Demand the Impossible! Abolish Capitalism!

The pale faced moon looks bloody on the earth,

And lean looked prophets whisper fearful change;

Rich men look sad, and the poor dance and leap—

The one in fear to lose what they enjoy,

The other to enjoy by rage and war.

These signs forerun the death or fall of kings.


~ Shakespeare



Capitalism is the name of the society under which the world groans today. None deny it, and many applaud it. That society is, by definition, a society ruled by capitalists. Capitalists command the wealth of the world, the fruits of the labor of the many toilers of this Earth. More importantly, the capitalist owns the means by which that wealth is produced: they domineer over the places and tools through which work is done, and despotically control the centers of all social life, creativity, and human development. This outright domination even penetrates profoundly into our political institutions and collective ideals. Democracy is leashed. The vile impulses of aggression and greed are unleashed. The deepest hopes of the human imagination and the simplest desires for equality and community are repressed and subordinated. The wholesome Earth belongs not to us! Our robust bodies are used to create wealth for another. Our spiritual faculties of reason and imagination are compelled to produce instrumental irrationality and mass dullness.


This state of things must be abolished. Catastrophes lurk at every corner. The gulf between rich and poor widens. Humans are constantly criminalized, forcing the good and righteous men and women of this Earth into vicarious lives of fear and destitution. Tensions rise, hate boils over.  Irrational and unnecessary forms of production proliferate, and the society based on spectacle and greed supplants all institutions based on truth and need. Cerebral scientists needlessly search for life on Mars while life on Earth is being denied. Solidarity disintegrates, and the lonesome individual falls into depression and despair. Capitalist social relations poison the environment and devour our natural resources. Capitalist states militarize to unheard of proportions. The owners of the means of production are more and more resorting to the means of destruction to terrorize over us. The crisis tendencies of capitalism have not ameliorated themselves; cyclical depressions and recessions and depressions haunt our dreams and affect our daily lives. A society based on constant compound economic growth is unsustainable. Balloons pop, bubbles burst, and stars explode. Thus, workers of the world must unite to avert the coming catastrophes of this century. The current ordering of things must be abolished and destroyed to pave way for the new re-ordering of the world. The arising political power and creativity of working peoples must intermingle with the vast raw material bestowed upon us by all past civilizations to create a world of equality, fulfillment, and rest.


This state of affairs is possible, and it still has the name of communism. The great poet William Blake once wrote that the “history of all times and places is nothing else but improbabilities and impossibilities; what we should say, was impossible if we did not see it always before our eyes.” The impossible always exists! So, be realistic, demand the impossible! You will find that the impossible is not so unlikely after all. The dynamism of capitalism has created the capacities for a sustainable, egalitarian society of abundance. The power to confront the current masters of mankind has also emerged—the working class. Proletarians of the world are concentrated in the schools, the prisons, and the factories. Communication, education, and agitation, bound together by common experiences and grievances, can and does happen. Hope and imagination still live on (a tribute to the strength of human spirit!). We know how to operate our workplaces! We know how to keep society civil and effective! We know we have no need for capitalists and their state! Thus, the game is set; the pieces are in place for the grand struggles of this century. But a strategy and a vision is still necessary. Scholars and soldiers and workers of all nations must combine and collaborate. Organizations with total human emancipation as their ultimate goal must be created and connected together. The fight must be carried out on all fronts: in the workplace, against the state, and in the realm of ideas. The struggle will indeed be long and hard, but all will be pushing ever forward to the ultimate ends of revolution and human emancipation. That endpoint still has the name—and we need not be timid about this—of communism. Hear today’s prophecies and read the signs of the times. They foretell the fall of today’s kings!

Against Wars, Against Drones

1. The struggle against wars and the fight for freedom starts with the soldier—our fellow worker—and not with the posh liberal moralist. The vain and impudent Alexander would have tried to conquer the world were it not for his mutinous soldiers. Roman plebeians refused to fight wars of conquest when the Senate denied passage of agrarian reforms. English soldiers put down their weapons in October 1647 to agitate for a fully democratic society. World War I screeched to a halt because soldiers in Germany and Russia revolted against their imperialist taskmasters. The Vietnam War ended as much through soldier protests (fragging, refusal to fight, organizing at home) as through the worldwide popular protests against the war. One Chelsea Manning has been more effective than dozens of demonstrations. These small contingencies of history are the ones that repeat themselves—and often with powerful effect.


2. Soldiers must get the ball of revolt rolling, but the only way to fully halt the crimes of US terrorism at home and abroad is to bring the battle into the belly of the beast. Righteous rage should lead to disobedience and protest, protest to rebellion, and rebellion to organized revolution. Ending drone strikes through protest and public opinion is no end in itself. This is either an international struggle of the working class against empire and capital or it is nothing. Responding to the imperialist invasion of Mexico in 1845, Thoreau famously wrote: “A whole country is unjustly overrun and conquered by a foreign army, and subjected to military law. I think that it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize.” It has been proclaimed before; let’s do it now!


3. Do not be moderate. Begin to articulate the powerful visions of what is to be and then act upon them. We want a society in which our creations do not rule over and murder us. We want a world where “war with its million horrors and fierce hell shall live but in the memory of time” (Shelley). We want to be able to cry out in unison, as the poet William Blake once did alone by his lampshade: “Empire is no more. And now the lion and the wolf shall cease!” We must not strive for moderation and cowardice, but fearlessly call for the elimination of all wars, including the virulent class war that has enabled capitalism to thrive from the age of conquest and slavery to the days of police repression and revitalized imperialism. “I do not wish to think, or speak, or write with moderation,” abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison famously said. So speak now with the prophetic tones, and tomorrow break the rod of the oppressor with your own two hands! Communism is that prophecy.

The Spirit of Communism


Communism has been conceived in numerous ways. Marx and Engels famously described communism as a specter or ghost (Gespenst) that haunted the ruling classes of Europe, and burst forth with astonishing force in that revolutionary springtime of 1848. Modern reactionary philosophers (like Derrida) see communism as a myriad of dwindling specters and legacies to be “deconstructed” and learned from through cold literary analysis. Others, in an idealistic tradition that stretches from Plato to Kant to today, see communism as an un-corruptible, eternal idea, a categorical imperative and regulative idea that serves as a moral compass to one’s political actions. A few see it as the mechanically determined outcome of economic developments. Others still have replaced communism with more limited demands for “commons,” “social justice,” and the like, believing that these demands can somehow prefigure a “better future” that has no name, needs no utterance, and requires no daring action on its behalf. Communism is indeed, in one way or another, many of these things. Yet it is something much more profound, active, and creative. It is an unfolding “spirit,” locked up in the hungry heart of humanity, seeking to educate itself, seeking to realize itself in the hopeful practices of history’s oppressed classes, and receiving its final expression in the dreams of the proletariat, in the philosophy of Marxism, in the objective possibilities forged by contemporary capitalism, and indeed in that ineffaceable word, Communism.


The Spirit

            To perceive communism as a “spirit” is not to spiritualize it. Nor is it to transform communism into a mystical idea through which to escape from oppressive reality and sublimate both hope and anger into vain abstraction. No, communism is a form of “spirit” much in the way Hegel and Marx used the word: It permeates both the subject and object of thought, develops through and within both, and is finalized when idea and reality become one and the same at the end. Communism is thus a mindset, a set of common ideas shaped by and in turn shaping historical epochs.  It is more than the mere “Kingdom of God within” us, but the striving for an eternal Kingdom in the midst of us that is forged through imagination, revolutionary praxis, and the education gained in drawn out battlesagainst class oppression over the course of human history. Communism is the “spark of the end” that has lighted the way for revolutionaries from the beginning. It was present at the beginning, carried by brave souls through the course, transmitted to posterity, developed, warmed, and matured, to be placed in the hands of the emancipating class who now have the material means to set the world on flame.


The Journey

            The road to communism is long and wearisome, and often the only power goading downtrodden humanity forward has been that burdensome mix of hope and anguish. Yet even at the beginnings of this unpredictable journey, so many prophets and rebels have envisioned that end: A source of wonder and inspiration for the revolutionaries of today. Isaiah, in the darkness of captivity, prophesied a coming salvation in which “They,” the chosen, “shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat….and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.” Spartacus, by resisting slavery and defying an empire, conceived long ago the possibilities of a society with neither slavery nor empire. The first Christians held all their belongings in common, knowing that one cannot render unto God and Community what justly belongs to them in a world where all must be rendered unto Caesar. The peasant rebels of 14th century England and 16th century Germany were imbibed with the communist spirit, and both John Ball and Thomas Muenzer offer up a powerful storehouse of radical rhetoric to today’s revolutionaries. Engels himself said that the first concrete “anticipation of communism” can be found in the writings of Muenzer, composed long before communism was concretely possible. Such anticipatory illuminations are also found in the 17th century English communist, Gerrard Winstanely, who anticipated Marx’s materialism when he wrote: “The inward bondages of the mind are all occasioned by the outward bondage that one sort of people lay upon another.” Even at the tempestuous height of the French Revolution, Gracchus Babeuf could write and know in his heart of hearts that “The French Revolution is just the precursor of another, more magnificent revolution which will be the last.” Thus Marx spoke justly when he said in 1843 that “It will be shown that the world has long possessed in dream form something of which it need only become conscious in order to possess it in actuality. It will then be evident that it is a question not of a great theoretical gap between past and future, but rather of realizing the ideas of the past.”      


The End

With the advent of Marxism and the rise of the proletariat, we see the opening up of the dream of our unconscious hunger into the realm of conscious thought. But consciousness is shaped by the “ensemble of social relations” of the existing society in which thought is a reflection of reality containing possible realities. The dream, then, has an unfolding existence within reality itself, and the class which can catch that dream, ignite that old spark, has come into being by a violent process of enslavement, dispossession, and industrialization that only adds anger to aspiration. The spirit of communism is thus today more “real” and less “spiritual” than it ever has been. Though it is indeed beaten down by lies and delusions—the “inward bondages” resulting from “outward bondage”—the spark is still there, as are the imaginations that kindle it. The old society is crumbling, as most are beginning to perceive, and the possibilities of the new are eager to emerge. We can, as Marx wrote, “finally imagine for a change, an association of free men, working with the means of production held in common, and expending their many forms of labor power in full self-awareness as one single labor force.” The spirit is there; it needs only be stirred by revolutionary fervor, concretized by revolutionary forms of organization, and actualized by revolution. We need only seek answers to the ponderous questions posed elusively by that revolutionary poet William Blake: “On what wings dare we aspire? What the hand dare seize the Fire?”


~ Gracchus