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Call for Papers for an ephemera Special Issue on: Communism of Capital?

Issue Editors: Armin Beverungen, Anna-Maria Murtola and Gregory Schwartz

Deadline for submissions: 29 February 2012

Today, neoliberal capitalism is increasingly put into question. Whereas two decades ago business school gurus argued that the US was ‘the most “socialist” country around’ (Drucker, 1993: 6), today’s self-appointed business leaders know they cannot do without a certain communism. George Soros, Bill Gates and others refer to themselves – not without irony – as ‘liberal communists’ (Žižek, 2008a). Recognising the evils induced by capitalism these patricians of the market proselytise market philanthropy to deliver many of the ostensible benefits of the communism of yore. Newsweek, reflection on the national bailout of the banks in response to the financial crisis, declared: ‘We are all socialists now’ (Meacham, 2009). Yet, the one thing that seems beyond question in such projections of communism is capital itself.

At the same time, theories of cognitive capitalism, immaterial labour and biopolitical production suggest that some kind of communism is already at work within capitalism. According to Hardt and Negri, immaterial labour ‘seems to provide the potential for a kind of spontaneous and elementary communism’ (2000: 294). Similarly, Virno defines post-Fordism as ‘the communism of capital’, since it ‘puts forth, in its own way, typical demands of communism (abolition of work, dissolution of the State, etc.)’ (2004: 110-111). The contemporary enjoinments to pursue work that is authentic, ethical, spiritual, evoking and invoking the community, friendship and collaboration (Heckscher and Adler, 2006), chime in with invitations for employees in work organisations to ‘just be themselves’ (Fleming, 2009), thus delivering on some of the promises of communism. From a ‘paleo-Marxist’ perspective (Adler, 2007) we can surmise that concrete changes in technology and work organisation assure us some version of communism in substance, if not in form.

However, such projections of work organisation rely on a commons in production without opening up production to a commons that will tear apart the dominance of capital. For Negri (2008: 157-180), the communism of capital is marked by new forms of capture of the creativity of labour. For Virno (2004: 110), communist demands and objectives have been subject to ‘an insiduous and terrible interpretation’, for example in the way that unemployment and precarity accompany overwork. For Holloway (2010), more fundamentally, it is the communal, communising and communistic doing that, in capitalism, exists in the mode of being denied. For Read, capital operates ‘through the abstractions of money and labour, which are all the more effective in that they are not believed or even grasped’ – ‘the cynicism of the productive powers of the general intellect today, is a cynicism without reserve, in which every aspect of one’s existence, knowledge, communicative abilities and desires become productive’ (2008: 146, 150). The question for Negri, Virno, Holloway and Read, then, is how to overcome this enclosure by capital.

Yet even anti-capitalism seems to return only as communism of capital. As Žižek (2008b) and Fisher (2010) point out, capitalist realism already embraces a certain kind of anti-capitalism – ‘corporate anti-capitalism’ is discernible in the products of Hollywood, such as Wall-E and Avatar, but also in the way that today it is acceptable or encouraged to express anti-capitalist sentiments at work (Fleming, 2009). Anti-capitalism as a signifier thus loses its radical edge, especially as it is contained within a parliamentary democratic politics (Žižek, 2008b: 184). Indeed, the more gushing the moralism against the evils of our age, the more certain the conclusion that capitalism is an eternal, natural system of social organisation.

At this impasse we might be at once more sceptical and more hopeful. We might hedge doubts about the communism of capital in view of Groys’ (2009) argument that language – the basis of a communist politics – will remain silent as long as the commodity form mediates it. We might question the communism of capital by insisting, with Ranciere (2010), on the politics of emancipation and not the logos of history as the purveyor of communism. We might deny its ethical claims by revealing the underlying ‘ontology of profit’ (Badiou, 2008: 47) – that with capitalism as ‘a system that hands the organization of our collective life over to the lowest instincts, to greed, rivalry and unconscious egotism’ (Badiou, 2010: 96) the communism of capital is a simulacra of late capitalism. And if communism is ‘not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself’, then where are we to look for ‘the real movement which abolishes the present state of things’ (Marx and Engels, 1998: 57; emphases in original)?


For this special issue of ephemera we invite contributions that address various aspects of what could be conceived as the communism of capital. We are especially interested in papers that try to cover the following interrelated areas of organisational inquiry.

First, we are interested in contributions that seek to locate the attempts by capital to organise society as producers. For example, in what ways are social forms mobilised in the name of a discernible communism, and how do such dispositifs reproduce the dominance of capital? Based on postworkerist/autonomist thought, how or to what extent is production based on the common, and what kinds of political effects does this produce? Alternatively, drawing on the Lacanian/Hegelian tradition, how does anti-capitalist ideology work in practice in the organisation of work, and what negations and contradictions are involved?

Second, papers could explore how capital organises consumption in society via affective, discursive and cognitive means. For example, how do contemporary ideas of corporate social responsibility, business ethics or leadership utilise ideas of communism? In what ways, and to what extent, do efforts to purvey capitalism as, essentially, a creature of communism lead to new ways of constructing (and consuming) the subjects of capital?

Third, we welcome papers that interrogate how capital organises politics and the state. For example, there is a way in which the state, by over-coding existing codes and values, uses the terminology and imagery of ‘community’ to refer to ways of fragmenting and depoliticising its social responsibility in the face of escalating inequality, poverty and precarity generated by capital. How might we understand this apparent harkening to deep-seated, basic communalism in terms of the communism of capital, with the state presiding over the inscription of the social body as a renewed object of appropriation of capital?

Finally, we welcome theoretical or empirical contributions that bring together or provide a cross-examination of some or all of the above areas of inquiry. For example, following Guattari and Negri’s (2010) proposition of the pre-eminence of organisation, how might we move from the communism of capital towards the communism discussed by Marx and Engels in 1848? Or, in addition to the post- workerist, autonomist, Lacan- and Hegel-inspired approaches that we have discussed here, in what other ways might communism, beyond capital, today be thought or advanced?

Deadline for submissions: 29th of February 2012

Please send your submissions to the editors. All contributions should follow ephemera guidelines – see In addition to full papers, we also invite notes, reviews, and other kinds of contributions – please get in touch to discuss how you would like to contribute. In anticipation of the special issue, we plan to host an event on the themes, at which we will ask the selected contributors to present their work.

Armin Beverungen, 

Anna-Maria Murtola, 

Gregory Schwartz,
Adler, P. (2007) ‘The future of critical management studies: A paleo-Marxist critique of labour process theory’, Organization Studies, 28(9): 1313-1345.
Badiou, A. (2008) The meaning of Sarkozy, trans. D. Fernbach. London: Verso.
Badiou, A. (2010) The communist hypothesis, trans. D. Macey and S. Corcoran. London: Verso.
Drucker, P. (1993) Post-capitalist society. New York: HarperBusiness.
Fisher, M. (2010) Capitalist realism: Is there no alternative? London: Zero Books.
Fleming, P. (2009) Authenticity and the cultural politics of work. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Groys, B. (2009) The communist postscript. London: Verso.
Guattari, F. and A. Negri (2010) New lines of alliance, new spaces of liberty, trans. M. Ryan, J. Becker, A. Bove and N. Le Blanc. London: Minor Compositions / Autonomedia / MayFly.
Hardt, M. and A. Negri (2000) Empire. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Heckscher, C. and P. S. Adler (2006) The firm as collaborative community: Reconstructing trust in
the knowledge economy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Holloway, J. (2010) Crack capitalism. London: Pluto Press.
Marx, K. and F. Engels (1992 [1848]) The communist manifesto. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Marx, K. and F. Engels (1998) The German ideology. New York: Prometheus Books.
Meacham, J. (2009) ‘We are all socialists now’, Newsweek, 6 February 2009. [].
Negri, A. (2008) Goodbye Mr. Socialism: Radical politics in the 21st century. London: Serpent’s Tail.
Ranciere, J. (2010) ‘Communists without communism?’, in C. Douzinas and S. Žižek (eds.) The idea of communism. London: Verso.
Read, J. (2008) ‘The age of cynicism: Deleuze and Guattari on the production of subjectivity in capitalism’, in I. Buchanan and N. Thoburn (eds.) Deleuze and politics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press
Virno, P. (2004) A grammar of the multitude: For an analysis of contemporary forms of life. New York: Semiotext(e).
Žižek, S. (2008a) Violence. London: Profile Books.

Žižek, S. (2008b) In defense of lost causes. London: Verso.

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Saturday, February 19
9:30am – 6:00pm
Steelworkers’ Hall, 25 Cecil St.

The next General Assembly of the GTWA will be held on February 19, 2011. All members and supporters are welcome. Members and supporters are also welcome and encouraged to bring guests as observers.

In order to register send an email to: In the subject line write: Feb. 19 registration.

Include the following:

1. Name
2. Are you attending as a member or observer?
3. Would you make use of an ASL interpreter if provided by the Assembly?
4. Do you require on site childcare? If so please provide age(s) of child(ren).
5. Accessibility concerns?
6. If you are attending as an observer and have not signed up as a supporter include the following: a.organizational affiliations (if any) b.where did you find out about the Assembly? c. phone number

Are you a supporter and want to attend as a member? Visit:



Feb. 11-12, 2011
Toronto Marriott Downtown Eaton Centre Hotel
525 Bay Street, Toronto

The Wellesley Institute’s Bob Gardner will be presenting at this conference

The Faculty of Community Services, Ryerson University is pleased to host the Promoting Health Equity: Action on the Social Determinants of Health conference. This conference is sponsored by the Office of the Provost, Ryerson University and the Office of the Dean, Faculty of Community Services (FCS).

This conference, organized by the research centres of the Faculty of Community Services, aims to bring together community and agency partners, undergraduate and graduate students, health and social service professionals/workers, researchers, academics, government and policy and decision makers to share and exchange knowledge, and to generate the creation of new partnerships in research, education, and practice that focus on health equity and action on the social determinants of health across diverse communities.

The early bird deadline for registration is January 7th, 2011. For more information see:



International Development Week, which takes place in February every year, is a time for Canadians to reflect on poverty around the world and what can be done to reduce it.

It’s also a time to learn more about the co-operative sector’s active involvement in international development.  A number of co-operative organizations in Canada, including the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA), Desjardins, SOCODEVI and the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada (through Rooftops Canada) work with co-op and/or credit union partners in developing countries.

For more info:



Conference Announcement and Call for Presentations
May 31-June 1, 2011
University of Guelph, Ontario

This year’s Conference programming will move attendees beyond a theoretical and technical understanding of accessibility by providing a practical framework for action.

In addition to information and communication accessibility, the conference is seeking presentations from individuals who have successfully moved accessibility forward within their institutions through such strategies as community building, networking or “making the case” for inclusion.

Share your first-hand experience with disability issues as well as academic or evidence-based research in the field of disability.

For more information:
– Visit the website:
– Download the call for presentations:  
– Download the submission form:



March 7-8, 2011
Delta Toronto East Hotel

The Institute for Global Citizenship and Equity at Centennial College invites you to attend a unique conference. This event will be addressing how as global citizens we can get involved locally, nationally and internationally to dialogue and exchange ideas on global issues.

Many dynamic speakers will be taking part including:

– Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the TRC – Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
– Dr. Sherene Razack, Professor, Sociology and Equity Studies in Education, (OISE)Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto
– Dr. Henry Giroux, Global Television Network, Chair in Communication Studies, McMaster University
– Rev. Gretta Vosper, founder of the Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity, author and participant at United Church of Canada

Presenters and panelists from around the world are also confirmed, discussing equity, social justice and global citizenship in action.

Please visit: to learn more about this exciting event.

Space is limited. If you have any questions, please call Aida Haroun at 416-289-5000, ext. 3438 or email



Friday Feb. 11
7:30 PM
Regal Beagle Pub (back room)
335 Bloor st W (at St. George)

The Greater Toronto Workers’ Assembly will be holding another one of our coffeehouse discussions at the Regal Beagle.  This time, with two speakers from DAMN 2025 and a labour activist working around the important and nearly invisible issue of the fate of injured workers, we will be discussing concrete strategies for the class struggle and accessibility that incorporate the unique predicament of members of the working class who are not able bodied.  Bringing together social movement and labour activists, this should be another interesting and unique discussion.

– Andrew Mindszenthy (DAMN 2025)
– Jeff Peters (DAMN 2025)
– Nick DeCarlo (Canadian Auto Workers)

Moderated by: Ameilia Murphy Beaudoin (OPSEU)




by Samir Amin, Democracy and Class Struggle

With Hosni Mubarak on a tentative footing, a US which once propped him up would now turn to a Muslim Brotherhood (MB) it regards as ‘moderate’, writes Samir Amin. But with the fundamental economic conditions which produced the social unrest in the first place unlikely to change much, and with the working-class and peasants’ movement yet to be fully involved, the same problems will remain, Amin concludes.

Read more:



by Kathy M. Newman, Working-Class Perspectives

As we hurtle towards Super Bowl Sunday the Rust Belt cities of Pittsburgh (where I live) and Green Bay, Wisconsin are gearing up for a showdown between two of the smallest market teams in the NFL which also boast the two most devoted fan bases in the country.  Both cities have lost the industries that made them famous, but each continues to stand for everything that we think of as working class.

Read more:



January 29. Hamilton Ontario. Ten thousand gather to begin the struggle against US Steel’s lockout of its Hamilton workers.

Watch the video:–Ah0&feature=player_embedded



by Jeffrey H. Keefe, Economic Policy Institute

State and local public employees are undercompensated, according to a new Economic Policy Institute analysis. The report, Debunking the Myth of the Overcompensated Public Employee: The Evidence by Labor and Employment Relations Professor Jeffrey Keefe of Rutgers University, finds that, on average, state and local government workers are compensated 3.75% less than workers in the private sector.

Read more:



by Howard Ryan, Labor Notes

The billionaires lost this round.

A billionaire gang headed by Bill Gates and Eli Broad wants to capture the billions spent on America’s public schools and convert them into a corporate-owned test-score factory. But their plan faces teacher resistance, and nowhere more than in Chicago, where a feisty new leadership is heading the Chicago Teachers Union.

Read more:



by Murray Dobbin

Taxes are the price of a civilized society. Support them.

So here we go again, another round of huge tax cuts as the country continues down the road to a neo-con dystopia. Over the next five years the revenue that pays for the things Canadians say they want will drop by $60 billion. There are cuts to the GST, to personal income taxes and corporate taxes — with the latter dropping by 2012 to 15 per cent (from 21 per cent today), an outrageous corporate giveaway, giving us third world status in the “attract investment” race to the bottom.

Read more:



Head: Peter Sawchuk
Co-ordinator: D’Arcy Martin

The Centre for the Study of Education and Work (CSEW) brings together educators from university, union, and community settings to understand and enrich the often-undervalued informal and formal learning of working people. We develop research and teaching programs at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (UofT) that strengthen feminist, anti-racist, labour movement, and working-class perspectives on learning and work.

Our major project is APCOL: Anti-Poverty Community Organizing and Learning. This five-year project (2009-2013), funded by SSHRC-CURA, brings academics and activists together in a collaborative effort to evaluate how organizations approach issues and campaigns and use popular education.

For more information about CSEW, visit:

‘I believe in the afterlife.

It starts tomorrow,

When I go to work’

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Human Herbs’ at: (recording) and (live)

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