EXPLODING THE MYTHS OF CAPITALISM: U.S. MARXIST-HUMANISTS
You are invited to attend a series of open discussions on…
Exploding the Myths of Capitalism
First & Third Wednesdays, March & April
@ChicagoPublic Library, Harold Washington L ibrary Center, 400 South State St.Chicago IL, Room 3N-6
Progressive change in the United States is severely hampered owing both to the failure of the left to project an alternative to capitalism and to the myths projected by the right regarding the nature of capitalism. On the other hand, Karl Marx projected an alternative socioeconomic system that comes into view in his writings in significant part in and through exploding the myths about capitalism. This series of five classes will explore the myths of capitalism through discussions of selected writings of Marx, and others.
Readings are available online or from U.S.M.H. Online readings are available from U.S.M.H in pdf format for e-readers etc.
Sponsored by the U.S. Marxist-Humanists
March 7th: Myth #1: Capitalism is the Economic System most in Accord with Human Nature
Contradictory concepts of human nature abound in the culture of capitalism. Human nature is said to be fundamentally greedy and selfish, or, contrariwise, cast in an image of perfection, or both. These concepts are used to justify social and economic policies that promote and protect capitalism, but this can only work if their historical origin in capitalism itself is obscured. This class will explore the concepts of human nature extant in capitalist societies and counterpose them to concepts drawn from the Marxist-Humanist tradition. The myth that capitalism is reflective of human nature will be exploded in a discussion of the following readings:
Erich Fromm, Marx’s Concept of Man, pp. 24-43, “The Nature of Man” www.marxists.org/archive/fromm/works/1961/man/ch04.htm
Karl Marx, Grundrisse, “Introduction,” pp. 84-110 www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1857/grundrisse/ch01.htm
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, Chapter 13: Of the Natural Conditions of Mankind as concerning their Felicity and Misery www.earlymoderntexts.com/pdf/hobblev1.pdf and Chapter 17: Of the Causes, Generation, and Definition of Commonwealth www.earlymoderntexts.com/pdf/hobblev2.pdf
Karl Marx, Theses on Feuerbach www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/theses/theses.htm
Leading the discussion: Marilyn Nissim-Sabat, author, Neither Victim nor Survivor: Thinking Toward a New Humanity
March 21st: Myth #2: Democracy is Compatible with Capitalism
The rhetoric of the candidates for the Republican nomination for president of theUS, as well as their opponents in the Democratic Party, makes it unequivocally clear that for them, and probably for the majority of Americans, capitalism is entirely conflated with ‘democracy.’ That is, the notion of the ‘free market,’ value production, and the drive to accumulate capital for its own sake have been superimposed on the meaning of democracy as a political system as if to say that only the economic system known as capitalism can facilitate democracy. This myth will be exploded in discussion of the following readings:
Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto. www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/
Karl Marx, “Address to the Communist League of March, 1850.”
Raya Dunayevskaya, Marxism and Freedom, Chapter VI, The Paris Commune Deepens the content of Capital, pp. 92-102.
Raya Dunayevskaya, Rosa Luxemburg, Women’s Liberation and Marx’s Philosophy of Revolution: Marx’s Theory of Permanent Revolution.” 1843-83, pp. 158-163.
Leading the discussion: Anton Evelynov, student activist
April 4th: Myth #3: State Forms of ‘Socialism’ are Fundamentally Different from Capitalism
Proponents of capitalism, as well as many post-Marx Marxists, have attempted to identify “socialism” or “communism” with state control of the economy and a centralized state. However, theSoviet Unionas well as “Communist China” and the European welfare state represent not so much a departure from capitalism as a realization of it. This class will explore whether there is an alternative to either reducing a new society to state control of the economy, on one hand, or refraining from the need to seize state power as part of a revolutionary transformation, on the other. The myths regarding state forms of capitalism will be exploded in a discussion of the following readings:
Raya Dunayevskaya, Marxism and Freedom, Chapter IV, “Worker, Intellectual, and the State,” pp. 69-77.
Raya Dunayevskaya, State Capitalism and Marx’s Humanism “Lenin vs Bukharin” pp. 10-18. babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015071598158
“Build It Now”: An Interview with Michael A. Lebowitz radicalnotes.com/content/view/36/39/
John Holloway, Change the World without Seizing State Power, Chapter 2, “Beyond the State?” pp. 11-18.
Leading the discussion: Ali Reza, Iranian activist and member of Iranian Left Alliance Abroad.
April 18th: Myth #4: There is No Alternative to Capitalism
Proponents of capitalism as well as many critics of it have maintained that it is impossible to overcome such phenomena as commodity production, exchange value, alienated labor, and the existence of classes. This stance has within it all of the myths of capitalism, i.e., that capitalism reflects and honors ‘human nature’; that it is a form of democratic practice; and that it prevents the development of state control of the economy. It has also been claimed by many on the left that any effort to spell out the content of a new, post-capitalist society is at best useless and at worst harmful. The myth that there is no alternative to capitalism will be exploded in discussion of the following readings:
Karl Marx, Critique of the Gotha Program . www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1875/gotha/index.htm
Raya Dunayevskaya, The Power of Negativity, “Presentation on the Dialectics of Organization and Philosophy,” pp. 3-14.
Leading the discussion: Peter Hudis, author of Marx’s Concept of the Alternative to Capitalism
Wednesday May 2nd
May Day Celebration and discussion
U.S. Marxist Humanists would like to invite all participants in this class to continue the discussion in honor of May Day in a convivial setting, with food and drink. Venue to be announced
‘I believe in the afterlife.
It starts tomorrow,
When I go to work’
Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Human Herbs’ at: http://www.myspace.com/coldhandsmusic (recording) and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2h7tUq0HjIk (live)
‘Human Herbs’ – a new remix and new video by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs
‘Stagnant’ – a new remix and new video by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkP_Mi5ideo
Posted here by Glenn Rikowski
The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk
Rikowski Point: http://rikowskipoint.blogspot.com
Glenn Rikowski on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/glenn.rikowski