Richard Gilman-Opalsky, Precarious Communism: Manifest Mutations, Manifesto Detourned
Autonomedia / Minor Compositions, 2014; 144pp; ISBN-13: 978-1570272929
In Precarious Communism Gilman-Opalsky explains that the purpose of any manifesto, including his own, is to make manifest certain facts. Accordingly, he highlights the difference between Marx and 'Marxism' without engaging dead ideologies. He is a 'precarious' proponent of new theories void of historical baggage or loaded terms. This makes the book an excellent supplement to many social science and humanities courses.
Gilman-Opalsky situates Marx and 'Marxism' in the concept of precarious communism (autonomy) in an attempt to disentangle the terms 'communism' and 'Marxism' from past ideological purity and state practice. It is a way forward that allows for no single pure ideological possibility of social organisation, but rather many diverse possibilities for achieving a non-capitalist society that could be described generally as communal. Precarious Communism also demonstrates the 'precarious' position of the non-ideological communist seeking a way forward. It is within this context that Gilman-Opalsky attempts to situate the Communist Manifesto for today's audience, realities, and experiences, using the methodological technique developed by the French Situationists (an artistic-political organisation) under Guy Debord called detournement (meaning re-routing or hijacking) (Situationist International, 1958, http://www.cddc.vt.edu/sionline///si/definitions. html).
One of the author's major contributions is to update Marxist ideas, rather than ideology, showing their relevance both theoretically and as more accurate descriptions of conditions under late capitalism or neoliberalism. In fact, such critical analyses are more important and relevant than ever before given the expansion of capitalist co-optation and invasion into even more spheres of life than in Marx's times. Gilman-Opalsky points out that globalisation is still based on the old city power centres around the world. In this sense, globalisation is a thinly veiled exercise aiming to further modern forms of neo-colonialism. More so, this is a 'privatized' globalisation, as he points out, where national governments have voluntarily privatised almost all of their functions leaving them as hollow 'straw men' for the elite to rail against, an ironic sight indeed since governments, having been co-opted long ago, are no more than...