Dauve’s comments in this exchange of letters are golden. Also points
out a really strong conceptual similarity with the autonomist
marxists. Every time Dauve criticizes someone for being like “now
everything is different!” he could be talking almost exactly about
Negri and co too.


“About thirty years ago, when Invariance (J. Camatte) and others began
making much of that formal/real distinction, a friend of ours said:
“To them, real domination means that from now on everything will be
different.” (…) It is simply not true that the attempt to take over
capitalism and run it in the place of the bourgeois, or even a play a
large part in its management, ever was a big (or the main)
characteristic of the workers’ movement. (…) The “affirmation of
labour” was neither a dominant feature of working class history, nor a
major cause of revolutionary defeat.”

“We can be tempted to build an apparently solid theoretical framework
that will provide us with reasons why events were bound to happen or
not to happen. But this would only be valid on paper, and we know it.

Revolutionary movements (and even more so a successful communist
revolution) are possible at certain times, but never necessary in the
sense that they would provide the one and only possible solution to
the historical crisis they are born out of.
This possibility does include some choice on the part of the
proletarians (just as the members of the ruling class always have
several options open to them: there is more than one way of restoring
order and putting capitalism back on a profitable track). This is not
to say that any choice is possible any time any place. No social force
ever makes choices outside of or against historical realities (to
which its action contributes, but which is not only made of its own
Much is being currently written about capitalism as the mutual
involvment of capital and wage labour, or of the bourgeois and the
proletarians. Karl [Nesic] and I fully endorse the notion! But
precisely, it means that each “partner”  matters as much as its
opponent in the evolution of the dual relationship, so history is
never foretold.


The core of the divergence [between Dauve and Theorie Communiste]
probably lies in TC’s belief that revolutionary theory has to be
reconstructed, on the basis of past communist thought of course, but
in order to produce a theory of revolution for our time, a theory that
would account for the impossibility of communism in the past and its
necessity in the present. In other words, TC is aiming at a
refoundation of communism. I am not. I feel the essential has be laid
down in the 1840s. Not everything: the destruction of the State, the
critique of the workers’ movement, the understanding of revolution as
communization, these positions only became clear later, and some only
in the past 40 or 50 years or so. By the essential, I meant the
definition of the proletariat as a historical force, obviously related
to the slaves or the poor of the past, but different from them,
because of its existence within capitalism, its interrelation with
capital, the “mutual involvement” that gives it the capacity to act as
the agent of social change, able to bring about a human community. In
that respect, there is no fundamental difference between the 1950
English miner or Paris proletarianized craftsman, and the 2004 Indian
call centre worker or Californian supermarket delivery lorry driver.
What they all have in common (in terms of possibilties and
predicaments) is a lot more importmant than where they differ. That’s
what I’d call the essential. That essential might be wrong. If it is,
no theory can prove or disprove it. Only history (=the future) can.


Incidently, if revolution was doomed in 1920, since no-one among us
suggests we sholud have sided with the SPD against the KAPD, TC’s
vision implies that people like us were indeed right to go and try for
something that we now was totally out of reach. This also applies to
what TC writes or myself attempted to do thirty years ago. In other
words, every communist effort up to now was quixotic. We prefer Gorter
to Kautsky but Gorter was a dreamer. Stalin was a bastard but he was
logically right. Now the contradiction is over: we’re finally aiming
at a target really exists. New we know. Do you believe that?”


Basically, I’d say that any theory that claims to divide history into
two periods (one when revolution was not yet possible, one when it is
both necessary and possible), any such theory is blowed, wrong from
the start.

(…) people stop explaining anything when they merely divide history

(…) As far as I remember, the word [communisation] itself came up
around 1972-74 among a number of people who were critical of but
inspired by the S.I., the German and Italian left, etc. (…) The sad
thing is, this very forceful notion [ie, communisation[ was not really
developed by the small mileau it came from. Maybe sign of the weakness
on the part of the communist movement (as a social movement, not just
people like you and me). And, sadly again, it’s now taken up by people
like TC who (to me) are not really interested in the actual
communizing process a revolution would be. Their main interest is to
use the concept as a proof that now is totally different from before.”