Some notes on IWW history and some of the theory stuff I’m interested in.

The IWW works against the periodizing moment in operaismo related to several terms.

1. The IWW took the factory to be always-already a social factory. (That’s the spirit of Bologna’s remarks quoted here, in part a choosing of sides in the two definitions of the term that I tried to indicate here.) This can be seen in particular in experiences like Goldfield. This also raises questions about the real subsumption and postfordism periodizations, as the traits indicated as novel in those narratives can be found in at least moments of IWW history.

2. General intellect. My friend Sabrina sees general intellect present in the story told by Luther Blissett in the novel Q, general intellect enacted among the peasants, utopians, counterfeiters, etc. Similarly, I see general intellect present within the IWW, producing a cultural commons drawn upon as a resource for a number of things. This also means that traits ascribed to the class composition of immaterial laborers were present previously in some aspects of/events in IWW history, and not only in the activities of immaterial laborers. Or, put differently, constructing the IWW and organizing was an immaterial labor.

3. The second point connects to multitude in part via Agamben’s remarks on multitude, general intellect, and language. General intellect is (a product of and productive of) multitude.

4. This multitude is Hardt and Negri’s always-already multitude, a potential multitude, a multitude in need of actualization as the not-yet multitude. Virno doesn’t hold to the not-yet quality of multitude, believing it has existed before, as noted in quotes here, but an important point of agreement remains: this multitude isn’t/wasn’t enough. It needs expansion, generalization. That requires organization. It’s not automatic and being spontaneist about this is inadequate. That’s one of the points in the talk Hardt has given a few places in recent times about love and multitude: training and discipline, in part a matter of organization, subjectification and of transition. I want to see IWW discussions on industrial unionism, industrial classification, and the cooperative commonwealth as a discussion of these issues. There’s also a point of comparison here with Ranciere and Badiou on subjectification.