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download (4)CONTRADICTIONS: A JOURNAL FOR CRITICAL THOUGHT

Call for Papers
A New Journal
Kontradikce /Contradictions: A Journal for Critical Thought

We are seeking submissions of scholarly articles and theoretical essays that skirt the disciplinary boundaries of political philosophy, social theory, and cultural critique. This peer-reviewed journal, based in Prague, aims to critically revive and update Central and Eastern European traditions of radical thought, bringing them to bear on the historical present and bringing them into international discussions of the theoretical problems involved in emancipatory social change.

The journal is therefore especially interested in 1) articles that delve into the often overlooked or forgotten history of radical left thought in our part of the world and assess this legacy’s contemporary significance; 2) articles that describe and develop related and parallel traditions of thought originating in other regions, bringing these traditions into conversation with the traditions of Central and Eastern Europe; 3) articles that analyze Soviet-type societies and their troubled relationship to historical and contemporary movements for social emancipation; and 4) articles that critically engage with the ideological assumptions and social conditions of “post-communism,” that is, of the discursive association of the communist project with Soviet-type societies and, thus, with a “failed” and irretrievable past.

With these thematic problems in mind, we ask what specific contributions to critical social theory can arise out of the post-Communist experience—that is, out of the historical conflation of communism (the idea and project) with Communism (the party and party-run states) and the subsequent de-legitimation of the former along with the latter. Our focus is thus both geographically specific and global, as we aim to bring together the specific intellectual legacy of those parts of Europe formerly under Communist Party rule with w orldwide reflections of the “fall” of communism as a leading political and intellectual force. Out of this situation, we ask what new visions can emerge.

The journal will be published once a year as a double issue in multilingual format, with one part in English and one part in Czech and Slovak. Submissions are welcome in any of these three languages (English, Czech, or Slovak).

The first issue, with a submission deadline of October 31, 2015, will focus thematically on assessing the current moment and the state of critical social—and in particular Marxist—thought a quarter century after the fall of governments in Central and Eastern Europe that officially sanctioned Marxism while also constraining its development as a tradition of social critique. Submissions are encouraged, but not required, to take this focus into account.

Articles are welcome in the following categories:

· “Studies” and “essays”: These may be articles of a more or less traditional academic character, but with an emphasis on the social significance of the material presented and on original and provocative argumentation. But we also welcome more essayistic contributions that break with some of the conventions of scholarly form. We are interested in rigorously theoretical essays, works of high scholarly value but which might not find a place in other scholarly journals. In this kind of writing, insightful generalization and shrewd observation will be given more weight than an exhaustive accounting for “existing literature” or a detailed description of research methodology. In other words, we have in mind essays that continue in the genre of most classic works in the modern history of ideas, from Rousseau’s Discourses through Benjamin’s “Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” and Karel Kosík’s Dialectics of the Concrete. More traditionally scholarly articles should be about 4000-9000 words long. Essays can range from 3000 to 10,000 words.

· “Translations” and “materials”: Here we include important contributions to Central/Eastern European social thought that can be brought to international attention in English translation; internationally important works in new Czech or Slovak translations; and previously unpublished or long-unavailable “materials,” accompanied by annotation that presents the materials’ significance to contemporary readers (these may be submitted in English, Czech, or Slovak). 3000-10,000 words.

· “Reviews” of recent publications in critical social thought. Reviews may be brief (500-2000 words) or may constitute longer “review studies” (2000-5000 words).

Send all submissions to jgrimfeinberg@gmail.com.
Further information available on www.facebook.com/kontradikce.
First Published in http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/news/distributed/new-journal-contradictions

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‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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

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

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskipoint.blogspot.co.uk/

Ruth Rikowski at Serendipitous Moments: http://ruthrikowskiim.blogspot.co.uk/

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Althusser

Althusser

DÉCALAGES – VOLUME 1 ISSUE 4

A new issues of Décalages: An Althusser Studies Journal – is now online

Décalages: http://scholar.oxy.edu/decalages/

 

Current Issue: Volume 1, Issue 4 (2013)

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Lire le Capital: Conference
Decalages An Althusser Studies Journal

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Sobre Décalages y Demarcaciones / On Décalages and Demarcaciones
Decalages An Althusser Studies Journal

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On the Contemporary Phenomenon of “Fashion”
Louis Althusser

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Sur le phénomène actuel de la « Mode »
Louis Althusser

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Sobre el fenómeno actual de la “Moda”
Louis Althusser

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From Althusser to Mao: Les Cahiers Marxistes-Léninistes
Frédéric Chateigner

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Introducción
Pedro Karczmarczyk and Warren Montag

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Introduction
Pedro Karczmarczyk and Warren Montag

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Introduction à l’article de Michel Pêcheux « Oser penser, oser se révolter »
Peter Schöttler

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Oser penser Manuscript
Michel Pêcheux

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Introduction to Michel Pêcheux’s “Dare to Think and Dare to Rebel!”
Peter Schöttler

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Dare to Think and Dare to Rebel! Ideology, Marxism Resistance, Class Struggle
Michel Pêcheux

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Introducción al artículo de Michel Pêcheux “¡Osar pensar y osar rebelarse! Ideología, resistencia y lucha de clases”
Peter Schöttler

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Osar pensar y osar rebelarse. Ideologías, marxismo, lucha de clases
Michel Pêcheux

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Ousar pensar e ousar se revoltar: Ideologia, marxismo, luta de classes
Michel Pêcheux

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El discurso: ¿estructura o acontecimiento?
Michel Pêcheux

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Lengua, discurso, ideología, sujeto, sentido: de Thomas Herbert a Michel Pêcheux
Pierre Macherey

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Língua, discurso, ideologia, sujeito, sentido: de Thomas Herbert a Michel Pêcheux
Pierre Macherey

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La seconde disparition de Michel Pêcheux
Jean-Jacques Courtine

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De Michel Pêcheux al Subcomandante Marcos: descripción de lo unívoco, interpretación de lo equívoco e insurrección contra lo inequívoco
David Pavón-Cuéllar

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Língua, Leitura, História
Fábio Ramos Barbosa Filho

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A Análise Do Discurso No Brasil
Lauro José Siqueira Baldini and Mónica Graciela Zoppi-Fontana

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El texto y el mundo – el deseo de Michel Pêcheux
J. Guillermo Milán-Ramos

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Algunas reflexiones sobre la concepción del sujeto y la epistemología en el Análisis del Discurso de Michel Pêcheux
Ricardo Terriles and Silvia Hernández

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De las formas históricas de existencia de la individualidad a la forma sujeto del discurso: Marx, Althusser, Pêcheux
Pedro Karczmarczyk

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Robespierre. Une politique de la philosophie de Georges Labica
Mohamed Moulfi

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Paula Lucía Aguilar, El hogar como problema y como solución. Una mirada genealógica de la domesticidad a través de las políticas sociales. Argentina 1890-1940
Laura Fernández Cordero

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Vittorio Morfino, El materialismo de Althusser. Más allá del telos y el eschaton
Agustín Palmieri and Felipe Pereyra Rozas

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Ana Grondona. Saber de la pobreza. Discursos expertos y subclases en la Argentina entre 1956 y 2006
Mara Glozman

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Louis Althusser, On the Reproduction of Capitalism: Three Reading Strategies
Mateusz Janik

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A Dead Dog is Immortal. On Louis Althusser, Initiation à la philosophie pour les non-philosophes
Juan Domingo Sanchez

 

First Published in http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/news/distributed/the-new-issue-of-decalages-is-online

 

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‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskipoint.blogspot.co.uk/

Karl Marx

Karl Marx

8th INTERNATIONAL MARX & ENGELS COLLOQUIUM

Call for Papers

8th International Marx & Engels Colloquium

Marxist Studies Centre – Cemarx at University of Campinas – Unicamp

Campinas (SP)
Brazil

July 2015

The 8th International Colloquium Marx and Engels of the Marxist Studies Centre (Cemarx) will be held from 14 to 17 July 2015 at the Institute of Philosophy and Human Sciences at Unicamp. Papers should be submitted by February 21st 2015:

See: http://www.ifch.unicamp.br/formulario_cemarx/instrucoes.php (The form is in Portuguese, but in case of any problem regarding to the language, please contact us: cemarx@unicamp.br)

General Information

The 8th International Marx & Engels Colloquium accepts three modalities of participation: papers (to be presented in Thematic Groups), Roundtables and Posters. In all modalities, the submissions have to achieve one of the following aims: a) to have the Marxist theory as their subject of research in order to analyse this theory, criticize it or develop it; and b) to utilize the Marxist theoretical framework in empirical researches. The submitted papers and proposal must fit into the event’s Thematic Groups (see below).

Each researcher can make only one submission. One modality has to be chosen. In case of papers, it is necessary to indicate which Thematic Group they fit in. Occasionally, the 8th International Marx & Engels Colloquium Organizing Committee might reallocate the papers from one group to another.

 

The 8th Colloquium’s Thematic Groups are the following:

 

TG 1Theoretical work of Marx and Marxism

Critical examination of Marx and Engels’ work and classical Marxism works in the 19th and 20th centuries. Polemics stimulated by Marx’s theoretical work.

 

TG 2Marxism

Critical examination of the different branches and schools of Marxist thought and their transformations during the 19th and 20th centuries. Theoretical work of Brazilian and Latin American Marxists. Issues on the renovation of Marxism.

 

TG 3Marxism and Human Sciences

Examination of the Marxism’s influence on Economics, Sociology, Political Science, Anthropology, History, International Relations, Law, Geography and Social Work. Examination of the Marxist critique of Human Sciences and the contributions of Human Sciences for the development of Marxism. Marxist theoretical polemics and conceptual developments in these areas of knowledge. The presence of Marxism in the Brazilian and Latin American universities.

 

TG 4Economy and politics in contemporary capitalism

The Marxist approach to economical, political and social transformations of capitalism at the end of the 20thcentury and the beginning of the 21st century. New accumulation patterns of capital, new imperialist phase, transformations of the State and capitalist democracy. The condition of dominant and dependent countries. Brazil and Latin America. Capitalism and ecology.

 

TG 5Class relations and social struggle in contemporary capitalism

The Marxist approach to the transformations of class structure. Laborers, working class, “new working class” and “middle class”. The petite bourgeoisie. The peasants in current capitalism. The current debate on the decline of class polarization in the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century. The working classes and the new configuration of the bourgeoisie. The social classes in Brazil and Latin America. The Marxist concept of social class and class struggle in contemporary capitalism. Social movements and popular protests in local and international context.

 

TG 6Work and production in contemporary capitalism

Social Theory, labor and production. The labor theory of value and contemporary capitalism. Theoretical conceptions on production structure. Production processes: process of valorisation and process of work. Control and management of the production process. Class struggle in production. Theories on the affirmation and denial of the “centrality of work”. The new forms of labour exploitation: immaterial labour, casual labour, precarious labour and informational work. Work and social emancipation.

 

TG 7Gender, race and sexuality in contemporary capitalism

Reflection on gender, race and sexuality relations, and their role in the reproduction of capitalism. Analysis of the relationship between exploitation and oppression, and configurations of the social, sexual and racial divisions of labor today. Discussion on consubstantiality/ intersectionality of social relations and the Marxist theory. Debates on politics, Marxism and feminist, black and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) movements.

 

TG 8Education, capitalism and socialism

The relationships between the educational system and capitalism according to the Marxist perspective: training of workforce; education and social classes; ideology and educational process; educational policy. The Marxist analysis of education in Brazil and Latin America. The cultural apparatuses of capitalism (universities, research centres). The cultural centres created by the socialist movement. Analysis of the innovative educational experiences in the societies emerged in the revolutions of the 20th century. Marxist theory and education.

 

TG 9Culture, capitalism and socialism

Capitalism and cultural production: the new tendencies; plastic arts, literature and cultural industry. Marxist analysis of culture in Brazil and Latin America. Culture and socialism: the cultural movements in the societies originated in the revolutions of the 20th century. Marxism and cultural production.

 

TG 10Socialism in the 21st century

Marxist analysis of the 20th century Revolutions. The communist and socialist heritage of the 19th and 20thcenturies and the socialism of the 21st century. Marxism and socialism. The issue of renovation of socialism. The theory of transition to socialism. Workers and socialist transition. Strong points and obstacles for the reconstruction of the socialist movement in the 21st century.

 

 

Modalities of submission (Portuguese, Spanish or English)

1.Papers

Papers can be based on on-going or finished research (research projects do not fit in this modality). Papers should have between fifteen and twenty thousand characters (including spaces and footnotes), in 12 points Times New Roman font format. Submissions must not exceed this limit; otherwise, it will be rejected. Papers should include proposed title, author’s name and position (professor, lecturer, post-graduate student, independent researcher). Papers should clearly define the topic/subject that will be examined, including theses and arguments, and making explicit the debate (theoretical, historiographical or political) within the paper is inserted. Important: papers should follow the citation rules displayed at Cemarx’s website. The accepted papers will be published in the Annals of the colloquium. Some papers may subsequently be selected for publication in books organized by Cemarx or in the journals associated with the latter. In such cas es, the author should do a review of the text submitted having, therefore, the opportunity to develop the paper further.

Registration fee: US$ 25.

2.Roundtables

Roundtables are proposals submitted by groups, research centers or even scientific and cultural associations. A Roundtable is composed of a set of at least three and no more than four presentations. For a roundtable, the submitted proposals should be more developed than those submitted as communication papers in thematic groups. Only a small number of roundtables will be accepted. The coordinator of the roundtable must submit in his/her proposal including the title and summary of the roundtable in which there is a brief explanation of the topic addressed. After submitting the proposal and his/her own paper, the Coordinator must indicate the full name and email of other members. They, in turn, will submit their own papers on a proper form. The submission of participants’ paper of the roundtable must follow the same format that was specified in the general information (see above).

Registration fee per member of roundtable: US$ 25

3.Posters

The 8th International Marx & Engels Colloquium is open for participation of undergraduate students who can present scientific initiation papers whose subjects fit in one of the Thematic Groups of the colloquium.

The paper abstract should have between three to five thousand characters (including spaces and footnotes) in Times New Roman font format, 12 points. The paper should include title, author’s name and the undergraduate course in which he/she  is enrolled. Papers should present the research’s subject and its main ideas and information. The poster submission format will be published at Cemarx’s website.

Registration fee: 15 US$

Submission of Papers

Papers should be submitted by February 21st. Researchers should fill in the on line submission form at Cemarx’s website ( http://www.ifch.unicamp.br/formulario_cemarx/instrucoes.php). The form is in Portuguese, but in case of any problem regarding to the language, please contact us: cemarx@unicamp.br. Foreign researchers can pay the registration fee only during the event.

 

Notification of Acceptance

Accepted papers will be divulged at Cemarx’s website by April 2015.

 

Important dates

Beginning of registration: November 21st, 2014

Deadline for Registration: February 21st, 2015

Disclosure of Accepted Submissions: April 21st, 2015

Date of the Colloquium: July 14 – 17, 2015

 

First Published in http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/news/distributed/call-for-papers-8th-international-marx-engels-colloquium-marxist-studies-centre-cemarx-at-university-of-campinas-july-2015

 

**END**

‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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

Glenn Rikowski @ ResearchGate: http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Glenn_Rikowski?ev=hdr_xprf

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

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskipoint.blogspot.co.uk/

Critical Education

Critical Education

SEEING THROUGH THE EYES OF THE POLISH REVOLUTION

New in Paperback from Haymarket

Seeing Through the Eyes of the Polish Revolution: Solidarity and the Struggle Against Communism in Poland

HM series Marxism & Socialism World History

BY JACK M. BLOOM

In 1980 Polish workers astonished the world by demanding and winning an independent union with the right to strike, called Solidarity–the beginning of the end of the Soviet empire. Jack M. Bloom’s Seeing Through the Eyes of the Polish Revolution explains how it happened based on 150 interviews of Solidarity leaders, activists, supporters and opponents. Bloom’s invaluable and insightful study shows how an opposition was built, documents the battle between Solidarity and the ruling party, outlines the conflicts that emerged within each side during this tense period, explains how Solidarity survived the imposition of martial law, and how the opposition forced the Stalinist government to negotiate itself out of power.

About the author

Jack Bloom is Associate Professor of Sociology and Adjunct Associate Professor of Minority Studies and of History at Indiana University Northwest. He has published the award-winning Class, Race and the Civil Rights Movement (Indiana University Press, 1987).

See: http://www.haymarketbooks.org/pb/Seeing-Through-the-Eyes-of-the-Polish-Revolution

First published in http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/news/distributed/new-in-paperback-from-haymarket-seeing-through-the-eyes-of-the-polish-revolution-solidarity-and-the-struggle-against-communism-in-poland-by-jack-m.-bloom

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‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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

Glenn Rikowski @ ResearchGate: http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Glenn_Rikowski?ev=hdr_xprf

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

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

 

The Future PresentTHE PAPERS OF THE RED ARMY

The University of Nottingham, UK, would like to offer to another library the microfilm collection “Papers of the Red Army” (for a brief description, see below).

The collection is complete (76 reels), although one box if missing.  The collection duplicates existing holdings in our library.

Libraries interested in further details should please contact Carol Hollier at carol.hollier@nottingham.ac.uk.

*************
The Papers of the Red Army:  Political and Internal Intelligence Reports, 1918-1921

From the Russian State Military-Historical Archive (RGVIA)

From the time of its establishment, the Red Army served the particular political needs of the Soviet state. During the Civil War (1918-1921), the army conducted extensive intelligence operations not only of counter-revolutionary forces but of their own ranks as well. This recently declassified collection contains unfiltered, unedited intelligence reports — many of them handwritten — from Red Army operatives throughout the country. Included are traditional operational and intelligence reports and evaluations. Of particular interest are the political intelligence reports. These contain surveys of civilian attitudes and assessments of the mood and circumstances of Red Army troops. These reports provide extraordinary opportunities for the scholar to examine the nature of the Soviet military’s apparatus of surveillance, as well as the extent and nature of opposition, both small and large, to the Communist regime.

76 microfilm reels.

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‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

 

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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

Glenn Rikowski @ ResearchGate: http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Glenn_Rikowski?ev=hdr_xprf

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

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

Guy Debord

Guy Debord

LIVES OF THE ORANGE MEN

New book on socialist surrealism in Poland released…

Lives of the Orange Men: A Biographical History of the Polish Orange Alternative Movement
Major Waldemar Fydrych
Foreword by the Yes Men
Edited by Gavin Grindon

In Communist Poland, Surrealism Paints You!!!

Between 1981 and 1989 in Wroclaw Poland, in an atmosphere in which dissent was forbidden and martial law a reality, the Orange Alternative deployed the power of surrealist creativity to destabilise the Communist government. It worked. The militia were overwhelmed by thousands of unruly dwarves; celebrations of official festivals so disturbingly loyal that the Communist forces had to arrest anyone wearing red; walls covered in dialectical graffiti; new official festivals to assist the secret police with their duties; and a popular restaging of the storming of the Winter Palace using cardboard tanks and ships.

Lives of the Orange Men tells for the first time the story of this activist-art movement and its protagonists that played a key role in the 1989 revolution in Poland. Written by its central figure and featuring an appendix of newly-translated key texts including the ‘Manifesto of Socialist Surrealism’, a timeline of every Orange Alternative happening and a new foreword from the Yes Men.

“The streets of Wrocław were a magical place to be, once upon a time… Communism’s melting away in Eastern Europe in 1989 cannot be understood without the Orange Alternative. So listen to Major Fydrych – This book teaches the mystical tongue of the Orange Men and unveils their rites. Long live the dwarves!” – Padraic Kenney, author of A Carnival of Revolution: Central Europe 1989

“Lives of the Orange Men presents eyewitness reports and primary documents of the Orange Alternative’s cultural activism. Their ideological masquerade, predating The Yes Men and Reclaim the Streets, baffled police and stymied the disintegrating regime of General Jaruzelski. What more could anyone ask except to remind readers that there is no freedom without dwarves!” – Greg Sholette, author of Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise Culture

“Dwarves belong to capitalism!” – The Polish Communist Militia
PDF available freely online: http://www.minorcompositions.info/?p=624

Released by Minor Compositions, Wivenhoe / Brooklyn / Port Watson Minor Compositions is a series of interventions & provocations drawing from autonomous politics, avant-garde aesthetics, and the revolutions of
everyday life.

Minor Compositions is an imprint of Autonomedia
http://www.minorcompositions.info | minorcompositions@gmail.com

 

**END**

 

‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

 

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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

Glenn Rikowski @ ResearchGate: http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Glenn_Rikowski?ev=hdr_xprf

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

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

Crisis

Crisis

CAPITALISM’S WORLD OF ENDLESS CRISIS AND UPHEAVAL: IS THERE A WAY OUT?

SUNDAY, JUNE 15, 2014

6:00-8:00 PM

Westside Peace Center

3916 Sepulveda Blvd., near Venice Blvd. (Free parking in rear)

Suite 101-102, press #22 at door to get into building

Culver City (LA area)

 

SPEAKERS:

Kevin Anderson, author of MARX AT THE MARGINS and LENIN, HEGEL, AND WESTERN MARXISM

Robert “Gabe” Gabrielsky, longtime socialist and labor activist

 

The six-year-long global economic crisis has placed in stark relief the fact that capitalism serves as a constraint on the development of the vast majority of the world’s population, while enriching the few at an unprecedented level. At the same time, we have also witnessed in this period the rise of revolutionary and protest movements on a scale unprecedented since the 1960s and 1970s.

This meeting will explore issues such as:

(1) whether the present crisis is an outgrowth of neoliberal policies or of long-term economic stagnation in the major capitalist economies;

(2) the added impact of the crisis on Blacks, Latino/as and women and the new forms of opposition this has engendered, from the Trayvon Martin protests to the abortion rights movement;

(3) the contradictory legacy of global forms of protest and revolution over the past several years, from the Arab revolutions and the Occupy movement to the more recent upsurges in Turkey, Bosnia, and Ukraine;

(4) the specific historical contribution of Marxist-Humanism as illustrated most recently by A DREADFUL DECEIT: THE MYTH OF RACE FROM THE COLONIAL ERA TO OBAMA’S AMERICA, which contains Jacqueline Jones’s widely read exploration of the life and work of Charles Denby (Simon Owens), the Black autoworker who was, along with Raya Dunayevskaya, the co-founder of Marxist-Humanism in the U.S.

 

Sponsored by the West Coast Chapter, International Marxist-Humanist Organization

More information: arise@internationalmarxisthumanist.org

Website: http://www.internationalmarxisthumanist.org

Here is the link to the online announcement of the meeting for posting via email, Facebook, etc.: http://www.internationalmarxisthumanist.org/events/los-angeles-capitalisms-world-endless-crisis-upheaval-way

Join our new Facebook page: “International Marxist-Humanist Organization” https://www.facebook.com/groups/imhorg/

 

**END**

‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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

Glenn Rikowski @ ResearchGate: http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Glenn_Rikowski?ev=hdr_xprf

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

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

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean

THE DEBT DRIVE

With Jodi Dean, Mladen Dolar, Eric Santner, Marina Vishmidt, Samo Tomsic, Alexei Penzin

University of Amsterdam, June 4-5. PC Hoofthuis 104, Spuistraat 135.

Sponsors: ASCA, NICA, Sandberg Institute

Organizers: Joost de Bloois (j.g.c.debloois@uva.nl), Robin Celikates (R.Celikates@uva.nl), Aaron Schuster (aaron_schuster@yahoo.com)

Registration is free, please email: Joost de Bloois (j.g.c.debloois@uva.nl)

Since 2008, debt and speculation have emerged as key concepts for contemporary cultural and political theory. The global crisis has not only impacted the wider fields of politics and culture, but has equally shaken the critical vocabulary we use to scrutinize these. The Debt Drive explores the many sediments of ways in which ‘debt’ and ‘speculation’ have restructured contemporary theory. What drives debt? How do debt and speculation affect subjectivity? How does debt forge and undo (inter)subjective relationships? In all its ghostliness, is debt opposed to the real?

The Debt Drive gathers some of today’s major theorists on ‘debt’, ‘speculation’ and ‘drive’ and their political and cultural significance. The conference focuses on ‘the debt drive’ as a key instrument for contemporary governmentality and its cultural and the oretical ramifications.

The conference will address debt and speculation as a mode of production: as the drive behind cognitive capitalism, but equally as a mode of cultural production; the peculiar relationship between art and speculation; the minutiae of debt’s seeming hostility towards autonomy. Moreover, The Debt Drive investigates the crucial role played by debt’s affective dimension: is there such a thing as the debt drive? Can we speak of speculative desire? Can the debt drive be transformed into its antipode: communist desire? How does the debt drive relate to neoliberal affect, such as depression, anxiety and mania, and on which (affective) resources could a political response to it build?

 

Program:

 

June 4:

10-11hrs: Mladen DolarThe Quality of Mercy is Not Strained (University of Ljubljana, Jan van Eyck Academy)

11-12hrs Discussion

 

12-13hrs Lunch

 

13-14hrs: Samo Tomšič (Humboldt University Berlin): The Capitalist Discourse: from Marx to Lacan

14-15hrs Discussion

 

15-16hrs Eric Santner (University of Chicago): The Weight of All Flesh: On the Subject-Matter of Political Economy

16-17hrs Discussion

 

17-18hrs Round Table

 

June 5:

10-11hrs Jodi Dean (Hobart and William Smith Colleges) Debt and Subjectivity

11-12hrs Discussion

 

12-13hrs lunch

 

13.00-14 hrs Marina Vishmidt (Art Critic, London): ‘Less Than Nothing to Sell: From Living Labour to Living Currency to Default’

14-15hrs Discussion

 

15-16hrs Alexei Penzin (Russian Academy of Sciences Moscow, Chto Delat): When There’s No Time: An Ontological Hypothesis for 24/7 Capitalism

16-17hrs Discussion

 

17-18hrs Round Table

 

Abstracts:

 

The Quality of Mercy is Not Strained

Mladen Dolar

The Merchant of Venice pits against each other two kinds of logic: on the one hand Shylock, the merciless usurer, the miser, the Jew, extorting a pound of flesh to collect his debt; on the other hand Portia, the harbinger of Christian charity and mercy. Shylock, a figure announcing capitalist modernity, would thus stand for the cruel and ruthless part of the budding capitalism, accumulation and exploitation, based on interests and extracting the pound of flesh – Marx often referred to him in this light. He is inscribed in the long line of misers, stretching back to Plautus and forth to Molière’s Harpagon, Balzac’s Gobsec and finally Dickens’s Scrooge, the last miser who miraculously converted to charity and mercy. Portia seems to stand for a pre-modern logic of mercy, a magnanimous free gift not expecting anything in return, yet a gift which opens up a debt that cannot be repaid. In a historical reversal Portia could be seen as the figure annou ncing the new stage of capitalism, the economy of endless debt, of being at the mercy of an unfathomable Other, constantly falling short, unable to acquit one’s debt, grateful for one’s means of survival. Maybe one could read Shakespeare’s parable as a two stage-scenario: first the economy of avarice conditioning accumulation and extortion, then the economy of mercy and infinite debt.

 

The Capitalist Discourse: From Marx to Lacan

Samo Tomšič

After May 68 Jacques Lacan systematically oriented his teaching toward Marx’s critique of political economy. This shift inaugurates his” second return to Freud”, in which Marx replaces Saussure and Jakobson, enabling Lacan to account for an insufficiency of classical structuralism, its incapacity to address the real consequences of discursive production. For Lacan, one such consequence is the subject of the unconscious, which, as Freud has already discovered, knows different determinations. Lacan’s reference to Marx – and its central idea that a strong homology operates in the fields opened up by Marx and Freud – confronts psychoanalysis with the contradictions, instabilities and critical reality that mark the capitalist mode of production. In my presentation I will focus on one specific aspect of this homology, the one that concerns the production of capitalist subjectivity, for which various thinkers, from Nietzsche to Lazzarato, assoc iate with the invention of “abstract debt” and the constitution of capitalist social relations on this abstraction. I will first discuss Marx’s analysis of “primitive accumulation”, where Marx tries to grasp the subjective and the social consequences of public debt. I will then pass over to Lacan’s formalisation of the capitalist discourse, in order to indicate where psychoanalysis essentially continues the Marxian critical project.

 

The Weight of All Flesh: On the Subject-Matter of Political Economy

Eric Santner

In recent work (The Royal Remains: The People’s Two Bodies and the Endgames of Sovereignty) I have argued that Ernst Kantorowicz’s elaboration of the doctrine of the King’s Two Bodies in late medieval and early modern Europe offers rich resources for an understanding of multiple features of modern politics, culture, and the arts. My guiding hypothesis in this work was that the complex symbolic and imaginary supports of the political theology of sovereignty described by Kantorowicz do not simply disappear from the space of politics once the body of the king is no longer available as the primary incarnation of the principle and functions of sovereignty; rather, these supports—along with their attendant paradoxes and impasses–“migrate” into a new location which thereby assumes a semiotic density previously concentrated in the “strange material and mythical pres ence” (Foucault), in the sublime flesh, of the monarch. A central problem for an ostensibly disenchanted, secular modernity is how to figure the remains of this royal double now dispersed among the sovereign people. The problem for cultural and political analysis becomes, in turn, that of tracking the vicissitudes of the People’s Two Bodies.

At the core of my argument is the claim that Freud’s elaboration of unconscious mental activity is an attempt to do just that; that the missing cause at the heart of the somatic symptoms plaguing his hysterical patients and intensifying their bodies must be thought in conjunction with the passage of the king’s “other body” into one now “enjoyed” by the people (thus properly understood as a Genossenschaft, a collective of enjoyment). My lecture will attempt to develop this line of thought further into the sphere of political economy. I will argue that what Marx referred to as the spectral materiality—the gespenstische Gegenständlichkeit—that constitutes the substance of value in capitalism can be thought of as another locus of the “people’s two bodies,” one managed and administered in the sphere of economic relations. In this way I hope to give further force to Freud’s concept of “libidinal economy” as well as to “flesh out” Giorgio Agamben’s analysis of the theology of glory (his own effort to shift from an analysis of sovereignty to one addressed to political economy).

 

Debt and Subjectivity
Jodi Dean
This paper has two parts. The first is a critique of Maurizio Lazzarato’s The Making of the Indebted Man. I focus on Lazzarato’s treatment of debt primarily in terms of the production of subjectivity. My argument is that not only does debt fail to produce the singular subject Lazzarato imagines but even if it did this would not be adequate as the subject of a communist politics. In the second part of the paper I draw from Badiou’s Theory of the Subject  to sketch a view of such a political subject at the point of overlap of crowd and party, anticipation and retroactive determination.

 

Less Than Nothing to Sell: From Living Labour to Living Currency to Default

Marina Vishmidt

I will present an itinerary of the ‘convertibility’ of negativity to revolutionary politics seen as a result of a position in the social relations of production.  From Marx’s positing and later post-workerist expansion of the category of value-producing living labour to contemporary iterations of ‘going on debt strike’, structural negativity seems to grow ever more hypothetical as an impetus to far-reaching change in an age of worsening living conditions and growing pessimism – in fact negativity seems entirely individualized whether or not it is theorized.  The politics of reproduction can be seen at work in the attempt to find a revolutionary subject in a financialised rather than productive relation to capital, i.e. the class character of debt, but this can also be prey to forms of conservatism and moralism as feminist critics such as Miranda Joseph has charged – the spiral of reproduction which keeps the system going, just like the structure of de bt.  Thinking along this critique and alongside Klossowski’s ‘living currency’ and certain instances of poetry (Ashbery and Boyer), I will try to bring the itinerary to a more-than-metaphorical close which can

 

When There’s No Time: An Ontological Hypothesis for 24/7 Capitalism

Alexei Penzin

The essential feature of the contemporary or “terminal” capitalism is uninterrupted or permanently “wakeful” continuity of production, exchange, consumption, indebting, communication and control. Taking as a point of departure recent theorizing of 24/7 and “no time” temporality, as well as my own theorizing of sleeplessness in modern and late capitalism, I would like to move at a more abstract level of discussing a possible ontology exposed by this terminal conjuncture. As Marx once said, only the late, ripe and developed social forms fully discover their origins, some “primitive” forms. A hypothesis I would like to suggest is that this monotonous continuum of power/capital can be considered as an immense symptom of an ontological dispositif of a continuous, violent and incessant forcing “to be”. Only one choice is allowed in this dispositif – just to continue endlessly in empty 24/7 temporalities or, as an “alternative”, to exit from the continuum without any possibility of return. The grip of this ontological “double bind” now is fully visible in devastating evidence of continual capitalism, and its possible deactivation is a question of a radical politics to come.

 

First published in http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/news/distributed/the-debt-drive-with-jodi-dean-mladen-dolar-eric-santner-marina-vishmidt-samo-tomsic-alexei-penzin-university-of-amsterdam-june-4-5

Debt

Debt

**END**

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Fear of a Blank Planet

Fear of a Blank Planet

THEORY IN ACTION

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Theory in Action is an international peer reviewed journal that publishes the highest quality original research. It is published quarterly by the independent Transformative Studies Institute (TSI), a non-profit educational think tank committed to academic freedom, social justice, and the legitimization of scholar-activism.

 

Why publish with Theory in Action?

*Breadth of scope in progressive thinking – Theory in Action is a forum for research on the interconnections between theory and direct action that promotes social justice, broadly defined. While valuing radical and unconventional ideas, the journal does not privilege any particular theoretical tradition or approach. We are interested in how theory can inform activism to promote economic equality and democracy.

*Audacious – It seeks research that ‘conventional’ journals would reject because they are too radical or break with prior molds.  We welcome ALL scholarship and seek to transform reactionary elitist academia into a space of true independent thought without retaliations, reprisals, or the compartmentalization of knowledge.

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Protest

Protest

AUSTERITY AND REVOLT

Duke University Press has recently published “Austerity and Revolt,” a special issue of SAQ: South Atlantic Quarterly, volume 113 and issue 2, edited by Werner Bonefeld and John Holloway.

In recent years, we have witnessed massive demonstrations of denial, refusal, and rejection exploding in one country after another. The squares of the world have become organizational focal points for rebellion and repression. What does such collective negation mean, and what comes afterward? This special issue explores the forms of a reinvigorated, experimental communism: councils, assemblies, communes, squares, occupys, horizontalism, recovered factories, and cooperative farms and community gardens. Practitioners of this new model of “communism as communizing” attempt to change fundamental social relations from the bottom up. By combining insider knowledge with sophisticated theoretical scrutiny, the contributors to this issue approach eruptions of rebellion from a variety of historical, economic, and methodological perspectives. Writing not only about but also within such forces of progressive resistance around the world, they investigate the complex, hopeful, and contradictory process of creating new social, economic, and political structures through negation.

To link to the electronic content page click here: http://saq.dukejournals.org/content/113/2.toc. If you find that your library does not subscribe to this journal and you do not have online access, please contact Katie Smart, who can arrange to have a complimentary copy of this issue mailed to you or your library.

John Holloway

John Holloway

First published in http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/news/distributed/latest-south-atlantic-quarterly-austerity-and-revolt

Werner Bonefeld

Werner Bonefeld

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Daniel Bensaid

Daniel Bensaid

PAUL LE BLANC REVIEWS ‘An Impatient Life: A Memoir’ – BY DANIEL BENSAID

An Impatient Life: A Memoir
By Daniel Bensaïd, translated by David Fernbach, with an introduction by Tariq Ali,
Verso Books, 2014.

Readers of Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal are urged to order a copy HERE. You can download an excerpt HERE (PDF).

 

 

Review by Paul Le Blanc

May 11, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal –

Daniel Bensaïd (1946-2010) was one of the most respected theorists to emerge from the 1960s radicals of Western Europe. Always inclined to think “outside the box”, waving aside venerable dogmas and shrugging off standard formulations, he found fresh ways, energised with the aura of unorthodoxy, to express and apply truths from the revolutionary Marxist tradition.

Sometimes his creativity could provide insights that opened fruitful pathways of thought and action. “We were young people in a hurry, as is inevitably the case”, he writes near the start of his saga. “As if we had to make up for the wasted time of the ‘century of extremes,’ as if we were afraid of missing our appointments, in politics and in love.” In the end, “we had to learn ‘the art of waiting’”, he muses, yet the author remains an unbowed militant: “We have sometimes deceived ourselves, perhaps even often, and on many things. But at least we did not deceive ourselves about either the struggle or the choice of enemy.”

This substantial volume is a parting gift, sharing memories of what he had seen and done, offering a piece of his mind, exploring the meaning of it all – as befits the image, snapped a few years before his premature death, of the gaunt, frail man whose keen intelligence shines out from his now-bespectacled eyes.

Yet a photograph from 1948 reveals an adorable two-year old with long curly hair toddling toward us. We see a boy at ages five, nine and 14, with bright and impish eyes, destined to appear (in half a dozen photos from the 1970s) as a buoyant, handsome, charismatic activist of the famed “generation of 1968”. Daniel was centrally involved in the revolutionary student-worker upsurge that shook France and almost brought down the government of Charles De Gaulle. Out of this experience was born the militant Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR) that powerfully impacted the global far left and became a central component of the Fourth International (a network of comparatively small revolutionary socialist parties and groups founded by Leon Trotsky and other dissident-communists over three decades before). In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Bensaïd and his comrades were intimately connected with currents in Latin America utilising the perspectives of Che Guevara and other revolutionary warriors, generating some of his most searching reflections.

The exciting years of upsurge gave way to disaster, disappointment, defeat. It was during this in-between period that I fleetingly met Bensaïd, at a 1990 World Congress and at a 1991meeting of the International Executive Committee of the Fourth International, as I represented the smallest one of three US Trotskyist fragments identifying with this “world party of socialist revolution”. It was obvious that his experience was incomparably richer than mine, and that he had earned profound respect from the other comrades who, with him, made up the inner circle of the Fourth International’s leadership.

A friend who read this book before I did warned that Bensaïd was quite a name dropper, and there are certainly scores of names that flow from these pages. But I came upon his description of the cluster of comrades from the 1980s whose labours maintained “the bonsai Comintern” that was the Fourth International: a dozen names of people – many now dead – whose strengths and weaknesses and life-energy had been essential to the world movement to which I was committed. I knew these people, they were important to me, and I felt grateful that their names with brief descriptions are shared with the readers of this book.

History is the lives of innumerable people, not abstractions, and the history of our revolutionary socialist movement is nothing without the amazing number of names (with all-too-brief descriptions) that Bensaïd weaves into his narrative. Distinctive features of this volume include (with a list of abbreviations) 12 pages of descriptions of left-wing organisations, plus extensive footnotes providing information on the dozens upon dozens of activists he mentions – together with the main narrative, making this an essential source on the international left and on world Trotskyism.

Youth radicalisation

Daniel was born into a working-class family that moved from Algeria to France shortly before his birth – the father a Sephardic Jew, the Gallic mother inclined to self-identify as Jewish. They saved enough money to start a bistro with a predominantly left-wing working-class clientele. Their clever and inquisitive son ascended into the ranks of university students while also, quite naturally, drifting into the youth group of the French Communist Party. But like many of his comrades of the time (influenced by Trotskyists doing “deep-entry” work in the group), partly under the impact of Algeria’s anti-colonial revolution and the tepid response to this by the French Communists, he came to the conclusion that it would be wrong to “confuse the revolutionary project with Stalinism”.

Rejecting the intellectual “ravages of a positivist and authoritarian Marxism” (almost in the same breath he characterises it as “a glacial Marxism without style or passion”), they turned to heretical texts – Herbert Marcuse, Wilhelm Reich, Lucien Goldmann, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Frantz Fanon, Che Guevara, Daniel Guerin, Henri Lefebvre, Ernest Mandel. Bensaïd adds that for him and many of the young radicals, too, “Lenin was all the rage”, but this was a Lenin having little in common with the immense leaden statues worshiped by older, disapproving Communist Party comrades. The intellectual rebellion quickly culminated in mass expulsions from the mainstream Communist movement, with many of the young rebels (the spirited Bensaïd no less than others) gradually recruiting themselves to a maverick variant of Trotskyism.

This historical moment was one of a youth radicalisation sweeping through Europe and other continents. In France, the young Trotskyists-in-the-making were caught up in the swirl – along with anarchists and Maoists and activists without clear labels – of students pushing for radical educational reforms and sexual freedom. The wondrous days of May 1968 saw huge demonstrations, endless meetings, student strikes and school occupations. Struggles for educational transformation blended into a more general anti-authoritarianism, opposition to imperialist wars, romantic identification with “Third World” insurgencies and the rights of the working class. This last element took on special meaning as many workers – to the horror of Stalinist and moderate-socialist trade union bureaucrats – threw their support to the “crazy” students and began organising militant strikes, matching the student barricades and street battles against brutal police repression. The question of power was being posed – the overturn of the old order seemed on the agenda.

It soon became apparent, however, that the May uprising had neither the strategic vision nor the organisational coherence nor sufficiently deep popular roots to bring on the thoroughgoing revolution that the young radicals dreamed of. This was, many agreed, simply a “dress rehearsal”.

Struggle, violence, principles

As the newly crystallised LCR grew, Bensaïd and its other leaders felt that “history was breathing down our necks”. If May 1968 was the dress rehearsal for revolution, these revolutionary militants had a responsibility to see that an actual revolution would, indeed, be produced. “We were in a hurry”, he writes, and with others he developed theoretical reference points of “an (ultra-) Leninism, dominated by the paroxysmic moment of the seizure of power”. But it had taken the Bolsheviks decades to develop experience and revolutionary seasoning in pre-revolutionary Russia that would be sufficient for the 1917 revolution. As Bensaïd describes it, the group and its young cadres were far from that. Nonetheless, their most respected revolutionary Marxist mentor, Ernest Mandel, was assuring them that “revolution is immanent”, and both in the LCR and the Fourth International they felt a responsibility to make it so. It was a time of “hasty Leninism”, whose “fearsome burden” he poignantly describes:

Our feverish impatience was inspired by a phrase from Trotsky that was often cited in our debates: “The crisis of humanity is summed up in the crisis of revolutionary leadership.” If this was indeed the case, nothing was more urgent than to resolve this crisis. The duty of each person was to contribute his or her little strength, as best they could, to settle this alternative between socialism and barbarism. It was in part up to them, therefore, whether the human species sank into a twilight future or blossomed into a society of abundance. This vision of history charged our frail shoulders with a crushing responsibility. In the face of this implacable logic, impoverished emotional life or professional ambition did not weigh very heavy. Each became personally responsible for the fate of humanity.

In North America, in Asia, and especially in Latin America there was also such “hasty Leninism”. A substantial minority in the Fourth International fiercely opposed the course that Bensaïd and others advocated – initially calling for a continent-wide strategy of rural guerilla warfare in Latin America (a perspective soon “modified” to include urban guerilla warfare as well), with similar impulses theorised for elsewhere. This led to a factional battle in the Fourth International, with a substantial minority projecting a more patient orientation grounded in classical Marxism. A prestigious former secretary of Trotsky’s, Joseph Hansen, labelled his 1971 oppositional polemic “In Defense of the Leninist Strategy of Party-Building” (which can be found on-line, as can some of Bensaïd’s writings, through the Marxist Internet Archive). After several years of experience, most of the “hasty Leninists” would more or less swing over to Hansen’s position.

But Bensaïd, a dedicated representative in Latin America from the Fourth International’s “center”, is compelled to share haunting memories: “Our comrades were young and intrepid, full of confidence in the socialist future of humanity. Three years later, half the people I met at these meetings had been arrested, tortured and murdered”. It becomes a poetry of horror:

We were running headlong into an open grave…

So many faces wiped out.

So many laughs extinguished.

So many hopes massacred.

He draws the lessons: “It was clear that we were on the wrong path… Armed struggle is not a strategy… The armed struggle we voted on at the 9th World Congress [1969] was an ill-timed generalization…”

Bensaïd emphasises that “weapons have their own logic”, elaborating:

Buying and storing and looking after weapons, renting safe-houses and supporting underground activists is an expensive business and needs money. To obtain this, you have to rob banks. And to rob banks, you need weapons. In this spiral, an increasing number of militants are socially uprooted and professionalised. Instead of melting into a social milieu like fish in water, their existence depends ever more on an expanding apparatus.

Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, Lenin and Trotsky had envisioned revolutionary cadres facilitating the self-organisation and self-activity and revolutionary consciousness of various working-class and oppressed sectors. Central to this was the building reform struggles for democratic rights and economic justice, creating a movement “of the great majority, for the great majority” that would culminate in “winning the battle of democracy” and bring a transition from capitalism to socialism. For revolutionaries – Bensaïd tells us – such a working-class implantation also provides “a reality principle” to counterbalance “leftist temptations”. He and others, including seasoned guerrilla fighters, “drew the conclusion of a necessary return to more classical forms of organisation and the primacy of politics over military action, without which the logic of violence gets carried away and risks becoming uncontrollable”.

A strength in Bensaïd’s searching exploration of violence, to which he devotes a full chapter, is his understanding that violence is at the very core of capitalism and all forms of class society, quoting poetAndré Suares: “Wealth is the sign of violence, at every level”. He shows that the violence of the status quo is intensifying: “the tendency to a privatization and dissemination of violence is accelerating. Ethnic cleansing and religious massacres are proliferating. The world is collapsing into the hyper-violence of armed globalization”. Yet he sees the contamination of violence manifesting itself again and again in struggles against oppression and exploitation – liberators can become criminals, in some cases devolving into common gangsters, in the worst cases bringing in their wake the gulag and the killing fields.

Surveying revolutionary experience for over a century, he concludes: “Violence and progress no longer marched together, at the same pace, in the supposed direction of history”. He insists on the need for a practical-ethical regulation of violence in the perspectives of revolutionaries. He finds it in Trotsky’s 1938 classic Their Morals and Ours:

The “great revolutionary end” thus necessarily spurns “those base means and ways which set one part of the working class against other parts, or attempt to make the masses happy without their participation; or lower the faith of the masses in themselves and their organization, replacing it by worship for the ‘leaders’”.

Exhaustion and affirmation

Exhaustion can afflict a revolution, a struggle, an activist, an idea. A variety of such things are traced for the 20th century’s final decades. His own intensely activist organisation, the LCR, was able to endure, weather more than one storm, making important contributions to liberation struggles. Yet, “we had worked wonders, exhausting ourselves in running faster than our own shadow”. He describes excellent comrades finally asking “what it’s all about” and falling away.

Amid all of this, there appears a fleeting pen-portrait of an important mentor to innumerable Fourth Internationalists, Ernest Mandel – “a tutor in theory and a passer between two generations … who set out during the 1950s to conceptualize the new features of the era, instead of piously watching over the political legacy of the past… This daily contact with Ernest was a wellspring of knowledge and a permanent initiation into the foundations of Marxism.”

As time went on, there was a partial exhaustion of the relationship between Mandel and “the generation of ‘68” – a relationship always inspiring “more in the way of respect than affection”, and “rarely reciprocal and egalitarian”. Bensaïd saw him as at least a partial prisoner of a belief in “the emancipating powers of science and the historical logic of progress”, elaborating: “Ernest was an exemplary case of stubborn optimism of the will tempered by an intermittent pessimism of reason: for him, permanent revolution would win the day over permanent catastrophe. And the socialist prophecy would (almost) always defeat barbarism”.

Yet for many of Mandel’s political children, this seemed increasingly inadequate for the realities they were facing.

This shifting mood went far beyond the ranks of the Fourth International. Wearying leftists with an ambitious bent began proclaiming a set a “farewells” – to Marxism, to the working class, to the passionate logic of revolutionary struggle. Sanctuary could be found, sometimes with considerable comfort and impressive careers, in the power structures that their younger selves had militantly confronted. Among “third worldists” and Maoists who had once enthusiastically proclaimed that “the wind is blowing from the East”, there was a growing conviction that “it was the west wind that now prevailed over the east”, blowing ever stronger thanks to the Reagan and Thatcher revolutions. Some activists migrated from revolution to reformist politics, and some (perhaps frightened by totalitarian impulses they discovered in themselves) veered more sharply to the right.

This reflected a deeper exhaustion – of Maoist China’s revolutionary élan, of the Central American revolutions, of many hopeful aspects of the Cuban Revolution and finally of the so-called “bureaucratised workers’ states” of the Communist Bloc and the USSR itself.

The collapse of Communism was soon accompanied by other exhaustions impacting on Bensaïd and his comrades. In the 1980s, the LCR had been joined by the large, growing, vibrant Mexican and the Brazilian sections as “the big three” in the Fourth International, seeming to promise much in the rebuilding of the global left. Yet the Mexican organisation, “with wind in its sails”, had insufficient theoretical grounding and organisational strength to prevent success from corrupting some of its most prominent militants – soon leading to betrayal, demoralisation and fragmentation.

The Brazilian comrades, with whom he worked closely for many years, had thrived as an integral part of the glorious and multifaceted working-class upsurge that finally pushed aside the military dictatorship. In the form of the massive Workers Party headed by the working-class militant Lula, the insurgents finally won the presidency of the country. But a majority of the comrades found themselves pulled along into the new reformist trajectory and even neoliberal policies of the Lula regime, with a dissident fragment expelled and others splitting away amid exhausted hopes. (There was, obviously, no time for Bensaïd to offer a balance sheet on the LCR’s 2009 decision to dissolve into a broader New Anti-Capitalist Party).

Many activists, not inclined to join the well-heeled legions of the status quo, sought more resources to help them endure the new realities. Those who were Jewish (as he was) felt a need to explore the meaning of that identity and its complex and often horrific history. In such explorations, while in no way turning away from this identity (and joining in “not in my name” protests against Israel’s oppression of Palestinians), Bensaïd affirmed his rejection of “the Chosen People” concept – having no desire “to feel chosen in this way, whether to share the blessings of this election or to bear the crushing responsibility according to which Jews are supposed to be better than common mortals”.

Some, in this troubling period, explored new pathways of spirituality and even mysticism (as he did), as a means to transcend the “instrumental rationality [that] has stubbornly set out to empty time of its messianic pregnancy, to dissolve the surprises of the event with the regularity of the clock”. There is need for transcendence, “when revolution becomes the name of the inconstant event that has refused to arrive, or –still worse – has appeared in the form of its own rebuttal”. Such transcendence of “practical” and “instrumental reality” can open the way “to a new representation of history”. He insists that “the ancient prophet was neither a divine, nor a sorcerer, nor a magician. He or she was someone who switched the points of the present into the unknown bifurcations of the future.”

Yet for Bensaïd revolutionary Marxism remained the essential ingredient in his identity as a political person. A remarkable chapter in the book – “Spectres in the Blue House” – focuses on the final Mexican years of Trotsky’s exile, eloquently tracing the revolutionary’s meaning for his time and for ours. “From Marx to Trotsky”, Bensaïd writes, “permanent revolution … welds together event and history, moment and duration, rupture and continuity”. Marx is primary. In some ways the most powerful chapter is “The Inaudible Thunder”, offering an elegant explication of the three volumes of Marx’s Capital —“inescapable, always uncompleted, constantly recommenced, it is an unending project”. The profound influence on Marx of the philosopher Hegel accounts for this chapter’s title: “the still inaudible thunder of Hegelian logic” challenges the “instrumental rationality” used to “explain” and justify the capitalist status quo.

Marx’s method shatters such ideological facades, providing an in-depth analysis of “generalized commodity production” revealing the exploitation and mutilation of human labour and creativity at the system’s very heart. His intricate exploration of the “capital accumulation process” reveals the impact of bending society and culture and the environment to the voracious and destructive need for maximising profits more and more and more, forever. “The important thing”, Bensaïd insists, is “not to bend, not to give in, not to submit to the proclaimed fatality [inevitability] of the commodity order”.

The very nature of this system is such that “the world still has to be changed, and still more profoundly and more urgently than we had imagined forty years ago. Any doubt bears on the possibility of succeeding, not on the necessity of trying.” Inaction in the face of doubt is not a choice. Given the dynamics of capitalism, the oppressed and exploited majority does not have the option of “not playing the game”, and for revolutionary activists “the only compass in this uncertain work is to take the part of the oppressed, even in defeat if need be”.

“Knowing oneself to be mortal – we all do, more or less – is one thing”, Bensaïd muses in the memoir’s penultimate chapter. “Something else is to experience this and really believe it.” Seeing his own impending death as the book comes to a close, and impelled to pass his torch to us, he conveys multiple insights:

Revolts against globalized injustice are multiplying. But the spiral of retreats and defeats has not been broken. Number and mass are not enough, without will and consciousness… A resistance without victories and perspectives of counter-attack ends up being worn out. There is no victory without strategy, and no strategy without a balance of forces… Is it possible to be truly democratic without being truly socialist?… Today’s political landscape is devastated by battles lost without even being fought …

Source: LINKS: International Journal of Social Renewal

See: http://links.org.au/node/3847

 

**END**

‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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

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

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskpoint.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

 

Adorno

Adorno

HOW THE COMMODITY FORM DIES

Stream on Critical Theory: “How the Commodity Form Dies”
Historical Materialism Conference 2014 “How Capitalism Survives”
Eleventh Annual Historical Materialism London Conference – 6-9 November 2014 – Vernon Square, Central London

More than ever the theoretical implications of Marx’s theory of capital haunt the never fully established world order of capitalist production and consumption. Capitalism is always changing, its elementary form, the commodity form, however, survives. Already in the 1930s, Walter Benjamin wrote: “The experience of our generation: that capitalism will not die a natural death.” Today we might add: capitalism even survives its own death. The secret of its undead nature resides in its “sensuous-supra-sensuous” form, the commodity form. But how can a zombie die?

In the last decades, the intertwinement of the commodity form and the shape of time and space has been widely discussed. Scholars like Moishe Postone, Antonio Negri, Fredric Jameson, Michael Heinrich, David Harvey, David McNally, Massimiliano Tomba, Daniel Bensaïd, Stavros Tombazos, Neil Smith et al. have deepened our understanding of capital’s global dynamics of spatialization and temporalization.

This stream draws on this research and expands it to the site of language and symbolic economies: how does the commodity form survive by creating economico-linguistic structures beyond meaning? If we conceive of today’s global capitalism not only as an economic system but also as a global language in the crude sense, we can detect a “commodity language” (Marx), a real-abstract mode of the production of value and signification. Capitalism, however, is transcendentally meaningless.

This stream is interested in new assessments of theories central to Marx and Critical Theory such as critique, society, reification, second nature, natural history, commodification, fetishism, historical time, value, money, exchange, equivalence, ideology, domination, class, capital, social reproduction, epistemology, subjectivity etc.

The stream is particularly interested in (but not limited to) papers that address:

• New perspectives on the contemporary relevance of Marx’s thought for Critical Theory (Heinrich, Bonefeld et al.) which explore the relationship between Marx and the work of early Frankfurt School (Adorno, Horkheimer et al.)
• Productive and elective affinities between Marx, figures from the Frankfurt School and other critical theorists such as Bataille, Bensaid, Althusser, Foucault, Open Marxism, Postone, Heinrich, Kurz, Dieter Wolf, Castoriadis, Illyenkov, Bogdanov, etc.
• Monetary theory of value, state theory and the tradition of “Neue Marx-Lektüre” (from Pashukanis and Rubin to Backhaus and Reichelt)
• The question of “real abstraction” and the unity of commodity form and thought form (Alfred Sohn-Rethel)
• Theories of reification (Lukács)
• Theories of communization and value-form theory
• The intertwinement of capital, time and space
• Symbolic economies of “commodity language” (Marx, Hamacher, Goux, Derrida, Lacan, Lefebvre et al.)
• Adorno and the imagelessness of the political imaginary
• “Capitalist realism” (M. Fisher) and the aesthetic of the commodity form
• The biopolitical regulation of the population both as the collective exposure to a permanent state of exception (Benjamin, Agamben, Esposito et al.) and as the neoliberal condition of individual self-management (e.g. Virno’s “Grammar of the Multitude” or Lazzarato’s “Making of the Indebted Man”)
Stream coordinators: Sami Khatib (Berlin) Chris O’Kane (Seattle)

Register you abstracts here by 1 June 2014: http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/conferences/annual11/submit

 

Communisation

Communisation

**END**

‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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

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

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskpoint.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