Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Anti-theses. Anti-crisis 1

1. The problem, predicament, and conceit of and for Marxists (present company not excepted) is that we are all, more or less, and once, always, and forever Hegelians.  We think we are channeling the movement of the great critical spirit; that purpose, goal, of history-- namely human emancipation.  We think that when we're not thinking that we are channeling the great spirit of the "great man" himself.  We think that we're somehow speeding things up, and forward, to a great fruition which  is nothing other than subduing the world to and with the great logic that explains the world to itself.  And where does that get us?

2. Where does that get us? The answer is where it has already gotten us. Pretty close to zero.  Official Marxism, by which I mean that of 2, 3, 4, 5, many Internationals positions itself as the channel of channels, the mediation of the advancing big C creative spirit and the reluctant backsliding flesh. It gets us to that point where we're conducting Marxism the way the medium conducts messages from the dead at a séance.  "Give us a sign, oh great spirit, if you're with us today."  And sure enough we always get the sign.  "There's a crisis!  Look, over there.  Isn't that a crisis I see?"  Sure thing.  There's always a crisis. The stock markets tank, unemployment rises, profits fall.   "Sooner or later" and "I told you so" are the paltry best we come up with.

3. So let's just say, it isn't a spirit thing. And "crisis" isn't a message from the dead,or the living, that capitalism has come undone when the undoing is itself the form for capitalist reconstitution. Confusing?

4. Then try this:  It's a social thing, relation where the obstruction to capitalist accumulation is made manifest in the inability of the social beings to reproduce themselves as the vital players in such accumulation while at the same time, this marginalization of the producers and consumers allows capitalism to drive down the cost of its own reproduction through a sequence of social "distress sales" so that value, profit,  is not realized, but re-imagined. Got it?  Capital shuts down, demobilizes, marginalizes, and what remains is capital re-imagined.

5. The failure of the left is that its every move is but a  re-imagination of profit.  The left re-imagines profit in the forms of taxation; in nationalization; in stipends, subsidies, distributions etc.  That and those are not at all all nonsense, but they are all derivatives of value production, imaginings derived from profit. 

6. Syriza's "capitulation" wasn't in its agreement to a new memorandum, and the agreement isn't a betrayal.    The capitulation was predetermined in the paucity of its imagination-- where "the best" it could come up with was the re-imagination of profit as a European Union "New Deal," as a second Marshall plan.  That's not imagination.  It's nostalgia.  Worse, it's delusional nostalgia, a memory of a past there never was; one scrubbed clean of its origins in blood, gore, and shit. 

7. Clearly, the material basis for imagination is class struggle; the struggle for the overthrow of value production, for  the abolition of value... and  for the throttling of "productive labor" in that all notions of "productive labor" are class based. The revolutionary class has to imagine first and foremost its own abolition as laborers, as workers, as sources of value, as liquid pools of labor serving the purposes of exchange.  It's not the "will to power" that informs history; it's the imagination of power that historical materialism grasps.

8.  "We will work  cooperatively toward our regeneration, the birth of communal luxury, future splendors and the Universal Republic."-- Manifesto of the Artists' Federation of Paris, April 15, 1971, cited in Communal Luxury:  The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune. Kristin Ross, Verso, 2015, a book that is as indispensable in its way as Maksakovsky's The Capitalist Cycle. 

August 25, 2015


  1. Anonymous6:40 PM

    Very nice.
    S. Artesian, You may find interesting:
    In Defense of the Anarchist Use of Marx’s Economic Theory
    Anarchist Views of Marx's Critique of Political Economy
    by Wayne Price

    Wayne Price has defended Marx's critique of political economy as useful for revolutionary anarchists. In the past many anarchists have agreed. But some have not, such as Ron Tabor or Peter Kropotkin. Several topics in Marx's economic theory are discussed and responses are made to criticisms: the concentration and centralization of modern capitalism; the labor theory of value; and the possibility of working class revolution.



  2. Richard7:55 AM

    Absolutely wonderful and so sharp and witty.

  3. Anonymous4:58 PM

    I was getting worried you had died arty, I know you're old and stuff.

    1. Not yet. Not yet.

      How about you Brol-- finished with school? Still lifting?

    2. Anonymous12:56 AM

      Done with school, joined the working class, still lifting yeee. I also love that you could recognize me just by the "arty" lol.

      I need more Marxist stuff to read that's on current events though, pretty much these days all I have is your blog. I feel way out of touch

    3. Me too, needing "more Marxist stuff," but I'm afraid that's a fool's errand in the current predicament. I mean, Marx's analysis is supposed to be a tool for putting social revolution on a material platform; it is not supposed to be a "thing in itself;" a course of study; an ideology; a "trust fund" for squabbling siblings; etc. etc. etc.

      I think "anarchists," those dismissed as infantile/ultra/black bloc etc. have a better grip.

      Look at the "Marxist" response to events in Greece, almost all of which are ideological, immaterial, repetition compulsions, etc. etc. from the "left com" pro-forma dismissal, i.e Insurgent Notes; to equivocation of "hard Marxists," to the cheerleading of "new lefts," old new lefts, ad nauseum.

      I think we're more or less in a do-it-yourself moment.

  4. Anonymous7:22 PM

    Do you think I was more or less correct when I posited way back when that the lack of "Marxist stuff" or good "legit" Marxist organizations or etc. is simply a reflection of the fact that the working class movement is kind of in death spasms? You seem a lot more pessismistic toward "Marxism" these days. Are you just left with a bad taste in your mouth similar to the whole "If they're Marxists then I'm not" bit from Marx?

    I suppose I'm just feeling out of the loop on world events, and kind of hoping there's something going on other than just what's happening in Greece. Maybe there isn't and things are just that bad right now though.

  5. I don't think the working class movement is in "death spasms," but the working class sure as been taking an ass-kicking for the last 42 years. Does that explain why official "Marxism" is so lame? Beats me. I don't think the official Marxists were that good when the working class has mobilized and has advanced.