Download a PDF copy of Kevin Carson’s full C4SS Study: Center for a Stateless Society Paper No. 20 (Spring 2016)
Techno-Utopianism, Counterfeit and Real (With Special Regard to Paul Mason’sPost-Capitalism)
So far I’ve relied on Dyer-Witheford’s schema for classifying liberal capitalist and non- or anti-capitalist versions of techno-utopianism. But his categorization is hardly exhaustive.
Within the Marxist milieu, autonomism is just one in a series of Marxist theories of high-tech, post-scarcity communism going back to Bogdanov, as well as existing within a broader category of post-capitalist models based on mixtures of prefigurative politics and counter-institutions very similar to Negri’s and Hardt’s Exodus.
All these Marxist subcurrents are haunted by the spirit of Gramsci’s concept of the “War of Position” — a prolonged process of culture change and institution-building in civil society, aimed at surrounding the state as last bastion of capitalist power, as an alternative to a direct assault (“War of Maneuver”) aimed at capturing the state itself. The only difference is that the autonomists and other prefigurative movements no longer see the war of position as a preparatory state for the war of maneuver — a final all-out assault on the state. For Gramsci the War of Maneuver — the conquest of state power — was still the final step; it was just to be postponed until the cultural sappers had finished their preparatory work.
For the autonomists and like-minded thinkers, the goal is Exodus rather than taking power. Since the means of production are increasingly coextensive with our relationships in civil society, we no longer need the obsolescent institutions of state and capital. We just need to tear down their enclosures of the social economy we’ve already built — and that can be done, to a large extent, by circumvention rather than conquest.