Chuang is a collective of communists who consider the ‘China question’ to be of central relevance to the contradictions of the world’s economic system and the potentials for its overcoming. Their goal is to formulate a body of clear-headed theory capable of understanding contemporary China and its potential trajectories. In this first issue, they outline their basic conceptual framework and illustrate the current state of class conflict in China. The issue also includes translated reports and interviews with the proletarians engaged in these struggles, pairing theory with primary sources drawn from class dynamics that might otherwise remain abstract.
When considering unemployment, social exclusion or precarity, it is inadequate to simply take refuge within the empirical question of which groups live under these conditions. Contemporary sociological identities are themselves forms of appearance, moments of the totality of the reproduction of the capital-labor relation and therewith in the devaluation of the labor-power commodity presently unfolding through the category of the surplus proletariat.
30-40 years ago, the state could afford to BUILD 1 million flats in 10 years, now it’s too poor to even RENOVATE them.
This exclamation is highly representative of the activism that has flourished in the suburbs of Stockholm these past years. In this case, it comes from Megafonen (‘The Megaphone’), a grass-roots activist group founded by young people in the Stockholm suburb Husby in 2008, around the principles of democracy, welfare, community, work and education. The state, says Megafonen here, no longer lives up to its proper function, which would be to ensure the material well-being of people through housing policies. The ambivalence of this perspective is already clear in the nostalgic reference to the heyday of Swedish social-democratic welfare, represented by the state housing policy which led to the construction of ‘1 million flats’ between 1965 and 1974. On the one hand, it recognises cuts, privatisations, closures, etc. as symptoms of an already existing capitalist restructuring. On the other hand, its actions emerge as the affirmation of what is left of the infrastructure and political institutions that formed the Swedish workers’ identity, e.g. public housing.
Starting from the Moment of Coercion
– Cizire Canton, Rojava
The relation of exploitation contains, in an immanent way, a direct relation of domination, of subjection, and of social and police control. But when one takes the relation of domination, of subjection, as the totality of the relation of exploitation, the part for the whole, then one loses sight of the relation of exploitation and of the classes. The moment of coercion taken as starting point and posited as the totality of the relation between the individual and society inevitably lapses into the point of view of the isolated individual and the critique of everyday life.
A Revolution in Daily Life
Across the domains of government in the canton of Cizire, people are working, mostly on a voluntary basis, to make ambitious transformations to society. Doctors want to build a modern free healthcare system but also, they told us, to collect and disseminate suppressed local knowledge about healing and to change the conditions of life in general. They aim, they said, to build a way of life free of the separations – between people and between people and nature – that drive physical and mental illness. Academics want to orient education to ongoing social problems. They plan, they said, to abandon exams and destroy divides between teachers and students and between established disciplines. The new discipline of ‘gynology’ (the science of women) constructs an alternative account of mythology, psychology, science and history. Always and everywhere, we were told, women are the main economic actors and those with responsibility for ‘ethics and aesthetics’, ‘freedom and beauty’, ‘content and form’. The revolution aims to overcome the limits placed on these activities when the State is taken as a model for power.