In this revised and expanded version of a 2010 talk, Robert Kurz examines the continuing relevance, and the limitations, of the concept formulated by Adorno and Horkheimer in 1944—the “Culture Industry”—with discussions of “cultural pessimism”, the postmodern “cult of superficiality”, the role of technology in cultural change, the “abstract individual”, advertising, the Internet, “virtualization”, “interactive” media, exhibitionism and narcissistic self-promotion, the pseudo-“gift economy” of the Net, the impact of the current economic crisis on the culture industry, the “depletion of cultural reserves”, “estheticization”, and the impossibility of a separate “cultural revolution”.
In this 1950 article from the “Thread of Time” series Amadeo Bordiga examines the question of war and revolution in Marxist theory—characteristically emphasizing the epochal shift entailed by the Franco-Prussian War—and the role played by the ideological legacy of the French Revolution in the defeat of the Paris Commune and in the mobilization for and justification of participation in World Wars One and Two, which “were not revolutionary wars, but massacres of the slaves of Capital”.
In this 2010 interview, Robert Kurz discusses Marx’s theory of crisis, the theories of “collapse” advocated by a minority of Marxists (Luxemburg, Grossman, Mattick) in the early 1900s, the implications of the “third industrial revolution of microelectronics” for capitalist accumulation, Moishe Postone’s analysis of the crisis of abstract labor, “anti-industrialism” and the anti-growth movement (Décroissants), and the meaning of “labor” as a historical and economic concept that must be transcended and replaced by “conscious social planning” and a “broad diversification of industrial production and services, implemented in accordance with purely qualitative criteria”.
In this 2006 interview, Robert Kurz offers a succinct definition the “radical critique of value”, and discusses the nature of the commodity and markets, the “ontologization of value”, abstract labor, the unsavory side of Enlightenment ideology, “the liberation of the abstract individual” as a result of the current global crisis, the “double Marx”, fetishism, Anselm Jappe’s book The Adventures of the Commodity, the continuing relevance of Guy Debord’s concept of the spectacle, and other topics, in an interview for a Brazilian online publication.
In this 2009 article, Roland Simon of Théorie Communiste subjects Anselm Jappe and, more generally, the current known as “Value Critique”, to severe criticism, claiming that their emphasis on the “commodity” and “value” causes them to misunderstand the Marxist critique of capitalism and to harbor erroneous views about “a kind of value that is no longer value” because of an alleged decline of the proportion of labor in each commodity caused by increasing productivity, and that their “‘focus’ on value and the commodity causes us to ‘forget’ that value is capital” and that the goal of capitalism is not even just surplus-value but rather the reproduction of capitalist class relations.