The New Communists of the Commons: 21st Century Proudhonists
Keywords:commons, idea of communism, creative class, Proudhonism, Marxism
If Proudhonism in the 19th century was, as Marx argued, a petty bourgeois ideology, this paper argues that the new communism of the commons propounded by Badiou, Hardt and Negri and Žižek is a 21st century avatar of it. It speaks not for what Poulantzas called the ‘traditional petty bourgeoisie’, as Proudhon did, but for the ‘new petty bourgeoisie’ of ‘non-productive wage-earners’, which has also lately styled itself the ‘creative class.’ A failure to comprehend the dynamics of capitalist accumulation and a general antipathy to any general organization of labour in society, and thus to any serious politics, are common to both. In addition, the paper shows that the protection of the cultural commons, the core of the project, is but a programme aiming for the continued reproduction of the creative class within capitalism. It is also prey to a series of misunderstandings - of the concept of the commons itself, of contemporary capitalism whose dynamics forms the backdrop of their project and key economic and political ideas of Marx whose authority they seek to attach to their project.
This is a pre-print of an article published in the journal International Critical Thought (c) 2011 Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The article is available online at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/21598282.2011.584163
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