New prefaces to old works are problematical. What to say about something you wrote a quarter of a century ago? Instead of writing a preface, it's tempting to simply rewrite the book in ways that would bring it up to date with your current ideas and formulations. However, books, as some have pointed out, take on a life of their own after they've been published and the generous leave them unmolested, not tinkered with, but allowed to follow their own course. About all you can do is introduce them, tell a bit of their story and then leave them to the mercy of their readers. This makes sense to me. So here I tell something of the genesis of this book, about how it came to be, and then something of the subsequent implications of its ideas for my own work since.
Some books are intentionally crafted. Conceived and written as part of a political project with a particular purpose, an objective, they are designed from the start as a contribution. The first volume of Karl Marx's Capital is such a book. He conceived and wrote Capital as one step in a larger project of laying out his analysis of the nature of capitalism. That laying out was, in turn, part of an even larger project of contributing to the overthrow and transcendence of capitalism. His writing was part of his contribution to the ongoing struggles of workers against their exploitation and alienation and for the crafting of better, alternative forms of social life.
Other books are accidental by-products. Marx's Grundrisse is such a book. Originally it was merely a series of notebooks written during the onset of the crisis of 1857 in a urgent attempt to gather his thoughts, to pull together his theoretical work and his studies of the evolution of the class struggle. The notebooks were never meant for publication; they were merely the formulations generated as he worked out his ideas. They were a moment of synthesis in years of work that would produce other manuscripts and eventually Capital in the 1860s. The notebooks only became a "book" years after Marx's death when scholars recognized their coherency and decided to publish them.
The core of this book, Reading Capital Politically, had a genesis that makes it much more like the Grundrisse than Capital, much more an accidental by-product than an intentional product crafted as a conceptualized intervention in political life. Like the Grundrisse it originated as a set of notes written as part of a particular moment of intellectual work. In this case the project was an exploration of Marx's writings on the labour theory of value to discover an interpretation which made sense to me --because all of those which had been handed down by earlier Marxist scholars had left me dissatisfied.
The genesis of the book The motivation for this exploration lay partly in the changing terrain of class struggle in the early and mid 1970s and partly in a growing dissatisfaction with my understanding of Marxism in those years. I had begun studying Marx, and the Marxist tradition, in reaction to the inability of mainstream economics to usefully interpret either the war against Vietnam or the social engineering that made up a considerable component of the "nation building" that the United States was undertaking in Southeast Asia to expand its influence in the 1950s and 1960s. As part of the anti-war movement, in the years that I was a graduate student at Stanford (1967-1971), I investigated the role of the university within the complexity of the whole US counterinsurgency effort. That investigation led me, along with a number of others to form a study group to focus on the introduction of new high-yielding rice to the area. That introduction was being done with the purpose of increasing food production in order to undercut peasant discontent and support for revolution against the neocolonialism of the time. In order to grasp theoretically this political use of technology to transform rural Asian society I was led to Marx and to Marxist analyses of the transformation of precapitalist modes of production by capitalism through processes of more or less primitive accumulation.
Unfortunately, the more I studied the history, the more one-sided and narrow this analysis seemed to me. While it highlighted and made some sense of what US policy makers were doing, it virtually ignored the self-activity of the peasants in Southeast Asia against whose struggles the new technologies and "nation/elite building" were aimed.
During this same period of the early 1970s the cutting edge of capitalist strategy on a world level was also shifting. Policy makers were replacing Keynesian growth management with a more repressive use of money: cut backs in social spending, flexible exchange rates, financial deregulation and eventually severely tight monetary policies and an international debt crisis. Studying this shift, I saw that just as the introduction of new agricultural technology in the Third World had been a reaction against peasant struggle, so too was the shift from Keynesianism to monetarism a reaction against popular struggle, in this case the international cycle of struggle that swept the world in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a cycle of which Vietnam was only one moment.
What these two sets of observations forced me to recognize was that the kinds of interpretations of Marx that I had been using involved an overly one-sided focus on the dynamics of capitalist exploitation. Precisely because of this focus, the interpretations failed to grasp the initiative of those resisting and attacking capital and, by so failing, they could not even accurately understand the actions of capital itself --which always developed in an interplay with that resistance and those attacks. Taking this perception seriously meant for me nothing less than the need for a complete rethinking of Marxian theory to see if it could be understood in a way that was not one-sided and which grasped both sides of the social conflicts I had been studying and involved in.
By that time my work on Marx had led me to be certain about at least one thing: that the labour theory of value was the indispensable core of his theory. The fact that some had set aside that theory and still called their analysis "Marxist" made no sense to me. Because his concepts of value were the fundamental conceptual tools and building blocks from the 1840s onward, any rethinking had to begin with those concepts. The usefulness of his theory as a coherent whole, it seemed to me, depended on whether I could find an interpretation of his value theory that helped me to understand and to find ways of intervening in the dynamics of struggle.
Therefore in the summer of 1975 I gathered together every scrap of Marx's writing on value theory that I could find (in what were then my two working languages: English and French) and began to pore over them. I analysed and dissected it. I compared earlier and later formulations. I compared drafts and final documents. I compared and contrasted the 1844 Manuscripts, the Grundrisse, Capital, and many other fragments and notes, to see if I could come up with an interpretation in which the concepts and constructs of the theory expressed and provided the means to understand the two-sided dynamic of struggle in Vietnam that I had studied, of the civil rights and anti-War movements in which I had participated and, more generally, the conflicts o f that period of history. If I could construct such an interpretation, I would use it. If I could not, I would relegate Marx's work to that shelf of great books from which we all draw, from time to time, a useful bit of insight and clarification.
The result of that work was a set of notes that I gradually reworked into a fairly comprehensive and, it seemed to me, meaningful interpretation of Marx's value theory. The knitting together of that interpretation took the form of a manuscript organized around the first three sections of chapter one of volume one of Capital -- in many ways Marx's most pedantic yet also most systematic exposition of the theory.(4) At least tentatively satisfied, I began to use the ideas that I had worked out within various areas of my research and political involvement.(5)
The manuscript itself was useful in my teaching, first at the New School for Social Research in New York and later, beginning in the fall of 1976, at the University of Texas. It provided my students with a textual exposition of the ideas that I was discussing in class. And there, on my desk and on those of my students, it might have remained indefinitely. (I have, unfortunately, the very bad habit of working out ideas, writing them up to my own satisfaction, and then not bothering to get them published.) However, it did not work out that way.
One of my graduate students had a friend working as an editor of the University of Texas Press and it occurred to her that the manuscript might be publishable. So, she showed it to her friend who subsequently asked me if the Press could, indeed, publish it. The editor's only requests were for me to clean up the text and draft an introduction which would situate the theory within the history of Marxism. The result was the long introduction that prefaces the manuscript itself.
In order to complete that introduction, however, I felt the need to deepen some research I had been doing since 1975 on the genesis of certain strains of Marxist theory that I felt were akin, in one way or another, to my own reinterpretation of value theory. While I was teaching at the New School I had collaborated in the production of the journal Zerowork as well as some pamphlets designed as political interventions into struggles around the New York City fiscal crisis in the years 1975-1976. (Those were the years when the banks refused to roll over New York City debt and set off what was, in retrospect, a microcosm of the great international debt crisis of the 1980s. The imposition of austerity on the workers of New York through wage cutbacks of city workers, fare increases on the transit system, etc., presaged the more generalized imposition of austerity by the International Monetary Fund and the international banking system in the next decade.(6)
Others brought to the Zerowork project distillations of distinct but connected threads of ideas with which I had been previously unfamiliar. One was American, an evolution of ideas that had originated in the work of C.L.R. James and Raya Dunayevskaya, who had broken from Trotskyism in the late 1940s and gone on to establish their own spheres of influence in the 1950s and 1960s. Another, influenced as it turned out by the Americans, was Italian, a thread that had originated in the activities of "workerist" militants such as Danilo Montaldi, Raniero Panzieri and Romano Alquati, who had come from the Italian Socialist and Communist Parties to develop ideas central to the Italian New (or "Extraparliamentary") Left. Their efforts, in turn, influenced those active in the "political space of autonomia" such as Mario Tronti, Antonio Negri, Sergio Bologna, Bruno Cartosio, Ferruccio Gambino, Mariarosa Della Costa and others. Yet another, although also influenced by the Americans, was British, a thread that ran from the first generation of "bottom-up" British Marxist historians such as E.P. Thompson and Christopher Hill through a second generation that includes Peter Linebaugh and the other authors of Albion's Fatal Tree. All of these threads interwove in different ways in the work of the various editors of Zerowork.
Trying to understand these threads and the lines of their influence on my collaborators in that journal led me to Europe in the summer of 1978. In a whole series of encounters that proved enormously informative, I began to piece together the political and intellectual history of the various ideas and politics. In England I met with John Merrington and Ed Emery, two key figures in the circulation of Italian New Left ideas into England, and hence to the U.S. In John's Offord Road apartment I spent many hours in conversation about intellectual and political developments in Italy and their influence in England. I also spent several days reading through his handwritten translations of Italian texts, many of which had not been published at that time. With Ed Emery I discovered Red Notes, a series of publications that included translations from the Italian produced by John and him to influence the pattern of workers' struggles in England.
In France I met Yann Moulier, translator of Mario Tronti and later Toni Negri and activist in the development of "autonomist" politics in Paris, especially, though not uniquely, around the struggles of immigrant w orkers. Yann at that time was collaborating in the production of a militant journal Camarades, would later publish Babylone, help edit Futur Anterieur and today is involved in the quarterly journal Multitudes.
In Italy I met historians Bruno Cartosio and Sergio Bologna in Milan who worked on the journal Primo Maggio. In conversations with them I added to my understanding of the struggles in Italy and, once again, spent hour after hour in Bruno's office reading -- this time a variety of texts of C.L.R. James, Raya Dunayevskaya and their collaborators like George Rawick and Martin Glaberman that Bruno had gathered in his own studies of that American tradition. In Milan I also met with Toni Negri, a central figure in the development of the political space of -"autonomia" and gave him a copy of the manuscript whose introduction I was in the process of crafting. It was then that I learned of his own reinterpretation of Marx's theory in the Grundrisse, a reinterpretation which had just been presented to Louis Althusser's Spring 1978 seminar in Paris and would eventually be published as Marx Beyond Marx. When I eventually obtained his book, I discovered that there were certain parallels in our interpretations, along with many differences. In Padua I met with Ferruccio Gambino, another editor of Primo Maggio, and at that time another key figure in the international circulation of what I would later come to call "autonomist" ideas and politics.
Along with all these discussions, and my efforts to reconstruct the threads of ideas I had come to study, I also began to gather historical materials, key texts in which these ideas had been laid out and developed. It was clear that I would have to learn Italian, at least a reading comprehension, to come to grips with the very large numbers of books, journal articles and pamphlets generated in the tumultuous and creative world of the Italian New Left -- most of which were untranslated and unknown in the English speaking world despite the valiant efforts of John Merrington and Ed Emery. A first synthetic reconstruction of the history of these ideas, based on these discussions and on the materials gathered, makes up a substantial portion of the latter half of the introduction to this book. The materials themselves make up the sizeable collection contained in The Texas Archives of Autonomist Marxism.(7)
The introduction, as you will see, was constructed in three parts. The first was a brief analysis of the surprising blossoming of interest in Marxism that occurred in the US in the late 1960s and early 1970s during the cycle of struggle which had thrown the post-war Keynesian era into crisis. That blossoming was responsible not only for the willingness of the University of Texas Press to publish such a manuscript as I had constructed, but also for my own job -- which had been created in response to student demands to study Marx. The second was a gloss on the main lines of the Marxist tradition that included critiques of several then prominent strains that I found (and still consider) lacking, especially orthodox Marxist-Leninism (including the work of Althusser) and critical theory from the Frankfurt School to its more contemporary manifestations. The most basic critique, which had prompted my own reexploration of Marx's value theory, was the one-sidedness of most of these Marxist traditions with their focus on the mechanisms of capitalist exploitation and their inability to theorize working class self-activity. The third part consisted of a narrative of those threads of the Marxist tradition that I perceived to h ave overcome such one-sidedness, in one way or another, and which I perceived to have parallels with or direct influence on my own work. The core of that narrative drew on the work of reconstruction I had done of the American and Italian threads discussed above.
After the book After the book was published in 1979, I continued my research on these intellectual and political traditions, gradually broadening my reading to include other threads that seemed more or less closely related. At first my preoccupation continued with ferreting out those writings that reflected a recognition and appreciation of the ability of workers to take the initiative in the class struggle. More recently I've come to focus on the positive content of such initiative and the ways people's imagination and creativity carry them beyond both capital and their status as workers. Along the way I discovered and learned from the political writings of Rosa Luxemburg, of the Council Communists such as Anton Pannekoek and Paul Mattick and later of the Anarcho-communists like Emma Goldman and Peter Kropotkin.(8) That the former were ideologically "Marxist" and the latter were not, interested me less than their common perception and sympathy for the power of workers to act autonomously. Similarly, as I explored the early tradition of British 'bottom-up' Marxist history, I was less interested by their formal political connections (often with the very orthodox British Communist Party) and more with their success in rewriting history in ways which brought out the hitherto neglected autonomous activity of workers and peasants in the making and evolution of capitalist society. It was precisely this recurring theme in the work of diverse Marxist writers and militants that led me to coin the term "autonomist" Marxism that I now use to refer to such awareness and emphasis.(9)
But even as this commonality became clear, I was also forced to recognize the amazing diversity of those I was regrouping under this label. Not only would some, e.g. Goldman and Kropotkin, certainly refuse the label "Marxist," but there were also substantial differences among them about many key issues including crisis theory, the definition of the working class, attitudes toward work and the notion of the future in the present.
For example, among many writing in the first half of the 20th century, often a great deal of their "economic" theory was inconsistent with their political appreciation of workers' autonomy. For example, although Rosa Luxemburg leavened her attachment to the Party with close attention to the direction of struggle set by the workers themselves, when she elaborated her theories of capitalist crisis and imperialism that self-activity faded completely from view. In the place of a theory embodying the dynamics of class struggle she substituted an interpretation of Marx's schemes of expanded reproduction which turned them into a two-sector growth model that would collapse on its own quite independently of the struggles of workers.(10)
A similar inconsistency marked the work of Paul Mattick, probably the best known Council Communist of the post-World War II period. On the one hand, he, and others in the tradition, considered the workers' self-directed creation of workers councils in Western Europe (or soviets in Russia) prime examples of the ability of workers to organize themselves autonomously of any Party, social democratic or Leninist. On the other hand, like Luxemburg, in his theories of the crises of capitalism that autonomy disappeared. In its place was a reworking of Grossman's very mechanical theory of crisis and a critique of post-WWII Keynesian capitalism that argued its inevitable doom in a logic quite independent of any dialectic of struggle. Recognition of such contradictions led some of us, over time, to reinterpret Marx's theory of crisis in class terms using the interpretation of value theory contained in this book.(11) But, at the same time, such a reinterpretation implied the need to shift the critique of mainstream economics and policy making from a criticism of its ideological content to a focus on its strategic role in the class struggle.(12)
Another major difference that I discovered in my archeological studies of these traditions, was between those who had a very limited understanding of what constituted "the working class," that is to say of who was included and who should be understood as being outside of that class, and those who came later and considerably expanded the applicability of the category. Just as Luxemburg's and Mattick's "crisis theories" were orthodox in being one-sided expositions of capital's "laws of motion," so too was their, and many others', notion of the working class which they limited to the waged industrial proletariat. Even by the mid-1970s, I could no longer accept such a limited perspective.
Over time, the evolution of the struggles of unwaged people led many to a redefinition in terms. The self-mobilization of a variety of groups, such as women, students and peasants in 1960s and 1970s implied a real scope of "workers' autonomy" far greater than previously recognized. M oreover, not only were a wider variety of people acting autonomously of capital, but they often acted independently vis-Ã -vis other groups, e.g. blacks autonomously from whites, women autonomously of men. An awareness of this reality influenced both those who were studying the working class in the present and those who studied it in the past.(13)
In the tradition of "bottom-up" history, a new generation of historians such as Peter Linebaugh and his collaborators studying crime and social struggle and the formation of the British proletariat recognized and began to make clear how the wage was but one form through which capital has forced people to work and exploited them.(14) George Rawick's studies of North American slave self-activity, From Sundown to Sunup, shifted attention away from the previously all-engrossing preoccupation of earlier Marxist historians of slavery with the master's exploitation during the long days of plantation toil.(15)
The emergence of autonomous struggles of unwaged housewives led other Marxists, such as Mariarosa Dalla Costa, Selma James and Silvia Federici to analyse the work against which women fought and to recognize how that work was, at least in part, work for capital and from which the latter profited through a reduction in the value of labour power.(16) They also pointed out that because men often mediated the imposition of that work and benefited from it, women's rebellion had to be autonomous from that of men. Men's mediation could be confronted or bypassed for a direct attack on capital, but men could not be counted on to take up women's interests as their own. Similarly, work on peasants in Mexico, Nigeria and elsewhere demonstrated how their unwaged work contributed to the expanded reproduction of capital and how their struggles, often autonomous of those of waged workers, had the power to rupture such accumulation.(17) The broadened notion of "working class" that such understanding implied, along with the appreciation of divisions and autonomy within the class, differentiated contemporary "autonomist" Marxists from many of their forerunners.
Another historical shift in the understanding of many of those who recognized the autonomy of workers struggles resulted from a change in workers' attitudes toward work. Many in earlier generations of those Marxists who had appreciated workers' ability to take the initiative in the class struggle clung to the very orthodox belief that the object of revolution was the liberation of work from the domination of capital, and hence from alienation and exploitation. For many anarchists, the Council Communists and even the ex-Trotskyists regrouped around C. L. R. James and Raya Dunayevskaya, the formation of workers' councils (say by Hungarian workers during the revolution of 1956) to take over and manage production seemed the epitome of "revolution" and the freeing of labour. But two tendencies forced a more contemporary generation beyond such formulations. First, the continuing spread of Taylorist and Fordist deskilling produced such an alienation of young workers from work that, by the 1960s, the desire to take over work and make it less alienating was being more and more replaced by its simple refusal. They didn't want control; they wanted out. Second, the refusal of work on the job was increasingly accompanied by a refusal of the unwaged work of reproducing labour power in life outside the formal job. Moreover, the refusal of both kinds of work was accompanied by new kinds of non-work activity. Against the "cultural" mechanisms of domination, highlighted and analyzed by the critical theorists, was being pitted a "cultural revolution" in the 1960s that continued on into the 1970s and since. Indeed, the self-activity of the women's movement, the student movement, the environmental movement and of many peasant struggles quite self-consciously set out to elaborate new ways of being, new relationships among people and between humans and nature. As opposed to the traditional Leninist view that building a new society could only occur after revolution-as-overthrow-of-capital, these new movements that were rapidly undermining the Keynesian capitalist world order demanded, and indeed were undertaking, the building of "the future" in the present.
With the persistence into the 1980s and 1990s of such positive forms of struggle, of such efforts not just to resist capital but to create alternatives to it, my own agenda of research underwent something of a shift in emphasis. The shift in my work described above, from a focus on capitalist domination to working class self-activity, was followed by a shift from the study of working class resistance to the study of what Toni Negri has called working class self-valorization, i.e. the autonomous elaboration of new ways of being, of new social relationships alternative to those of capitalism. While this term "self-valorization" has its problems (Marx originally used the term to refer to capitalist valorization), it provides a useful concept to draw our attention to struggles that go beyond resistance to various kinds of positive, socially constitutive self-activity.(18) The concept can designate not only work that escapes capitalist control, but all forms of working class self-activity that imagines and creates new ways of being.(19)
The very existence of such positive, autonomous activity that elaborates alternative social relationships, however, implies that those who are doing the elaboration are actually moving beyond their class status. In other words, to the degree that workers "autonomously valorize" their lives, they move beyond being "workers" and constitute themselves as some other kind of social category. At this point we discover a new kind of limitation to the concept of "working class." Not only has it, in the past, been far too restrictive in terms of designating who gets exploited by capital and who resists, but the presence of self-valorization shows how it has failed to grasp the newness, the otherness, being created in the process. Where we have self-valorization we not only have class struggle but also the emergence, however fleeting or durable, of new worlds and new kinds of people.(20)
In short, in the history of the traditions that I call "autonomist Marxist" we find an evolution toward an extension of the political appreciation of the ability of workers to act autonomously, toward a reconceptualization of crisis theory that grasps it as a crisis of class power, toward a redefinition of 'working class' that both broadens it to include the unwaged, deepens the understanding of autonomy to intraclass relations and also recognizes the efforts of "workers" to escape their class status and to become something more.
It was from this theoretical and political perspective that I greeted with some curiosity the Zapatista rebellion that exploded in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas on January 1, 1994. Was this another Central American Marxist-Leninist uprising, led by some Old Left party still intact despite the collapse of the Soviet regime in 1989?(21) Or was it something new? Asked by the editors of the Italian journal Riff-Raff (Padua) to write something about what was happening, my first reaction was to protest that I was not an expert on Chiapas. As they insisted, however, I poured over the various press stories and flood of Internet reports and analyses to see if I had anything to say which had not already been said.
Two things struck me forcefully. First, there was indeed something new. Immediately evident was a surprisingly articulate and refreshingly new self-presentation of what seemed to be a genuine indigenous rebellion. In the place of the usual hackneyed Marxist-Leninist jargon was a straightforward language clearly expressive of the diverse local indigenous cultures in Chiapas. Moreover, the Zapatista communiques expressed not only a fierce resistance to 500 years of forced work and exploitation but also a clear vision of alternative forms of self-organization. In the words from the South I read a concern with self-valorisation that I had previously found in the barrios of Mexico City some years before.(22) I also could see that the rebellion sought the political space and power to build diverse and autonomous new worlds. Not only was the traditional unitary project of "socialism" absent, but the notion of autonomy was not that of secession for the formation of new nation states. Unlike nationalist demands for autonomy in the Balkans, the indigenous of Chiapas were seeking a cultural and political autonomy against the centralized power of Mexican and international capital. Finally, the Zapatista analysis of the international context of the rebellion replaced the usual excoriation of "imperialism" by a cogent analysis of an increasingly global capitalist strategy: the free movement of industrial, financial and commodity capital coupled with the imposition of constraints on the working class via austerity, structural adjustment and repression that in Latin America goes by the name of "neoliberalism".
Second, I was struck by the role played by the Internet in the wide array of grassroots mobilizations, in both Mexico and elsewhere in the world, that forced the Mexican government to halt its attempts to repress the rebellion militarily and to enter into negotiations. In 1990-91 I had noticed the roles of cyberspacial communications in the failed tri-national efforts to block the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and in the widespread opposition to the Gulf War. But the role of the Internet in the mobilizations of early 1994 in support of the Zapatistas seemed not only more central but also more widespread, more intense and more successful. Massive circulation of information bypassed the efforts of the Mexican government to block knowledge of the rebellion and made up for limited mainstream press coverage. Moreover, the Internet lists and conferences where that information circulated also provided public space for the organization of political actions and for the sharing and analysis of those actions in ways that dramatically accelerated the process of mobilization. Finally, the international circulation of the Zapatista analysis of neoliberalism and their vision of diverse alternatives to it, seemed to resonate in many contemporary struggles around the world. As subsequent events would demonstrate, that resonance would give them a power of convocation and example unequaled by any other group in the present period.
As a result of these observations, I not only wrote an article for Riff-Raff on the rebellion but focused in part on the role of the Internet in the rapid circulation of the struggle.(23) The positive reception and widespread translation and reproduction of that article encouraged me to continue work in these two areas: the Zapatista rebellion itself and the role of the Internet in the acceleration of opposition to global neoliberalism. Not only has the rebellion continued to have a character worthy of respect and support, but its ability to go beyond solidarity to construct networks of interconnected struggle has clearly continued to provide inspiration and example to many others fighting against neoliberalism and for their own self-determination around the world. Similarly, as subsequent interntional actions against neoliberalism have demonstrated, the Internet is playing an ever more important role in the weaving of an international fabric of resistance and alternatives.(24) The recent mobilizations against the World Trade Organization that brought thousands into the streets, first in Geneva and then in Seattle, are excellent examples. The Internet played a key role first in organizing and then, especially in the case of t he Independent Media Center set up in Seattle, in circulating the experience around the world as the events themselves unfolded. Learning from all such experiences seems to be accelerating and contributing to the construction of a new spectre to haunt the nightmares of capitalist policy makers: a vast world network of self-active, autonomous struggles with the growing capacity to act in complementary ways against capitalist globalization in all its forms.(25)
* * * * * * * If I were to rewrite this book today, I might change various formulations, but I would leave the basic insights intact. Subsequent research and the production of teaching materials involving the extension of this kind of reinterpretation from Chapter One to virtually the whole of Volume I of Capital and to other texts have provided the opportunity to test the ability of the ideas to produce a consistent and meaningful reinterpretation of a substantial portion of Marx's theoretical writings. The results, to my mind, verify the original set of ideas. Moreover, since this book was written in the mid-1970s I have found that its fundamental insights have provided a useful framework for understanding the dynamics of capitalist development in terms of class struggle. And, precisely because this interpretation of value theory provides a clear understanding of the class relationships that capital has sought to impose and maintain, it also has made it possible to recognize the ways in which struggles have not only threatened or undermined those relationships but have also gone beyond them toward the crafting of new, alternative ways of being. These are my conclusions, readers can draw their own. Austin, Texas January 2000
1 1. In as much as this preface tells the story of this book by resituating it within a political and intellectual trajectory, the footnotes provide references to various relevant publications along the way.
2. A first synthesis of that research on the introduction of high-yielding grain varieties was published as Harry Cleaver, "The Contradictions of the Green Revolution," American Economic Review, May 1972 and Monthly Review, June 1972. In that article the reader will find little hint of the theoretical perspective of this book, other than a preoccupation with class struggle. The same was true of my dissertation on the subject, The Origins of the Green Revolution, that was even more explicitly framed within the context of "mode of production" analysis.
3. This analysis was originally set out in the two published issues of Zerowork in 1975 and 1977. For more recent expositions see: Harry Cleaver, "The Subversion of Money-as-Command in the Current Crisis" and the other articles in the collection: Werner Bonefeld and John Holloway, eds. Global Capital, National State and the Politics of Money; this collection also includes an article first published (in English) in Zerowork 2, Christian Marazzi's "Money in the World Crisis: The New Basis of Capitalist Power". The journal Midnight Notes has continued and added to this line of analysis.
4. The fourth section of Chapter One, on fetishism, receives no separate treatment in the book because the methodology at work throughout undertakes, in part, the defetishization of Marx's own concepts through the process of discovering the moments of class struggle that they grasp.
5. One application was to the politics of public health technologies: see Harry Cleaver, "Malaria, the Politics of Public Health and the International Crisis", Review of Radical Political Economy, Spring 1977. Another was to the rethinking of the issue of the introduction of high-yielding grain varieties within the class struggle. See: Harry Cleaver, "Food, Famine and the International Crisis", Zerowork 2, 1977. Such case studies led to a more general formulation: Harry Cleaver, "Technology as Political Weaponry", in Robert S. Anderson, Paul R. Brass, Edwin Levy and Barrie M. Morrison, eds. Science, Politics and the Agricultural Revolution in Asia.
6. See Donna Demac and Philip Mattera, "Developing and Underdeveloping New York: The 'Fiscal Crisis' and the Imposition of Austerity", Zerowork 2, 1977 and Harry Cleaver, "Close the IMF, Abolish Debt and End Development: A Class Analysis of the International Debt Crisis", Capital & Class (UK) 39, Winter 1989.
7. An index to this collection is available on-line at url: http://www.eco.utexas.edu/faculty/Cleaver/txarchin tro.html
8. On the similarities between the work of Kropotkin and that of "autonomist Marxists", see Harry Cleaver, "Kropotkin, Self-valorization and the Crisis of Marxism", Anarchist Studies (Lancaster, UK) 2, 1994.
9. See Massimo de Angelis, "Intervista a Harry Cleaver", Vis Ã Vis: Quaderni per l'autonomia di classe> (Italy) 1, autumno 1993 (available in English on-line at url: http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/3843/cleaver. htlm).
10. For further discussion of this see: Harry Cleaver, "Karl Marx: Economist or Revolutionary?" in Suzanne W. Helburn and David F. Bramhall, eds. Marx, Schumpeter and Keynes.
11. One such reinterpretation was Harry Cleaver and Peter Bell, "Marx's Theory of Crisis as a Theory of Class Struggle', Research in Political Economy, Vol. 5, 1982. Another formulation is offered succinctly in Harry Cleaver, "Theses on Secular Crises in Capitalism: The Insurpassability of Class Antagonisms", in C. Polychroniou and H. R. Targ, eds. Marxism Today: Essays on Capitalism, Socialism and Strategies for Social Change.
12. See for example, Harry Cleaver, "Supply-side Economics: The New Phase of Capitalist Strategy in the Crisis", in the French journal Babylone (Fall 1981) and the Italian journal Metropoli (Rome, 1981) and Harry Cleaver, "Nature, Neoliberalism and Sustainable Development: Between Charybdis & Scylla", in Allessandro Marucci, ed. Camminare Domandando: La rivoluzione zapatista (also on the web in English at http://www.eco.utexas.edu/faculty/Cleaver/hmchtmlp apers.html. Also see George Caffentzis, Clipped Coins, Abused Words and Civil Government: John Locke's Philosophy of Money, Massimo de Angelis, Keynesianism, Social Conflict and Political Economy, and a dissertation by Carl Wennerlind on the concept of scarcity.
13. Some, of course, refused to recognize the working-class character of these struggles, either regarding them as secondary phenomena (the approach of many orthodox Marxists) or celebrating them as constituting "new social movements" which were seen eclipsing the old "labour movement" (the approach of anti-Marxists happy to accept uncritically the vulnerable old orthodox definition of working class as a convenient target for critique).
14. See, for example, Peter Linebaugh, The London Hanged, that demonstrates, through a detailed analysis of a large number of 18th century examples, how the working class predates the hegemony of the wage and thus the inadequacy of orthodox conceptions. Linebaugh and Marcus Rediger (author of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea -- a study of seamen's struggles in the 17th century) are currently working jointly on a new book, The Many-headed Hydra, about the formation of the Atlantic proletariat. The general thrust of that analysis can be obtained through their article of that name in Ron Sakolsky and James Koehnline, eds. Gone to Croatan: Origins of North American Dropout Culture. See also Yann Moulier-Boutang, De l'esclavage au salariat: Economie h istorique du salariat bride, a sweeping survey and analysis of the history of primitive accumulation and the making of the working class in all its forms, waged and unwaged.
15. George P. Rawick, From Sundown to Sunup: The Making of the Black Community.
16. All of these women were central figures in the Wages for Housework Movement. Their reinterpretation of the role of housework in the reproduction of labour power and the genesis of capitalist profit triggered an extensive debate among Marxists on the subject.
17. Ann Lucas de Rouffignac, The Contemporary Peasantry in Mexico; Ezielen Agbon, Class and Economic Development in Nigeria 1900-1980, Ph. D dissertation, University of Texas at Austin, 1985.
18. See Harry Cleaver, "The Inversion of Class Perspective in Marxian Theory: from Valorization to Self-valorization", in Werner Bonefeld, R. Gunn and K. Psychopedis, eds. Open Marxism, Vol. II.
19. This said, it should also be obvious that just as working class "autonomy" is inevitably limited by the mere fact that it develops within the context of capitalist society (and thus must, to some degree, be defined b y it and not totally "autonomous"), so too the activities of self- or autonomous-valorization, being a subset of such struggles, are inevitably marked and scarred by the society within which they emerge.
20. I have argued this point in Harry Cleaver, "Marxist Categories, the Crisis of Capital and the Constitution of Social Subjectivity Today", Common Sense (Scotland), 14, October 1993. One example of such positive self-determination in Mexico City can be found in Harry Cleaver, "The Uses of an Earthquake", Midnight Notes, No. 9, May 1988.
21. For those unfamiliar with the history of struggle in the region, after 1989 there was a widespread collapse of Left parties, many of whose disillusioned members abandoned any kind of revolutionary activity and some of whom went so far as to join the state to seek marginal reforms.
22.See "The Uses of an Earthquake", op. cit.
23. Harry Cleaver, "The Chiapas Uprising: The Future of Class Struggle in the New World Order", Riff-Raff, marzo 1994 (in Italian) and Common Sense, No. 15, April 1994 (in English). A subsequent and more in-depth treatment can be found in Harry Cleaver, "The Zapatistas and the Electronic Fabric of Struggle", in John Holloway and Eloina Pelaez, eds. Zapatista!
24. See Harry Cleaver, "The Zapatista Effect: The Internet and the Rise of an Alternative Political Fabric", Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 51, No. 2, Spring 1998.
25. See Harry Cleaver, "Computer-linked Social Movements and the Global Threat to Capitalism", draft at url: http://www.eco.utexas.edu/faculty/Cleaver/hmchtmlp apers.html."