It is clear from all these theses that the project of generalized self-management requires as many specifics as there are desires in each revolutionary, and as many revolutionaries as there are people dissatisfied with their everyday life. The spectacle-commodity society produces both the conditions that repress subjectivity and — contradictorily, through the refusal it provokes — the positivity of subjectivity; just as the formation of the councils, similarly arising out of the struggle against overall oppression, produces the conditions for a permanent realization of subjectivity without any limits but its own impatience to make history. Thus generalized self-management is linked to the capacity of the councils to realize the imagination historically.
– Raoul Vaneigem, Notice to the Civilized Concerning Generalized Self-Management, 1969
One thing I noticed reading over Raoul Vaneigem’s Notice to the Civilized is that his thesis on workers councils, generalized self-management, and subjectivity is very much like libertarian philosopher Robert Nozick’s “a framework for utopia” thesis.
Granted, their ideas of specific utopia are vastly different – Vaneigem drawing on the writings of Charles Fourier and Nozick drawing on John Locke – the framework Nozick puts forth does not exclude Vaneigem’s, and both seem to be largely in agreement over subjectivity.
The conclusion to draw is that there will not be one kind of community existing and one kind of life led in utopia. Utopia will consist of utopias, of many different and divergent communities in which people lead different kinds of lives under different institutions. Some kinds of communities will be more attractive to most than others; communities will wax and wane. People will leave some for others or spend their whole lives in one. Utopia is a framework for utopias, a place where people are at liberty to join together voluntarily to pursue and attempt to realize their own vision of the good life in the idea community but where no one can impose his own utopia vision upon others. The utopian society is the society of utopianism… Half of the truth I wish to put forth is that utopia is meta-utopia: the environment in which utopian experiments may be tried out; the environment which must, to a great extent, be realized first if a more particular utopia visions are to be realized stably.
– Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia 1974