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Daily Archives: October 2nd, 2013

Nanopolitics

Nanopolitics

NANOPOLITICS: AN EVENING OF BODIES AND BOOKS

Nanopolitics, exhaustion, biopolitics: an evening of bodies and books

London, October 9th 7pm @ no.w.here: http://www.no-w-here.org.uk
Top Floor, 316-318 Bethnal Green Road, London E2 OAG

This evening will present an encounter of three lines of thought and practice relating to politics, bodies, life, the social and the common. Doing so, we attempt to think across conceptions and realities of micro, nano and biopolitics. Asking what it is that these dimensions may hold in common, what distinguishes them, and what they may learn from each other, we propose three short presentations followed by an open discussion.

First up is the handbook by the nanopolitics group from London, published with Minor Compositions this fall: http://www.minorcompositions.info/?p=590. Playfully sketching out the term ‘nanopolitics’, this handbook departs from bodies and their encounters in investigating the neoliberal city and workplace, the politics of crisis and austerity, precarity and collaboration. This book, packed with excercises and tools for action draws on social movements, grassroots organizing, dance, theatre and bodywork. As the hosts of this evening, the nanopolitics group will propose some ways of activating their handbook, which tries to think politics with and through the body.

Following a similar line of research, Peter Pal Pelbart and Akseli Virtanen will then share some tools they are developing through their n-1 editorial project, as well as in their respective works: http://n-1publications.org. N-1 editions has recently emerged across Brazil and Finland and refers to the necessity to create new organizational ideas and forms – to which “one” (leader, value, idea, principle, community, goal) belongs only as subtracted. They say they don’t organize to make the series, but make the series to organize. To organize at n-1.

Peter Pelbart will notably draw on his work with the Ueinzz theatre company in Sao Paolo, and on his book ‘Cartographies of exhaustion’, where he asks what makes us so exhausted today, and proposes a collective open-ended cartography that identifies breakage points where other images, visions, notions, are extracted from the hither side of our current biopolitical nihilism.

Akseli Virtanen will draw on his work towards ‘A critique of biopolitical economy’ (forthcoming) as well as his ‘Dictionary of New Work: A Map to Precarious Life’ (2006) in reflecting on experiments on
coming forms of politics and organization, among them the Robin Hood contra-investment bank of the precariat (http://rhmam.org).

We would love to invite you for an open discussion to tie together some threads regarding these fields of investigation and practice, to see what useful insights we might draw from thinking across the nano, micro and biopolitical.

 

All welcome!
Unfortunately the building is not wheelchair accessible.

 

**END**

 

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Stagnant’ at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkP_Mi5ideo (new remix, and new video, 2012)  

‘Cheerful Sin’ – a song by Victor Rikowski: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIbX5aKUjO8

 

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskipoint.blogspot.com

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

Glenn Rikowski on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/glenn.rikowski

Online Publications at: http://www.flowideas.co.uk/?page=pub&sub=Online%20Publications%20Glenn%20Rikowski

 

Learning with Adults

Learning with Adults

LEARNING WITH ADULTS: A CRITICAL PEDAGOGICAL INTRODUCTION

Learning with Adults: A Critical Pedagogical Introduction

2012 – 292 pages

Sense Publishers

Leona M. English (St. Francis Xavier University, Canada) and Peter Mayo (University of Malta, Msida, Malta)

ISBN Paperback: 9789460917660 ($ 54.00)
ISBN Hardcover: 9789460917677 ($ 99.00)

Subject: Adult Education

Number 8 of the series: International Issues in Adult Education

Free Preview Learning with Adults

“A priceless resource …The time is ripe for writing a manifesto of adult education as social transformative learning in the twenty-first century and implement all sorts of experiments in adult education that may help transform the world. This book is a robust contribution to such conversation.”–International Journal of Lifelong Education (Issue 32(6))

“This book is written at a time when our own field of adult education is under assault from a variety of capitalist and neoconservative forces pressuring us… to turn away from the causes of criticality, lifelong learning, and education for freedom. Rather than succumb to these pressures, we have hope that our long term goals of education for life and living can and will be accomplished alongside professional and vocational education. It offers new insight into what is a very dark moment of our human civilization.” — From the preface by Dr Carlos Alberto Torres, Professor, GSEIS, Director, Paulo Freire Institute, University of California at Los Angeles

“The book offers decidedly critical and international perspectives on various aspects of adult education, especially on state, citizenship and neoliberal policies. Critical in both content and method, it is at the same time the part of the collective work needed to advance the Belém call to action by furthering awareness and capacity in the field of adult education.” — Dr Katarina Popovic, Professor, Universität Duisburg-Essen, University of Belgrade & DBB International

“In the midst of diminishing resources and growing inequalities, English and Mayo provide an incisive and much needed critique of adult education in ways that highlight not only its historical and philosophical roots but also its major significance to the practice of democracy. In a direct challenge to the neoliberal accountability craze, Learning with Adults offers a rigorous political reading of the field—one that systematically challenges oppressive educational policies and practices, while affirming an emancipatory vision of civic engagement. Truly an informative treatise that sheds new light on the education of adults.” Dr Antonia Darder, Professor & Leavey Presidential Endowed Chair in Education Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles

“Leona English and Peter Mayo challenge hegemonic assumptions and ideas, while offering a constructive alternative based on the principle of working with learners and not just for them. Their analysis is accessible enough for newcomers to the field, while the authors’ wide-ranging coverage and radical approach provide refreshing and challenging messages for the most experienced adult educator. Up-to-date, genuinely international and passionately committed, Learning with Adults is a great book.” – Dr John Field, Professor, University of Stirling

Cover design by Annemarie Mayo

Buy this book at Amazon: Paperback | Hardcover

**END**

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Stagnant’ at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkP_Mi5ideo (new remix, and new video, 2012)  

‘Cheerful Sin’ – a song by Victor Rikowski: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIbX5aKUjO8

 

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskipoint.blogspot.com

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

Glenn Rikowski on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/glenn.rikowski

Online Publications at: http://www.flowideas.co.uk/?page=pub&sub=Online%20Publications%20Glenn%20Rikowski

Jonathan Sperber

Jonathan Sperber

JONATHAN SPERBER’S NEW BIOGRAPHY SEEKS TO BURY KARL MARX, NOT PRAISE HIM

Karl Marx, A Nineteenth Century Life
By Jonathan Sperber,
Liveright Publishing, 2013

A Review by Barry Healy

Barry Healy

September 26, 2013 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — In life Karl Marx lived a tumultuous, revolutionary life and in death he has likewise been less than tranquil. Alive, he was the best hated man in Europe. For the ruling classes and police spies he personified the “spectre” that was haunting the continent, the demonic rise of communist revolution.

After his death he was bleached of his humanity, canonised by his admirers and slandered by his bourgeois enemies. Both misrepresented him.

His enormous collection of notes and half-formulated writings were bequeathed first to his long-time political collaborator Frederick Engels and later to the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). Engels laboured long and hard and managed to produce the second and third volumes of Capital.

Stumbling across Marx’s notebooks on anthropological research, Engels also managed to write The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, the classic Marxist statement on the topic. Karl Kautsky of the SPD cobbled together the volumes of the Theories of Surplus Value, which formed the last instalments of Capital.

Along the way Kautsky and the SPD turned themselves into the arbiters of Marxism, the font of all wisdom on the man and his work. Kautsky was even referred to as the “Pope of Marxism”.

The messy details of Marx’s life – such as fathering an illegitimate child – were buried and the image of the prophet who foretold the inevitable collapse of capitalism was manufactured.

Below that edifice was buried Marx’s radicalism. Within the German SPD, social reform replaced revolution – the perfect justification for the party’s bureaucratisation and adaptation to peaceful coexistence with capitalism.

A leading SPD intellectual, Eduard Bernstein, propagated a version of Marxism in which the working class would slowly take over and socialise society — through building the SPD. This would be an organic process based on social evolution driven by scientific developments, which would take an extended period.

That strand of defanged Marxism exposed itself when the SPD supported the German government in WWI. However, as if in an historical horror show, the Stalinised Soviet Union took over the care of this mummified version of Marxism.

The Communist Party of Great Britain symbolised this process in 1954 by moving Marx’s remains and erecting the granite monolith that glowers over Highgate Cemetery today. The simple, original gravestone lies broken at the first grave.

The Stalinists seized control of Marx’s intellectual legacy by gathering all his writings and overseeing the production of his collected works (known by their German initials as the MEGA). Careful selection kept Marx’s dangerous thoughts from the eyes of the masses.

With the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, these collected papers have been translated by a new group of academics, producing what is known as MEGA2. This enlarged body of work is available for scholars. We can expect in years to come that historians and others will be mining it for nuggets of information similar to how Jonathan Sperber has done in this minutely researched volume.

Selective

Sperber, an expert in early 19th century Germany and the German language, should be perfect for this task of revealing the real Karl Marx. In many ways he is, but unfortunately his eye is selective.

He has come not just to dust off the accretions of history from the real Marx, but to bury Marxism for all time. Sperber’s tome, which he sets the mission of being the authoritative text on Marx has some peculiar assertions and omissions.

The book begins quite insightfully, exploring Marx’s early history by situating him in the revolutionary times in which he lived. By delving into the faction fights in which Marx engaged, not only is Marx’s point of view reported, but also the arguments raised against him, which fills out the record.

However, Sperber revels in any hostile gossip that opponents piled onto Marx or Engels. Any tirade is accepted as fact, whereas Marx’s polemics are subjected to minute, critical examination.

Sperber’s method at times turns peculiar. He insists that this famous sentence from the Communist Manifesto is mistranslated: “All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned and man is at last compelled to face, with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.”

He contends that in English it should read: “Everything that firmly exists and all the elements of the society of orders evaporate, everything sacred is desecrated and men are finally compelled to regard their position in life and their mutual relations with sober eyes.”

Why does he insist on a bland translation? Because Sperber’s project is to demonstrate that Marx is irrelevant to this century and his translation is part of his case.

Marx was not describing the epic results of capitalism on society in that sentence, Sperber says. He was only commenting on the bourgeois overthrow of feudalism (“the society of orders”). Sperber’s point is that the Manifesto was only looking backwards, not referring to the ongoing revolutionising effects of capitalism.

Such an argument is a wilful misreading not only of the Manifesto, but of the entire body of Marx’s works. Sperber pronounces that, being mired in old-fashioned irrelevancy, Marxism means nothing today.

Oddly, in this he refracts, as if though a glass darkly, arguments that Bernstein raised against the Communist Manifesto. For Bernstein the Manifesto was a product of a younger, hot-headed radical Marx, emerging from the conspiratorial matrix of the French Revolution and should not be considered relevant to the modern age.

Positivist?

Sperber also goes into a long-winded critique, covering many pages, in which he insists that Marx was not a dialectician, but was an unconscious, though inconsistent positivist. Now this really is passing strange.

Logical positivism was still evolving during Marx’s lifetime. But its progenitor, Auguste Comte, wrote in the early 19th Century and had followers in and around the workers’ movement. Marx ripped into Comte, calling his work “trashy”.

Positivism held that society was evolving towards a more sophisticated future through scientific advancement.

Sperber, while arguing his positivist case against Marx, does not actually define what he means by the term. By inference it appears that it includes, for him, the collection of evidence and the analysis of data – in short the scientific method – plus a teleological belief in the steady advance of human civilisation. These are certainly elements of positivism and lend it its semi-religious flavour, even though it is secularist. Positivism is an extreme form of empiricism that reifies the scientific method and imposes it on sociology.

The degenerate bureaucrats of the German SPD were certainly influenced by positivism, because it let them off the hook of having to organise and lead the class struggle. Stalinism, with its mechanical materialist worship of the Five-Year Plan wilfully mixed dialectics with positivism.

Sperber says that philosophically Marx was stuck halfway along a line that stretched from Hegel at one end, with his “distrust of empirical evidence”, and positivists at the other end with their “scientific method and scientific form of empiricism”.

Now, to say that Hegel, who studied the scientific developments of his day, “distrusted empirical evidence” is quite something. To picture Karl Marx as a kind of philosophical muddle-headed wombat is to take a leap into void.

Hegel taught that every moment contains within it the possibility of future developments. This future-that-is-not-yet-present is a metaphysical concept. Hegel used the word geist (spirit) to describe the motivating force that drove these possibilities to fruition.

Marx stripped the metaphysics out of Hegelianism, turning Hegel on his head as it were, and developed what is now known as historical materialism to explain how history is driven forward.

Sperber has it wrong. Above all, Marx believed that the possibility of social progress depended on human intervention – revolutionary activity expressed through class struggle. Positivism passively depends on the advancement of science.

Marx’s argument against positivism was that it failed to discern the inner dynamics of society, which dialectical social science could expose. He granted that Comte, as a mathematician and physicist, was certainly “superior” to Hegel in scientific knowledge. However, “even here Hegel is infinitely greater when one considers the whole”. In fact, Marx said, “compared with Hegel” Comte was “wretched”.

‘Static’ economics?

Sperber is also at pains to criticise supposed failings in Marxist economic theory, which he delves into over 10 pages. It is a brave writer who tries to summarise Marxist economics in such a brief space and Sperber more than fails the job.

Following on from his inability to understand Hegelian or Marxist dialectics, Sperber can’t see the dynamic thrust of Marx’s economics. For Sperber, Marx’s grasp of economic reality was “static”, effectively “snapshots of the 1860s”.

However, just opening volume I of Capital and reading the list of contents confounds this. The process of the production of capital, the relationship of use value and exchange value making up the commodity, the fetishism of the commodity, the transformation of money into capital, the labour process and valorisation process, etc. Every page is drenched in the application of dialectics, which is the understanding of reality in movement, to economics.

To drive his points home Marx quotes from the British government factory inspectors’ reports to illustrate of the reality of working class conditions (these are “snapshots” according to Sperber).

Sperber is on slightly surer ground when he criticises Marx’s theorising about the tendency of the rate of profit to decline over time. Over the years Marx made several different attempts at explaining this tendency and never succeeded to his own satisfaction.

Sperber also delves into Marx’s newspaper editorships, indicating that his papers were dominated by strident, unreadable polemics. However, he makes no mention, for example, of the prominence of poetry in Marx’s newspapers. S.S. Pawer, in Karl Marx and World Literature, available since 1976, records the trouble to which Marx went to get the best of contemporary radical poets into his papers.

Sperber thinks that Marx’s literary allusions in his journalism were unintelligible to a mass audience, whereas Pawer shows that that his contemporaries were able to pick up the references easily. Interestingly, Sperber totally misses the myriad Biblical references and advanced use of theological logic in Marx’s writings.

Similarly, for Sperber, Marx’s organising activities to keep Britain from entering the American Civil War on the side of the Confederacy are absent. In fact, Marx’s keen interest in North American events appears right in the preface to Capital volume I and his activity was immense.

The development of Marx’s thinking about British rule in India Sperber dismisses as a strain of “petit-bourgeois” radicalism. The evolution and intellectual vigour of Marx’s engagement with the question is masterfully discussed in Kevin Anderson’s Marx at the Margins, which was available while Sperber was at work on his book, but rates no mention.

On and on it goes. Sperber’s conclusion is that Marx’s ideas are stuck in “the matrix of the early nineteenth century, the age of the French Revolution and its aftermath, of Hegel’s philosophy and its Young Hegelian critics, of the early industrialisation of Great Britain and the theories of political economy emerging from them”.

Sperber misses the point

Sperber completely misses the point: when Marx inverted Hegel’s dialectics and applied it to political economy he did not just create a new economic theory with some attendant radical posturing. Marxism is a philosophy of human action aimed at the complete liberation of the entire human race and the rescue of the planet from capitalist over-exploitation.

Marx was a critic of capitalism and, ironically it is capitalism that has kept its nemesis, Karl Marx alive. Capitalism’s myriad oppressions demand analysis and resistance. In that, the ideas and revolutionary example of Karl Marx are vibrant.

It is only with the death of capitalism that Karl Marx will finally be buried, because we will no longer have need of his world historic contribution. Notwithstanding Jonathan Sperber, Marx will then rest in peace with the grateful blessings of all humanity.

[Barry Healy is a member of Socialist Alliance in Perth, Western Australia. A shorter version of this review appeared in Green Left Weekly.]

Source: LINKS: International Journal of Socialist Renewal – http://links.org.au/node/3530

 

**END**

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Stagnant’ at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkP_Mi5ideo (new remix, and new video, 2012)

‘Cheerful Sin’ – a song by Victor Rikowski: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIbX5aKUjO8

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskipoint.blogspot.com

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

Glenn Rikowski on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/glenn.rikowski

Online Publications at: http://www.flowideas.co.uk/?page=pub&sub=Online%20Publications%20Glenn%20Rikowski