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KRISIS

KRISIS

NEVER WORK

Cardiff University Conference

Friday 10 July 2015

Call for Papers

“A corpse rules society – the corpse of labour.” – Manifesto Against Labour, Krisis-Group

Since the 1970s modern societies have been increasingly faced with social issues caused by a reliance on a form of life that technological development is making redundant: work. Competition drives companies to eject human beings from the labour process even while it relies on those people as consumers and producers of value. Equally, more human beings than ever before depend upon the capitalist production process for their survival, yet at this historical juncture it appears no longer to have need of them. It is this contradiction that some contemporary social critics have diagnosed as the basis of a crisis of civilisation through which we are currently living. The symptoms of this crisis are manifold and, one can argue, affect every aspect of society: privatisation, financialisation and economic crises, mass unemployment, the casualisation of labour and austerity programmes, regional conflict, the rise of political extremism, growing wealth inequality, individualisation, school shootings and the ever-growing number of people suffering from narcissistic personality disorders, to name but a few.

Despite the sheer scale of problems that society currently faces, the dominant social discourse has rarely considered that a crisis of the very categories of capitalist society could be the source of the problem. Work, in particular, is central to modern notions of individual and collective identity, of morality and even of human nature. It is the means through which individuals are expected to realise themselves and to gain access to social wealth. It is perhaps for this reason that, while work is often seen as central to resolving the current crisis – either through calls for higher wages and the right to work or through attacks on immigrants and the unemployed – it is rarely seen as the problem in itself. The aim of this conference is therefore to ask what might a critique of work usefully offer us in addressing contemporary social issues and, if one will allow it, the possibility of a greater crisis of modern civilisation.

Contributors might consider:

  • What kinds of critique of work are necessary, on the basis of what criteria and in the name of what alternatives?
  • What hampers such a critique and how can we remove, go around or through these barriers?
  • What critical theories can usefully contribute to a contemporary critique of work?
  • How can contemporary social movements benefit from a critique of work?
  • How might a theoretical critique of work manifest itself practically and how might critiques of work in practice inform theoretical critiques?
  • What lessons can we learn from historical and contemporary social movements against work?
  • What might a critique of work tell us about the political, economic and psychological forms and changes that society is currently experiencing?
  • What are particularly unexamined aspects of the critique of work that need addressing?
  • How widespread and persistent are critiques of work in contemporary social movements and what kinds of critique of work have they developed?
  • What useful relationship might the critique of work have with critiques of the state, patriarchy, politics and other social forms?
  • What alternatives to work still exist, have existed and might exist?

 

Confirmed keynote speakers will be: Anselm Jappe (author of Guy Debord, Les Aventures de la marchandise, Crédit à mort) and Norbert Trenkle (author of Die Große Entwertung, Dead Men Working). Both of our keynotes are members of the wertkritik, or “critique of value”, school of Marxian critique.

Abstracts of 350 words, with a small bio, should be sent to Dr Alastair Hemmens (hemmensa@cardiff.ac.uk) by 20 February 2015.

The conference itself will take place at Cardiff University, Wales, on 10 July 2015.

This research is funded by the Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship: Dr Alastair Hemmens, “‘Ne travaillez jamais’: The Critique of Work in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century French Thought, from Charles Fourier to Guy Debord.”

Website: http://www.marblepunk.com/2015/01/never-work-cardiff-university.html

Robert Kurz

Robert Kurz

 

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Manifesto Against Labour

Manifesto Against Labour

 

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Modernism

Modernism

MARXISM AND THE CRITIQUE OF VALUE

The editorial board of Mediations is pleased to announce the publication of our latest dossier, Marxism and the Critique of Value.

This double issue is being published simultaneously as a book, which can be downloaded as a free PDF from M-C-M′ (http://www.mcmprime.com) and which is also available in paperback (ISBN 978-0989549707).

Consisting of some 400 pages of new translations from the German-language Wertkritik tendency, Marxism and the Critique of Value presents a landmark effort to complete the critique of the value-form begun by Marx.

The full text can, as always, be accessed at mediationsjournal.org, where it is accompanied by book reviews by Roberto Schwarz, Josh Robinson, Barbara Foley and Kanishka Chowdhury, and Matthew Moraghan.

 

DOSSIER: MARXISM AND THE CRITIQUE OF VALUE

Mediations: Journal of the Marxist Literary Group

Volume 27, Nos. 1-2 Fall/Spring 2013-14

 

Editors’ Note

 

Norbert Trenkle: Value and Crisis: Basic Questions

Norbert Trenkle tackles fundamental questions posed by the critique of value. How does it differ from other Marxisms? What are the consequences of the critique of value for the category of labor and for the labor theory of value? What is its relationship to socialism as an economic project? What is the relationship between the value-form and capitalist crisis? Can the critique of capitalism still be undertaken from the standpoint of labor?

 

Robert Kurz: The Crisis of Exchange Value: Science as Productivity, Productive Labor, and Capitalist Reproduction

As long as value is allowed to hold sway as an element of second nature, the Left will not be able adequately to understand the developments in the productive forces that characterized the twentieth century. Robert Kurz lays out the fundamental coordinates that tie the critique of value to the theory of crisis.

 

Claus Peter Ortlieb: A Contradiction between Matter and Form: On the Significance of the Production of Relative Surplus Value in the Dynamic of Terminal Crisis

Building on the insights of Capital I, and dispatching common liberal misunderstandings of those insights, Claus Peter Ortlieb makes the case for what mainstream economists euphemistically call “secular stagnation”: that is, an economic crisis that cannot be resolved by economic means.

 

Roswitha Scholz: Patriarchy and Commodity Society: Gender without the Body

Can there be a feminist materialism that does not rely on the fundamentally anti-Marxist materialism of the body? What is the relationship between capitalism, patriarchy, and feminist deconstruction? Roswitha Scholz introduces the concept of “value-dissociation,” under which capitalist societies necessarily consign labor that does not valorize capital — but that is nonetheless essential to its production and reproduction — to a subordinate, feminized zone.

 

Norbert Trenkle: The Rise and Fall of the Working Man: Towards a Critique of Modern Masculinity

In order to be able to understand the current economic crisis in particular and the emergence and development of capitalism in general, Norbert Trenkle argues, it is necessary to account for capitalism’s gendered social dimension. What can the connection between modern masculinity and the logic of modern labor tell us about the current crisis and the relation between capitalist form and its corresponding social structures?

 

Ernst Lohoff: Off Limits, Out of Control: Commodity Society and Resistance in the Age of

Deregulation and Denationalization

Despite all violent disagreements, mainstream Left and Right agree that what is at stake is the role of the state: is it “off limits” or “out of control”? But what if the role of the state — as with the flight to finance — is epiphenomenal to an underlying crisis-process? What are the possible political responses? Ernst Lohoff argues that rather than a rearguard defense of the state, the slogan of free access could organize a plausible Left project.

 

Robert Kurz: World Power and World Money: The Economic Function of the U.S. Military Machine within Global Capitalism and the Background of the New Financial Crisis

In an article written in the initial stages of the 2007-8 financial crisis, Robert Kurz traces its origins to the Reaganite policy of “weaponized Kenyesianism” that stabilized the world dollar economy and established the dominant flows of debt and goods that would persist until the onset of the crisis: phenomena that are generally recognized on the Left as well as on the Right only in inverted form.

 

Norbert Trenkle: Struggle without Classes: Why There Is No Resurgence of the Proletariat in the Currently Unfolding Capitalist Crisis

Class struggle played a historically indispensable role in the constitution of the working class as a subject conscious of its pursuit of a social mission. But can a class subject point to a future beyond capitalist social relations today? Is “declassing” a mere appearance? Or, on the contrary, do contemporary attempts to think struggle in class terms, no matter how sublimated, diguised, misrecognized, or sophisticated, lead up a blind alley?

 

Ernst Lohoff: Violence as the Order of Things and the Logic of Annihilation

How, after the end of the Cold War and the universalization of a supposedly pacifying market logic, are we to understand contemporary violence? The answer, suggests Ernst Lohoff, lies in the emergence of modern subjectivity and its origins in the Englightemnent: origins deeply bound up in the emergence of the value-form.

 

Robert Kurz: The Nightmare of Freedom: The Foundations of “Western Values” and the Helplessness of Critique

Are freedom and equality Left values? Certainly they inform historical Marxism and anarchism as much as liberalism. But what if the concepts themselves are bound up with the logic of the market? What if freedom is only a naked function of the valorization process — a moment in capital’s self-mediation — that is, of universal unfreedom? Utopias of circulation, of markets without money, suddenly look wildly implausible.

 

Karl-Heinz Lewed: Curtains for Universalism: Islamism as Fundamentalism in Modern Social Form

In most writing about political Islam — even from the Left — it is understood, even where a vulgar “clash of civilizations” thesis is rejected, to be fundamentally other to Western social and political forms. Karl-Heinz Lewed argues that political Islam is nothing other than a form of appearance of a general world crisis, one which makes its first appearance in the failed modernizations of the Third World. Political Islam is one attempt to resolve an impasse central to the Enlightenment mobilization of the dialectic of universal and particular: a dialectic which itself owes its historical resonance to the emergence of the value form.

 

Robert Kurz: On the Current Global Economic Crisis: Questions and Answers

How can we understand the current global economic crisis? What can we expect to happen in the next few years? How will this crisis force us to rethink critique, the nature of global social movements, and concepts such as revolution? For Robert Kurz, the critique of value is at the same time an analysis of the crisis, and the analysis of the crisis is of necessity a critique of value.

 

Robert Kurz: The Ontological Break: Before the Beginning of a Different World History

The debate over globalization seems to have reached a moment of exhaustion. Why? The process underlying globalization is, if anything, still in its initial stages. The endpoint we have reached is rather a categorical one: the exhaustion of an entire universe of historical concepts, which, argues Robert Kurz, we now have to learn to do without.

 

 

BOOK REVIEWS

Roberto Schwarz reviews Robert Kurz’s The Collapse of Modernization

Josh Robinson reviews Ernst Lohoff’s and Norbert Trenkle’s The Great Devaluation

Barbara Foley and Kanishka Chowdhury review Kevin B. Anderson’s Marx at the Margins

Matthew Moraghan reviews Arundhati Roy’s Walking with the Comrades

 

Mediations: Journal of the Marxist Literacy Grouphttp://www.mediationsjournal.org/

First published in: http://www.historicalmaterialism.org/news/distributed/mediations-27.1-2-marxism-and-the-critique-of-value

 

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

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Labor and the Logic of Abstraction: An Interview with Moishe Postone

 

In this interview with Timothy Brennan, Moishe Postone, author of Time, Labor, and Social Domination, discusses the Marxian critical theory of capitalism against the background of the author’s intellectual biography and central historical developments of recent decades. The interview focuses on his reinterpretation of Karl Marx’s critical theory, especially on the notion of the historical specificity of the categories that purportedly grasp capitalism and its historical dynamic. It also engages the author’s understandings of Georg Lukács, the Frankfurt School, and poststructuralism, while addressing issues of capitalism’s historical transformations, its possible abolition, and the reconstitution of progressive politics. 

From South Atlantic Quarterly, Vol.108 No.2, pp.305-330 (2009), at:

http://platypus1917.home.comcast.net/~platypus1917/postone_brennan_saq2009.pdf

 

 

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Manifesto against Labour

 

Krisis Group

 

 

Manifesto against Labour, written by the Krisis Group (Krisis Gruppe) on 31st December 1999. In the current crisis of capital it is more relevant than ever. There is also a Foreword by Norbert Trenkle.

 

See: http://www.krisis.org/1999/manifesto-against-labour

 

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