The French translation of this article was published in: L’idée du communisme 2, ed. par S. Zizek et A. Badiou (P.: Lignes, 2011).
“Communism” is a concept that, from its very emergence in the present meaning at the period of the French revolution, was meant to be a more radical and also more down-to-earth alternative to the idealistic and idyllic slogans of the Jacobins (liberty, equality, fraternity, etc.). Unlike the former, “communism” includes a reference to economy and more precisely to a society without private property. This materialist content was later reaffirmed by Marx who, after a period when he had rejected the concept altogether, expressed allegiance to it only with the caveat that “Communism [was for him and Engels] not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself” and that they called “communism” “the real movement which abolished the present state of things.” . I emphasize here the “abolished”: a good Hegelian, Marx accepted communism not as an ideal but as a real negation, a force opposed to the established state of things which is latent or “spectral” as yet.
Communists, with their “criticism of the Earth” belong to the revolutionary branch of the Romantic Movement that aspired to reverse the usual spiritualist orientation of humanity away from the Earth to Heaven, to redirect it into the depths of Earth, towards the depth of matter and the prose of life.