Designer hard hats, self-promotion and system-immanent struggle

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Angelus Novus
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Oct 21 2008 11:31
Designer hard hats, self-promotion and system-immanent struggle

Admin: Split from 'Appearances'

Hi jataomm,

Don't mind the college boys in designer hard-hats. Instead, check out these guys: http://www.principiadialectica.co.uk/blog/

The task of the working-class is its self-abolition.

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Joseph Kay
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Oct 20 2008 14:19
Angelus Novus wrote:
Don't mind the college boys in designer hard-hats. Instead, check out these guys: http://www.principiadialectica.co.uk/blog/

if we're dealing in cheap straw men, what about poseur art students in half-digested situationist clothing? For anyone else hard of reading, class analysis is not about classifying individuals, let alone classifying them based on their education or work attire. i set out what it is about above.

Angelus Novus wrote:
The task of the working-class is its self-abolition.

of course, a fact that in no way precludes class struggle, as my comment above about imposing our needs on capital states. to be honest it's a bit rich being slagged off as a "college boy" for having class struggle politics, when the only time in my life class struggle wasn't a material fact was when i was fairly insulated from it as a student.

Angelus Novus
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Oct 20 2008 15:23
Joseph K. wrote:
if we're dealing in cheap straw men

I would say I was dealing more in a cheap shot.

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what about poseur art students in half-digested situationist clothing?

Comrade, come off it already. Postone, Robert Kurz, Krisis, etc. are *not* situationists, and their intellectual roots have nothing to do with Situationism, but with the form-analytical readings of Marx prevalent in West Germany in the 1970s. These are the ideas that inspire Principia Dialectica.

Quote:
For anyone else hard of reading, class analysis is not about classifying individuals, let alone classifying them based on their education or work attire. i set out what it is about above.

I agree. Class is about one's structural position within a mode of production, not any sort of identity. All the more reason why affirmative "class struggle" ideology is crap.

Quote:
of course, a fact that in no way precludes class struggle

For me, class struggle always has a system-immanent character. That does not mean that it should not be supported; I also believe in struggling for better wages, improved dole benefits, etc. But that is qualitatively different from a struggle against work, and I long ago stopped believing in the idea that the former somehow just grown into the latter. The latter only comes about as a result of a critical analysis of the system, not spontaneously.

Quote:
as my comment above about imposing our needs on capital states. to be honest it's a bit rich being slagged off as a "college boy"

If you've been following my posts on this BBS, you know that I am merely responding to the slagging from the other side, the regularly hostility that class-struggle douche-nozzles hurl at Sean68 of Principia whenever he posts here.

But if we're comparing biographies for the sake of credibility, I've spent a good portion of my adult life in the trade union movement, and have never been a student (though I hope to one day).

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Joseph Kay
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Oct 20 2008 15:41
Angelus Novus wrote:
I would say I was dealing more in a cheap shot.

on reflection, likewise.

Angelus Novus wrote:
These are the ideas that inspire Principia Dialectica.

maybe, perhaps i'm judging PD too much on the strawman-slaying antics of sean68 on here. he gets slagged off because he completely fails to engage with anyone in favour of 'destroying' some imaginary 2nd international marxist fossil.

Angelus Novus wrote:
For me, class struggle always has a system-immanent character. That does not mean that it should not be supported; I also believe in struggling for better wages, improved dole benefits, etc. But that is qualitatively different from a struggle against work, and I long ago stopped believing in the idea that the former somehow just grown into the latter. The latter only comes about as a result of a critical analysis of the system, not spontaneously.

well i disagree somewhat, for the reason stated above that imposing our needs on capital carries an implicit logic that society should be based on our needs and not the needs of accumulation (although this isn't to fall into a teleological reading of 'the real movement of communism'). defensive 'class in-itself' struggles are certainly system-immanent, but these can have the potential to turn, and at various times in history have turned, into offensive 'class for-itself' struggles against our dispossessed condition itself. imho the dismissal of the proletariat as a revolutionary subject is merely a pessimistic counter-cyclical refelction of the state of the class struggle (previously brought to you by the frankfurt school, postmodernists etc). this is not to say that turning 'in-itself' struggles into 'for-itself' (or as i'd prefer, 'against-itself') struggles is a given, or in any way unproblematic or unworthy of theorising. i'd agree that the critical analysis of politicised minorities would certainly play a part in this process, which is not (or at least is highly unlikely to be) spontaneous.

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cantdocartwheels
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Oct 21 2008 11:10
Angelus Novus wrote:
Hi jataomm,

Don't mind the college boys in designer hard-hats. Instead, check out these guys: http://www.principiadialectica.co.uk/blog/

This is a obvious, and lets be honest decidedly pathetic attempt to derail a thread, can an admin just split or delete it or summat. Its not like we need to respond to this sort of childish self promotion.

Admin: this has now been split

Angelus Novus
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Oct 21 2008 15:10
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Its not like we need to respond to this sort of childish self promotion.

Haha, I'm not involved with Principia Dialectica, you toolbox.

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cantdocartwheels
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Oct 22 2008 09:49
Angelus Novus wrote:
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Its not like we need to respond to this sort of childish self promotion.

Haha, I'm not involved with Principia Dialectica you toolbox.

Ah well your posts are definitely not just about childish self promotion then.

Caiman del Barrio
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Oct 22 2008 09:56

A sympathetic friend of mine came to the Bookfair on Saturday and walked straight into the PD meeting, only to go home 10 mins later without even searching me out. His text read "went to some meeting, it crushed my spirit, going home".

Battlescarred
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Oct 22 2008 11:09

Bit of a lightweight then.

Caiman del Barrio
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Oct 22 2008 11:11

?????

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jef costello
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Oct 22 2008 16:41
Battlescarred wrote:
Bit of a lightweight then.

Storming out of a meeting, imagine that smile

fort-da game
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Oct 23 2008 14:04

The issue here is about the function of the concept ‘proletariat’ within competing theoretical models of social forces. The first question must be what difference does it make?

Whilst, it seems to me, that D/P are rather dependent on the ‘outmodedness’ of the model of social change which they ascribe to class-based theories, and that they probably wouldn’t have much to say if those theories didn’t exist, it is the case that the Exit/Krisis groups have at least something intellectually stimulating to say.

However, whether, a group/theory adopts or does not adopt a class basis for their analysis doesn’t make them either more or less working class; if they don’t use a class framework, this doesn’t mean they are more bourgeois, and if they do use a class framework it doesn’t mean they are more working class – the relationship between theory and social organisation simply does not exist at the level of expressed commitment. This is because theory, and social analysis are not part of any movement and no movement will ever be derived from theory or analysis (which always exists as the activity of partisan intellectuals in all conditions).

Whether one theory of social forces is more realistic in its framing than another is not for the proponents of those theories to decide; the fact is that the truth of social relations belongs to a global set of experiences, the truth of human nature is as much to be found in religion as in science, and that any particular from of intellectual activity requires a subjective framing to bring its object into view, and that this object only really exists to the extent that the frame persists.

For example, I would think that I am not the only one here who sees a similarity between the periodisations of Theorie Communiste and Robert Kurz, each is producing a different theoretical object (one which retains notions of class struggle and the other which has abandoned this) and yet from the outside, from within the frame I use, there are remarkable similarities between the two positions. But the important point is that different frames produce different objects: for Theorie Communiste, where class struggle is retained in theory, I see the cost, i.e. it becomes necessary to argue that the working class has somehow actively deselected its positive identity (i.e. historically discriminating against the parties and unions of labour) and where it is abandoned, the framing of Kurz’s theory incurs a cost as the loss of a revolutionary subject.

Angelus Novus
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Oct 23 2008 18:14

Very interesting post, fort-da game. Just a quick note:

fort-da game wrote:
But the important point is that different frames produce different objects: for Theorie Communiste, where class struggle is retained in theory, I see the cost, i.e. it becomes necessary to argue that the working class has somehow actively deselected its positive identity (i.e. historically discriminating against the parties and unions of labour) and where it is abandoned, the framing of Kurz’s theory incurs a cost as the loss of a revolutionary subject.

Even though both Kurz/Exit and Krisis reject a proletarian revolutionary subject and understand the term "class struggle" to refer strictly to system-immanent struggles waged within the logic of commodity society, they are not averse to propagandistic support for specific struggles. Thus, during the strike of the locomotive engineer's union GDL last year, Kurz published columns supporting the strike in the newspaper Neues Deutschland. Also, judging by the arguments that occurred between Krisis members and some representatives of the service workers union ver.di, it seems that Krisis, especially now that they have taken an agitational turn with their "anti-work" perspective (for which Kurz and Exit criticize them), are actually trying to exert some propagandistic influence within trade union struggles.

I think one can find a nice analogue to the perspective of the Wertkritiker vis-a-vis the "proletariat" if one considers queer theory as influenced by Foucault and Judith Butler. Just as queer theorists regard "the homosexual" as a deviant subject position created by a specific power relationship, rather than prior-existing ontological constant, so do the Wertkritiker regard the working-class as being a specific subject generated by the capital-relation, and not a force external to and opposed to capital (Holloway directs a similar critique to Hardt/Negri and classical operaismo). What Krisis and Exit (and presumably Principia Dialectica) are arguing against is a conception of the working-class as a positive identity to be affirmed, rather than as something we are damned to be within a specific constellation of social relationships.

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Joseph Kay
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Oct 23 2008 19:29
Angelus Novus wrote:
the Wertkritiker regard the working-class as being a specific subject generated by the capital-relation, and not a force external to and opposed to capital

does anyone see the working class as external to capital? it's defined by it. that no more precludes revolutionary potential than C4 can't explode a car bomb.

tsi
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Oct 24 2008 05:23
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so do the Wertkritiker regard the working-class as being a specific subject generated by the capital-relation, and not a force external to and opposed to capital (Holloway directs a similar critique to Hardt/Negri and classical operaismo). What Krisis and Exit (and presumably Principia Dialectica) are arguing against is a conception of the working-class as a positive identity to be affirmed, rather than as something we are damned to be within a specific constellation of social relationships

I'm a bit confused. Has anyone ever called for the simple affirmation of the Working Class other than in Stalinist productivist propaganda???

Angelus Novus
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Oct 24 2008 09:10

Class War Federation?

Marxists who advocate "dictatorship of the proletariat?" (as opposed to abolition thereof)

Mike Harman
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Oct 24 2008 09:17

I'd agree with both of those two examples, and add the Independent Working Class Association. However, the attempts of sean68 and yourself to lump the entity which is 'Libcom' in with them don't ring true at all.

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Khawaga
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Oct 24 2008 18:00
Quote:
I'd agree with both of those two examples, and add the Independent Working Class Association. However, the attempts of sean68 and yourself to lump the entity which is 'Libcom' in with them don't ring true at all.

To be fair to Angelus (except when he's grumpy), I think it is more Sean68 and Fort da Game that do that.

Angelus Novus
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Oct 25 2008 16:13
Khawaga wrote:
To be fair to Angelus (except when he's grumpy), I think it is more Sean68 and Fort da Game that do that.

Yes, libcom is far too heterogeneous for easy categorization. It's orientation seems to be "ultra-left pluralist".

Mike Harman
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Oct 25 2008 20:54
Angelus Novus wrote:
It's orientation seems to be "ultra-left pluralist".

Yeah I think that covers a lot of us pretty well actually smile

fort-da game
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Nov 6 2008 13:57
Khawaga wrote:
Quote:
I'd agree with both of those two examples, and add the Independent Working Class Association. However, the attempts of sean68 and yourself to lump the entity which is 'Libcom' in with them don't ring true at all.

To be fair to Angelus (except when he's grumpy), I think it is more Sean68 and Fort da Game that do that.

Talking of lumping.... Perhaps this is true to an extent but as you have edited our wiki page you will be familiar that our thinking on the concept of proletarian dictatorship is more ambiguous than you imply here – certainly we have not at all historicised the working class out of the problem (although I am interested in concepts such as Camatte’s ‘domestication’ or capitalised community). To put this briefly, I foresee the working class taking over production as the consummate expression of the crisis of capitalism rather than a ‘stage’ out of it.

It is the critique of the productivism of workers’ councils (their fetish of what is ‘necessary’ and of use-value) from a communist perspective which opens the possibility for a communist society. Whilst I see the dictatorship as an absolutely necessary social relationship for the society-wide development of communist critique, I think communist organisation as such will be defined as a break from, rather than a continuity with, self-management (although perhaps in narrative retrospect this will appear as a ‘stage’.)

There are sins of omission as well as of commission and although generally the Libcom culture may not (as you all claim) actively propose workers’ self-management as the only criterion of (or decisive factor in) communist social relations your discourse tends to exclusively define (or refer to) communism in these terms. If communism is something more than industrial autogestion, then what other elements are proposed and how would they be related to the capitalist category of the proletariat?

felix
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Nov 13 2008 10:16

well i don't know how many people on here will agree with me, but as for "what other elements are proposed and how would they be related to the capitalist category of the proletariat?" I'd say first off ridding ourselves of capitalist categories, plus a heavy dialogue-focus in a public setting, a lot of non-industrial collective agricultural work/play in cities, locally established transportation alternatives, produced creatively by the people, rather than uncreatively by "the workers," design of housing from the bottom up according to the passions of those that will inhabit them, unlike the industrial (communistic/bureaucratic) manufacture of housing 'units,' the free availability of creative and artistic means at everyone's disposal, and the general supercession of industrial production as a whole. And of course the transcendence of the rigid framework of 'stages.' All that plus total self-management in what industry may be deemed worthy of being preserved by the people living near the factories/workshops/fields, and you've got a good idea of what I imagine... not that I expect anyone to carry a card.

as for hard hats, no one should go to any protests anymore without batons, helmets, and gas masks.

redtwister
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Nov 15 2008 01:21
fort-da game wrote:
The issue here is about the function of the concept ‘proletariat’ within competing theoretical models of social forces. The first question must be what difference does it make?

Whilst, it seems to me, that D/P are rather dependent on the ‘outmodedness’ of the model of social change which they ascribe to class-based theories, and that they probably wouldn’t have much to say if those theories didn’t exist, it is the case that the Exit/Krisis groups have at least something intellectually stimulating to say.

However, whether, a group/theory adopts or does not adopt a class basis for their analysis doesn’t make them either more or less working class; if they don’t use a class framework, this doesn’t mean they are more bourgeois, and if they do use a class framework it doesn’t mean they are more working class – the relationship between theory and social organisation simply does not exist at the level of expressed commitment. This is because theory, and social analysis are not part of any movement and no movement will ever be derived from theory or analysis (which always exists as the activity of partisan intellectuals in all conditions).

Whether one theory of social forces is more realistic in its framing than another is not for the proponents of those theories to decide; the fact is that the truth of social relations belongs to a global set of experiences, the truth of human nature is as much to be found in religion as in science, and that any particular from of intellectual activity requires a subjective framing to bring its object into view, and that this object only really exists to the extent that the frame persists.

For example, I would think that I am not the only one here who sees a similarity between the periodisations of Theorie Communiste and Robert Kurz, each is producing a different theoretical object (one which retains notions of class struggle and the other which has abandoned this) and yet from the outside, from within the frame I use, there are remarkable similarities between the two positions. But the important point is that different frames produce different objects: for Theorie Communiste, where class struggle is retained in theory, I see the cost, i.e. it becomes necessary to argue that the working class has somehow actively deselected its positive identity (i.e. historically discriminating against the parties and unions of labour) and where it is abandoned, the framing of Kurz’s theory incurs a cost as the loss of a revolutionary subject.

I generally agree with this, and I also find some strong similarities between TC and Krisis/Exit, in fact I think that their notions of class struggle are remarkably similar in that for both class struggle is always the struggle between two classes always-already constituted as, and only ever as, classes of this society. I don't see where Krisis/Exit would disagree with TC on the proletariat as a class wholly of this society.

I don't know if for TC the working class has "actively deselected" its identity, but certainly the end of working class identity figures as essential to the idea of communisation for TC, since communisation is the way in which the possibility of overcoming capital presents itself in this period. As I understand it, TC says that communisation was not possible conceptually for the proletariat in the periods preceding the 2nd phase of real subsumption. the prior expressions of the antagonism between capital and labor qua exploitation was insufficient, a fact which those movements could not have known then, but which we know because they did not realize the overcoming of capitalism, rather acting to push its development forward vis-a-vis the specific forms of integration: trade unions, political parties, mass consumerism, democratic struggles against legal-political oppression of minorities, democratic-anti-imperialist struggles against i.e. economic, political, legal, and consumptive rights, and so on. Is the view of Krisis/Exit so terribly different on this account?

However, TC IMO also runs into a kind of weird accompaniment to Negri and Hardt, and also to CLR James. They come right to a difficult contradiction. Since the conception of communism is historical and can only reflect the actual constellation of the capital-labor relation at a given moment (Formal Subsumption, Real Subsumption Phase 1, Real Subsumption Phase 2), either communism was impossible prior to now, but we believe it is now (IMO TC believes this, because only now has the working class identity, and therefore programmatist politics, been discarded leaving labor in an immediate relation to capital) or communism could only be conceived in a particular way in each period, implicitly meaning that the IWMA prior to the 1880's or so was "correct" for its time, radical social democracy/left communism was "correct" for its time, or they hold to both in effect.

The first view, explicit in their hitherto published works in English, has a problem, however, which is that the abolition of capitalism is not written in the social form which constitutes the relation of labor and capital, and therefore communism has no necessary relationship to the capital-labor relation, no necessary relation to the proletariat (there is no subject), and is only a contingent possibility dependent on the specific constellation of capital-and labor, which tends to make me think that the abolition of the capital-labor relation and the abolition of all class society is not predicated on the capital-labor relation as such, as a concrete historical form, at all.

The second view seems to rescue this, by reintroducing the possibility of capital having been overthrown, but only at the expense of any critique of previous politics. In fact, like Negri's treatment of Lenin as "appropriate for his time", there is a possible "left communism appropriate for its time" argument. TC seeks to short-circuit this with the argument that they could not know then that their view was inadequate, that the class itself was inadequate because what makes the class ready is not an essential characteristic of the class relation, but a secondary, non-essential relation, which for me as a student of Hegel is simply a way of saying that one is completely wrong and are taking the non-essential for the essential and vice-versa, which means that one's Notion is not adequate to itself because it is not adequate to reality. In fact, this argument comes out finally and more clearly in the recent pieces published by the End Notes folks in End Notes #1 (yes, that is a plug for their journal, you can find a link to them on www.endnotes.org.uk).

The first view also has the deficiency of leaving behind all form analysis which is central to Marx, since the revolutionary nature of the proletariat (which TC denies since the proletariat is wholly a class of this society) for Marx lies in it being a class without property and without properties, the first exploited class, but unlike Krisis/Kurz, TC emphasizes exploitation as the key to the relation of capital and labor, not the value-form, and so for all of their historicism, they actually overlook that exploitation exists in all class societies, that class is always a relation of exploitation, and that what matters in this society is the form of that relation in which the laborer sells generic labor power (not a specific labor), produces a product which is only socially meaningful as pure quantity of value, and the society is ruled by a relation, not by people. Where Krisis/Kurz split with TC IMO is on their heritage with Adorno, Rubin, and Form-Critique Marxism.

As a result, in TC the proletariat is not a universal class, negatively or positively. Its liberation is not the liberation of all classes, in fact, since communism is strictly contingent and is predicated upon a secondary constellation of relations. Also, this falls back into much old Marxism. Instead of the social forms being constituted through class struggle, class struggle happens within the always-already constituted forms. This is why it is possible to speak of an agent and agency, and why IMO Althusser is more appealing than Adorno. It is not an accident and while I harp on it to my acquaintances dismay, I have yet to see an adequate rejoinder. This also requires a conception of proletariat in a sociological sense, as a class of this society, when IMO the proletariat as a class is only a class at the point of its own imminent negation by its own self-activity, rather than its positive constitution in an identity, which takes it as a class already, and to which trade unionism and workers' party-ism correspond, as institutional presentations of that identity (none of which precludes workers' organization, struggle over immediate needs, etc., actually quite the opposite.)

Once this plays out in its entirety, what happens is that the door is opened for the Formal-Real-Real2 to becomes a theory of decadence, since only now has labor come into immediate conflict with capital. As if the relation of labor and capital was ever immediate except at the very moment of the annihilation of the relation! But so we now have the idea that we know that in the prior phases the working class was not adequate. And we know why. Because the working class is never adequate. It is only a class of this society. However, its struggles for self-realization will lead to its need to abolish itself. Fine, we agree. Except that from the view put forward by TC, I fail to see how the movement from positively self-organizing proletariat to self-negating proletariat is theoretically possible. Either one implicitly accepts an under-theorized (impossible) leap or one implicitly accepts a consciousness-transforming role for the theoreticians of communisation. in both cases it is implicit because the possibility of getting from here to there is silenced, even though the entire theoretical approach would seem to negate it.

If labor is not constituted in the capital-labor relation as simultaneously for-capital (or as-capital) and as against-capital (or as not-capital), that is, as always struggling between its constitution in the social form of capital and in (re-)creating that social form, and the resistance to that creation, which is not separated in any clean way from daily struggles against immediate exploitation (that is, the struggle against exploitation always implies a struggle against the social form, especially at those moments when the struggle against exploitation makes demands that push the ability to reproduce the social form, such as in major political and economic crises.) Instead, TC reproduces the separation between immediate struggles and revolutionary struggles consistent with Orthodox Marxism, which most German-Dutch left communism and councilism never really got beyond anyway. That is the greatest contribution of Bordiga and the Italian communist Left, as well as the SI, to return to that recognition of the contradictory unity between immediate and revolutionary struggles.

In this sense, Krsis/Exit are really Adornians, and as a result, they sometimes produce the same kinds of formulations, such as Kurz's worry that revolution against the system without "communist ideas", in a sense without a communist ideology which apparently does not arise "spontaneously" for Kurz (for Hegel and Marx the notion of Spontaneity has nothing to do with its use in contemporary terms, nor in those used by Lenin and Luxemburg.)

The bigger problem with Krisis/Exit IMO is that they are straight-forward Grossman-ites. They reproduce not only his notion of crisis, which is the absolute inability to generate a large enough mass of surplus-value to continue expanded reproduction. their notion very much rests on a somewhat technical-determinist idea of a third technological revolution which has meant that constant capital is so productive that it renders surplus-value production by labor inadequate to generate this mass of surplus-value, so that capital is bound to collapse. Of course, this looks a lot better today than it did 3 years ago as an analysis, and it merits close attention.

However, on this, on the constitution of classes, Krisis/Exit and TC separate quite abruptly. so how is it that they seem to arrive at the same place? Simply IMO that both abandon the proletariat as revolutionary subject (that for me this can only mean as a negative, non-identical subject, as a suicidal subjectivity is of course key, but beside the point at the moment.) the turn to Grossman on one side, with his objectivism, and TC's turn to Althusser (and in fact the German-Dutch councilists always had a strong Grossmanite tendency thanks to Paul Mattick, and at the same time a very poor, outside of the SI, comprehension of dialectic), who oddly enough is an objectivist who appeals to the radical subjectivism of Maoism, but IMO TC has to bridge their absolute gap between hither and yon with a voluntarist leap. It is not less of a leap than say the reconciliation of Sonny and his brother in the old James Baldwin short story "Sonny's Blues", where the reonciliation is an unjustified leap, a leap of faith, in Baldwin's case, but what is the excuse for Marxists?

Finally, the claim that communism is the self-negation of the proletariat, the abolition of the wage form, value form, market, capital form, money form, etc is nothing new. for all its weaknesses, Marx said it in the Communist Manifesto in 1848. He said it when he said that instead of inscribing the demand for a fair wage the unions would only be revolutionary if they inscribed on their platform the demand for the abolition of the wages system. Bordiga and Camatte got it. The SI got it. The ICG gets it. Aufheben, Wildcat, and most of us here get it.

Sorry for blathering on, but this just all sort of has been welling up and fort da game and Angelus' discussion concretized it for me.

Cheers,
Chris

redtwister
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Nov 15 2008 01:22

Sean68 is right also in his recent piece that G.M. Tamas' article on Rousseauian and Marxian notions of revolution is brilliant. Absolutely must read stuff.

Chris

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Joseph Kay
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Nov 15 2008 08:33
redtwister wrote:
Finally, the claim that communism is the self-negation of the proletariat, the abolition of the wage form, value form, market, capital form, money form, etc is nothing new. for all its weaknesses, Marx said it in the Communist Manifesto in 1848. He said it when he said that instead of inscribing the demand for a fair wage the unions would only be revolutionary if they inscribed on their platform the demand for the abolition of the wages system. Bordiga and Camatte got it. The SI got it. The ICG gets it. Aufheben, Wildcat, and most of us here get it.

exactly.

fort-da game wrote:
There are sins of omission as well as of commission and although generally the Libcom culture may not (as you all claim) actively propose workers’ self-management as the only criterion of (or decisive factor in) communist social relations your discourse tends to exclusively define (or refer to) communism in these terms. If communism is something more than industrial autogestion, then what other elements are proposed and how would they be related to the capitalist category of the proletariat?

if libcom culture can be reproached for anything, it is for over-emphasising struggle between classes rather than their abolition (i.e. communisation). however, i think this is because of an orientation to the present sitution as opposed to a neglect of the need for communisation per se. the charge of self-management fetishism would be better aimed at pareconists and old-school anarcho-syndicalists. i mean i'm a financial services worker, i advocate mass assemblies, anarcho-syndicalist tactics etc, but i don't envisage self-managed financial services! Of necessity we try to impose our needs as workers on our employers (all capitalist categories yes, because we live in capitalist society), but at the soonest opportunity we must set about reorganising society around human needs.

Angelus Novus
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Nov 15 2008 15:31

Redtwister, check your email, I owe you some reading material.

This post is fascinating, I want to respond to some points after reading it a few more times, but for now, I want to address this:

redtwister wrote:
For example, I would think that I am not the only one here who sees a similarity between the periodisations of Theorie Communiste and Robert Kurz

Absolutely! Especially in Kurz's earlier work, like _Der Kollaps der Modernisierung_, there seems to be a definite affinity between Kurz's "Kommunismus der Sachen" ("communism of things") and the "communization" ideas of TC.

I'm not sure if Kurz still upholds these ideas now in his "critique of Enlightenment" phase.

Back when Bahamas were still sane, Clemens Nachtmann published a very pertinent critique of Krisis's teleology in this regard: "When the World Spirit Rings Thrice: The Historical Metaphysics of the Krisis Group

What is the influence of Althusser on TC? Heinrich is interesting for being a Form-Critique Marxist who also happens to be influenced by Althusser regarding what he sees as Marx's break with "Feuerbachian Anthropology" (but recently I encountered Chris Arthur's idea that "Gattungswesen" in Marx's eary work is not meant to refer to a timeless essence, but rather to human capabilities engendered within a specific historical constellation, a notion I find quite attractive. Even if Marx leaves a lot of Feuerbachian terminology behind in his later works, I think it is hard to deny the presence of "anthropological" arguments in his later work).

In general, there seems to be a movement afoot here to combine the Form-Critique school with a critical appropriation of Althusserian influences. Thus, see the new collective volume Poulantzas Lesen, which basically tries to present a reading of Poulantzas as partially breaking with the static structuralism of Althusser. The essay by Joachim Hirsch and John Kannankulam explicitly argues for the compatibility of Poulantzas and form-analytical approaches. The conception of the state as a "condensation of class struggle" seems to me eminently compatible with the arguments of Holloway, Bonefeld, et al.

P.S.:

Quote:
In this sense, Krsis/Exit are really Adornians, and as a result, they sometimes produce the same kinds of formulations, such as Kurz's worry that revolution against the system without "communist ideas", in a sense without a communist ideology which apparently does not arise "spontaneously" for Kurz

Kurz has some very interesting things to say in Exit number 4 on the necessary gap between critique and praxis. Unfortunately, I've given up on translating Kurz into English until somebody can suggest a suitable English translation for the horribly clumsy neologism "Wertabspaltung" (refresher: this is the dubious notion that capitalism is characterized by a "splitting-off" of production into a structurally male sphere mediated by value and the state, and a structurally female sphere to which reproductive activity that is necessarily not mediated by such forms is delegated).

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jura
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Nov 15 2008 11:34

I wouldn't want to de-rail this interesting thread, but this really caught my attention:

redtwister wrote:
their notion very much rests on a somewhat technical-determinist idea of a third technological revolution which has meant that constant capital is so productive that it renders surplus-value production by labor inadequate to generate this mass of surplus-value, so that capital is bound to collapse. Of course, this looks a lot better today than it did 3 years ago as an analysis, and it merits close attention.

...I definitely think so. I don't know about Krisis etc., but some academic Marxists (e.g. Fred Moseley, Anwar Shaikh) have been talking about the falling rate of profit in the US (and not necessarily the rate of surplus value!) since the early 1990s, and empirically proving it, too. (The reasons they give are different -- Moseley, it seems to me, argues that the FROP is due to growth of the unproductive sector... but I think it's vice versa, the unproductive sector has grown due to measures taken by state and capital against the FROP.)

I've asked about this in the "radical perspectives" thread on here, but the discussion there has gone way off-topic and nobody really responded, so I'll try again here. Can the current crisis be interpreted as a symptom of fundamental difficulties of capital in finding a new sector that would replace the old automobile industrial complex, where the rate of profit has been falling over the last 30 years? (Also, the dot-com bubble could perhaps be interpreted as a gigantic delusion about the "new economy" and the corresponding technologies which seemed to have been able to replace the automobile.) I'd be very interested in your opinions, as well as some literature dealing with the end of the automobile cycle etc. (either a criticism of this position or an affirmation). Thx.

Angelus Novus
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Nov 15 2008 11:45
jura wrote:
...I definitely think so. I don't know about Krisis etc., but some academic Marxists (e.g. Fred Moseley, Anwar Shaikh) have been talking about the falling rate of profit in the US (and not necessarily the rate of surplus value!) since the early 1990s, and empirically proving it, too.

Robert Brenner too, though in a completely empirical way, without any recourse to Marxist categories.

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Nov 15 2008 16:32
Quote:
I'd be very interested in your opinions, as well as some literature dealing with the end of the automobile cycle etc.

Silver's Forces of Labor deals with this a bit, though not in any detail. She also argues that education (in the West) is likely to become the sector with more pronounced class struggle, and that we will witness a repeat of struggles in the automobile sector in China.

Quote:
"Wertabspaltung"

That is a tricky word to translate. It makes sense to me as in Norwegian we also have neologisms based on combining nouns, "verdiavspalting" in this case. I racked my brain trying to come up with an English translation of this, but you're right, it is almost impossible without recourse to some horrible construction.

"Avspalting" is used quite a bit in biology and chemistry in Norway, so maybe you can borrow a word from the English vocab of those disciplines...?

Interesting discussion, so sorry for derailing.

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Nov 17 2008 13:35
Khawaga wrote:
Silver's Forces of Labor deals with this a bit, though not in any detail.

Yeah, that was actually my starting point, but it's too wide-ranging and not really focused on the car...

I guess I should perhaps check out some industrial history or industrial relations academic journals. This topic is, surprisingly, not very developed within marxism.

mikus
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Nov 17 2008 15:18
jura wrote:
I guess I should perhaps check out some industrial history or industrial relations academic journals. This topic is, surprisingly, not very developed within marxism.

Why is this surprising? Marxists know everything a priori.

I think you've still not fully grasped the historical method/tradition of Marxism.