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Principia Dialectica Gets It Wrong

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Angelus Novus
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May 4 2009 21:36
Principia Dialectica Gets It Wrong

Shock! Horror! wink

http://communism.blogsport.de/2009/05/04/those-whacky-ableitungsmarxisten

admin: fixed link

Sean68
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May 4 2009 22:15

Well Mr Novus! So angry I could crush a grape. You are a petit bourgeois lickle spittle, as I have always suspected.

May we take this opportunity to encourage everyone to look out for the forthcoming principia dialectica 'notes on the economic crisis' from our last two meetings on the credit crunch - a powerful contribution to help nail the coffin lid tight on all those who still worship lenin, or believe we should help call for a more rational organisation of surplus value and/or defend work...
Last meeting in the series: this Friday in central London, all welcome. See our website for details...

www.principiadialectica.co.uk

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Tojiah
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May 4 2009 23:36

You know, I've always thought that libcom is the best place to have a public bun-fight.

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Tojiah
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May 4 2009 23:42

Muffin-worry, then? Honestly, those Briticisms do get me all tangled up.

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888
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May 5 2009 01:43

Principia Dialectica Gets It Wrong = dog bites man

"Crimethinc for grad students" lolololol

Angelus Novus
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May 5 2009 05:47
Sean68 wrote:
Well Mr Novus! So angry I could crush a grape. You are a petit bourgeois lickle spittle, as I have always suspected.

Oh come now. I like your project, I just think you guys need to get out of the Krisis/Exit ghetto once in a while and explore other thinkers of the Neue Marx-Lektüre. I was disappointed a few months back to see that you guys bought into that "final crisis" line that the Nürnberger are peddling. Their whole crisis theory is based upon an egregiously wrong reading of the "machine fragment".

Sean68
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May 5 2009 15:22

Just joshing, Angelus. Glad you are keen to air some of the debates going on in Germany - starved as we are in Britain; the trad marxists over here want to keep the new ideas under wraps. Word is, Verso turned down Jappe's book 'Adventures of the Commodity.' Why introduce new ideas when you have a back catalogue of books on the crimes of George Bush to knock out? It all keeps the status quo in place nicely.
Give it another thirty years and all of them - from Aufheben right through to the Mearde St. crew to the socialist workers (someone said to us the other day, the SWP's programmes increasingly resemble the NSDAPs as time drags on) All of them will be lauding the anti-work critique, just like they did with regards to the other untouchables of yesteryear, the SI. They are now safe enough for all the boring Tariq Ali's of the world to venerate.
Lets face it, most political mags today are dull. No one takes any notice. Full of hair shirted dead working classist moralism, Dead corpses in mouths, as someone once said.
The good news is the American journal Mediations is planning to translate and publish a bunch of the German antiwork articles that have passed the Anglo Saxon world by. Bring it on. We plan to publish some stuff of Kurz's as soon as we can as well. I really don't think it is an exagerration to say the ideas coming out of that circle are at the cutting edge right now.
As I said to Mr Joseph K not too long ago on one of these boards, to paraphrase Dorothea in George Eliots Middlemarch, to her stiff old husband, Causabon, who was working on his philosophical magnum opus 'The Key To All Mythologies': Why bother dear, the Germans have beat you to it!'
Words to the wise: This crisis is highlighting as never before the complete irrelevance of the Left - so called 'revolutionaries' will be caught with their pants down when ideas finally leap up to production. Until then, the whole of the Left is helping to keep this system of alienation on life support.

Angelus Novus
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May 6 2009 10:34
Sean68 wrote:
Just joshing, Angelus. Glad you are keen to air some of the debates going on in Germany

Ah, ok. My irony-detector breaks down in the presence of you sons and daughters of Albion.

Quote:
Verso turned down Jappe's book 'Adventures of the Commodity.'

I heard it through the grapevine, though, that somebody is working on a translation of Jappe's book. Have you tried other English-speaking publishers? Or whoever published the translation of his Debord book?

Quote:
The good news is the American journal Mediations is planning to translate and publish a bunch of the German antiwork articles that have passed the Anglo Saxon world by.

I don't know mediations. Link?

Quote:
I really don't think it is an exagerration to say the ideas coming out of that circle are at the cutting edge right now.

I strongly disagree with this. To take the two I cited in my blog, I think Elbe and Heinrich are tops. Elbe's knowledge of the neue Marx-Lektüre is encyclopedic; dude has really done his homework. Check out www.rote-ruhr-uni.com And Heinrich is a master at condensing the results of these discussions into concise, clear guides to reading Capital.

Aside from disagreeing with the crisis theory of the Exit/Krisis folks, I don't like how they give insufficient props to the people who have done so much spadework. At least Jappe does mention Backhaus and Reichelt as forerunners in his book, but he still tries to represent Kurz as some sort of apotheosis of theoretical development.

Sean68
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May 6 2009 18:40

I think Neil Larsen is trying to put together a team of translators at Mediations. This is Larsen:

"the notion of "vanishing mediators" comes from Marx. Marx at several point in the first volume of Capital remarks on the way in which the theoretical categories and abstractions, which are both necessary in order to approximate capitalism as an object of critique, as an object of theory or systematization, say "exchange," "division of labor," "use value," "commodity," "value form," "money form," etc., are also the product of Capital in the sense that they reflect social conditions of being brought about by capitalism itself. But there is something peculiar about capitalism as a social formation, or as a form of the social, which is, it establishes and
reproduces itself, it makes it seem as though these categories and abstractions, which in fact were involved in the genesis and formation of capital, were always there. In other words, they are the vanishing mediators.

So, take "money," which has a history, the history of which essentially comes into its own finally with fully operational capitalism, takes on the appearance within capitalist social conditions of existence, of always having existed, of having no historical mediation. That is what I take to mean the origin of this term that comes from Marx, which may pass through Weber to everybody else. Marx does three things really: to work with these mediating abstractions and theoretical terms, which are in some sense universal in so far as capital is universal for example, to refuse to dehistoricize them, or to refuse to let the historically-mediated character disappear, but also acknowledge that there is a tendency automatically within modernity for these mediations to disappear. In other words, for the actual theoretical categories and abstractions that are used that are part of the mediating activity that goes on in critique to suddenly become reified and to take on, or seem to, have always being there, that they are not, so
to speak, an aspect of the object itself, but something that was in the air and sort of came into your head as a kind of a Kantian a priori."

Andrew Kliman is still stuck in the old rigid classist framework, but to his credit he does take a coy swipe at the problem of the fetish that Larsen is getting at above. The trad marxists/anarchists/leninists are stuck in the swamp. They love dat dirty ol' swamp! Kliman here:
http://marxisthumanistinitiative.org/2009/05/05/how-not-to-respond-to-the-economic-crisis/

Larsen is on the editorial board of Mediations here:
http://www.mediationsjournal.org/edit_board/

RedHughs
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May 6 2009 18:57

Angle's link effectively skewers the "logic" of the Principia Dialectica on this one. Marx talked about X before Y in a given book? Oh, oh, oh ... that just proves that X is uh so much more important Y!? Uh, no it doesn't! Duh!

But consider further that in PD's "analysis", they are talking about class struggle rather some obscure economic technicality. Class struggle is our fight against the present order. What would you conclude about someone who presented themselves as part of the struggle against the present order but then turned around and says class can be dismissed based on a sudden hermeneutic revelation? Does PD believe that those who happen to be struggling against the present order are doing so because of a particular reading of Marx? If garment workers in Bangladesh came up with a different reading of Marx, would they become reconciled with the present order or would they perhaps just petition an NGO instead of fighting factory owners?

PD wrote:
Give it another thirty years and all of them - from Aufheben right through to the Mearde St. crew to the socialist workers (someone said to us the other day, the SWP's programmes increasingly resemble the NSDAPs as time drags on) All of them will be lauding the anti-work critique, just like they did with regards to the other untouchables of yesteryear, the SI. They are now safe enough for all the boring Tariq Ali's of the world to venerate.

Whenever society has produced independent intellectuals, "being on the cutting edge" of intellectual discourse has been a two edged sword. On the one hand, an intellectual may indeed produce ideas which aid revolution, which are improvements on the existing ones, on the other hand, an intellectual may simply find new ways to package sophism, idiocy and banalities into "the latest thing".

Within the long line of those aspiring to be the intellectual vanguard, I think the Situationists are notable for being conscious of this vanguard's dual situation.

Just about anyone today in the anti-capitalist intellectual orbit will indeed feel a need to at least make a nod to the SI (often with a mumble about them not getting "a deep understanding of Marx's concept of Capital"). But I view their relative success as coming to the degree to they were within the role of intellectual vanguard but against it, aiming to undermine capital through taking its implications beyond what capitalist society could digest.

Oppositely, those who aspire merely to be what the left will later become, deserve all the contempt that anti-intellectuals heap on them. Like Aufheben concluded about Postone; some ideas, once they are decoded from gobbledygook, are just as shitty as you'd imagine.

Sean68
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May 6 2009 19:48

Glad you are enjoying it up there, nailed to your class struggle cross, Mr Hughes! That 'shitty' Postone you mention, is that the same the author of Time, Labor and Social Domination, by chance, the same one that has been praised by pretty much every single person of any note whose had anything published on Marx anywhere in the world, save a few leninst dinosaurs who pretend that it doesn't exist, by any chance? Kevin Anderson, of the Marxist Humanists, for example, who said it is the most important critical study of capital to have appeared since the fall of the Berlin Wall, I wonder?
Oh, except the widely published and acknowledged Mr 'Red' Hughes, and aufheben, of course!

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jura
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May 6 2009 20:17

Hm, so academic recognition is the new criterion for judging how important a contribution to marxist theory is... Well I guess we should all be reading and praising Laclau+Mouffe or Negri+Hardt then! smile

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May 6 2009 20:42
sean68 wrote:
every single person of any note whose had anything published

Fucking academic wankers. Meaningful theory can only come out of struggle, not from the arsehole of a grad student.

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May 6 2009 22:04

Yeh, you can keep your academic gods, Sean68. "Persons of any note"! Those of high rank, then, in your slavish hierarchical conceptions. Using the status ranking among academic marxists - or how much someone has been published! - as a measure of any radical contribution is in itself profoundly conservative and deferential.

The fact that your response to theoretical criticism/responses is, not to engage in a serious discussion, but always to just quote one of your academic authorities (as if this is the last word on the subject) confirms your deference - ie, as a devoted follower of these so-called "Persons of any note". Pop Idol, Marxist Idol, it's all the same shit...

Boris Badenov
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May 6 2009 22:31
888 wrote:
Meaningful theory can only come out of struggle, not from the arsehole of a grad student.

This is a pretty embarrassing thing to say honestly, as if all grad students were middle-class obscurantists completely divorced from the interests of the working-class. Sorry if I misunderstood your point, by I'm tired of this old grad student strawman that seems to pop up quite frequently here (see the thread on the London "conference on communism" from a couple of months ago).

vanilla.ice.baby
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May 6 2009 22:34
Vlad336 wrote:
This is a pretty embarrassing thing to say honestly, as if all grad students were middle-class obscurantists completely divorced from the interests of the working-class. Sorry if I misunderstood your point, by I'm tired of this old grad student strawman that seems to pop up quite frequently here (see the thread on the London "conference on communism" from a couple of months ago).

Sorry but if Sean68 hadn't invalidated his argument already by being involved with Principia Dialectica, he certainly did by this. The sole role of academics in politics is to explain to other academics, and hobbyists why the working class does what it does.

Boris Badenov
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May 6 2009 23:03
vanilla.ice.baby wrote:
Sorry but if Sean68 hadn't invalidated his argument already by being involved with Principia Dialectica, he certainly did by this.

I wasn't commenting on Sean68 or PD, and I am strongly opposed to any argument from authority. My point was simply that the grad student is becoming some sort of folk devil for some people here imo, and I don't see any justification for it.
"Academics" are also workers, and as such their class interest is that of the working-class. To pretend that their only role is as stewards of bourgeois "philosophy" is pretty hypocritical and dishonest. After all, many people here are grad students, professors, etc., and even those who aren't have read "hobbyist" literature like Foucault, the Frankfurt School etc. which clearly had a role in shaping their political views.

B_Reasonable
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May 7 2009 01:43
Quote:
RedHughs wrote:
If garment workers in Bangladesh came up with a different reading of Marx, would they become reconciled with the present order or would they perhaps just petition an NGO instead of fighting factory owners?

If they recognised that fighting factory owners, in order to remain abstract labourers, was not likely to overcome capital relations they might decide to simply burn the factory down. Of course, 888 etc. wouldn't actually learn anything but remonstrate with them that they can't continue the struggle if they absent themselves from 'their' class - the one determined by the capital relations they are struggling against.

RedHughs
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May 7 2009 02:24
Quote:
Glad you are enjoying it up there, nailed to your class struggle cross, Mr Hughes! That 'shitty' Postone you mention, is that the same the author of Time, Labor and Social Domination, by chance, the same one that has been praised by pretty much every single person of any note whose had anything published on Marx anywhere in the world, save a few leninst dinosaurs who pretend that it doesn't exist, by any chance?

Lol, Internet!

Can I quote you? Widely?

tsi
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May 7 2009 02:52
B_Reasonable wrote:
O hai! I'm akshully Sean68.

And can someone please show me all these "leninist dinosaurs" who have been ripped to shreds by the "deep understanding of capital"??

I don't think anyone who posts here has much love for leninism. Therefore I think that implying that disagreeing with you makes someone else a leninist is more than a little bit disingenuous.

Jason Cortez
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May 7 2009 09:15

PD = Pointless Discussion

B_Reasonable
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May 7 2009 09:36

tsi: I thought RedHughs asked a good question - which Sean68 didn't address - but where there was clearly an answer that was different from those he had posited. Thought it might be nice to examine some practical issues rather than just keeping with Marxzilla versus the Leninist dinosaurs from the swamp.

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May 7 2009 12:01
B Reasonable wrote:
If they recognised that fighting factory owners, in order to remain abstract labourers, was not likely to overcome capital relations they might decide to simply burn the factory down.

So it's the total revolution immediately or nothing but reformism? If so, this 'Marxism' sounds like the kind of strawman anarchism that Marxists sometimes invent! And as a judgement it must apply at least as much to academic marxism and its followers (unless, of course, the 'critique' is always for others, never for themselves. How many universities have marxist professors burned down recently?)

Bangladeshi garment workers in fact use both tactics quite regularly. Realising, I think, that neither act in itself alone will overcome "capital relations" - but that both are part of a wider process of class struggle. They see class struggle - rather than abstract interpretations of Das Kapital, which is the only alternative strategy I've seen offered as a method of social change by PD & co - as a necessary method of defending and advancing their own interests; and they're right. Whether this process will develop into a real challenge to "capital relations" or not is uncertain - but I think Bangladeshi workers are already, in their practice and tactical theorising, far closer to creating a process that could lead to that than the ideology or practice of PD & co.

As far as I can understand, the view cited here is that class struggle can't become a struggle for abolition of class relations - supposedly proved cos it failed to do so in the past; and that only some intellectual revelation - ie, acceptance of the truth of certain German theorists - can make this happen. (Correct me if I'm wrong.) So who then, if anyone, is the revolutionary subject if not the exploited in struggle? The idealistically 'enlightened'? By what process of development, if not class struggle to abolish class society, is classless society achieved?

Angelus Novus
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May 7 2009 13:48
RedHughs wrote:
Like Aufheben concluded about Postone; some ideas, once they are decoded from gobbledygook, are just as shitty as you'd imagine.

Oh man, that Aufheben review of Postone was pure shit. I think there are some real critiques to make of Postone, one of which is that the importance of money and finance to the critique of political economy is just not addressed, but the Aufheben "critique" of Postone is at a very low level of analysis, basically just taking issue with the conclusions Postone draws about class struggle, etc., which are arguably the least interesting parts of the book.

Any serious review of Postone would've have begun by situating him in the broader context of the Neue Marx-Lektüre in Germany, the precursors of Rubin and Paschukanis and then the mainstream of the tradition as exemplified by Backhaus and Reichelt, the state derivation debate, Heinrich, Dieter Wolf, what Postone draws from these discussions, how he differs from others, etc. There's none of that in the Aufheben review, but ignorance is really no excuse, since they've broached these topics elsewhere.

IrrationallyAngry
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May 7 2009 14:11
Angelus Novus wrote:
the Aufheben "critique" of Postone is at a very low level of analysis, basically just taking issue with the conclusions Postone draws about class struggle, etc., which are arguably the least interesting parts of the book.

I think you are coming at this from the wrong angle.

Postone's remarks about class struggle are the least interesting part of his writings in the sense that they are the least thought-provoking and have the least merit. But they are also the part of his writings that people are most prone to derive practical conclusions from (see for example the PD nimrods who occasionally appear here). If you are interested in theory as a guide to action, as presumably Aufheben would claim to be, then his views on class struggle are a key issue to address.

Boris Badenov
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May 7 2009 15:29
RetMarut wrote:
So who then, if anyone, is the revolutionary subject if not the exploited in struggle?

Isn't the PD position that there is no proletarian revolutionary subject and that any class-struggle that is aimed at destroying class relations is system-immanent?

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Red Marriott
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May 7 2009 15:56
Vlad336 wrote:
Isn't the PD position that there is no proletarian revolutionary subject and that any class-struggle that is aimed at destroying class relations is system-immanent?

I'm not sure - but if so, what is the process, and who are the agents, of destroying class society - which I presume they do want to achieve? These questions have been asked of them on other threads, but I've never seen PD or Angelus Novus respond to them.

Boris Badenov
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May 7 2009 16:35
Ret Marut wrote:
Vlad336 wrote:
Isn't the PD position that there is no proletarian revolutionary subject and that any class-struggle that is aimed at destroying class relations is system-immanent?

I'm not sure - but if so, what is the process, and who are the agents, of destroying class society - which I presume they do want to achieve? These questions have been asked of them on other threads, but I've never seen PD or Angelus Novus respond to them.

I don't think I can generalize that these questions were never addressed, but last time PD's theories came into discussion I basically asked the same question as you did, and got no answer; the only conclusion I was able to draw was that short-term class-struggle aimed at material gains is possible and should be supported but that a struggle against class relations by the proletariat as a revolutionary agent is not.

RedHughs
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May 7 2009 17:34
Quote:
Any serious review of Postone would've have begun by situating him in the broader context of the Neue Marx-Lektüre in Germany, the precursors of Rubin and Paschukanis and then the mainstream of the tradition as exemplified by Backhaus and Reichelt, the state derivation debate, Heinrich, Dieter Wolf, what Postone draws from these discussions, how he differs from others, etc.

"....As we hear from German ideologists, Germany has in the last few years gone through an unparalleled revolution....into which all the “powers of the past” are swept.. "

Quote:
Postone's remarks about class struggle are the least interesting part of his writings in the sense that they are the least thought-provoking and have the least merit. But they are also the part of his writings that people are most prone to derive practical conclusions from (see for example the PD nimrods who occasionally appear here).

Oh, Postone has other crap too! Like his "holocaust as unique event" crap that the anti-Germans love. So, as you say, all his practical conclusions serve as a vile defenses of the present world order but some people swear there are fantastic theoretical advances hidden in there somewhere. He and PD certainly deserve lots more of our attention (typo!, oops...).

Yeah, and "B_reasonable" knows no more about me than he knows about the Bangladeshi workers. - As Ret points out, the Bangladeshi garment workers indeed have engaged in efforts to burn down factories as an integral part of their struggle while I have no connection with Leninism.

Angelus Novus
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May 7 2009 20:38
RedHughs wrote:
"....As we hear from German ideologists, Germany has in the last few years gone through an unparalleled revolution....into which all the “powers of the past” are swept.. "

Sorry, was there supposed to be an argument in there somewhere, or are you simply quoting the German Ideology the same way idiot Trotskyists harangue each other with the 11th Feuerbach thesis?

Quote:
Oh, Postone has other crap too!

Actually, yeah, like a massive tome dealing with Marxian value-theory, none of it having anything to do with the Holocaust, etc.

Quote:
Like his "holocaust as unique event" crap that the anti-Germans love.

LOL, I actually don't care very much for Postone's essay on national socialism and anti-semitism, but the ignorant comment above seems to indicate that you don't even know why Postone is wrong, since the essay really isn't concerned with the "uniqueness" of the Holocaust. In other words, you haven't read it, have you?

Quote:
So, as you say, all his practical conclusions serve as a vile defenses of the present world order but some people swear there are fantastic theoretical advances hidden in there somewhere.

Actually, as far as I know, no one here is conflating Postone's academic work and his interventionist essays except you (but even "vile defenses of the present world order" is wild mischaracterization of the latter)

Angelus Novus
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May 7 2009 20:46
IrrationallyAngry wrote:
If you are interested in theory as a guide to action

Maybe that's the problem. I look to "theory" (in the broadest sense) to help me understand and make sense of things. I don't look to it to provide me with an instruction manual for how to act; practical intervention is far more contingent about specific circumstances that "theory" is generally not appropriate to.

When I read Postone, I'm asking that question, "How well does he understand/represent Marx's critique of political economy? How useful is it for clarifying my understanding of it? Does it add anything to my understanding of Marx, does it unnecessarily cloud such an understand, does it do a little of both?"

I'm an adult and am capable of formulating ideas for practical political activity that aren't dependent upon deriving them in a 1-to-1 correspondence with theoretical works.