The citizenist world is a homogeneous world, populated by individuals who look very much like those of the neoclassical economists: we picture them going to voice their political preferences during referenda just like the economists picture consumers going to the market to voice their preferences, without taking into account the power relations in which they are caught up, or the social antagonisms which shape them.
“Lenin, Communists, and Immigration” is a crucial text in Balibar’s trajectory, as it demonstrates that the focal points of his research in the 1980s and 1990s, and continuing into the present – on nationalism, xenophobia, class identity, imperialism, the persistent racialization of immigrant populations, and the ways these phenomena sustain working-class divisions – did not come from a break in his thinking, but rather emerged from his long-term engagement with an open “knot” of questions within the Marxist problematic.
Lenin’s analysis forces us to consider immigration – the living and working conditions of immigrant workers – starting from the theory of imperialism, outside of which the contemporary forms of immigration remain unintelligible. The concrete knowledge of the causes and effects of immigration is, reciprocally, a guiding thread towards an understanding of imperialism.
If the figure of the worker can no longer be deduced from the forms of collective consciousness of a group (workers’ consciousness) otherwise objectively constituted – the working class – then it is necessary to build a new dispositif of investigation and analysis of the intellectual field of workers.
It was necessary to put in place a practice, capable of determining displacement and at least of alluding to an “offensive” move, beyond the necessarily defensive character of the resistance – why not buy a ship, put it at sea?