“There was a time when we proclaimed that we were part of a beautiful and fragmented chaos of affinity groups, conflicted organizations, disorganized rebels, all of whom were somehow part of the same social movement that was greater than the sum of its parts. We were more accurately a disorganized mob of enraged plebeians shaking our fists at a disciplined imperial army. Years ago we spoke of social movementism but now it only makes sense to drop the ‘social’ since this phase of confusion was incapable of understanding the social terrain. Disparate, unfocused, and divided movements lack a unified intentionality; they have proved themselves incapable of pursuing the necessity of communism.”
Five years ago The Communist Necessity was written to demarcate a revolutionary politics grounded in necessity from social movementism, and revolutionary science from contemporary intellectual fads. Now J. Moufawad-Paul’s notorious polemic is back, still relevant and prescient.
This second edition of Moufawad-Paul’s first book includes a preface by Dao-yuan Chou and a reflective afterword by the author. New readers can discover why the recognition of communism’s necessity “requires a new return to the revolutionary communist theories and experiences won from history.”
The Communist Necessity is a polemical interrogation of the practice of “social movementism” that has enjoyed a normative status at the centres of capitalism. Despite the fact that the name “communism” has been reclaimed by a variety of important intellectuals, J. Moufawad-Paul argues that, due to a failure to grapple with the concrete questions connected to historical moments of actually making revolution, movementist praxis remains hegemonic. More of a philosophical intervention than a historiography or political economy, The Communist Necessity engages in a quick and pointed manner with a variety of authors and tendencies including Alain Badiou, Jodi Dean, the Invisible Committee, Tiqqun, Théorie Communiste, and others. Moufawad-Paul argues that a refusal to recognize contemporary revolutionary movements from the 1980s to the present results in the reification of a capitalist “end of history” discourse within this movementist conceptualization of theory and practice.
Originally written as a small essay on the left-wing blog MLM Mayhem, The Communist Necessity was expanded into a pocket-sized treatise in 2015, sketching out the boundaries of the movementist terrain, as well as its contemporary ideologues, so as to raise questions that may be uncomfortable for those still devoted to movementist praxis, particularly if they define themselves as marxist. Aware of his past affinity with social movementism, and with some apprehension of the problem of communist orthodoxy, Moufawad-Paul argues that the recognition of communism's necessity “requires a new return to the revolutionary communist theories and experiences won from history.”
J. Moufawad-Paul lives in Toronto and works as casualized contract faculty at York University where he received his PhD in philosophy. He is the author of Austerity Apparatus, Continuity and Rupture, and Demarcation and Demystification.
Dao-yuan Chou is an organizer and author of Silage Choppers and Snake Spirits.