gilles dauve

Power does not come any more from the barrel of a gun than it comes from a ballot box. No revolution is peaceful, but its “military” dimension is never central. The question is not whether the proles finally decide to break into the armouries, but whether they unleash what they are; commodified beings who no longer want to exist as commodities, and whose revolt explodes capitalist logic. Barricades and machine guns flow from this “weapon”. The greater the change in social life, the less guns will be needed, and the less casualties there will be. A communist revolution will never resemble a slaughter: not from any nonviolent principle, but because revolution subverts more (soldiers included) than it actually destroys.
—  Gilles Dauvé - When insurrections die

The appropriation of surplus-value by the bourgeois is an integral part of the system, which is logically run by the class who benefits from it. But this inevitable fact is not the heart of the matter. Supposing the capitalist and the wagelabourer were fused into one, if labour truly managed capital, re-oriented production in the interest of everyone, if wages were equal and fair, etc., and value logic continued to operate, it would not go beyond capitalism: it would be a (short-lived) worker-led capitalism.

The point is not that a handful of people take a disproportionately large share of surplus-value. If these parasitic profiteers were pushed aside, while the rest of the system remained, part of the surplus-value would be given to the workers and the rest invested in collective and social equipment, welfare, etc.: this is the age-old programme of the left, including the official CPs. Unfortunately, the logic of the value system involves developing production for maximal valorisation. In a society based on value, value dominates society, not the other way round. The change brought about by capital is to have conquered production, and thus to have socialised the world since the nineteenth century, spreading industrial plants, warehouses, ports, telecommunication networks, etc., all over the world, which results in goods being available in shops. But in the capitalist cycle, the fulfilment of needs is only a by-product, never the driving force of the mechanism. Valorisation is the aim: fulfilment of needs is at best a means, since what has been produced must be sold. Even if it was feasible, labour-managed value would still operate according to valorisation. The bourgeois hardly control value: “people’s power” would not fare any better.

The company is the locus of capitalism: each industrial, trading, or agricultural company operates as a rallying point for a quantum of value looking for expansion. The enterprise must make profits. Profitability has nothing to do with the evil doing of a few “big” capitalists, and communism does not mean getting rid of fat cigar smokers wearing top hats at horse shows.5 Old and new reformism always targets the rich, yet what matters is not individual profits, however outrageous they may be, but the constraint, the orientation imposed upon production and society by a system which dictates what and how to produce and to consume.

—  Gilles Dauvé and François Martin, Eclipse and re-emergence of the communist movement
Since the communisation of society would begin at once and gradually involve more and more people, its inevitable violence would be different from what Marx or Rosa Luxemburg could imagine. The proletarians will be able to make the bourgeoisie and the State, i.e. the political props of capitalist economy, utterly useless and ultimately defenceless, by undermining the sources of their power. The bourgeoisie is aware of it: modern States are steeling themselves for “low-intensity operations,” which imply a lot more than police work, and include population and resource control. Of course counter-revolution has never been only military and political, but its social dimension is now a condition of the rest. In 1972, though it dealt mostly with wars in the Third World, Michael Klare’s War Without End: American Planning for the Next Vietnams provided useful insights into the strategy of the big capitalist States preparing for civil war on their own soil. If we considered the problem from a purely material point of view, the State’s superiority would be outstanding: guns against tanks. Our hope resides in a subversion so general and yet so coherent that the State will be confronted by us everywhere, and its energy source depleted.
—  Gilles Dauve, Eclipse and Re-emergence of the Communist Movement
Dictatorship is not a weapon of capital (as if capital could replace it with other, less brutal weapons): dictatorship is one of its tendencies, a tendency realised whenever it is deemed necessary. A “return” to parliamentary democracy, as it occurred in Germany after 1945, indicates that dictatorship is useless for integrating the masses into the state (at least until the next time). The problem is therefore not that democracy ensures a more pliant domination than dictatorship: anyone would prefer being exploited in the Swedish mode to being abducted by the henchmen of Pinochet. But does one have the choice? Even the gentle democracy of Scandinavia would be turned into a dictatorship if circumstances demanded it. The state can only have one function, which it fulfils democratically or dictatorially. The fact that the former is less harsh does not mean that it is possible to reorient the state to dispense with the latter.
—  When Insurrections Die - Gilles Dauve

Human activity is a continually changing appropriation and assimilation of man’s environment. In other words, humankind has a history. The relation of humans to “nature” is also a relation among humans and depends on their relations of production, just as the ideas they produce, the way they conceive the world, depend on their production relations.

Production relations into which people enter are independent of their will: each generation confronts technical and social conditions left by previous generations. But it can alter them. What we call “history” is made by people. This is not to say that the windmill created the feudal lord, the steam engine the bourgeois industrialist and that, in due time, with the same implacable logic, automation and electronics will free the toiling masses. If this were true, there would be no revolutions. The new society bred by the old can only emerge through a violent decisive break through the entire social, political, and ideological structure.

What must be exposed, behind the material objects, the machines, the factories, the labourers who work there every day, the things they produce, is the social relation that regulates them, as well as its necessary and possible evolution.

—  Gilles Dauvé and François Martin, Eclipse and re-emergence of the communist movement
September 1939. Hitler and Stalin have just carved up Poland. At the border bridge of Brest-Litovsk, several hundred members of the KPD, refugees in the USSR subsequently arrested as “counter-revolutionaries”, are taken from Stalinist prisons and handed over to the Gestapo. Years later, one of them would explain the scars on her back — “GPU did it” — and her torn fingernails — “and that’s the Gestapo”. A fair account of the first half of this century.
—  Gilles Dauve, When Insurrections Die
Exchange relations help the community to develop and to satisfy its growing needs, but they ultimately destroy what made the community immediately communal. People now treat each other, and themselves, mainly as suppliers of goods. The utility of the product I make for exchange no longer interests me: I am only interested in the utility of the product I will get in exchange. But for the person who sells it to me, this second utility does not matter: his sole concern lies in the usefulness of what I produced. What is use value for the one is only exchange value for the other, and vice versa.
—  Gilles Dauvé and François Martin, Eclipse and re-emergence of the communist movement
Communism is not an ideal to be realised: it already exists, not as alternative lifestyles, autonomous zones or counter-communities that would grow within this society and ultimately change it into another one, but as an effort, a task to prepare for. It is the movement which tries to abolish the conditions of life determined by wage-labour, and it will abolish them only by revolution.
—  Gilles Dauvé, Eclipse and Re-emergence of the Communist Movement
Communising is therefore more than adding piecemeal actions. Capital will be sapped by general subversion through which people take their relationships with the world into their own hands. But nothing decisive will be achieved as long as the State retains its hold on the essential. Society is not simply a capillary network: relationships are centralised in a force which concentrates the power to preserve this society. Capitalism would be too happy to see us change our lives locally while it carries on globally. Because it is a central force, the State has to be demolished by central action. Because its power base is ubiquitous, it must be extinguished everywhere. Communisation will combine both dimensions … or fail. The communist movement is anti-political, not a-political.
—  Gilles Dauve, Eclipse and Re-emergence of the Communist Movement
The purpose of the old labour movement was to take over the same world and manage it in a new way: forcing the leisure class to work, turning unproductive into productive work, developing industry, introducing workers’democracy (in theory, of course). Only a tiny minority, “anarchist”as well as “Marxist,”held that a different society meant the destruction of State, commodity, and wage labour, although it rarely defined this as a process, rather as a programme to put into practice after the seizure of power, often after a fairly long transition period. These revolutionaries failed to grasp communism as a social movement whose action would undermine the foundations of class and State power, and misunderstood the subversive potential of fraternal, open, communistic relationships that kept re-emerging in every deep insurrection (Russia 1917–19, Catalonia 1936–37 …).
—  Gilles Dauvé, Eclipse and Re-emergence of the Communist Movement