Federico Galende’s new book Comunismo del hombre solo (Catálogo, 2016) cannot be read as just an essay, but rather as a gesture that point to a common hue of humanity. This hue is the intensity of blue – instead of the zealous red, the morning yellow, or the weary white – the intensity that withdraws to an ethereal plane of the common. In a recent book on Picasso, T.J. Clark reminds us that the palate blue of the Spanish artist’s early period paved the way for the entry into the temporality of the modern, while demolishing the bourgeois interior and its delicate intimacy of lives that thereafter became possessed by work and display .
Galende’s blue dwells on an angular bend of a color without signification. He is not interested in re-signifying blue as topologically reducible to the new oikos of being. Rather, it is the blue of Aki Kaurismäki’s films what inscribes a distance or metaxy of what is improperly common to a humanity thrown into a world beyond measure (11-12). For Galende, Kaurismäki’s work is an excuse for thought, in the same way that the paintings of Yves Klein or Andrew Wyeth would have been been deployed to un-veil a distant sky that opened to the world of the living in a radically different temporality that is neither that of progress or work, nor that of alienation and consumption.
Blue communism, or rather a communism of blues brings forth unity where there is separation, because ‘class’ far from constituting an identity, is a praxis that “les brinda a ser habitantes inocentes de una actividad que se despliegue bajo un mismo cielo” (36). Hence, there is no ‘idea of communism’, but only an unfulfilled image of potentiality (this is what at stake in Kaurismäki’s cinema, but also in Bresson and Bela Tarr, briefly sketched out in the essay by Galende) of a “tiempo inútil” or an inoperative time. It is a time of life against empty homogenous time of historical appropriation or abandonment. This is also the time that exceeds the threshold between life and work, cinema and the worker’s ailment, the solitary proletarian and the lumpen as always immanent to the capitalist conditions of labor. This inoperative time is what gives form (gestalt) to a negative community of the senses that re-attaches, as in multiple patchwork, what is real and what must remain fiction (78).
Galende sees implicitly this inscription of the inoperative time in Marx’s figure of the lumpenproletariat, and more subtlety, in bits and pieces of Marx’s own life as is autographically reconstructed from the days when the “18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte” (1852) was written. It is only in Blanqui and later Benjamin, where communism is imagined as the improper existence of singulars under a common sky. Galende’s injunction for communism is an astro-communism that is neither regulated by subjectivity or will, political parties or the language of the transcendental nor is it a historical benchmark for hegemony and order. Against every regimen of subjective onto-theology, astro-communism is an experimental and impersonal practice of being exposed in the other, with the other. In a crucial moment of his essay, Galende writes:
“Introducir la práctica de los otros no es sin embargo una facultad exclusive del arte. Es la manera que tienen cualquiera de deshacer la identidad a la que ha sido confinado por el otro…Esto significa que no hay nada que interpretar ni nada que comprender, como diría Deleuze, ningún imperativo que asimilar: lo que la experimentación destruye es el transcendental que el catastrofista o el adelantado inyectan en el movimiento de la experiencia con el único fin de inmovilizarla. Ahora estamos al tato de que ese trascendental no era más que la máscara que cubra la vida vacía del sacerdote que frustra las potencias que se actualizan en su despliegue. […] Probar ser otro: la experimentación es una extensión en lo impropio” (81-83).
Astro-communism is conditioned by a metaxy that exceeds every anthropological remainder and its restitution. This explains why in the later part of the essay, Galende turns his attention to the animalia of both Kaurismäki and Bresson’s films: stray dogs, Balthassar the donkey, talking monkeys, rats or giant insects in Kafka. Curiously enough there is no mention of wolves in the essay (the wolf being the only animal that resists the circus or domestication, that is, that resists theory proper). Under the sway of animality, what Galende captures is not a substance or an intensity of the animal as to delimit the caesura between man and animal, but an openness that retain metaxy of every singular animal with the world.
For Galende, the animal’s sight abolishes any ‘central organization of perception’, which is condition for the appearance and consequently for being-singular in common (103-104). The metaxy of animal-world is (intentionally?) underdeveloped in Comunismo del hombre solo, but one could well speculate that this imagistic tactic here is to cross over the ontological difference into a region what the event of the human proper loses its privilege into an unearthly landscape where things and animals are assumed as a form devoid of epochal destiny. Astro-communism renders inoperative all epochality, since it conceives itself as lacking a ‘center, axis, or an organization of the visible that are merely instantiated in the quotidian .
This improper communism of the singular man delivers no political program. Of course, Galende makes no effort in restituting a politics in the time of the ruins of the political; at a moment when critique as such has been subsumed into a universitarian operation (125-126). Galende’s point of departure (not of arrival) is thus infrapolitical. His gesture in this sense cannot be said to produce a critical register aim at “re-orienting the present struggles” and re-integrate lumpen-living into the “stable working class”. This second option is already to abandon the promise of astro-communism in the name of an anthro-productivism that feeds off from the fictive arrangement of mechanical and labor arrangement against the singular experience.
Comunismo del hombre solo imagines and thinks what is always-already in the excess of production, that is, on the side of the lumpen, which is the form of life of astro-temporality of being. The blue man of communism can’t never be subsumed by work, since he is first a style of existence that is closer to the work of art. This is why the experience of communism, as Groys understands it, was a destructive plenary where social space became an all-encompassing museum. But that experiment failed, and only comes back to us as spectral trace. This is the promise in Kaurismäki’s oeuvre. What returns is what is un-common of the inoperative man – for instance, the particle ‘mu’ of communism  – not only as what makes possible and concrete every existence of life, but as a natural flux of a reverie that carries the fractured back of a laboring humanity.
- T. J. Clark. Picasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2013.
- Federico Galende writes: “…en este comunismo no hay centro, no hay eje, no hay una organización de lo visible ni a partir del contracampo del protagonista en el que el paisaje se condensa ni a partir de una mirada dirigida….fuera de toda imposición, en formas de co-existencia que asoman solo cuando se las requiere para solucionar un traspié inmediato o cotidiano”. 117-118
- Wu Ming. “The Mu particle in communism”. Make Everything New: a project on communism. London: Book Works, 2006.