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Communism with a Nonhuman Face


The title of this essay paraphrases the famous expression “Socialism with a human face,” which refers back to 1968, to the events in Czechoslovakia known as the Prague Spring, but also to the Soviet 1980s, the time of the late Soviet Union prior to perestroika, when the idea of changing the very nature of so-called “really existing socialism” from the inside according to human/democratic values was still popular among dissidents. Apparently, it was not a renewed and more refined socialism, but a good old capitalism which entered this space under the mask of the human. Apparently, something went wrong long before perestroika, when communism went in an unknown direction, like a strange animal that managed to escape from people and from the very really existing socialism. Here I would like to track this strange animal and read its traces as peculiar “signs from the future.”

I want to suggest not that something went wrong with socialism, but that something is wrong with the human face. Let me start from the argument, which sounds quite banal already, about the dialectical relationship between the ideology of democratic humanism and the racist social practices of neoliberalism.

Questions are posed here and there, in the entirety of Europe and further to the West, across first world countries and around: What happened to our nice and glorious multicultural world? How is it that our multiple identities, subjectivities, cultural diversities, and irreducible singularities are no longer taken into account? Where has our welfare paradise gone? Is it already lost? The enemy is easy to locate: the one percent, the rich, the bankers, the absolute capitalist minority that owns the world, together with far-right governments and politicians who provide this minority with silent support and hardcore austerity politics. Right-wing governments never defend the interests of people; they only pursue their own interests—the power of the rich over the poor, the power of capital over labor, the power of the one over the many.

Austerity policy is another name for state racism, since its first targets are migrant workers, asylum seekers, and refugees. But it equally abuses artists, intellectuals, the precarious, the disabled, the sick, the poor, and the retired—all those whose very existence does not correspond to the holy land pictured by the perverse imagination of the right-wing. In brief, the far-right is the evil attacking the freedoms and rights won by the people in the course of twentieth-century class struggles, and then carefully guarded by social democrats.

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