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Reviewing Like It’s 2007

May 10, 2010

Communism Reconstituted as Psychotherapy:
The Coming Insurrection

Everyone knows.  It’s really nothing new.  Their attack on Green Capitalism is delicious, while their advocacy of “communes” is without substance, tacked on and arguably specious.  There’s a lot of language in it specific to the European intellectual scene.  Honestly, it’s a bit pretentious.  If it doesn’t live up to the hype it’s their own fault.

The Coming Insurrection is actually pretty good.  But it’s ‘pretty good’ on par with Crimethinc’s Days of War, Nights of Love.  A fun read, a few well-delivered points, the sort of thing you’d loan a friend’s little sister.  If that’s a devastating takedown it shouldn’t be.  The Coming Insurrection is hugely ambitious.  Not just in the material it covers — for to even speak of hope we must all be hugely ambitious these days — but rather in the repackaging it attempts.  No, what’s troubling about The Coming Insurrection is the conservatism and stodginess it betrays in this audacious approach.  Ultimately The Coming Insurrection is just the latest of many attempts to slip the philosophical baggage of Communism in the lingerie of modern anti-authoritarianism.  It is unarguably the most pithy.  Every page is full of imminently quotable turns of phrase.  A potent, modern sexiness that certainly smacks of anarchist romantics.  But take it as anything more than a series of loose aphoristic appeals and old structures emerge.

The fundamental difference at heart between the approaches of Communism and Anarchism has been their treatment of agency.  Where anarchism makes ethical appeals, communist theorists invariably leap on assertions of inevitability. This is because Communism has positioned itself not as an immortal declaration, but as a mechanical response and reaction to specific conditions.  While Anarchism treats our desires and aspirations as forces struggling to act upon the world, the communist tradition has oriented itself around attempts to *fix* specific broken structures.

In this light, despite its many anarchist trappings, The Comming Insurrection simply signifies the completion of a shift in communist thought from a focus on economic crises to neurological ones.

No longer dying in the factories, we are now suffocating in the alienation wrought by the goods those factories produced.

Rather than examine the desires this holds back, The Coming Insurrection instead postulates a resolution to the resulting conflict.  Its battlecry is not an appreciation of what drives us to struggle but a nebulous appeal to peace of mind and cohesion in life.  In the present this means fire in the streets, elsewhere it prescribes a more tangible and absolute attachment with the qualia of our lives.  It’s prescription to alienation is not self-actualization but self-situation.  They must know where they are.  Even the most common of language is twisted to support such osmosis.  So they laboriously make sure to speak of a STATE of joy rather than the act or motion that gives it reality.

But we are not simply a tension mediating the spider web of our experience, we are the fire burning the world brighter with the sharing of our passion.  It’s the difference between being and becoming.  Atomic point particles bound in contextual bonds rather than living vectors.

The Coming Insurrection is Communism boiled down and adapted as close to anarchism as it can get.  The gulf is still vast.

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