The Limits of Spinozist Marxism

May 2nd, 2012

This is an extract from a recent article by Moishe Postone, in which he critiques the concept of biopolitics as understood by Michael Hardt. The whole article is available in The South Atlantic Quarterley journal online:

‘In “Falsify the Currency!” Michael Hardt implicitly addresses the lack of historical orientation Lomnitz described as characteristic of our epoch by raising the question of the possibility of new forms of social life. Taking as his point of departure the story of the Oracle of Delphi telling Diogenes of Sinope to falsify or change the currency, Hardt suggests that this can be understood as a project to create a new form of life and, hence, a new world.

By “currency,” Hardt seems to be referring primarily to the processes of quantification at the heart of capitalism. These processes, he claims, are becoming anachronistic, as a result of the increasing importance of what Hardt terms “biopolitical production.” This term refers to the production of immaterial goods, to a form of production fundamentally different from that of industrial production with its mechanical instruments, wage relations, structure of the working day, and temporality. We are, according to Hardt, entering an age of biopolitical production in which the values of economic production are fundamentally immeasurable.

The increasingly anachronistic character of the forms of measurement at the heart of capitalism, according to Hardt, is paradoxically indicated by the growing importance of finance capital. Hardt claims that there is a disconcerting symmetry between the biopolitical realm and the technologies of finance. Value, in the realm of biopolitics, is plastic and immeasurable.

Finance capital falsifies the currency not only by manipulating for profit what is mobile and plastic but by capitalizing on the plasticity of value in order to shift social wealth upward. More fundamentally, finance seeks to quantify fluid and immeasurable values in order to capture them for processes of capital accumulation. This is particularly clear in the case of derivatives that seek to quantify risk or those that bundle a variety of asset types, seeking to establish a common measure for all the different assets involved.

Hardt, then, is suggesting that the growing importance of finance capital is an indication that the basis of measurability at the heart of capitalism is becoming anachronistic. It is for this reason that he is critical of approaches that regard financial capital as “fictional,” which they criticize from the standpoint of the “real” economy. The problem with such critiques, he claims, is that they maintain an industrial imaginary in the age of biopolitical production. That imaginary, however, has become anachronistic.

There can be no return to an industrial economy as it flourished in the decades following World War II.

The task, according to Hardt, is to develop a technology, equal to finance’s power, that could institute a noncapitalist, democratic, and equitable schema for the management and distribution of social wealth. This requires examination of existing alternative biopolitical practices. Hardt concludes by revisiting Michel Foucault’s reading of the Iranian Revolution, reflecting on the range of movements that have erupted globally in 2011 (Tunisia, Egypt, Spain, Wall Street), and considering the ways in which they could be regarded as biopolitical struggles.

At the center of Hardt’s essay is the question of the possibility of a qualitatively
different future, which he relates to the increasingly anachronistic character of the forms of quantitative measurability at the heart of capitalism. This problematic can be framed as one of the increasingly anachronistic characters of value. Although Hardt, at points, seems to suggest that the question of measurability is a function of the nature of that which is measured—material or immaterial—the question of measurability is, basically, one of commensurability. That, however, is not an ontological attribute of the objects themselves. Rather, it is a function of the nature of the social context within which they exist. In the first volume of Capital, Marx notes that, for Aristotle, shoes and houses are incommensurable. Hence he could not locate the grounds for their mutual exchangeability. Those grounds, for Marx, are historically specific and social. What renders them commensurable is value, a historically specific form of wealth that has nothing to do with their properties, whether material or immaterial, but is the crystallized expression of a historically specific form of social mediation that, in Marx’s analysis, is constituted by a historically specific form of labor.

The trajectory of value is such that it becomes anachronistic and, yet, at the same time, is reconstituted as necessary to the system. The notion of value’s increasingly anachronistic character is central to Hardt’s argument (even if his use of the term “value” is not the same as that presented here) and to considerations of a possible alternative future. Historicizing value also implies that movements against capitalism must also be considered historically. The question of the historical conditions of revolt and revolution is not only one of their genesis but also of the sort of social order that could subsequently emerge. This is a fundamental historical question that cannot simply be bracketed. A lack of critical distance from uprisings and the absence of an inquiry into the nature of the new order likely to emerge can also be understood as a symptom of a sort of temporal disorientation that, arguably, characterizes our historical situation.

Different sorts of responses to the current crisis vary according to the degree to which they accept the present order as necessary. A very common response in the public sphere has been to demand better regulation of financial futures and options markets in order to curb the worst excesses of casino capitalism. Other responses have been on a more structural level, especially with regard to the distribution of wealth and power. Socioeconomic development in the past three decades has once again demonstrated that, without countervailing governmental policies, capitalism generates increasing inequality and insecurity. This, in turn, has elicited many social-democratic responses to the current crisis that call for a return to the sort of Keynesian/Fordist synthesis that marked the postwar decades. Many of the essays here, however, have, at least implicitly, called into question such widespread social-democratic responses. They have indicated, in a variety of ways, that the consolidation of that social-democratic synthesis in the decades following World War II depended on historical conditions that are no longer present.

This raises the question of a possible future qualitatively different from the present order. This, as some have noted, would require a fundamental transformation not only of the mode of distribution but of the mode of production itself. Aspects of value theory could help illuminate this problematic. The notion, mentioned earlier, that value becomes historically anachronistic implies that value-creating labor also becomes anachronistic, even while remaining necessary for capitalism. More and more labor is being rendered superfluous, even as the organization of capitalist society remained predicated on its existence. One result is a growing maldistribution of labor time between an overworked segment of society and one that is essentially without work. This is no longer a conjunctural question as it, perhaps, had been during the Great Depression, but it has become a structural one.

These brief considerations suggest that a future beyond capitalism would require a fundamental transformation of the division of labor and that, without movement in that direction, increasing numbers of people will be rendered superfluous, susceptible to hunger, disease, and violence. They will increasingly become the objects of militarized control. On this level, the current crisis can also be understood as a crisis of labor interwoven in complex ways with a crisis of the natural environment. Against this historical background, the old slogan of “socialism or barbarism” acquires new urgency, even if our understanding of both terms has been fundamentally transformed.’

71 Responses to “The Limits of Spinozist Marxism”

  1. negative potential Says:

    Number of mentions of Spinoza in this extract: 0

    It appears to be a critique by Postone of Hardt’s abandonment of value-theory. It’s ok as far as that goes.

    But you guys are obviously totally into the idea of constructing a sort of “Hegel vs. Spinoza” philosophical cheerleading, even concerning disputes about economic questions that have very little to do with philosophical mumbo jumbo.

    It kinda reminds me of 50s greasers getting into fistfights over whether “Ford” or “Chevy” is better, or guitar geeks debating the merits of Fender vs. Gibson.

  2. principiadialectica.co.uk Says:

    Hardt’s analysis is shot through with a particular Spinozism, a reading of ‘affective labour’ which has proved to be quite intoxicating for anyone involved in mass protest movements for the first time.

    Its an attempt to dispense with Hegel and it doesn’t cut the mustard, my ol’ china

  3. negative potential Says:

    Yeah, I’m aware that both Hardt and Negri claim to be advocates of an “anti-dialectical” Marxism proclaiming fealty to “Spinoza”, but IMHO they rarely go beyond some standard throat-clearing rhetoric.

    In other words, they do the same thing a lot of self-proclaimed Hegelian Marxists do: adopt some vaguely profound-sounding philosophical terminology to dress up what are basically rather banal statements. They just do it from the other side of the fence. I think their “critique” of Hegelian Marxism is about as empty as can be.

    If one wants to have a debate about economic and political questions, it’s good to make clear, contestable statements like Postone does here. Hardt claims to reject Marx’s value theory, so Postone lays out clearly why he thinks Hardt is wrong, and elucidates his own understanding of Marx.

    That’s how discussion occurs: stating a position clearly, then having somebody else evaluate, and either affirm, reject, or modify the position.

    Much better than all sorts of inflated pseudo-philosophical rhetoric about “Hegelian” vs. “Spinozan” Marxism, which is just about obfuscatory academics trying to justify their privileged position,

    Very rarely, some people can talk about Hegel and Spinoza with reference to Marx in an intelligible way: Chris Arthur, H-G Backhaus, Michael Heinrich, Postone, Althusser, Ingo Elbe.

    But otherwise, people should avoid that kind of stuff in casual conversation, and should definitely avoid trying to establish feuding “schools” of the Ford vs. Chevy variety. That kinda shit is totally pseud’s corner.

  4. negative potential Says:

    TL;DR You could have just titled this blog entry, “Postone critiques Hardt’s abandonment of value theory” without a single mention of Spinoza.

  5. principiadialectica.co.uk Says:

    Walking the walk and talking the talk, that’s Hegelian Marxism

    A marriage of form and content, thats Hegelian Marxism

    Acknowledging the Absolute, givin’ it a wink

    That’s life, that’s Hegelian Marxism, that is

    (Apologies to Ol’ Blue Eyes)

  6. negative potential Says:

    BTW, doesn’t the position of Chris Arthur and Postone — that Marx’s chosen dialectical presentation of categories is due to a correspondence between the object of analysis (the capitalist mode of production) and Hegel’s self-moving Geist — necessarily imply that as good communists we are **supposed** to be “anti-dialectical”?

    It’s capital itself which is “dialectical”, that’s exactly what, according to Postone, is to be subjected to a critique! That’s also why Postone refers to Post-Structuralism as a “pre-mature” emancipatory philosophy (or words to that effect), because in its rhizomatic/Spinozist/whatever analysis of flows, it denies the horrible dialectical reality!

    So really, all your affirmative reference to “the dialectic” is actually quite odd!

  7. principiadialectica.co.uk Says:

    We are glad you asked that Neg, with regards the Hegelianism of both CA and MP respectively. This is a matter of utter importance.

    If you can please take a seat on the cushion under the lectern of the PD scholar of erudition and wisdom, I shall begin.

    But before I do, it must state quite clearly that there is an important difference between CA’s trotskyist-whittled Hegelianism, and MP’s much more nuanced version; a bit like comparing the dodgy moonshine made by my blind Irish uncle in his back yard in Cork, to the malt whisky of distinction blended and infused with water that has been trickling down the Allt Dearg mountainside for centuries…

    The rest, naturally enough, will be explained in issue no. 3 of PD!

    SD

  8. thebicyclethief Says:

    I would appreciate it if anyone could give their view on Nitzan and Bichler’s Capital as Power’.

  9. negative potential Says:

    “CA’s trotskyist-whittled Hegelianism”

    Oh puh-leez, cut that shit out. It’s about as enlightening as pointing out that Rubin was a Menshevik.

    Concrete political positions like permanent revolution or the transitional program have absolutely no bearing upon the question of the necessity of the money commodity to Marx’s presentation (or pick another philological question).

  10. Jules Guesde Says:

    negpot

    your’re being un-dialectical or one-sided or something.

    “But before I do, it must state quite clearly that there is an important difference between CA’s trotskyist-whittled Hegelianism, and MP’s much more nuanced version; a bit like comparing the dodgy moonshine made by my blind Irish uncle in his back yard in Cork, to the malt whisky of distinction blended and infused with water that has been trickling down the Allt Dearg mountainside for centuries”

    And your clear explanation is???????

    Proving Postone is a more nuanced Hegelian than Arthur should be innaresting. Personally I would have thought the person who has written numerous detailed analyses of homologies between specific concepts in Marx and Hegel would be more nuanced than someone who has written a handful of articles on broad subjects like: what’s the difference between Marx and Lukacs’s Hegel. Looking forward to being proven wrong.

    Thanks for linking to that South Atlantic Quarterly. Im excited to read the Kaushik​ Sunder​ Rajan article on “Pharmaceutical Crises and Questions of Value: Terrains and Logics of Global Therapeutic Politics.”

  11. principiadialectica.co.uk Says:

    Labour as the transhistorical subject? It won’t do. It leads us back into that blind alley of ‘council communism’ (at best) or, at worst, some half arsed dictatorship of the proletariat nonsense. That’s trad marxism and it has to go. As J Dettman says here:

    “The compulsion exerted by capital doesn’t consist exclusively in the labor–capital relation. Rather, it’s an objective, social compulsion that affects the laboring and capitalist classes alike. Even as he concurs with Marx’s claim that the subject of production is capital itself, Arthur balks, as do most Marxists, at the full implications of this claim.”

    http://www.jonathandettman.net/notes-on-christopher-arthur

    The Situationists were half-way there – they ‘got’ it in a way light years ahead of what currently presents itself as theory. They had a proper comprehension of Hegel’s concept of the Absolute, and praxis. They really understood what it meant to say ‘you can’t fight alienation by alienated means.’ Glory days

    SD

  12. negative potential Says:

    More vague assertions dressed up in Pseudo-Hegelian jargon to appear profound.

    It’s not even that you’re saying something **wrong**, it’s rather that you’re saying something that cannot be contested because it’s **meaningless**.

    Chris Arthur goes to great pains to explicate the relationship of Marx to Hegel in a very clear and intelligible manner. His aim is clearly not to intimidate the reader, but to aid understanding.

    You guys (PD), on the other hand, are hoping that if you throw around enough vague mumbo jumbo, nobody will ever be able to nail you down concerning your concrete assertions. Not even Robert Kurz is that bad.

  13. principiadialectica.co.uk Says:

    Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    But I promise you that Principia Dialectica issue no. 3 will be eagerly sought out by school kids everywhere…They will be swapping it for fags and chocolate bars at break time.

    That’s the dialectics that matters

    SD

  14. David Black Says:

    “But I promise you that Principia Dialectica issue no. 3 will be eagerly sought out by school kids everywhere…They will be swapping it for fags and chocolate bars at break time.”

    That’s probably the most realistic sales strategy for you, considering that since issue 2 came out all those years ago most of the bookshops have closed.

    But who knows? The letterist potlatch business model might get you a rich artist-benefactor like Asger Jorn.

  15. Rasmus Says:

    Can’t someone with access please liberate those South Atlantic Quarterly texts from the academic lock-in? Putting them on http://aaaaarg.org/ would be a really nice thing.

  16. Chris Wright Says:

    This snippet itself is not particularly critical of Hardt, nor a terribly involved defense of value-form. Rather, it reminds me a bit of Robert Kurz’s “A World Without Money”. I certainly don’t see anything re: Spinozist Marxism of the Negri-Hardt variety or the Althusser-Poulantzas-Balibar sort (whatever the Paris Strangler’s relation to Negri, I would not conflate the philosophical views of the two per se.)

    If you can tolerate the “Frederic Jameson is the center of Marxism” ass-patting (one subtitle is actually, really, seriously “How does Fredric Jameson’s Marxism extend his Hegel…?”, which sounds both pornographic and voyeuristic to me), the most recent issue of Mediations (http://www.mediationsjournal.org/) actually has an entire issue dedicated to the issue of Hegel, Marx and Spinoza.

    @NegPot
    The question of being “anti-dialectical” is not unlike the question of being “against totality”. Totality is a concept that only holds for capitalist society, but the claim common to post-structuralist thought that therefore one should just abandon the concept actually disarms our ability to comprehend capital adequately and also blinds us to the historically limited actuality of totality. If you abandon the concept of totality, you cannot grasp that the falsity of capital, but merely become a victim of it because you believe that the falsity of capital can be overcome in thought.

    In turn, dialectic has validity in a society constituted by simultaneous inversion and identity, in which one must, to cheaply paraphrase Adorno, retain a consistent sense of the non-identity within all identity. If wrong life cannot be lived rightly, an irrational world cannot be treated as rational without that thought being an apology.

    On a somewhat unrelated note, I came across this Adorno quote which I rather like and which to me sums up the reactionary character of post-modern satire and irony:
    “All satire is blind to the forces liberated by decay. Which is why total decay has absorbed the forces of satire.”

  17. Jules Guesde Says:

    @Pd

    J detteman’s notes on Arthur are an absurd basis for your criticisms of Arthur.

    1) He seems to be confusing the social character of capitalist labour with labour in general.

    “Labor relates to capital as a moment of the totality, not as its extrinsic other. The really outré idea (Postone’s) is that labor itself has historical specificity. This implies several things. First, as Postone explains, the overthrow of capital will not entail labor’s realization but rather its abolition.
    (Here he seems to be discussing the social character of capitalist labour:
    But then he seems to be conflate this with labour in general)
    Second, if labor is specific to capital, then it cannot be transhistoricized as the “metabolic interaction between man and nature” (Marx) or understood as the primary motor of History.”

    Rather than properly using Postone his reading thus seems to fall into the same problem as Postone’s criticism of the Frankfurt School; he confuses the socially specificity of the dual character of labour with labour in general.

    (just read the comments. it looks like Chris Wright already pointed this out to Dettman. But i’ll reiterate the point here. I’ll also point out that Arthur is the only one that I know of to point out that Marx is treating labour in a socially specific manner, as capitalist labour, in the Manuscripts.)

    2) His other criticism’s of Arthur are likewise flawed. For instance he doesn’t back up the statement you quote:

    “The compulsion exerted by capital doesn’t consist exclusively in the labor–capital relation. Rather, it’s an objective, social compulsion that affects the laboring and capitalist classes alike. Even as he concurs with Marx’s claim that the subject of production is capital itself, Arthur balks, as do most Marxists, at the full implications of this claim.”

    I think Arthur is quite explicit that capital compels the labouring and capitalist classes.(his whole capital as subject thang) Dettman fails to offer evidence to the contrary or to state just what the full implications of this claim are.

    Nor does the post really address what he sees as Arthur’s fundamental flaw: his interpretation of abstract labour.

    3) Even Dettman alludes to the fact that Arthur is more nuanced than Postone”For pedagogical purposes, it (the new dialectic) might even have some advantages over Postone’s work.”

    Therefore you’d be better served to engage with work you are criticizing and offer your own arguments rather than using weak ones.

    @chris wright

    Speaking of Arthur your point against negpot resembles Arthur’s criticism of post structuralism. But I have a feeling Negpot isn’t making the same claim. I think the pressing issue here is whether capital’s function relates to conceptual thinking. If it does, as Adorno holds, it still seems that he tries to think non-identically and therefore non-dialectically. If it doesn’t then we probably should still think non-dialectically.

  18. principiadialectica.co.uk Says:

    JG: CA’s book ‘the new dialectic’ is a great read -but does his exegisis not hinge on a fundamental assertion – that labour becomes abstract at the point of exchange? Its been a while since I have read it so I will go back and look, but if this is what he builds his weltenlogic upon then we are filmly back in the realm of ‘standpoint of labour’ traditional marxism, ultimately…

    SD

  19. Jules Guesde Says:

    SD:

    No it doesn’t because he argues no such thing.

    He gives a concise summary of his conception of abstract labour in his reply to Finelli:

    “Following the value-form tradition, I find the origin of abstraction in exchange and circulation, which then imposes itself on production.”

    “It might seem that abstract labour is realized only in exchange when the labours embodied in commodities are counted as abstractions of themselves in so far as the commodities are equated in value. However, in my book I argue that value is actual only when the commodities are products of capital; hence the point at which labour becomes abstract must be taken back into production itself as it is value-formed by its location in the circuit of capital. The process of valorisation is borne by the material production process. Considered as the positing of value this process takes the abstract form of the pure activity of value positing. Labour counts now merely as simple movement in time. Just as value inheres in the shell of use value, value positing inheres in the shell of labour. Value abstracts from use value; value-positing abstracts from living labour; the abstract activity substitutes itself for the concrete one. This inversion is splendidly characterised by Marx when he says the worker is time’s carcass. Finelli charges me with empiricism because I stress there is always a gap here. The concept of labour as abstract can never be instantiated perfectly in a material incarnation just because of the irreducible qualitative concrete character of all material production.”

    http://chrisarthur.net/reply-to-finelli.html

  20. negative potential Says:

    The whole canard that “Chris Arthur claims value arises in exchange” has been refuted ad nauseum, numerous times on this very blog, so anyone repeating it at this point in time is either an idiot or deeply cynical.

  21. David Black Says:

    ‘In value-form theory it is the development of the forms of exchange that is seen as the prime determinant of the capitalist economy.’
    Arthur NDMC p11

    So when did he refute his own theory about exchange as “prime determinant”

    ‘The former “subjects” of production are treated as manipulable objects; but it is still a question of manipulating their activity, not of depriving them of all subjectivity. They act for capital, indeed as capital, but still in some sense act…. Thus, even if Marx is right that the productive power of labor is absorbed into that of capital to all intents, it is necessary to bear in mind that capital still depends on it. Moreover, the repressed subjectivity of the workers remains a threat to capital’s purposes in this respect.’
    p.52

    How so?

    Whereas Postone ties value production to the dual character of labor, Arthur says there can only be value where there are markets. In which case why did Stalin defend the operation of the law of value in the USSR?

  22. Jules Guesde Says:

    @ David Black

    I think Arthur is referring to other value-form theorists in this passage. Therefore he doesn’t have to refute this theory because it isn’t his own theory.

    Here it is in context

    In this book, where the appropriation of Marx’s Capital is concerned, we draw upon a relatively new tendency in Marxian theory, which puts at the centre of its critique Marx’s notion of ‘value form’. It is necessary then to say something briefly now on value form theory. In value form theory it is the development of the forms of exchange that is seen as the prime determinant of the capitalist economy rather than the content regulated by it; thus some theorists postpone consideration of the labour theory of value until the value form itself has been fully developed. Hegel is an important reference for value form theorists because his logic of categories is well suited to a theory of form and of form-determination. Moreover Hegel’s systematic dialectical development of categories is directed towards articulating the structure of a totality, showing how it supports itself in and through the interchanges of its inner moments. I argue capital is just such a totality.
    The most important single influence on the value form approach to Capital was the rediscovery of the masterly exegesis of Marx’s value theory by I. I. Rubin, namely his Essays on Marx’s Theory of Value (1923/28).16 Rubin stresses that all the material and technical economic processes are accomplished within definite historically specific social forms. Things, such as commodities, are assigned a social role as mediators of production relations. This is how a category such as value must be understood. The value form is the characteristic social form of commodity capitalist relations. He shows that the category of form-determination is often used by Marx to refer to the way things acquire definite social functions. Marx develops increasingly complex form-determi- nations corresponding to increasingly complex production relations.

    Closer to the present is a seminal figure in current value form theory namely H.-G. Backhaus. (Unfortunately not much of his work is in English.) The interesting thing about Backhaus is that he came out of Frankfurt school critical theory. So for him the relevance of Marx for empirical research takes second place to the systematic demystification of the objective irrationality of the value form. For him the theory of value is not about deriving prices – a waste of time – but criticising this value form as an inverted crazy apparatus of alienation and fetishism. Much of this book develops such insights.

    To come right up to date, what is striking about current value form theory is the enormous importance assigned to money. This is especially evident in the work of Reuten and Williams. This is the value form par excellence for them. Because they see it as ‘pure transcendental form’ as they put it, which is imposed on the material side of the economy, they argue that money need have no material bearer, electronic dots will do; they argue that money is the only measure of value, albeit that they continue to regard labour as its source.

    Both neo-Sraffian theory, and neo-classical theory, fail to grasp the fact that capitalist social relations appear as monetary relations in the first place. It is an essentially monetary system; hence this form must be central to any ade- quate theory of capital.

    Its been awhile since i’ve read the new dialectic so i don’t know the answer to your second question.

    As for your third question I would say Arthur also ties value to abstract labour but unlike Postone he also considers how value develops past abstract labour. This leads to the necessity of money, exchange etc. This is probably why he says markets are necessary.

  23. dettman Says:

    Since I’m being chastised here for a number of things, including failing to use Postone “properly” (whatever that means), I’ll take the opportunity to clarify my own position on labor and its specificity.

    I don’t simply conflate labour in general (understood as an eternal reality of human existence) with the social character of capitalist labor. I’m aware of the conceptual distinction that is normally made, but I claim that the historical specificity of capitalist labour lies in the fact that it can even be thought of as “labour in general.” In other words, the social specificity of capitalist labour IS its character as labour in general, i.e. as abstract labour. Marx alludes to this in the Grundrisse and Kurz has written about it as well (NegPot, this is your cue to tell us that Kurz is a Ricardian and that no one should read him, ever, under any circumstances).

    My statement about Arthur balking at the implications of claim about capital as the subject of production refers to his refusal to relinquish a traditional faith in the proletariat as revolutionary subject. Arthur sees labour as capital’s other; I do not.

    Arthur says “capital is the subject of production, producing above all itself, while labour is negatively posited as its sublated foundation” (NDMC 58). My own view is that, if capital has a negative ground, it is to be found in what lies outside the charmed circle of the wage relation and commodity circulation, in forms of subsistence and social relations that resist becoming (or simply can’t become) value-creating, abstract labour even when we often apply the label to them, or even try to subsume them under the wage relation: unproductive “labour”, affective “labour”, housework, gleaning, theft, piracy, sex work, etc. It’s a fairly common view among anti-capitalists—at least among those whose activism extends beyond classrooms and internet comment threads—that real revolutionary potential at present lies, not with workers qua workers (whose struggles are always inscribed within the wage relation) but with the precariat, the unemployed or unemployable, the homeless, with those permanently cast out of the circuits of value accumulation and whose survival depends on the construction of alternatives. Kurz calls this group Geldsubjekten ohne Geld (NegPot, here’s your opening to tell us why exegetes like Heinrich are más de moda).

  24. Jules Guesde Says:

    To be fair I was chastising PD for using your comments to dismiss Arthur. In the post they linked to I saw no basis for their claims about Arthur’s trad Marx Trotskyism. Nor did I see how you thought Arthur balked at the full implications of this claim.

    The compulsion exerted by capital doesn’t consist exclusively in the labor–capital relation. Rather, it’s an objective, social compulsion that affects the laboring and capitalist classes alike. Even as he concurs with Marx’s claim that the subject of production is capital itself, Arthur balks, as do most Marxists, at the full implications of this claim.”

    As for your other two points:

    I) the first point your making isn’t clear in the original post. This is why I said it ‘seems’ that you are making this mistake. It also seems that you are talking about the activity of labour in this post, not conceptions about it.

    Labor relates to capital as a moment of the totality, not as its extrinsic other. The really outré idea (Postone’s) is that labor itself has historical specificity. This implies several things. First, as Postone explains, the overthrow of capital will not entail labor’s realization but rather its abolition. Second, if labor is specific to capital, then it cannot be transhistoricized as the “metabolic interaction between man and nature” (Marx) or understood as the primary motor of History.

    2) That clears up your position. I don’t know that Arthur’s position can be characterized so easily. Is labour simply capital’s other. It seems to me he also views it as imbricated in capital while still holding onto to a ‘traditional’ view of the revolutionary subject. To me rather than some naive classical position this seems more pessimistic than pinning your hope on some new revolutionary subject.

  25. Jules Guesde Says:

    Just another not on chastising PD. It seems to me that they rarely, if ever, engage with the material they are criticizing. They use blog posts etc. as proxies for their criticism. I thought I would call them on this strategy in hopes they would start engaging with the material they are actually criticizing.

  26. principiadialectica.co.uk Says:

    on the use and mis-use of hulking chunks

    ‘They use blog posts etc. as proxies for their criticism.’

    Pretty rich coming from someone whose modus operandi is to cut and paste great hulking chunks of text from some Oracle or other, with little accompanying notes to explain what he might understand is helpful or useful in aforementioned hulking chunk

  27. principiadialectica.co.uk Says:

    “Abstract labour is expended at the point of production, and is ‘imposed’ on workers (de Angelis, 1995: 111). Class struggle over the imposition of abstract labour has led towards an increasing homogeneity of concrete labouring, by means of deskilling and replacement of living labour by machinery. De Angelis thus conceives of abstract labour as homogenised expenditure of labour in production. He also conceives of it as an abstraction from the lived experience of workers in that it relates to subjective feelings such as boredom at work. De Angelis is—rightly—criticised for conñising concrete labour with abstract labour.”

    - W Bonefeld, Abstract Labour: Against its nature and on its time, Capital and Class journal, 34/2, 2010

    As described by Bonefeld here, De Angelis’s analysis of abstract labour has a lot in common with Hardt’s, and I think this may have origins in a certain type of ‘Spinozist’ marxism, where vitalism and ‘energy life force’ is to the fore – a kind of accentuation of the positive out of the negativity of the capitalist labour process. This is a reading Negri gained from his interpretation of the Grundrisse (‘Marx beyond Marx’) which has powered so called ‘autonomist marxism’ for a few decades now.

    The fragment above, from Moishe Postone, is a brief insight into the problematics of this analysis. This, it seems to me, sheds light on why ‘autonomism’ is still within the orbit of traditional marxism, a critique from the standpoint of labour, and as such doesn’t go deep enough as a critque with the power to overcome ‘the real’ of social domination.

    SD

  28. negative potential Says:

    “NegPot, this is your cue to tell us that Kurz is a Ricardian”

    You got a better word to describe Kurz’s substantialist conception of abstract labor?

    And Heinrich is far more than an exegete, but since you haven’t read the Science of Value, I can’t expect you to know that.

    SD,

    DeAngelis’s vitalism as you describe it here is identical to Kurz’s, who also defines abstract labor in terms of physiological expenditure. The only real difference is that Kurz regards it as a baaad thing. So I guess that’s what he considers “critical”,

  29. principiadialectica.co.uk Says:

    Neg Pot: Maybe for Kurz the key is ‘enemies of utopia for the sake of it’s realization!’

  30. negative potential Says:

    You demand in an earlier blog post today that critical theory should “reach everywhere”, and now you revert to babbling incoherent generalities.

    Is this sort of inconsistency what you consider to be “dialectics”?

  31. thebicyclethief Says:

    It would!

  32. principiadialectica.co.uk Says:

    ‘Enemies of utopia for the sake of it’s realization’ was Adorno’s view of Marx’s opus.

    Or, another way, ‘Ruthless criticism of all that exists.’

    Something that got lost along the way re: the Bolsheviks, Russia, Cuba, Hamas, Chavez, (or, here is a corker: ‘there are many Talibans’!) – pretty much each and every toss pot that the Left hitches the wagon to because of some claimed ‘anti-capitalism.’

  33. thebicyclethief Says:

    Thanks for link.

  34. thebicyclethief Says:

    ‎’Can an ass be tragic? – To be crushed by a burden one can neither bear nor throw off? … The case of the philosopher’. Nietzsche TOI.

  35. Chris Wright Says:

    @JG
    “I think the pressing issue here is whether capital’s function relates to conceptual thinking. If it does, as Adorno holds, it still seems that he tries to think non-identically and therefore non-dialectically. If it doesn’t then we probably should still think non-dialectically.”

    If one follows Adorno on this, as I do, then you have to keep in mind that Adorno considered dialectic to be the consistent sense of non-identity in identity. What you say should take us away from dialectic is exactly what Adorno considers of prime important to dialectical thought.

    This is not as far from Hegel’s speculative identity as is usually claimed, and it actually revolves more around the question of what Adorno means by “consistent sense”, which revolves around his contention that we must reject any synthetic moment and remain wholly in the negative.
    ___________________________________
    RE: Postone and “labor”, I feel that he is not as clear as he should be. He has certainly opposed the accusation that he believes that communism entails the end of labor in the sense that Marx uses it as the mediation of Man and Nature. It entails the end of Labor as determinant mediation of social form, or what we might call the mediation of Man by Man. The two are clearly not the same thing, but Marxist after Marxist treats them as if they were, which is not merely a blunder but the reading of capital back into the very fiber of the relation between Man and Nature, that is, it naturalizes capitalist Labor.

    Postone of course fixates on the term ‘abstract labor’, which invites confusion because it tends to counterpoise it to ‘concrete labor’, when what he has in mind is Labor in capitalist society, which is, in both its moments as concrete and abstract, a social form.

    We should take this further in the recognition that this internally split category is presented by Marx as the rationalist view of the problem, just as use-value and value was the empiricist view, and exchange-value as qua form of value through money is the Hegelian (idealist dialectic) view. We only begin to get into Marx’s own view in the fetish character of the commodity, section 4, where the previous three sections are presentations of other views which unfold through their own limitations in the same form as Hegel does with the first three chapters of the Phenomenology of Spirit, both in reference to rationalism, empiricism, and Kantian Understanding, but also as a simultaneous repetition of Kant’s opening of the Critique of Pure Reason.

    Marx’s work continues for 33 chapters in the same manner, again, as Hegel’s Phenomenology, changing the meaning of the prior categories with each moment. By Chapter 7, for example, one of the things we should now realize is that the commodity which walked itself to the market in chapter 1 was Labor, on its way for a good tanning. We have also entered that space between C and C’ called …P… and this is a very interesting place and Marx will stay there for a lot of chapters, and not just because he is ‘for the laborers’ or taking a bizarre empirical turn.

    By Chapter 26 we will begin to arrive at how exactly it was that Labor actually became the determinant social form in the first place, but we can only arrive at this point when we have the conceptual material with which to work so that we can actually see what all that was about. Only by this point do we know how labor became a commodity, why people were suddenly treating their products and means of producing as commodities, etc. That is, Chapter 1 is illuminated in the light of the end.

    This is why I consider Werner Bonefeld’s essays on primitive accumulation to be so vital, some of his best work: the separation of the producer from the means of producing, from their own productive activity, from the product of that activity, and from each other that people treat as a passing historical period is entirely subsumed within and continuous for the fully developed capital form.

    It’s also why Pepperell’s work strikes me as far more valuable in its novelty than Heinrich, Arthur, et al though she is quite explicit about here general defense of value-form analysis.
    _________________________________________

    @dettman
    Hi Jonathan, how goes it?

  36. Chris Wright Says:

    It occurs to me that if Chris Cutrone is correct here in his comments http://www.principiadialectica.co.uk/blog/?p=2829 then how valid is the money-centric value-form analysis?

    To put it in kitschy terms: if the Heinrich-Elbe-Arthur critique of Postone is fundamentally “Show me the money!”, is Postone’s response “It’s time to recognize you are still trying to discuss a yellow logarithm”?

  37. Jules Guesde Says:

    I contend I use other texts to back up or demonstrate points I am trying to make. I think this is different than citing a text without making it clear what place they play in an argument or instead of an argument.

    In this case I copied a huge chunk of text from The New Dialectic to try to demonstrate the context of the sentence David Black cited. I did this to back up my interpretation of the passage.

    To me this seems different than your entire argument consisting in referring to a conclusion or a statement someone else made about the person being discussed or using that person as an oracle.

    But since, like anyone, i struggle with clarity do let me know if you would like me to elucidate what I think is a self-evident point or use of text.

  38. Jules Guesde Says:

    oh, and I also have some genuine questions,

    @PD. What’s your take on the precariat? What’s your take on Dettman’s take on it?

    Can you provide a map or a table of Traditional Marxists and another one of non-traditional Marxists? In my understanding the term was originally used by the people who developed the new reading of Marx in Germany to differentiate themselves from neo-Ricardian interpretations of Marx. (this must be another thing Postone took from his time there). You seem to use the term to describe virtually every Marxist except for Postone. So i’m getting confused as to how you use the term and to who, except for Postone is a non-traditional Marxist.

    @ Dettman. How do you see the historical and conceptual relation between the precariat and the proletariat?

  39. principiadialectica.co.uk Says:

    JG, aren’t we all ‘the precariat’ nowadays?

    I think JD is just a bit grouchy this morning.

    I would be as well if I had to share a cyber lift with Neg Pot an’ all

  40. principiadialectica.co.uk Says:

    “Adorno considered dialectic to be the consistent sense of non-identity in identity.”

    Pure rolled gold. This is perfect, arch Adorno in Kodak colour.

    The problem is all ‘the marxists’ – even all those who have eaten Adorno’s collected works in total, for breakfast, lunch and tea, usually fail to inhere their comprehension of ‘the dialectic’ in real lived time, real life. That is, comprehend the need to bring to live the negation of the dialectic, right here, right now.

    See anything Aaron Asphar has written, ever, for more on this.

  41. dettman Says:

    @ JG:

    As soon as I wrote it I regretted it, because I don’t think ‘precariat’ is a very precise or useful term, much less opposable to ‘proletariat’ in any meaningful way. At most, it describes that part of the working class that lacks stable employment or adequate pay, and which is always in danger of losing access to the almighty wage. As PD says, most of us nowadays.

    As far as thinking about the current class and labor composition of the ‘proletariat’ (in which industrial, “productive” workers are arguably no longer central), I find Benanav’s ideas about surplus populations most useful. Check out the last section of this Endnotes piece, for example: http://endnotes.org.uk/articles/2

    @ Chris, et al: greetings from California.

  42. negative potential Says:

    “It occurs to me that if Chris Cutrone is correct here in his comments http://www.principiadialectica.co.uk/blog/?p=2829 then how valid is the money-centric value-form analysis?”

    It occurs to me that Chris Cutrone has never been right about anything, not his duplicitous sucking up to neo-conservative warmongers, not his shameless promotion of German racists who promote bashing Arabs and Turks, and not in his lame obscurantist blather about value theory.

  43. principiadialectica.co.uk Says:

    “his duplicitous sucking up to neo-conservative warmongers”

    ???

    ‘shameless promotion of German racists’

    These charges won’t stick, son.

  44. negative potential Says:

    Do your homework, son.

    http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/platypus-review-publishes-racists/

  45. principiadialectica.co.uk Says:

    Looks like the Platypi didn’t do their homework there, but Louis Proyect backsliding over the Verso/Bin Laden book (“you can’t trust the bourgeois media!”) is hilarious.

    All reminds me of the stories of the stalinist thugs in suits who used to throw glass decanters at Trotsky when he spoke at politbureau meetings before the Left Opposition were banned in the USSR.

    Proyect is good pals with Lenin’s Tomber Seymour: Both revolting little men.

  46. negative potential Says:

    I think you give them way too much credit. Cutrone has openly stated before his affinity for the Anti-Germans. If he backslides on that and denies it now, I’d have even less respect for him. He should at least have the honesty to be the racist, neo-conservative piece of shit that he is, rather than trying to hide behind obscurantist references to Adorno and Postone.

    You’re welcome to “dialogue” with Cutrone, but if you think he has anything to say, that reflects poorly on you. Racists don’t deserve “dialogue”, they deserve a punch in the face.

  47. principiadialectica.co.uk Says:

    Neg, it’s late – are you on the German schnapps tonight?

    Cutrone might have daft leninist politics but he and the platypi are not racists, or neo cons.

    This is stalinist slur territory.

  48. Jules Guesde Says:

    @Chris Wright Good points. I really should have added a clause to what I said about Adorno when I said:

    “I think the pressing issue here is whether capital’s function relates to conceptual thinking. If it does, as Adorno holds, it still seems that he tries to think non-identically and therefore non-dialectically If it doesn’t then we probably should still think non-dialectically.”

    I should have said something like:

    “I think the pressing issue here is whether capital’s function relates to conceptual thinking. If it does, as Adorno holds, it still seems that he tries to think non-identically and therefore non-dialectically but contends he can only do so within the dialectical totality. Therefore, we should try to bring about conditions in which we don’t have to think dialectically or can think non-dialectically outside of the dialectic.” That is at least if you take the comments he makes about dialectics being socially specific in Negative Dialectics seriously, which i do.

    I also have a few questions about your (and Pepperell’s?) reading of capital.

    The first has to do with a question of separation between the first three sections of chapter one and the fetish character of commodities. By arguing that Marx’s own view only becomes apparent in the fetish section are you saying that this view is not reliant on the dual character of labour and the value form section? or do you mean that this section provides his explanation for how the categories are constituted?

    The second has to do with the Trinity Formula. In the other thread you drew on it to address the realm of necessity and the realm of freedom. This section is also where Marx discusses how the historically specific character of capitalist labour becomes transhistorically hypostatized as labour as such. Finally it is the culmination of Marx’s analysis of the fetishism. So surely this section also contains what you describe as Marx’s own view. For all these reasons it seems very important to me. So im curious about how your focus on the structure of volume 1 as a self contained argument conceives of the trinity formula or even the results of the immediate process of production.

    i completely agree with the importance of primitive accumulation. I also highly rate those Bonefeld articles. But i don’t know that primitive accumulation and Heinrich or Arthur’s work should be seen as mutually exclusive. It seems that you can also read them as complimentary. On one hand you can say that primitive accumulation– and relative and real subsumption– describe the historical processes that created the capitalist social form. On the other hand you can say that Heinrich and Arthur attempt to provide a scientific explanation for how this capitalist social form functions. Pepperell’s analysis would seem to cut short the later by treating the former as the terminus of Marx’s critique of political economy. Arthur, however, allows for both to be read by arguing that all three volumes of analysis are presupposed in chapter 1.

    @Dettman

    You read my mind. Endnotes and the SIC kids definition of the proletariat is what prompted my question. However, i would wager that this definition of proletariat would also meet Arthur’s.

  49. r.c. Says:

    I don’t mean to interupt the discussion, but the following point is spot-on:

    “Adorno considered dialectic to be the consistent sense of non-identity in identity.”

    It is, in fact, the consistent sense of non-identity (non-conceptualizable “moreness”) of identity that represents the concrete (historical) epistemological regularity of “the dialectic”. The strength of Adorno is his epistemology which, in affirmation of some of the above posts, does point to a link between the (abstractly) conceptual and capital.

    On another note, Adorno’s notion of dialectic is tantamount to reconciliation in the form of the subject-subject relation as realized through normative scrutiny of the subject-object parable. This is the most irreducible epistemological meaning of Adorno’s negative dialectics. The result in terms of a post-Adornian philosophy is a subject freed of the “objectivity” in behind it, which can “remember the nature of the object (or concrete phenomenon in phenomenological terms) of experience” without violating the “non-identity in its identity” via objectivity, hypostatization, etc.

    This represents the very basis for the phrase: “the ruthless criticism of all that exists” . It is the subject freed from an abstract analyitcal structure (hence dialectic of enlightenment) that honours always the particular whilst never neglecting the general. The implications of this thesis, in its total, is vast and concerns a critique of ideology which I personally believe is one of the most potent to date.

    Lastly, what PD writes is a lovely bit of thought:

    The problem is all ‘the marxists’ – even all those who have eaten Adorno’s collected works in total, for breakfast, lunch and tea, usually fail to inhere their comprehension of ‘the dialectic’ in real lived time, real life. That is, comprehend the need to bring to live the negation of the dialectic, right here, right now.

    Take care – R.C.

  50. Chris Cutrone Says:

    Just for the record, Platypus didn’t publish the ISF article “Communism and Israel” as an endorsement, nor in light of that organization and its afffiliates’ furthr (degenerate) development, but for the intrinsic merits of the particular article’s arguments, which we found to be meaningfully symptomatic, especially of generally endemic sentiments on the post-anti-Deutsch (now refashioned as “anti-national”) “Left.”

    Basically, we were challenged by young Germans with whom we were in contact to “deal” with the article “Communism and Israel,” which is quite old already. we published it to provoke responses of self-clarification from the post-anti-Deutsch “Left” and did so: please see “Felix Baum’s” (a pseudonym of one of the leaders off the “Friends of the Classless Society,” if I’m not mistaken) response to the ISF article:

    http://platypus1917.org/2011/03/01/german-psycho-a-reply-to-the-initiative-sozialistisches-forum/

    By the way, “Negative Potential/Angelus Novus” offered to translate an article for us to publish as a response, but reneged on this. Shame.

    But the dialogue we thus provoked has continued outside the pages of the Platypus Review, via our continued and growing engagements with Phase II, TOP, et al., so we don’t regret at all publishing the old ISF article. It was an important (historical) symptom for our readers to consider.

  51. positive energeia Says:

    ‘By the way, “Negative Potential/Angelus Novus” offered to translate an article for us to publish as a response, but reneged on this. Shame.’

    You have to pay him apparently.
    In advance.
    But, not having seen his CV of any evidence that he ever delivers what he’s been paid for, I wouldn’t advise it.

  52. negative potential Says:

    “By the way, “Negative Potential/Angelus Novus” offered to translate an article for us to publish as a response, but reneged on this. Shame. ”

    After you (or one of your representatives) explained to me that you couldn’t guarantee publication because of the length of the piece in question.

    You really are a slimy, disingenuous piece of shit, aren’t you?

  53. Chris Wright Says:

    @JG
    I have somewhat ambiguous feelings about the relation of Vol. 3 to Vol. 1 in general, if for no other reason than the fact that Marx essentially stopped working on Vol. 3 to focus on Volume 1 after1867. Thus it seems to me that Marx’s most worked out arguments and formulations relate to the various editions of Vol. 1. On this, I believe that Michael Heinrich’s essay “Engels’ Edition of the Third Volume of Capital and Marx’s Original Manuscript” from Science & Society, Vol. 60. No. 4, Winter 1996-1997, 452-466 is simply required reading.

    Given that I do not think that Marx had finished Vol. 3 and also considering how mutilated the English translation of Vol. 3 is, having been based on what Engels did to the original manuscript, I prefer to tread lightly on this matter.

    RE: How I understand and appropriate Pepperell’s work, I am arguing that we should treat the first three sections of chapter 1 just as Hegel treats the concepts in the first three chapters of the Phenomenology: they are untrue insofar as they claim to be foundationally adequate, in a sense, as “first principles”. Rather, the truth contained in them only really comes out as we flesh out their genesis and return to them again and again. Not only do they only become fully true in the eventual concreteness that is the outcome of many determinations, and so, for example, the “concrete labor” of ch. 1 is, at that moment, an abstract concept, that is, one lacking in a unity of many determinations.

    RE: Arthur and Heinrich, I actually think that Pepperell’s reading does not engage in the separation (dualism) of genesis and structure you essentially propose. It also involves reading Capital in a manner which entails it’s necessary incompleteness. On that basis, I argue that Capital’s actual development from co-operation to manufacturing to machine industry serves us only up to the late 19th century and that if we want to comprehend capital’s labor process we must address its further transformations with the development of chemical, micro-electronic, and bio-technological. In that sense, I might argue that we could add AT THE MINIMUM three new chapters to Capital Vol. 1, Section IV, extending back to the 1890′s and forward to today.

    Please note that I also said that we “only begin” to get a sense of Marx’s view in section 4, but in fact his view is the genesis of the book as a whole. I don’t think it is a mistake however that the fetish character of the commodity would echo with the fetish character of capital in vol. 3. Had Marx actually gotten further with Vol. 3, I believe that would have been fleshed out.
    ____________________________________
    On fetishism, I actually really like Robert Kurz’s in Domination Without a Subject take that we should read all of Marx’s take on capitalist society, and maybe even on class society as a whole, as fetishistic. It is an earlier piece, but one of his better ones.
    _______________________________________
    RE: Platypus and ISF, I don’t know. It’s a crazy thing to publish without prefacing it in some fashion that explains why you are doing what you are doing. Maybe there was such a thing in the magazine, but there is nothing online, only stuff after the fact.

    However, whatever my feelings re: Platypus, I find it unlikely that they can be typed as a racist group based on this one incident. Unless there is something to show a history of such things, it strikes me as a poorly thought-through attempt to do what they say it was after the fact, a bit of shock jock tactics to provoke what in the U.S. is, outside of the Islamophobic Marxist-Humanists, a rather anti-Semitic anti-imperialism.

    In any case, Felix’s quote hits the nail on the head: “Wolfgang Pohrt, a student of Adorno, once remarked, “There is no reason to assume that the Palestinians, if they were victorious, would behave differently from the Israelis. However, there is also no reason to expect the Palestinians to take from the bombarding of their refugee camps by the Israeli air force a different lesson from that which the Jews who founded Israel had taken: that one must expel and persecute, if one does not wish to be expelled and persecuted.”

    @negpot
    Posturing about punching members of Platypus in the face is not only macho bullshit, but an unacceptable way of handling disagreements within the Left which genuinely is all too reminiscent of Stalinism’s methods. I don’t see how that can be viewed as anything but way out of bounds.

  54. principiadialectica.co.uk Says:

    Chris, you talk of the ‘Islamophobic Marxist-Humanists.’

    I haven’t come across anything by anyone within their orbit that can be defined as such. Similar brick bats are launched at Robert Kurz and the Exit people, although it doesn’t take a genius to see they make a clear distinction between postmodern Islamic fundamentalism and Islam.

    SD

  55. Chris Wright Says:

    Yeah, well I have a history with them in Chicago and their statement on the 9/11 suicide attack, in which they referred to the need to defend “our” Enlightenment values against the Islamists. The hilarity was their claim that as a result of my objection to their racist counterposing of “our” European Enlightenment values and Islam, that I was a Left Fascist Strasserite.

    You have discussed with me publicly now for years, I think you might have noticed if I was a Strasserite, and thus a fascist.

  56. negative potential Says:

    Cutrone’s affinity for the Anti-Germans is a matter of public record. Straight from the horse’s mouth:

    “Now, we are clearly more sympathetic to the anti-fascist rather than anti-imperialist “Left.” This can be found in our orientations towards the Anti-Deutsch and others as our preferred objects of critique — more interesting, in certain respects, as objects of critical engagement, to be redeemed in some way. ”

    There’s just enough hedging in there to leave some wiggle room, but he comes right out and says that he regards it as a tendency to be “redeemed.”

    Now, Cutrone most likely doesn’t even read German, and hence almost everything he knows about the history of Anti-Germans is based largely upon hearsay concerning their *worst* development after 2001. So it’s not even like Cutrone is basing this affinity upon the more ambiguous developments of the network Radikale Linke in the early 90s, or the split within the KB, matters about which there are **no** available sources in English. Rather, Cutrone professes admiration and “redemption” for a political tendency which since 2001, and to almost all English-only observers, is simply an apologetic movement for American wars and anti-Muslim racism.

    Chris W., I don’t consider this an “inner-leftist” dispute, since Platypus for me are not leftists, anymore than LaRouchies are. Maybe you want to take them at face value, fine, but these are some unsavory characters.

    SD,

    “Similar brick bats are launched at Robert Kurz and the Exit people”

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard Kurz and co. accused of Islamophobia, but rather criticized for their disgusting apologetics for Israel’s bombing of Gaza. But in the case of Kurz, as opposed to the Anti-Germans, I think it’s more a matter of farce rather than tragedy. ISF and Krisis were basically considered part of a broader “Wertkritik” tendency back in the 90s, and I think the old boy is trying to win back some of his declining marketshare by making some of the same craven appeals as that tendency, but without going all the way into the cheerleading for US wars or anti-Muslim racism.

    Although Kurz has made it clear that he thinks that the lives of Palestinian Arabs are worth a lot less than those of Israeli citizens. I’ll leave it up to you whether you consider that racist.

  57. principiadialectica.co.uk Says:

    CW: What you say about the Chicago marxist humanists: that is surprising. These people, – at least, the genuine MH – are steeped in a very specific tradition of critical theory, where Adorno, Horkheimer and so on, have a very specific analysis of ‘Enlightenment values’ – you must have been talking to some right fraggles. Certainly not part of the MH tradition which has a proper theoretical pedigree.

    Ol’ Raya and the rest of them – quite something to be proud of, what she got going. They were there at the start for African American civil rights etc. Proper scholars of Marx, not like those Trotskyist jonny come latelys for sure.

    SD

  58. principiadialectica.co.uk Says:

    Neg Pot says:

    “Kurz has made it clear that he thinks that the lives of Palestinian Arabs are worth a lot less than those of Israeli citizens.”

    Utter bullshit.

    You are like one of those squids that shits ink to put off predators. Spreading confusion = best form of defence

  59. principiadialectica.co.uk Says:

    Another word on the American MH: when their newspaper News and Letters was still going, it always had a certain feel about it of Adorno’s ‘message in a bottle’ – a smuggled out truth, which wasn’t hadn’t been easy to come by. So many left wing groups were – and it’s getting worse – made up of a leadership of charlatans, opportunists or morons. For many people coming across radical politics, if you were lucky, there was a faint pulse you could detect, and if you were very lucky you might find it via the esoteric writings of Trotsky on art and literature, which would lead you into the more subterranean world of the Surrealists, then you would find the SI, etc. But people like the SWP’s Dave Widgery weren’t as prolific as they might have been, except in those moments of political mania – rather, this very dull puritanical strain of left-wing Keynsianism was the dominant voice, plodding along, in that very British way. Hanif Khureshi captures it quite well in the WRP character that makes an appearance in his Buddha of Suburbia…

    In retrospect, at least with the MH there was a genuine weight to their politics, grounded in a comprehension of Hegel’s absolute, which sounds a bit mad to anyone who hasn’t had the good fortune to spend a bit of time with the old man’s writings., but once you have, you can see what their game was all about. They just weren’t very good at roping people in like Widgery, who could have tethered their mania, and push it out to a wider audience.

    I didn’t get it at the time, but looking back, it was the only game in town, as an old anarchist pal of mine used to say.

    The MH were never able to import the grand ideas of Hegel, Marx and the Frankfurters into our modern world. Something people like Kurz et al. are better suited for these days, maybe.

    SD

  60. negative potential Says:

    It’s not utter bullshit. Kurz’s cheerleading for Israel is a matter of public record. He devoted a long article in Exit number 6 to it.

    For fuck’s sake, have the integrity to either critique his positions or, if you agree with them, then try to defend them (reprehensible as they are). Denying he holds such positions won’t get you anywhere.

  61. principiadialectica.co.uk Says:

    I will say it one more time:

    “Kurz has made it clear that he thinks that the lives of Palestinian Arabs are worth a lot less than those of Israeli citizens.”

    Utter bullshit.

    You are like one of those squids that shits ink to put off predators. Spreading confusion = best form of defence

    In other words, please state where Kurz says anything as utterly disgusting as you suggest.

  62. negative potential Says:

    C’mon, you can’t possibly be that stupid.

    Kurz is totally OK with Israel launching missiles at Gaza, ergo…

  63. negative potential Says:

    BTW, whoever wants to see some of Kurz’s cheerleading for lobbing missiles at the population of Gaza, cf. his article in Exit 6.

    Oh wait, I forgot, you guys don’t actually read German. Tell me again what the fuck gives you the authority to make pronouncements about an author whose work you aren’t even able to read?

  64. principiadialectica.co.uk Says:

    For the third and FINAL time:

    “Kurz has made it clear that he thinks that the lives of Palestinian Arabs are worth a lot less than those of Israeli citizens.”

    Utter bullshit.

    You are like one of those squids that shits ink to put off predators. Spreading confusion = best form of defence

    In other words, please state where Kurz says anything as utterly disgusting as you suggest.

    If you can’t, shut the fuck up.

    To be honest, I find it a little strange that it has taken you – what – five or so years now? To finally declare that Kurz is a racist. When all this time, your almost pathological hatred of him has been based on some obscure fucking balls about his interpretation of Marx’s analysis of value form!

  65. negative potentail Says:

    “In other words, please state where Kurz says anything as utterly disgusting as you suggest.”

    For the third time: Exit, Number 6.

    Kurz was a supporter of Israel’s bombing of Gaza. Sorry if that truth is just too hard for you.

    Like I said, I’ll leave it up to **you** to determine whether his prioritization of Israeli lives over Palestinian ones is a manifestation of racism.

  66. principiadialectica.co.uk Says:

    Neg, the mask has come off just lately. You really are a disgusting little shit who likes to spread confusion aren’t you?

    Every time you reek your smelly breath over the keyboard we get a deeper insight into what are nothing less than makeover stalinist notions of ‘marxism’ for 2012.

    You would be much happier in the pig pens that Seymour and Proyect organise. Those filthy holes are more suitable – you should find plenty of people there who admire your crap.

    Go on home now.

  67. Chris Wright Says:

    I won’t drag the sordid details of 11 years ago in, nor my views of N&L, good and bad. It is pretty irrelevant now. You are welcome to read their October 1, 2001 editorial (a modified version of the original statement to which I responded, and which in my opinion was worse) and my reply (‘On September 11 and “Against the Double Tragedy”‘ at the LibCom site) and decide for yourself.

  68. Chris Wright Says:

    BTW, my piece is pretty vitriolic and I don’t doubt that it seemed to come out of the blue to people I was generally quite politically and personally friendly with. September, 2001 was a bad month, but I should have been better about my disagreements, even if I would not take back any of the basic points.

  69. Sean Says:

    Sorry Chris, I rate you as a first division scholar of critical theory, but that piece you wrote on 9-11 should have been consigned to the dustbin a long time ago.

    SD

  70. Jehu Says:

    To understand the argument Postone makes in this piece substitute the term “socially necessary labor time” for the term “value”, as here:

    “This problematic can be framed as one of the increasingly anachronistic characters of >>socially necessary labor time<>socially necessary labor time<>socially necessary labor time’s<< increasingly anachronistic character is central to Hardt’s argument (even if his use of the term “value” is not the same as that presented here) and to considerations of a possible alternative future."

    Of course Postone is speaking here of a society where necessary labor has been abolished, which is to say, he is speaking of the higher stage of communism. Once again Postone nails the question on the head.

    In my opinion, Postone weakness in this piece is that he think the "possible alternative future" depends on forces other than the one he presents here: that socially necessary labor time is becoming increasingly anachronistic. As here:

    "Historicizing value also implies that movements against capitalism must also be considered historically. The question of the historical conditions of revolt and revolution is not only one of their genesis but also of the sort of social order that could subsequently emerge. This is a fundamental historical question that cannot simply be bracketed. A lack of critical distance from uprisings and the absence of an inquiry into the nature of the new order likely to emerge can also be understood as a symptom of a sort of temporal disorientation that, arguably, characterizes our historical situation.

    "Different sorts of responses to the current crisis vary according to the degree to which they accept the present order as necessary."

    In the above quote, Postone seems to be suggesting the situation depends not on the increasing anachronism of value, but on the political responses to this increasing anachronism. For some reason, Postone swerves from his conclusion at the last minute by proposing the various political responses to the crisis are not themselves determined by the increasing anachronism of socially necessary labor time. This is a step back from his unique framing of the material process, which must foreshadow events.

  71. Jehu Says:

    Here is my take on the significance of Postone’s critique of Hardt: http://pogoprinciple.wordpress.com/2012/05/13/postones-on-the-current-crisis/

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