Chris Cutrone with Doug Lain on art and capitalism (video and audio recordings)

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Chris Cutrone of the Platypus Affiliated Society joins Douglas Lain of Diet Soap/Sublation Media to discuss Clement Greenberg’s 1939 essay “Avant-Garde and Kitsch.” This is a follow up to the 2/3/22 Critical Cuts video “Are NFTs Revolutionary?,” but Cutrone also offers a defense of Greenberg, discusses the limits of the SI, and wonders if it’s time for the Left and the working class to “realize the Spectacle.” Cutrone stays past the hour to discuss his art career and how it ended ezpdf reader 3.0 다운로드. Are all Marxists secretly would-be artists? Are all artists secretly would-be Marxists?

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Chris Cutrone

Chris Cutrone is a college educator, writer, and media artist, committed to critical thinking and artistic practice and the politics of social emancipation. ( . . . )

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Chris Cutrone and Conrad Hamilton debate 20th century regression from socialism (video and audio recordings)


Chris Cutrone and Conrad Hamilton with Doug Lain of Diet Soap Media debate 20th century regression from the struggle for socialism, addressing the 1930s Old Left and 1960s New Left and the Russian and Chinese Revolutions and feminism. 

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This is Revolution 12/2/21 podcast with Chris Cutrone (video and audio recordings)

Chris Cutrone interviewed by Jason Myles, Pascal Robert, Djene Bajalan and Kuba Wrzesniewski for This is Revolution podcast. 

In recent articles in the Platypus Review, titled “Paths to Marxism” and “The Dictatorship of the Proletariat and the Death of the Left,” Chris Cutrone wrote: “Today, the ostensible ‘Left’ — the avowed ‘socialists’ — have abandoned the goal of the dictatorship of the proletariat, either in words or in fact, the latter by reinterpreting the dictatorship of the proletariat to mean the governing of capitalism by sociologically working-class political parties in a welfare-state or so-called ‘social democracy’.” What is the dictatorship of the proletariat Download windows 10 preview? Why is it a critical concept for Marxists? And why has it been ‘abandoned’ by the contemporary left?

Chris Cutrone

Chris Cutrone is the original lead organizer of the Platypus Affiliated Society and the Campaign for a Socialist Party and teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Institute for Clinical Social Work Wavewidth streaming. @ccutrone1970

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Chris Cutrone interviewed by Doug Lain on post-neoliberalism (audio and video recordings)

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Chris Cutrone and Douglas Lain discuss the crisis of neoliberalism and current state of the Left and its recent history in the 1980s-90s anti-/alter-globalization movement and Millennial era leading to the present. 

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The dictatorship of the proletariat and the death of the Left (video and audio recordings)

The dictatorship of the proletariat and the death of the Left

Chris Cutrone

Presented as a teach-in at the Platypus Midwest Regional Conference on September 25, 2021 at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.

Marxism and the necessity of the dictatorship of the proletariat

The dictatorship of the proletariat is the most controversial proposition by Marxism — and is indeed how Marxism distinguishes itself politically, ideologically and theoretically, and intellectually as well as practically and organizationally. The death of the Left is a measure of its abandonment of this prognosis, intellectual project and political program of Marxism that culminated in the dictatorship of the proletariat.

What did Marx and Marxism mean by the “dictatorship of the proletariat”? Very simply, the political rule by the working class. The form of such rule was meant to be “dictatorial” in the sense of revolutionary, politically and socially transformative, overruling social and political norms of constitutional government. It was meant to be a “state of emergency” and hence a dictatorship in the sense of the Ancient Roman Republic, an active political intervention into society of limited duration.

What was meant by a dictatorship of the “proletariat,” specifically? It meant the political rule of the workers, but not in the restricted sense of those employed in wage labor, but in a more expansive sense that would include both the unemployed or only potentially employed, and those not employed in wage labor strictly speaking, for instance “middle class” salaried professionals, including the middle management “white collar” workers of corporate capitalism. But the center of political power was to be the wage-laboring working class.

The dictatorship of the proletariat was a world-historical and hence geopolitical proposition 델타포스2. It was meant to be a global rule of the working class, with revolution encompassing the preponderance of the capitalist world, which means where capital itself is concentrated: not where money is concentrated, but rather labor, where the production and reproduction of capital is concentrated.

Positively, this meant the production of value in global capitalism, which is not identical to the production of material wealth in terms of articles of consumption as subsistence goods, but rather where capital as the means of production is produced. This meant the core capitalist countries.

This meant the countries where capital as the expression of the “general social intellect” is concentrated. The dictatorship of the proletariat must be in the position to at least begin to appropriate the means of production on a global scale. Capital as “dead labor” — historically accumulated labor in the current existing means of production — must be appropriated by the “living labor” of the present working class.

Strategically, this meant a complex and potentially politically quite complicated intervention in the existing capitalist production process, or the current conditions for the production of material wealth (including intellectual wealth), in an on-going way.

Negatively, it meant that the global working class must be in a position to overcome the reproduction of wage labor as the source of valuation for material wealth. The working class must be in a position to outlaw unemployment and prevent the exploitation of the labor of desperate poor people, in favor of gearing global production towards the production of wealth for human needs and overcoming the social compulsion to labor as part of the valorization process of capital, breaking its cycle of reproduction Diablo 2 expansion. What Marx called the “necessity” of the dictatorship of the proletariat was the necessity of breaking the cycle of capitalist reproduction, necessarily on a world-historical and hence global scale.

Until this happens, capitalism will continue. — So long as wage labor exists, capital and its contradiction will persist.

So what is capitalism — what is it that needs to be overcome?

Capitalism is the constraint and distortion and deformation of society by the imperative to produce and reproduce the value of capital.

Capital is past labor — the potential for producing wealth or material (including intellectual) goods in society — but in the form of the contradiction Marxism found between the potential of industrial production and the social value of living human labor and the social and political rights deriving from that value. Capitalism, or the capitalist mode of production that produces and reproduces capital, is the contradiction between the bourgeois social relations of labor and the industrial forces of production that are constrained — dominated — by those relations.

It is not the case, as is commonly mistakenly assumed by supposed “Marxists,” that bourgeois social relations means the individual private property in the means of production by members of the capitalist class, and that industrial forces of production means the collective social productive capacity of the working class. No.

The basis of the social rights of property in bourgeois society is the labor of the producers. This is the right of bourgeois social relations. The issue is how this social right is contradicted by the necessities and possibilities of industrial production.

As I have pointed out elsewhere (in my “What is capitalism?” and “Socialism in the 21st century”), there are two different and increasingly divergent commodities produced by industry: goods for the subsistence of the working class; and surplus value as the fund for investment in production, which can take the form of either paying workers’ wages and/or for technology 새해 인사 동영상. It is the apparent conflict of technology vs. human labor that characterizes capitalism on a societal scale.

The industrial forces of production are the productive capacities of society as a whole, what Marx called the “general social intellect,” whose potential for the production of social wealth has outstripped the social and political rights of appropriation through living human labor by the working class.

The capitalist class represents not the exploitation of the workers but the social value of accumulated labor in capital, the surplus value produced by labor that becomes the precondition for further future production. When the capitalists fail to support the social value of capital as the basis for production, they cease to be capitalists, cease to be stewards of capital, and become mere moneybags. As Marx put it, a miser is an irrational capitalist whereas a capitalist is a rational miser. The miserliness or “misery” of capitalism that Marx had in mind was not the economic efficiency of social investment in production but the impoverished basis for measuring and valuing the social potential of production according to the surplus value that can be produced by human labor and its wages. The wager of labor in capitalism is that current present production will provide the basis of future production — that human activity and life will thus support itself in an ongoing way through capitalism.

The contradiction Marxism found in capitalism was that what began as a means to an end of social production and wealth, capital, became an end in itself, and what was an end in itself, human life and activity, becomes a mere means to the ends of capital.

The proletariat was Marx’s term for describing and critiquing the existence of the working class in industrial conditions in which there was an increasing divergence and disparity between the value of capital and the value of wages in social production solaris 11 다운로드. Marxism called this the expropriation of the working class by capital, in which the workers became less and less able to appropriate the total social product and — most importantly — its potential for future production through its wages as a means of consumption. This was how the working class became “propertyless,” increasingly socially divested of the property of its labor.

The “virtuous cycle” of bourgeois society became the circuit of capital in production and consumption, as bourgeois social relations and right increasingly undermined and destroyed themselves. There were thus value-crises in capital, which were crises of society as a whole. The result of these crises was the destruction of the value of both wages and capital. Capital became less profitable, the wage-earning potential of labor decreased, money went without opportunities for productive investment, and workers went unemployed. This was especially true at a generational level in which the reproduction of capital did away with jobs and the continued reproduction of workers created masses of unemployed and unemployable people.

Industrial production made human labor increasingly superfluous to the production of wealth, and thus the social value of human activity and life became not realized through productive activity but negated by it. Marxism thought that this meant the possibility and necessity of overcoming the valuing of human activity and life through labor as a measure of social wealth 넷버스 다운로드. This was the motivation for the proletarianized working class’s struggle for socialism.

In today’s terms of measuring social wealth through GDP Gross Domestic Product and Per Capita Productivity and Purchasing Power Parity, there is a contradiction between these indices of economic activity and actual individual and collective life and wellbeing in society. The United States has remained the highest GDP and PPP country in the world, with the highest productivity of labor. And yet there are increasing numbers of unemployed and unemployable people, and what labor employment exists and increases consists of new forms of work that are — temporarily — not yet replaceable by technology, for instance the “service sector.”

This is the immiseration of society in capitalism that Marx observed and which has continued up to today.

In socialism, the industrial superfluousness of workers was to be replaced by the superfluousness of work. As Marx envisioned it, work was to go from “life’s prime need” to “life’s prime want” — people would work because they wanted to, not because they needed to do so, either individually or collectively. The possibilities of science and technology as a higher form of social cooperation than the division of labor would allow “from each according to his ability and to each according to his need.”

The increased specialized division of labor in bourgeois social cooperation continues, but with an increasing and intensifying gulf opening between the new forms of social interdependence thus created and the forms of socially valuing and supporting the laboring activity and human lives thus employed.

Bourgeois demands for recognition of equal social and political rights to participation in and contribution to as well as share in consumption and production and reproduction of present and future wealth come up against the limits of the bourgeois form of such rights — the value of laboring activity — and the value of capital as measure of social production and consumption: the limits of capitalism as a self-contradiction of bourgeois society in industrial production.

The politically strategic vision of Marxism was that, to break the repetitive cycle of capitalist crisis and destruction, the wage-laborers would need to abolish wage labor — the laborers would need to abolish labor. It was not enough that the capitalists destroyed capitalism — that capitalism destroyed capital. The very basis for the reproduction of capital — labor — must be overcome. What society already was doing in capitalism in an unconscious and self-alienated way must be overcome in a disalienated and self-conscious way. But first it would need to be done consciously: the working class must politically and socially take over and appropriate capitalism before it can be overcome.

Thus was the Marxist vision of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The death of the Left

Today, the ostensible “Left” — the avowed “socialists” — have abandoned the goal of the dictatorship of the proletariat, either in words or in fact, the latter by reinterpreting the dictatorship of the proletariat to mean the governing of capitalism by sociologically working-class political parties in a welfare-state or so-called “social democracy.”

For instance, the DSA Democratic Socialists of America Jacobin magazine publisher Bhaskar Sunkara has recently offered that perhaps achieving socialism in the United States is impossible, but what is possible is “social democracy,” by which he meant a better social welfare state.

But even to the extent that Sunkara and his Jacobin comrades still claim to be not social democrats but rather (small-d) democratic socialists and aspire for something greater than welfare state capitalism, they still base their vision on an earlier 20th century liquidation of Marxism and its goal of the dictatorship of the proletariat. For instance, Ralph Miliband is a major influence for Jacobin. This is true for Jacobin-associated Catalyst journal editor Vivek Chibber’s essay “Our Road to Power,” which contrasted the current DSA’s political program to the older Marxism of Kautsky, Luxemburg and Lenin.

Miliband’s idea was that in the 20th century the state had become much more important as an actor in capitalism, and that the working class was less socially and politically excluded than it had been in the time of classical Marxism, with the result being that the working class neither could nor should renounce participation politically in the capitalist state, for instance through working class parties elected to government. The working class is supposedly no longer barred from political power in capitalism.

This is of course far less plausible today, after a generation — 40-50 years of neoliberalism — now, than when Miliband originally formulated his perspective, in the decades after WWII.

But even conceding Miliband’s — and the current DSA’s — point, the issue is the identification of workers’ or labor parties with socialist politics, or governing the capitalist state with the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The issue is the Marxist vision of the dictatorship of the proletariat as a transition to, and not identical with, socialism. It is not merely a matter of political exclusion producing a need for revolution. At issue is the possibility of gradually evolving socialism out of capitalism through increasing state control over and welfare provisions in capitalism.

Historically, this has produced not the working class transforming capitalism into socialism, but rather the transformation of nominally “socialist” parties into political parties of governing capitalism, turning the working class’s social and political organizations into appendages of the capitalist state.

Because there has not been by any means the uninterrupted governance of capitalism by working class and ostensibly “socialist” parties, this hypothetical reforming of capitalism into socialism appears to not have been definitively disproven, and remains a tantalizing prospect.

Whereas “socialist” or “communist” parties were meant to be more than merely social democratic, what has happened rather is the lowering of socialist and even communist politics to social democracy or welfare statist capitalism. This has been called the “betrayal” of socialism by these parties, and has produced new movements for socialism, for instance by the 1960s-70s New Left and even more recently, during the crisis of the Great Recession, in the however brief upsurges, at least electorally, of new “Left” movements and parties claiming to be socialist, against the existing social-democratic and socialist parties, such as SYRIZA in Greece and Podemos in Spain. Furthermore, there were the phenomena of Jeremy Corbyn’s “socialist” leadership of the Labour Party and the Bernie Sanders Campaign for President in the Democratic Party in the U.S. All of these held out the promise of “democratic socialism,” at least eventually, even if it was posed merely as reversing the erosion of the welfare state in the past generation of neoliberal capitalism.

There is also of course the 20th century counterexample of the “undemocratic socialism” in the Soviet Union and associated countries. Even though the recent cycle of “socialism” by the Millennial Left in its social-democratic aspirations was accompanied, as its shadow, by a neo-Stalinism of “tankie” Marxist-Leninists, the “democratic socialism” of the new social democrats is not really pitched against the threat of Stalinist authoritarian socialism of communism, but the latter does remain an obstacle to a true understanding of the original Marxist vision of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Moreover, Stalinism is seen as an authoritarian welfare state to which is opposed a more “democratic” one. What this ignores is that Stalinism was (and remains) democratic — perhaps as democratic as or even more so than capitalist democracy — (see for instance Cuba), but is not as liberal as the (ostensible) liberal democracy of capitalism.

Perhaps the most pernicious legacy of Stalinism is its equation of liberalism and capitalism, as if civil and social liberty and freedom is essentially the individual “liberty” of social irresponsibility (whether by individual people or by capitalist firms as corporate individuals) and the “freedom” to exploit and oppress others.

What this ignores is that capitalism itself — the domination of society by the imperatives of producing and reproducing capital — undermines the freedom and liberty of bourgeois civil society, not only for the working class but for others as well, including the capitalists.

The social democrats complain that the social-democratic welfare state is still constrained by the dictates of capital, threatened by “capital flight,” etc., but by this they mean the nefarious actions of the capitalist class, ignoring the issue of capitalism itself in the Marxist sense. Earlier historical Marxists were much clearer about the true nature and character of the problem, which is precisely why they advocated the dictatorship of the proletariat as the beginning and not the end of political and social revolution, opening the door to and beginning the process of overcoming capitalism, and not yet beyond capitalism, let alone the achievement of socialism, itself.

The recent historical cycle of the Millennial Left failed to grasp either in theory or practice the true nature and character of the problem they faced in capitalism. They failed to become truly Marxist.

Marx argued that, short of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the state remained the “dictatorship of the bourgeoisie,” by which he meant the dictatorship of capital, or the state ruling in the interests of capital as a whole. This includes the workers who live and benefit by capital as it presently exists.

In the 20th century, the socialist and communist Left historically liquidated the Marxist vision of the necessity and possibility of the dictatorship of the proletariat not least by neglecting and abandoning the actual reasons for it.

The propaganda of working class struggle politics by historical Marxism was mistaken in subsequent generations for theoretical substance, confusing cause and effect in capitalism. The class division and conflict between workers and capitalists was mistaken as the cause and not recognized properly as the effect of capitalism and its contradiction. The self-contradiction of social value in production between wages and capital was mistaken for a conflict of interests between workers and capitalists, with the latter regarded merely as exploitative profiteers and not as Marx saw them as “character-masks” of the greater social imperatives of capital. The workers were meant to replace the capitalist ruling class not to do away with exploitation but to make politically explicit and thus “conscious” the contradiction of capital.

Instead, socialism and communism reverted to their pre-Marxian meaning of mere social and political egalitarianism, a complaint against political and social hierarchy and the inequality in distribution and consumption between the working class and the capitalists.

The dictatorship of the proletariat was the intermediate and not ultimate political and social goal of socialist politics in capitalism, as originally understood by Marxism. While the motivations of the working class struggle for socialism included the egalitarianism of labor — the bourgeois principles of “equal rights for all” to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” in the freedom of “liberty, equality and fraternity” in a “free association of producers” — Marxism also assumed civil and political liberty, a liberal society and political order of voluntary participation and association.

It is precisely because bourgeois society in capitalism still exhibits such liberty and embodies such an egalitarian spirit of participation that there are discontents in such terms within it and indeed that there is any social and political movement at all against its failures.

The Left has fallen apart into either accommodating capitalist politics through welfare statism or accommodating society’s disintegration in capitalism through antinomian opposition of anti-bourgeois nihilism and anti-social attitudes — including the tribalism of communitarian social group identity politics. In either case, it has abandoned the task of socialism and the political goal of the next historically necessary step of the dictatorship of the proletariat, to begin to move society beyond capitalism.

This is why and how the Left died historically — why it remains dead today. | P

Afghanistan: The Last Marxist weighs in; on COVID, socialism, Travelers TV series and art (audio and video recordings)

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Chris Cutrone of the Platypus Affiliated Society discusses his essay “Afghanistan: After 20 and 40 years” with Douglas Lain 사무라이 쇼다운. Put differently, the last Marxist weighs in on the invasion, occupation, and withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Excerpt from essay:
“AFGHANISTAN WAS INTENDED BY THE U.S Download the seven sin-sin sin sin sin sin sin sin sin sin sin. in the 1980s to be the Soviet Union’s Vietnam War. But it is the United States today that is experiencing a second Fall of Saigon in Kabul. If the Great Recession was the historic crisis of neoliberalism, then the U.S dawn prayer music. loss of Afghanistan to the return of the Taliban marks the definitive crisis and terminus of neoconservatism. John Bolton ran screaming bloody murder when fired by Donald Trump for resisting ending the Afghanistan war, but it is Joe Biden who now rules over the U.S 삼국지 5 pk. withdrawal. This is not some end to U.S. global hegemony — no more than Vietnam was.”
Link to essay:…

In the Parrot Room, Chris Cutrone discusses the COVID crisis, capitalism, socialism, the welfare state, Travelers science-fiction TV series, and avant-garde modernist art 카라반.

Lenin’s liberalism and the death of Millennial socialism (video recordings)

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Responding to some recent Zero Books podcasts (“The Lenin Legend” and “Did Marx Hate Liberals?”), Chris Cutrone returns to discuss an essay he wrote in 2011 entitled “Lenin’s Liberalism.”…

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What comes after Critical Theory? (video recording)


Chris Cutrone on the dictatorship of the proletariat

Following up on a panel discussion for the Platypus Affiliated Society, Chris Cutrone stops by to ambush Douglas Lain about whether he’d support a “dictatorship of the proletariat.” Other topics include whether Christopher Lasch was a conservative or a socialist, the nature of bourgeoise justice, the political character of Donald Trump, and what it means to be an aging Gen Xer today 무한도전 311.

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The negative dialectic of Marxism (audio and video recordings)

The Politics of Critical Theory

Chris Cutrone

Chris Cutrone’s opening remarks begin at:

Presented on a panel discussion with Dennis Graemer (Association for the Design of History), Doug Lain (Zero Books) and Douglas Kellner (UCLA) at the Platypus Affiliated Society International Convention on Saturday, April 3, 2021.

I will present on the reason why Marxism was and must be “dialectical” — to demystify this word and specify it and its necessity for Marxism. What is the necessity of the dialectic for Marxism? It is of an essentially negative character. — For instance, all degeneration of Marxism can be called “undialectical,” the abandonment of this essentially negative and dialectical character. The Frankfurt School thinker Theodor Adorno titled his last completed book Negative Dialectic, and he thus sought to recapture this original sense of Marxism, which had been progressively abandoned in Adorno’s lifetime in the 20th century. Moreover, as Adorno emphasized, the task is to “think dialectically and undialectically at the same time,” because getting beyond capitalism would mean getting beyond the dialectic, or as Adorno wrote, “no longer a totality nor a contradiction.”

Looking back upon the history of Marxism, there are three different moments for considering this problem: Marx’s own formative moment of Marxism; the height of Marxism as a political force in the world, in the time of Lenin; and the degeneration of Marxism into what Adorno called “dogmatization and thought-taboos.” — Our own moment today is the product of a century of such degeneration Love fee mp3.

By contrast, for Marx in his own time, the necessity of the dialectic was to be found in the self-contradictory character of not only capitalism but of the struggle to overcome it in socialism. Marxism has its origins in the dialectical critique of capitalism which also includes — at its core — the dialectical critique of socialism. It is significant that Marx and Engels began with the dialectical critique of the socialists and communists of their time, of the Young Hegelians and others such as Proudhon.

In the subsequent height of Marxism as a political force, during Lenin’s time, the proletarian socialist movement and its organized parties became self-contradictory — subject to a dialectic — for instance, as Rosa Luxemburg critiqued of reformist Revisionism in Marxism, there was a contradiction between the movement and its goal, or between means and ends, which also involved a contradiction between practice and theory, etc. Lenin went so far as to say that this contradiction — division and split — within the workers’ movement for socialism was what made political and social revolution possible and necessary 연계교재. How was this so?

First, it is necessary to address how Marx and Marxism understood capitalism as a problem to be overcome. What kind of society is capitalism, from a Marxist perspective?

Marx defined capitalism as a mode of production as the contradiction of “bourgeois social relations” and “industrial forces of production.” This is the essential character of the dialectic for Marxism, from which several other contradictions can be derived, for instance, the contradiction between the bourgeois “ideological superstructure” of “false consciousness” and the “socioeconomic base.” There, Marx defined the contradiction as temporal and historical in nature: the ideological superstructure “changes more slowly” than the socioeconomic base.

“Bourgeois consciousness” is of a historical and not class character in a sociological sense of a particular group of people. Bourgeois means “urban” in the original French, and workers as well as capitalists are bourgeois in the sense of not members of the traditional rural classes — castes — of preceding agricultural civilization (peasants, manorial lords, parsons of the parish church, guild craftsmen of the village and traveling merchant traders serving the lord, et al). The new situation of society in the bourgeois epoch brought with it new forms of self-understanding that are well-established and continue in capitalism, especially the autonomous individual as social subject of production and exchange. 

Another way of describing capitalism is the contradiction between social being and consciousness. For Marxism, this contradiction of capitalism began with the Industrial Revolution. The consciousness of participation in society in practice and theory is bourgeois while its actual social being has become industrial 페북 동영상. The most important bourgeois ideology for Marxism is the consciousness of the workers as subjects of bourgeois society. The proletariat is a peculiar term referring to how the working class retained its formal rights as bourgeois citizens while substantially becoming expropriated of its property in its labor as a commodity, harking back to the Ancient Roman class of proletari citizens without property.

The Marxist critique of bourgeois consciousness as ideology is in its self-contradictory character. Hence, what distinguishes the Marxist dialectic is its critical character — from which it is distinguished for example from the Hegelian dialectic, which as a description of bourgeois emancipation of free labor from slavery and caste constraint — the bourgeois revolution — became an affirmative dialectic unable to address the problem of capitalism after the Industrial Revolution. So the critical theory of Marxist politics — to invert the title of this panel discussion — is essentially its negative character: the self-negation of bourgeois society in the Industrial Revolution, in which, for example bourgeois right became self-contradictory, self-undermining and self-destructive in capitalism.

It is important that most avowed “Marxists” today adopt Marxism in a false way as a positive theory, a theory of what capitalism is, for example, rather than as Marx and original Marxism approached capitalism, which was as a contradiction and crisis of society, a contradiction of its self-understanding and self-consciousness. I mentioned for instance social being and consciousness: for Marxism, social being does not define consciousness — in theory and practice — but rather consciousness, or bourgeois ideology as “false consciousness” is contradicted by the social being of industrial production in capitalism Download New West Organic7 3.

The temporal and historical character of this is crucially important — and usually neglected. From a Marxist perspective, bourgeois society was not capitalist — not self-contradictory — from the beginning (in the Renaissance and subsequent 16th, 17th and 18th centuries) but rather became so only in the 19th century, after the Industrial Revolution — in Marx’s own time. This means an essentially negative approach to history in capitalism. History in capitalism for Marxism does not unfold positively — as with Hegel, as the development of consciousness of freedom — but rather negatively, a broadening and deepening crisis of society, borne of the essential contradiction of industrial forces of production against bourgeois social relations.

Capitalism is not a form of society for Marxism but rather a self-contradiction and crisis of society — of bourgeois society specifically. The history of capitalism was for Marxism that of the unfolding task of socialism. But for the last 100 years, the task of socialism was abandoned in favor of the mere denunciation of capitalism, which was thus accepted as a positive fact rather than regarded properly as a negative task, something to be overcome. Involved in this was a collapse of the original distinction Marxism made between bourgeois society and capitalism — an elision of the contradiction between industrial forces and bourgeois social relations of production Mappy Dark.

The bourgeois social relations for Marxism are those of labor — cooperative social production. As Marx early on described about “alienation” — that is, the self-estrangement of social relations — in capitalism, social relations are not only between people in society, but also between humanity and nature, and our relations with ourselves. — Marx added to this three-fold character of bourgeois social relations a fourth dimension of alienation in capitalism, namely the estrangement of labor from capital as its product. So, for Marxism, social relations in capitalism are phenomena of contradiction and crisis, and no longer (primarily) the constitutive dimensions of society, as they had been in bourgeois consciousness, for instance for Locke, Rousseau, Adam Smith, Kant, Hegel and others. For Marxism, capitalism is not really a mode of production, but the self-contradiction of the bourgeois mode of production, that is, of the cooperative social production through the social relations of labor as a commodity.

Marx defined bourgeois society as commodity-producing society: a society of commodities that produce other commodities. Labor — and later in manufacture and industry, labor-power and labor-time — as a commodity produces other commodities. But in the Industrial Revolution, labor (including labor-power and labor-time) as a commodity becomes divided against itself: it produces two opposed commodities: use-values whose consumption reproduces labor in society; and capital as the objectification — and alienation or self-estrangement — of the social value of labor, which ends up contradicting and undermining the basis for the reproduction of labor in society — the social relations of cooperative production. Capital investment becomes divided between human labor and scientific technique in production. Marx called science and technology the “general social intellect,” which mediated social production in a fundamentally different way from that of individual human labor.

Social cooperation in capitalism was mediated by capital (hence, “capitalism”) — and for Marxism as a form of Hegelianism, what “mediates” is also what embodies contradiction: what mediates also contradicts. So capital contradicts social cooperation; but also social cooperation — the bourgeois social relations of labor as a commodity — contradicts capital, hence, the class struggle of the workers as subjects of social cooperation versus the capitalists as stewards of the social value of accumulated labor in capital. Labor and capital confront each other as aspects of social self-contradiction — capital is the self-contradiction of labor, and labor is the self-contradiction of capital in industrial production.

The workers’ demand for the value of their labor in capitalism is historically regressive in that it seeks to restore the value of labor as a commodity that industrial production has contradicted and undermined. However, although the workers demand the reconstitution of the social value of labor as a commodity, and thus the reconstitution of bourgeois society, this is also the inevitable form in which the demand for socialism will be manifested: socialism will inevitably be posed as the restoration of society in bourgeois terms, that is, in terms of the social relations of labor.

This means that the workers’ struggle for socialism is inherently self-contradictory: it is divided and indeed torn between the contradictory impulses to restore and reconstitute labor as well as to transcend labor as a social relation and value.

In the crisis of Marxism itself that came at the end of the First World War as the cataclysmic culmination of the Second Industrial Revolution, there was a division between the old Socialist and new Communist Parties over the issue of whether and how to save society from the devastation of war and political and social collapse and to revolutionize it beyond capitalism. There was an actual civil war within Marxism in the revolution that unfolded 1917-19. One side defended the working class as it existed in capitalism, while the other sought to overcome it. Socialism itself became divided between the interests of the workers. The anti-communists considered revolution to be a threat above all to the working class itself.

The socialist political party that had been built up to overcome capitalism became its last bulwark of defense. The power to overthrow and smash the capitalist state proved to be the power to save it. And both sides claimed not only to represent the true interests of the working class but the ultimate goal of socialism itself. Both had right on their side — at least apparently.

This was the most powerful demonstration of the dialectic ever in world history. And that is entirely appropriate since the Marxist dialectic was designed to address precisely this problem, as it had first manifested in the workers movement for socialism in the 1840s and the Revolutions of 1848, repeating itself on a higher level and in more drastic and dramatic — and violent — form in the Revolutions of 1917-19, and the division of Marxism between the parties of the old Socialist Second and new Communist Third Internationals.

But this political conflict within the Marxist-led workers movement was not a de novo phenomenon but had long historical roots, which pointed to the development of contradictions within Marxism itself. This demanded a dialectical critique — a Marxist critique — of Marxism itself. Just as Marx had engaged in the dialectical critique of the socialism and communism of his time, so Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg and other radical revolutionaries in the Second International engaged in the dialectical critique of their own Marxist socialist movement. — Later, Trotsky engaged in the dialectical critique of Stalinism. In subsequent history, successive generations’ rediscovery of Marxism was the rediscovery of the dialectic, which however proved ephemeral and elusive, and fragile as a red thread that has been lost — broken — many times.

This tradition of negative dialectical critique was carried on by the Frankfurt School, under the rubric of “Critical Theory” — as I already mentioned, including Adorno’s magnum opus Negative Dialectic, but also Horkheimer and Adorno’s Dialectic of Enlightenment, etc.

But the dialectic fell out of style in the 20th century, with Marxism itself rendered undialectical and discontents of the failure of Marxism blaming the dialectic for the impasse of Marxism. Undialectical “Marxists” made explicit return to pre-critical — indeed pre-Socratic — philosophy such as Althusser and his followers. Postmodernists such as Foucault rejected the “grand narrative” of history as the struggle for freedom. Unable to grasp the nature and character of the dialectic at a standstill in capitalism as the crossroads of socialism or barbarism, the domination of the contradiction of capital was blamed on the dialectic — and often on Marxism — itself. And yet the ironies of the Hegelian cunning ruse of reason were hard to shake off entirely, leaving the lingering question of meaning at the supposed “end of history.”

This is the most difficult aspect of Marxism but also the most essential; it is the most esoteric but also the substantial core of Marxism: it is the most enchanting but also most frustrating quality of Marxism. It will inevitably return, as Marxism continues to haunt the world of capitalism and its manifest contradictions: but can it be sustained? Will the capitalist world be brought back to the point of its dialectical contradiction that points beyond itself? If so, then the necessity of the Marxist negative dialectic will be felt again and anew. | P