East Winds: Future Communisms

East Winds: Future Communisms

PEI Obert Seminar
in progress
El Lissitzky "Tribuna de Lenin", 1920

Directed by Marcelo Expósito and Jaime Vindel, as part of the course ‘Political Imagination/Cultural Materialism’ at MACBA’s Independent Studies Programme (PEI).

‘We make it descend from the east wind that brings it.’
(Rafael Alberti, Un fantasma recorre Europa [A ghost runs through Europe], 1933)

Wind’s in the East, a mist coming in. Like something is brewing and about to begin.

The concepts of ‘revolution’ and ‘communism’ were associated in the twentieth century with the October Revolution, the centenary of which has just been celebrated. That event left an indelible mark on an entire epoch crossed by the tensions and economic, social, political and cultural projects that took charge of the new historical juncture opened by the eruption of Bolshevism, to be nurtured by it or to confront it as irreconcilable enemies.

Against the resounding crash caused by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the dismantling of the USSR and its geopolitical environment, the neoliberal hegemony continued to grow, with its annihilation of the utopian imagination. However, in the post-Soviet landscape of the turn of the century, flashes of resistance continued to emerge with global echoes, from the Zapatista rising of 1994 to the occupation of public squares around 2011. This included the movement against neoliberal globalisation, which showed an uneasy relationship with the memory and historical significance of the Soviet Union. Amid the promises of reconstruction of a new political imagination – episodic, fragmentary, eventful, without any capacity for institutional sedimentation or desire for organisational consistency – and the continued devastating attack of neoliberalism on the structures of the post-war constitutional pacts, came the financial crisis of 2008.

Today we walk on the eco-social ruins left by that short twentieth century, while relating in an inevitably ambivalent way to its inherited institutions. Cracked by a deep crisis of representation, the result of having been the instrument by which social majorities were dispossessed over several decades, these institutions must now be recovered as a democratic barricade against the rise of different versions of the new far right, and as a redistributive instrument against the fascism of the financial markets. In this landscape, does it make sense to reconsider the word ‘communism’? And if it serves any purpose, what would be the current relationship between communism and revolution? In any case, we should undoubtedly situate ourselves as far away as possible from both nostalgia and political melancholy.

This seminar proposes a constellation of concepts, picking up some old key words as well as quiescent or non-hegemonic components of the communist tradition, trying to add, tentatively, some new common notions: Comrade, Productivism, Communism, Materialism, Dispossession, Municipalism, Constituent Processes, Common Assets, War, Debt, Desire. It is impossible to build something like a systematic live dictionary, but perhaps this incomplete set of spoken definitions will serve as a model for a kind of reflection on the legacy and future of ‘communist’ struggles for emancipation and redistribution.

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2 March 2018 – 3 March 2018
East Winds: Future Communisms
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