This is perhaps a convenient moment to consider what has been happening in the second half of the twentieth century, the period to which ‘we’ are witnesses.
1. The state is consolidating on a world scale. It weighs down on society (on all societies) in full force; it plans and organized society ‘rationally’, with the help of knowledge and technology, imposing analogous, if not homologous, measures irrespective of political ideology, historical background, or the class origins of those in power. The state crushes time by reducing differences to repetitions or circularities (dubbed ‘equilibrium’, ‘feedback’, ‘self-regulation’, and so on). Space in its Hegelian form comes back into its own. This modern state promotes and imposes itself as the stable centre - definitively - of (national) societies and spaces. As both the end and the meaning of history - just as Hegel had forecast - it flattens the social and ‘cultural’ spheres. It enforces a logic that puts and end to conflicts and contradictions. It neutralizes whatever resists it by castration or crushing. Is this social entropy? Or is it a monstrous excrescence transformed into normality? Whatever the answer, the results lie before us.
2. In this same space there are, however, other forces on the boil, because the rationality of the state, of its techniques, plans and programmes, provokes opposition. The violence of power is answered by the violence of subversion. With its wars and revolutions, defeats and victories, confrontation and turbulence, the modern world corresponds precisely to Nietzsche’s tragic vision. State-imposed normality makes permanent transgression inevitable. As for time and negativity, whenever they emerge, as they must, they do so explosively. This is a new negativity, a tragic negativity which manifests itself as incessant violence. These seething forces are still capable of rattling the lid of the cauldron of the state and its space, for differences can never be totally quieted. Though defeated, they live on, and from time to time they begin fighting ferociously to reassert themselves and transform themselves through struggle.
3. Nor has the working class said its last word. It continues on its way, sometimes underground, sometimes in the light of day. It is not an easy matter to get rid of the class struggle, which has taken myriad forms not accounted for by the impoverished schema usually so referred to - a scheme which is nowhere to be found in Marx even if its devotees claim to be Marxists. It may be that a fatal balance of power has not been reached which will prevent the working class’s opposition to the bourgeoisie from ever becoming an open antagonism, so that society totters while the state rots in place or reasserts itself in convulsive fashion. It may be that world revolution will break out after a period of latency. Or perhaps world war will circle the planet in the wake of the world market. At all events, everything suggests at present that the workers in the industrialized countries are opting neither for indefinite growth and accumulation nor for violent revolution leading to the disappearance of the state, but rather for the withering away of work itself. Merely to consider the possibilities is to realize that Marxist thought had not disappeared, and indeed that it cannot disappear.
- from Production de l’espace