Jodi Dean/Thomas Seibert: Über Badiou, über Demokratie

The Force oft the Many/Die Kraft der Vielen

Vom 2.- 4. April 2017 fand in Basel der vom Schweizer Denknetz veranstaltete Kongress Reclaim Democracy statt: von deutlich mehr Besucher*innen frequentiert als erwartet und von politischer Bedeutung nicht nur für die Linke in der Schweiz. Eingeladen war auch die amerikanische Philosophin Jodi Dean, die in Deutschland durch ihr Buch Der kommunistische Horizont bekannt geworden.  Mich hatten die Veranstalter um eine Entgegnung auf ihren Vortrag gebeten. Deshalb präsentiere ich hier zuerst den Vortrag Jodis (englisch), dann meine Entgegnung (deutsch). (Lang)

Jodi Dean: The Force of Many

I want to begin with the questions and prompts guiding this conference. The conference emphasizes “reclaiming” and “strengthening” democracy. On the one hand, the conference announcement asserts that “the guiding principle of any society must be the good life of all, not the accumulation of capital.” On the other, it asks how better to organize the taxation of companies and the rich, how to control financial markets democratically and limit the pressure caused by speculation.” There is a tension here. One position rejects capital accumulation; the other one tolerates capital and wants to limit its pernicious effects. I side with the first position. If billionaires, no democracy. There is no democracy if our lives are determined by market forces and speculation. To use Lenin’s terms, such a democracy is nothing but the “dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.”

Even as the conference wants to “reclaim democracy,” my claim is that “democracy” is inadequate as a name for left aspiration, for an emancipatory egalitarian politics. Here are some of the reasons:


Democracy does not name a split or antagonism. No one is openly opposed to democracy. The right also presents itself as democratic. George W. Bush invaded Iraq and Afghanistan in the name of democracy. Trump declared that with his election power has returned to the people. Democracy, then, does not name the division between us and those we oppose. Democracy points to processes rather than substance. Whether one has in mind electoral, deliberative, or radical democracy, the focus is on how politics occurs rather than what kinds of political outcomes one wants to achieve. This omission makes it easy to avoid conflict – no one has to take a stand. Some can pretend that they are involved with overthrowing capitalism while others can be confident that the basic structure of society will remain intact, just nudged a little in a better direction.


In today’s networks of personalized media and communication, democracy has merged with capitalism. I call this formation “communicative capitalism.” Its primary values are inclusion, participation, transparency, and access. Communicative capitalism materializes and repurposes democratic aspirations in ways that intensify inequality and entrench the hold of capitalist state power. The proliferation, distribution, acceleration, and intensification of communicative access produce a deadlocked democracy incapable of serving as a form for progressive political and economic change. I can say more about this during the discussion, but some of the reasons for this deadlock include the change in communication such that its exchange value matters more than its use value (a change from the utterance with meaning to the contribution that circulates). Another reason for the deadlock involves the basic structure of complex networks – networks characterized by free choice, growth, and preferential attachment – that results in winner-take-all, or one and the many, distributions.


To argue for democracy is to argue for more of the same. Democracy names our milieu, our ideology of multiple voices and opinions all being shared in a giant cacophony of inclusion. It doesn’t cut through these to advocate for some views rather than others. This is why democracy remains popular for a left that has become liberal and inchoate since 1989. Democracy is an ideal that is so broad no one rejects it, so we risk nothing by advocating it. Keep in mind: the economic inequality that has increased so dramatically in the last thirty years of neoliberalism emerged in democratic societies through democratic processes. The laws and procedures that have governed US elections for decades, gave us Trump.


Democracy occludes class struggle. When we use “democracy” to name our ideal, we assume the equality of participants. Under capitalism, this is a fantasy—or delusion. The rich, the owners, the one percent have more economic and political power than the rest of us. We need to begin from the fact of the struggle between labor and capital, few and many, exploited and exploiter, oppressed and oppressor. And rather than imagining democratic relations between them, we need to overthrow the oppressors and abolish systems of exploitation.


One last reason democracy is inadequate as a name for left emancipatory egalitarian aspiration: we can’t get where we need to be through democratic means, that is, through the established channels of democratic societies. According to a new 2016 Global Wealth Report, the bottom half of the world’s population owns less than one percent of total wealth.[i] The top 10% own 89 % of global wealth. Is this top 10% going to say, ok, fine, we will give this up, you guys voted, so we have to cooperate? Or, think more specifically about Switzerland. According to this same Credit Suisse 2016 Global Wealth Report, Switzerland has had the highest average wealth every year since 2001. Since 2012, its average household wealth has exceeded 500,000 dollars – something no other country has achieved. The Swiss are eleven times wealthier than the average world citizen. Even though Switzerland had only .1 percent of the world’s citizens, it owns 1.4 percent of global assets. Perhaps this is related to the fact that trillions of dollars in foreign wealth are held in tax havens in Swiss banks. Swiss banks play a key role in global processes of capital expropriation and concentration in the hands of the very few. The Swiss are rich because half the world has nothing.

Does “democracy” name a politics capable of demolishing this practice, these banks? No. The only appropriate response is communism – this name asserts that as long as there is capitalism, private property, and the wage, there can be no democracy. There is no democracy for the homeless, the incarcerated, the refugees, the destitute, and the over-worked. Communism names a positive vision of the alternative to this capitalist democracy: from each according to ability, to each according to need.

To get here – or even close — communists need political power. The party is the instrument through which we build such power. Think for a minute about challenges that contemporary activists always mention – how to scale, how to move beyond site specific actions and demos, how to combine different issues, in other words, how to think globally and act locally. The party is a form that does this, yet too many on the left since 1989, even 1968, reject the party – some even reject political power. This rejection of the party, and of a politics that targets the state, has given oppressors and exploiters free reign – and so we have the rise of the far right, intensified economic inequality, and, in the US, militarized policing and an expanded prison system (and this was before Trump).

In the rest of my comments today, I present a movement or crowd-based theory of the party. The basic formula is that the communist party is that party faithful to the egalitarian discharge of the crowd. I will sketch out the argument, say what problems I think it solves, and then close by considering some of the criticisms raised against the party form in the past.

Consider the last decade of protests and demonstrations. We’ve seen the renewed power of crowds — global insurrection in Tunisia and Egypt, mass occupations and demonstrations in Spain, Greece, Portugal, and Turkey; Chilean student protests, Montreal fees protests, Brazilian transportation and FIFA protests, European anti-austerity protests, the Occupy movement, Black Lives Matter, September’s general strike of 180 million workers in India. Globally, the strikes and actions are virtually innumerable.

These strikes and demonstrations are revolts of the proletarianized people. Just as the factory has been a site for the concentration of industrial workers, so are crowds concentrations of those proletarianized under communicative capitalism. Crowd struggle is class struggle. These days class struggle appears throughout the social terrain. Even as technology, flexibilization, precaritization, and the declining power of unions makes workplace struggle harder, they open up new sites of struggle. Student, debt, housing, policing, and education protests are all examples of class struggle. The one percent doesn’t have to take to the streets – they already control the system. Again, crowd struggle is class struggle.

The classic crowd theorists of the early twentieth century – although generally pretty reactionary — bring out some of the cool features of crowds.  Crowd dynamics are those of imitation, suggestion, and contagion; affective intensification and feelings of invincibility; de-individuation and the emergence of a kind of collective temporary being. Early crowd theorists feared the crowd’s disruptive intensity. For example, Gustav LeBon thought that the masses were determined to destroy society. He associated crowds with primitive communism. Marx, of course, had already offered another vision of crowds in his writing on the Paris Commune – they were the people storming heaven.

Over the last decade, crowds and protests have shown us the people sensing their collective power, the capacity of many to inscribe a gap in the expected. At the same time, these global demonstrations have brought to the fore the crowd’s limitations. The very powers that let crowds force a gap in the expected introduce a set of political challenges. Crowds are destructive, creative, unpredictable, contagious, and temporary. They don’t endure. People go home. Crowds are politically indeterminate – people amass for all sorts of conflicting reasons, feelings, and compulsions. Not all crowds represent the people – some are racist, reactionary, anti-immigrant. The strength that comes with the indeterminacy of the crowd’s message is a weakness when the crowd disperses. Think here, for example, of disagreements around the meaning of Occupy or the conflicting view on the left regarding the protests in the Ukraine. The crowd doesn’t have a politics. It is the opportunity for a politics.

To say that the crowd doesn’t have a politics, that it is the opportunity for a politics, is another way of saying that the crowd inscribes a gap; it breaks up the expected, the everyday, but it doesn’t tell us how or in what direction. Crowds are the push of collectivity – we are many and we are strong and sometimes we are the people. Crowds insist, not to be included but to break through, to disrupt. People act together in ways impossible for individuals. Together previously separate people impress the possibility of the divided people as the collective subject of a politics.

How does the crowd get a politics? The answer has two parts, both of which lead to the party: a part intrinsic to the crowd event and a part related to the representation of the crowd event as the force of the divided people (people as the rest of us, proletarianized people). I’ll call these the dimension of equality and the dimension of fidelity.

Elias Canetti’s famous – but weird – book Crowds and Power gets at the dimension of equality. Canetti associates the crowd with the breakdown of bodily boundaries. In a crowd, it’s like everything is happening in the same body (think of people pressed together a soccer game; they inhale and exhale together). In place of the distinctions mobilized to produce the individual form, there is a temporary being of multiple mouths, anuses, stomachs, hands, and feet. Canetti describes the moment of the crowd’s emergence as the “discharge.” This is the point when “all who belong to the crowd get rid of their differences and feel equal.” Before that, there may be a lot of people, but they are not yet that concentration of bodies and affects that is a crowd. Density, though, as it increases, has libidinal effects. Canetti writes: “In that density, where there is scarcely any space between, and body presses against body, each man is as near the other as he is to himself, and an immense feeling of relief ensues. It is for the sake of this blessed moment, when no-one is greater or better than another, that people become a crowd.” Canetti gives us the crowd as a strange attractor of jouissance, a figure of collective enjoyment. The libidinal energy of the crowd binds it together for a joyous moment, a moment Canetti renders as a “feeling of equality” and that we might also figure as the shared intensity of belonging. The feeling won’t last; inequality will return with the dissipation of the crowd. Very few give up the possessions and associations that separate them. But in the orgasmic discharge, “a state of absolute equality” supplants individuating distinctions. What we get from Canetti, then, is the substance or essence of the crowd form as an absolute equality. This equality is only temporary, but it is essential to the crowd discharge, the feeling for which the crowd amasses.

Canetti’s crowd equality is not the formal equality of a common standard applied to different people, objects, or expenditures of labor. The equality Canetti invokes is one where “a head is a head, an arm is an arm, and the differences between individual heads and arms is irrelevant.” The force of equality in the crowd breaks down the fragile and imaginary enclosure of the individual form, enabling the collective experience of collectivity. Canetti argues that the crowd’s equality infuses all demands for justice. Equality as belonging –not separation, weighing, and measure—is what gives “energy” (Canetti’s term) to the longing for justice. The key point we get from Canetti: the crowd concentrates equality and a longing for justice. (And so carries out a function Marx associates with the factory.)

This takes me to the dimension of fidelity. A communist party organizes fidelity to this equality, this justice, this blessed moment of belonging. A communist party isn’t oriented toward winning elections or leading the working class (although it may find that doing these things is tactically important). A communist party is oriented by its fidelity to equality, justice, collective belonging. The way that a communist party demonstrates this fidelity is by identifying the people as the divided collective subject of politics in the crowd. The party sees the rupture of the crowd as an effect of the people as a political subject. It answers the call of the people that it presents as calling (classically, the working class, the oppressed; in the version I’m offering, the proletarianized people).

Crowd events incite interpretation – what did the event mean? Who was the subject of the event? Was it bunch of thugs, a mob that should be repressed? Was it the people, were they right to rebel, their energies pressing us to smash the state and create other arrangements of power? The power of the Marxist legacy comes out of the ways that it presents crowd events, strikes, and insurrections as the emancipatory struggle of working people. An ambiguous event of crowd of particular people becomes the expression of a collective subject – that is read as having been present, the subject cause of the event rather than its effect.

For the crowd to become the people, representation is necessary, representation faithful to the egalitarian discharge. In this history of Marxism, we see this representation at work in discussions of Paris Commune and other revolutionary events. Badiou makes clear that there is a weird temporality involved here – retroactive determination. The subject of the event appears after the event that it causes. Consider the responses of Marx and Lenin to events like the Commune. They are moved by the event to see it as an effect of the people as its subject.

Badiou draws out two operations involved in understanding an event as the effect of a political subject: subjectivization and the subjective process. Subjectivization is a response, an effect that attributes itself to a subject as its cause. This response testifies to, provides evidence of a subject. In the wake of an action or event, the responder sees the action as coming from a subject, a subject with purpose, with political will, a subject who acted with precipitous certainty – the people, the proletariat. A more familiar way of thinking about the political subject begins from the initiator of an action. This isn’t helpful for a couple of reasons – first, there is no pure initiation; we start somewhere, in a context, always responding to something; second, lots of times our starts are false starts, we don’t actually inscribe a gap or change the situation. We might imagine ourselves as so many revolutionaries, but we aren’t actually having an effect. Badiou’s account of subjectivization as the response of an other avoids these problems by beginning with the effect and then attributing the effect to a subject. So this is subjectivization. Subjective process involves the retroactive determination of consistency on the part of the subject, which is always and necessarily collective. Think about the world historical struggle of the proletariat, the struggles of the oppressed that have gone on for millennia. In the subjective process, the subject is inserted into a longer, larger process and understood in terms of this process.

Subjectivization and the subjective process involve political struggle. Organizers produce actions. They try to bring people out, get them to feel their collective power, and incite them to use it. Sometimes it happen; sometimes it doesn’t. Often an action appears as just another demo. Consequent to the gap of a disruption, the party works to render the disruption as an effect of a collective subject. The party fights on the terrain of the other, giving this gap meaning and direction. After an initial crowd event, subsequent crowd events are attributed to the class, to the people. Without a party, the people can be hard to see. Their acts instead become coopted and displaced, channeled and packaged so as to buttress the system they oppose. The party gives the crowd a history, letting its egalitarian moment endure in the subjective process of people’s struggle.

I have emphasized two aspects of the crowd event: egalitarian discharge and fidelity. The crowd directs us to the party because of the opening the crowd event creates. The party, specifically the party of communists, is that body which, in fidelity to the egalitarian discharge, can make the subjectivity of the people appear in the gap. The crowd, then, should not be equated with the ‘multitude.’ Rather than a multitude of singularities, the crowd is a provisional being. And rather than a subject, it is the opportunity for the retroactive appearance of the subject.

Capitalist democracy relies on the desubjectification of the people. It separates them into demographic groups, identities, and individuals, seeking to render these fragments serviceable for capitalism. When we see from the perspective of capitalist democracy, the people don’t appear; we only see difference. But when we see from the perspective of the party faithful to the egalitarian discharge, we see the world historical of the people against oppression.

This theory of the communist party as the party faithful to the egalitarian moment of the crowd updates the party form for our time.  The egalitarian discharge of the crowd event supplies a material, but non-identitarian basis for an international communist party. The egalitarian core of the communist party comes from fidelity to the discharge (rather than, say, from a claim to represent the working class in the sphere of politics). The party doesn’t represent the variety of positions in the movements. It works to produce the people as the subject to which it will have been faithful. This means that a party of communists cannot confine itself within national histories and regional boundaries. It means as well that a party detached from the movements, above or apart from them, is not a communist party.

Further, this crowd-based theory of the party responds to the way that “working class” does not appear today as the signifier of a revolutionary subject but instead seems like an empirical designator, a special interest group. As with any identity category, the politics of a class is not fixed or given. That a person is in particular class or bears a particular identity tell us nothing about their politics. An emphasis on crowds takes us away from identity to movement: the force of many where they don’t belong, the intensity of the egalitarian discharge. This approach to revolutionary subjectivity is faithful to the Marxist legacy. Marx and Engels link socialism not simply to the identity of the working class. They link it to working class movement. Active movement incited Marx and Engels to see in proletarian struggle more than demands for shorter working days, safer working conditions, and higher wages. They saw these struggles as the political process of the subject of communism – in fact, just as crowd critics, fearful of the masses, also did. We repeat the Marxist innovation not by looking for a generic identity but by emphasizing movement – the broad movements of the proletarianized. In place of the saturation of identity, we must turn to the process of movement, recognizing the people as the subject of that process. The very fact of the active aggregation of crowds, the rise of political opposition and militancy, directs us to a collective desire for collectivity.

Highlighting the crowd enables us to build a theory of the communist party as a synthesis or movement party. Such a party is neither the movements’ vanguard nor instrument. It is a form of organized political association that holds open the space from which the crowd can see itself (and be seen) as the people. The communist party is the party faithful to the crowd’s egalitarian discharge. It doesn’t represent the movements. It transfers their egalitarian intensity from the particular to the universal. The communist party finds the people in the crowd.

You might be wondering why, if the party is a movement party, we need a party at all. Why not just let the movements move? It is not an either/or – although anti-communist and anti-party sentiment have made it appear that way. The issue is how movements interact with state power, how their achievements might endure, and in which direction (given that movements bring together a variety of incompatible positions). In North America and much of Europe, movements for the most part want to influence society rather than seize and smash the state. Without an organized revolutionary party to channel movement advances, movement politics is just liberal democracy – trying to achieve capitalism with a human face.

I conclude by considering the risks of embracing the party, particularly a communist party. Some on the Left like to repeat Trotsky’s warning about substitutionism: the party substitutes itself for the class, the party organization substitutes itself for the party, the central committee substitutes itself for the party organization, and the leader substitutes him or herself for the central committee. They present horizontalism as an alternative that can avoid these problems. Over the past few decades, we’ve encountered the limits of horizontalism as it fails to scale, endure, or replace capitalist state power. Far from solving a problem of left political organization, then, horizontalism is the name of a problem, the name of our inability to trust, delegate, and organize. A disabling fiction that leaders do not emerge, that groups don’t rely on leaders, mires organizing in intra-group navel-gazing. What should be happening – and what some groups have learned – is that leadership skills can be learned, people can be trained, and leaders can be rotated and held accountable. Horizontalism names a problem. Substitutionism does not. The gaps substitutionism flags are the space of the subject. Neither the crowd nor the party is the people. The people is the gap between them. Political capacity always involves delegation, transfer, and division of labor. Not everyone can do everything. The very idea of a politics of everyone is a debilitating fantasy that denies the constitutive feature of the political: division goes all the way down.

What about authoritarianism? Left anti-party dogma mobilizes anti-authoritarian convictions. But this mobilization has resulted in intensified authoritarianism, from global capitalism, to right populism, to militarism, and aggressive policing. Today authoritarianism is decentralized, dispersed, and extended via private contracts, interbank and interagency cooperation, and the extensive network of treaties, agreements, and provisions enabling capital flow and global trade. National states act as the police force – and bankers — protecting the global capitalist class. We encounter the fragmentation, dissolution, and decomposition of some elements of the state, and the concentration and intermeshing of other elements of states and markets, as in finance, security, and media. For too long, left politics has mirrored neoliberal economics, urging decentralization, flexibility, and innovation. In this vein, some on the Left have abandoned social change entirely. Wary of “totalizing visions,” they cede society and the state to a capitalist class that acts as a global political class intent on extending its reach into and strengthening its hold over our lives and futures. Worries over party authoritarianism today deflect us from the authoritarianism of capital, making us wary of organizing out of fear of an authority that does not now exist.

A party is a voluntary organization. The authority it has is the authority we give it and then turn back onto ourselves. This is our collective power – it makes us stronger than we are apart. Is it possible that we do and will misuse it? It’s not just possible – it’s certain. But that is not an argument for failing to organize – it’s an argument for trying to do it better.

How do we imagine political change? Aggregated personal transformation, viral outbreak or meme effect #fullcommunism. Do we think that autonomous zones of freedom and equality will emerge out of the dregs left behind in capital flight and the shrinking of state social provisioning? Do we optimistically look to democracy, expecting that communism – or upgraded social democracy – will arise out of electoral politics? These are fantasies that we can have political change without political struggle. Each pushes away the fact of antagonism, division, and class struggle as if late neoliberalism were not already characterized by extreme inequality, violence, and exploitation, as if the ruling class did not already use military force, police force, legal force, and illegal force to maintain its position. Politics is a struggle over power. Capital uses every resource—state, non-state, interstate—to advance its position. A Left that refuses to organize itself in recognition of this fact will never be able to combat it. At best, it will be left with small scale experiments, local enclaves, and that liberal democracy that protects a disastrous and failing capitalist system. The rise of the far right, entrenchment of global finance capital, and rapidly changing climate lets us know that the best case is unlikely. We have to fight back, and that fight requires political commitment, discipline, and organization.

Thomas Seibert: Die Kraft der Vielen. Eine Entgegnung

Sofern ich mich für einen demokratischen Kommunisten halte, befinde ich mich zu dem Vortrag Jodi Deans in einem Verhältnis einerseits der Übereinstimmung und andererseits des Unterschieds. Ich werde Jodi in drei Zügen kommentieren, im ersten Zug die Übereinstimmung und einen ersten Unterschied benennen, um mich im zweiten und dritten Zug noch weiter von ihr zu entfernen.

Erster Zug – die Übereinstimmung und der erste Unterschied

Ich stimme Jodi zunächst einmal prinzipiell zu, dass sich Emanzipationspolitiken im kommunikativen oder bio-kybernetischen Kapitalismus nicht mehr Politiken eines Industrieproletariats, sondern Politiken von uns allen sind, insofern wir proletarisiert – proletarianized people – sind: bei all unseren zum Teil erheblichen Unterschied in vielfacher Hinsicht.

Ich stimme Jodi auch zu, insofern Emanzpationspolitiken sich dort verdichten, wo es im Moment einer ereignishaften Unterbrechung des laufenden Lebens zur Bildung einer crowd, einer Menge kommt.

Auch ich denke, dass die ereignishafte Bildung einer Menge augenblicklich Gleichheit herstellt: wenn Gleichheit eine Erfahrung und insofern auch eine Wahrheit ist, dann in der Menge, in ihrer Leiblichkeit, ihrem Selbstgenuss und ihrer Sprache.

Die Menge in ihrer Zusammenkunft auf den Plätzen der Stadt und überall dort, wo sie sich zur Menge und darin zur Kommune macht, verwirklicht eine Unterbrechung des laufenden Lebens und eine Ent-Bindung aus den herrschenden Verhältnissen, die einen radikalen Bruch darstellt.

Weil es den ereignishaften radikalen Bruch braucht, reichen Politiken der Reform nicht aus: so wichtig Reformen sein können, die Umwälzung des Bestehenden, die Abschaffung der kapitalistischen Verfügung über den gemeinsamen Reichtum, ist keine Reform, sondern ein antagonistischer und darin revolutionärer Akt.

Ich stimme Jodi auch zu, dass sich aus der ereignishaften Generation der Menge das Problem der Verstetigung der Emanzipation stellt und dass sich dieses Problem als ein Problem auch der Subjektivierung und der Repräsentation und darin als Problem der Treue und also als ein Problem der Partei stellt.

Genau hier aber trenne ich mich von Jodi und auch von der Philosophie und Ethik Badious. Im Problem der Partei geht es nicht nur um eine Partei von Kommunist*innen, es geht genau besehen um mehrere Parteien, mehrere Ansprüche auf Repräsentation und mehrere Ausdeutungen dessen, was es heißt, dem Ereignis der Menge treu zu sein. Kommunist*innen kommt dabei eine wichtige Rolle zu, der Prozess selbst aber ist ein demokratischer Prozess und ein Prozess der Demokratie – einer Demokratie, die mehr und anderes ist als nur eine liberale Demokratie.

Genau besehen öffnet sich dieser Unterschied aber schon im Begriff und in der Erfahrung der Menge, der crowd: Jodi hat eine idyllische Vorstellung der crowd, einer Gleichheit, die wirklich ganz und gar Gleichheit ist. Ich habe einen problematischen Begriff der crowd, und deshalb benutze ich im Gegensatz zu Jodi auch den Begriff der Multitude. Jodi lehnt diesen Begriff ab, weil sich die Multitude aus Singularitäten zusammensetzt, weil sie eine Menge ist, die sich in problematischer Weise vereinzelt – ich gehe genau von einer solchen Menge aus und bestehe deshalb auf der unbedingten Notwendigkeit ihrer demokratischen Konstitution: die Gleichheit wird in sich immer konfliktiv sein, und genau dem gilt es, treu zu bleiben. Alles andere ist nicht nur ein Idyll, sondern ein gefährliches Idyll. Es wird immer die Anderen geben, und die müssen ihre Stimme behalten. Die Partei wird deshalb eine Verbindung mehrerer Parteien sein und sie wird nicht nur Parteien, sondern eine Vielzahl von Organisationen verschiedenster Art verbinden müssen.

Ich stimme Jodi zu, dass sich die Kommunist*innen in ihrer Partei neu erfinden müssen, weil sie Kommunist*innen des 21. Jahrhunderts und nicht mehr des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts sein müssen. Ich glaube aber, dass es auch um die Neuerfindung der im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert maßgeblichen Unterscheidung von Sozialist*innen, Anarchist*innen und Kommunist*innen geht, und dass es darum geht, diese Unterscheidung produktiver zu gestalten, als das im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert der Fall war. Kurz gesagt: Anarchist*innen geht es um eine Revolte der Singularitäten gegen jede Form der Vergesellschaftung, auch gegen eine sozialistische Vergesellschaftung. Sozialist*innen geht es um das, was die Meisten wollen und können, auch um das, was die Meisten brauchen, und Kommunist*innen versuchen, in diesem Widerspruch (mit den Worten von Lukács) den „Gesichtspunkt der Totalität“ einzunehmen. Deshalb gerade sind sie – jetzt mit den Worten von Marx und Engels – „keine besondere Partei neben den anderen Arbeiterparteien“, deshalb haben sie „keine besonderen Interessen“, sondern sind die Agent*innen eines in sich problematischen und konfliktiven Gemeinsamen und insofern der Demokratie.

Zweiter Zug – der radikale Unterschied

Jodi stellt zu Recht fest, dass die Emanzipationspolitiken momentan eher schwach und die Konterreform, die Konterrevolution und die Konterreformation momentan noch stärker sind. Dann aber sagt sie, dass dies an der Verwerfung der Partei und der Machtfrage läge, an der Selbstdemokratisierung der Linken, die ja nun tatsächlich 1968 und 1989 manifest werden. Dem widerspreche ich ganz entschieden.

Wenn die Konterrevolution seit 1968 immer stärker geworden ist, liegt das zum einen an der spezifischen Form kapitalistischer Herrschaft: der Kapitalismus reproduziert sich, in dem er alle antikapitalistischen Emanzipationsbewegungen absorbiert: und er hat dies auch mit der Bewegung von 68 und mit der Neuen Linken getan.

Wenn Emanzipationspolitiken heute schwach sind, liegt das aber vor allem am Desaster der Sozialismen des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts, an den Verwüstungen, für die sie verantwortlich sind, an den Enttäuschungen, für die sie verantwortlich sind – an der Enttäuschung vor allem des Enthusiasmus der Millionen, die im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert auf Sozialismus und Kommunismus gesetzt haben und sich dann als die die Unterdrückten, Ausgebeuteten und Missachteten aller real existierenden Sozialismen und Kommunismen wiedergefunden haben.

Deshalb ist der Neubeginn, den wir wagen, maßgeblich an 1968 und auch an 1989 gebunden: an die Ereignisse, in denen die real existierenden Sozialismen und Kommunismen von unten und von links abgewählt wurden. Ich jedenfalls halte diesen Ereignissen unbedingt die Treue – und verpflichte mich als Kommunist auch deshalb der Demokratie.

Dritter Zug – ein wichtiger Unterschied

Jodi sagt, dass die Menge in ihrer Politik der Gleichheit eine Funktion wahrnimmt, die Marx zu seiner Zeit mit der Fabrik und der Gleichheit der Fabrikarbeiter*innen assoziiert habe. Hier muss man präziser sein. Erstens war Marx‘ Reduktion der Proletarisierten und ihrer Gleichheit auf die Fabrik selbst schon problematisch: das Scheitern des Arbeiter*innensozialismus, der Arbeiter*innenparteien und der Arbeiter*innenparteien hängt auch daran. Zweitens aber ist nicht die crowd das Andere der Fabrik, sondern die Stadt oder, genauer, das Städtische: der Ort, an dem wir alle heute als Proletarisierte leben, ein Ort, der Henri Lefebvre zufolge jenseits des alten Unterschieds von Stadt und Land liegt. Das Städtische hat mit der Globalisierung zu tun, aber auch mit der Individualisierung und mit der Fragmentierung, das Städtische hat aber auch mit der Kommunikation und mit dem Kybernetischen zu tun: das Städtische ist ein soziales Netzwerk, und das Städtische hat mit der Ökologie zu tun, es ist ein oikos – vielleicht ein apokalyptischer oikos, vielleicht aber auch ein oikos für Sozialist*innen, Anarchist*innen und Kommunist*innen und damit ein oikos hoffentlich der globalisierten und individualisierten ökosozialistischen Demokratie. Das Städtische wird dann auch ein Ort der crowd und ihres Ereignisses, ihrer Unterbrechungen des laufenden Lebens und der Ent-Bindung aus dem Bestehenden sein. Aber diese crowd wird eine Multitude sein, d.h. eine Menge oder eine Vielheit von Mengen von Singularitäten: von uns in unserem Gemeinsamen und unseren Vereinzelungen. Um demokratisch-kommunistisch, demokratisch-sozialistisch und demokratisch-anarchistisch mit dem „Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei“ zu schließen: „An die Stelle der alten bürgerlichen Gesellschaft mit ihren Klassen und Klassengegensätzen tritt eine Assoziation, worin die freie Entwicklung eines jeden die freie Entwicklung aller ist.“ So rum, und eben nicht andersherum. (Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei, in Karl Marx/Friedrich Engels – Werke Bd. 4, Berlin 1972: 482).