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luka
25-02-2012, 07:23 AM
i said i would start a thread on this when i started reading it. partly as a way to shame me into finishing it and partly cos grizzly b said he would help me with it if i found it heavy going. have you read it? did you like it?

blacktulip
25-02-2012, 11:30 PM
Have read it.

Vastly prefer this: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/condition-working-class/

baboon2004
26-02-2012, 11:59 AM
interesting, will print off some of that now.

Luka, have you seen the David Harvey online video lectures to accompany Das Kapital? Could be an effective way to read it, watching those as well.

luka
27-02-2012, 06:48 AM
i have the book of those lectures to help me baboons yeah.

zhao
27-02-2012, 09:25 AM
there's been a good discussion going on my facebook wall (as Luka is already aware) which addresses some of the most common fallacies and misunderstandings -- in particular the last lengthy post by SOS, clearly articulates some crucial points in understanding Marx and Smith, and the limitations and falsehoods in our inherited state/market and other dichotomies.

thought i would post up some of the best bits:

Sos Nihon

Much of what goes under the name of Marxism -- "orthodox Marxism" or Marxist-Leninism -- are forms of state-capitalism. Some would argue (myself included) that the most interesting currents of Marxism emerged in contradistinction to this often authoritarian tradition. Harvey is useful too but the best schematic introduction I've found is Harry Cleaver's Reading Capital Politically, which has exerted a justifiable influence among autonomists all over the world:

http://libcom.org/library/reading-capital-politically-cleaver

Matthias Georgi

There is one thing, that I never see addressed: How do you deal with resource management in a non-capitalistic world?
This is the one thing, that capitalism solves pretty well and communism fails in. It is extremely complex to run a system that optimizes supply and demand.
Assuming there would be a possibility to run a planned economy by a super sophisticated realtime algorithm, there would be still the problem of motivation.

Sos Nihon

Matthias, if you have followed this thread so far, what you call "planned economy" (and wrongly "communism" -- remember that even Stalinists didn't claim their social system was "communist" but a "socialist" state in transition to "communis...m", which never arrived) is, more accurately, a feature of capitalism. Historically, all forms of capitalism have required some kind of state intervention/planning (whether enclosure and destruction of indigenous land/resources, establishment of Foucauldian panopticon at the both carceral and societal levels, or, more specifically in the U.S. case, as a system of military Keyensianism) as well as market mechanisms.

As for the question of resource-management, most of non-capitalist human history until the advent of capitalism in the sixteen and seventeenth century appeared to be doing just fine, critical as some of us may be about this or that aspect of various systems that existed at the time, from seigneurial feudalism to nomadic hunter-and-gather society. In fact, given the exponentially algorithmic technological development of industrial and consumerist capitalism, tremendous wastes have been generated, as anybody who has given even a superficial glance at the global ecological crisis today know all too well -- and this "waste" is not at the microeconomic level of transactional imbalance in supply/demand within a miniscule economic sector but at the catastrophically colossal level of the world threatening all species, which surely ranks as the worst example of resource management in history. By the way, it might also be worth recalling here that the notion of "algorithm" does not originate within capitalism, as the word itself derives from the name of the medieval Persian scientist al-Khwarizmi.

Motivation: just as many Soviet workers rightly hated to work under their inefficient bureaucratic state capitalist regime, most of us in liberal capitalist societies hate to go to work at places usually under the control of a corporation that is run on essentially totalitarian principle -- I don't see how this speaks well to the motivational nature of capitalism. Plus there's a strange ideological assumption here -- that motivation toward economic development/efficiency should be an unquestionable good above all others. What if you want to live your life according to a different mode of motivation, such as the spiritual discipline of a monk or the creative expression of an artist or the moral economy of a peasant? One of capitalism's major defects is that it destroys all these various forms of human motivation under the servile dictum of "work or die". A pretty impoverished, to say nothing of repressive, form of motivation if you ask me.

Matthias Georgi

Sos: I see what you are trying to say. But still I have the feeling, that you are not offering any solution at all (going back 500 years is not a solution in my eyes). Capitalism is brutal, no question. But so was almost any society with th...eir class systems and suppression of the poor. My point is, that capitalism needs to be fixed not destroyed. Exploitation of natural resources for instance is a mistake in the design of the system. If people had to pay for what we take from nature, the system would regulate this problem by itself.

Motivation: capitalism by itself doesn't have any ideological assumptions. it's just a mechanism to deal with goods and services, not more. the point is, our current financial system has some huge flaws, that need to be fixed, for example how banks, debts and interests work. but the principle of a free market itself is a great way of dealing with supply and demand.

Leo Zhao

Matthias, i don't think SOS, or Marx or anyone is suggesting that we go "back" to anything, but only that historical evidence shows that capitalism is by far not the only, and by FAR not the best functioning system for large societies. And perhaps especially in terms of resource management capitalism performs very poortly: just one example: a staggering more than 50% of food that we produce today is wasted. The everything for profit mode has shown a complete disregard for everything else: the 5 euro winter slippers i bought which broke after a single day is a good example - a waste of materials, waste of the workers' labor, waste of the consumer's time and money, a COMPLETE waste all around, and because why? because profit is the only thing people care about.

The only people who think capitalism works live on the half of the exploiting world, ignoring and rationalizing the complete lack of human rights and pandemic, extreme suffering of the exploited other half, who endure and perish en masse under economic, political, and not least of all physical violence every day. Child laborers in S.E. Asia whose legs have atrophied and no longer able to walk due to sitting for 18 hours a day making shoes since age 4. The conflict in the Congo over mineral resources which have so far claimed 5.4 million (conservative estimate) lives in the deadliest war since WW2 (UN) does not get even mentioned in Western media, and thus is not made aware to the vast majority of first world citizens. Consider hundreds of children hacked to pieces with machetes and thrown into the river, because they live in an area with minerals and diamonds, and talk to me about "resource management".

The problems are entirely foundational, elemental, structural, resides in the basic ideological premises of the capitalist system itself, and can never be fixed by adjusting this or that policy. Perhaps the most pernicious trick of all is capitalism makes itself seem neutral, and makes its ideology seem "natural" and thus invisible. But oh yes there is ideology (just a couple of examples due to time constraints):

The false exultation of competition over cooperation, so deeply ingrained as to cloud and distort the thinking of even evolutionary biologists such as Darwin, has been largely accepted by most today as "natural"; while in actual nature it is Symbiosis and Cooperation which is the driving factor behind evolution, not Competition (ask Lynn Marguilis).

The "free market" has always been a fiction in practical terms; in reality no such thing exists. Hereditary aristocracy makes sure that those born into the 1% will always have the vast majority of opportunities, power, human rights, while the rest of the first world have very little, and the rest of the world have none. So the Big Lie of "pulling one self up by bootstraps" is just that, a Big Lie, to the vast majority, regardless of how many exceptional examples are endlessly touted.

The idea that material possessions make us happy creates both waste and misery for all parties involved. the ideology of personal satisfaction and individual achievement at the expense of everyone else...

Not only capitalism, but also the ideological bedrock on which capitalism is built, needs to be completely dismantled, soon because we are about to face the disastrous consequences of capitalism, yes even we who live in the first world. The only other perspective is that it is too late, that we have already entered a new dark age of wide spread economic, political, environmental catastrophes on a global scale.

Matthias Georgi

Leo Zhao: Sorry, I don't have time for a lengthy response. It's totally true, people are doing bad and horrible things for profit. In my eyes it is too easy to say it is the fault of capitalism. Not capitalism is bad, it is the human nature. It is greed for power. It can happen in any system. And again what system should replace capitalism?
Regarding resource management, if a system produces a lot of waste, it still can handle supply and demand efficiently. We have a lot of waste, because we produce so much. Apart from the negatives things you said, it shows us one good thing: we could easily live without unemployment and poverty.

zhao
27-02-2012, 09:27 AM
Eliazar de la Tierra

Well. First of all, without having tried to read through the Kapital, I think that Marxism encompasses a political system if it is supposed to be anything but a Utopian story, as it is based on a special category of rights and whatnot. Seco...ndly, if I am informed correctly, Socialism is a necessary stage towards Communism (which was thought to emerge quite a long time after Socialism which is paving the way) and though not seen as an optimal system, I think that Marx and Engels did envision it something like it turned out in the end. Perhaps they didn't think it was quite that brutal and definitely not such a complete failure. However, the way the Socialist countries behaved was eventually inevitable given that the economic system is based on force.

On the economic aspects of Socialism/Communism – first of all, Marx failed (like al the Classical economists) to resolve the price issue. But without prices, a proper allocation of goods is a very difficult thing to do. And just producing anything you feel like will most likely lead to a very big catastrophe very soon. I think that it is not coincidental that a black market, which determined the price of goods following demand and supply, was alway flourishing in Socialist societies, and that Lenin saved his project by a reverting to several Capitalist reforms after the awesome War Communism had such great success.

True enough, the 19th century factories might not have been the most awesome places to work in, but on the one hand, I am not so sure if it was so much better before, and then you have to take into consideration that it was a revolution in society coupled with an incredible explosion, so it is eventually a wonder that everyone even got fed after the population was more or less unstable for hundreds of years due to a lack of food. And now, in the developed world, living standard has quite improved.

As for the thought that Socialism just sucked because the Soviet Union was a feudalistic country before – Japan, for example, was an isolated, feudalistic country for just about as long and they managed to become one of the world's greatest economies under Capitalism. Also, Western and Eastern Germany started out roughly the same, yet the West thrived under Capitalism while the East had to build a wall to stop the people from fleeing.

And then the necessity of the State. The State is essentially Anti-Capitalist and in no way needed in a Capitalist society. It is, furthermore, the intruder that causes most of the problems we see today, especially the disrespect of property rights (like lately in the Amazonas region, were for „the greater good“ or whatever they decided just to flood Indian communities), warmongering, colonialism, genetic technology, atomic energy, and so on. While some might pretend they are Capitalists, it's quite ridiculous to say for, say, a banker who works with money which is a 100% government controlled commodity nowadays. Free markets can exist, but naturally not if the state takes part in the economy with 50 to 75 %, as it does now in most societies of the First World. Socialism, on the other hand, depends on the totalitarian state, as the system is not based on voluntary cooperation and the natural rights of every human being, but arbitrary allocation of everything.

Bobby Bisto

do you really think the free market is an infalliable way to distribute commodities? do you even beleive the government controls money
what are the downsides of a 'free market' for healthcare services to give an obvious example? why where there massive food riots in 2008?
was it to do with state intervention?

Matthias Georgi

Coincidentally had another fb discussion about capitalism/communism and learned, that we can have both open markets and communism: http://umarvadillo.wordpress.com/2010/08/24/some-ideas-relating-to-islamic-trading/

Eliazar de la Tierra

Bobby: There is a state monopoly on money (you have to accept legal tender as money and are not allowed to use other stuff) with central banks determining both the amount of money they offer, the amount banks need to keep as reserve when creating credit from nothing and the interest rates for which money sells - seems a lot like the state controls the money.

Matthias: A real free market is in no way a hindrance to the emergence to alternative or parallel systems, so yeah, you can have pretty much anything you like with them (as long as it is based on voluntary cooperation). That's also the mayor difference with state controlled systems (like the economic system we have today or the failed socialist experiments), which cannot allow any alternative to the status quo.

Bobby Bisto

central banks are not synomous with the state.
not all of them are independent but many are. that doesnt mean the state has no input but it does mean they are not synonomous with the state. nor does the state have direct control over the value of the national currency.
Bobby Bisto nor does the state determine the amount of liquidity in the economy. it tries to influence all these things but to say it controls money is an enormous overstatement.

zhao
27-02-2012, 09:28 AM
Sos Nihon

Matthias: Leo is right -- never did I argue that the solution was to go back to different social formations antedating capitalism (although it might be worth noting that, with all their obvious limitations, primitivists have a point when th...ey argue that some hunter-and-gather societies enjoy far more leisure and less class oppression/exploitive labor than modern industrial societies, as Marshall Sahlins empirically adumbrated in Stone Age Economics, what Leo referred to as "original affluence"). In fact, take a look at the Jameson quote that initiated this thread: utilizing automation and computerization that capitalism developed in order to go beyond it (this idea derives from Marx's "Fragment on the Machine" in his unfinished mss. Grundrisse). This is a very classical Marxist understanding, running from Marx through Marcuse -- namely that capitalism, and its class protagonist, the bourgeoisie, are so far the most revolutionary system/class in history. If you actually read The Communist Manifesto, you’ll notice that the document should be retitled The Capitalist Manifesto, given its effusively ecstatic description of how capitalism revolutionizes and destroys all feudal relationships. You should be aware of the historical context: in 1844, the year of the Manifesto's composition and on the verge of a continental revolution (which the sociologist Mike Davis recently compared to the Arab Spring), most of Europe was still monarchical, its economic system overwhelmingly rural and feudal, and state institutions repressive and, if you like, totalitarian (Marx was run out of Prussia because he was an editor of a democratic newspaper Rheinische Zeitung calling for, among other things, freedom of speech). So given that the classical Marxist presupposition is that you take this revolutionary modern economic system of capitalism as the basis for a new post-capitalist society, all the objections put forward here on the basis of pitting the rational market to the repressive state are absolutely moot (also, for Marx’s later views on how you go from rural traditional society to a radical democratic one in Russia, see his letters to Vera Zasulich, in which he argued AGAINST the Russian Marxists).

Also, re: human nature as the source of greed and exploitation, and not capitalism -- as Marx stated explicitly in the preface to the first edition of Capital, his analysis does not blame individual capitalists for injustices and inequalities developed under capitalism but seeks to understand capitalism as part of "natural history". In other words, Marx sought to analyze capitalism partly as an expression of human nature -- which it no doubt is, at least one variant among many, just as all social formations are (btw, this is very different from naturalizing capitalism as a singular, teleological path of human history, for that’s precisely the kind of self-serving ideological rationalization he was critiquing, but to see how capitalism accentuates certain aspects of human nature, such as greed in the form of fetishizing profit via imposition of alienated labor), thus his point was not to condemn it as bad or praise it as good but to understand it as a historical system on its own terms, with a specific origin, lifespan, and terminus (as opposed to market capitalist ideologues who think a la Candide that this is the "best of all possible worlds" and that the market is an eternal principle in the same way that God was viewed as such by the feudal priesthood).

There’s a good reason why Marx doesn’t offer ready-made alternatives to capitalism (at most there are only a few paragraphs about what communism is in Marx’s entire work). Many nineteenth-century socialists during Marx's time tried to creat...e alternatives to industrial capitalism -- Robert Owens, an industrial capitalist in his own right, and Charles Fourier are probably the most famous examples -- but, interesting as their efforts were, they never lasted because real societies don't emerge out of such social-engineering castle-building in the air. Hence Marx's critique of the utopian socialists, which can be extended to those who offer state ownership or the market as an utopian solution to the problems of our economic system. Instead, Marx stressed the importance of diagnosing what's actually going on, figuring out alternatives from what people are doing instead of imposing utopian blueprints. And there are plenty of really-existing alternatives, from Kerala and Mandragon to traditional subsistence economies to what we ourselves do with people in relation to our hobbies, passions, and creative impulses outside the circuits of capitalist reproduction, although we may not give it any name and don't think much of it. There are also historical examples too numerous to mention, from the Diggers during the English Revolution to the workers’ councils in their various permutations throughout the twentieth-century revolutions. You might say this or that is going to work or doesn't work in the abstract, as if the world is the vacuum of an academic seminar, but the world never works in a vacuum. For example, the installation of “free market principle” has been almost always executed with state violence, as you can see in Chile under Pinochet, who took advice from the eminent Chicago-School free-market economist Milton Friedman, and even attempts at liberal democratic capitalism have called forth repeated CIA-backed military coups (as in Guatemala under Arbenz, Iran under Mosaddegh, etc.).

RE: the efficiency of the market, my suggestion is go back to its preeminent theoretical advocate Adam Smith and read what he actually says. His theory of the market stipulates that it would produce equality of conditions -- as opposed to just opportunities -- so if such conditions cannot be produced by the market we can reject it as insufficient on the very ground that it can’t even meet the requirements of its most classical formulation. Also, it’s worthwhile to recall that capitalism makes itself possible only on the basis of destroying the market in its original historical sense, which was a place of exchange at the periphery of subsistent, largely peasant economies (cf. Fernand Braudel’s historical trilogy on Capitalism and Civilization) -- so if you really believe in the market as a vehicle of meeting human needs, you’d have to oppose the financial market and its interlocking system of exchange which, like the corporations, are by definition anti-democratic institutions. Read Karl Polyani’s The Great Transformation, a classic account of how nineteenth British market capitalists took seriously their utopian dogma about the market and, when they put it to practice, ended up generating desolation in their society. What is so ironic is that, after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, many anticommunist ideologues claimed that the utopianism on the part of the socialists resulted in the economically moribund gulag state while they themselves offered a no less utopian panacea in the form of market fundamentalism, which is one of the primary roots of our present financial crisis. If you think about it, this market fundamentalism, touted among devotees of the empirically bankrupt (and really silly tautologies dressed up as serious intellectual discourse) ideas of Ayn Rand, Robert Nozick, and the Chicago School economics, is a mirror-image of the state socialist fundamentalism that claimed it as a “workers’ paradise”, except that the latter totalitarian practitioners in the Soviet Union managed to provide a relatively higher standard of living than what prevails today in greater Russia, with complete breakdown in the social and healthcare system, gangster capitalism entrenched through the mafia-dominated informal sector, and a corrupt, nominally parliamentary state not above outright assassinations of dissidents. Which of course isn’t an argument to go back to the repressive Soviet state but it speaks to the principle of “plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" when your only point of reference is the impoverished dichotomy of state/market (a residual cliché of Cold War invention, which conceals the structural corollary between state socialism and corporate capitalism as being both based on enclosure of the commons and imposition of alienated labor on mass industrial scale) and to the aforementioned necessity of taking into consideration how the real world works, as opposed to offering facile, universal solution in the form of the market or anything else.

Eliazar mentioned not having read Marx. I think it would greatly benefit our discussion if we base our arguments on actual readings -- not just of Marx but Smith, Ricardo, et al. -- and real-world examples.

vimothy
27-02-2012, 04:51 PM
but only that historical evidence shows that capitalism is by far not the only, and by FAR not the best functioning system for large societies. And perhaps especially in terms of resource management capitalism performs very poortly


Zhao: what is your counterfactual?

craner
27-02-2012, 05:06 PM
(Enter Vimothy, with a chainsaw.)

zhao
27-02-2012, 05:28 PM
Zhao: what is your counterfactual?

facts counter to what i've said? i think others who say capitalism is like, TEH BESTEST EVAR, have, or attempted to at least, put up many examples supporting that :)

no, really. i'm not going to pretend to be anything but the novice that i am. so here is SOS again:


most of non-capitalist human history until the advent of capitalism in the sixteen and seventeenth century appeared to be doing just fine, critical as some of us may be about this or that aspect of various systems that existed at the time, from seigneurial feudalism to nomadic hunter-and-gather society. In fact, given the exponentially algorithmic technological development of industrial and consumerist capitalism, tremendous wastes have been generated, as anybody who has given even a superficial glance at the global ecological crisis today know all too well -- and this "waste" is not at the microeconomic level of transactional imbalance in supply/demand within a miniscule economic sector but at the catastrophically colossal level of the world threatening all species, which surely ranks as the worst example of resource management in history. By the way, it might also be worth recalling here that the notion of "algorithm" does not originate within capitalism, as the word itself derives from the name of the medieval Persian scientist al-Khwarizmi.


Marx stressed the importance of diagnosing what's actually going on, figuring out alternatives from what people are doing instead of imposing utopian blueprints. And there are plenty of really-existing alternatives, from Kerala and Mandragon to traditional subsistence economies to what we ourselves do with people in relation to our hobbies, passions, and creative impulses outside the circuits of capitalist production, although we may not give it any name and don't think much of it. There are also historical examples too numerous to mention, from the Diggers during the English Revolution to the workers’ councils in their various permutations throughout the twentieth-century revolutions.

Mr. Tea
27-02-2012, 06:59 PM
Of course there's no denying that capitalist economies - both the traditional free-market kind and the state-capitalist kind - tend to consume resources at an unsustainable rate. But it's important to avoid noble-savage-type fantasies about indigenous people living in perfect harmony with Mother Nature. This may be the case for some pre-technological societies but certainly not for others - you only have to look at the effect the Maori had on New Zealand's biodiversity long before the first Europeans turned up. Similar pre-modern extinctions are thought to have happened in other parts of the world, too.

The big differences with technological societies is the overall far greater population density and the fact that it's much more efficient to hunt things with guns than with spears or bows.

Not that technology is synonymous with capitalism but the technologies that we see as forming the basis of modern world since the industrial revolution have generally sprung from capitalist societies.

baboon2004
27-02-2012, 07:30 PM
Yeah, think the problem with capitalism is how to stop it driving people into a mad orgy of wanting more, more, more, and simultaneously neglecting the needs of others with less advantageous backgrounds, loss of empathy etc.

Am currently reading an interesting article about tensions between democracy and capitalism in the post-war period.

baboon2004
27-02-2012, 07:43 PM
Yeah, think the problem with capitalism is how to stop it driving people into a mad orgy of wanting more, more, more, and simultaneously neglecting the needs of others with less advantageous backgrounds, loss of empathy etc.

Am currently reading an interesting article about tensions between democracy and capitalism in the post-war period.

luka
28-02-2012, 07:23 AM
vimothy doesnt mean counterfactual. or if he does i guess he is using it in a sense i dont understand.

luka
28-02-2012, 07:25 AM
and it sounds as if tea has been reading flannery
http://www.abebooks.co.uk/9781876334215/Future-Eaters-Flannery-Tim-1876334215/plp

luka
28-02-2012, 07:29 AM
zhaos mate seems quite erudite. it would be nice if he turned up here. zhao invited him but i guess he considered it to be beneath him which is fair enough. oliver craner says he has read capital.

zhao
28-02-2012, 07:52 AM
The big differences with technological societies is the overall far greater population density and the fact that it's much more efficient to hunt things with guns than with spears or bows.

Not that technology is synonymous with capitalism but the technologies that we see as forming the basis of modern world since the industrial revolution have generally sprung from capitalist societies.

can people please read the things i've quoted, in particular what SOS has said, before responding, please? Because he addressed all of these issues, and lays a clear understanding of Marx as ALL FOR the Capitalist revolution as it broke from feudal structures (19th Century), yet detailing its inherent problems which would cause its eventual collapse (now), and suggesting a future communist society which does not abandon, but builds ON TOP OF the achievements of Capitalism.

which has a lot to do with this new book by Jameson (http://rabble.ca/books/reviews/2012/02/capitalism-infernal-machine-interview-frederic-jameson):


Marx himself was always quite excited about new discoveries -- things like chemical fertilizers (which don't seem so good today, but led to a green revolution in their time), undersea cable, and other discoveries of the day. It is very clear that he thought of socialism as more advanced technologically and in every other way. Raymond Williams wrote about how people think that socialism is a nostalgic return to a simpler society. Williams challenged that saying socialism won't be simpler, it will be much more complicated.

There is a tendency among the Left today -- and I mean all varieties of the Left -- of being reduced to protecting things. It is a kind of conservatism; saving all the things that capitalism destroys which range from nature to communities, cities, culture and so on. The Left is placed in a very self-defeating nostalgic position, just trying to slow down the movement of history. There is a line by Walter Benjamin that epitomizes that -- though I don't know how he thought of that himself -- revolutions are "pulling the emergency cord," stopping the onrush of the train. I don't think Marx thought about it like that at all. It seems to me that Marx thought that productivity would increase by getting rid of capitalism. On the level of organization, technology and production, Marx did not want a return to handicraft labour, but to go on into all kinds of complex forms of automation and computerization [as it would emerge].

The historical accident of something like socialism or communism taking place in a place what was essentially a third world country, Russia, an underdeveloped country, that has made us think of socialism in a way that was not Marx's way of imagining it. The socialist movement has to itself be inspired by this other type of vision.

padraig (u.s.)
28-02-2012, 09:56 AM
@zhao - a couple points for in response to SOS (+ yes I did read through everything posted). i can't see the debate on your facebook so if you could add these I would appreciate it. I am curious to see SOS's answers.

I'm certainly not as well versed in basic economic texts (or Marx generally) so I'm not going to argue on those grounds. however, I take issue w/what s/he calls "really-existing alternatives", about which I know a bit.

I happen to have taken an interest in Kerala b/c I went to school with a lot of people from there. its economy is hugely dependent - more than a fifth of its gdp - on remittances from emigrants working mostly in the Persian Gulf (i.e. oil) or to a lesser extent the States. another big chunk comes from tourism. Kerala's "alternative" is actually heavily reliant on capitalism.

Mondragon - to be a real alternative worker cooperatives would have to be implemented on a much, much larger scale than the 80k-odd people it employs. which has never been successfully accomplished anywhere, so far as I know. (the Spanish anarchists on the eve of the Civil War came closest + even that was not very close at all)

the Diggers, workers' councils (the soviets, Hungary 56, Paris 68, etc), the CNT-FAI and all other "historical examples too numerous to mention" have one thing in common - they all failed, if you define success as a viable, lasting alternative (tho in the 1st place none of them existed on a scale large enough to be a real threat anyway). capitalism's greatest ability is its ability to perpetuate itself. every challenge is/will be crushed, neutered or recuperated or etc. will only end with the exhaustion of the finite resources it runs on (which is already happening, bit by agonizing bit). I challenge SOS - or anyone - to provide any compelling reason to think otherwise.

padraig (u.s.)
28-02-2012, 10:16 AM
it's important to avoid noble-savage-type fantasies about indigenous people living in perfect harmony with Mother Nature. This may be the case for some pre-technological societies but certainly not for others

again, hunter-gatherers had a much longer run than it appears industrial civilization will (barring miraculous technological salvation). you can argue about original affluence or whatever, but the real measure of success is survival. that ain't no noble savage fantasy. as far as situations like New Zealand can you, or anyone, name any that didn't take place on an island (i.e. Easter, etc) ? absolutely there plenty of examples of pre-technological societies failing but you're specifically talking about failure as a result of environmental degradation (edit: I'm aware of, for example, the hunting to extinction of megafauna, but it's completely absurd to compare things like that to the exponentially higher rate at which resources are consumed now. we're talking tens of millennia vs. a few hundred years)
[standard disclaimer that there's no primitivist call here for return to h-g]

I think - tho I might be wrong - by "counterfactual" vimothy means example of a large scale functional system besides (+ possibly why it is better than) capitalism

padraig (u.s.)
28-02-2012, 10:32 AM
one other thing loosely related to the topic:

The Subversion of Politics by George Katsiaficas is a good book (+ one of the only ones I know of) about the anti-movement of the Autonomen - a recent example of autonomous resistance to capitalism and forerunners of the modern protest style of black bloc etc - its successes + failures. this should particularly interest you Zhao since the Autonomen were German (similar non-movements existed in Italy i.e Autonomia, and Holland - there is another great book about the Dutch squatting scene called Cracking the Movement) and it must still resonate now, especially in Berlin (Kreuzberg was one of their strongholds I believe; the Hafenstrasse in Hamburg was another) even with the sharp decline from its 80s peak.

also, inspired by this thread I've finally gotten around to starting Capital.

luka
28-02-2012, 10:37 AM
well one thing i was hoping for was other people to start reading at the same time as me so im pleased to hear that padraig.

Mr. Tea
28-02-2012, 11:22 AM
and it sounds as if tea has been reading flannery
http://www.abebooks.co.uk/9781876334215/Future-Eaters-Flannery-Tim-1876334215/plp

No - I've just heard about various extinctions that humans caused in pre-modern times - but that book does look quite interesting.

baboon2004
28-02-2012, 11:34 AM
http://newleftreview.org/?page=article&view=2914

thought this was interesting re the crises of capitalism.

"Motivation: just as many Soviet workers rightly hated to work under their inefficient bureaucratic state capitalist regime, most of us in liberal capitalist societies hate to go to work at places usually under the control of a corporation that is run on essentially totalitarian principle -- I don't see how this speaks well to the motivational nature of capitalism. Plus there's a strange ideological assumption here -- that motivation toward economic development/efficiency should be an unquestionable good above all others. What if you want to live your life according to a different mode of motivation, such as the spiritual discipline of a monk or the creative expression of an artist or the moral economy of a peasant? One of capitalism's major defects is that it destroys all these various forms of human motivation under the servile dictum of "work or die". A pretty impoverished, to say nothing of repressive, form of motivation if you ask me."

I really liked this part of your FB discussion, Zhao. Unfettered capitalism is a system masquerading as a purely economic one whereas it is intensely political (it's not a game that started from a tabula rasa/amnesty upon resources), and it also has nothing to say on what it is to be human, or what is valuable about humanity/existence. Taken on its own, it is a system for robots, not humans. Although obviously it can be used as just one part of a more enlightened and holistic system.

Not even to go into the point that everyone intervenes in the market, just that right-wingers do so solely for their own benefit.

or the psychological consequences of capitalism.

vimothy
28-02-2012, 01:47 PM
What I mean is, capitalism is "not the best system for X"--compared to what?

There is an implicit counterfactual conditional buried in this claim. Why not make it explicit? Then, if it is defensible, defend it.

EDIT: Or don't, of course--it was just a passing thought whilst reading the comments zhao posted.

vimothy
28-02-2012, 04:50 PM
no, really. i'm not going to pretend to be anything but the novice that i am. so here is SOS again:


most of non-capitalist human history until the advent of capitalism in the sixteen and seventeenth century appeared to be doing just fine, critical as some of us may be about this or that aspect of various systems that existed at the time, from seigneurial feudalism to nomadic hunter-and-gather society. In fact, given the exponentially algorithmic technological development of industrial and consumerist capitalism, tremendous wastes have been generated, as anybody who has given even a superficial glance at the global ecological crisis today know all too well -- and this "waste" is not at the microeconomic level of transactional imbalance in supply/demand within a miniscule economic sector but at the catastrophically colossal level of the world threatening all species, which surely ranks as the worst example of resource management in history. By the way, it might also be worth recalling here that the notion of "algorithm" does not originate within capitalism, as the word itself derives from the name of the medieval Persian scientist al-Khwarizmi.

Your friend seems very smart and I'm sure has given this a lot of thought, but I don't find his/her argument persuasive as it is.

Let's assume arguendo that we are on the verge of some kind of ecoological catastrophe.

What we want to know is: is it the case that this catastrophe was caused by capitalism?

In order to figure that out we need at least the following two things:


A sensible and restrictive definition of capitalism;
Some knowledge of what controls we need to hold constant to get a picture of the "ceteris paribus" effect of capitalism.

(1) is clearly absent from the above quote and elsewhere your friend is basically question begging in regards to what constitutes capitalism.

(2) doesn't seem to have been considered either, which is unfortunate since we are surely up to our eyeballs in selection bias.

Say that you can divide up the causes of the catastrophe into "capitalism" and "other stuff". What are the relative proportions? It seems to me that some degree of pollution is a natural consequence of a popuation of seven billion people. It's not hard to think of other factors that might contribute.

I'm no expert on these things, of course, so perhaps I'm just talking out of my ass here. But it all seems incredibly vague.

I mean, if we we transitioned some other system, and the catastrophe was averted, where would the gains have been made? Increased economic efficiency? Lower standards of living? Etc? Etc?

padraig (u.s.)
28-02-2012, 08:44 PM
^getting the feeling this forum is just the wrong place for me but will take a crack at your argument vim

population of 7 billion+ driven by advances in medicine + agricultural/industrial revolution which itself powered emergence of capitalist economy. very difficult to conclusively prove deleterious effects of human activity on environment (tho they seem highly likely) but we're positing that as generally true either way. you ask how we can allot blame. 1) what is this "other stuff" + how is it separate from "capitalism"? I would argue such a separation is impossible 2) a real "ceteris paribus" (i.e. outside of abstract modeling) measurement is impossible b/c there's no way to determine the controls.

facilitation is a more useful approach than causation. individuals or businesses do things that cause environmental damage (or human suffering or etc). those are not unique to capitalism but its guiding principle, self-interest, leads inevitably to favoring profit over all. there's no incentive to do otherwise beyond altruism, which is notoriously unreliable. as far as the trade-off, yeah it'd be lower standard of living in developed countries. least that's the only one I can see and it probably still wouldn't be sufficient. nor is it remotely likely to happen any time soon, at least not by choice.

craner
28-02-2012, 10:01 PM
I have a horrible feeling that Vimothy will destroy everybody on this thread with graphs and pie charts and links to academic papers, and then turn around and say, "actually, I haven't read Capital."

Although that would be funny.

I only read it because my undergraduate tutors insisted. I was studying literature, and hadn't even read the complete works of Shakespeare and Dickens but still got a First for it. An indictment of Humanities Higher Ed., that.

By the way, has anyone read the main essay in this month's Standpoint? I did today. I thought: if Jenks reads this, he'll have an aneurysm. Or he'll have to cycle up a hill like Lance Armstrong to get it out of his system.

I think the Engels essay on the family unit is stunning, and an equal to this book, for what it's worth, as is Marx's Theses On Feuerbach.

luka
28-02-2012, 10:17 PM
im not sure it helps to use loads of latin when there are standard english equivelents. i mean it does help in the sense that it has an intimidatory effect, but i dont think it helps us to communicate. im not even sure we need a definition of capitalism as in this particular pub debate capitalism is taken to mean 'the way we live now' it may be, if we can develop our arguments more as time goes on, we will need a more precise definition. at present, at this embryonic, half-arsed stage, we dont.

craner
28-02-2012, 10:21 PM
Yeah, buck your ideas up, you Deleuzian losers.

luka
28-02-2012, 10:22 PM
so at the moment we are going to take various positions on the way we have organised society at present. some of us will say, i think its pretty good, look at the alternatives, others will say, nah i dont like it, lots of people suffer and we're all going to hell in a handbasket.

luka
28-02-2012, 10:24 PM
craner as a small c conservative will take the former position although it wont go much beyond cheering vimothy on from the sidelines.

padraig (u.s.)
28-02-2012, 10:36 PM
^the interplay between you guys always cracks me the hell up.


im not even sure we need a definition of capitalism

yes. lest we find ourselves drearily arguing about mercantilism + dutch merchants in the 1600s + the tulip bubble.

padraig (u.s.)
28-02-2012, 10:40 PM
or the psychological consequences of capitalism

welcome to the exciting world of Situationism bro

luka
28-02-2012, 10:41 PM
well put it this way, we could spend 62 pages trying to establish a theoretical definition of capitlism we an all agree on, that might be fun, but assuming what we actually want to talk about is the world we live in, that theoretical definition would be valuable only so far as it corresponded with the world we live in. so why bother with that step at all?

luka
28-02-2012, 10:46 PM
its taken me a week to read 8 pages of capital. i dont see how im going to be able to finish it this year really.

padraig (u.s.)
28-02-2012, 10:47 PM
^exactly. I'm just concerned with de facto what is. quibbles over definitions seem like an enormous waste of time (tho most marxists seem to love them). it's like arguing over what color to paint a house as it burns down around you.

luka
28-02-2012, 10:48 PM
anyway, on the topic of capitalism and the expolited proletariat, i have to go to work.

padraig (u.s.)
28-02-2012, 10:50 PM
not intimidated by latin or pie charts tho. I saw plenty of both working in labs. creating meaningless graphs is practically a requirement.

john eden
28-02-2012, 11:17 PM
I feel bad not having read it, but I just cannot be arsed.

The Commnist manifesto is rad tho.

john eden
28-02-2012, 11:18 PM
That cartoony beginners guide to Marx is good too.

IdleRich
28-02-2012, 11:44 PM
"I feel bad not having read it, but I just cannot be arsed."
I'm surprised at that. Also feel slightly less guilty as it accurately sums up my position. Means I can't really contribute anything too meaningful to the debate but I'll be watching from the sidelines.

baboon2004
29-02-2012, 10:23 AM
welcome to the exciting world of Situationism bro

i'm rubbish with names of movements, but that's Society of the Spectacle etc, I see from a quick google.

pretty much true though as i understand it, given how loath people are to do even a small amount to protect even their own standard of living, while bullshit regularly rallies millions of people around it.

anyone got any good, reasonably simple reading material to recommend on the current Eurozone/Greek crisis, way in which states are forced to bail out other states lest interest rates on their own government bonds rise etc?

baboon2004
29-02-2012, 10:36 AM
so at the moment we are going to take various positions on the way we have organised society at present. some of us will say, i think its pretty good, look at the alternatives, others will say, nah i dont like it, lots of people suffer and we're all going to hell in a handbasket.

i propose a starting point to any debate should be that the primary function of any civilised society should be that as few people are rendered destitute/ homeless/starving by it as possible.

Surely anything else is secondary?

zhao
29-02-2012, 12:26 PM
for those who have not read it, yet feel its towering importance as more and more people increasingly realize its relevance, after hearing so much about the alleged "analytical tools for understanding the world today and the crisis it is in", such as myself, this famous professor/author guy gives these video and audio lectures on the book, and have been highly recommended to me:

http://www.davidharvey.org/

in addition to the series on the actual text there are lots of other goodies on the site. such as this fun little RSAnimation

http://youtu.be/qOP2V_np2c0

or this heftier END OF CAPITALISM (http://media.sas.upenn.edu/Humanities/harvey.mov) video

computer_rock
29-02-2012, 01:19 PM
david harvey's book on post modernism is also very good and i expect a lot of people on here would be interested in it. it primarily outlines his theory of 'time/space compression' but his effortless switching between economic/political/philosophical/geographic/cultural analysis along the way is really quite breathtaking.

matt b
29-02-2012, 01:50 PM
By the way, has anyone read the main essay in this month's Standpoint? I did today.

About Gove?

I managed to get to the top of page 2 of the web version before a red mist descended.

Education policy is a complete mess at the moment, with schools and colleges unable to make meaningful plans beyond the next 12 months, funding's fcuked, Toby Young, Jobs getting cut, social mobility getting hit (again), schools having to make decisions to chase money, which the gvt can then use for political gain, private schools being bailed out by the state, Toby Young, consultations headed by lunatics, Toby Young.




I thought: if Jenks reads this, he'll have an aneurysm. Or he'll have to cycle up a hill like Lance Armstrong to get it out of his system.


LOL

vimothy
29-02-2012, 02:59 PM
im not sure it helps to use loads of latin when there are standard english equivelents. i mean it does help in the sense that it has an intimidatory effect, but i dont think it helps us to communicate. im not even sure we need a definition of capitalism as in this particular pub debate capitalism is taken to mean 'the way we live now' it may be, if we can develop our arguments more as time goes on, we will need a more precise definition. at present, at this embryonic, half-arsed stage, we dont.

Luka,

Fair comments."Ceteris paribus" (basically, "other things equal") is just a phrase that gets used a lot in economics, and probably in other applied social science settings more generally. It has kind of entered my everyday language, and I think that "cet par effect", as well as being less of a mouthful, has a nicer ring than "other things equal effect". It's not intended to intimidate anyone.

And I agree that you don't necessarily need a precise definition of capitalism to talk about capitalism. On the other hand, if you want to say that capitalism is worse than X at Y, it would help (me at least) to know what you mean by capitalism and what you mean by X.

craner
29-02-2012, 03:14 PM
I managed to get to the top of page 2 of the web version before a red mist descended.

That's right, the one that asks: "are we looking at a future prime minister?"

I don't know, but I wonder what Jenks thinks.

luka
29-02-2012, 10:50 PM
On the other hand, if you want to say that capitalism is worse than X at Y, it would help (me at least) to know what you mean by capitalism and what you mean by X.

i think that whatever the question when you are talking to zhao the answer is bound to be 'hunter-gatherers'

luka
29-02-2012, 11:02 PM
im not even completely sure what we are going to fight about.

i propose a starting point to any debate should be that the primary function of any civilised society should be that as few people are rendered destitute/ homeless/starving by it as possible.
but baboons put something out there.
otherwise, zhaos friend is not here so theres not much point picking holes in his claims is there. hes not here to defend them.

luka
29-02-2012, 11:05 PM
its worth having a crack at this though. im sure we can do better than socrates and his mob so in the republic. craner will be pleased to hear i am reading blooms translation whenever i take a shit. its my having a shit book at the moment. i'll be Socrates. craner can be Thrasymachus.

craner
01-03-2012, 09:03 AM
Good choice. Sean Shapiro recommended that translation to me.

luka
03-03-2012, 11:14 PM
so to continue, we have the dramatis personae, although actually i think there are a couple of roles we need to fill. if zhaos friend consented to join in i think it would help as we need a voice from the left. we used to have a lot. maybe droid could fill this role?
ive given myself the role of socrates becasue i am pure of heart and very wise. my role is not knowing. both not knowing and directing the conversation.
padraig
vimothy
zhao
baboons
craner the lonley waif as the only man who has read marx.

luka
03-03-2012, 11:14 PM
baboons is the hardest character to write as he doesnt have a fixed identity.

luka
03-03-2012, 11:16 PM
padraig certainly does as the priest who loses his faith. the burnt out idealist. embittered and cynical.
vimothy for symmetrys sake we can cast as someone who undergoes a similar conversion but instead of identifying it as a losing of faith finds a new faith and a new energy and conviction.

luka
03-03-2012, 11:22 PM
ive now read 12 pages of marx. i read some this morning with a cup of tea.

IdleRich
03-03-2012, 11:24 PM
"i think that whatever the question when you are talking to zhao the answer is bound to be 'hunter-gatherers'"
Isn't this because a large number of anti-capitalists believe that as soon as you have possession of land and other things then it's inevitable that you will end up with the capitalism that we have now? Thus, to suggest any other system, it's imperative that it's possible (and in fact advantageous in almost every way) to live without owning land and planting crops.

padraig (u.s.)
03-03-2012, 11:37 PM
padraig certainly does as the priest who loses his faith. the burnt out idealist. embittered and cynical.

100% accurate. I use the priest losing faith comparison myself (I say preacher. more american). tho not nearly as bitter as I was a couple years ago. cynical hell yes.

luka
03-03-2012, 11:38 PM
how far have you got with the marx?

padraig (u.s.)
04-03-2012, 12:16 AM
@rich - kind of, except that it's an anti-civilization rather than anti-capitalist argument (tho the latter is implicit in the former). basically: the switch from nomadic h+g to sedentary cultivation creates individual property and division of labor, thus hierarchy, initiating the long chain of progress leading to now. obviously that is very simplified. the people who espouse that view come mostly from the green anarchist scene (some call themselves primitivists, some don't) tho there considerably more people who sympathize with it to some degree. however, there is a whole other wing of anarchism that espouses anarcho-communism or syndicalism, which is mostly hostile to the anti-civ view (which is quite young, basically post-60s). there is internecine squabbling. also, marxists of all stripes generally don't take it seriously (except perhaps as a general nod to the ecological ravaging of the planet), but they mostly don't take anarchism seriously in the first place (c.f. lenin's "infantile leftism"), anarchists think they're irrelevant + irritating + etc; that shit goes all the way back to marx + bakunin. also, "anti-capitalism" has post-2k become a very generic term that can describe most anything. which is perhaps more of an explanation than you were looking for.

padraig (u.s.)
04-03-2012, 12:16 AM
@luka - through chapter I

padraig (u.s.)
04-03-2012, 12:21 AM
the unabomber was largely motivated by anti-civ views (primmie theorist high priest john zerzan visited him in prison a la sartre + the RAF)

padraig (u.s.)
04-03-2012, 12:25 AM
there's also been a big "green scare" in the u.s. the last few years w/the fbi etc infiltrating the g.a. scene + sending a lot of people up for eco-sabotage things (some real, some entrapment). "radical environmentalists" are generally listed as the top domestic threat (well, after islamists, but I'm not sure if they're quite domestic) ahead of white supremacists + people who bomb abortion clinics + such.

padraig (u.s.)
04-03-2012, 12:26 AM
tho possibly no one here besides me cares about any of this

luka
04-03-2012, 12:29 AM
no its intersesting carryon

padraig (u.s.)
04-03-2012, 12:33 AM
in case anyone is tho, there is a novel - ishmael, by daniel quinn - that's basically a primitivist primer. also, one of ursula k. leguin's books - the dispossessed - is a sympathetic attempt to think out how an anarchist society, w/o any personal property, might work (tho she does include potential problems too).

padraig (u.s.)
04-03-2012, 12:38 AM
there's not much more to say luka unless we want to get into seriously into the topic

luka
04-03-2012, 12:42 AM
but just generally if you know about something dont be afraid of boring people.

padraig (u.s.)
04-03-2012, 12:44 AM
you can't really talk about it on a forum beyond generalities due to the nature of the scene (i.e. justifiably paranoid). but here is an archive of do or die, the best radical ecodefense zine of all time imo (+ out of the uk actually) if you want a sense of it. the last issue was holy creed to me when I was 19.

Do or Die - Voices from the Ecological Resistance (http://www.eco-action.org/dod/)

padraig (u.s.)
04-03-2012, 12:56 AM
beyond generalities

just tbc I haven't kept up with it at all, don't personally know anything, etc

jenks
04-03-2012, 09:56 AM
About Gove?

I managed to get to the top of page 2 of the web version before a red mist descended.

Education policy is a complete mess at the moment, with schools and colleges unable to make meaningful plans beyond the next 12 months, funding's fcuked, Toby Young, Jobs getting cut, social mobility getting hit (again), schools having to make decisions to chase money, which the gvt can then use for political gain, private schools being bailed out by the state, Toby Young, consultations headed by lunatics, Toby Young.




LOL

thanks- only just got round to seeing this and have just stopped hyper-ventilating... a few select quotes:

For the first time since Chris Woodhead in the 1990s, we have a chief inspector who is putting the fear of God into the education establishment.

The government thinks that it is on target for more than 70 per cent of the country's 3,100 secondary schools to have academy status by 2015.

The trade unions, who hate Gove, are a different matter: "The real opposition to what we're doing lies there," he says.

And then the project will be complete - no unified voice to oppose continued meddling in education for political purposes. No local authority to make sure money is spent wisely by schools. A sector run by fear of the knock on the door as OfSTED comes in and trashes a school's reputation over night.

I am genuinely now going to do my marking
Mr Gove, speaking on ITV's Daybreak programme, said: "If you love your job then there is, I think, absolutely nothing to complain about in making sure you have more of a chance to do it well." but less money and more hours and...

Sorry Luka, back to Marx

IdleRich
04-03-2012, 01:39 PM
"the unabomber was largely motivated by anti-civ views (primmie theorist high priest john zerzan visited him in prison a la sartre + the RAF)"
Yeah, was thinking of Zerzan and the Unabomber really - plus an anonymous book I picked up at Dan's the other day called Bolo Bolo or something.
But my point though, is that if hunter-gathering doesn't work to give people a far better life then these arguments are dead in the water - hence the arguments about the merits of hunter-gathering becoming political.

IdleRich
04-03-2012, 01:41 PM
This the book I mean

http://www.metafilter.com/98577/bolobolo

padraig (u.s.)
08-03-2012, 11:46 PM
^1st, the current system ensures a miserable (at least socioeconomic) life for the majority of humans. it's inherently a pyramid with the materially good lives of the few subsidized by the severely ill-compensated labor of the many. e.g. it is impossible to raise the living standards of any significant number of people without its collapse, w/o even going into the near certainty that the earth's carrying capacity couldn't support 7 billion people living at a modern middle class level.

padraig (u.s.)
08-03-2012, 11:51 PM
2nd, you're echoing a general assumption that the goal is to "give people better life" (whatever that means) which aside from being typically nebulous is, again, impossible on any real scale. the argument isn't that h+g gives a higher living standard (there is "original affluence" but it's debated among anthropologists), it's about sustainability + skepticism that progress will offer a way out from under. which isn't, NB, an argument for an equally impossible widespread return to h+g. some people do pursue that lifestyle to varying degrees in their own lives but that's on a personal/subcultural level. that entire scene is largely withdrawn from mainstream society anyway.

look, from your posts over the years i'm pretty sure you're a liberal. you talk reform. I'm telling you there's no such thing, not in any meaningful sense. we're not talking about the same thing. we don't even see the same planet. which is fine. no shots, that's just the reality.

padraig (u.s.)
08-03-2012, 11:55 PM
+ as far as zerzan, not all or even most people w/primitivist views agree with or even like him, just like not all catholics agree w/the pope. feelings on kaczynski were mixed. even people who agree w/his views (the way he was portrayed in the media as just a crazy guy was bullshit, if unsurprising) generally don't w/his tactics. there's generally a very sharp line drawn between attacks on property + attacks on people, similar to sympathizers of radical leftists in the 60s + 70s. but whatever on that.

padraig (u.s.)
08-03-2012, 11:57 PM
also luka whenever you read this I'm most of the way through chapter 2 + I have some early observations if you or anyone wants to talk about them.

IdleRich
09-03-2012, 04:03 PM
"2nd, you're echoing a general assumption that the goal is to "give people better life" (whatever that means) which aside from being typically nebulous is, again, impossible on any real scale. the argument isn't that h+g gives a higher living standard (there is "original affluence" but it's debated among anthropologists), it's about sustainability + skepticism that progress will offer a way out from under. which isn't, NB, an argument for an equally impossible widespread return to h+g. some people do pursue that lifestyle to varying degrees in their own lives but that's on a personal/subcultural level. that entire scene is largely withdrawn from mainstream society anyway.
look, from your posts over the years i'm pretty sure you're a liberal. you talk reform. I'm telling you there's no such thing, not in any meaningful sense. we're not talking about the same thing. we don't even see the same planet. which is fine. no shots, that's just the reality."
Not sure what you're saying here to be honest. I wasn't talking about my views at all so not sure how this relates.
But I certainly see no reform as possible. I think the world is fucked - like I said in the environment thread - I'm just glad that I was one of the lucky ones born in a relatively prosperous country at a time that I believe is slightly easier to live in than those prior to it and much easier than those to follow. What we do now is mainly move deckchairs around on the Titanic to make the best of what remains - maybe that is liberalism.

baboon2004
09-03-2012, 05:40 PM
Not sure what you're saying here to be honest. I wasn't talking about my views at all so not sure how this relates.
But I certainly see no reform as possible. I think the world is fucked - like I said in the environment thread - I'm just glad that I was one of the lucky ones born in a relatively prosperous country at a time that I believe is slightly easier to live in than those prior to it and much easier than those to follow. What we do now is mainly move deckchairs around on the Titanic to make the best of what remains - maybe that is liberalism.

amen to that.

baboon2004
09-03-2012, 05:47 PM
^1st, the current system ensures a miserable (at least socioeconomic) life for the majority of humans. it's inherently a pyramid with the materially good lives of the few subsidized by the severely ill-compensated labor of the many. e.g. it is impossible to raise the living standards of any significant number of people without its collapse, w/o even going into the near certainty that the earth's carrying capacity couldn't support 7 billion people living at a modern middle class level.

and when a life free of poverty for all is not a priority in even any well-off Western country. there isn't the will. but why do people value their own comforts, way beyond what they need to be happy, over such goals? seems to me a deep-rooted psychological issue more than anything else, swapping wealth/ material comfort for sorting out the fears/insecurities/neuroses/pathologies that make one less than content. People spend so little time thinking about what would actually make them happy (or rather, what parts of their life are making them unhappy, more to the point).

luka
09-03-2012, 10:18 PM
im only part way through chapter one but go ahead and tell me what youve noticed.
im reading the republic as well and both books have the same pseudo argument structure. pretend logic. say some rambling nonsense then say, so we;ve proved ) so it follows that etc etc it makes me keep thinking ive missed something so i re read it and realise i havent it was never there.

padraig (u.s.)
10-03-2012, 07:12 PM
@rich - sorry then. thought you were real into Labour + all. I stand corrected. rearranging deck chairs is fine, so long as we're aware that's all it is.

@baboon - self-interest is at the heart of capitalism, crystallized in the form of commodity exchange. that is so deeply ingrained that I reckon most people can't even conceive of anything else. you can call it a collective neurosis if you want. which, again, welcome to situationism. friendly warning: if you follow this thought all the way to its end the only, inevitable outcome is crushing existential despair.

padraig (u.s.)
10-03-2012, 07:25 PM
@luka - I wrote my observations down but I lost them so I'll see if I can remember

-it's mostly things I know, instinctively or otherwise. dunno if that's cos his (or similar) has permeated so deeply into the collective unconscious in the last 150+ years
-the whole critique rests on the assumption of progress. the flaw is capitalism as a form of socioeconomic relation but progress itself is good or at least neutral
-it's not hard to understand but it's SO dry
-the periodic insults directed at contemporary rival economists are kind of hilarious/endearing

padraig (u.s.)
10-03-2012, 07:28 PM
been listening pretty much exclusively to old death metal (i.e. the 88-93 the golden age) lately, including when I read this. not sure what effect it has on my reading.

padraig (u.s.)
10-03-2012, 07:29 PM
I'm also reading the wretched of the earth right now, which I've started a couple times but never gotten through

baboon2004
13-03-2012, 04:45 PM
@rich - sorry then. thought you were real into Labour + all. I stand corrected. rearranging deck chairs is fine, so long as we're aware that's all it is.

@baboon - self-interest is at the heart of capitalism, crystallized in the form of commodity exchange. that is so deeply ingrained that I reckon most people can't even conceive of anything else. you can call it a collective neurosis if you want. which, again, welcome to situationism. friendly warning: if you follow this thought all the way to its end the only, inevitable outcome is crushing existential despair.

well yeah, but crucially only their perception of their self-interest within a ?capitalist framework. which can't make anyone happy in and of itself since its basic premise is lack, always needing more however much one has.

opting out as much as one can from this, is to me the start of reversing that despair

baboon2004
13-03-2012, 04:45 PM
does Marx do jokes*?

*like his brothers etc etc

Havent' read Wretched of the Earth, but have read Black Skin, White Masks - I like Fanon's style a lot

john eden
16-03-2012, 06:43 PM
I'm not here much cos it's blocked at work, but I am also about to start reading vol1. This time for real!

Consensus seems to be that chapter 1-3 is as hard as it gets. So persevere.

john eden
16-03-2012, 06:48 PM
I feel bad not having read it, but I just cannot be arsed.

The Commnist manifesto is rad tho.

Lol.

nomos
17-03-2012, 04:38 PM
I'm not here much cos it's blocked at work, but I am also about to start reading vol1. This time for real!

Consensus seems to be that chapter 1-3 is as hard as it gets. So persevere.
Ch 4 is when he reaches the moon - with the pinups and tubbby and all that ;)

john eden
17-03-2012, 06:33 PM
Ch 4 is when he reaches the moon - with the pinups and tubbby and all that ;)

Ha ha, cross-platform in-jokes! :D

Yes I am expecting a bit of that, and some vampires and haunting spectres.

craner
21-03-2012, 09:45 AM
We haven't heard a peep out of Luka for about a week now. Next time we do, he'll have turned into a Cold Rationalist Bolshevik Spinozist, you mark my words.

nomos
21-03-2012, 01:44 PM
the cold rationalist purges. the night of the long threads. we can't let history repeat itself.

Mr. Tea
21-03-2012, 01:55 PM
We haven't heard a peep out of Luka for about a week now. Next time we do, he'll have turned into a Cold Rationalist Bolshevik Spinozist, you mark my words.

Christ, I really hope not - that doesn't sound like it bodes well for one's sense of humour.

john eden
23-03-2012, 02:34 PM
I'm about 150 pages in and it's a much better read than most things I've read about Marx.

Plus all this talk about communism etc at the beginning of this thread is getting waaaay ahead of ourselves. Capital vol1 so far has been a simple description of the commodity, value etc.

zhao
28-03-2012, 03:45 AM
I'm about 150 pages in and it's a much better read than most things I've read about Marx.

Plus all this talk about communism etc at the beginning of this thread is getting waaaay ahead of ourselves. Capital vol1 so far has been a simple description of the commodity, value etc.

nice! keep us updated.

now a massive link:

Marxism and Anti-Imperialism in Africa (http://www.marxists.org/subject/africa/index.htm)

Sectionfive
29-03-2012, 07:07 AM
Might as well pack it in. The Pope has come out to say Marxism no longer corresponds to reality.

computer_rock
17-04-2012, 06:19 AM
you'd think he'd have a better understanding of dialectics after his protracted debate about secualisation with jurgen habermas :lol:

luka
17-04-2012, 10:10 AM
STILL ON PAGE 14

Sectionfive
04-11-2012, 01:45 PM
These are great

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/11/01/fernando-vicente-communist-manifesto/

john eden
15-04-2014, 12:31 PM
Ch 4 is when he reaches the moon - with the pinups and tubby and all that ;)

Chapter 4 is pretty great, but unfortunately it isn't THAT great. Just read it this morning.

The David Harvey companion lectures are essential I think (tho there are also some critiques of them floating about, inevitably).

john eden
09-06-2014, 02:50 PM
Chapter 25.

Some of it is quite hard to get your head around, but the Harvey lectures help with that.

I am enjoying it still.

john eden
19-06-2014, 01:18 PM
I've finished it now.

It's great.

droid
19-06-2014, 03:03 PM
So can we have the revolution now John? We've been waiting aaaaages for you to finish.

john eden
19-06-2014, 05:54 PM
By all means. :)

droid
20-06-2014, 10:13 AM
Hang on, I think there's a few ripostes to capital we should review first.

Shouldnt take long though.

john eden
20-06-2014, 12:31 PM
Not to mention vols2 and 3...

john eden
11-05-2016, 04:50 PM
Halfway through volume 2 now.

Strictly for the hardcore, that one.

john eden
27-06-2017, 02:12 PM
Finished volume 3 so I am officially the king of the Dissensus Marxist playground.

Vol 3 is quite good because it gets a bit more into crisis and the credit system. The chapters on ground rent are particularly punishing though.

Also there aren't that many David Harvey lectures to go with it.

luka
27-06-2017, 02:15 PM
Proud of you eden and awestruck by your persistance and powers of concentration. Many congratulations.