This paper deals with the indigenous proletariat in Andean proletarian literature arguing for the importance of understanding the complexities of the proletarian movement. By examining one particular instance of proletarian aesthetics in its local and international context/s, the paper demonstrates the importance of including both temporal and spatial dimensions when theorizing the proletarian subject while also pointing out the difficulties of narrating class consciousness. While the Andean version of proletarian literature does not offer a detailed historical account of colonialism and the historical developments that preceded fully fledge capitalist production in the area, it does contain a rather complex temporal understanding of history and the proletarian subject. The mystical conception of the indigenous proletariat in Mariáteguian Marxism assumes that pre-capitalist communal relationships and social formations are crucial to the revolutionary consciousness and struggle. In short, this paper considers the indigenous proletarian subject in relation to Marx’s conception of the proletarian subject in his early as well as later works while also offering an examination of the tradition of revolutionary literature during the heyday of the proletarian movement.
I will examine a few representative texts from 2 periods; (1) the immediate aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution; and (2) the early to mid-1930s when Soviet socialist construction was under way. My theoretical focus will be on the dialectical concepts that were embedded in these texts' representations of revolutionary processes.
Hunter Bivens will discuss the continuities and breaks in the practice and theory of the novel from the German proletarian-revolutionary literature of the late 1920s and early 1930s to the exiled writers of the German popular front. If the proletarian-revolutionary writing of the Weimar Republic sought epic forms to represent the trans-individual agencies of modern revolutions, the popular front after 1935 seemed to turn back to the traditional novel. Within the popular front’s apparent turn back to traditional novelistic techniques, though, many authors continued to pursue the earlier project of post-bourgeois epic forms as a way of figuring fascism as a foreclosure of collective historical agency.
Probably the most widely read, widely known and widely cited pages of the Grundrisse number no more than six and.comprise the section of the "Introduction" that appears under the title of "The Method of Political Economy." It is here that Marx addresses most explicitly the question of method. But much confusion is risked if the reader does not carefully distinguish what Marx appears quite clearly to have meant by the method of "political economy"—the method of the 18th century political economists, chiefly Adam Smith which Marx famously characterizes as proceeding from the starting point of the abstract relations discovered at the end of their inquiries by the political economists of the 17th century (e.g., Quesneau's Table economique) to the concrete—but not, of course, the "chaotic concrete" of the most immediate realities—"population, its distribution among classes, town and country, the coast..., etc." but rather the concrete as the "concentration of many determinations, hence unity of the diverse, etc." (101)—and the method that is Marx's as it appears most fully exemplified in Capital. It is a common error to suppose that Marx's method and that of political economy are one and the same. This is most emphatically not the case, nor is it in any way accurate to refer to Marx's method as the method of a "Marxist political economy." There is no such thing as a "Marxist political economy." Marx's method must, by implication, be the method of the "critique of political economy." Precisely what is meant by that critique—and therefore perhaps by its "method"?—is described a few pages further on, beginning on p. 105: "Bourgeois society is the most developed and the most complex historic organization of production."—and continuing on through p. 107. It is in these—exceedingly difficult—three pages that, if it begins to appear anywhere, there begins something that we might refer to as the method of Marx, as most fully developed in Capital—and as first sketched here in the Grundrisse.
From here, then, we will move directly to the longer segment on “pre-capitalist social formations” (pp. 471-515). The fact that the second of these segments of the “Chapter on Capital” crops up so much later than does the “Method of Political Economy” segment may tend to obscure the fact of their especially significant combination and interrelation. Thus, for example, if
“Bourgeois society is the most developed and most complex historic organization of production. The categories which express its relations, the comprehension of its structure, thereby also allows insights into the structures and relations of production of all the vanished social formations out of whose ruins and elements it built itself up, whose partly still unconquered remains are carried along within it, whose mere nuances have developed explicit significance within it…”
then how is this quite singular relation of capitalist present to pre-capitalist past manifested or revealed as underlying and working itself out within the “commune” according to Marx’s typology as well as to Marx’s account of the general and radical break—but a break in some ways less than complete, uneven—between the commune and "bourgeois society"? Can we read the latter of these two segments as in some sense an illustration of the methodological principles worked out on a more general and "abstract" plane in the “Introduction”? Furthermore, what can be learned from the transition from the commune to capitalism about any possible transition from capitalism to a "post-capitalist" social formation—or formations?
In order to focus more closely on these and related questions, we will review and discuss a series of specific questions from the general list of study questions covering both the "Introduction" and the "Chapter on Capital," questions to be found in sections A (questions 15, 16, & 19) and G. (questions 8, 10, 13, 19, 26, & 28.)
Grundrisse study questions A.
15. Explain how abstractions, while universally valid, “possess their full validity” only in the context of certain historical relations.
16. “Human anatomy contains a key to the anatomy of the ape.” (105) Explain. What is the relationship, real and theoretical, of bourgeois society to previous forms of society?
19. “The difficulty is that they [the ancient Greek arts and epic] still afford us artistic pleasure and that in a certain respect they count as a norm and as an unattainable model.” (111) How does Marx resolve this “difficulty”? Is it a convincing argument? Consider Marx’s words in the Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy that “the totality of [the] relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness.” (Early Writings, 425). If the “economic structure” of ancient Greek society no longer exists, how is it possible for its art--one of its “forms of consciousness”--to continue to exert an “eternal charm” even into the bourgeois, capitalist epoch? Is there an inconsistency between the Marx of the “Preface” and the Marx of the Grundrisse?
Grundrisse study questions G.
8. “This is why the childish world of antiquity appears on one side as loftier. On the other side, it really is loftier in all matters where closed shapes, forms and given limits are sought for. It is satisfaction from a limited standpoint; while the modern gives no satisfaction; or, where it appears satisfied with itself, it is vulgar.” (488) Why, then, this appearance—and reality—of being “loftier”? Marx’s reference to the “childish” here recalls his remark at the very end of the “Introduction” to the Grundrisse (see pp. 110-111) regarding the “historic childhood of humanity” and the purported unsurpassable quality of ancient Greek art and literature as compared to modern art and literature. In other words, one might extrapolate from these two passing remarks a connection between Marx’s incipient ideas regarding aesthetics and the “commune.” What might it be?
10. “In other words the extra-economic origin of property means nothing else than the historic origin of the bourgeois economy, of the forms of production which are theoretically or ideally expressed by categories of political economy.” (489) Explain. Read carefully, this shows how, in Marx’s reasoning, it is a fallacy to regard the “economic” itself as something with a continuous history, stretching from the “commune” to modern, bourgeois society. How so? Refer back, if necessary, to the section on “The Method of Political Economy” in the “Introduction.”
13. “It is thereby also clear that these conditions change.” (493) Here and throughout these pages of the Grundrisse Marx lays out not only the general historical factors that led to the eventual dissolution of communal forms of society but also the way in which such factors were part of an underlying historical dynamic that is specific to this historical epoch. What is this specificity? Refer back to question 6.
19. “This historic process [the dissolution of communal society and the rise of capitalism] was the divorce of elements which up until then were bound together; its result is therefore not that one of the elements disappears, but that each of them appears in a negative relation to the other…” (503) Explain.
26. Apart from establishing in these extraordinary passages that he possessed a command of history probably unequalled for his time (if not for our own), Marx also makes clear here how revolutionary his thinking is in terms of historical method—of historicism—itself. Marx does not merely fill in the blank spaces in the so-called “mode of production narrative” here (though, on the highest plane of generality, that is what he constructs). He treats historical development as intrinsically uneven, i.e. as itself something that must be historicized. To be sure, he remains the student of Hegel, especially, in these pages of the Grundrisse, of the Hegel of the Logic Philosophy of History and the Philosophy of Right. But here too Hegel is ‘stood on his feet.’ Consider the way Marx treats the category of property in these pages. See, e.g., the following passage:
28. Marx’s understanding of the commune as the “presupposition of property in land and soil” implies not only that a social relation (and here, moreover, a political relation) mediates the belonging-ness of property, but, in ways that Marx only rarely makes explicit, also that ‘property’ as a category is not a transhistorical constant. The fact that ‘property’ in capitalist society necessarily appears as the abstract presupposition of the social, political and juridical relations that it in actual fact rests upon is shown by Marx to be itself the result of a historical break. Marx, so to speak, not only writes the history of property but historicizes the category itself. He performs what is essentially the same, doubly historicizing operation on the categories of the city (or of the city/country binary) and of the individual here as well. Illustrate and demonstrate this. It could also be argued that—albeit in much less explicit fashion—Marx historicizes the category of the political in this section of the Grundrisse. How so? Explain.
Required Readings from Grundrisse (penguin edition): pp. 102-108; 471-515
Additional Readings: Study Questions on Grundrisse.
The "Stalin era," the years of Joseph Stalin's leadership of the Soviet Union and the worldwide communist movement, is the heroic period of the Russian Revolution. But the history of this period has been slandered and falsified for decades. I will outline some of the accomplishments of Russian Revolution and some of its problems. Contemporary activists rarely discuss them, however, because they are blinded by all the anti-Stalin lies. Vladimir Lenin became politically inactive in 1922 and died in January 1924. Joseph Stalin soon emerged as the leader of the Soviet Union and the world communist movement. The history of the Soviet Union during the time of Joseph Stalin’s leadership has been falsified from the 1920s. From the 1930s until 1956 Leon Trotsky was the single most influential falsifier of Soviet history. This falsification became more widespread and more credible during the time of Nikita Khrushchev, then of Mikhail Gorbachev. Khrushchev's and Gorbachev's lies rehabilitated Trotsky's writing and gave new life to the moribund Trotskyist movement. Anticommunist writers in the capitalist world and Trotskyists writers repeated these falsehoods. Since the end of the Soviet Union a great many new primary sources documents from former Soviet archives have been made available to scholars, permitting us to refute the lies and falsifications about the Stalin years in a definitive way. This paper reports on a number of the falsehoods that are widely accepted as true, even on the Left. In my presentation I will briefly summarize the main results of the reconsideration of this widely traduced period of history.
Capping off a series of rich passages about the capital and the creation of a world market, Marx writes, "[b]y its nature, therefore, [capital] posits a barrier to labor and value creation, in contradiction to its tendency to expand them boundlessly. And in as much as it both posits a barrier specific to itself, and on the other side equally drives over and beyond every barrier, it is the living contradiction." The selections from Grundrisse upon which our reading group will focus evidence, in short order, Marx's wide-ranging reliance on the concept of surplus. In these 36 pages Marx uses the category in the following ways: Surplus Value (absolute and relative), Surplus Labor Time, Surplus Capital, Surplus Population, Surplus Productivity, Surplus Consumption and Free/Disposable (might we call it "surplus"?) Time. Each of the presenters will offer independent thoughts on portions of these readings, elaborating key implications both for reading Marx, and for considering Marx's relevance to other critical projects.
Required Readings from Grundrisse (penguin edition): pp. 321-6, 398-423, 604-610.
The Problem of Revolution in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go
For Lukács, the historical novel emerges from revolution, which makes history appear and produces the everyday fictional protagonist that orients and represents the reader’s newfound historical consciousness. Perry Anderson and Fredric Jameson have recently discussed the viability of the contemporary historical novel in terms of world-historical catastrophe and science-fictional futurity respectively, modifying Lukács’s thesis to accommodate what Jameson calls the “present-day enfeeblement of historical consciousness” (Antinomies 259). This paper tests Lukács’s contention in the post-revolutionary climate of twenty-first century history, by looking at the failure of revolution—and the success of historical consciousness—in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go.
Written in 2005 and set in the 1990s, Ishiguro’s novel is explicitly historical. But as a realist novel centered on technologies of genetic cloning, it is also obviously speculative, even futuristic. This uncanny temporality and, I argue, tonality of Never Let Me Go prompts us to rethink the grounding of historical consciousness meant to develop from revolution. Lukács’s account of the middling protagonist prompts the following questions of Never Let Me Go: who is the subject of revolution, what kind of personhood or humanness does revolution presuppose, and what is at stake in the articulation of the revolutionary subject in terms of the figure of “the human” and its transformation? I argue that, like the monster in Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818)—often described as the first revolutionary novel—Ishiguro’s protagonist represents the bodily instrumentalization out of which revolution should come, but cannot. Ishiguro’s narrative strategies—which embed retrospective narration inside a novel already set in the recent past—demonstrate how presumptions of human subjectivity as novelistic interiority set up a tension between the foreclosure and revolution, the historicity and speculative futurity, that Lukács wants to find in the novel form.
Apparent within Porter’s Ship of Fools is an antagonism between the Tolstoy-esque scope of the work (thirty-odd passengers sailing to Germany during the interwar crisis) and its narrative mentality of montage (developing from anonymity only repetitious interaction in vacuum space). Yet via the latter, Porter enunciates not merely the reified surface of capitalist socialization: per Kracauer, montage ultimately produces not ‘replication’ but the return of the repressed. The Ship acts as a social symbolic, illuminating not ‘veiled’ relations qua class but an essentially asocial socialization, blindly produced via the individual writ large. Specifically, revealed is a narcissistic symbolic, utterly disassociated from erotic/life aims (qua valorization as a social self-end, wherein material desire/necessity are only necessary evils). In the ensuing economic crisis (embodied in the 800 laborers in steerage made unexploitable), the manifest appearance of this symbolic (abstract universality) devolves into a latent aggression against the racial and sexual ‘other’—profit anxiety displaced via a compulsively repeated assertion of white masculinity.
Ultimately, socialization itself surfaces as utterly lacking in redemptive possibility: the American liberalists, no less than their proto-Nazi counterparts, are ‘free’ to prioritize death over life, as the blind subjects of value driven to enact social self-destruction. Their destination is Auschwitz; the journey, a ‘middle-passage’ for the racialized, ‘superfluous’ majority, the sugar cane they toiled over destroyed to sustain valorization. Yet, the text’s very exigency is that it denies such a totality could be progressively affirmed. Rather, this socialization itself appears as not worth saving—having only itself to lose.
In this presentation I examine some of the tensions and contradictions within the concepts of artistic and literary form, contradictions that have been obscured rather than resolved in the works of so-called new or historical formalism. I proceeds by means of a comparative analysis of two revolutionary theories of form: of Marx’s account of the commodity form that underlies his critique of political economy as set out primarily in the first volume of Capital, and of Adorno’s diverse writings on aesthetic, musical and literary form, in which is to be found the germ of a conception of the political agency of art and literature that goes well beyond the limits of the famous account of the relationship between aesthetics and politics that is set out in the ‘Commitment’ essay. Developing on the basis of work in my monograph, Adorno’s Poetics of Form (Albany: SUNY Press, forthcoming 2018), I analyse and explicate the implications of the comparison between these two accounts of two very different forms of social labour, theorizing their contradictions as a reflection of the unreconciledness of subject and object, universal and particular, within commodity society. Addressing the cynicism of much contemporary art, I raise the question of whether the moment for the resolution of these contradictions has passed without issue, and explore the resources of the contemporary legacies of (late) modernism for the formulation of a poetics of the wrong state of things.
Jean-Pierre Gorin and Jean-Luc Godard’s Brechtian comedy Tout va bien identifies itself as an examination of the class struggle in French society in 1972, with a focus on the directors’ positions as intellectuals. As a synchronic cross-section of France, this accounting proves itself to be (necessarily) incomplete, as the influence of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution on the French Left is felt, but goes unremarked upon, in the film. I argue that the interpretation and application of Epic Theatre that Gorin and Godard attempt for the cinema is unimaginable without the concrete superstructural struggles going on in China as a mediating force. If Brecht’s thought and artistic practice is identified with the Russian Revolution as the immediate point of reference for struggle, Gorin’s and Godard’s must be considered in light of the Chinese Revolution and its developments of Marxism-Leninism. The lessons of Brecht they take up, I argue, are most concretely and systematically expressed in Walter Benjamin’s “The Artist as Producer”. Benjamin proposes through his own reading of Brecht that the revolutionary artist must pedagogically provoke one’s viewers to develop their own critical and expressive capacities, which can only be accomplished in conjunction with the functional transformation and alienation of one’s own apparatus(es) of production. Raymond Williams identifies in Mao a radicalization of the Brechtian insight in his concept of cultural “integration”, which I argue provides the horizon of activity for Gorin and Godard, even if they are materially incapable of fully realizing it in practice.
Twenty-first century Marxist scholars, especially those in the humanities, have a weighty accumulated history to reconcile when looking back on the legacy of the 1917 Russian Revolution. At times, the core values and goals of the two—Marxist theories of revolution and literary or cultural scholarship—have been at odds. Given what we know about the genealogy of our contemporary perspective, and our various scholarly specializations, what value can we find in the writings of prominent Bolsheviks about the way they understand the relationship between art and emancipatory politics? This presentation will primarily focus on a close study of Leon Trotsky’s 1924 book Literature and Revolution, though it will also consider various writings by figures such as V.I. Lenin and Maxim Gorky. The enquiry into these primary texts will be guided by the following preliminary questions:
- How did these revolutionaries conceive of the relationship between art and the people in a socialist society?
- Was literature believed to have a unique place in the artistic landscape?
- Can we find any similarities between their milieu and our own?
- And, most importantly for our contemporary moment, do their writings expose relationships between literature and people that might not currently exist but are worth cultivating?
In this presentation, I argue that the question of revolutionary consciousness is already latent in Marx's analysis of accumulation; and that this question, considered in Marx's terms, finds its most robust articulation in the domain of poetics. Marx, I claim, lays out a set of objective coordinates for the determination of the revolutionary subject in the closing lines of chapter 25 of Capital. He does so by combining the figure of the Irish farmer—banished from his land only to "re-appear" as a Fenian on the other side of the Atlantic—with a citation from Horace. This combination captions both the historical transition from subsistence farming to wage-labor and the formal transition in Capital from the analysis of capitalist accumulation to the section on primitive accumulation. Building on the spatial and temporal dynamics my reading of Marx points up, and drawing on the history of avant-garde poetry in North America, I elaborate several theses about poetics and revolutionary consciousness that suture together an account of poetic form as a kind of notation or captioning of social life; a materialist interrogation of consciousness through the prism of commitment as a structure of feeling; and the critique of political economy. Ultimately I will show that an unasked question underlies Marx's use of figuration and quotation, and that Marxist criticism has to ask this question in order to begin assessing the salience of Marxism for our conjuncture: what can poetry do for the critique of political economy that theory can't?
We are interested in Marx's sense of the "pre" as he works through both the history and the logical structure of capital. It has been demonstrated elsewhere that Marx's investigation of the pre-capitalist forms are mainly historically incorrect, but we are interested still in what the conditions of capitalism are. What must be prior to capitalism? From what does it emerge? From what does it not emerge? Likewise - Marx's account of the capitalist production process, of the transition of value through its monetary and commodity forms relies often on a logical relationship of presupposition. Capital presupposes the same conditions of accumulation that it reproduces. Could we locate the presuppositions of capital temporally or historically? Lastly, what can Marx's speculations into the so-called pre-capitalist social formations teach us about non-capitalist social formations and their political economies? How could we use these social formations as part of a political project in the present?
Required Readings from Grundrisse (penguin edition): pp. 459-515; 586-7.
Additional Readings: No additional readings.
In his early writings Marx refers to alienation as a separation of human beings from their essential nature. But for both good reasons and ones not so good, anti-essentialist emphases of recent decades have chilled conversations about essence or essential natures. Yet, at root the concept of alienation sends us to a beyond, an over there, a location, physical or social or psychological where something off from us is manifested. The concept of separation is implicit, and separation is a theme at the core of Marx’s mature thought. How, for example, might Marx have explained the thread leading from attention to alienation in his early writings to capital understood as a “double separation” (Charles Bettelheim) -- of workers from the conditions of production and of entities of production from one another?
I’ll argue that from the perspective of reading Capital today, Marx’s writings of the 1840s still contribute importantly to his thought. Not only can we affirm that alienation involves an impoverishing separation of the individual from nature and from others, but we realize also a third separation of concern – the separation of the political from an individual’s lived actuality.
Joining these threads leaves much to explore. Consider how justice is understood. Thinking about justice is pretty much always in terms of distributive justice, but this concept is rooted in value and the double separation characterizing capital. Can attention to contributive justice make justice less alienating?
Consider also reflections of alienation in literature and the arts. Might understanding be informed by distinguishing between alienation traceable to the separation of workers from the conditions of production on the one hand yet distinct from a theme of alienation traceable instead to the concept of value alone? (Bartleby and Don Giovanni offer a possible pairing.)
This paper seeks to combine three horizons of thought in order to comment on forces generative of identity in our contemporary modernity—the contradiction of human rights whereby the official world asserts the dignity of all individuals at the same time it violates them; currency as an effective force for equalization and homogenization; and the non-economic precedents of capitalism. If, as I am arguing, the entire enterprise of human rights which would extend itself to all deployments of identity is a self-compromising one subverted at every turn by history, then where shall we turn to understand both the contradiction itself (why it exists) and the source of its persistence (what fuels it or, better yet, allows it not to become extinguished)? One point of departure which I will focus on here remains the means by which money inscribes, or can be made to inscribe, equivalence onto all possible objects as though it were some prominent alchemical substance that renders all elements in our modern constellation fluid. Human beings—their bodies, flesh, proximity to citizenship and officialdom where some count as more human than others—are no exceptions to this. In what ways, then, are the contradictions of human rights and the atrocities that arise from them a result of the equilibrating effects of currency or such abstract modes of thinking that resemble our understanding of currency? That is to say, because of their being rendered equal subjects—as human rights wishes in the most standardized of ways—human beings can come to be viewed as objects and exploited as mere material substance, fluid like money. Finally, if the state is an epiphenomena of the economic (as Jameson writes at one point) then is the economic, which would seem to be related at its most basic roots to living well, the improper place upon which we should base civilization? How might we diagnose the ideological architecture of capitalism as non-economic and devote energies to altering it prior to its historical-economic roots? This paper ultimately aims (especially in employing Raymond Williams’ understanding of nature) to articulate a view of capitalism beyond the economic in order that we might better understand what has led to its current domination. I am interested here in thinking about how money and commodification homogenizes human identity and what problems and solutions this process produces for our contemporary society.
This paper will explore the tendency in post-1973 Anglophone fiction towards self-theorisation, directly social moments, or what Theodor Adorno terms “manifest opinions.” These moments in fiction are categorised by an authoritative—possibly authorial—voice, one attempting to tell you a social fact. Often, these moments are somewhat definitional. For example, Don DeLillo attempts to define history in a single paragraph; Tom McCarthy, leaning heavily on 1970s French poststructuralism, tries to define modernity in a theoretical work barely masquerading as a novel. They carry a certainty, a self-assurance. It is fiction as critique, critique as fiction: dominated by an unnatural, affectless tone, it registers a slipping of meaning, an endeavor to grasp on to a world which is sliding from their grasp.
Walter Benjamin asserted in The Origin of German Tragic Drama that allegory is a description of the world "revealed under the gaze of the melancholy man.” This inability even to allegorise, let alone symbolise, is evidence of a significant deterioration. Benjamin’s melancholy man is no longer melancholic; he suffers from that condition’s the hyper-commodified, medicalised, neoliberal counterpart: depression. Prior to DSM-III, the third instantiation of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and the first published after the shift to flexible accumulation, depression (“depressed mood”) had not been categorized as a condition in and of itself—it was a symptom of other conditions, and separated from melancholia (“markedly diminished interest or pleasure.”) With its publication in 1980, the previously differentiated depression and melancholia were folded into a single category: major depressive disorder. Melancholia as a condition officially disappeared, and with it, allegory regressed, to be replaced by a form of representation that barely gestures at the symbolic.
To investigate this shift, I will close read two deeply contrasting twenty-first century novels: Tom McCarthy’s Satin Island—perhaps the most extreme example of this tendency, and China Mieville’s This Census Taker, an ambitious, formally innovative and difficult to categorise novella which stakes a firm claim for the possibility of the artistic symbol.
The “1857 Introduction” to the Grundrisse remains key to understanding Marx’s method and epistemology. At the same time, and given its draft and terse nature, it is also a complex, digressive text, one that is difficult to follow and at times dangerous to quote. Here, Marx provides a very rapid and compressed summary critique of several bourgeois political economists and philosophers, without any substantive engagement with their ideas directly. For example, Marx hardly refers to the exact passages he is critiquing. The aim of this reading group is to inaugurate a ‘new’ reading of this text, one that shares the sense of its significance, but also one that highlights the hazards and challenges of treating Marx's rather ‘digressive, rough' jottings as some robust, well-thought, authoritative, final statement on Marx’s method. Such a reading might dwell on the fact that "unevenness" is both what the "Introduction" is, at least partially, about and what characterizes its formal structure. Along these lines, this reading could begin with Marx's final comments in the "Introduction," in which he discusses unevenness in relation to art and suggests that, unlike in ancient Greece, formal unevenness--or contradiction--becomes a fundamental constitutive element of modern cultural production.
Required Readings from Grundrisse (penguin edition): pp. 83-111.
Additional Readings: Althusser's "On the Materialist Dialectic.”
Karl Marx’s famous account of the “original sin” of primitive accumulation in capital formation begins with analysis of the legal history of enclosure in England from the late 15th century onwards, and the widespread dispossession and transformation of landless people into wage laborers. This presentation will uncover the ways in which the changing social ecology wrought by the rise of private, enclosed property penetrated both representations of this practice, in surveying manuals, and the spaces these practices took place, in country house poems. The surveying manual rose to prominence towards the last quarter of the sixteenth century in England; estate surveys had become hotly debated, and to quell suspicion around this instrumental practice for appraising private property, many of these manuals, like John Norden’s The Surveyor’s Dialogue (1607) opened with lengthy justifications for the political, economic, and ecological value of private property. At the same time, the country house poem, present in the time of Horace, experienced a revival at the opening of the seventeenth century; Ben Jonson’s “To Penshurst” (1616) is perhaps the most famous example of this genre, wherein the country estate is praised for its abundance, with little mention given to the increasingly waged agricultural labor that sustained these behemoth manors. By putting together these two arenas of discourse, my paper seeks to argue that the constructions of self-sustaining place inherent in constructions of private property provided the rhetorical materials for the dispossession and class stratification during this watershed moment in the formation of capital and the capital mode of production.
In this presentation, I argue that the poetics of temporal duration and serial continuity are a mediation of the utopian residues of a revolutionary internationalism in the present. I explore the temporality of capital accumulation and its crystallization in the poetics of duration across three moments of economic crisis, stretching from the shock wave of the Great Depression and into the 2008 financial crash inaugurating our present moment. The word 'stretch' here anticipates the particular objects of this inquiry, Louis Zukofsky's long poem A and Nathaniel Mackey's intertwined “Song of the Andoumboulou” and “Mu." These works are united in the crudest sense by virtue of their composition in installments over the course of many decades. More than a matter of sheer historical coverage, however, this poetry is preoccupied self-reflexively with the problematic of continuity. As I will demonstrate, the explosion of the ultimately Poundian “poem including history” out of the unitary book of the world and into a heady multiplicity of books in some general sense corresponds to a periodizing distinction between high modernist and postmodern aesthetics. And yet the national allegory of the great book persists, returning in the guise of international finance as a corpus of co-constitutive books to vex such a simple periodization. Ultimately I will argue that this poetics of duration is concerned with the temporal suturing of nation to world market, even if that market can only be represented as a dualism, the mirrored remultiplication of the self-identical nation and the endless foregrounding of undifferentiable difference.
Commemorating a breakaway march at a mass demonstration in April,1967, Margie Piercy writes “we tied up midtown Manhattan for half an hour,/the revolutionary contingent and Harlem/but it did not happen/because it was not reported in any newspaper.” While certainly not as memorable as the events fifty years earlier, this protest was, in fact, massively reported in the newspapers known as the Underground Press. The Revolutionary Contingent that Piercy cites in her poem drew its membership from the Lower East Side arts scene, Black Power organizations, Students for a Democratic Society, and ultraleft militants, many of whom were authors of the Underground Press. Since the authors were also participants, the Underground Press had a double function: reporting and providing de facto manuals for innovative street tactics. During the “Long Hot Summer” of riots in 1967, the Underground Press explored models of decentralized and mobile action that could effectively disrupt urban centers. In this presentation, I examine the evolution and transmission of these tactics through the Underground Press and consider their continued relevance for “circulation struggles” in this century.
This paper uses poet Claudia Rankine’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely (2004) as a jumping off point to articulate what I see as a development in the way people understand themselves in relation to social systems. I will argue that Rankine’s book displays a mindset that emerges in the aughts and becomes ubiquitous in the 2010s, one in which the political subject is conflated with, articulated as the same as, and spatially equated with the system itself. In this mindset, subject and system are one. I connect this mindset from Rankine’s book out to a group of internet newsmedia images, infographic maps, through one of Rankine’s images that prefigures them. I argue that this mindset stems from changes in global capitalism, in which we experience a sense of being always connected out to wider systems of exchange, production, and circulation. This sense disrupts our felt awareness of the local and has implications for the ways we conceptualize revolutionary politics and political responsibility to those both near to us and far away.
Despite the fact that Trump was not the first choice of the U.S. ruling class for the presidency, Trump’s election has created a revised new ideological framework to which the U.S. leaders must now adjust – and in which cinematic representations must operate. Trump’s election illustrates the ideological point that while the capitalist ruling class does not always create dominant ideology, it nevertheless often plays a strong role in helping direct and shape the ideological interests expressed by the working class into directions that serve ruling class interests. If the U.S. working class is to be part of the locomotive of class struggle and ultimately revolution, exposing the ideological maneuvers used in contemporary cultural representations to mask or distort understanding of crucial Marxist categories such as class, exploitation, labor theory of value, and surplus value is essential.
This paper looks at two contemporary dramatic television series –Homeland and Hell on Wheels (or Frontier) -- in terms of the ways in which they each contribute to disguising, and distorting the new capitalist hegemony outlined by Donald Trump in his February 28 address to Congress. In this address Trump promised that his plan to deport of millions of undocumented immigrants, along with the dismantling of extremist government regulations and civil liberties, would create thousands of new jobs while simultaneously eliminating threats to domestic and national security posed by illegal criminal “aliens” and “terrorist” refugees. Trump also reframed (and expanded) the definition of class further than previously done to include ALL working class Americans -- not only his disenfranchised white working class base but also racial minorities he described as especially victimized by illegal immigrants. Homeland and Hell on Wheels both negotiate Trump’s policies but in distinctly different ways. In Homeland, the cinematic representation ideologically sets up the viewer to see the well-meaning but liberal pro-refugee, civil rights defender, ex-CIA agent, and secret advisor to the first female president -- Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) -- as ultimately misguided and recklessly endangering U.S. national security through her naïve rejection of a necessary tough stance against domestic and foreign terrorists. Hell on Wheels provides its ideological service by celebrating the working class traits of its characters through the nostalgic lens of laissez-faire capitalism, and utilizes cinematic representations in which class politics have long morphed from the categories of Marxist political economy (e.g., exposing viewers to examples of exploitation and the extraction surplus value) to a more multicultural identity politics representation of class (e.g., expanding traditional images of class of the industrial white working class to one that includes strong female characters and a strong male protagonist, who wins the loyalty and support of exploited Chinese immigrants and freed black slaves railroad workers.
In this presentation, I contend that the late East German poet and playwright Heiner Müller deploys the representational trope of the landscape as a mediation of the circulation process of capital, and that this figurative device is the main mediation by which Müller confronts the historical transition of the end of the GDR. I take up this argument via two of Müller’s compositions: the performance text for an adaptation of Euripides’ Medea, Despoiled Shore Medeamaterial Landscape with Argonauts (1983), and Mommsen’s Block (1993), an occasional poem Müller composed to mark the replacement of a statue of Marx with one of the Roman historian Theodor Mommsen at Humboldt Universität shortly following German reunification. Müller’s Medea adaptation, in which Jason claims to have given Medea two sons for her murdered brother, brutally literalizes Marx’s metaphor of Stoffwechsel (metabolism) deployed in Capital vol. 1 to describe the circulation process C-M-C; Müller thus routes his spatial representations, whereby bodies are routinely “turned into the landscape,” through this formula of exchange. The abstract landscape of Müller’s Medea provides a figurative paradigm for the concrete metabolisms of the cityscape instantiated in the exchange of statues in Mommsen’s Block. The metabolism of the cityscape in this poem points up geographic shifts at the urban scale as transformations of fixed into circulating capital and back again; this second poem concludes with yet another metabolism of a human body into the landscape, which Müller uses to highlight the transformations to human life engendered by this circulation process. As Müller’s 1993 text meditates on a conjuncture in which the future of communism has become dehisced from the state formations of the former Soviet bloc, the metabolic processes of his poetic landscapes frame the spatial dimensions in which capital has entrenched its relations—but by this same token point up the geographic dimensions of struggle against these very transformations.
Adam Stemple and Jane Yolen’s story “Red Terror” features a young Trotsky raising dragons to serve as Lenin’s Red Army; Catherynne Valente’s novel Deathless resets the story of Koscheii in revolutionary St Petersburg; Stephen Chapman’s story “Minutes of the Last Meeting” has the end of history arrive as a result of an attack by Bakunin on the Tsar’s traincar. Images of revolution in SF, located in Russia and far beyond, reveal the potentials and limitations of our current social moment. Five decades ago Ursula LeGuin wrote her masterpiece “The Dispossessed” which describes a collectivist revolutionary society. Three decades ago, Terry Bisson posited a world in which Harriet Tubman assists John Brown to create a successful revolution at Harper’s Ferry, leading to a socialist South. Even now, the first season of HBO’s series Westworld ends with a nod to revolution as a potentially positive force. However, sympathetic portrayals of revolutions in recent SF can be half-hearted, and some are ambiguous at best. Nisi Shawl’s Everfair starts with a Fabian-assisted democratic revolution against Leopold II in the Congo and the formation of a utopian African democracy. Unfortunately, it ends with the restoration of local autocracy as the only viable path. The popular X-Men film series consistently advocates for change, but inevitably condemns revolutionary action, leaving viewers with little more than a representation of transformation as a result of a few good speeches. While Bogdanov’s Red Star emphasized collective action and even interplanetary unity as keys to revolution in Russian letters as early as 1904, democracy and mass action seem difficult topics for current Anglo-American SF to tackle. Portents of potential change exist, though, especially in this new age of Trump.
In the past decade, popular and academic critics alike have begun to taxonomize the literary genres of the present: the “novel of detachment” (Baskin), “autofiction” (Lorentzen), “peripheral realisms” (Esty, Lye, Harris), and “theory generation” and “post-theory theory” novels (Dames, Huehls) among others. What these genres all have in common, and what critics emphasize in their provisional definitions, is their self-reflexivity. Yet, missing from these discussions of genre is, oddly, a more thoroughgoing engagement with genre—that is, in the pejorative sense. In each of these critics’ bibliographies, almost exclusively comprised of “literary” fiction, we see prominent clusterings of what I would identify as Künstlerromane, or novels of the artist. One of the reasons for the Künstlerroman’s omission from these discussions is that it is often interchanged with high literature as such, having been consolidated in the late modernist moment in the university syllabus and literary canon and made replicable by the practices of the creative writing program. In this presentation, I want to make the case for understanding the Künstlerroman as a genre more in line with the debased generic practice of science fiction. Indeed, the characteristically high modernist Künstlerroman is contemporaneous with the emergence of SF itself at the turn of the twentieth century. I account for the contemporary explosion of Künstlerromane as a symptom of, and response to, a crisis of both neoliberal consensus (a closure of future-oriented narrative options) and of a glut of “literary” fiction (a closure of utopian aesthetic practices). Yet, the fact that such consensus (or resignation) in many of these new genres is overwhelmingly attributable to white male authors often goes unspoken. In this sense, insisting on “no futures” is the clinging to a sinking ship of both white male hegemony and the dominance of creative writing program aesthetics. Contemporary practitioners of the Künstlerroman, on the other hand, turn to science fiction in what I argue is a dialectical repetition of the most utopian strivings of high modernism. In particular, Ruth Ozeki, David Mura, and Charles Yu’s recent science fictional Künstlerromane offer an open-ended contemporary by defamiliarizing the present and, by extension, the futures to which it could lead.
Following the work of Darko Suvin, Marxist critics have accepted the generic division between a cognitive science fiction and an anti-cognitive fantastic literature. This division has been sharply challenged by the critical work of China Mieville, who has sought to create a Marxist interpretation of fantasy that rejects the division between it and the ‘cognitive’ science fiction that has defined the terrain of Marxist genre criticism. Mieville’s literary work has undermined the conservative expectations of the genre held by Marxist critics. The novels have created rich and complex worlds in which the forms of exploitation and resistance that define post-Fordist capitalism have been explored through an engagement with the history of fantastic literature, drawing on its monstrous representations. However, I want to read Mieville’s literature against his own criticism, reconnecting them to the concept of “cognitive estrangement” as set out by Suvin, albeit a version of that framework that might not be accepted by him. To do this, I will draw on the concept of parody as developed by the Soviet literary critic, Mikhail Bakhtin. Bakhtin argues that the novel is constructed by the generic inversion of previous literature to create a new generic form by undermining older narrative structures. I will argue that Mieville engages in a similar inversion of the forms and the narrative structures of fantastic literature, creating a cognitive and even materialist fantasy, one that can be conceptualized within a modified version of Suvin’s framework, even if Suvin himself cannot imagine such an artistic production.
While the debate between conceptions of productive and unproductive labor have been moments of contention since Marx’s day, we argue that the recent rhetorical investment in erroneous terms like “neoliberalism,” “financialization,” or even Mark Fisher’s “capitalist realism,” all suggest a fundamentally ideological account of capital’s restructuring after 1973 that can be recontextualized according to a more thorough account of productive and unproductive labor. Against a specifically ideological understanding of the current cycle of accumulation, we assert that capital’s restructuring during the “long downturn” can be understood as a mutually constitutive crisis of overproduction and overaccumulation. Central to this more structurally economic account of post-1973 capitalist crises is the significant increase in unproductive labor as compared to productive labor. This rise in unproductive labor should be understood as a direct consequence of overaccumulation insofar as it registers entire industries completely subsidized by surplus value at the level of the capitalist economy as a whole. The increase in unproductive expenditures is therefore directly correlated to the secular decline of aggregate capitalist profitability. We argue that the Grundrisse sheds particular light on the debate surrounding what constitutes productive and unproductive labor. Considering the implications of the “Fragment on Machines” for the rising organic composition of capital, other sections in the Grundrisse – specifically in the chapter on capital (GC) – have sweeping implications for the significant increase of unproductive expenditures in the 21st century. For our reading group, we would like to focus on Marx’s evaluation of Smith’s thinking on unproductive and productive labor (p. 273-75 Penguin Ed.), and Marx’s critiques of the transformation of labor into capital (Sismondi, Say, Ricardo, and Proudhon) in Notebook III (p. 304-318). In addition to these primary passages, we would like to supplement the discussion on productive and unproductive labor with the critical work done by Ian Gough (“Marx’s Theory of Productive and Unproductive Labour,” NLR 76) and Fred Moseley (“Marx’s Concepts of Productive Labor and Unproductive Labour: An Application to the Post-War US Economy,” Eastern Economics Journal).
Required Readings from Grundrisse (penguin edition): pp. 273-75; 304-318.
Additional Readings: (1) Ian Gough (“Marx’s Theory of Productive and Unproductive Labour,” NLR 76); (2) Fred Moseley (“Marx’s Concepts of Productive Labor and Unproductive Labour: An Application to the Post-War US Economy,” Eastern Economics Journal); (3) Silvia Federici ("PERMANENT REPRODUCTIVE CRISIS: AN INTERVIEW WITH SILVIA FEDERICI," Mute Magazine).
For Marx (Capital, 1867), the social process of labor examines labor power qualitatively, taking into account the specific characteristics of labor and its nature within capitalist means of production. Such a qualitative assessment of labor is negated by the subject of that labor, the fixed product through which a “definite quantity of labor” is expressed. Through my own analysis, I will focus on qualitative, that is specific, assessments of gendered oppression within left feminist praxis, namely recent focus on intersectional analyses of capital’s domination. What I locate in such intersectional analyses is their growing popularity and importance to liberal feminist praxis, a politics that has historically assessed gendered oppression on a homogeneous, quantitative basis.
Despite attempts to incorporate intersectional practices into its movements, liberal feminism’s focus on equal pay and access to professional advancement fails to adequately connect women’s oppression to the failures of capitalism and the nuances and specificities of economic inequality as it occurs globally. As evidenced through liberal feminism’s attempts to adopt intersectional approaches to gendered oppression, the feminist left is in a unique position to influence such mainstream feminist praxis. But so far what has been seen of that influence is a liberal misappropriation, particularly of intersectionality, which only perpetuates capitalist interests. My presentation will apply Marx’s work with the qualitative and quantitative in an attempt to critically examine the growing popularity of left feminism within the mainstream and its usefulness in furthering gendered critiques of capital.
My paper is concerned with the revival of militant, Marxist feminist critique of and for our moment. Grounding my analysis in the March 8th’s International Women’s Strike and the evolving feminist movement emerging from it, I will present the need to re-evaluate and deepen Marxist categories and practice from the perspective of social reproduction.
I will frame my analysis by recalling the underlying emancipatory orientation of critical practice shared by Marx (as outlined in the Grundrisse) and early theorists of domestic labor. For Marx, value is an essentially critical category insofar as it points to the internal limits of capitalist production and thus the practical possibilities for transforming it. Likewise, for early workerist feminists, the concept of domestic labor provided for a unitary theory of class exploitation and gendered domination by accounting for their necessary relation under capitalism, thus forming a critical pivot with which to articulate a truly emancipatory practice. Thus, both approaches are engaged in the radical project of utilizing the categories and practices at their disposal—value, and domestic labor, respectively—so as to delimit and historicize the structuring dynamics of capitalism and patriarchy, and to offer forms of liberatory practice adequate to those conditions.
I argue that Marxist feminism in the present must find analogous ways to critique and re- purpose the concepts and practices of the Left in response to the present crisis, and will use the March 8 Women’s Strike as a case study for such a re-articulation. Rather than narrowly targeting those centers of production traditionally identified as sites of working class struggle, the strike will target a broader context of material and social reproduction in order to articulate new possibilities for resistance. Such a militant women’s strike thus changes what we mean by “strike” in ways that are important to note and theorize. However, this focus on the political tactic of the strike is only the beginning. Understanding and radically resisting our moment requires forms of militant practice and knowledge-making that emerge from and radically challenge our social conditions, especially those of our material and social reproduction.
Leftists these days are generally in agreement that the present political situation is one of great danger and also of great possibility. The Trump presidency has brought the ongoing war of the ruling elite against workers and the oppressed into sharp relief, which in turn has jolted masses of progressives out of their slumber and moved them into the streets. The sites of struggle today are many: since BLM, more recent movements have sprung up around the defense of immigrants and Muslims, public education, LGBTQ rights, and women’s rights, to name only a few. Further, it is also a matter of consensus among most Leftists (those left of the Democrats) that resistance on all fronts needs to be clearly linked to the struggle against capitalism. However, the case for a radicalization of the movements against Trump is rarely made from an explicitly Marxist perspective even though socialism is no longer the dirty word it once was and, according to some polls, a majority of young people now say they do not support capitalism. In the year that marks the sesquicentennial of Marx’s Capital, Volume 1, it is high time for revolutionaries everywhere to reclaim Marx’s most central concepts and ideas for the present-day struggles. In my presentation, I will address the ways in which the feminist movement can deepen its impact (which has already been considerable since the January 17 Women’s March and later the strikes on International Women’s Day) by openly relating the patriarchy to capitalism and speaking to the fact that women’s rights are workers’ rights, that sexism and misogyny are directly connected to economic exploitation, and that achieving gender equality within a system of grotesque inequality (a global system that oppresses the vast majority of women and men across the world but especially women of color) cannot constitute the goal of revolutionary feminism. I intend to draw especially on Chapter 10, parts of which deal specifically with how capitalist economic violence hurts and kills working class women, in order to show not only the continued relevance of Marx’s Capital in general but also the particular importance of the concept of surplus value, the value of labor power, and related concepts in the current analyses of women’s oppression and present-day feminist challenges to the capitalist mode of production.
Our dual presentation will take up a sympathetic but critical engagement with the argument at the core of Racecraft by Barbara and Karen Fields. Because the very concept of racial identity is the historical result of racist ideology and practices, the Fields argue, racial difference is not a self-evident explanation for racial inequality. By reversing historical causes and consequences, invoking race can tell us little about how and why populations are subjected to racism. While representing a powerful critique of the dangers of reifying racial categories, the Fields account of racism, as a mystification of underlying forms of economic inequality, raises the question of why ideologies of racial difference have remained such a durable idiom of political struggle within contemporary US politics.
Refusing to position “identity-based critique” against a “critique of capital,” or race against class, we argue that any synthetic account of what critic Cedric Robinson and others have called “racial capitalism,” must be grounded in a materialist analysis of racialization beyond the terrain of cultural representation. Our engagement with the argument of Racecraft will shift our emphasis from "race" to histories of ascriptive racialization grounded in an ensemble of boundary-making mechanisms--from national divisions to what Alys Eve Weinbaum has called the “race/reproduction bind”--that inscribe racial divisions into the economy and that reproduce and reconfigure these divisions over time. Our analysis proceeds from an understanding of how racialized populations have historically been inserted materially into emergent capitalist social relations through commodification of land, labor, and natural resources.
Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement. Lenin
Through the theoretical lens of dialectical and historical materialism we analyze the revolutionary process within the crises, contradictions, and antagonisms of global capitalism in the U.S. in the 21st century. Drawing on The Germany Ideology (materialist conception of history, communism to communism), The Preface (antagonism of productive forces and relations, epoch of revolution), Capital (labor power as a commodity, labor theory of value), What is to be Done (strategy and tactics of revolution), and decades of political practice of former members of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers in the Detroit auto plants, 1968-1970, engaged in revolutionary struggles today, we focus on black workers in relation to capitalist production and revolution (www.revolutionaryblackworkers.org).
The underlying cause for today’s capitalist crises and antagonisms is grounded in the revolutionary process – from economic revolution, to social revolution, to political revolution. The economic revolution at the base of society is rooted in the technological revolution. Automation, robotics and AI, as labor power replacing (not labor power enhancing as were machines previously), increasingly rupture the fundamental social relations of capital and labor – capital accumulation rooted in the exploitation of labor power. This upends the dynamics of the labor theory of value at the nexus of commodity production and circulation, capital accumulation, the sale of labor power as a commodity, and work. Global capitalism, markets, and wage labor are being fundamentally and irreversibly disrupted.
The resulting social destruction – neoliberalism, privatization, financialization, joblessness, poverty, homelessness, police and military violence, and ecocide affect all of society. The systemic resolution calls for communism – a political revolution that abolishes private property and qualitatively transforms the state and power relations. Black labor represents a concentrated expression of capitalist alienation, exploitation, and oppression. Black workers at the point of production in the 1960s are today at the point of dispossession, state violence, and increasingly death. They are a conscious and powerful force within today’s multiracial and multigendered class struggle for humanity and the planet.
For Marx, technological advancement is a necessary condition for capital’s existence. He recognizes technology’s primary function under capital as the increased production of surplus value, and with it the intensified exploitation of human labour and concurrent production of surplus populations. But he also suggests that by simplifying and socializing labour, sophisticated technology “matures the contradictions and antagonisms of [capitalist production] and thereby ripens both the elements for forming a new society and the forces tending towards the overthrow of the old one” (Marx 1990, 635). This notion suggests that capital’s deployment of technology sketches an embryonic communism (Moulier-Boutang 2011). Between these two lines of thought lies the question of what Bernes (2013) calls “reconfiguration” or the revolutionary adaptation of capitalist technology.
This paper considers prospects for the reconfiguration of a booming technology now essential to many capitals: artificial intelligence (AI). AI is a capitalist’s dream as it offers the possibility of automating complex cognitive task at inhuman scales. Conversely, AI presents anew the possibility of a planned economy. This paper argues, however, that a revolutionary reconfiguration of AI would be difficult at best, by showing how modern AI differs from the industrial means of production studied by Marx. AI does not offers few affordances for new modes of sociality. AI is frequent invisibly embedded in larger systems, and when it is visible, the details of its functioning remain largely opaque, sometimes even to its engineers. In addition, AI requires for its operation a vast infrastructure of hardware, energy and data. This paper concludes that a revolutionary reconfiguration of AI must be preceded by an updated Marxist theory of technology.
A contribution for the recent crisis theory debate with publication of Marx’s manuscript of Capital volume three
The article aims to set up a bibliographic basis to develop Marxist crisis theories by using the new English translation of MEGA II 4.2 in 2015(F. Mosley ed., Marx's economic manuscript 1864-65, Brill). In December of 2013, a debate on the crisis theory of the tendential fall in the rate of profit (CTFRP and TFRP) took place on the Monthly Review. One side of the debate was Michael Heinreich. He denied the existence of CTFRP by interpreting that there is no remark on the law of TFRP in Capital by Marx. Moreover, he insisted Engels revised Marx’s manuscript for Capital volume three wrongly and his mistake brought about a misunderstanding that CTFRP exists and was achieved in Capital by Marx. But he did not prove how the Engels’ revision led the misunderstanding as the opposite side criticised on him. Meanwhile, the opposite did not investigate the MEGA II 4.2, which was used by Heinreich, to argue the existence of CTFRP just by saying that the crisis theory was fully investigated in the amended plan of critics of political economy by establishing three volume structure of Capital. The article suggests to divide the given CTFRP into crisis theory and TFRP temporary for its analysing on the abstract concepts. The article studies (1) existence of LAW of TFRP in Capital, (2) existence of necessity of conversion of TFRP into crisis in Capital, and (3) revision of Engels on the crisis theory and TFRP.
Despite Marx’s clear arguments throughout Capital and Theories of Surplus Value that landowners are the third class of the capitalist mode of production, and that ground rent is a revenue stream categorically distinct from profit and wages, most Marxist commentators on the topic, especially since the 1960s, have advocated a less distinct and less necessary role for landowners and land rent. They have generally argued this without arguing against Marx’s explicit arguments on the topic, instead citing dramatic historical change as enough evidence for the gradual dissolution of the categorical distinctness of this third class.
In this paper, I will briefly review these commentators and Marx’s own arguments about whether or not Landlords are (still) a class of the capitalist mode of production in the same way as are the working and capitalist classes. And because the class-status of a group (workers, capitalists), depends on the revenue stream which reproduces that class (wages, profits), we must also ask: is land rent a specific revenue stream that is distinct from profits and wages?
Many who argue the negative are persuaded that in some way, finance capital absorbs land rent into its own dynamic, removing any specificity to land. So we will follow this initial discussion of landownership to take note of how scholars have treated the issue of finance capital’s relation to land rent, and of the difference or lack thereof between rent and interest. Marx himself acknowledged the tendency toward land rent’s full absorption by finance capital, such that an individual finance capitalist would not themselves notice the distinction between investing in land and investing in other economic assets – but nonetheless for Marx, landlords remained a third class, and the thinkers who have argued against this thesis have not dealt directly with Marx’s arguments in this regard.
Given that leaders around the world, including the new president of the US, appear to be members of the landlord class, and given that many of the grave issues facing poor and working people across the globe are more about their access to land than to wages, and in a context where struggles around land such as landless peasants’ movements and the struggles of unemployed racialized groups in urban centers for access to housing have historically been sidelined from what is considered the central axis of class struggle, I believe this theoretical investigation is has many important contemporary implications.
In light of ongoing debates surrounding the rising organic composition of capital and subsequent development of efficiency measures designed to maximize productivity outputs in the form of automation, we propose to examine Marx's formulation of the ambivalent systematic situation this creates around the sudden opening up of 'disposable time 'in order to better situate the "Fragment on Machines" within the overarching concerns around the circulation process that immediately frame it in the GC. In doing so, we aim to consider whether the temporal disjunctures between circulation, labor, and production outlined in 658-667 and 668-690 (just before the "Fragment on Machines") might provide a framework for articulating the forms of consciousness that appear with the technical means for extending the working day. Looking ahead to 708-712, we aim to consider how the logic of 'disposable' and 'not- working time' has extended into the proliferation of management strategies targeted toward service sector and 'sharing economy' jobs, with an eye to considering the potential impacts of online learning ideologies on the precarious situation of a growing workforce of adjunct instructors in higher education. Here, we propose to read these sections of the Grundrisse alongside two contemporary critical accounts of the managerial ideologies that govern the organization of 'not-working time:' "Neoliberal Tools (and Archives): A Political History of Digital Humanities" by Daniel Allington, Sarah Brouillette, and David Golumbia (LARB, 5/1/16) and Chapter 3 from Jonathan Crary's 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep
Required Readings from Grundrisse (penguin edition): pp. 658-667; 668-690.
Additional Readings: "Neoliberal Tools (and Archives): A Political History of Digital Humanities" by Daniel Allington, Sarah Brouillette, and David Golumbia (LARB, 5/1/16) and Chapter 3 from Jonathan Crary's 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep
This talk examines how recent Latin American fiction plots the defeat, followed by resurrection, of landowning oligarchies as emblematic of recent shifts in patterns of capital accumulation. While landowning oligarchies were indeed largely defeated by national development projects including land reform and socialist revolutions in the 1960s and 1970s, they reemerge in fiction, I argue, to highlight the restoration of class power in the wake of anti-communist counter-insurgencies, scorched earth campaigns and the generalized defeat of the left in the 1970s and 1980s. At the same time, oligarchies reappear in recent fiction to index fundamental shifts in the accumulation process: significantly, in the novels considered, members of this class lose property during the period of land reform, then reemerge in the post-reform/revolutionary period not as landowners or agricultural capitalists, but instead as speculators in a privatized, deregulated and transnational financial sphere. The historical character of landowners in Latin America--predatory, rent-based, and non-productive—carries over to the financial sphere, but now with a radically expanded capacity for social depredation. This capacity, I argue, is expressed in novels through reworked realist modes that, in different cases, can work to normalize finance-driven accumulation, or render it wholly hallucinatory.
Naturalism has resurfaced as a literary form in both Spanish and English speaking America in recent decades (post 1970s). Central to the resurgence of naturalism is a renewed interest in determinism, decline, the relationship between humans and nature, the animalistic aspects of humans and the emphasis on the cosmic irony of ideas on human superiority, or, what is sometimes called the anti- anthropocentrism of contemporary literature and its anti- or post-humanist tendencies. The neo-naturalist novel aligns well with theories of new materialism and post-humanism in general, and its special branches such as ecocriticism, techno-science studies, and material cultural studies. This paper maps the resurgence of naturalism in contemporary fiction and its theoretical counterpart, broadly speaking theories of new materialism, onto a Marxist historical periodizing scheme and proposes, through a comparative reading of Cormac McCarthy, Fernando Vallejo, and Roberto Bolaño, that naturalism as a cultural form corresponds to periods that the late political economist Giovanni Arrighi called, borrowing from the historian Fernand Braudel, the autumns of capitalist hegemons.
The presentation will raise some hypotheses about the meaning of the absence of money and labour in the greatest Brazilian modernist novel, Macunaima (1928), by Mário de Andrade. In this work analogies reproduce one after the other, and everything in culture has an equivalent in nature, just as every natural entity has an equivalent in culture, or a more complete morphological expression. When the protagonist – a hero of amerindian mythology – arrives in São Paulo, complex and modern links are exchanged in the most concrete terms of “savage mind”. But this exchange, on the other hand, fails to account for all the determinations of the original object, with loss of abstraction and generalization. The rhapsody – in which metamorphoses function as a true machinery, a productive force that multiplies images – is crossed by processions of concrete nouns, but fundamentally of animals, plants, fabulous beings, geographic accidents, tribal dances, diseases, kinds of primitive boats. As Marx wrote, “the most general abstractions arise only in the midst of the richest possible concrete development, where one thing appears as common to many, to all”. Macunaima is colourful and vibrant as a mosaic, "a nursery of images", pregnant with concrete things, and the enumerations, sometimes "chaotic enumerations", often take the lead in relation to the action (the description becomes autonomous of the narration, as Lukács could verify horrified), assumes the protagonism and disperse us when they pass in parade in the streets of the text – but these exhibited things, proper to a primary market, still do not form infinite series. Its immense quantity, however - a quantity that increases with the decomposition of complex cultural products into natural beings and organic bodies - has not yet been sufficient to reach a more complex level of abstraction. Money in this context hardly appears as the more abstract unit of general equivalent, but under weaker determinations, metals, cocoa berries. At one point, the silver coin is wielded from afar, like a mirage coming from a historically previous stage of the evolutionary process of the money form: those coins that a skunk would crap and in fact had been promised by a typical confidence trick. In addition, certain artifacts sprout from trees, such as whiskeys and small pistols (garruchas), when they do not derive from fetish operations, such as the telephone. These would only be produced by means of labour, dead and living, and therefore, as the "body of value" or "substance of labour time" which they are also, would hardly be acquired without this value being able to express itself, or in the mercantile relation. In short, we do not see the heroes and his brothers going to trade or toiling, we do not see them in sphere of circulation or production, transforming their labour force into commodity, even though their energy expenditure is enormous in the fight against the Giant and Macunaima since childhood seeks buried money. In the same way, reference to currency as such doesn’t exist – except for the brief example invoked. The air of "Pays de Cocagne", evident in some moments, should not deceive us because in any case we feel how much the axis of their existence is the old struggle for life, wherever they are, in the South or North, in São Paulo or deep in the woods. We hardly know how they can afford to pay for the room in the small inn. We hardly know how they can pay what they call "machines": electrical light, telephone, transport, silk stockings, champagne (for the girls with whom they leave) etc., but Macunaima finds a way, like a good trickster who would go to the famous macumba’s yard of Aunt Ciata in Rio de Janeiro. And there are never enough “macumba” and magical metamorphosis so that Maanape (Macunaima’s brother, often converted into a telephone) can compensate for the absence those metamorphoses and mortal jumps, also somewhat magical, proper to the society in which commodity form and abstract labour are generalized, in which the heroes are unable to participate and suffer, at least fully, and are described by Marx in such allegorical language. At the same time, however, from what seems to be a critique of the absence of a "bourgeois ethic of work," an absence whose roots date back to a not so distant slavery past, there is also an unequivocal defense of laziness as anti-bourgeois energy. In a certain sense, our reflection on fetishism, taken in both an animist and marxist sense (and the latter includes the first) should also takes into account how much in the very work of dazzling and oblivion realized by the images (like the enchanted trees of whiskeys) sparkles the possibility of a form of more emancipated life.