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MARXIST TRANSHUMANISM OR TRANSHUMANIST MARXISM?

 

CALL FOR PAPERS

For a Special Issue of: New Proposals: Journal of Marxism and Interdisciplinary Inquiry

Guest editors: James Steinhoff and Atle Mikkola Kjøsen

In this special issue call, New Proposals asks authors to explore how Marxism and Transhumanism might be brought into conjunction. Could there be a transhumanist Marxism or a Marxist transhumanism?

Transhumanism is defined by its proponents as an “intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally improving the human condition through applied reason, especially by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities” (Humanity+ n.d.). While this description says nothing about politics, transhumanism has been deeply pro-capital due to its popularization in the 1990s via techno-libertarian “extropianism” (More 1990). Because of this, the promethean project of improving the human condition by technological means tends to be joined with, and confused for, capital accumulation. Some of the most radical transhumanist thinkers have tended to assume to continued functioning of capital amid cataclysmic socio-technological change. For example, although transhumanist luminary Ray Kurzweil argues that the coming technological singularity (the moment when machines exceed human capacities in all respects) will irreversibly transform every aspect of human life, and even “death itself,” he still expects there to be a need for “business models” (2005, 7). Today, transhumanism is tacitly represented in the operations of venture capitalists and the giant tech capitals. DeepMind, acquired by Google in 2014, seeks to “solve intelligence” by creating AI with generalized learning abilities and Elon Musk’s Neuralink aims to provide a seamless machine connection to the human brain.

However, transhumanism is not inherently incompatible with Marxist thought and communism. While transhumanism today appears to be a capitalist project, its historical lineage can be traced back to early twentieth century socialist thinkers such as Alexander Bogdanov, J. B. S Haldane, and J. D. Bernal (Bostrom 2005; Stambler 2010; Hughes 2012). Marx himself has many, what we might call “high modernist” moments in which he argues for overcoming human and natural limits, and advocates the socialized use of technology to achieve freedom from necessity for all humans. This high modernist Marx can be read as expressing a transhumanist impulse toward technologically augmenting the human condition (Steinhoff 2014). With a few exceptions (Armesilla Conde 2018), Marxists have shown little interest in transhumanism, other than as an object of critique (Rechtenwald 2013; Noonan 2016). One exception to this are the left accelerationists/postcapitalism theorists, who draw on transhumanist motifs, such as cyborg augmentation, terraforming and full automation (Srnicek and Williams 2015; Mason 2016; Bastani 2019). Left accelerationism has, however, picked up transhumanist motifs while dropping the capital/labour antagonism central to Marxist thought, glossing over much of the difficult question of how exactly capital is supposed to come to an end. We suggest that left accelerationism forgets its Marxist roots as it is blinded by transhumanist futures.

We argue that the issues central to transhumanism should not be the purview solely of representatives of capital like Elon Musk and Peter Thiel, nor of the left accelerationists. Instead, Marxist thought should seriously engage with transhumanism in order to “decouple it from its blindly capitalist trajectory, reflect on Marx’s own high modernist tendencies, and delineate a social project to embrace or escape” (Dyer-Witheford, Kjosen & Steinhoff, 2019, 161). Therefore we ask how a Marxist transhumanism or a transhumanist Marxism might be possible.

For this special issue of New Proposals: Journal of Marxism and Interdisciplinary Inquiry we are interested in contributions that engage transhumanism and Marxism with one another. We are not interested in Marxist dismissals of transhumanism. That is not to say that we do not welcome Marxist critiques of transhumanism. We are, however, seeking critiques which take at least some elements of the theory and/or practice of transhumanism seriously from within a Marxist framework.

Possible topics include:

  • Syntheses of transhumanism and Marxism
  • Transhumanism and value theory (e.g. engagement with core concepts like social form, labour-power, the working day, surplus-value etc.)
  • Critically engaging with and/or embracing the high modernist moments in Marx’s thought
  • Staking out a communist approach to transhumanism and/or the singularity (e.g. a communist version of Kurzweil’s intelligence explosion)
  • Engaging with the transhumanist kernel in left-accelerationist thought from a Marxist perspective
  • Engaging with transhumanist projects or technologies from a Marxist perspective (e.g. radical life extension, terraforming, morphological freedom, space exploration, genetic modification, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, intelligence augmentation, brain emulation)
  • Connecting transhumanism to the history of Marxist thought and socialist societies (e.g. Soviet space endeavours, central planning)

 

Please send abstracts of no more than 500 words in length, plus a short biography, to Dr. James Steinhoff (jsteinh@uw.edu) and Dr. Atle Mikkola Kjøsen (atlemk@gmail.com) by February 29th, 2020. Please put “New Proposals special issue” in the subject line. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by March 31st, 2020. Full-length papers are 5,000 – 10,000 words.

Timeline:

29 February – deadline for submitting abstract and biography.

31 March – notifications of acceptance

1 August – deadline for submission of full-length (5,000 to 10,000 words) paper for peer review

15 November – submission of final revised paper

Early 2021 – papers published.

Please note that acceptance of an abstract does not guarantee publication. All submissions will be peer reviewed once papers are submitted.

 

References

Armesilla Conde, Santiago Javier. 2018. Is a Marxist Transhumanism possible? Eikasía – Revista de Filosofía 82, 47-86.

Bastani, Aaron. 2019. Fully automated luxury communism. Verso Books.

Bostrom, Nick. 2005. “A history of transhumanist thought”. Journal of Evolution & Technology 14:1.

Dyer-Witheford, Nick, Kjosen, Atle Mikkola and Steinhoff, James. 2019. Inhuman Power: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Capitalism. London: Pluto Press.

Hughes, James J. 2012. “The Politics of Transhumanism and the Techno‐Millennial Imagination, 1626–2030”. Zygon 47:4, 757-776.

Humanity+. n.d.. “What is transhumanism?” https://whatistranshumanism.org/

Kurzweil, Ray. 2005. The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. Penguin.

Mason, Paul. 2016. Postcapitalism: A guide to our future. Macmillan.

More, Max. 1990. “Transhumanism: Towards a futurist philosophy.” Extropy 6:6, 11.

Noonan, Jeff. 2016. “The Debate on Immortality: Posthumanist Science vs. Critical Philosophy”. The European Legacy 21:1, 38-51.

Rechtanwald, Michael. 2013. “The Singularity and Socialism.” Insurgent Notes. http://insurgentnotes.com/2013/10/the-singularity-and-socialism/

Srnicek, Nick, and Alex Williams. 2015. Inventing the future: Postcapitalism and a world without work. Verso Books.

Stambler, Ilia. 2010. “Life extension – a conservative enterprise? Some fin-de-siècle and early twentieth-century precursors of transhumanism. ” Journal of Evolution & Technology 21:1, 13-26.

Steinhoff, James. 2014. “Transhumanism and Marxism: Philosophical Connections”. Journal of Evolution & Technology 24:2, 1-16.

New Proposals : Journal of Marxism and Interdisciplinary Inquiry represents an attempt to explore issues, ideas, and problems that lie at the intersection between the academic disciplines of social science and the body of thought and political practice that has constituted Marxism over the last 150 years. New Proposals is a journal of Marxism and interdisciplinary Inquiry that is dedicated to the radical transformation of the contemporary world order. We see our role as providing a platform for research, commentary, and debate of the highest scholarly quality that contributes to the struggle to create a more just and humane world, in which the systematic and continuous exploitation, oppression, and fratricidal struggles that characterize the contemporary sociopolitical order no longer exist.

New Proposals is a fully open access journal. We do not charge publication or user fees as a condition of publication. However, if your institution provides funding to support open access publications we ask authors of accepted papers to apply for open access funding support from their institution. For authors at open access funded institutions the production fee is $350 for articles. There are no production fees for student feature articles, or for book reviews, commentaries or reflections of 5,000 words or less. If you have any questions please contact us. We fundamentally support the principles of full open access in academic publishing. It does cost money to do this, even as we rely upon a lot of good will, volunteer labour, and self-exploitation to get the publication out the door. Any support or assistance is always appreciated!

Special issue editors:

Dr. James Steinhoff is a UW Data Science Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Washington. He researches the artificial intelligence industry, data science labour, Marxist theory and automation. He is author of the forthcoming book Automation and Autonomy: Labour, Capital and Machines in the Artificial Intelligence Industry (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021) and co-author of Inhuman Power: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Capitalism (Pluto Press 2019). .

Dr. Atle Mikkola Kjøsen is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at the University of Western Ontario. He researches Marxist value theory, media theory, logistics, artificial intelligence, androids, and post-singularity capitalism. With Nick Dyer-Witheford and James Steinhoff, he is co-author of Inhuman Power: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Capitalism (Pluto Press 2019).

 

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Glenn Rikowski @ Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Glenn_Rikowski

Ruth Rikowski @ Academia: http://lsbu.academia.edu/RuthRikowski

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Student As Producer

The Student As Producer: How Do Revolutionary Teachers Teach?

 

A forthcoming book by Mike Neary

Zer0 Books

31 July 2020

 

Student as Producer brings critical theory to life in a contribution to the dynamic, emerging genre of critical higher education studies.

It is for students and teachers who want to change the world through critical pedagogy and popular education.

 

Synopsis:

Mike Neary’s account finds itself set in a particular moment of time: between the student protests and urban riots that erupted in England in 2010-2011 and the 2017 General Election, during which students and young people played a significant role by protesting the politics of austerity and by supporting the politics of Corbynism. The revolutionary curriculum in this book is framed around unlearning the law of labour and the institutions through which the law of labour is enforced, including the capitalist university which, more and more, seeks growth and expansion for the sake of growth, neglecting the intellectual and educational needs of students in favour of the needs of the capitalist state.

Through thought experiments and reference to the work of the Soviet legal theorist, Evgeny Pashukanis, Student as Producer searches for solutions to how cooperatives might be brought about by a sense of common purpose and social defense. This is a practical, probing response to the ongoing assault on higher education by the social power of Money and the State. Mike Neary grounds his answers in a version of Marx’s social theory known as ‘a new reading of Marx’, as advanced by authors such as Werner Bonefeld and Moishe Postone. The theory is applied to various aspects of pedagogy, criminology, and political sociology to create a curricula for revolutionary teaching that will aid activists and those involved with co-operative movements who are seeking ways in which to engage critically with higher education.

 

To Pre-order The Student As Producer:

Paperback: 978-1-78904-238-2, £16.99 || $27.95

e-Book: 978-1-78904-239-9, £13.99 || $22.99

See: https://www.johnhuntpublishing.com/zer0-books/our-books/student-as-producer

 

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Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Glenn_Rikowski

Ruth Rikowski @ Academia: http://lsbu.academia.edu/RuthRikowski

Mike Neary

Glenn Rikowski

NOTES ON COMMODITY FORMS AND THE BUSINESS TAKEOVER OF SCHOOLS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These notes are for a seminar with second year Education Studies students at the University of East London, Stratford Campus, on 20th November 2019.

 

Introduction

Commodification, marketisation, monetisation (the increasing scourge of money), and competition, commercialisation (advertising and selling-centred image manipulation) in education: how do we challenge and terminate these developments, if we wish to? Do we rely on the state to protect us from these insurgencies by capitalist interests and motivations in contemporary education? Will pressure from below, from us, urge the state to curb and end the role of business in education? Do we hope for a victory of Corbyn’s Labour Party in the forthcoming General Election to end the business takeover of education?

These notes indicate a way forward regarding posting answers to these questions. It is argued that we need to attack the business takeover of education at the micro level: at the level of the commodity, first and foremost.

The first Part of these notes focuses on this micro-level: commodity forms, the basic, elemental phenomena of capitalist society. Part Two explores one of these commodity forms, the general class of commodities, in terms of its development in contemporary schools. The focus is on how the general class of commodities, through the business takeover of schools, grows and spreads. The examples explored in Part Two come from schools in England, though, as Verger, Fontdevilla and Zancajo (2016) demonstrate, what they call the ‘global education industry’ (which is roughly equivalent to what I take as the business takeover of education) is a world-wide phenomenon, not confined to the UK, the US or Europe.

The perspective of these notes rests on Marxism; the ideas of Karl Marx and those who embrace his critique of capitalist society and its social scientific armoury. There are many forms of Marxism, and I stand within what has been called ‘Open Marxism’ – based on the work of people such as John Holloway and Werner Bonefeld. For 40 years, I have studied and organised around what has become known as Marxist educational theory.

 

The rest of these Notes can be found at Academia, in my ‘Teaching Documents’ section: https://www.academia.edu/40918435/Notes_on_Commodity_Forms_and_the_Business_Takeover_of_Schools

 

Glenn Rikowski

14 November 2019

 

More of Glenn Rikowski’s publication and papers can be found at:

Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski

ResearchGate: http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Glenn_Rikowski

 

Glenn Rikowski

EDUCATION CRISES AS CRISES FOR CAPITAL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My article, Education Crises as Crises for Capital was recently published in ‘Theory in Action’, Vol.12 No.3 (July). See doi:10.3798/tia.1937-0237.1924.

Alternatively, you can get it from Academia, at: https://www.academia.edu/40121601/Education_Crises_as_Crises_for_Capital

ABSTRACT

Accounts of education crises typically start out from the notion that these are derivative of economic crises. Hard times for capitalist economies – with recession and consequent shortfalls in tax takes as unemployment rises – leads to cutbacks in budgets for state services, including education. The victims of these cuts are schools, colleges, universities, and students (as provision is trimmed) and staffs (redundancies, recruitment freezes and restructurings). This is The Classical Theory of Education Crisis. A critique of this perspective on education crisis is outlined in this article. Alternatively, it is argued that education crises can be crises for capital, where capitalist development in education institutions becomes threatened or terminated. Through the analysis of commodity forms, the conditions for education crises generating crises for capital are demonstrated. In this perspective, it is capital that is the victim. It is argued that when conscious attempts to go beyond existing forms of capitalist education are forged along anti-capitalist lines in alternative, oppositional educational organisations, then this poses the most threatening scenario for capital and its human representatives.

Glenn Rikowski

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Glenn Rikowski at ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Glenn_Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski at Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski

 

PRIVATISATION: EDUCATION AND COMMODITY FORMS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An article by Glenn Rikowski

My article has recently been published in:

Keywords in Radical Philosophy and Education: Common Concepts for Contemporary Movements

Edited by Derek R. Ford

Brill | Sense

Leiden | Boston

2019

 

This article, Chapter 25, is now available at Academia: https://www.academia.edu/39344962/Privatisation_Education_and_Commodity_Forms

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

While education is an inherently political field and practice, and while the political struggles that radical philosophy takes up necessarily involve education, there remains much to be done at the intersection of education and radical philosophy. That so many intense political struggles today actually center educational processes and institutions makes this gap all the more pressing. Yet in order for this work to be done, we need to begin to establish common frameworks and languages in and with which to move.

Keywords in Radical Philosophy and Education takes up this crucial and urgent task. Dozens of emerging and leading activists, organizers, and scholars assemble a collective body of concepts to interrogate, provoke, and mobilize contemporary political, economic, and social struggles. This wide-ranging edited collection covers key and innovative philosophical and educational themes–from animals, sex, wind, and praxis, to studying, podcasting, debt, and students.

This field-defining work is a necessary resource for all activists and academics interested in exploring the latest conceptual contributions growing out of the intersection of social struggles and the university.

Contributors are: Rebecca Alexander, Barbara Applebaum, David Backer, Jesse Bazzul, Brian Becker, Jesse Benjamin, Matt Bernico, Elijah Blanton, Polina-Theopoula Chrysochou, Clayton Cooprider, Katie Crabtree, Noah De Lissovoy, Sandra Delgado, Dean Dettloff, Zeyad El Nabolsy, Derek R. Ford, Raúl Olmo Fregoso Bailón, Michelle Gautreaux, Salina Gray, Aashish Hemrajani, Caitlin Howlett, Khuram Hussain, Petar Jandric, Colin Jenkins, Kelsey Dayle John, Lenore Kenny, Tyson E. Lewis, Curry Malott, Peter McLaren, Glenn Rikowski, Marelis Rivera, Alexa Schindel, Steven Singer, Ajit Singh, Nicole Snook, Devyn Springer, Sara Tolbert, Katherine Vroman, Anneliese Waalkes, Chris Widimaier, Savannah Jo Wilcek, David Wolken, Jason Wozniak, and Weili Zhao.

 

See: https://brill.com/abstract/title/54628?rskey=CsCTpk&result=1&fbclid=IwAR2QI5FkI42O-ZaKJXeE0FmlfSn-uKBKU02a9tFOpFMN6P0Se2q8bIqplrc

 

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Glenn_Rikowski

Ruth Rikowski @ Academia: http://lsbu.academia.edu/RuthRikowski

 

Critical Theory in a Closing and Violent World

CRITICAL THEORY IN A CLOSING AND VIOLENT WORLD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15th May 2019

University of Bath

Claverton Down

BATH

BS2 7AY

 

5.00 – 7.00pm

Room: 5W 2.4

 

The newly-funded ESRC SWDTP Standing Seminar in Critical Theory at Bath, with Bristol and Exeter Universities, is thrilled to announced their next event:

‘Critical Theory in a closing and violent world’ on Wednesday the 15th of May, 5-7pm at the University of Bath (Room 5W 2.4).

For this event, we are delighted to once more welcome John HOLLOWAY (Puebla, Mexico), who will be joined by Werner BONEFELD (York), Ana DINERSTEIN and Theo PAPADOPOULOS (Bath).

The panellists will bring critical theory to bear on a contemporary global panorama in which the legitimisation of violence, xenophobia, misogyny and racism takes on new and alarming power. What does it mean to speak of a closing world? What are its political implications and those, in turn, of open critique? What openings can critical theory forge in support of emancipatory politics and their horizons?

If you are interested in attending please sign up to our event through our Eventbrite page: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/critical-theory-in-a-closing-and-violent-world-tickets-61171466503

 

For further enquiries, please contact: A.C.Dinerstein@bath.ac.uk

Critical Theory in a Closing and Violent World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Glenn Rikowski at ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Glenn_Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski at Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski

 

Living Fire

OPEN MARXISM 4: AGAINST A CLOSING WORLD

FORTHCOMING LATE 2019

 

Foreword Open Marxism vol. 4

Open Marxism. Volume 4, 2019

Werner Bonefeld-York

https://www.academia.edu/38682137/Foreword_Open_Marxism_vol._4?campaign=upload_emailGo

(Draft) Foreword to the forthcoming edition of Open Marxism vol. 4, edited by Ana Cecilia Dinerstein, Alfonso García Vela, Edith González & John Holloway, Pluto Press, late 2019

 

Publication Date: 2019

Publication Name: Open Marxism. vol.4

FORTHCOMING NOVEMBER 2019

Ana Cecilia DINERSTEIN, Alfonso GARCIA VELA, Edith GONZALEZ and JOHN HOLLOWAY (Eds.)(2019) Open Marxism 4. Against a closing world, Pluto Press, London – NY. 

 

Foreword by Werner Bonefeld 

More than twenty years have passed since the publication of the first three volumes of Open Marxism. Since then, the approach has had a transformative impact on how we think about Marxism in the twenty-first century. 

‘Open Marxism’ aims to think of Marxism as a theory of struggle, not as an objective analysis of capitalist domination, arguing that money, capital and the state are forms of struggle from above and therefore open to resistance and rebellion. As critical thought is squeezed out of universities and geographical shifts shape the terrain of theoretical discussion, the editors argue now is the time for a new volume. 

Emphasising the contemporary relevance of ‘Open Marxism’ in our moment of political uncertainty, the collection shines a light on its significance for activists and academics today. 

 

See in PLUTO PRESS Catalogue pp. 14-15

http://plutopressmarketing.co.uk/public/PLUTO PRESS_LBF19 Rights Catalogue.pdf

 

Foreword

Werner Bonefeld

The previous three volumes of Open Marxism were published between 1992 and 1995. What a time that was! The Soviet Empire had collapsed, and capitalism was duly celebrated with great fanfare as not only victorious but also as the epitome of civilisation that had now been confirmed as history’s end – as if history maintains in the service of vast wealth a class of dispossessed producers of surplus value. History does not use pursue its own ends and it does not assert itself in the interests of bourgeois civilisation, morality and profitability. History does not make society. Nor does it take sides. It is rather that society makes history. And society is nothing other than the social individuals pursuing their own ends in their class divided social relations. History was truly made in the late 1980s and early 1990s. About this there is no doubt.

Amidst the fanfare, the debtor crisis of the 1980s had started to move from the global South to the global North, from the crash of 1987 via the third global recession in less than 20 years in the early 1990s to the various currency crises, including those of the British Pound and the Mexican Peso in 1992 and 1994 respectively. The Peso crisis coincided with the uprising of the Zapatistas in 1994. Then there was the emergence of China as a world power, founded on a labour economy that combines authoritarian government with the provision of cheap labour and disciplined labour relations. And it was the time also of the first Gulf war, mere posturing of might in search for a global enemy that was needed to secure the domestic containment of the querulous rabble, as Hegel put it when remarking on how a successful war can check the domestic unrest and consolidate the power of the state at home.

Since the early 1990s, with the passing into oblivion of the Soviet Empire, the entire edifice of Marxism-Leninism has tumbled also. It had served as the official doctrine and source for legitimation of state socialism and its various derivative ideologies that found expression in either Gramscian or Althusserian Eurocommunism or in the manifold sectarian organisations that proclaimed their allegiance to Trotsky, Lenin’s military commander and suppressor of the Kronstadt uprising of 1921. Although these traditions continue to force themselves onto the critique of political economy, their history has come to an end. They no longer provide the ideological foundation to what is now yesterday’s idea of the forward march of socialism. To be sure, some still believe in the revolutionary party as an end in itself. Yet, in reality the party is no more – it had in fact been gone a long time before. It died in Spain during the civil war and during the show-trails in Stalinist Russia and its morbid foundation perished finally in either 1953 or 1956, or indeed 1968. Like Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, Jean-Luc Mélenchon in France is just a ghost of yesterday. Neither is a Chavez or a Maduro, or indeed an Ortega – and that is a relief. In fact, both, Corbyn and Mélenchon, seek political power for the sake of justice in an unjust world. Instead of the critique of political economy, the endeavour now is to moralise and lament by way of political philosophy conceptions of well-being.

In distinction, the Open Marxism volumes did not argue for justice in an unjust world by means of state socialist planning of labour economy, and progressive schemes of taxation and just ideas for redistribution. Nor did they argue in favour of hegemonic strategies for the achievement of political power on behalf of the many. They did not endorse the state as the institution of institutions. Rather, they understood that profit is the purpose of capital and that the state is the political form of that purpose.They understood also that world market competition compels each nation state to achieve competitive labour markets, which are the condition for achieving a measure of social integration. The politics of competitiveness, sound money, fiscal prudence, enhanced labour productivity, belong to a system of wealth that sustains the welfare of workers on the condition that their labour yields a profit. In this system of wealth, the profitability of labour is a means not only of avoiding bankruptcy; it is also a means of sustaining the employment of labour. Protectionism is a measure of defence within free trade – and in relationship to labour markets, it amounts also to an anti-immigrant policy of exclusion and racialization, of the national us and the ‘othered’ them, citizens from nowhere.

The profitable exploitation of labour is the condition for the sustained employment of workers. It allows workers to maintain access to the means of subsistence through wage income. It is the case also that there is a fate far worth than being an exploited worker and that is, to be an unexploitable worker.  If labour power cannot be traded, what else can be sold to make a living and achieve a connection to the means of subsistence? That is, first of all, the producers of surplus value, dispossessed sellers of labour power, are free to struggle to make ends meet. Their struggle belongs to the conceptuality of capitalist wealth – that is, money that yields more money. In this conception of wealth the satisfaction of human needs is a mere sideshow. What counts is the time of money. What counts therefore is the valorisation of value through the extraction of surplus value. There is no time to spare. Time is money. And then suddenly society finds itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if famine, a universal war of devastation, had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence to the class that works for its supper. And second, the understanding of the mysterious character of an equivalence exchange between unequal values, of money that yields more money, lies in the concept of surplus value. There is trade in labour power, and then there is the consumption of labour that produces a total value that is greater then the value of labour power. The equivalence exchange relations are thus founded on the class relationship between the buyers of labour power and the producers of surplus value. This social relationship, which entails a history of suffering, vanishes in its economic appearance as an exchange between one quantity of money and another.

Contrary to a whole history of Marxist thought, class struggle is not something positive. Rather, it belongs to the capitalist social relations, and drives them forward. Class struggle does not follow some abstract idea. Nor does it express some ontologically privileged position of the working class, according to which it is the driving force of historical progress as the traditions of state socialism saw it. Rather it is struggle for access to the means of subsistence. It is a struggle to make ends meet. The notion that this struggle manifests a socialist commitment because of itself, is really just an abstract idea. There is no doubt also that the demand for a politics of justice recognises the suffering of the dispossessed. Political commitment towards the betterment of the conditions of the working class is absolutely necessary – it civilises society’s treatment of its workers. Nevertheless, the critique of class society does not find its positive resolution in the achievement of fair and just exchange relations between the sellers of labour power and the consumers of labour. What is a fair wage?  Is it not the old dodge of the charitable alternative to the employer from hell, who nevertheless also pays his labourers with the monetised surplus value he previously extracted from them? The critique of class society finds its positive resolution only in a society in which the progress of the ‘muck of ages’ has come to an end.

The Open Marxism volumes of the 1990s saw themselves as a contribution to the attempt at freeing the critique of capitalist labour economy from the dogmatic embrace of the bright side view that capitalist economy is an irrationally organised labour economy. In this view socialism is superior to capitalism because it is a rationally organised labour economy through conscious planning by public authority. The anti-capitalism of central economic planning, or, in today’s flat enunciation of Negri’s and Hardt’s term of the multitude, the politics for the many is entirely abstract in its critique of labour economy. In fact, it presents the theology of anti-capitalism – one that looks on the bright side in the belief that progress will be made upon the taking of government by the party of labour. What is capitalist wealth, what belongs to its concept, and what is its dynamic, and what therefore holds sway in its concept?  Only a reified consciousness can declare that it is in possession of the requisite knowledge and technical expertise and know-how for regulating capitalism in the interests of the class that works for both, the expansion of social wealth in the form of capital and for its supper. The Open Marxism volumes sought to reassert the critique of the capitalist social relations as a critique of political economy, of both labour economy and the principle of political power, at least that was the critical intension.

The critical purpose of the Open Marxism volumes was to free Marx from the ‘perverters of historical materialism’, as Adorno had characterised the doctrinal Marxists in Negative Dialectics. For this to happen, looking on the bright side is not an option. Rather, it entails an attempt at thinking in and through the logic social wealth, its production and circulation, that holds sway in capitalist political economy. In the absence of such an attempt, the sheer unrest of life that belongs to the concept of capital and sustains its progress will not be understood. Instead, it will either be romanticised as alienated species being or viewed, with moralising righteousness, as an electoral resource.

The said purpose of the attempt at freeing Marx from orthodox ritualization was not in any case novel. In fact, it could look back onto a distinguished history that included the council communism of for example Pannekoek, Gorter and Mattick, the work of Karl Korsch, the critical theory of Adorno, Horkheimer and Marcuse, the Yugoslav Praxis Group, Axelos’s open marxism, the Situationist International, the critical Marxist tradition in Latin America associated with Echeverría, Sánchez Vázquez, Schwarz, and Arantes, the state derivation debate of amongst others Gerstenberger, Blanke, Neußüss, and von Braunmühl, the neue Marx Lektüre of amongst others Backhaus, Reichelt and Schmidt, the autonomous Marxism of amongst others Dalla Costa, Federici, Tronti, Negri, Cleaver, and Bologna, and in the context of the British-based Conference of Socialist Economists from which it emerged, the works of especially Simon Clarke and John Holloway about value, class, and state. Simon Clarke’s critique of structuralist Marxism, especially the works of Levi-Strauss, Althusser and Poulantzas, and his contributions to state theory and value form analysis were fundamental in the immediate context of the early 1990s.

The title Open Marxism derived from the work of Johannes Agnoli, a Professor of the Critique of Politics at the Free University of Berlin. His contribution to the heterodox Marxist tradition focused the critique of political economy as a subversive critique of the economic categories, the philosophical concepts, the moral values and the political institutions, including the form of the state, of bourgeois society. The direct link between the title of the Open Marxism volumes and Agnoli is the title of a book that he published with Ernest Mandel in 1980: Offener Marxismus: Ein Gespräch über Dogmen, Orthodoxie & die Häresie der Realität (Open Marxism: A Discussion about Doctrines, Orthodoxy & the Heresy of Reality). The choice of the Open Marxism title was not about paying homage to Johannes Agnoli as the foremost subversive thinker of his time. It was programmatic.

The much too long delayed publication of this forth volume of Open Marxism does not require contextualisation. Nothing is as it was and everything is just the same. We live in a time of terror and we live in a time of war. The so-called elite has become a racket. Antisemitism is back en vogue as both the socialism of fools and as the expression of thoughtless resentment and nationalist paranoia. Racism is as pervasive as it always was – as enemy within and without. The so-called clash of civilisation is unrelenting in its inexorable attack on the promise of freedom. Even the talk about socialism in one country has made a comeback without sense of purpose – first because there can be none, and second because there is none. The political blow back of the crisis of 2008 has been intense and relentless Austerity. Precariat. Profitability. Rate of growth. Price competitiveness. What is so different however from the early 1990s is that capitalism as a term of critical inquiry has vanished; it is has disappeared from contemporary analysis. The Zeitgeist recognises neoliberalism as the object of critique. As a consequence, the past no longer comes alive in the critique of contemporary conditions. Instead, it appears as a counterfoil of imagined civility to today’s much-criticised neoliberal world. The critique of neoliberalism conjures up a time in which money did not yield more money but was rather put to work for growth and jobs. Illusion dominates reality. The spectre of society without memory is truly frightening.

While the first three volumes sought to free Marx from the dogmatic perverters of historical materialism, it seems to me that the purpose of the forth volume is to bring back centre stage the critique of capitalism, in parts to re-establish in a (self-) critical and open manner what the neoliberal Zeitgeist disavows, and in parts also to think afresh of what it means to say no On the one hand there is the preponderance of the object – society as a real abstraction that manifests itself behind the backs of the acting subjects – and on the other hand there is the spontaneity of the subject. Hope dies last.

York

March 26, 2019

 

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Glenn Rikowski at Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski

MARX 200: THE SIGNIFICANCE OF MARXISM IN THE 21st CENTURY – BOOK LAUNCH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday 23 March 4-5.30pm

Marx 200: The Significance of Marxism in the 21st Century 

Marx Memorial Library & Workers’ School

37a Clerkenwell Green
Marx Memorial Library
London
EC1R 0DU
United Kingdom

Tel: 020 7253 1485

admin@mml.xyz

Hear from the Editorial team and
Guest speaker and contributor Professor Ben Fine

This book, published by Praxis Press, examines the significance of Marxism for today’s world. Leading scholars and activists from different countries – including Cuba, India and the UK – show that Marx’s ideas continue to provide us with the analysis we need to understand our world today in order to change it.

 

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Glenn Rikowski @ ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Glenn_Rikowski

Ruth Rikowski @ Academia: http://lsbu.academia.edu/RuthRikowski

 

Postdigital Science and Education

MARXIST EDUCATION ACROSS THE GENERATIONS: A DIALOGUE ON EDUCATION, TIME, AND TRANSHUMANISM

 

A Dialogue by Derek R. Ford and Glenn Rikowski

A pre-print of this Dialogue was published in Postdigital Science and Education on 9th January 2019

 

In this dialogue, two educational theorists discuss a range of topics at the nexus of Marxism and education, exploring the rich and diverse paths traversed within and around Marxist educational theory. The first part consists of a synthesis of their own trajectories and how they fit into broader social movements and political and academic conversations. In particular, they focus on the social production of labor-power and pedagogical logics. The second part concentrates on postdigital debates, including conceptions of time and transhumanism.

In June of 2018, Derek Ford contacted Glenn Rikowski proposing a collaboration, and Glenn suggested a dialogue. After a few months of preparation, they began the dialogue over e-mail in early October. A few weeks later, Derek visited Glenn in England for 5 days. They finished the conversation over e-mail, completing it in December 2018.

This dialogue is now available in pre-print format at Academia: https://www.academia.edu/38235324/Marxist_Education_Across_the_Generations_a_Dialogue_on_Education_Time_and_Transhumanism

 

END

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Ruth Rikowski @ Academia: http://lsbu.academia.edu/RuthRikowski

Raya Dunayevskaya

60 YEARS OF RAYA DUNAYEVSKAYA’S ‘MARXISM AND FREEDOM’: ON CLASS, RACE AND AUTOMATION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Housmans Bookshop

5 Caledonian Road

London

N1 9DY

 

7th November 2018

7.00 pm.

Entry 3 pounds (redeemable against purchases)

 

Raya Dunayevskaya’s classic, ‘Marxism and Freedom’, was published in New York in 1958 with preface by Herbert Marcuse. There have since been several later editions and numerous translations.

 

Speaking at this event will be:

Kevin B Anderson, author of ‘Marx at the Margins’.

Paul Mason, author of ‘Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future’

Dana Naomi Mills, author of a critical study of Rosa Luxemburg (forthcoming with Reaktion Press).

David Black, author of ‘The Philosophical Roots of Anti-Capitalism’.

 

As Paul Mason wrote recently in the New Statesman:

“As Dunayevskaya understood, the impulse towards freedom is created by more than just exploitation: it is triggered by alienation, the suppression of desire, the humiliation experienced by people on the receiving end of systemic racism, sexism and homophobia. Everywhere capitalism follows anti-human priorities it stirs revolt – and it’s all around us. In the coming century, just as Marx predicted, it is likely that automation coupled with the socialisation of knowledge will present us with the opportunity to liberate ourselves from work. That, as he said, will blow capitalism ‘sky high’. The economic system that replaces it will have to be shaped around the goal he outlined in 1844: ending alienation and liberating the individual.”

 

Meeting sponsored by the International Marxist-Humanist Organisation

The IMHO Journal, The International Marxist-Humanist is @: https://www.imhojournal.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Glenn Rikowski @ Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Glenn_Rikowski

Ruth Rikowski @ Academia: http://lsbu.academia.edu/RuthRikowski

 

Raya Dunayevskaya

Glenn Rikowski

MARXISM AND EDUCATION: FRAGILITY, CRISIS, CRITIQUE

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have a new article out in Cadernos do GPOSSHE On-line, Vol.1 No.1 (2018): pp.142-170, Marxism and Education: Fragility, Crisis, Critique.

It now available at Academia, @ https://www.academia.edu/37616749/Marxism_and_Education_Fragility_Crisis_Critique

It is also available at ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328428970_Marxism_and_Education_Fragility_Crisis_Critique

 

ABSTRACT

The article rests substantially on the work of John Holloway, especially his early articles in Common Sense: Journal of the Edinburgh Conference of Socialist Economists. On this foundation, it is argued, firstly, that the importance of Marxism resides in its capacity to pinpoint fragilities and weaknesses in the constitution, development and rule of capital in contemporary society. Understanding these fragilities sharpens the critical edge of any movements aimed at social transformation out of the madhouse of capital.

Glenn Rikowski

 

***END***

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Glenn Rikowski @ Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Glenn_Rikowski

Ruth Rikowski @ Academia: http://lsbu.academia.edu/RuthRikowski

Derek Ford

PEDAGOGY IN THE POST-TRUTH ERA: AN ANTI-TRUMP PRO-TEST!

 

 

 

 

 

A Seminar by Derek R. Ford (Assistant Professor of Education Studies, DePauw University, USA)

 

University of East London

Stratford Campus

Cass School of Education & Communities

17th October 2018

12.30 – 2.00pm

Room: ED201

 

Abstract: Those who are in shock that truth doesn’t seem to matter in politics today miss the mark, for politics has never corresponded with truth. Instead, political struggle is about the formulation and materialization of new truths. In this sense, the “post-truth” era offers a new opportunity to articulate and fight for a new political reality. Yet rather than embrace this opportunity, the mainstream anti-Trump “resistance” aims to suture this opening and re-stabilize the political superstructure. This paper focuses instead on the left-wing resistance that’s organizing and mobilizing to force a new world into being. After articulating the coordinates of our “post-truth” moment, it investigates the educational logic of the protest. Specifically, I propose that the protest is when movements test their political line, their organizational capacity, and the existing order of things.

Biographical details: Derek R. Ford is Assistant Professor of Education studies at DePauw University, USA. His research emerges from the nexus of subjectivity, pedagogy, and revolutionary struggles. He has written and edited seven books, including Communist Study and Politics and Pedagogy in the “Post-Truth” Era: Insurgent Philosophy and Praxis. He is education chair at The Hampton Institute (a working-class think tank), an organizer with the Answer Coalition, and co-editor of LiberationSchool.org.

 

Seminar details: This seminar is organised by Dr Alpesh Maisuria, Senior Lecturer Education Studies, part of the International Centre for Public Pedagogy (ICuP) and the Marxism and Education and Education: Renewing Dialogues Series (MERD Co-Convenors Alpesh Maisuria and Tony Green).

 

Links:

Derek Ford’s book: Politics and Pedagogy in the “Post-Truth” Era: https://www.bloomsbury.com/…/politics-and-pedagogy-in-the-…/

Dr. Alpesh Maisuria: https://alpeshmaisuria.academia.edu/

ICPuP: https://www.uel.ac.uk/…/the-international-centre-for-public…

MERD facebook:https://www.facebook.com/groups/202497469816639/?fb_dtsg_ag=AdyC300tngNeUAmV0YiduaY9LBrsFhpfgYWjBZ2UgPpmVQ%3AAdxyQFjUkbZvsBPJUuFuTTHZ2ccCxx-oTjFqw4SAjWZD1g

Tony Green’s Marxism and Education Palgrave book series https://www.palgrave.com/gb/series/14811

 

All welcome. No registration required.

Please share widely.

Communist Study

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

END*****

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Glenn Rikowski at ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Glenn_Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski at Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski