Proposal of a Hegelian Marxism - Introduction - Text
1. Privileging material labor
The financial crisis, recurrent since the 80s, and globally triggered with full force since 2008, has shown, with its colossal proportions, and its also colossal and irrational disproportion between productive capital and financial capital, between the one that even at the cost of exploitation, increases the real wealth of humanity and the merely speculative one, that only produces fictitious wealth, however great its local and temporal appearance.
The so-called "futures markets", which subordinate the production logic to the logic of illusory capital, distorting and paralyzing it; increased indebtedness of individuals, which distorts and eventually paralyzes access to real property; catastrophic waiver of States to all social duties, unloading weight on citizens only to satisfy the greed of private banking, are perhaps the most visible signs of the deep irrationality of this drift of capital towards mere temporary havens that benefit obscenely minoritarian sectors of paper wealth.
The enormous material progress achieved through the work of all humanity is stuck near environmentally catastrophic consumption patterns, stuck in deeper than any previous historical period social inequalities. Just at the time when the historical developments in science and technology have allowed us to produce enough food for all mankind, hundreds of millions of people are suffering from hunger. Just as the availability of goods is revolutionaryly larger than ever before, billions of people struggle amid squalid living standards.
The full transnationalization of capital, the full articulation of the global market, anticipated by Marx 150 years ago, have ended with the illusion of a first, a second and a third world that have a defined geographic and cultural base ( north - south, or "West" and "periphery"). The displacement of productive capital to China, India, Mexico and Brazil has led to poverty for tens of millions of Europeans and Americans. Mass migrations in search of the mirage of the "first" world have completely changed the landscape of cultural supremacy of the white European culture in their own countries. The volatility of capital has created all sorts of enclaves of privilege and wealth, powerful and exclusive, in what appeared to be uniformly the "third" world. Africans burning cars in the suburbs of Paris, the millions of Turks in Germany, the social ascent of Indians and Pakistanis in England, fifty million Latinos in the USA, are only the other side of millionaires of world level in China, Russia, Mexico or Chile , small elites enjoying a fierce and ruthless abundance in countries like Pakistan, India, Brazil and Indonesia, separated only by a few miles, and tens of thousands of soldiers and police, the world's poorest poor. The minoritarian extreme abundance surrounded by the majority's absolutely extreme poverty in a world where there are enough materials goods for all, and there could be many more. Real, material wealth capable of providing a standard of humane life, besieged and paralyzed by the fictional wealth, merely of paper, whose sole function is to promote, legitimize, protect, gigantic inequalities in access to real goods.
It is from this colossal evidence where the central option of this text arises: the absolute privilege of material labor, which produces tangible, real goods, impacting directly on the standard of living, above the "immaterial" labor, in providing services or in the production of "symbolic goods".
An option that points directly to the main current enemies of all mankind, the two main forces responsible for stagnation: financial capital, bureaucratic power. On the one hand the predominance of fictitious capital on productive real capital. Furthermore, the growing trend, backed by state bureaucracies, to a capitalist tertiarization of the economy, maintaining the status quo of inequality, stopping by artificial means the "classical" capitalist crisis on a productive level, condemning the greatest part of humanity to unnecessary prolongation of alienating labor, dumbed life, and psychiatric management of distress.
Of course, at such subversion of the usual arguments, the first I have to do is explain it to the intellectuals, who profit so profitably in the production of "symbolic goods", to the point of turning it into a source of legitimation of their powers of bureaucratic administration. Looking radically ahead, but also for blaming it to those who are proud to have turned mediocrity into a mode and lifestyle, I can forward the general bases of revolutionary strategic perspective I will be defending in the following chapters:
- It is about radically detertiarizing the economy, carrying all the force available to the production of material, tangible goods. But, given the high rates of productivity achieved by material labour through the development of technology, this will only be possible radically reducing the socially obligatory workday. During a more or less extended period of transition, this gradual reduction of working hours should be done keeping and even increasing wages to enable the maintenance and growth of living standards . Obviously, this maintenance of wages allocated to progressively fewer working hours is only possible at the expense of surplus value. Indeed, the historical significance of these processes is gradually emptying the content of the economical wage form and progressively removing the sense of private ownership of the means of production as a way of participation in the social product.
The revolution is not an act, it is a process. What I have drawn here is the strategic perspective of this process. And it is not, of course, that there are to be no services, or nobody producing "symbolic goods". What it is for, ist that nobody should be paid wages for it. That the economical form salary is progressively restricted only to the material work, producing tangible goods, and from there the historical conditions for its extinction. Making art, developing theoretical knowledge, recreating and developing culture, should be basic rights accessible to all human beings, not occupations or sources of wages.
Education for forming whole human beings should be distinguished from preparation and specific training for productive work . This technical education, being an asset that contributes to material production, may be paid for. There is no real reason for the first, however, to be a remunerated job. Production of knowledge in general should be distinguished in the same logic from the production of immediate technical and operational knowledge. Nobody should get salary for the first, which is a right and a duty for everyone, but keeping for a long time, during the transition, a salary for the second . Medical knowledge should be radically socialized in a practice that put all its emphasis on preventive medicine and, in the same way, there is a need to de-medicalize and socialize palliative medicine . The strategy is to reduce the need for curative medicine, while also promoting progressive deprofessionalizing.
Education, art, science, medicine, are quintessential first areas of work that need to be freed from the logic of wage and converted into rights and social and free practice. Correspondingly the commodification of education, science, art, medicine, must be in the first line of any criticism of the established reality. My critical argument, however, does not aim primarily on these fields, whose integration into a strategic perspective seems obvious and perfectly possible in the terms just specify. Actually more useless, the more oppressive, the tertiarization of the economy lies more in the enormous growth of commercial employees, the military contingent, state officials, the huge bureaucracies that are cast in the large private companies in the shadow of the relative remoteness of their owners practice in the administration. It is against this world of stupid, alienating tertiarization, which produces nothing, which only serves the interests of the local organization of unproductive entrepreneurs, that my formulation is addressed first of all.
But we must also consider, in the same vein, the artificial extension of university academic communities and higher level student populations, especially in areas which are not present in any way of material production. Besides the proper and free right, I have spoken of before, to practice the arts, the development of knowledge and culture , nothing really justifies this proliferation from the point of view of actual production. It is actually due to the effects of the commercialization of education, which does not care to attract thousands and thousands of illustrated unemployed, or employees for small, purely administrative tasks, curiously and extremely overqualified. This is due to the increasing bureaucratization of academic tasks, which legitimizes their own enjoyment of the social product in the ideology of the claim of knowledge, and their "authorized" interventions on the logic of power. My argument is directed against tertiarization in general, but reaches its highest expression in the combination of tertiarization and bureaucratization. These bureaucrats themselves are who first shall rise up against it, citing their enjoyment as a right, and putting weight on it through their mechanisms of power as hegemonic social class. And that is why, for the political importance acquired by this miserable defense of class interests , that a good part of my argument in this book is intended to show in what sense and in which ways bureaucratic power is one of the main enemies.
As may be seen, the revolutionary strategy that I hold is essentially about the content, and from there is to be thought regarding the way. Interestingly, and against all logic, many Marxists have been devoted for too long and, to the contrary, again and again discuss the ways of the revolution, leaving a haze on the contents. The main drawback of this habit is not so much its consequences (especially in the barren and useless discussion of texts and precedents), but in its lack of discussion on changes in the reality that you want to change. The same capitalism as ever before is assumed and it is about perfecting the same political tools ever.
In terms of content, the point is to gradually release areas of human experience of the two ways in which social oppression is exercised, the capitalist market, bureaucratization. Without proposing a critical and practical work in the first of these fronts, the logic of expliotation will be generally reaching all areas of human activity (commodification of art, science, education, health, leisure, sport, culture). Without raising a critical and practical task in the second front, we will perpetuate market mechanisms as only alternative (with more or less "human face"), the mediocrity of managed labor, which is done only "because of something you have to do to earn a living."
To liberate art, science, education, health, social management from the logic of salary. To socialize and to restrict the logic of private profit in the world where wages are maintained. Anti capitalist and ant bureaucratic at a time, only that can really be a communist horizon.
This is the perspective that justifies the central option I have set out: the analytical and political privilege of the real material work over the production of "symbolic goods". A privilege that must be understood in a precise sense: the prospect of freeing symbolic production and services of both capitalist and bureaucratic logic.
This option is essential as projected on economic analysis in which all key assumptions and estimates about the future of the capitalist economy are done on the basis of real wealth, replacing, in historical terms, the weight of speculative capital, however great it may seem here and now, or in the short term.
It is essential also projected on class analysis, where I put direct producers (of material goods) in the center of the main contradiction and, from them, organize alliances and possible coalitions.
But it is essential also projected on the dynamics of the class struggle, that limits the role of intellectuals in the context of a broader post illustrated and anti advangardist perspective, which embodies the Hegelian inspiration of the whole argument.
It is under this option that, in the chapter on Political Economy, I will basically follow the movement of the exchange value (not money or value in use), i.e., the value that goods acquire when they become merchandise in the capitalist market. Only then, and for that notion, I propose the idea of pre-capitalist dimensions of value, and therefore the idea of precapitalist dimensions of exploitation. Both will be very important then, in consideration of the current complexity of the political struggle. In the order I have given to this text, however, I have postponed until later chapters discussing more philosophically about the idea of value in general, its connection with a theory of desire and the critique deriving from them to the notion of value in use.
Also, because of this, in the chapter on Political Sociology, by direct producers I refer to workers who produce real goods, able to impact directly on the standard of living, including in them the services that directly and immediately connect to this type of production. Distinguishing them, therefore, from employees producing services (education, administration, health, culture), and certain employees that provide intangible "goods" such as the military, priests, athletes, performing artists, communications workers, employees in the financial or trade sector.
The criterion is clear: those who produce real, material wealth, and those who produce only speculative wealth, no matter how "valuable" it seems to us.
I will refrain completely, of course, from any statement about who among these stakeholders should be called "workers" or "proletarians", which is a discussion that has become completely idiotic and, in conceptual terms, perhaps it always was. The combination of class analysis and stratification analysis I will propose operates on these distinctions.
It is appropriate, and from this introduction, to avert the most simple methodological problem, however, being almost universally ignored, for decades it has muddied the discussion about who belong to a social class and who does not. So much for the critics of class analysis and their advocates, and perhaps especially for its ex-defenders now turned to critics, such as whether teachers, office workers or unemployed people should be regarded as "workers" or bourgeois seemed be crucial, especially if the particle "or" was given dichotomous character, and was required to operate on the entire social universe considered. Methodological triviality of such a "problem" which looks spectacular, can be brought out extending it to ask if the children or the sick, or housewives, are workers or bourgeois.
The confusion has to do only with the lack of distinction between class analysis and analysis of social stratification (some of these subjects are identified by their class membership, others because they belong to a stratum) but, more trivially, by the implicit and wrong assumption, that any classification of social subjects must be comprehensive, ie cover every one of the individuals in the universe to which refers.
It is obvious that every human being can be located at any height or age stratum, classifications which by their nature are themselves exhaustive. But it is also obvious that you can not locate all human beings in the simple dichotomy "man-woman" or at least to do it requires the explicit formulation of criteria, which need not be the only possible, may or may not be exhaustive.
To wonder if young students are bourgeois or proletarian is something directly idiot. To "inscribe" them to one or another class immediately, according to some criteria such as membership of their parents, not only empirically problematic, as shown by many who will and, above all, most who do not go to student demonstrations, is not just gimmicky and useless, but also completely unnecessary. Definitions of social class, and many definitions of social strata, need not be exhaustive. And in the case of class analysis, is much more useful and clear just if they are not.
2. New forms of domination: paradoxes
The material foundational reality revealed by political economy is expressed directly in social relations. Throughout this text I am using exploitation to refer to an unequal exchange of value, and I will try to specify the historical conditions that distinguish this form of exchange in various human societies. If exploitation is the economic dimension of social relations that exist under conditions of class struggle, domination is its political correlate. I will use domination for an unequal exchange of power, and, accordingly, I will try to specify its unique diversity.
Even for two sides of the same coin, it need not be that strange under a common framework of relations of exploitation the forms of domination will change. The "economic" side of this change is the impact of the revolutionary transformation of the forms of work organization have had on the wage system, maintaining and strengthening the appropriation of surplus value as the essence of capitalist exploitation. The "political" side is given by the impact that these same changes have had on the composition and functions of the state apparatus. Alongside this, the full articulation of the global market, the transnationalization of capital, the enormous growth of the financial fiction, crucially changed the meaning of the forms of social representation, the relations between capital and the State, as well as between State and workers.
I here use forms of work organization to refer to the general forms of technical division of labor that have traditionally been distinguished as Taylorism, Fordism and post-Fordism. What interests me about them, as seen in the previous paragraph, is how they determine crucial social relations. Such an influence that allows to use them to distinguish in a more political way different modes of capitalist accumulation, or moments in capitalist development that give rise to certain constellations of dominance relations.
Obviously, once having established at the level of political economy the root of the historical moment in which a given state of the class struggle occurs, it is rather in the plane of Political Sociology, in the review of prevailing domination relations, where you can develop a proper political perspective of the fight.
An essential argument in this text is that bourgeois hegemony, even under the dominance of capitalist forms of exploitation, is being seriously disputed by the growing hegemony of bureaucratic domination. It is in this context, and in which the changes occur in the forms of work organization, we can speak of new forms of domination. And the analysis and the political calculus should be fully alert to these changes.
Since the 80s of last century, the emergence of post-Fordist work organization has produced dramatic changes in the forms of social domination. Most of the left has simply crafted an impressionistic descriptions of these changes, under the substantially wrong name of "neo-liberalism", without being able to distinguish the new elements in it, trying to frame every novelty in the familiar frameworks and journeyed to the Fordist social relations, ultimately conceptualizing, assimilating each new element to the old, to what is already known. This means that, for the Marxist mentality formatted in the Fordist, Soviet or American experience, certain glaring, empirically unavoidable realities, appear as paradoxes, as realities that bring aspects that this mentality has become accustomed to consider a priori contradictory.
Access by large sections of workers to major consumer goods, loss of substantivity of democracy, the ideological power that new media are able to display, the growing gap between workers integrated into the capitalist logic and hundreds of millions of marginalized people, diversification of pre-capitalist social demands towards value dimensions, such as ethnicity or gender, are the issues that have caused more puzzlement and confusion. For them it has not been able to move from populist proposals, completely inadequate in theory and in practice. And yet, this populist reflex has been the most frequent response.
Trying to understand the new post Fordist scenario requires taking charge of issues which to classical Marxism, in its various forms, may appear as strong paradoxes. Paradoxes that show the huge gap between the prevailing common sense in political theory, effective policy and present reality.
The first of these paradoxes can be characterized as repressive tolerance. A situation in which the effectiveness of the mechanisms of the new power is such that direct repression is marginalized to the dark, seemingly distant, underworld of crime, or what is presented as a crime, while the main vehicle for securing power is rather the same tolerance, the ability to re-signify any initiative, radical or not, to the logic of the powers, making gestures that were proposed as protesting and opponent into variants contained in official diversity, whose operating confirms the global nature of the system.
A tolerance that is possible on the basis of a huge production efficiency, which allows not only the production of diversity, but involves a significant increase in the living standards of large sections of the world population. A productivity which does not need to be homogenizing, which does not depend crucially on the generation of poverty, allowing large areas of relatively comfortable work which, although minor compared to the overall workforce, operate as powerful stabilizers of politics, and as support of democratic legitimacy. A situation that can be called exploitation without oppression. Forms of work organization that have substantially reduced the classic components of physical fatigue and psychological components associated with vertical, compulsive and direct domination.
By the way the inertia of traditional left at this point, as in all others, will be trying to assimilate these situations to those already known, or to reduce its impact, or to discover in them the traits that show how they are simple appearances concealing shapes perfectly established since the advent of capitalism. The idea that bureaucratic administration, pursued in the most naive way, driven by nostalgia for the classic models, may establish its dominance in this new exploitation and in this new tolerance is seen as defeatism.
But what I say is NOT that any radical initiative is doomed to failure, nor that the power is omnipotent. What I say is NOT that most workers live under these conditions, or that under these working conditions no new contradictions may arise, which make them, in the long run, unstable. In both cases what I do notice is a clear and strong trend of reality, which is crucial if we choose to interpret it as a new phenomenon, and, however, can be seen as incidental perfectly if we cling to the classical calculations.
In view of this new functionality of welfare and tolerance it is necessary to radically change the way we evaluate our own history. Go beyond illustrated prejudice which makes us see ourselves as representatives of the progress of reason, beyond the romantic bias that makes us see our failures as monstrous historical conspiracies, almost like errors of reality. You need to accept the possibility of an alienated revolutionary consciousness. A consciousness that believes to be doing something completely different than what the unrecognized power of historical determination allows him effectively to do. A revolutionary consciousness that doesn't entirely own the historic initiatives it undertakes, ie. a political practice in which the historic initiative is never transparent, and politics is always a risk. Always a risk worth taking, but for whose results no theoretical guarantee may be provided.
For the traditions of Marxism this implies assuming two additional notions, which again have the appearance of paradox. One is to characterize alienation as something transcending consciousness. Another is to consider the subject as something that is not an individual. To think about alienation as a factual situation, as a field of actions, one of whose central features is that it cannot be viewed by the consciousness of those who live it. And that it cannot be seen, at least in class societies, but from another state of alienation, so that there is never a privileged place of consciousness, or absolute lucidity. Thinking of individuals as a result of historical conditions that transcend them, and of subjectivities that constitute these historical conditions as subjects operating in fact, with an ever changing and incomplete awareness of their own realities.
This means in turn an idea that the basis of revolutionary practice is deeper than consciousness on which its lucidity and its discourse is built. Ie, an idea where the revolutionary will has its own roots prior to any revolutionary theory's lucidity, and that revolutionary theory constructs a reality to allow political practice, rather than merely stating a reality so that the findings may feed the will. Revolutionary theory so that the will can see, revolutionary will to that theory may be.
But this possibility of alienation of revolutionary practice itself is as much as, or even more real in the actual judgement we should do about the historical practice of the classes under the new forms of domination. You need to see them not as a conquering of consciences, but as a battle won from below, and beyond of what consciousness can see and know. And you must then find the contradictions that may make a revolutionary will possible, rather than a clear and distinct consciousness of happens. That is, we need to search the existential contradictions that are possible under a domination substantially more sophisticated than classic capitalist oppression. Only from there you can have access to a critical consciousness.
It is in this context that I propose the paradoxical concept of frustrating pleasantness. Contrary to classical moderation, it is necessary to make a sound judgment about the existential conditions of comfort that enable very high productivity and find there the roots of an easily verifiable, widespread dissatisfaction, felt by all sectors who live integrated into modern production, but which nobody knows how to conceptualize, let alone how to become a political force. This requires a deep and founded concept of what we mean by subjectivity, pleasure or, in short, a happy life, all issues that are no longer problems of the private sphere, and become central political variables, from the moment when it is precisely from them that the new powers assert their dominance.
Along with all this, a notion is required that should be able to account for the new complexities of power. Understand that the decentralization of power does not imply absolute disappearance of the center, but its parallel operation as a delocalized, distributed network. Ie its displacement toward a second order from which it constitutes itself as power over scattered powers, being able to leverage the technological possibilities while being exercised as a strongly consultive interactive domination, with a powerful impression of democratic management, where the subtle limits allowed by its diversity are hardly noticed by those co-opted into different strata of privilege.
3. A doctrinal foundation
In this section, I want to briefly condense the layout of the general argument of what could be a Hegelian formulation of Marxism. As a starting point we have to accept what will already have been widely noted in the previous sections: it is possible to formulate more than one Marxism</aindex, both in the sense of being compatible with the ideas of Marx, and in the more important sense of being consistent with his general policy options. It's good, then, to specify which basic conditions I am interested in keeping as "a possible <aindex>Marxism", accepting from the outset that there can not be a "correct Marxism" and that it is just the historical practice that will decide which of these formulations (or none of them) is capable of the closest account of social reality.
I think it is possible and necessary to formulate the idea of a revolutionary Marxism. Revolutionary in the specific sense that argues that only through violence the already established chain of violence from the ruling classes can be broken. But also, in the a little more knowledgeable sense, that the only way to end the domination of ruling classes is radically changing the rule of law and, ultimately, putting an end to class struggle will involve abolishing all forms of institutionalization of any rule of law.
Holding this means considering the structure of social relations is, in its prevailing form, essentially violent. Even in what is usually called "peace". It means to hold that the ruling classes call "peace" to the time when they win the war, and only speak of war when they feel threatened. You can also say this: we will not start a war, we are at war. Revolutionary violence is but a response to the ongoing violence. We are not "supporters of violence", but we believe that only through violence we can put an end to the essential violence, which has been defining human history so far. Or again, it means that the rule of law itself, far from preventing violence, does enshrine it, legitimize it, presenting it as the appearance of peace.
But this premise also implies putting class struggle in the center of Marxist thought. Put the reality of antagonistic social relations as a conflict that is not likely to be "pacified" inside the lifestyles that have been imposed by the ruling classes. It means building a theory that explains the features of this foundational conflict. And its relation to social conflict in general.
I am interested in formulating a Marxism that is oriented from its very foundations by a Communist horizon. This requires making up a non Illustrated, nor Romantic idea of the features that can be attributed to communism. But, conversely, it means clearly specify under what conditions, under what kinds of social realities, it would be possible to speak concretely of communism.
A communist horizon implies, and it is necessary to be explicit about it, a sense of history in general, a certain philosophy of history. It seems to me of core importance the idea of modes of production and the even broader idea of general forms of labour.
Of course, according to the arguments outlined in the previous chapters, I find it necessary to have a formulation of Marxism that is rooted in a solid number of options around subjectivity and human condition in general. In which the alleged anthropology is not limited to a set of implicit, the forerunners of the modern operation of thinking, with its basically Cartesian ideas about man. Not only an anthropology establishing full social condition of man, but its radical historicity, its character of being a product of history, resulting from himself, from his own absolute work.
As seen, this is a philosophical argument in general. Or, from the formulation of general philosophic premises, an argument that will find its counterpart in the historical and social realities that, in fact, produce and condition them. An argument, as the nostalgic may have noticed, completely different from the catastrophic sterility of Structuralist Marxist tradition, and from the political consequences of its ruin, usually called "post-structuralist".
I have no fear of theory, and eventual accusations of "intellectualism" and even less-nighters stigmatization of "metaphysical" or "humanist", which are frequently used as insults by rather humanist and darkly metaphysical intellectuals, do leave me absolutely indifferent.
What matters to me is to make a foundation. The relationship between foundation and real politics can only come from the political arena. Intellectuals have never directed anything. Or, worse, when they have done, it has been catastrophic. It is better and more honest maintaining intellectual work as a limited area, and with a specific character. Intellectuals should consider the real, formulate the theories they consider most appropriate and useful as possible, but only the popular movement will ultimately decide which of these rhetorical frameworks best conveys their hopes.
Unlike classical reading that starts from the critique of capitalist economy, and then extends that logic as a model for all other critique, I propose to base Marxism on a theory of alienation. There are two main methods of reading involved in this. One of them is to sustain an essential continuity and consistency in the whole work of Marx. Not to read his "youthful humanism" from the economy or reading the economy as simple "application" of the first. Thinking, however, the treatment that can be found in The German Ideology as distinct and complementary to that found in Capital. The other option is to consider the critique of capitalism as a case of a more general logic, critical to exploitation in general.
A possible order could be the following. From a theory of alienation, to found on it a general idea of value. From this idea of value in general, formulate a notion of exploitation, also in general. From it, develop, in parallel, a theory of social classes and of class struggle, and inserting in it the theory of capitalist exploitation, ie, that form of exploitation that operates through a special form of exchange value, which is associated with private property and wage labor contract. This set should allow its extension to a theory of human history and closely related to it, a theory of communism. And it should allow, on the other hand, a theory of bureaucratic power, and a conceptualization of the current policy in terms of a bureaucratic bourgeois class block.
A foundation, in a historicist conception, is something that is put, not something that is found or "discovered". The theory of alienation is founded on an absolute historicism, in which every object is objectified in the context of the human action of self producing all of its Being. The polical reason for holding such a strange, so counterintuitive basis, is to avoid any footprint of naturalism, any possibility of appeal to elements from human nature, or human condition, putting a limit on the prospect of an end to the class struggle. What is provided here, as the foundation, is a radical affirmation of human infinity. Thought in a purely argumentative way the matter is this: only under these premises is communism thinkable. Or, if you will excuse the repetition, the other way round, without these foundational statements, what may be projected as utopian horizon is a better humanity, but not an essentially free humanity.
But the truth of this foundation must be also examined within the framework of historicism which in turn holds it. For a historicist concept truth is something that should be done. It isn't something that is true by itself, or something whose essence is as empirical and from there, can be established. Truth is a purely political issue. The truth is something that is put to be made real by a rational will.
Of course, to the Enlightenment tradition, the idea of "rational will" seems to be a contradiction. Enlightenment radically separated intellect from will. It put the first as the only criterion of truth, and the latter as a case of arbitrariness, always suspicious of megalomania. Against these philosophies of externality, from Hegelian logic, the formulation of this idea is perfectly possible, which would otherwise be doomed to be considered a mere hybrid.
You can call "rational will" to that which searches in what has been put as real the elements that will make it possible to go beyond of it, and of itself. In a dynamic where the future on one hand is open to the real possibility, and the past, as put by history itself, operates as a field of determinations, to go beyond the established reality is to go beyond what human society itself has put as its field of determinations. Will tries to see this field of determinations in the real, in order to learn how to overcome it, but also bases its look on the conviction that there is nothing there in the determination, which has not been set and, therefore, can not be overcome.
This will is rational in the sense that it gives itself a theory to see the reality of the determinations. It isn't a will derived from a theory, in the manner of Illustrated avant-garde: "from a correct theory arises a correct political line". It is rather the opposite: the theory is needed to see, not to be. It does not originate in a purely intellective calculation, it originates in a series of experiences, full of existential content, which can, in turn, rationally see herself. A passionate reason, a passion that is internally rational.
To put the communist horizon as part of the foundation requires to say something minimal about this notion, as tinted by valuations and good and bad intentions. Again, and now completely despite its author, it is from the Hegelian logic that we can formulate an idea of communism that goes beyond the naive notions Marxists have claimed under this name.
The important thing is to state a post Illustrated and post Romantic idea of communism. An idea that is not a mystical communion of the Romantics, which subsumes individuals in totalitarian intoxication of the whole. An idea that is not at the same time, the notion of general happiness of Russeaunian origin. It has been argued consistently around how both lead to totalitarian political practices. The Marxist argument is not required to keep any of them.
On one hand, we want a society of free men, who do recognize one another. It is not to seek that individuals identify themselves with the universal, it is that they recognize themselves in it. That they recognize the universal as theirs. Not to thinking about universality as homogeneous and homogenizing. It is perfectly possible to think of a distinct universality, in which individuals, made from it, are at the same time particular reals (not merely "examples" or cases of what is) and free (able to print their own forms on the origin that configured them).
On the other hand, what we want is not a society where everyone is happy, or where everyone knows everything. What we want is that the class struggle is over. That is, we want the difference between being happy or not is not institutionalized around the struggle for existence. In a communist society it should be possible to suffer. The point is that the possibility of suffering or is not should be confined to the realm of intersubjective relations, not pass by changing the structures of history. A world where alienation is not necessary.
- Except, of course, the strange idea, mysteriously according to capitalist logic, that human nature would be such that nobody has "incentives" for any task if not for remuneration.