The new communists of the commons: Twenty-first-century Proudhonists

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If Proudhonism in the nineteenth century was, as Marx argued, a petty bourgeois ideology, this paper argues that the new communism of the commons propounded by Badiou, Hardt and Negri, and 05i06ek is a twenty-first-century avatar of it. It speaks not for what Poulantzas called the ‘traditional petty bourgeoisie’, as Proudhon did, but for the ‘new petty bourgeoisie’ of ‘non-productive wage-earners’, which has also lately styled itself the ‘creative class’. A failure to comprehend the dynamics of capitalist accumulation and a general antipathy to any general organization of labour in society, and thus to any serious politics, are common to both. In addition, the paper shows that the protection of the cultural commons, the core of the project, is but a programme aiming for the continued reproduction of the creative class within capitalism. It is also prey to a series of misunderstandings – of the concept of the commons itself, of contemporary capitalism whose dynamics forms the backdrop of their project and
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-233
JournalInternational Critical Thought
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • commons
  • idea of communism
  • creative class
  • Proudhonism
  • Marxism


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