This is Full Communism.
Influenced by the recent surge of interest in the political ramifications of Paul’s thought (see: Badiou, Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism; Zizek, Milbank, & Davis, Paul’s New Moment: Continental Philosophy and the Future of Christian Theology; etc.) as well as the work of Raymond E. Brown I have decided to put together a short series of posts examining an alternate biblical source of political thought, imagining the possible shape of a Johannine politics.
In The Churches the Apostles Left Us, Brown writes, “Johannine ecclesiology is the most attractive and exciting in the NT. Alas, it is also the least stable” (pg. 123). In the vein of this thought, and following the Paul-enthusiasts tendency to adapt ecclesiological insights as political ideas, these investigations will begin with a consideration of some of the enticing and powerful characteristics of a Johannine politics, before moving into some of the instabilities and risks inherent to such a philosophy. Although by no means firm, the tentative outline of the subjects of these posts will be as follows:
As always, some deep resonances between this philosophy and the work of prominent continental philosophers can be expected. So far, I anticipate engagement with my standard cast-of-characters–Derrida, Caputo, Henry, Marx, Zizek–as well as some Deleuzian insights as I have recently begun my foray into Difference and Repetition in conjunction with some of Caputo’s lectures on Deleuze.
Today marks the first birthday of “The Space Beyond Being.” I know it is a cliche, but it seems like just yesterday I was searching for a creative outlet for my summertime boredom (if only I had the time to be bored this year…). In celebration of this momentous occasion, I give you this link to my very first post, a review of Michel Henry’s Marx: a Philosophy of Reality; a fortuitous first post, given the prominent role that both phenomenology and Marxism have played in the last year of blogging.
Also, here are some fun stats:
Thank you to all of my readers and commentors for a great first year. Here is my Gif(t) to you:
Today marks two noteworth philosophical birthdays:
The first is one of the founders of existential philosophy, the Danish Philosopher and Theologian Søren Kierkegaard, who turns 200 today.
“Be cautious with an abstract thinker who not only wants to remain in abstraction’s pure being but wants this to be the highest for a human being, and wants such thinking, which results in the ignoring of the ethical and a misunderstanding of the religious, to be the highest human thinking.” –Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments
The Second is the philosopher, economic theorist, and political revolutionary, Karl Marx, who turns 195 today.
Celebrate these two groundbreaking and revolutionary thinkers today.
In response to my recent discussion with Bryce at Amtheomusings, regarding “wage-slavery,” a friend offered this “double response” to both myself and Bryce.
Without further Adieu….
I certainly cannot (and do not want to) disagree with B. about
the ideologically charged expression ‘wage slavery’: not only it is
outrageously soaked in moral connotations (to the point that, as B.
points out, no one could namely be in its support) but it creates an
imaginative confusion of terms, if we consider that slavery, while
changed and mutated since the 16th century, is well alive in certain
areas of the world (and even in certain grey zones of our Western
society, cf. as an example http://articles.latimes.com/2011/dec/16/
local/la-me-1216-shyima-hall-20111216) and that there is certainly
a difference between a salaried worker in an US factory or a child
forced to sew shoes in some remote town of South East Asia, with
no salary and possibly with menacing guards preventing him/her to
go elsewhere or live differently.
However, I do disagree with the concept that, all in all, there is
nothing, in the hypothetical range of possible society, between the
two extremes of
a) today’s system and
b) a reality in which physical providers of food and shelter should
work in an unrewarded fashion to provide sustenance for the lazy
The problem addressed by the proposers of the (admittedly
unfortunate) expression ‘wage slavery’ is, more often than not, the
reason because of which salaried workers are completely bound
to their jobs: with the constant shift of economic power from
productive forces to productive resources, i.e. from the worker to
the capitalist (inevitable in a capitalist system, as Marx has shown
and very few have tried to contrast) the labourer is forced into a
complete submission of her life to her job. Simply put, the problem
is that to enjoy a normal life (with shelter, food, hygiene and the
like) the worker herself needs to participate in the production of
goods whose market value far exceeds the value of the money
the worker and her colleagues are paid. It is of course Proudhon’s
theory of survaleur, which only the great improvements in people’s
wealth occurred in the 20th century had allowed us to forget. Recent
years, however, have witnessed a return to a model of subsistence
for most untrained workers, who sometimes are not able to
maintain themselves and their family even when working a fulltime
All this said, I disagree with J. when he equates (or seems to me
to do so) wage-slavery with wage-work in a wage-society. The first
paragraph of his first response (partially corrected in the following
one) implies that a wage-based economic system cannot coexist
with a fair system: the problem in ‘wage-slavery’ is not the wage,
but the slavery! If wage has to be a compensation, a fair one it
must be. I found the artisan model (that I’ve heard proposed over
and over again) an oversimplification: the artisan could be alienated
as well if she was forced to receive anything less than the value of
what she produces.
Again, the response of B. is in my opinion flawed by a
misrepresented concept of ‘agreement’: he states that (and I
quote) “the laborer agrees to be provided with a wage by using the
property of their employer at a work that is in place because others
have chosen to value the product”. But it is exactly this agreement
that is devalued by proposers of a non-wage-driven economy:
the labourer, being deprived of capital (which is limited and
comparatively constantly devaluating itself) and in possession only
of working-force (which is ever-growing and largely over-present)
cannot freely choose but is force to agree. And that’s exactly where
the equation to slavery comes into play.
The almost ‘utilitarian’ justification of capitalism provided (if it is
enacted it must be what makes us all richer) appears to be more
a rhetorical device than a real evidence of virtue; following such a
claim it could be objected that if capitalism was in place because it
represented the best economic system, overthrowing it would be
self-justified, since whatever came after that would be “better” by
providing more economic wealth than capitalism (that would have
At the end of this long (and hopefully friendly) rant, I confess
that I find puzzling the final remarks by J.: while it is a certainly
acceptable moral stance that production should not produce wealth
(even in its broadest sense) I am curious to understand what other
non-economic system you had in mind when addressing such
issues. Co-op and artisanal systems both involve wealth, wealth
production and wealth-distribution.
In fide et amicabiliter
Giacomo ‘Geki’ Leoni
NEW BOOK ALERT!
Check out the newly translated Barbarism by one of my favorite authors, Michel Henry. Here!
“Barbarism represents a critique, from the perspective of Michel Henry’s unique philosophy of life, of the increasing potential of science and technology to destroy the roots of culture and the value of the individual human being. For Henry, barbarism is the result of a devaluation of human life and culture that can be traced back to the spread of quantification, the scientific method and technology over all aspects of modern life. The book develops a compelling critique of capitalism, technology and education and provides a powerful insight into the political implications of Henry’s work.
It also opens up a new dialogue with other influential cultural critics, such as Marx, Husserl, and Heidegger. First published in French in 1987, Barbarism aroused great interest as well as virulent criticism. Today the book reveals what for Henry is a cruel reality: the tragic feeling of powerlessness experienced by the cultured person. Above all he argues for the importance of returning to philosophy in order to analyse the root causes of barbarism in our world.”