Essay on the transmutation of bourgeois man – part II

Image: Jan van der Wolf


The possibility of radical change does not depend on the proletariat assuming its revolutionary role

The fissures in capitalism and the State in John Holloway

Until then, the entire history of consciousness, and of the unconscious, in the practical-psychic formation of man, depended on an “agreement” between thinking equals or those who think they are equal, to define “unequal” and “of lesser value”. The “difference” in human groups was transferred from observed nature to “convention” and “political agreement”, to the bipolarity of private and public, in this case, mercantile, of defining “equality” and defined “inequality”. , whose means, in practice and in ideas, is, therefore, “value”, “more value”, “less value”; “abnormals” are the example of this in the modern civilized world, the doctor and the sick as much as the boss and the employee. The bipolarities – the divisions, the segmentations, the particularities – are the very form of the reproduction of capital, adopted by it, they have been elevated to the umpteenth power!

The most significant abstraction, however, on the economic and political plane, the substance and matrix of advanced mercantile societies, is that as bearers of “formal” rights we are all equal, an equality of the mercantile society; therefore, a society based on abstraction, on the submission of doing, on the indifference of meaning and individuality. Capitalist society is, both from the point of view of production and the creation of values, justice and morals, the most complete historical type of “equivalent asymmetry”, where what is different is always equivalent to a quantity of something, and in this sense, it is equally abstract to everyone, reducible to anything; quantifiable citizens in rights that try to provide a philosophical-political measure to fill an immeasurable human void.

The State is in fact dissociated from society, as it only becomes viable as a necessary appendage to the civic cohesion of the tangle of disparate and unequal social types and classes, but this only to the extent of the process of exchange of things produced, that is, in exchanges of goods. On a legal level, the State is derived from that abstract work and conducts capitalist cohesion over the masses of workers as a coercion of power-over power-to-do, and seems to respond to the tremendous existential vacuum of this coercive determination by presenting itself as a fiduciary of rights. Humans?

If human, that is, the human person, then how can you be a fiduciary of something that is not your property? – unless the political plan (public good) is demonstrating that the doing of abstract work (private, capitalist) is in fact just that, dominated and exploited work, therefore, without any equal rights, and, in this case, the trust goes further: “I guarantee you what I stole from you”. The State destroys our attention from the fundamental question, namely, how our power to do disappears and in this way how it generates profit for the bosses, reproduces capital, accumulates privately.[I] (HOLLOWAY, 2011).

Obviously, if we want to change society we must stop submitting our work to the abstraction of commodity production, and think of other ways of living and cooperating socially without the interference of the State, moreover, without its hypnotic and deceptive action (“siren song ”, (HOLLOWAY,2011)), avoid the state “retreading” of rights. The future revolution of a “new agreement” or “new convention”, socialism, must ensure that the social configuration is shaped by the concrete supremacy of doing based on the “collective consciousness” of creative and materially useful work, as with what concerns protocols of Paidia of community, instead of the “individualism” of the mercantile form in its dimensions protocivilizations, “despotism”, “fanaticism” and “physiologism”.

For Holloway (2011), we can promote “fissures” in capitalism by “denying what denies us”, and these multidirectional actions promote a revolution as a whole, a clash with the powers, starting with the State.

Scientific socialism proclaims (must promote!) the end of the State, as it crystallizes the authority behind the abstract asymmetries against social life in the form of the common – in our time the State governs for the institution “social classes”; the real man in real societal life goes beyond the bourgeois asymmetry between private and public, because the real man does not inhabit the liberal abstractions of rights, citizenship, but the non-politics that elevates the bourgeois categories to a fusion, to be based on social humanity, free from capital and (its) politics. So why the State?

A political organization that focuses its action on the State inevitably reproduces characteristics (humans as objects reduced to the status of abstractions). Thus, parties that are left-wing, including revolutionary ones, are characterized by hierarchical structures and tend to adopt certain forms of language and conduct that are combined with those of the State. The external relationship with society is produced in the concept of masses: a number of undifferentiated, abstract atoms, with limited capabilities and in need of leadership. (HOLLOWAY, 2011, p. 66-67.).

In fact, the whole of knowing, the whole of doing and even the whole of being, are political and should not be separated from our wanting to do. Ultimately, the separation, promoted by capital, between action and politics, allows the State to present itself as a representative of yet another generic, abstract differentiation, which takes politics for itself. Free and autonomous socialism must continually prepare the end of parties (parties!), and move away from the attractive idea of ​​“conflicting and gaining power”, and, however, it must say that the political (as the “power-know-want-to-do” ”) is the important thing.

With the end of the mercantile form, with the human process free from mercantile impositions, there is no reason to focus on “inequality” and even less to look for equalities in private accumulation (which is inequality in fact), and in previous forms of industrial work ( abstract work).

In a world in which everyone is materially and politically “equal”, in which that “difference” is not resolved only between “some equals”, difference will not generate indifference, the very materiality of the existence of things presents itself as potentiality and disposition , as a “gift”, not as “value”, even in the dimension of subjective experience because this will always be resolved by the cooperation of the collective present.

For this to happen, “bourgeois democracy” must have already been supplanted: abstract man (driven/animated by capital), the citizen with rights, and human rights, enshrined in public law, will then cede political space to social space. , the real man emerging, neither public nor private (in the terms of bourgeois democracy, fictitious), just community (CHASIN, 2013).

“Freedom” to date has only been in every sense and historically the possible determination of political freedom, as they say, “limited freedom on a limited basis”, only a possible form of human (non)liberation, not its final form; and the “final” form cannot in fact be achieved in its inter-human political matrix, but only experienced in something qualitatively superior in the real conditions (for real man) of communal sociability; since freedom, as human freedom in itself, has to be raised to infinity. It only exists in the limitless dialectic of real social life, in contrast to the imposed “freedom of rights”, the maximum possible until today, as sociability within the limits of the production of value – from private property private freedom emanates.

The possibility of radical change depends not on the proletariat assuming its revolutionary role (which does not mean that it cannot do so!), but on the contrary, that in addition to the “masks” we wear, we exist not only because of them, but also in ourselves. position ourselves against them and beyond the social relations behind them. This is to say that we can do it differently, often, and beyond the bourgeois political and economic consciousness that affects us all (HOLLOWAY, 2011).

On the way to the concrete utopia of communism

Now, it must be remembered that for communism there is not the thing, but an infinite process of material construction of interrelated humanities in concrete (real) sociability, that is, in collective social production (material and immaterial) – communism, therefore, is not the end, but equally the infinite beginning of us, and therefore both those of property and non-property are mistaken, symptomatically, in relation to power and the State: “Communism is the position as negation of negation, therefore the effectively real moment, necessary for the following historical development, of human emancipation and recovery. Communism is the necessary figure and dynamic principle of the near future, but communism is not as such the goal of human development – ​​the figure of human society.” (MARX, 1983, p. 181).[ii]

 When everything depends on your doing, on your power-to-do, there is no need to admit any abstract external mechanism – citizen, citizenship, sovereign, sovereignty – to the social-self, to the real-social-relationship, a necessary platform from the outset to avoid the asymmetry, on the one hand, and the institutional mirroring of power, the State, control and submission by power-over, on the other. In all eras to this day, political abstractions have emerged from the interplay between religion and science to the detriment of the real conditions of sociability.

In fact, power and the State are, for Modernity, constitutive of each other: if in capitalism the State is the subsidiary political form of the power of the dominant classes, confronting the State as a struggle for power is, in the end, playing the game of capitalism and the bourgeois classes. The struggles of workers and the less wealthy classes were destined for this by the “dictatorship of the proletariat”.

In ancient civilizations, temple and palace competed for power, sometimes implementing a theocracy and sometimes building a despotic secularism, often alternating in the governability of the same place. The primary forms of proto-state social organization were, in turn, collectivist and cooperative, although they were strongly built on the dynamics of cultural differentiation of groups in relation to other groups. Human groups always strongly tend to expel outsiders and marginalize foreigners, yesterday and today.

But as autocratic societies developed in the West, marked by power recognized as superior and necessary for social organization, the more governability came to be constituted as the sovereign power of the State – and the more the State embodied within itself this caretaker and representation of formal equality between subjects, in abstracto e in absentia. There are few significant examples in history, and lasting moments of self-managed communal organization: the Paris Commune in 1871, the Russian Revolution of 1905 and 1917, the German Revolution of 1918 and the Portuguese Revolution of 1974, are examples of governability. communities, direct democracy and large-scale social organization without the need for the State. They represent the possibility of societal autonomy and real separatism from the State.

Even though, as a model (or “ideal type”),[iii] scientific linearity in the modes of production, especially when studying the emergence of capitalism in the European West – slavery, servility, capitalism –, socialism and communism are the modes that follow; Meanwhile, it is possible to observe “communal models” crossing the majority of a hegemonic mode of production in a given historical time, as happened with Russia in 1917 (rural communes), or Portugal in 1974 (serfs and sharecroppers) – and as happens with autonomous community organization in Chiapas (Mexico) today (cities, communes and autonomous zones).

Everywhere spaces of cooperation and autonomy arise, forcing the cracks arising from the contradictions of capitalism like wedges, implementing absolutely radical and transformative ways of doing things for the Good Living of individuals. These are approaches that as a whole significantly “rhizome” industrial and consumerist market modernity, of people with a strong vision of a life with less ostentation and more autonomy. They prepare the socioeconomic environment of cooperative approach and community production, while promoting a pedagogy for a less consumerist and predatory life.

Cooperation is, in practice, the option for a fair division of social labor, and promotes meanings focused on autonomy and mutual help. And this can be seen happening both in the countryside and in the big cities of the world, in the periphery and in the center.

More and more individuals realize that freedom varies depending on possessions and properties. To a large extent, the rhetorics of liberal, neoliberal capitalism, etc., are promoted to deepen the aspect of “fear”, such as semiotics or manipulation of the “fear of losing”. This is why extractive exploration and the continuous growth of industrial goods are inexorable, among all things, because they foster the environment in which individuals, consuming frantically, sublimate their fears. So “having over being” (FROMM, 1982)[iv] It consists of increasingly superfluous and less durable goods. The capitalist market is the maximum sublimation of individuals' frustrations, and on this basis capital is continuously and infinitely reproduced.

Communism cannot be anything other than the free sociability of capital and politics. Human emancipation, then, and only then, will be marked by the preponderance of the human of man, the human construction of man detached from civil society. Bent upon itself, the abstract community disappears over its historical essence, the concrete community of concrete men, of effective and universally social men as they inevitably can be constituted, through the social relationship extracted from real doing, in the face of their real consciousness of “defetishized” social life without “masks”.

It is the end of the State, of the dichotomy between public space and private space, and with it the end of the formal attributions of rights for the awareness of real rights – through communist interactivity, individuality and society become “naturally” bases of the same man.

*José Manuel de Sacadura Rocha He holds a PhD in Education, Art and Cultural History from Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie. Author, among other books, of Legal anthropology: towards an anthropological philosophy of law (Elsevier). []

To read the first part of the article click on


[I] Bey (1985) writes: “The slogan Revolution! it has mutated at a touch into an evil trap of pseudo-agnostic destiny, into a nightmare in which, no matter how hard we fight, we will never be able to escape this perverse eternity. This incubus, the State, one State after another, each heaven ruled by an even more wicked angel.” (BEY, Hakim. 1985. The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism. New York, Autonomedia. Available at:

[ii] MARX, Karl. Economic-philosophical manuscripts (1844). In: Marx and Engels: History. Florestan Fernandes (Org.). Great Social Scientists, nº 36. São Paulo: Editora Ática, 1983.

[iii] Max Weber's classification for sociology to compare social phenomena with each other and extract their particularities, similar or unequal, from each one. In this sense, an “ideal type” is just a model in relation to which it is possible to observe the characteristics of a certain social phenomenon, and has no direct relationship with “what is desired”.

[iv] FROMM, Erich. Have or be. 4th. ed. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar Editores, 1982.

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