March 30, 2013

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Badiou: the Paris Commune (from Polemics) In his discussion of the Paris Commune in Polemics, Badiou considers the Paris Commune as an evental site, a new being in the world that has made itself (a new being that has made itself in the world). From Marxism-Leninism-Maoism comes a reading of the Commune that poses the question of the relation of the party to the state. Badiou faults Marx's reading for its continued attachment to the state. Even as Marx (and later Engels) recognizes that the Commune smashes the bourgeois state, they nonetheless criticize it for failing to be statist enough. To me his critique can be rendered as a criticism of state fetishism: I know the Commune is not a state, nevertheless I believe it is a state. And, indeed, Badiou refers to the party as a 'mental schema.' Badiou's goal is to provide a different Commune, one that is not reduced to the fetishistism of the classical reading. Fetishistic disavowal gives a particular form to the communist party (proletarian party, social democratic party). On the one hand, it understands itself as premised on the destruction of the state. To this extent, it remains outside it. It's position is exterior to the state, aimed toward it only to destroy it. On the other hand, "the party is also the organizer of a centralized, disciplined capacity that is entirely bent on taking state power." It asserts what it denies, giving itself form as that what it would replace. We could perhaps also say that the state persists...
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Camatte: Origin and Function of the Party Form (excerpts) The proletariat tends to oppose its own Gemeinwesen, the human being, to the capitalist one, the oppressive state. It has to expropriate this being to realize this real opposition. It can only do so if it organizes in a party. This is the representation of its being, its prefiguration. The whole life of the class, thus the party, is dominated by the movement for the appropriation of this being. Here the consciousness of the mission of the proletariat is expressed specifically as the appropriation of human nature. ... The party thus represents the Gemeinwesen. It cannot be defined by bureaucratic rules, but only by its existence, and the party's existence is its programme, the prefiguration of communist society, of the liberated and conscious human species. The corollary is that the revolution is not a question of forms of organization. It depends on the programme. Only one proved, that the party form is the one most suited to represent and to defend the programme. The organizational rules in this case are not adopted from bourgeois society, but derive from the vision of future society, as we shall show. Marx derived the orginality of the party from the proletariat's struggle. From the start the proletariat manifested itself an a new Gemeinwesen, it manifested the goal it tended to - a society without private property but with property of the species instead... ... An important characteristic of the party is derived from that, from the fact that it is the prefiguration of the...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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