Anselm Jappe reflects on the significance of the ongoing crisis of commodity production and the reactions of mainstream commentators, the representatives of the “anti-neoliberal” left, and ordinary people, the role of credit in prolonging the system’s death throes, and the pitfalls of blaming scapegoats for what is actually a systemic collapse, and the “fundamental crisis” of the “value-form”, caused by the immanent contradictions that lie at the heart of the system of commodity production, which we should not save but destroy as quickly as possible in order to make the “leap into the unknown” of “a more human society”, or else endure worse barbarism to come.
Anselm Jappe rejects the traditional concept of politics and proposes a post-political politics appropriate for the crisis conditions of our time, a politics whose task is to “at least preserve the possibility for future emancipation against the dehumanization imposed by the commodity” and is based on a combination of non-representational direct action, the rehabilitation of the idea of sabotage, and anti-capitalist theory that transcends the fixed boundary between praxis and theory, without succumbing to the temptation to seek immediate results by yielding to traditional political attitudes and methods.
A brief review of the history of the “value critique” current and its antecedents, with particular emphasis on its relation to the tradition of the critique of modernity, technology, and the ideology of progress, as well as a discussion of the capitalist recuperation of the “transgressive” cultural politics that emerged during the 1960s and 1970s partly in connection with the search for a replacement for the proletariat as “revolutionary subject”.
Anslem Jappe’s preface to his 2011 book, Credit unto Death: The Decomposition of Capitalism and its Critics, in which the author cautions his readers that “emancipation cannot be the simple result of capitalist development” but will instead “be a leap into the unknown, without a net”, and that the “the crisis is not … synonymous with emancipation”, a claim that “defines the theme of this book”.
Are free individuals the necessary prerequisites for a successful struggle for freedom? - Anselm Jappe
In this text written in late 2011, Anselm Jappe criticizes the popular slogan “We are the 99%” in the context of a discussion of the “anthropological regression” induced by capitalism that has attenuated humanity’s capacity and desire for freedom, emphasizes the continuing relevance of the core concepts of value analysis for the understanding of the current capitalist crisis, and maintains that the present task of revolutionaries “… confronted by the disasters caused by the permanent revolutions unleashed by capital … is to ‘preserve’ some of the essential acquisitions of humanity and to attempt to cultivate them so that they assume a higher form”.
Anti-economics and anti-politics: on the reformulation of social emancipation after the end of "marxism" - Robert Kurz
In this 1997 essay, Robert Kurz discusses the question of the “embryonic form” of “the productive forces developing in the womb of bourgeois society” (Marx); rejecting both the “all-or-nothing” view of the extreme left that sees such a project as doomed to integration into capitalism, and the reformist concept of “dual economy” where cooperative businesses produce for the capitalist market, he advocates a process of “disconnection” from the value matrix that incorporates aspects of both the old cooperative movement and modern “microelectronic” technology while preserving a commitment to overcoming the system of commodity production and a refusal to produce for the market.
Published in 1981 in the Berkeley Journal of Sociology. Discusses Marx's concept of science, his dialectical method, his critique of fetishism, his attempts to resolve the revolutionary and evolutionary (determinisitic) aspects of his theory, and Grossman's and Korsch's attempts to avoid determinism through a turn to subjective factors (working-class self-activity).
The end of politics: theses on the crisis of the regulatory system of the commodity form - Robert Kurz
In this essay first published in 1994, Robert Kurz examines the history of “politics” as the “regulatory system” of “the modern commodity production system”, from the inception of capitalism to its high point immediately after WW2—when “the last residues … of the pre-modern constitution” were eliminated and when “politics” was finally totally absorbed by “economics”—and its current crisis, heralding “the historical collapse of the system”, manifested as “the environmental crisis, the crisis of the society of labor, the crisis of the nation-state and the crisis of gender relations” in an era when democracy “is nothing but the completed subjection to the subjectless logic of money”.