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London Radical BookfairTHE SOCIAL PATHOLOGIES OF CONTEMPORARY CIVILIZATION

Fifth International Conference

Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Netherlands

30 & 31 October 2014

www.socialpathologies.com

 

The fifth international conference on The Social Pathologies of Contemporary Civilization explores the nature of contemporary malaises, diseases, illnesses and psychosomatic syndromes in their relation to cultural pathologies of the social body. Usually these conditions are interpreted clinically in terms of individualized symptoms and framed in demographic and epidemiological profiles. They are represented and responded to discretely, as though for the most part unrelated to each other; each having its own professional discourse of etiology, diagnostics, therapeutics, as well as a task force developing health strategy and policy recommendations and interventions. However, these diseases also have a social and cultural profile, one that transcends the particularity of their symptomology and their discrete etiologies. These social pathologies are diseases related to cultural pathologies of the social body and disorders of the collective esprit de corps of contemporary society. They arise from individual and collective experiences of profound and drastic social changes and cultural shifts.

Multi-disciplinary in approach the conference addresses questions of how these conditions are manifest at the level of individual bodies and minds, as well as how the ‘bodies politic’ are related to the hegemony of reductive biomedical and individual psychologistic perspectives. Rejecting such a reductive diagnosis of contemporary problems of health and well-being, the central research hypothesis guiding the conference is that contemporary epidemics are to be analysed in the light of radical changes in our civilization and of the social hegemonization of the biomedical and psychiatric perspective.

A particular focus of the conference is the role of humanities and social sciences in helping to understand the connection between social transformations and psychiatric perceptions of health and well-being. The conference invites papers offering analyses of social malaises and the health of civilization from faculty, students and researchers in fields of philosophy, sociology, social theory, psychology, and anthropology.

 

Special sub-themes are the following:

􀁸The invented self– What is the status of the late modern subject? We live in so-called ‘neo-liberal’ times in which we experience an intense, marketed pressure to ‘be oneself’, as well as an extreme difficulty to ‘be a self’. Is our alleged individual freedom a strongly directed one? If so, how can we invent ourselves differently? And how should we understand the connection between this newly invented and that socially directed self?

􀁸The sympathetic self– Is a re-ethicization and moral regeneration of political, moral and libidinal economies possible? The domestic economics of the soul need to be scrutinized, ‘miraculous’ and healing social powers – such as the redemptive and transfiguring powers of beauty and love, and the power of gift relations – need to be explored in terms of their capacity to reverse pathogenic vicious circles of individuated egotism into saludogenic virtuous spirals of care, care of the self and care for others.

􀁸The diagnosed self– In most late modern societies in the West, we find a high prevalence of many psychiatric disorders. Such statistics have been known for years, but there is much uncertainty about how to interpret them. How do adults experience the process of receiving these diagnoses, and what does it mean for them to have their experience of suffering filtered through a diagnostic and psychiatric vocabulary?

􀁸The measured self– Research evidence is widely held as a key influence on mental health policy and practice. Whilst hypothesis testing in randomised controlled trials is held as the ‘gold standard’, qualitative research exploring people’s experiences continues to occupy a more marginal position, even though these experiences inform important inter-subjective phenomena. What is and what could be the specific role of qualitative research in contemporary mental health care?

􀁸The amnesiac self– The fading of individual and collective memory due to ongoing processes of individuation and acceleration and to experiences of shock, trauma, repression and aphasia in the psychic life of individuals and societies is amplified in contemporary contexts. Lacking memory, persons and societies live in a liminal extended present and become prone to solipsism and to manipulation. What is forgotten – and what can be remembered – is one of the most urgent ethical-political problems of our age.

 

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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 at Academia: http://independent.academic.edu/GlennRikowski

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

Nietzsche

Nietzsche

NIETZSCHE, VALUE AND SELF-CONSTRUCTION CONFERENCE

Date: 17-18th May 2014

Venue: St Peter’s College, Oxford – Registration required

Supported by:

Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford; Department of Philosophy, The Open University; St. Peter’s College, Oxford; St Hilda’s College, Oxford.

Invited Speakers:

Prof. Jessica Berry (Georgia State University, US)
Prof. Maudemarie Clark (University of California Riverside, US)
Prof. David Dudrick(Colgate University, US)
Dr Andrew Huddleston (University of Oxford, UK)
Prof. Paul Katsafanas (Boston University, US)
Prof. Brian Leiter (University of Chicago, US)
Dr Mattia Riccardi (University of Oporto, Portugal)

 

Programme:

Saturday, 17 May 2014

09:00–10:00 Registration and Coffee

10:00–10:30 Welcome and Opening Remarks

Paul Katsafanas: Précis of Agency and the Foundations of Ethics. Nietzschean Constitutivism (OUP 2013)

Maudemarie Clark/David Dudrick: Précis of The Soul of Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil (CUP 2012) 

10:30–12:00 Session 1

Brian Leiter: The Esoteric Reading of Nietzsche

Lunch, St Peter’s College Oxford

14:00–15:30 Session 2

Mattia Riccardi: Nietzsche on the Space of Values

Tea and Coffee

16:00–17:30 Session 3

Maudemarie Clark/David Dudrick: title tbc

Conference Dinner, St Peter’s College

 

Sunday, 18 May 2014

10:00–10:30 Tea and Coffee

10:30–12:00 Session 4

Jessica Berry: In a Mirror, Dimly – Nietzsche on the Uncertainty of Agency

Lunch, St Peter’s College Oxford

14:00–15:30 Session 5

Andrew Huddleston: Value and the Will to Power – Challenges to a Nietzschean Constitutivism

Tea and Coffee

16:00–17:30 Session 6

Paul Katsafanas: Nietzsche on the Free Individual 

* * * 

Registration: Due to a limited number of spaces available you need to register and pay a registration fee. Registration will open here shortly.

Organisation: Dr Peter Kail (St Peter’s College, Oxford) and Dr Manuel Dries (OU | St Hilda’s College, Oxford)

 

**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 at Academia: http://independent.academic.edu/GlennRikowski

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

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

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

 

Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson

KARL MARX ON CAPITAL AND ITS ALTERNATIVE: COMMODITY FETISHISM VS. “FREELY ASSOCIATED HUMAN BEINGS”

SUNDAY, JANUARY 19, 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)

 

Speaker:

KEVIN ANDERSON, author of Marx at the Margins

 

In CAPITAL, Marx takes up a society based upon “freely associated human beings,” this in a usually overlooked part of his famous discussion of commodity fetishism. How, Marx asks, could we break with the logic of capital in order to begin to create a society that overcomes both dehumanization (human relations “as relations between things”) and exploitation?  This and other aspects of Marx’s “economics” bearing on alternatives to capitalism will be the subject of free and open discussion.

 

Suggested reading:

Ch. 3 of Peter Hudis’s MARX’S CONCEPT OF THE ALTERNATIVE TO CAPITALISM:  “The Vision of the New Society in Marx’s CAPITAL”

[Copies of book available at a discount at the meeting.]

See also the recently published book reviews by MARXIST-HUMANIST workers and intellectuals http://www.internationalmarxisthumanist.org/articles/marx-alternative-capitalism-review-symposium-karel-ludenhoff-marija-krtolica-dale-parsons

and from a sympathetic/critical ANARCHIST: http://www.anarkismo.net/article/26446   

[This is the second in a series of meetings on this topic, in preparation for the author’s visit to LA in March.]

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

More information: arise@internationalmarxisthumanist.org

Website: http://www.internationalmarxisthumanist.org

 

**END**

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Stagnant’ at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkP_Mi5ideo  

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

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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

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

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

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

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

Neoliberalism

Neoliberalism

‘BIG DATA’ IN EDUCATION AND LEARNING ANALYTICS

CALL FOR PAPERS

Forms of analysis in education – statewide and global systems – are increasingly governed by the huge size of data sets in the order of exabytes (EB 1018 1 EB = 1000000000000000000B = 1018bytes = 1000 petabytes=I billion gigabytes) that present problems of data capture, storage, analysis and presentation. Data sets have grown in size because information is collected by ubiquitous information-sensing mobile devices, aerial sensory technologies and global digital systems. Serious questions emerge concerning who should own and have access to these big data initiatives, Another issue concerns the fact that we know little about ‘underlying empirical micro-processes that lead to the emergence of the[se] typical network characteristics of Big Data’.[1] Some analysts are suggesting that big data in online learning will provide the predictive tools they need to improve learning outcomes for personalized learning: ‘By designing a curriculum that collects data at every step of the student learning process, universities can address student needs with customized modules, assignments, feedback and learning trees in the curriculum that will promote better and richer learning.’[2]

This special issue of Policy Futures in Education (www.wwwords.co.uk/PFIE) will investigate big data in education and learning analytics. Possible topics include:

– Big data and education policy
– Big data and the implications for education research
– Big data and edu-business
– Big data and schooling in democracies
– Big data and knowledge production
– Big data and school systems
– Big data and the purposes of schooling

‘It is not new that educational institutions collect and analyse data for predicting and intervening in children’s educational performance…What is new is digitising, meta-tagging and aggregating that data with many other data sets, making possible new connections, predictions and diagnoses.’ Understanding Education through Big Data, Lyndsay Grant, October 25, 2013 (hdmlcentral.net/blog/lyndsay-grant/understanding-education-through-big-data)

‘The emerging research communities in educational data mining and learning analytics are developing methods for mining and modeling the increasing amounts of fine-grained data becoming available about learners.’ Coursera – Ryan Baker

‘Big data is the foundation on which education can reinvent its business model and build the coalition of governments, businesses, and social entrepreneurs that can bring together the evidence, innovation and resources to make lifelong learning a reality for all. So the next educational superpower might be the one that can combine the hierarchy of institutions with the power of collaborative information flows and social networks.’ Big Data and PISA, Andreas Schleicher, Deputy Director and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the OECD’s Secretary-General (oecdeducationtoday.blogspot.co.nz/2013/07/big-data-and-pisa.html)

Editors: Michael A. Peters (mpeters@waikato.ac.nz); Robert Lingard (r.lingard@uq.edu.au), Tina Besley (t.besley@waikato.ac.nz) and Jillian Blackmore (jillian.blackmore@deakin.edu.au).

Please send expressions of interest including a title, abstract and key texts to one of the editors by April 4, 2014. Deadline for full papers is October 10, 2014 for publication in late 2015. The Journal’s information for authors can be found at www.wwwords.co.uk/pfie/howtocontribute.asp

Notes
[1] C. Snijders, U. Matzat & U.-D. Reips (2012) ‘Big Data’: big gaps of knowledge in the field of Internet, International Journal of Internet Science, 7, 1‑5. http://www.ijis.net/ijis7_1/ijis7_1_editorial.html
[2] http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2013/08/15/why-big-data-not-moocs-will-revolutionize-education

 

**END**

 

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Stagnant’ at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkP_Mi5ideo  

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

 

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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

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

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

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

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

Austerity

Austerity

SOCIAL AND POLITICAL CRITIQUE IN THE AGE OF AUSTERITY

CALL FOR ABSTRACTS

A one day workshop at Keele University

10.30am-6pm, Wednesday 12th February, 2014

This one day workshop is devoted to the discussion of critical politics in the contemporary age of austerity. Following the 2007 global economic crash, which led to a raft of government bank bail outs and nationalisations across America and Europe, a cunning ideological reversal took place – the crash was no longer the result of the hubris of the neoliberal financial sector, which had developed the idea of ‘riskless risk’ where reckless stock market speculation and the creation of value ex nihilo could produce endless profit, but rather the immoral wastefulness of the people and society. According to this ideological position, which was advanced by governments across Europe, the welfare state, and in many respects society itself, was transformed into an ‘exorbitant privilege’ that was simply unaffordable. In fact, in order to pay for their wastefulness the people were not only expected to give up their public services, but also required to accept ever lower wages, and a general state of social and economic precariousness.

This is the current state of play across America and Europe, where the neoliberal state has exploited the crash in order to retrofit society for violent competition with Asian capitalism. In the face of this race to the bottom, key thinkers such as David Graeber, Antonio Negri, Slavoj Zizek, Alain Badiou, and Costas Douzinas have spoken out against the new form Naomi Klein calls neoliberal disaster capitalism and given voice to the protest, rebellion, and revolt taking place across the world.

The objective of this workshop is to build upon the works of these key thinkers and explore the possibility for resistance in the age of austerity. We invite contributions from a range of disciplines focused on diverse social and political contexts and a variety of theoretical perspectives. Contributors may choose to focus on austerity and resistance across Europe, including the UK, Greece, Spain, and Italy; the Occupy movement; the media construction of austerity, including the idea of the undeserving poor who are seen to be living off public funds; methods for the organisation of resistance; the concept of the multitude and the digital commons; anti-capitalist thought; or transformative social and political theory and practice more generally. Most importantly, we are keen to emphasise that this list is not exhaustive – the key principle behind the workshop is that debate should open up a space for social and political creativity. In this way we are keen to encourage potential contributors to be creative and explore new possibilities for political change in a historical period where change seems absolutely necessary, but also impossible to envisage. In this respect, we encourage contributions from a variety of participants – academics, post-graduate students, activists, and others engaged in thinking through the possibilities of change under conditions of crisis and austerity.

The workshop will close with a lecture from Professor Costas Douzinas (Birkbeck), author of Philosophy and Resistance in the Crisis: Greece and the Future of Europe.

In order to take part in the event please send a 250 word abstract to Emma Head (e.l.head@keele.ac.uk), by Monday 6 January 2014.

This event is being organised jointly by Mark Featherstone (Keele Sociology) and Emma Head (Keele Sociology and the BSA Digital Sociology study group). Registration will open in early January.

Crisis

Crisis

 

**END**

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Stagnant’ at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkP_Mi5ideo  

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

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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

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

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

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

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

Etienne Balibar

Etienne Balibar

IDENTITY AND DIFFERENCE: JOHN LOCKE AND THE INVENTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS

by Etienne Balibar

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AVAILABLE NOW

http://www.versobooks.com/books/1497-identity-and-difference

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 “Etienne Balibar was one of the brilliant group of students around Althusser in the early 1960s. Since then he has established himself as one of France’s foremost philosophers on the Left.” – Radical Philosophy

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A new reading of Locke as a continental philosopher by a leading French thinker

John Locke’s foundational place in the history of British empiricism and liberal political thought is well established. So, in what sense can Locke be considered a modern European philosopher? Identity and Difference argues for reassessing this canonical figure. Closely examining the “treatise on identity” added to the second edition of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Etienne Balibar demonstrates Locke’s role in the formation of two concepts central to the metaphysics of the subject— consciousness and the self—and the complex philosophical, legal, moral and political nature of his terms. 

With an accompanying essay by Stella Sandford, situating Balibar’s reading of Locke in the history of the reception of the Essay and within Balibar’s other writings on “the subject,” Identity and Difference rethinks a crucial moment in the history of Western philosophy.

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Praise for THE PHILOSOPHY OF MARX by Etienne Balibar

 A very intelligent and creative work—succinct and informative. It would certainly have a privileged place on the shelf of contemporary studies of Marx – Fredric Jameson

A trenchant and exciting analysis of the philosophy of Marx. It is intelligent and original, and makes us understand the ways in which reading Marx lucidly can be very useful to us today. No dogma here and no banalities. A refreshing book- Immanuel Wallerstein.

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Paperback / ISBN: 9781781681343 / $23.95 /  £14.99 / $26.95CAN / 208 pages

Hardback / ISBN: 9781781681350 / $95.00 / £55.00 / $108.00CAN / 208 pages

For more information on IDENTITY AND DIFFERENCE: JOHN LOCKE AND THE INVENTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS or to buy the book visit: http://www.versobooks.com/books/1497-identity-and-difference

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Visit Verso’s website for information on our upcoming events, new reviews and publications and special offers: http://www.versobooks.com

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**END**

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Stagnant’ at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkP_Mi5ideo  

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

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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

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

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

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

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

Jonathan Sperber

Jonathan Sperber

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

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

A Review by Barry Healy

Barry Healy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selective

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Positivist?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Static’ economics?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sperber misses the point

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

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

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

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

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

 

**END**

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

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

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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

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

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

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

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

 

Books

Books

THE LEFT HEMISPHERE: MAPPING CRITICAL THEORY

By Razmig Keucheyan

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Published July 2013

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A panoramic account of the world’s leading writers and thinkers

As the crisis of capitalism unfolds, the need for alternatives is felt ever more intensely. The struggle between radical movements and the forces of reaction will be merciless. A crucial battlefield, where the outcome of the crisis will in part be decided, is that of theory.

Over the last twenty-five years, radical intellectuals across the world have produced important and innovative ideas. The endeavour to transform the world without falling into the catastrophic traps of the past has been a common element uniting these new approaches.

This book—aimed at both the general reader and the specialist—offers the first global cartography of the expanding intellectual field of critical contemporary thought. More than thirty authors and intellectual currents of every continent are presented in a clear and succinct manner. A history of critical thought in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries is also provided, helping situate current thinkers in a broader historical and sociological perspective.

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“Explains the key ideas, and the contradictions within them, of authors who are often cited but rarely read.” – Le Monde diplomatique

“A precious tool permitting us to escape the whingeing about the mediocrity of thinkers today and to help us anticipate the tremors yet to come.” – Le Nouvel observateur

“Written with intelligence and clarity.”– Libération

“In this courageous and audacious work, the sociologist Razmig Keucheyan offers a robust . . . panorama of contemporary critical theories.” – Nonfiction.fr

“An impressive tour de force, providing us with a summary of contemporary critical theories that is both rigorous and clear.”

– Philosophie magazine

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Hardback / ISBN: 9781781681022 / $29.95 / £20.00 / $34.95CAN / 382 pages

 

For more information on LEFT HEMISPHERE: MAPPING CRITICAL THEORY or to buy the book visit: http://www.versobooks.com/books/1156-against-world-literature

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**END**

 

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

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

 

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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

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

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

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

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

Money MenaceTHE EVIL AXIS OF FINANCE

THE EVIL AXIS OF FINANCE: THE US-JAPAN-CHINA STRANGLEHOLD ON THE GLOBAL FUTURE (Clarity Press, 2012)

Richard Westra, Graduate School of Law, Nagoya University, Japan

 

The story Westra tells of international economic depredation and humanity’s stolen future is truly chilling. From its Wall Street command centre, and funded by Japan and China, the United States ensnares the world’s states and people in a sinister, rigged, zero-sum game. This game, played for the narrowest of ends and to the benefit of an international cohort of uber-rich, traps humanity in a twilight zone of long decay, with its major players intent on preventing a more equitable international order from emerging from the detritus. We ignore the arguments of “The Evil Axis of Finance” at our peril.

 

INTRODUCTION: THE STANGLEHOLD ON THE GLOBAL FUTURE

CHAPTER ONE: THE ‘FREE WORLD’ DESIGN FOR PROSPERITY

 Constituents of a New Real Economy

 The Golden Age Algorithm

CHAPTER TWO: JAPAN AND CHINA IN THE FUTURE PERFECT TENSE

 Anticommunism and the Rebirth ofJapanin the ‘Free World’

 ‘Free World’ Exclusion and the Rise of Mao ZedongChina

CHAPTER THREE: FROM GOLDEN AGE TO GLOBALIZATION

 What Goes Up…

 The US at the Global Crossroads, But Hardly Sinking Down

CHAPTER FOUR: IDLE MONEY IS THE DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND

 ‘Resident Evil’

 ‘Fists Full of Dollars’

CHAPTER FIVE: ROTATING MELTDOWNS

 ‘Banksta’sParadise’

 ‘For a Few Dollars More’

CHAPTER SIX: THE CHAINS OF CHINA

 The Chinese Connection

 Charles Dickens Meets Henry Ford at the Pearl River Delta

 Red Queen, White Queen

CHAPTER SEVEN: THE ARMAGEDDON TRIFECTA

 The Tea Party is Over

 The End of Food

 No ‘Day After Tomorrow’

CONCLUSION: WHITHER THE EXITS?

 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Evil-Axis-Finance-US-Japan-China-Stranglehold/dp/0932863906/ref=sr_1_1_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1330663805&sr=1-1

**END**

 

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

‘Stagnant’ – a new remix and new video by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkP_Mi5ideo  

 

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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

MySpace Profile: http://www.myspace.com/glennrikowski

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.myspace.com/coldhandsmusic

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

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

Glenn Rikowski’s MySpace Blog: http://www.myspace.com/glennrikowski/blog

Critique

CRITIQUE CONFERENCE 2012

Saturday 25 Feb 2012
10.00 am- 5.00 pm
London School of Economics

GLOBAL CAPITALISM AND THE ECONOMIC CRISIS: PASTS, PRESENT AND FUTURES

The last year has witnessed a deepening of the crisis, in the Eurozone in particular. There are, however, no countries outside the global crisis. Governments have moved on all fronts against the welfare of the majority of the population. The public sector, pensioners, women, those on welfare benefits and the unemployed youth are the worst affected and have begun to react.

The Conference will discuss current and future forms of reaction to the crisis.

Speakers:
Hillel Ticktin: Marxism and the Crisis
Michael Cox: The Death of the West? World Power after the Crisis
Ben Backwell: Hugo Chavez, Oil and “Petro-Socialism – Prospects
Yassamine Mather: The Arab Spring
Savas: Greece and the Decline of Europe

Venue: New Academic Building 1.09, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London School of Economics

**END**

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

‘Stagnant’ – a new remix and new video by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkP_Mi5ideo  

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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

MySpace Profile: http://www.myspace.com/glennrikowski

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

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

Critique

LONDON CONFERENCE IN CRITICAL THOUGHT – CALL FOR PAPERS

Call for Papers for London Conference in Critical Thought 2012
29th and 30th of June, 2012
Birkbeck College, University of London

Abstracts need to be submitted until 19th of February to londoncriticalconference@gmail.com with the Stream name in the subject line.

Stream/Panel: Thinking Egalitarian Emancipation
Stream Organisers: Matthew Cole, Svenja Bromberg

In light of the current state of the situation—the rapid increase in socio-economic inequalities, the crisis of state sovereignty, the broader crisis of global financial capitalism, and the lack of a radical counter-praxis on the Left—this stream/panel attempts to think political/social/economic emancipation through the ideal of egalitarianism. Given the unipolarity of capitalist realism, there is a desperate need for an intervention that breaks this ruse of the one-all, that forces us to think an other, an outside, or a beyond. The idea of egalitarian emancipation stands opposed to both the state of nature as well as the capitalist state. Contemporary social theory must reassess, rethink and reinvent the problems, solutions, paradoxes and attempted syntheses in order to move past the plateau of late Twentieth century post-structuralism. We aim to think the primacy of egalitarianism as an emancipatory force against the inherent stratification of the capitalist world. We aim to think the possibility of a novel foundation or grounding beyond the ‘post’.

Stream/panel papers could address the following topics and questions:

    • Revival of a dead concept: How to think emancipation in the contemporary conjuncture of late-capitalism?
    • Demos [the commons, common people] and kratos [power]: What does it mean to take power under the guise of ‘the common’?
    • Politics beyond the state, beyond class ‘relations’, beyond capitalism: Revolution or Reformation?Full Communism or …? Dealing with emancipation’s Marxian legacy.
    • The subject after post-structuralism [or, Human all too inhuman]: How may we think a subject for egalitarian emancipation? What are the implications of this for race, sex, gender, etc.?
    • Relation of freedom and emancipation: What are the implications of egalitarian emancipation forthe social contract? [or, must we force [wo]man to be free?]
    • Emancipation in practice: What do we learn from contemporary struggles about the possibility and implications for theorizing this concept today?

Relevant thinkers include Badiou, Rancière, Balibar, Laclau, Fanon, Agamben, Nancy, Frankfurt School, Zizek, De Beauvoir and many others.

**END**

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

‘The Lamb’ by William Blake – set to music by Victor Rikowski: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vw3VloKBvZc

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.myspace.com/coldhandsmusic

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

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

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

Sociology

SOCIOLOGY, SUFFERING AND HUMANITARIANISM

British Sociological Association Presidential Event: Sociology, Suffering and Humanitarianism

Friday 3rd February 2012, 10:00 – 16:00

The British Library Conference Centre, London

 

Confirmed speakers:

Craig Calhoun (London School of Economics)

Iain Wilkinson (University of Kent)

Larry Ray (University of Kent)

Kate Nash (Goldsmiths, University of London)

Gillian Bendelow (University of Sussex).

 

The magnitude and force of critical events of human suffering mark out modern times as an unparalleled ‘age of extremes’.  The scale of military conflict, the vast numbers of people trapped in systems of totalitarian oppression, the accumulation of conditions of mass humanitarian disaster and the entrenched poverty of the new ‘mega-slums’ leave many of us shocked and appalled by the harms we inflict on one another.

It is also now widely understood that we have created social conditions in which the maintenance of an affluent lifestyle and pursuit of consumer aspiration at one end of the globe are structurally implicated in the intensification of forces of violent oppression at the other. In this respect, the problem of suffering has changed not only in relation to the catastrophes that break apart societies, but also in accordance with the extent to which these are understood to be generated by social practices that at their point of origin may seem quite harmless and benign.

The brute fact of human suffering is frequently taken as a prompt for us to question the social, political and cultural circumstances in which we are made to live. It makes sociologists of us all. In almost every instance, the most significant developments in sociology have been inspired under the attempt to better understand the conditions that give rise to human misery; and further, how these can be re-fashioned for the project of building humane forms of society.

This BSA Presidential event is dedicated to the ongoing attempt to devise a sociological account of causes and consequences of human suffering. It also aims to cultivate a broad-ranging debate over the role of humanitarianism within our culture and the vocation of sociology itself.

Please visit the event website www.britsoc.co.uk/events/presidential to register and for further event details.

For more details about joining the BSA please visit www.britsoc.co.uk/join

Please direct any enquiries to the BSA office at events@britsoc.org.uk

 

**END**

 

‘I believe in the afterlife.

It starts tomorrow,

When I go to work’

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Human Herbs’ at: http://www.myspace.com/coldhandsmusic (recording) and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2h7tUq0HjIk (live)

 

‘Maximum levels of boredom

Disguised as maximum fun’

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Stagnant’ at: http://www.myspace.com/coldhandsmusic (recording) and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLjxeHvvhJQ (live, at the Belle View pub, Bangor, north Wales)  

 

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

 

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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

MySpace Profile: http://www.myspace.com/glennrikowski

The Ockress: http://www.theockress.com

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

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

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

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