An extract from François Danel’s preface to the book ‘Rupture dans la théorie de la Révolution’:
The Programme and its Crisis
Because all affirmation of the proletariat disappeared during the restructuring, we can today understand all of the historic activity of the “old workers movement” under the concept of programatism. On the one hand, under the formal domination of capital, to the extent that the immediate process of production had not been rendered adequate to the valorisation of capital and the reproduction of labour power had not been integrated into its cycle, and even afterwards, during the first phase of the real domination of capital, the proletariat preserved an autonomy, a positivity within the relation. It did not understand itself as non-capital in respect of non-work, but affirmed itself in its struggles as that labouring and glorious class which, in freeing itself from the capitalists, would liberate humanity. On the other hand, since the development of the capitalist relation - that is to say of the struggle of its classes - did not immediately bring the abolition but the generalisation of wage-labour, the proletariat abstracted the final goal from the movement and made the revolution - its seizure of power - depend on the maturation of conditions both objective (the development of the productive forces) and subjective (its will and its class consciousness).
It thus posed communism as a programme and its full achievement as the ultimate term of an impossible transition : the proletarian repossession and mastery of the movement of value, wage-labour supposedly “withering away” from the moment that one replaced money with the labour note. (In effect, with labour notes the share of the social product returned to each worker is not fixed in advance, but after deducting the fraction of value necessary for investment and the maintenance of the unproductive.) What the workers movement thus called into question was not capital as mode of production, but only the management of production by the bourgeoisie. It was either a question of workers seizing the productive apparatus from this parasitic class and of destroying its State in order to rebuild another, led by the party as the bearer of consciousness, or else of undermining the power of the bourgeois State by organising production themselves from the bottom up, through the organ of the trade unions or councils. But it was not a question and it did not even attempt to abolish the law of value - the compulsion towards accumulation and thus towards the reproduction of exploitation which materialises itself at the same time in the machinery, in fixed capital a capital in itself, and in the necessary existence, facing the working class, of an exploiting class, bourgeois or bureaucratic, as the collective agent of that reproduction.