Communal Luxury by Kristin Ross download in ePub, pdf, iPad
For me, Ross rather downplays the differences between the artist-artisans and workers, but fortunately is alive to the problem of the differences between workers and peasants. Hence the separation of useless art from joyless labor is the key to the problematic nature of capitalist social relations as a whole. It is a thoroughly historical condition, which pits the ruling class against labor.
Marx broke with philosophy as the thought of the state in its ideal form. This small book is a sort of parable, about another time and place, but not really about the past as past. This is the mark, to my mind, not of nostalgia, but of a profoundly historicizing way of thinking. Reclus, on the other hand, was so widely traveled that even these fringe locations would have seemed rather provincially European. Reclus in particular was a rare and prescient critic of agribusiness, having seen its prototype form in the American Midwest at first hand.
Without it we have no way of thinking the possibility of change, or of living the present as something contingent and open-ended. Ross shifts attention to Pottier.
To my mind, this kind of after-the-fact theoretical superiority is both inane and profoundly ahistorical. To me this is an early example of the hacker class grasping its unity as a class, and trying to work out issues of authorship and autonomy outside the constraints of state and market patronage. The Commune used to figure in official Marxist discourse as a failed precursor to the properly socialist revolution led of course by a vanguard party.
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