Hypotheses I Can’t Substantiate

There are important resources in the experiences and theory of operaismo and autonomia. Aspects of operaismo limit the usefulness of the work, specifically tendencies toward homogenizing as well as statist and vanguardist politics. The homogenizing theoretical moment is linked to a would-be hegemonizing political role that the groups which some of the operaisti were in wished to play. Disentangled from the above, what would remain of operaismo is a ‘bottom up’ mode of reading history, histories that themselves need to be read in search of weapons, and a set of practices which are somewhere between knowledge production and organizing. Workers’ inquiry would be, essentially, the production of knowledge useful for workers against work. Workers’ inquiry, then, would mean seeking to understand the moves that the class enemies are making, the moves our class is already making, and how to improve this process. This mode of workers’ inquiry or militant research suggests moving beyond figures (intellectual, teacher, militant, organizer), which should be retained only deliberately and when useful, and towards an emphasis upon practices, including but not limited to practices of knowledge. Knowledge is like labor, it can be living and dead. Dead knowledge is in books, it has use only when animated by the form giving fire of living labor. Living knowledge is practical (not just in the sense of ‘pragmatic’, but also in the sense of ‘in practice’, that is, it is in motion already, it is currently in a processing of enacting). There are several modes of living knowledge with regard to ‘politics’, which include producingad knowledge (books, flyers, etc), producing groups coming to knowledge of themselves and each other (workshops, discussions, reflections on individual and collective experience), and the production and improvement of new/increased powers in people (training – from something benign like music lessons to trainings [including role plays] on workplace organizing, organization building, strategic decision making, tactics, etc). Politically speaking, there is no neutral or nonpartisan position with regard to knowledge or knowledge production (in the sense of ‘political knowledge’). Practices of knowledge production are thus always in motion, even if we can not see the vectors at the time, and are bound up with decision making. Knowledge production does not occur in a vacuum but rather touches on all manner of other things: one leaves workshops and training with new friends, potential rivals and enemies, more or less confidence, a sense of hope or of despair. What remains of operaismo, or more directly, what I think should be done with operaismo, then is to approach knowledge production as being a mode of organization which is always contiguous with – and which simultaneously acts upon and is acted upon by – other modes. Knowledge production is organization (a class room organizes perceptions and experience, reinforces pyramidal social organizations and is a moment of the educational capital which owns the class room). Communist knowledge production is both knowledge of communist organization – like the communism of coin clippers, file sharers, and co-workers who stand up for each other – and production/improvement of organization, whether formal or informal. Communist practices of knowledge are not a matter of theory, or rather, are not simply a matter of theory as dead knowledge, but instead must be living knowledge. To remain living, communist knowledge productions must be flexible and pragmatic on the choice of idioms of speech: "theory" talk can be useful, but it can also cause blockages and breakdowns where other idioms may have succeeded. Idioms and the contents of ideas are not enough, of course, there is also the matter of affective connections: relationship building, of which idioms are a moment, but only a moment. The basic question is always "what is this producing, and for whom?"