Communization theory (or communisation theory in British English) refers to a tendency on the ultra-left that understands communism as a process that, in a social revolution, immediately begins to replace all capitalist social relations with communist ones.[1] Thus it rejects the role of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which it sees as reproducing capitalism. There exist two broad trends within communization theory: a ‘Marxist’ one (exemplified by Gilles Dauvé, Théorie Communiste, and later, Endnotes) and an ‘anarchist’ one (represented by Tiqqun and The Invisible Committee).[2]

The term ‘communization’ in this context was coined by Dauvé, following the uprising of May 68, in an attempt to explain its failure. Dauvé’s theory synthesised the council communist emphasis on proletarian self-emancipation and rejection of the party-form with Italian communist Amadeo Bordiga’s critique of what he saw as capitalism in the Soviet Union, which stressed the importance of the content of communism.[3] He was additionally influenced by the Situationists’ rejection of work (at least in words) and focus on the revolutionary transformation of everyday life.[4]


Origins and precedents

In his 1843 Code de la Communauté, the Neo-Babouvist Théodore Dézamy called for an immediate move from capitalism to communism. Instead of a transitional stage between the two, he envisioned the gradual abolition of the state and the "communisation of social relations" through the direct cessation of commerce.[5]

In The Conquest of Bread, anarcho-communist Peter Kropotkin called for the immediate expropriation of all property, for the purposes of ensuring well-being for all, following an insurrectionary period.[6] He also proposed the immediate communisation of social relations,[7] which would integrate both agricultural and industrial workers into the process by each fulfilling the needs of the other.[8] But anarcho-communists came to disagree on what form communisation would take. Some came to see that it was insurrectionists themselves, rather than the organised working class, that would be the real agent of a social revolution. Criticising the labour movement as reformist, this anti-organisational tendency came to favour agitating the unemployed, expropriating food and carrying out propaganda of the deed.[9]

Although the English socialist William Morris was critical of this individualist anarchist tendency, regarding both its theory and practice as "reactionary", in his 1893 Manifesto of English Socialists, Morris also called on socialists to dedicate themselves to immediately bringing about the "complete communization of industry for which the economic forms are ready and the minds of the people are almost prepared."[10]

Modern conception

In the wake of the protests of 1968, the French communist Gilles Dauvé coined the modern concept of communization, building on the earlier works of Karl Marx and Peter Kropotkin which had identified elements of communism that already existed within society.[11] Dauvé rejected the conception of communism as a political platform that would be implemented after seizing power, as previous movements that had done so did not actually implement communism after their revolutions.[12] Instead Dauvé called for a "communization" that would "break all separations":[13] circulating goods without money; occupying workplaces and bringing them under social ownership; closing any workplaces that couldn't function without causing alienation; abolishing specialized education; and breaking up single-family households.[14]

After a wave of unemployment protests in France during the late 1990s, the Tiqqun collective was established, drawing their ideology from a mix of insurrectionary anarchism, post-structuralism and post-Marxism, while drawing its stylistic influences from the French avant-garde.[15] The collective came to characterise their anti-authoritarian form of communism by the term "communization", referring to an insurrectionary period that would lead to structural changes in society.[16] Tiqqun rejected seizing state power, which they considered would make those that took power into a new ruling class, but instead as called for a "revolution rooted in the transformation of every day life."[17]

See also


  1. ^ "Communisation - Troploin |". Retrieved 2023-03-26.
  2. ^ Noys, Benjamin, ed. (2012). Communization and its discontents : contestation, critique, and contemporary struggles. New York: Autonomedia. ISBN 978-1-57027-231-8. OCLC 757148526.
  3. ^ Dauvé, Gilles. "The story of our origins - Gilles Dauvé |". Retrieved 2023-03-26.
  4. ^ Dauvé, Gilles. "Intakes: Back to the Situationist International |". Retrieved 2023-03-26.
  5. ^ Pengam 1987, pp. 61–62.
  6. ^ Pengam 1987, pp. 71–72.
  7. ^ Pengam 1987, p. 72.
  8. ^ Pengam 1987, p. 74.
  9. ^ Pengam 1987, pp. 74–75.
  10. ^ Kinna 2012, p. 37.
  11. ^ Nappalos 2012, p. 308.
  12. ^ Nappalos 2012, pp. 308–309.
  13. ^ Nappalos 2012, pp. 308–309; Shannon 2012, pp. 281–282.
  14. ^ Shannon 2012, pp. 281–282.
  15. ^ Loadenthal 2017, p. 141.
  16. ^ Loadenthal 2017, pp. 97–98.
  17. ^ Loadenthal 2017, p. 98.


Further reading