-NOWRK, that is, 202–596–6975.


fuck communism, and any right wing troll scum who agree with me.

what's so bad about communism?

The Soviet Union was called communist. The Soviet Union was bad. Therefore communism is bad.

A troll is defending communism. Therefore, fuck my life, why do I read these fucking comments.

That troll is right though. North American anarchist rejections of communism are often dismissals of the big C communist regimes and a a conflation of communist theory with those failed experiments.

"I don't like communism because like, the Soviet Union or something, and cause like, the word just sounds bad and I don't like things sometimes although I have nothing to actually say about communism"
-wolfi landstriecher-

And the guy thought that half a thought was worth an entire essay.

Here's an argument for ya: since the word communism has been used for so many different things, so many of which were totally not what we want, it's even less useful than the word anarchy, which at least refers to what we desire. As a concept, communism may or may not be desirable; but as a banner to rally people under, it is hopelessly soiled--and legitimizing it may only make it easier for party communists (state communists) to recruit. That certainly seems to be what happened a hundred years ago. If anarchists had stuck with Bakunin's approach (opposing private property, but refusing to use the word communism) from the beginning, maybe it wouldn't have been so easy for "anarchists" to jump ship to party communism after 1917, sinking the prospects of real liberation for at least a century.

How's that?

no takers? c'mon...

"since the word communism has been used for so many different things, so many of which were totally not what we want,"

Communism has not existed since the word communism started being used, so no, communism has never been used to refer to anything tangible we can say we are against.

If you assume that the Soviet Union thought of itself as communism in practice then all you're attacking is a straw communism that exists more in your own imagination than in history because they themselves saw these "communist" regimes as being in transition and not realized communist social relations.

Don't forget, THE MAJORITY of people who have been purged, gulaged, killed, and persecuted by Stalinists and their ilk were communists themselves who believed in communism and struggled for communism.

"it's even less useful than the word anarchy, which at least refers to what we desire."

I only speak for myself but I desire both. I'd rather not have one without the other. Either way, that's a straight up bullshit argument coming from an anarchist.
Anarchy is itself an appropriated word stripped of its colloquial meaning and assigned a new meaning by anarchists. That's perfectly fine but, "anarchy" is still used colloquially to mean something that has very little in common with the anarchy that anarchists are after.

I might see a point here if the argument came from just about anyone but an anarchist which is practically laughable.

"but as a banner to rally people under, it is hopelessly soiled"

but I don't seek to rally anyone under any banner. Communism isn't political or some program for others to adopt. Communization isn't base building nor movement organizing nor electioneering.

"and legitimizing it may only make it easier for party communists (state communists) to recruit."

Meh... Not if one is smart and remains critical of how they use the term "communism".

Really though... The same argument can be made for national anarchists or an-caps. If we continue to use this word which signifies what we're after, we risk legitimizing others who use the same word.

"How's that?"

Weak. I'm not convinced. Your argument remains that we shouldn't speak of communism because of how others in history have used the word which isn't strong enough for me to abandon it.

I agree with above poster.

To elaborate on the part about "anarchy" though:

Most people think that anarchy means chaos and disorder. They mean it like how any old civil war between nations or volcanic eruption creates anarchy. Others, who think it case a political meaning, often think it is simply an anti-government movement, many considering it to be a far right movement, that has to do with abolishing the government to free up the market or even some Fight Club style politics of just destroying the economy and the State to "start back over with a blank slate."

Calling ones self an anarchist or a communist does not tell anyone what you believe, unfortunately. I have met many anarchists who I disagree with at least as much as I disagree with many socialists (which I what I call big-C Communists, because their entire hypothesis surrounding socialism is what I disagree with). I have met, and I am sure you have, anarchists who fear conflict like no other, who do not believe the state must be attacked or that revolutions can happen nonviolently or that we can create alternatives stronger then capitalism or that solving "internal disputes" is the most important thing we should do and even more people who refuse to think for themselves and are just interested in the aesthetics of the so-called anarchist community. This is not even to mention the syndicalists or primitivists or individualist/egoists.

One can not simply hide behind an identity.
The era where identities mattered, where ideas corresponded to a certain sensible reality, has passed if it ever existed.

-you can say a word means whatever you want it to mean, but when you say "communist" what almost everyone hears is different from what you mean. words are tools for communication; if you don't care about communication, don't speak.

-the same goes for your not wanting "to rally anyone under any banner. Communism isn't political or some program for others to adopt. Communization isn't base building nor movement organizing nor electioneering."

why are you trying so hard to defend your use of the word, if you don't need words for what you're trying to do? it doesn't make sense.

in my view, the ways words are understood does shift what people can imagine, and thus what they choose to do. so if every time someone says "anarchy" everyone pictures anarcho-capitalism, anti-capitalist anarchists are more likely to be isolated and powerless. i guess that's an argument for trying to rehabilitate "communism," if you want, but it's the opposite of the argument you're making, which I find totally facile.


"you can say a word means whatever you want it to mean, but when you say "communist" what almost everyone hears is different from what you mean. words are tools for communication; if you don't care about communication, don't speak."

lol says the "anarchist"

Look I'm not trying to evangelize my shit to people. If that's what you're into then choose your words wisely. I choose my words to describe what I want and I'm going to be pretty unapologetic about that.

but what do you want? watching this dialogue, i don't have any idea what communism means to you. if it's not the soviet union, and it doesn't have anything to do with identity or rallying people around a cause, what does it mean? newspaper boxes in the street? and why speak at all--just to hear yourself say certain words aloud and feel proud?

individual autonomy, mutual-aid, direct democracy, food-not-bombs, hella anarchy forever

Basically this minus democracy and food not bombs.

"I don't have any idea what communism means to you."

I could fucking care less.
And? What does "anarchist" mean to you? Because just like a communist you have to specify as "anarchist" doesn't mean anything.

Again... Laughable considering that there is more diversity in opinions and trajectories among anarchists than there are communists. Many communists even consider themselves anarchists these days.

Nice try, but you don't have an argument.

Not to defend communism (the term) but the "anarchists" who jumped on the communist party ship were some queer ass anarchists.

"Rallying people under a banner" is shallow. It's what politicians do.

real anarchists don't rally under banners. they act in ways that are unintelligible to everyone else, go to prison, and die alone!

This site reflects North American anarchist attitudes and most North American anarchists have no idea what communism means.

I know some that are practicing a very low-key communism but it means they live in the middle of nowhere as a mostly secular community so it's easy to forget they exist. I imagine there's quite a few little groups out there, convinced they're the only ones...

those questions sound so shallow, man

I have to say that, although it has been framed this way by TC and the marxists, Tiqqun is not really a part of the "communization cururent." In the Call, for one single line, they use the word communization. Other than that, they have more in common with insurrectionary anarchism and Heidegger than they do with the communization theorists. I am glad it is in this issue though but I would like to say that I think that it may be slightly unhelpful to see them through the same lens given that the communizationateurs are mostly studying interesections between political economy and insurrection and Tiqqun is mostly about metaphysics and insurrection.

Seconded. Actually, there's mad theoretical beef between Theorie Communiste and Tiqqun--in that the former want to historicize everything past the point of any agency, whereas the latter are "ahistorical" in their focus on agency. Also some fierce disagreements about what it means to "live communism," a Tiqqun demand that Theorie Communiste considers lifestylist! From this side of the Atlantic, francophiles are like, whatever, they're frogs, it's all the same shit. But it's a huge misunderstanding to conflate them.

Fortunately, the episode doesn't even really mention Tiqqun, or get into any of their stuff. I love this podcast and I think they do great work, but communization theory is a fucking weird mashup of Marxists in recovery, and the feature part reflects that--like, we're supposed to believe everything has changed since the last revolutions, so we shouldn't pay any attention to them, but there's nothing promising going on now, so... a bunch of hand-waving about the proletariat which will inevitably abolish the commodity society, and there you go! What a bunch of bunk.

"we may have skipped a few things"

lol so funny. crimethinc is like "oops in our shit-talking on communism we accidentally upset some people we actually have to care about, some people actually in our sphere of social prestige and in our scene(some crimethinc people probably got smirked at or had a really cutting witticism thrown their way at a dinner party, oh sorry, potluck) so now we're going to talk about communinization theory (hipster communism) and exempt it from our previous categorizations for appeasements sake"

i love when people are humiliated and degraded and forced to eat their hats through social-intellectual courtly games, because you can tell crimethinc still hate communism (even commuization theory) and are speaking through gritted teeth, it makes them look so pathetic and weak and easily pushed into submission and the entire scene so pathetic hahaha

Crimethinc has lots of different people and perspectives involved in it. You can see this as different ones bubble to the surface.

"i love when people are humiliated and degraded"

I'm guessing, by your sociopathic rhetoric, that you are pro-snitching troll, the one from Atlanta. No one is more pathetic and weak than you, my friend.

Crimethinc was blatantly and shamelessly making a a token gesture (not all communists are bad; lets devote a / third /of an episode to communization) in a sort of servile yet begrudging roveling to some hipster idols and overlords they rather not serve and if you really can't see that that just means more lulz for me

you're all alone with your lulz, you pathetic sociopath. please, please please show your face anywhere people can get their hands on you. you know what will happen, you worthless, disgusting coward.

Some random anarchist is going to get beat up in Atlanta now because of this troll.
This is priceless!

Actually... Where the fuck have you been? That "pathetic psychopath" is not alone with their lulz at crimethinc. Everyone lulz at crimethinc.

Well... Everyone except you, their valiant defender.

To clarify: the troll you are talking about is not from Atlanta. They are a huge piece of shit who will hopefully off themselves, in any case.

Could you clarify what was meant by "pro-snitching" troll?

Probably referring to someone involved in defending Luke O'Donovan.
Some anon accused them of snitching in one of the last support Luke write ups posted here on @news. Something about claiming self defense.

There was some anonymous post equating self-defense claims in court with snitching, it's true. The post was very spiteful and clearly vindictive. It also claimed that claiming not guilty at all was a form of cooperation with the courts (they made no statements about whether or not pleading guilty was cooperation but, technically, it is). Based on the people I know from ATL and elsewhere: everyone thinks the post was made by some sociopath or the FBI and nobody cares.

Wait so this person calling a person from atlantaa snitch makes them prosnitching? Very confused.

The same troll, elsewhere, has said that they are not an anarchist, and that they find some fascist ideas appealing. In fact, they are a real person who doesn't dare show their face in public anymore, hence the drivel they spew here, the only venue they dare appear in.

thanks for the info, still confused. This fascist, non anarchist troll - are they the same as the pro-snitching sociopath the first person mentioned, or are they the spiteful accusing-people-of-snitching sociopath that the other person mentioned? Or is the accusing-people-of-snitching troll also pro-snitching in some fashion?

" Crimethinc has lots of different people and perspectives involved in it"
Is b a multi now?

Why do many anarchists make such obscene claims without ever backing them up?

Some claims that I hear from time to time that should be explained:

1) I don't want to rally under a banner.

Is your critique of this phrase "rally under a banner" really substantive or just a little linguistic purity? What does the phrase mean to you and why are you against it? To me, although it's not my preferred way of speaking, it seems to mean "get people excited about an idea and then act on that idea." Why are you against that? If you are against it, please very briefly give me examples of techniques or operations for spreading revolt that involved your model of complete indecipherability.

2) I am not trying to convince people.

Do you really mean this or do you mean that you do not want to spread propaganda as your main activity or do you mean you don't want to go door-to-door arguing with people or what do you mean precisely? I think it means "I just want to act with those who are ready to act like me" but this is an explicit claim to marginality and isolation so I'm hoping it's not that. I've really only met a few team mates I thought didn't give a fuck about convincing people of anything and they were mostly just total hipster fake anarchists who don't know what they think. Hell, even they try to explain to people why not to use abusive language or something.

3) I am not trying to inspire people.

Sometimes, after people say "I'm not trying ton convince anyone" they even go further in the argument to say "No, I'm not trying to inspire people either." OK, tough guy then what are you doing? You don't want to convince people to act differently. You don't want to inspire them to be brave or to act differently. You somehow aren't thinking of anyone but yourself and the cops. What are some examples, in a sense of what one can actually do in the world, of how one can spread revolt in a given situation without trying to convince people ever or ever inspire people in a time when so few are willing to get crazy?

I leave us with thesis 92 of Society of the Spectacle to reflect on for it's continued relevance all of these decades later:


"The strength and the weakness of the real anarchist struggle resides in its viewing the goal of proletarian revolution as immediately present (the pretensions of anarchism in its individualist variants have always been laughable). From the historical thought of modern class struggles collectivist anarchism retains only the conclusion, and its exclusive insistence on this conclusion is accompanied by deliberate contempt for method. Thus its critique of the political struggle has remained abstract, while its choice of economic struggle is affirmed only as a function of the illusion of a definitive solution brought about by one single blow on this terrain–on the day of the general strike or the insurrection. The anarchists have an ideal to realize. Anarchism remains a merely ideological negation of the State and of classes, namely of the social conditions of separate ideology. It is the ideology of pure liberty which equalizes everything and dismisses the very idea of historical evil. This viewpoint which fuses all partial desires has given anarchism the merit of representing the rejection of existing conditions in favor of the whole of life, and not of a privileged critical specialization; but this fusion is considered in the absolute, according to individual caprice, before its actual realization, thus condemning anarchism to an incoherence too easily seen through. Anarchism has merely to repeat and to replay the same simple, total conclusion in every single struggle, because this first conclusion was from the beginning identified with the entire outcome of the movement. Thus Bakunin could write in 1873, when he left the Federation Jurassiene: “During the past nine years, more ideas have been developed within the International than would be needed to save the world, if ideas alone could save it, and I challenge anyone to invent a new one. It is no longer the time for ideas, but for facts and acts.” There is no doubt that this conception retains an element of the historical thought of the proletariat, the certainty that ideas must become practice, but it leaves the historical terrain by assuming that the adequate forms for this passage to practice have already been found and will never change."

This post is all like... I can't comprehend why communization is not the same thing as electioneering and populism!?!

Won't anyone think of "the people"!!!?!?! That wasnt their point at all. Did you read the post?

Hipsters be getting grumpy when asked to explain their rhetoric...

Thank goodness somebody in this comments cesspool actually posted something halfway intelligent (I mean the sensible inquiry above with the Debord quote). It's a relief to see something that isn't twaddle.

Man I see a huge black banner and some nigga with a loudspeaker saying "come here! come to this banner!" and then I see a bunch of shallow bannerlings, you know man?

I have come to associate 'rallying under a banner' with an adherence to a formal structure. Furthermore, my experience has demonstrated that under the particular set of conditions under which I live and have come to understand as having contributed significantly to making up the being I feel I am, every formal organization has ended up turning into a neo-Marxist 'mass line' cult of sorts. These are generally accompanied with a sense of self-righteousness wherein said adherents feel themselves to be the vanguard of 'the masses' of indolent and arrogant people who need to be shown the way.
The way which you interpret 'rallying under a banner', seems sufficient to me and I wouldn't reject that at all.
As for the latter two, I suppose in individuated instances where I can debate with others about the way in which I view things and hopefully make a convincing argument justifying the way I think and act, trying to convince someone makes sense. However, predicating your actions solely on this is dangerous as it places responsibility for judgement in the hands of nameless/faceless beings who have come to identify themselves with the machinery of repression, if not consciously through direct actions against myself, subconsciously through their desires being reformed to the tune of state-capitalist power.

I agree with the last response you gave; that referencing the desire to inspire. Of course I wish to inspire others to get up and act, yet I do not rely on this as a motivating factor. It certainly does help in terms of boosting self esteem and offering motivation, yet I would still feel the way I feel regardless of what others think or how they act.

The problem with this passage is that it misses the point: Marxism' lean towards a unified body called the 'proletariat' as a conscious body died out aeons before this was even written. Herbert Marcuse, for example, wrote extensively about this in 'one dimensional man'.

There is no 'alienation' of a being from nature when they see themselves in the very process of consumption/production which I consciously wish to reject, yet am still a part of. Therefore, there is no real mass rallying cry for least not in upper North America and outside pockets of anti-fascists in Europe.

Perhaps this would work in Latin America, however I don't see it working here.

This is hilarious. Everyone knows anarchists are the dummies in the revolutionary milieu.

It's been entertaining seeing their reaction to an inability to comprehend communism.

It's nice to hear you're having fun, all by yourself. We're very impressed by how superior you are, and by the brilliance of this comment.

What "revolutionary milieu"? Who's "everyone"?

I remember a mayday a couple years back where I saw the commies for the one and only time in the streets, turns out they'd existed as a group and had a space in town for years but I'd never seen them before or since, never heard about them doing anything at all. I even dated another commie and she'd never heard of them either. How was that even possible? I mean, they were paying rent and everything … for what?!

If they managed to keep the anarchists away that's a success story if I've ever heard one.

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