For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

The Inoperative Community

by Nancy, Jean-Luc (1991)

Key Passage

For the moment , we need not stop to evaluate the element of retrospective illusion in this interpretation, which represents for Marx the truth of "communal labor in its spontaneously  evolved form as we find it among all Civilized peoples at the dawn of their history.'" What is  important, beyond the nostalgic ideology that is  common to Marx and to many others is the thinking of community that in spite of everything still comes through 'here-for it is a thinking, not merely an idyllic narrative ready to  be transformed into a  future utopia. Community means  here the socially exposed particularity, in  opposition to the socially imploded generality  characteristic of capitalist  community. If there has been an event in Marxist thought, one that is not yet over for us, it takes  place in what  is  opened up by this though.  Capital negates community because it places above it the identity and the generality of production and products: the operative communion and general communication of works.  (And when it plays  the game of multiplying differences, no one is fooled: difference belongs  neither to the work not to the product as such). As I have already said, it is a work of death. It is the the work of death of both capitalist communism (including when it goes under the name of "advanced liberal society") and of communist capitalism (called "real communism"). Standing opposite and to the side of both of these - and resisting them both ,in every Society - there is what Marx designates as community: a  division of tasks that does not divide up a preexisting generality (as though society, or humanity, could have a general task  that  could be given, and known, in advance-only capitalist accumulation has ever tried to represent such a general  task),  but  rather articulates singularities among themselves. This is "sociality" as a sharing, and not as a fusion, as an exposure, or as an immanence. (p.74)


Philosophy, Community, Mythology, Communism, Literature, Love, Divinity, Individuality, Communication


The Inoperative Community, Nancy Citations

Links to Reference


Connor, P.; Garbus, L.; Holland, M.; Sawhney, S.



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