Endnotes

  1. Forest and Factory

    By Phil A. Neel and Nick Chavez
    "Although the utopian does see the effects of present-day society (in fact Marx praises respectfully some of the masters of utopian thought), his error lies in deducing the shape of future society not from a concatenation of real processes that link the course of the past to that of the future, not from natural and social reality, but from his own head, from human reason. The utopian believes that the goal of society's course must be contained in the victory of certain general principles that are innate in the human spirit." - Amadeo Bordiga1 Tangibilities It doesn't matter... READ MORE
  2. Crossing (1927)

    By Paul Mattick
    The crane’s boom transports an elegant, green automobile from the pier into the belly of the “Pittsburgh”. Then comes the last piece of baggage, that last object of curiosity, overlaid with tears. The 18,000-ton steamer of the Red Star Line slips quietly from its ropes and chains. One’s thoughts are muddled together by grief, fear, and secret joy. The anguish fades as the Antwerp Cathedral grows smaller, the sad souls on the shore transformed into tiny stick figures whose bobbing hats resemble the dot above the letter i. Interest in the interior of the ship and its passengers is the... READ MORE
  3. The Dream of the Bolshevised Professional Revolutionary (1925)

    By Paul Mattick
      I. Johann Bremser was 35 years old. He supported his enfranchised private property, named Mathilde, and his two daughters. Mathilde was lean and dark, like the figures of the woodcut revolutionaries whose faces were found in the café. The children fulfilled the earth-shattering task of revolutionising a girls’ secondary school from within, by forming cells. Their chests were adorned with the customary crafted Soviet star as a confession and symbol engraved in sheet metal: “We let ourselves be Bolshevised!” Johann Bremser was the wood from which Ruth Fisher carved rods for the centre-right against the ultra-left and ultra-right. Intelligent... READ MORE
  4. 24 Hours in Klingelpütz (1925)

    By Paul Mattick
    When you go voluntarily, it’s harder to get in than to get out.1 After the brutal atmosphere of high grates, iron gates, cold red walls, bars, and cobblestones had merged anxiety with my curiosity, I rang thirteen times at the prison gate, each time more forcefully and longer, before a somewhat pasty-looking individual wearing a cap and uniform opened the guard’s gate and ushered me inside the prison. Then someone with a sabre stamped my intake form and said quietly, since it was also meant for me to hear: it's two o’clock. It was only ten to two,... READ MORE
  5. The Conveyor Belt! (1924)

    By Paul Mattick
    The engine room workers awaited the signal for lunch. They worked less intensely, adjusting stools, straightening up, feeling their coffee, trying to clean their dirty, oily hands with kerosene; in short, they made all the usual preparations for lunch. The foreman began his last stroll around. As he passed one of the engines, he perked up. The transmission shaft must be burning; a slight hiss gave it away, immediately confirmed by a thin cloud of steam. To save the shaft, you either had to grease it right away or else switch off the engine. The foreman checked the clock. “Three... READ MORE
  6. PREFACE

    By Marie
    By day, I’m forced to sell my time, making my living on a warehouse packing line. By night I find myself pouring countless hours—as often thankless as thrilling—into reading and writing and editing for a fringe communist discussion circle, which I’ve always assumed would be ignored. There’s thus not a single figure in the history of marxism I relate to more, in a more deeply personal way, than Paul Mattick (1904-1981). His extremely rigorous ideas, their passionate subjective motivation beneath the surface, his struggles and self-doubts as a proletarian autodidact with a tenuous and adversarial relationship to academic marxism who... READ MORE
  7. The working class and development

    By Mario Tronti
    Contropiano 3, 1970, pp. 465-77.* I will intervene here by attempting to navigate a very problematic path through the issues, and hope to find, perhaps, a middle way between a theoretical and a practical approach, keeping in mind that the theme under discussion is only one of many problems that today bring themselves to the attention of working-class theory, and that there remain outside of it a series of other major problems that it will not be possible to even outline here. To arrive at the problem that we are confronted with today, I would like to start... READ MORE
  8. Preliminary theses on Workerism

    By Mario Tronti
    From Fabrizio D’Agostini, ed., Operaismo e centralità operaia (Roma: Editori Riuniti, 1978), pp. 291-94.* 1. It is a matter in short of disposing with the historical event of operaismo, in order to concentrate our attention and direct our thinking towards the political problem of the centrality of the worker. 2. There is an operaismo of the organisation and an operaismo in theory. The first involves parts of and moments in the union and the party over the last three decades. The social figure of the craft worker – first as a dominant presence, then as a passive inheritance... READ MORE
  9. The communism that is possible

    By Mario Tronti
    Interview between Roberto Ciccarelli and the philosopher Mario Tronti on the occasion of his 90th birthday.* Rossana Rossanda wrote The Comrade from Milan. Pietro Ingrao1 called his own autobiography I Wanted the Moon. What does Mario Tronti think at 90? I think of anything but of writing an autobiography. I am allergic to this literary form. I have read many autobiographies, some of which I read with enthusiasm – including the two you mention. But Rossana and Pietro were well-known public figures, who had been protagonists of various events, they had much to remember and to tell. I am an... READ MORE
  10. Theses on Benjamin

    By Mario Tronti
    I. It was not capitalism that defeated the workers' movement. The workers' movement was defeated by democracy. This is the problem that the century sets before us. It is the fact, die Sache selbst, that we must now think.* II. The workers' movement confronted capitalism as an equal. A confrontation, between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, within great history. Alternating phases. Reciprocal outcomes of victories and defeats. But workers' labour-power, as internal part of capital, could not escape it. The murky depths of the failure of the revolution are to be found here. Attempts, reasonable and mad, to... READ MORE
  11. Class Party Class

    By Mario Tronti
    March 1967* The sixties are finishing ahead of time. The workers’ struggle has its short cycles and its long-term developments. At this moment in the cycle of struggles, the workers are fighting on the terrain of a particular set of demands. In the longer time frame of development, the class is growing, concentrating, has locked itself into a political relation of production. The twenty years that followed the Second World War already constitute an epoch in the class struggle, at an international level. Within this epoch, the sixties in Italy have their place. Struggles with an advanced content,... READ MORE
  12. Politics and Destiny

    By Mario Tronti
    We moderns prefer to say with Napoleon: destiny is politics. Johann Wolfgang Goethe Destiny is only the enemy and man stands firmly against it as a force that fights him. The Young Hegel Hölderlin calls the blessed gods “without destiny.” Walter Benjamin The idea of destiny requires a lived experience and not that of the scientist, it requires a force of vision and not calculation, depth not intellectualism. Oswald Spengler What we call destiny comes out of men, it does not enter them from outside. Rainer Maria Rilke Whoever leaves their destiny without returning will see their soul dead. Chuang-tzŭ... READ MORE
  13. Mario Tronti: An Obituary

    By Sergio Fontegher Bologna
    August 18, 2023* On August 7 Mario Tronti passed away at the age of 92, in the village of Ferentillo, not far from Rome. He was the leading figure of “Italian workerism” (operaismo), the basic tenets of which he expressed in his articles for the journal Quaderni Rossi (Red Notebooks, 1961–1963) and, above all, in his book Operai e capitale (Turin, 1966).2 Anyone interested in how he characterized his thought shortly before his death would do well to watch the video of a discussion with him on June 10th of this year. In this video,... READ MORE
  14. Inflation Blues

    By Pavlos Roufos March 2023
    2022 saw the spectre of inflation rear its head. Many left-leaning commentators, used to dismissing inflation concerns as right-wing fear-mongering, appeared to be caught off-guard. Some spoke of a return to the 1970s, and we saw an uptick in struggles over pay rises and utility bills. Building on an interview with Tous Dehors, we asked Pavlos Roufos how should we understand inflation today. Endnotes: What is inflation, exactly? Pavlos Roufos: In everyday language, inflation is simply a sustained increase in prices. There is, however, nothing simple about this. Which prices exactly are rising? Official measurements of inflation (used... READ MORE
  15. On the Problem of the Family

    By Theodor Adorno
    1 The family is both: natural relation and social relation. It is based on social relations and biological descent, often without consciousness of duration, but it becomes something permanent, objective, independent - an 'institution'. Modern French sociology of the Durkheim school, especially Marcel Mauss and Claude Lévi-Strauss, in contrast to older views, did not derive the prohibition of incest, which is fundamental for the family, from so-called natural or psychological conditions, but determined it as a "total social phenomenon", essentially from the needs of an exchange society according to fixed property structures. If, however, such results are true,... READ MORE
  16. Ten Theses on Revolutions

    By Mohammed A. Bamyeh January 2023
    On Occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Arab uprisings of 2011 1Surprise All revolutions are surprising. Before they break out, the learned perspective asks: where are the resources a revolution would need? Who is preparing for it? Who is there to lead it? Which great personality, which political party, which organized assembly? Who would give it a sense of direction? How could it possibly make a dent in a long-enduring, formidable authority? All prior doubts about the likelihood of revolt are based on realistic assessments. In that sense they are not invalid. Realism says: if I... READ MORE
  17. Out on an Island

    By S. Prasad September 2022
    The shadow of chaos never existed, it will never exist, anywhere. —Blanqui Sri Lanka is a country of twenty two million people, a population roughly the same size as the New York City metropolitan area. Of this, five million live in and around Colombo, the island nation’s capital. Colombo is a sprawling port city, teeming with crows, that stretches out along a beach. It is a city of juxtapositions, which are most noticeable in its architecture. Old British and Dutch colonial buildings sit awkwardly alongside towers of glass and steel, many of which are unfinished, dating back to a recent... READ MORE
  18. Slouching towards Brussels

    By Rona Lorimer
    Two years of magical thinking When the convoys came to Paris, people around me wondered whether there would be a giletsjaunisation of the Ottawa convoys. I read that the liberal residents of Ottawa treated the convoys with a classist contempt that reminded me of initial reactions by the Left in France to the gilets jaunes: Most of the [counter protesters’] signs were either calling for more police, complaining about inconveniences like sound and traffic, or making fun of the demonstrators for being unvaccinated and/or stupid. “Honk if you failed civics,” “Self-driving trucks can’t spread covid,” “Ottawa police act... READ MORE
  19. Postscript: On Pain

    By Idris Robinson
    Since it seems that any heart which beats for freedom has the right only to a small lump of lead, I demand my share. – Louise Michel After revolt has settled into the definitive past, it’s hard for me to find anything worthwhile to say. In fact, at the risk of sounding melodramatic, when normality and stability once again reassert their dominance, I honestly can’t see the point in doing much of anything and even the simple task of living can prove to be quite difficult. Furthermore, I would wager that each of us has had... READ MORE
  20. LA RIOTS 2020

    By Ryan Lee
    On 30 May 2020 a large crowd amassed at Pan Pacific Park in Los Angeles jolted into action by the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. After two months under state-ordered lockdown there was a palpable atmosphere of anger diffuse amongst the crowd; how these passions would translate into action was at that point ambiguous. Smaller demonstrations had already occurred in Downtown LA days before: on 27 May a BLM-LA organized protest had ended with thousands of protesters marching onto the 110-freeway, then followed by two days of spontaneous protests resulting in scattered vandalism and looting. The conflagration... READ MORE
  21. Lost in the American Wasteland

    By Shemon Salam
    It has been two years since George Floyd’s and Breonna Taylor’s murder and two years since the uprising of 2020. I think about the summer of 2020 everyday. Could I have done more? More risks. More travel. More courage. That moment demanded everything. I am still alive and perhaps I held back. I was transformed, many of us were. But instead of finding others, I find myself alone in a wasteland.1 Why? Let me explain. As we get further away from the uprising, distance allows for a different set of reflections. It is the task of revolutionaries to... READ MORE
  22. Every Fire Needs a Little Bit of Help

    By Jarrod Shanahan
    On May 30th, 2020, thousands of people descended on downtown Chicago for a raucous daytime march. The gathering was part of a nationwide crescendo of rebellion that began in Minneapolis five days prior in response to the police murder of George Floyd. After being cooped up for months amid the uncertainty of the Covid pandemic, fearful of everyone as a potential carrier of disease, we had been set free by the images of Minneapolis’s Third Precinct aflame. Hitting the streets that day was something akin to a religious experience. From the onset it was clear that the crowd would not... READ MORE
  23. The Struggle Within the Struggle

    By A New Institute for Social Research
      1 In May 2020, what had previously been a more-or-less marginal theory maintained by the quirkier communists (who got their respective flavor perhaps from Moishe Postone, or Monsieur Dupont, or Endnotes) was not only openly acknowledged by the state and mass-media monologue, but had become an inescapably obvious fact of everyday life — the majority of the labor normally done in the US was utterly superfluous to the basic material reproduction of society. Only a minority of workers’ labor-power was deemed essential, and those of us that produced or moved around badly-needed use-values had to keep coming into work... READ MORE
  24. George Floyd in the Deep South

    By Curtis Price
    Outsiders often lump the South together as an undifferentiated region, but this blanket categorization disguises important differences in culture and politics between Southern states. Mississippi and Alabama, for instance, are radically different from North Carolina and Tennessee despite their geographical proximity and their shared Confederate history. Mississippi and Alabama had different courses of development than the Upper South, where small yeoman farming dominated (in contrast to the Deep South’s large plantations). George Floyd demonstrations took a different form in these states, both desperately poor and sharing a long history of reactionary superstructures dominated by what are called in Alabama the... READ MORE
  25. Viral Attack on Fragile Subjects

    By Florian Bossert
    “The hell of the living is not something that will be. If there is one, it is what is already here, the hell we live in every day, that we make by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the hell and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of hell, are not hell, then make... READ MORE
  26. Cybernetics and Revolution

    By groupe brume
    Corruptio optimi pessima —Ivan Illich In the wake of the victory of a left-wing coalition in the Chilean presidential election, against a candidate still nostalgic for Pinochet, the Brume Group has produced a short film on the Cybersyn project, an attempt at cybernetic management of the economy under Allende that was interrupted by the 1973 coup d'état. The video challenges certain points of convergence, misunderstanding, and antagonism between cyberneticians and revolutionaries at the turn of the 1970s. ... READ MORE
  27. Against Capital’s Utopia

    By Yann Sturmer
    How might an Italian revolutionary of the 70s, known to be especially difficult to read and understand, help us grasp the misery of the present situation? Is there not a disconnect between the need to decipher our present, with all its horrors, and the need to discuss a form of thought rooted in the style and vicissitudes of a bygone era? Cesarano is an especially interesting interlocutor in that the position he worked to construct, the battles he led, can be found today, certainly under a new guise, but as an echo that has... READ MORE
  28. The Great Fear of 2020

    By Karl Heinz Roth
    The physician and operaist militant Karl-Heinz Roth (born 1942) is probably most well-known for his book Die ‘Andere’ Arbeiterbewegung [The "Other" Workers' Movement], a study on the despised and multinational riff-raff that organised itself outside the classical workers’ movement.1 Since then Roth has written a series of timely works on capitalist crises and class composition at a global level. This research is the background for his new book Blinde Passagiere, which presents a global analysis of Sars-Cov-2 and the measures that have been taken against it, including the extraordinary attempt... READ MORE
  29. Letters from Ukraine: Part 3

    By andrew
    Has the situation developed in any interesting ways in the last week? Although the advance has slowed down and the weeks are more alike, one noticeable change has occurred. First, news of the Ukrainian army’s successful counter attacks around Kyiv and that Russia dropped some of its peace talk requirements has bolstered the image of a successful Ukrainian military campaign. After Russia announced that it would scale back military efforts around Kyiv the Ukrainian public began celebrating a war that’s “already won.” It is still unclear how engaged Russia is in the... READ MORE
  30. Letters from Ukraine: Part 2

    By andrew
    Can you briefly describe how the situation has evolved since our interview last week? What have you observed that is new? As the Russian advance stalled all across northeastern Ukraine, a few things became certain. The Ukrainian government is going to rely on volunteers to help the refugees still inside the country, and the lack of accommodations isn’t just due to the surprise of the invasion. With Zelenskyy declaring that a country-wide referendum would decide the fate of Crimea and Donbas, and an intensification of efforts to build an image of a... READ MORE
  31. Letters from Ukraine: Part 1

    By andrew
    The following interview was conducted by Tous Dehors on 18.03.2022. It marks the start of a weekly series that we will publish in tandem. Could you start by telling us about your background before the war? I originally come from Kharkiv which is in Eastern Ukraine, just a few miles from the border, but have spent the last few years studying in Lviv. All of my family and relatives are from Kharkiv as well, and before moving to Lviv I spoke Russian daily: Kharkiv is almost entirely Russian-speaking, but as... READ MORE
  32. Manifesto against the war

    By Sergio Bologna, Rüdiger Hachtmann, Erik Merks, Karl Heinz Roth, Bernd Schrader
    We are publishing this timely intervention at the request of Karl Heinz Roth, interview with Roth to follow next week. Activists of the social movements, workers, scientists, cultural workers of all countries! The monstrous has happened: war has once again returned to everyday life in Europe. Right now the big cities in Ukraine are becoming battlefields. Peaceful people are being torn apart by shells and rockets or buried under the rubble of their homes. Those who survive the barbaric attacks... READ MORE
  33. In Memoriam B. L.

    By Bernard Lyon / Alain
    17 theses on communism Production does not constitute a sphere that is separate from all other activities, it is "absorbed" within relations that are all productive relations. "Absorbed" means that the result of the activity is not opposed to the activity, that the objectification of the activity is that of relations which, although productive relations, are not "relations of production". All the relations are relations between individuals whose singularities are no longer a contingency but are in fact their actual relations. Communism is not a mode of production; all activities are not reduced to a common norm that... READ MORE
  34. Civilizing the American Wasteland

    By Idris Robinson
    The following is the text of a talk, part of a Red May panel entitled “What Just Happened???” that took place on May 28, 2021, the one-year anniversary of the George Floyd uprising. What happened? Well, what had happened was… Boom! 574 riots; 2,382 cases of looting. On top of all of that… 97 cops cars set ablaze; 13 cops, themselves, were shot; and 9 of them Isised with hit and runs. So, I can tell you what did not happen… What transpired from May... READ MORE
  35. Jacques Camatte and the missing link of contemporary social criticism

    By F. Corriente
    The work of Jacques Camatte, which appeared in successive series of the review Invariance1 from 1968 to 2002, is truly staggering, due not only to the scope, the richness and the variety of its subject matter, but also to the scant circulation it seems to have enjoyed. In itself, the first series of the review, dedicated for the most part to the colossal task of publishing and analyzing unreleased or unavailable writings of the young Marx and the “communist left” groupings that broke with the Third International (the German KAPD, Gorter, Pannekoek,... READ MORE
  36. Images Against Images

    By Rona Lorimer
      1. In November, police violently evicted a camp of migrants set up at Place de la République in Paris. We saw this through images online, which were the only way in which we could have witnessed such a thing; we were in lockdown and not in Paris. The following week, a black music producer called Michel Zecler, leaving his house, was set upon by several plain clothes policemen, who he didn’t realise were police. They immediately called him “sale negre” before pushing him back into his own recording studio, breaking one... READ MORE
  37. Onward Barbarians

    PDF At the beginning of May 2020, hunger riots erupted in Santiago, Chile. Lockdowns had deprived men and women of their incomes to the point of near starvation. A large movement of self-organized community kitchens soon spread across the country. Later in the month, riots spread through Mexico in response to the police murder of Giovanni López — a construction worker who had been arrested for not wearing a mask — while thousands of despairing migrant workers broke the curfew in India. Some Amazon warehouse workers in the US and Germany had begun to strike in protest at poor COVID-19... READ MORE
  38. French strikes in the state of exception

    By Rona Lorimer
    These notes, written between December 2019 and March 2020, chronicle the longest general strike in France’s history. I wrote them when I was working as a language assistant, teaching English to undergraduate students at the Sorbonne. The strike now seems like a long time ago, suspended and truncated. In the universities, as the pandemic was announced, classes and exams were moved online, and previously striking workers found themselves in a quandary about how best to support students. Most workers were given a “technical unemployment” pay of about 80% of their wages, but many of those who found themselves... READ MORE
  39. Letter from a Tottering State

    By Jasper Bernes
    Originally written for the discussion group and publishing project Stoff, who are currently translating the letter into French. Thanks to Zaschia Bouzarri and Endnotes for help with the editing. The United States was largely inert in 2019, even by its own standards, as a wave of struggles spread across the planet, from Sudan, to Haiti, then Hong Kong and beyond. The electoral campaign against President Trump, tightly bound up with the tireless Bernie Sanders and his liberal-democratic socialism, had begun as early as possible, this time with an ideological and political machine more finely attuned to... READ MORE
  40. Workers of the world, fight amongst yourselves!

    By Friends of the Classless Society December 2016
    The following text, by the Freundinnen und Freunden der klassenlosen Gesellschaft, was published in the October and November issues of the German leftist magazine Konkret. Our Friends appear to have a somewhat narrow view of racism (not to speak of islamophobia), but they provide a useful overview of the politics of migration in Germany, the European country that has received the bulk of asylum claims, as well as a critique of various responses on the German left. 1. Last fall it appeared as if we were witnessing a political turning point. A mass... READ MORE
  41. République Absurd

    By Asja Crise October 2016
    The following account, necessarily incomplete and perhaps also imprecise in places, will attempt to describe the recent struggles in France as they developed over the course of four months, from late February to the middle of June. It is based both on translations of material at the time and first-hand experiences. These struggles understood themselves as challenging not only the “labor law [loi du travail]” handed down by the Socialist government of Manuel Valls and François Hollande, but also—as one key slogan had it—“against its world,” that is, the conditions that have made it possible but that... READ MORE
  42. LA Theses

    January 2016
    in this society unity appears as accidental, separation as normal.—Marx, Theories of Surplus Value We live in an era of long-unfolding social crisis, which is fundamentally the crisis of societies organized in a capitalist mode. Indeed, the employment relations that govern production and consumption in capitalist societies are breaking down. The result has been the reappearance of a structural condition that Marx called surplus capital alongside surplus population. Technological transformations continue to take place in spite of economic stagnation, giving rise to a situation in which there are too few jobs for too... READ MORE
  43. On Communisation and Its Theorists

    By Friends of the Classless Society January 2016
    If the term “communisation” is absent from Endnotes 4 this is due partly to the topics we covered, and partly to our frustration with the way this word has become associated with a new theoretical brand and/or radical identity. We will return to the theme of communism in the present tense in Endnotes 5, but as a preview of that issue we here publish a critical take on “communisation” by some friends of ours and the classless society (Freundinnen und Freunden der klassenlosen Gesellschaft). We don’t agree with it all, and we will include a response in... READ MORE
  44. The "Kurdish Question"

    By Il Lato Cattivo November 2014
    We publish below a translation of “‘Questione curda’, Stato Islamico, USA e dintorni” by the Italian collective Il Lato Cattivo. Though there are limitations to the text (for example it largely ignores the Arab Spring) we think it provides an insightful analysis of recent geopolitical conflict in the Middle East. Thanks to Nicole, Marco, Matthew, and the authors for help with the translation. The following text was originally prepared for a public meeting — held in Bologna at the beginning of September... READ MORE
  45. Romantic Fiction

    By Atë February 2014
    Over at the North Star, Matthijs Krul has written an interesting critique of Endnotes.1 We don’t typically bother with individual “responses to critics”, but in this case the entanglement of stimulating thoughts with a series of errors demanded at least an attempt to tease the two apart in a few quick, critical notes. Krul has really written a critique, not of Endnotes, but rather, of what he takes so-called “communisation theory” to be about. On the basis of a rather weak grasp of the textual evidence, Endnotes is treated in this article as a... READ MORE
  46. Two Aspects of Austerity

    By Bar-Yuchnei August 2011
    What are we to make of the current round of austerity? Should we believe Keynesians like Paul Krugman, when they argue that capitalists are acting against their own best interests in calling for cuts? Are government finances really under stress, or is it all just a ploy to undermine the last remaining gains won by workers' struggles? Some members of Endnotes throw in their hats... A crisis is first and foremost a crisis for workers. But it is a crisis for workers because it is a crisis for capital. That this is the case is not always... READ MORE
  47. The breakdown of a relationship?

    By Screamin' Alice October 2008
    The history of the capitalist mode of production is punctuated by crises. One could say that crisis is the modus operandi of capital, or of the capital-labour relation. This is true insofar as capital, the self-valorisation of value, the self-expansion of abstract wealth, is at any given time a claim on future surplus-value extraction: the accumulation of capital today is a bet on tomorrow's exploitation of the proletariat. The crisis today has taken the form of a financial crisis, while the prospect of a full-blown economic crisis looms ever larger. These two crises do not merely stand in a relation... READ MORE