The Human Strike Revisited
As I said, I distrust all anonymous manifestos like Human Strike Has Already Begun & Other writings by Claire Fontaine. My skepticism, however, doesn’t stop me from reading them like some manifesto-junkie looking for a quick fix. So, despite my misgivings, I spent some time absorbing the unnecessarily dense nonsense of this sect.
Claire Fontaine — a group, not a person, who nevertheless prefers to go by the pronoun, ‘she’ — appears to align with Tiqqun in the communization milieu. As a member of that school of thought, it is necessary that they bury their argument in an unintelligible language as is on full display in the essay, “Existential metonymy and imperceptible abstractions”.
As near as I can tell, “existential metonymy” is a nonsense phrase invented to make the rest of us think Claire has something profound to say.
This is their opening statement:
‘Human strike’ designates the most generic movement of revolt. The adjective ‘human’ in this case doesn’t have any moral connotation, it is just more inclusive than ‘general’, because every human strike is an amoral gesture and it is never merely political or social. It attacks the economic, affective, sexual and emotional conditions that oppress people.
The interest and the difficulty of this concept lies in the fact that it is a concept that thinks against itself. And thinking against ourselves will be the necessity of the revolts to come, as desubjectivisation (taking distance from what we are, becoming something else) will be the only way to fight our exploitation. In fact our new working conditions see us being exploited as much in the workplace as outside of it, as the workplace has both exploded and liquefied and so gained our whole lives.
Thinking against ourselves will mean thinking against our identity and our effort to preserve it, it will mean stopping believing in the necessity of identifying ourselves with the place we occupy.
Basically, the human strike is the idea of thinking against ourselves, because the ability to conceptually separate from ourselves will be the only way to fight our exploitation.
Fair enough, but we could restate this idea in far less metaphysical terms:
The human strike are actions directed against our position as wage slaves within the present mode of production and against our own activity, which reproduces that position. We strike against ourselves because this is the only way to fight our exploitation. The human strike means we must no longer act within the roles we play in the present mode of production.
It follows from the above that we cannot judge the results of the human strike by the standards of present society, because the human strike aims to sweeps away present society including the position from which we presently perceive it — that of wage slaves. The result cannot be measured in terms of employment, wage increases or increased consumption. To the casual observer of present society, the result of the human strike necessarily resembles nothing less than a catastrophe.