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Tag Archives: Human Nature

Raya Dunayevskaya


You are invited to attend a series of open discussions on…

Exploding the Myths of Capitalism

First & Third Wednesdays, March & April

6:30-9.00 pm

@ChicagoPublic Library,  Harold Washington L ibrary Center, 400 South State St.Chicago IL, Room 3N-6

Progressive change in the United States is severely hampered owing both to the failure of the left to project an alternative to capitalism and to the myths projected by the right regarding the nature of capitalism. On the other hand, Karl Marx projected an alternative socioeconomic system that comes into view in his writings in significant part in and through exploding the myths about capitalism. This series of five classes will explore the myths of capitalism through discussions of selected writings of Marx, and others.

Readings are available online or from U.S.M.H.  Online readings are available from U.S.M.H in pdf format for e-readers etc.

Sponsored by the U.S. Marxist-Humanists


Phone: 773-561-3454


Schedule andReadings

March 7th:  Myth #1: Capitalism is the Economic System most in Accord with Human Nature         

Contradictory concepts of human nature abound in the culture of capitalism. Human nature is said to be fundamentally greedy and selfish, or, contrariwise, cast in an image of perfection, or both. These concepts are used to justify social and economic policies that promote and protect capitalism, but this can only work if their historical origin in capitalism itself is obscured. This class will explore the concepts of human nature extant in capitalist societies and counterpose them to concepts drawn from the Marxist-Humanist tradition. The myth that capitalism is reflective of human nature will be exploded in a discussion of the following readings:


Erich Fromm, Marx’s Concept of Man, pp. 24-43, “The Nature of Man”

Karl Marx, Grundrisse, “Introduction,” pp. 84-110

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, Chapter 13: Of the Natural Conditions of Mankind as concerning their Felicity and Misery  and Chapter 17:  Of the Causes, Generation, and Definition of Commonwealth

Karl Marx, Theses on Feuerbach


Leading the discussion: Marilyn Nissim-Sabat, author, Neither Victim nor Survivor: Thinking Toward a New Humanity


March 21st:  Myth #2: Democracy is Compatible with Capitalism

The rhetoric of the candidates for the Republican nomination for president of theUS, as well as their opponents in the Democratic Party, makes it unequivocally clear that for them, and probably for the majority of Americans, capitalism is entirely conflated with ‘democracy.’ That is, the notion of the ‘free market,’ value production, and the drive to accumulate capital for its own sake have been superimposed on the meaning of democracy as a political system as if to say that only the economic system known as capitalism can facilitate democracy. This myth will be exploded in discussion of the following readings:


Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto.

Karl Marx, “Address to the Communist League of March, 1850.”

Raya Dunayevskaya, Marxism and Freedom, Chapter VI, The Paris Commune Deepens the content of Capital, pp. 92-102.

Raya Dunayevskaya, Rosa Luxemburg, Women’s Liberation and Marx’s Philosophy of Revolution: Marx’s Theory of Permanent Revolution.” 1843-83, pp. 158-163.


Leading the discussion: Anton Evelynov, student activist


April 4th: Myth #3: State Forms of ‘Socialism’ are Fundamentally Different from Capitalism

Proponents of capitalism, as well as many post-Marx Marxists, have attempted to identify “socialism” or “communism” with state control of the economy and a centralized state. However, theSoviet Unionas well as “Communist China” and the European welfare state represent not so much a departure from capitalism as a realization of it. This class will explore whether there is an alternative to either reducing a new society to state control of the economy, on one hand, or refraining from the need to seize state power as part of a revolutionary transformation, on the other. The myths regarding state forms of capitalism will be exploded in a discussion of the following readings:


Raya Dunayevskaya, Marxism and Freedom, Chapter IV, “Worker, Intellectual, and the State,” pp. 69-77.

Raya Dunayevskaya, State Capitalism and Marx’s Humanism “Lenin vs Bukharin” pp. 10-18.

“Build It Now”: An Interview with Michael A. Lebowitz

John Holloway, Change the World without Seizing State Power, Chapter 2, “Beyond the State?” pp. 11-18.


Leading the discussion: Ali Reza, Iranian activist and member of Iranian Left Alliance Abroad.


April 18th: Myth #4: There is No Alternative to Capitalism

Proponents of capitalism as well as many critics of it have maintained that it is impossible to overcome such phenomena as commodity production, exchange value, alienated labor, and the existence of classes. This stance has within it all of the myths of capitalism, i.e., that capitalism reflects and honors ‘human nature’; that it is a form of democratic practice; and that it prevents the development of state control of the economy. It has also been claimed by many on the left that any effort to spell out the content of a new, post-capitalist society is at best useless and at worst harmful. The myth that there is no alternative to capitalism will be exploded in discussion of the following readings:


Karl Marx, Critique of the Gotha Program .

Raya Dunayevskaya, The Power of Negativity, “Presentation on the Dialectics of Organization and Philosophy,” pp. 3-14.


Leading the discussion: Peter Hudis, author of Marx’s Concept of the Alternative to Capitalism


Wednesday May 2nd

May Day Celebration and discussion


U.S. Marxist Humanists would like to invite all participants in this class to continue the discussion in honor of May Day in a convivial setting, with food and drink. Venue to be announced



‘I believe in the afterlife.

It starts tomorrow,

When I go to work’

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


‘Human Herbs’ – a new remix and new video by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon:

‘Stagnant’ – a new remix and new video by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon:  


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Researchers into the origins of human language, mythic narrative and ritual have recently made exciting new discoveries. It is now known that symbolic culture began emerging in Africa some 100,000 years ago, in a social revolution whose echoes can still be heard in mythic narratives and ritual traditions from around the world.

St Martinʼs Community Centre, 43 Carol St, (2 mins from Camden Town tube).

Tuesdays, 6.30-9pm:
Jan 24 ‘Song-lines and rainbow snakes’ (myths from Aboriginal Australia) – Chris Knight
Jan 31 ‘Human heroes, power and the cosmos in Borneo’ – Monica Janowski
Feb 7 ‘The Tower of Babel’ (Noam Chomsky and the myth of ‘Universal Grammar’) – Chris Knight
Feb 14 ‘The Utopian Promise of Government’ (Cargo cults in Papua/New Guinea)
Feb 21 ‘An Amazonian Myth and its History’
Feb 28 The Politics in African Ethnomusicological Field Recordings – Noel Lobley
Mar 6  Reproduction and spirit owners among the Miskitu Indians – Mark Jamieson
Mar 13 ‘The Wives of the Sun and Moon’ (Arapaho Indians) – Chris Knight
Mar 20 ‘The hunter Monmaneki and his Wives’ (Tukano Indians)
Mar 27 ‘The Woman with the Zebra’s Penis’ (myths of the Hadza and other African hunter-gatherers) – Camilla Power

Topics include:

Is there such a thing as ‘human nature’, or does it all depend on the culture we live in?
Are children born with a ‘language instinct’? Can chimpanzees be taught to speak? How and why did language first evolve?
Is sexual jealousy natural and inevitable? Why do traditional carnivals so often become rituals of license?
Why did the Neanderthals of Ice Age Europe become extinct?
Is the nuclear family universal? Does a Navaho child have just one mother – or many?
The lifestyle of Native American long-house dwellers has been termed “communism in living”. Might such values hold lessons for humanity today?
Why do women in Amazonia believe that sleeping with multiple partners helps ensure a successful pregnancy?
Is biology woman’s destiny? Is the human male a “naked ape”?
Are traditional healing techniques effective? Why do myths about the origin of death so frequently implicate the moon?
How do hunter-gatherers maintain their egalitarianism?
Who builtStonehenge – and why?


‘Cheerful Sin’ – a song by Victor Rikowski:

‘The Lamb’ by William Blake – set to music by Victor Rikowski:

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Special Issue on:
Religion & Sexuality
Editor: Aaron Goodfellow


Aaron Goodfellow
Religion/Sexuality: Politics/Affects


Veena Das
Sexuality, Vulnerability, and the Oddness of the Human: Lessons from the Mahabharata

Naveeda Khan
Images That Come Unbidden: Some thoughts on the Danish cartoons controversy

Éric Fassin
Celibate Priests, Continent Homosexuals: What the exclusion of gay (and gay-friendly) men from priesthood reveals about the political nature of the Roman Catholic Church

Deepak Mehta
Self-Dissolution, Politics and the Work of Affect: The life and death of Sufi Baba

Bhrigupati Singh
Asceticism and Eroticism in Gandhi, Thoreau and Nietzsche: An essay in geo-philosophy

François-David Sebbah
Erotic Face and Ethical Face After Levinas


Dinesh Joseph Wadiwel
A Human Right to Stupidity
(Jacques Derrida, The Beast and the Sovereign Volume 1, trans. Geoffrey Bennington, Chicago and London: Chicago University Press, 2009.)

Vineeth Mathoor
(Anouar Majid, We Are All Moors: Ending Centuries of Crusades against Muslims and Other Minorities, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2009.)

Guy Lancaster
Promoting Conflict or Peace through Identity


‘I believe in the afterlife.

It starts tomorrow,

When I go to work’

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

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Human Nature




We are delighted to announce a two-day conference on ‘Humanism in Agonistic Perspective: Themes from the work of Bonnie Honig’, hosted by CONCEPT: The Nottingham Centre for Normative Political Theory, with the School of Politics and International Relations, University of Nottingham.  

Conference Venue:

The Conference will take place at the National College Conference Centre, Jubilee Campus, University of Nottingham, 18th–19th April, 2011

Conference Format:

The conference will begin on 18th April, with a plenary session from Professor Honig in the evening. The conference will continue on Tuesday 19th April. On Wednesday 20th Professor Honig will run a workshop for graduate students, separate registration is required for the workshop.


Professor Bonnie Honig of Northwestern University will deliver the plenary lecture on Monday 18th April, 2011 at 5:30 pm. The title of her talk will be: Antigone versus Oedipus? Classicizing the ‘Human’ from Anitogne’s Claim to Germany in Autumn


Confirmed speakers – Alan Finlayson (Swansea), Joe Hoover (LSE), Kimberley Hutchings (LSE), Gulshan Khan (Nottingham), Miriam Leonard (UCL), David Owen (Southampton), Mark Philp (Oxford), Andrew Schaap (Exeter), Marc Stears (Oxford), Mark Wenman (Nottingham), Clare Woodford (Queen Mary).

Abstracts are available on our website:


Costs are £110 (Residential Rate), £60 (Non-residential rate) and £30 (Non-residential student rate).  A conference dinner is available for an extra cost of £15 for non-residential delegates.  The postgraduate workshop cost is £15 and separate registration is required.  Full details and forms are available on our website:

Any queries please contact

Dr Mathew Humphrey, Reader in Political Philosophy, School of Politics & IR, University of Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK. Tel: 0044 (0)115 951 4864 Fax: 0044 (0) 115 951 4859


‘I believe in the afterlife.

It starts tomorrow,

When I go to work’

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

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Global Capitalism



Please Circulate around your lists:

2nd Call for Papers
Examining the Relevance of Marx and Marxism to Contemporary Global Society
Newcastle University, 29th and 30th of January 2011

Rationale, Outline and Aims
The 21st century has so far seen US-led military interventions, global financial crises, identity conflicts, terrorism on a grand scale, environmental disasters and fraught industrial/labour relations. These dramatic events have challenged the notion of an ‘end to history’ and the widespread belief that the collapse of the Soviet Union has made Marx and Marxism irrelevant. With growing instability in the social, political and economic functioning of human societies, we wish to examine the relevance of Marx to contemporary global society.

In order to do this, Global Discourse ( is organising a two-day conference at Newcastle University on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th of January 2011.

The aims of the event are:
* To examine the relevance and application of Marxian, Marxist, Neo-Marxist and Post-Marxist thought to contemporary issues.
* To reassess scriptural and doctrinal commitments within various ‘Marxisms’.
* To facilitate interdisciplinary, inter-paradigmatic discourse on a range of contemporary issues.

Papers from this event will form the basis of a special issue of Global Discourse to be released in February 2011.

Keynote Papers
The keynote talks will be given by Professor Norman Geras, author of Marx and Human Nature, whose paper will relate to the general theme, ‘What does it mean to be Marxist?’, and Professor Stuart Sim, author of Post-Marxism: An Intellectual History, who will be examining the achievements of Post-Marxism.

Topics, Deadlines and Publishing Process
We are currently soliciting papers addressing the two topics covered by the keynote speakers, namely: ‘What does it mean to be Marxist?’ and ‘Post-Marxism and its discontents’.

We invite the submission of abstracts on these topics by November 15th.
Authors whose abstracts are accepted will then be invited to submit full papers by December 17th. This will enable refereeing priori to publication of the special issue of Global Discourse in February 2011.

We aim, subsequently, to publish a collected edition in print based on these papers.

Please submit all abstracts, papers and panel proposals to the editors at

There will be no conference fee.

A lunch buffet and refreshments will be provided free of charge.

An optional evening conference meal on Saturday 29th of January will be held at a nearby restaurant. We will seek to organise a special rate for the meal and will circulate details in due course. Participants shall bear the cost of their meal.

There will be space for 40 paper-givers and 20 non-paper-giving participants.

Please address all queries and submit all papers to Matthew Johnson and Mark Edward at

Global Discourse:

Global Economic Crisis

With best wishes
Matthew Johnson


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The Man in Black


NEW TITLE FROM VERSO: The Coming of the Body



“After gods, after revolutions, after financial markets, the body is becoming our truth system. It alone endures, it alone remains.” Herve Juvin


This startling book argues that scientific developments are redefining what it means to be human. Though we live longer than ever before, we are increasingly obsessed with youth and longevity, and increasingly disconnected from suffering, need and time. In the process, are we losing our morality?

The human lifespan has tripled in the last two centuries, ushering in a new kind of humanity which places the body at its centre. In the West, money, technology and medicine combine to deliver the body from war, suffering, death and religion. Even as state and global institutions crumble, this emergent body no longer struggles or resists.

The new body is rendered immune and newly resistant to the ravages of time, nature and capital. An emergent ‘industry of life’—from diets and plastic surgery to sex-free reproduction and virtual reality—further seeks to liberate the body from its biological functions.

Newly translated into English, THE COMING OF THE BODY weaves together a rich variety of sources to paint a cogent, if chilling, picture of this new paradigm. Technological advancement couples with demographic shifts to bring about a sweeping change in social relations. Adult adolescence becomes increasingly protracted and a new ethics of desire begins to emerge. Unabashedly hedonistic, the body becomes a machine of desire that eschews family, state and nation in favour of individual health, security and pleasure. In a society governed by contracts rather than ethical ties, money replaces traditional morals, fidelity and family in an insatiable quest for eternal youth.



“Mr. Juvin’s book is being read attentively by philosophers and politicians, because it warns that pretty much all the values we consider human or humanist are collapsing…If we accept Mr. Juvin’s argument, the trinity of western ideals (‘liberty, equality, fraternity’) is in the course of being replaced by another one (‘health, security, pleasure’).” Christopher Caldwell, Financial Times

“Juvin’s central message is a sinister paradox: what communism set out to do, and disastrously failed to achieve, capitalism is in the process of realizing—the discredited messianic goal of reinventing humanity.” Perry Anderson, New Left Review


HERVE JUVIN is President and founder of the Eurogroup Institute and is the author of a number of books on economics, finance, and management. He was a columnist for LE MONDE and now regularly contributes to L’EXPANSION and ENJEUX LES ECHOS.


ISBN: 978 1 84467 310 0 / $27.95 / £14.99 / CAN$31.00 / Hardback / 188 Pages


For more information visit:

To buy the book in the UK :


To buy the book in the US :




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Not What It Seems

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Karl Marx


New reviews just published online in the Marx and Philosophy Review of Books

  • Ted Benton on The Ecological Revolution
  • Mary Evans on Simone de Beauvoir
  • Nick Gray and Meade McCloughan on Karl Marx and Contemporary Philosophy
  • Ishay Landa on Marx’s Philosophy of Nature, Action and Society
  • Rajeev Sehgal on Work

And new list of books for review.


Professor Sean Sayers,

Editor, Marx and Philosophy Review of Books

School of European Culture and Languages
University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7NF, UK
Tel +44 1227-827513; Fax +44 1227-823641

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Human Nature

Human Nature



Birkbeck ‘Marx, Individuals & Society’ Seminar

William Dixon will speak on: “Yes, there is a human nature”

Thursday 19th November, 43 Gordon Square, London WC1, 19:30 to 21:00, Classroom GOR B02

Contact for details:

‘Human Nature’ by Michael Jackson:

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Unusual Pussus

Unusual Pussus



David Geoffrey Smith

Interchange, Vol.40/1, pp.93-117 (2009) 

David Geoffrey Smith has written a very interesting and useful article in the latest issue of Interchange. Not only does he review Peter McLaren’s Rage + Hope: Interviews with Peter McLaren on War, Imperialism, & Critical Pedagogy (Peter Lang Publishing, 2006), but he also explores the New Marxism in Education, or the New Marxist Educational Theory (as it is sometimes called). Thus, he examines the impact of McLaren’s work along with other writers on the New Marxism in Education: Paula Allman, Glenn Rikowski, Mike Cole and Dave Hill.

He does spell my name wrong, though: having ‘Glen’ rather than ‘Glenn’ Rikowski. But that’s easily forgivable as Smith has produced an enlightening article. 

You can view the article at:

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Marx Memorial Library

Spring 2009 Lecture Series


Marx and the Environment



9th February 09: Limits to Growth in the Economy


David Leal will consider the consequences of world-wide capitalist collective labour – immensely productive but immensely energy consuming – and ask whether we are still confident that technological advances are making socialism and abundance possible.



23rd February 09: Marxism and Ecology


David McLellan will discuss whether Marxism and ecology are incompatible or whether, on the contrary, Marxism can contribute to solving the most important crisis facing our world.



9th March 09: China: Facing the Green Challenge


Jenny Clegg will discuss the challenges facing China as it sets out to achieve a greener development – challenges both at the local levels and in the international context where it finds itself engaged in a trial of strength with the US over the renewal of the Kyoto Protocol.



23rd March 09: Marx on Nature and Human Nature


Lawrence Wilde starts from the point that the young Marx considered himself to be both a humanist and a naturalist – and these positions are hugely relevant to the dilemmas facing us under late capitalism.



All lectures begin at 7pm

Admission £1, Concessions 50p


Marx Memorial Library, 37a Clerkenwell Green, London, EC1R 0DU.  Nearest tube: Farringdon. Buses: 63, 55, 243.


Tel. 020 7253 1485   email:




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