Doug Lain of Diet Soap Media interviews Chris Cutrone on Lain’s recent interview with Conrad Hamilton on post-COVID politics and Cutrone’s article from 2019, “Redeeming the 20th century: Statism and anarchy today.”Download Ulysses movie 해리포터 죽음의성물 고음질 음성파일 다운로드 Exodus
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 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 https://chriscutrone.platypus1917.org/
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MY PRINCIPAL TEACHERS IN MARXISM were the Spartacist League, Adolph Reed and Moishe Postone — Theodor Adorno was also a crucial teacher, through his writings, which Reed had pointed me towards when we met up in Chicago after I graduated from college. The title of this essay is an homage to Adolph’s own “Paths to Critical Theory,” which narrates his political and theoretical coming to consciousness. I first met Reed when I was in college at Hampshire, in the same entering class as his son Touré, and when I was already a member of the Spartacus Youth Club, the youth group of the orthodox Trotskyist Spartacist League.
I had previously considered myself to be a “Marxist” after having read the Communist Manifesto and other random, miscellaneous writings by Marx (also Ernest Mandel’s Revolutionary Marxism Today) in high school. I had been equivocal about the Russian Revolution and Lenin, but felt predisposed towards respecting Trotsky as a dissident figure — I had been taught not only George Orwell’s 1984 but Animal Farm as well: Emmanuel Goldstein and Snowball were sympathetic if tragic figures. But it was really Marx who got me.
I was a “Leftist” activist in high school during the 1980s, protesting against local anti-black racism (housing discrimination) and in solidarity with Central American movements and the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa. I was surrounded by Catholic Worker, Quaker (American Friends Service Committee) and Secular Humanist adult activists on Long Island, but I occasionally encountered “Marxist” Leftist organizations at demonstrations in New York City. My family was apolitical or otherwise conservative. Of all my friends, only one had any “Leftist” background of any kind: his parents were Irish immigrants of the Catholic Worker Liberation Theology variety and his older sister supplied us with “Left” literature as well as music listening recommendations (Depeche Mode, New Order, et al).
In my solidarity work on Central America and South Africa, I met émigré refugee militants who told me melancholically that “socialism is impossible” because “American workers voted for Ronald Reagan.”
By the time I was applying to college, my high school boyfriend discovered Hampshire College, to which we both applied and attended together Download iTunes 64-bit. It was during our first year that we met the Spartacist League at the nearby University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Actually, a mutual friend had first met them and asked us to attend a meeting between them and her, because as “Marxists” we could help her evaluate them: Were they for real? She was unmoved but we were interested and became contacts.
The Spartacist League provided my first real education in Marxism. One of the first things I read by them was their Lenin and the Vanguard Party pamphlet from 1978, which greatly impressed me. (My first serious college course paper was on Rosa Luxemburg’s critique of Lenin, rebutting the usual anti-Lenin misreadings of Luxemburg.) Soon after, they had me read Cliff Slaughter’s 1960 essay “What is revolutionary leadership?,” whose oblique reference to Lukács’s History and Class Consciousness I filed for a later date — I had already read Gramsci by that point in college and was intrigued but not exactly convinced by his arguments. Adolph said that the problem with Gramsci was that “he means all things to all people.” The Spartacists said simply that Gramsci was a Stalinist.
At this time the Fall of the Berlin Wall and uprisings in Eastern Europe and the USSR were taking place — the Soviet dissident Boris Kagarlitsky was an invited guest speaker at Hampshire College, who I distinctly recall telling me point-blank that there was no point to Marxism which was an outdated ideology of industrialization (when I asked him about this almost 30 years later, he denied ever saying such a thing, he claimed because he never believed it — perhaps it was someone else?).
With the Spartacist League I attended speeches with Q&A discussions by Noam Chomsky and Michael Harrington, with whom I was otherwise not acquainted. The Spartacists’ provocative questions from the audience prompted Chomsky and Harrington to articulate their anti-Leninism — their anti-Marxism: Chomsky rehearsed his condemnation of the Bolsheviks for allegedly hijacking and dominating the Russian Revolution; Harrington sarcastically confessed that, yes, he “killed Rosa Luxemburg,” with a cynicism that turned me off completely. I later came to respect Harrington more through his writings, and, if not Chomsky himself, at least anarchism to some degree, mostly through the classical writings — I had met Murray Bookchin in high school at New York City’s anarchist book store, when he came storming out of the back office to scold me after hearing me ask if they had any books by Lenin: I swear he yelled at me, “Listen, Marxist!”
The Spartacists introduced me to various different social and political realities, through activity in their locals on the East Coast. They had me do various manual labors as proof of my “proletarian” affinities, in addition to selling their newspaper Workers Vanguard weekly. For instance, I was required to do my bit cleaning the bathrooms and scrubbing the floors of their fortified international headquarters in New York’s financial district, as well as paying regular dues and contributing to various fundraising efforts Longman pre-download. They resented my need as a working class student to work in the summer as well as work-study jobs to help pay my tuition and other expenses at Hampshire, asking, “Couldn’t your parents just give you the money?” (No, they couldn’t.) We attended a strike at the New York Daily News newspaper, where a union shop steward carried a pistol openly in his hip holster to defend against scabs, while across the street a police sniper was set up on the roof overlooking the picket line. At a demonstration against something or other in Manhattan, the Borough President Ruth Messinger showed up — the Spartacists pointed her out as a prominent member of the DSA (Democratic Socialists of America): I saw a villain.
The big issues of the day were things like the Crown Heights anti-Semitic riots over a black child struck and killed accidentally by a Hasidic Jewish motorcade, and City College of New York’s Professor Leonard Jeffries teaching students that whites were “ice people” and blacks “sun people.” A Latino gay Spartacist member with whom I was acquainted was stabbed while selling WV on the campus of Howard University by a Nation of Islam supporter, because the Spartacists pointed out that Louis Farrakhan had called for Malcolm X’s death after Malcolm had broken with Elijah Muhammad. My friends and I had read Alex Haley’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X (as well as Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice) and watched all the Roots series on television. Public Enemy and NWA kept the memory alive.
Chris Hani of the South African Communist Party spoke at UMass and said that the “wind of democracy blowing through Eastern Europe should come to South Africa” — upon his return to South Africa a Polish immigrant gunned him down outside his suburban home. I was shocked and appalled by both his speech and his murder. — Later, I would meet Nelson Mandela of the ANC (African National Congress), Jay Naidoo of COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions) and other famous anti-Apartheid political figures, when I visited South Africa for their first Gay and Lesbian Film Festival with a delegation of American and British filmmakers, including Isaac Julien, Barbara Hammer and others, in 1994. At a reception dinner, I got Mandela to inform my fellow travelers, who were otherwise drunk on rhetoric, that the end of Apartheid in South Africa was “not a revolution,” which anyhow would only provoke a civil war and U.S. invasion. At the time, Mandela’s ANC was engaged in fierce bloody street battles against Chief Buthelezi’s Inkatha Freedom Party of Zulu nationalists. I was critical but sympathetic to Mandela: at least he didn’t lie.
I met Adolph Reed when he visited Hampshire, as back then he was not so far away in New Haven at Yale Windows 7 oem. I had written to him in response to an op-ed in Long Island’s Newsday I read on the problem of black student activists’ demands on campus — at first, I had no idea he was a Marxist, though the Spartacists informed me that he was and spoke admiringly of his work. Adolph wrote back and said we could meet when he next came up to Hampshire.
I had read Horkheimer and Adorno’s “The Culture Industry” chapter of Dialectic of Enlightenment in a Media Studies course at Hampshire, but it didn’t leave much impression on me — I was much more influenced by Stuart Hall and Raymond Williams in that context. It wasn’t until after I graduated that I started reading the Frankfurt School in earnest, and not until I was a graduate art student in Chicago that I read Adorno’s writings with any seriousness — in order for Adorno to help defend my Marxism against the postmodernism I was encountering for the first time: my Hampshire professor Margaret Cerullo, a friend of Adolph Reed and editor of the legacy SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) journal Radical America, had said to me discouragingly that, while her education was in Marxism (she later told me when applying for graduate study that “the Frankfurt School is like a second skin” to her, but no one was interested anymore, so why would I want to pursue such things?), perhaps now Foucault was more relevant; and anyway weren’t the Spartacists an FBI COINTELPRO operation?
Adolph Reed spoke on campus and made a special visit to my class taught by Margaret Cerullo and Carollee Bengelsdorf. The following week after Adolph spoke, some (white) students in class complained about him as an “African-American who was interested in an obscure 19th century Jewish philosopher (Marx).” When my professors failed to challenge this, saying, “That’s a good question,” I stood up to defend both Adolph and Marx, shouting, “No, it’s not!”
The anti-war movement around the Gulf War U.S. intervention against the Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait was a key moment for me. The utter futility of the protests, which were met by counter-protesters with lurid signage against “Sodom Insane” (Iraqi Baathist leader Saddam Hussein) charging anti-war marchers with American flagpoles wielded as weapons, seemingly permitted to pass through police lines to do so, left me dejected as President George H.W. Bush declared, unhindered, the “New World Order.”
By the time I graduated from Hampshire in 1993, I was done with the “Left” — but not with Marxism. Events of my final year in 1992 — the “Left” protesting of the quint-centenary of the Columbian Discovery, the Los Angeles riots against the acquittal of the police who beat Rodney King that the “Left” called a “rebellion,” and the election of William Jefferson Clinton after 12 years of Republican Presidents, which was met with jubilation by my fellow “Left” students as well as by our “Leftist” professors at Hampshire — convinced me that my moment was not apt for Marxism or socialism. I was depressed that the world seemed forever frozen and stuck in a dead-end 1960s New Left framework that I could not abide. During the Rodney King protests, I witnessed black students take over an administration building at Hampshire, but proceed to kick out first the white students, then the non-black students of color and finally the black women for supposedly not sharing the plight of black men’s abuse by police. When soon afterwards the Spartacists decided to try to “break” me with accusations of “petit bourgeois intellectualism,” I had had enough.
Richard Rubin, an acquaintance from the Hampshire Spartacus Youth Club chapter, and I kept alive the idea of trying to carry on the Spartacists’ outlook without their organizational insularity and paranoia: we toyed with the idea of starting a “Leviné League,” named after the martyr of the 1919 Bavarian Workers Republic, Eugen Leviné, but it amounted to nothing 유튜브 구입한 동영상. All the former Hampshire Spartacus Youth members I had recruited except me and Richard scattered to the wind. We maintained our subscriptions to Workers Vanguard. I dutifully checked in with the Chicago local — and reunited with Richard, who had always kept his distance from the Spartacists as an avowed heterodox “Menshevik Centrist” — when I moved there. But I settled depoliticized into the 1990s Clinton regime, struggling to make my way in the world as a young adult.
I became a video artist and publicly continued to avow and promulgate my Marxism — mostly through quotations from Adorno’s cultural-critical writings in artist statements — but this made me into more of a curiosity than a militant ideologue in the art world. I met the poet Reginald Shepherd, who was the first to recommend Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory (as well as his Notes to Literature) to me — Adolph had recommended Negative Dialectics, Minima Moralia and Prisms. Reginald told me that Adorno would cure me of my Marxism, but ended up only confirming it — and deepening it. I became convinced I had to read everything by Adorno — eventually, I realized I must write a dissertation on Adorno, on his Marxism.
Eventually, I earned first my Master of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and my Masters and PhD from the University of Chicago, launching my teaching career, first as a graduate student, and then thereafter, up to the present.
At SAIC, I studied in the Video Department, which was staffed with avowedly “Marxist” professors, one of whom had made a documentary on Mumia Abu-Jamal that the Spartacists used to promote Mumia’s case. — I recall vividly attending with the Spartacists a “Free Mumia!” rally in Philadelphia, which was denounced by the local Fraternal Order of Police head, who said on TV that we protesters should be put on an “electric couch” to join in Mumia’s execution. But my art work was accused of being “too aesthetic” by my professors and fellow students at SAIC. The separate Film Department was also staffed by “Marxist” filmmakers but was regarded by the Video Department as being too interested in art as opposed to “politics.” But I knew the difference between politics and art 원펀맨 1기.
During this time of the mid-1990s, I met and became friends with the up-and-coming “New / Post-Black Black Artists” such as Isaac Julien, Glenn Ligon and others, as well as meeting the faculty at the new Harvard University department organized by Henry Louis Gates Jr., such as Cornel West, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Paul Gilroy, Homi Bhabha and others — including meeting Stuart Hall on a visit — when Isaac Julien was teaching there (in New York, Isaac introduced me to bell hooks, who objected to my existence). As an artist, I spoke individually and on panels about — dissenting against — racial and sexual identity, at film festivals, art museums and galleries, and colleges and universities around the world.
Many conversations about Marxism were had: the consensus was that it was finished.
Back in Chicago, I was living through the brunt of neoliberal capitalism. I participated marginally in Adolph’s anti-Clintonite Labor Party USA organizing, meeting his local colleagues in the venture (mostly Maoist labor union activists). I made my skepticism about the Labor Party clearly known to Adolph, and suggested that we should be working towards a socialist party instead. He said that I sounded like the “Trotskyite sectarians” he was struggling against in the Labor Party — the ISO (International Socialist Organization), Solidarity, and others — and accused me of being “too abstractly theoretical” in my politics. The Labor Party USA project seemed to me to be just Democrats dissenting against Clintonism. He was opposed to running Labor Party candidates against Democrats — he didn’t want to be a spoiler. Nonetheless, he called for voting for the Green Party’s Ralph Nader against Al Gore for President in 2000 — and regretted it ever since. Adolph amused me driving around Chicago: just missing an open parking space, he would exclaim, “Racist yuppies!” He introduced me through the Labor Party activities in Chicago to his then-girlfriend, Stephanie Karamitsos, a PhD student at Northwestern University, with whom I bonded as a fellow artist, reading and discussing Adorno widely and at great length.
Adolph is a follower of the later “council communist” Karl Korsch and of thinkers who were students of the later Lukács such as Istvan Meszaros and others such as Karel Kosik, whose book Dialectics of the Concrete Adolph opposed to the alleged bad “idealism” of the Frankfurt School. Both the later Korsch and Lukács had turned away from their Hegelian Marxism circa 1917 towards “materialism.” In Korsch’s case this meant turning against Lenin and ultimately against Marxism as a whole — including Marx — because of their alleged “bourgeois elitism and vanguardism” contra the working class. Adolph disliked Trotskyism on this basis. He worked out a very elaborate argument concerning this issue in his book on W.E.B. Du Bois on which he was working when I was in my period of closest contact with him.
Adolph ascribed my resistance to his Labor Party USA project to my supposed “abstract idealism” that he attributed to my Trotskyism and strong affinity for Adorno. It was precisely Adorno who, in his Negative Dialectics, had helped me sort out the vexed issue of “materialism vs. idealism” in Marxism, which he taught me to see as a historical symptom of the defeat of the revolution rather than a matter of ahistorical principle as Adolph and others did. There was no need to raise the failure of Lenin and Trotsky to achieve socialism through the Russian Revolution to a matter of principle; indeed, Adorno taught me that it was important to remember them and Marxism against the grain of subsequent history, as an important attempt not easily explained away.
In addition to working various odd jobs — for instance at Kinko’s photocopy shop, where I met a couple of young Zapatista militants visiting Chicago who came in with literature to print, and including as support staff for engineers at the local Shure Electronics factory, drafting assembly-line instructions for workers (mostly Mexican women) there as well as at their sister location across the border in Juarez — I taught film and video production to aspiring workers in the media industry at Columbia College in Chicago.
Meanwhile, local “Leftist” activists were protesting against “big box stores” such as Borders Books and Walmart, Target, et al, trying to defend local businesses from them — I saw them rather as opportunities for organizing — and shopping — for the working class. Adolph said of mom-and-pop stores that “exploitation begins at home.” Cynical city aldermen would hire insta-crowds to picket the stores. I encountered race-baiting at the NGO level with local arts and media “Left” organizations descended from the 1970s–80s post-New Left cultural activist scene, which lost their government funding and, seeking private foundation support, were attacked for being too “white” — and promptly confessed their guilt and disappeared, leaving a void artistically, culturally and politically. It was the end of an era.
At the time of the O.J. Simpson trial, Adolph pointed out that single cases never serve well as rallying-points politically because the facts are always complicated and reality is not symbolic or allegorical, though the capitalist politicians and news media try to make it so. About Simpson himself, Adolph observed that “even a guilty man can be framed” and the police frame people, innocent or guilty, routinely. O.J. was found not guilty, though he was not innocent. I learned later as a victim of crime that the trial court, if not the criminal justice system as a whole, exists — at least ostensibly — for the benefit of the accused defendant against the state — as it should be. The police are there not to protect society against crime but to enforce the law; and prosecutors try to win cases, not achieve justice — which cannot be found in court anyway, especially not in capitalism. A bitter truth, but true nonetheless. — Life is not a morality play.
At the University of Chicago, I again met my Irish-American high school friend, who was then finishing his PhD in Musicology, writing a dissertation on Weimar Republic popular music, and who told me that a German professor had said that unless one is a native German language speaker one can never truly understand Adorno. He studied German, found a German boyfriend and relocated there, claiming his Irish citizenship in the EU. Before parting, he warned me against studying with Moishe Postone because Postone didn’t tolerate any dissent from his students — I ignored his advice and became Moishe’s student anyway. Adolph warned me archly that Moishe was perhaps too “tribal” — a veiled reference to Moishe’s (famous, but as-yet unknown to me) criticisms of Palestinian solidarity and “anti-Zionist Leftism.” For his part, Moishe said that, while he appreciated Adolph’s work a great deal, he found it too “angular:” Moishe couldn’t countenance Adolph’s fierce criticisms of black Democrat politicians.
Before studying with Moishe, I first took Adolph’s friend Kenneth Warren’s courses in African-American literary history and theory at the University of Chicago, and Ken became one of my advisors, eventually serving as my dissertation chair. My dissertation was on Adorno, and when a professor, editor of a prestigious critical theory journal, heard my subject of study, he exclaimed, incredulously, “I didn’t know Adorno was gay!,” to which I replied that as far as I knew he wasn’t — I certainly hoped he wasn’t. Who knows what he thought of Ken chairing my committee?
I started out as an Art History — Media Studies — student, and earned the ire of the department chair when I corrected a fellow student’s misreading of Walter Benjamin’s essay on “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” as a culturally conservative rejection of modern mass media rather than a dialectical critique, which the chair blamed me for the student, the one black member of our cohort, eventually dropping out — he cut me from the program as punishment. Or perhaps it was for another reason: when discussing my Masters thesis on Benjamin, the chair chastised me that Lenin and Trotsky relished “killing the innocent as well as the guilty” — I learned later that he was an ex-Marxist.
At Univ. Chicago, I took courses with the Hegel scholar Robert Pippin, who had been a member of the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) in the 1960s and became an acolyte of Marcuse when he taught at University of California at San Diego. We conversed in and out of class on issues of German Idealism and Marxism, with Adorno and Benjamin figuring prominently. The question regarding Hegel and Marx was the philosophy of freedom.
The Marxist literary critic Fredric Jameson once replied to a question I posed at a Univ. Chicago event about his account of Flaubert’s novel Madame Bovary — that perhaps it was about freedom and not merely happiness — that “freedom is a Right-wing concept.” Adolph responded to my question in a graduate student colloquium he co-taught with Ken on the history of anti-black racism in the U.S., regarding the issue with the Taft-Hartley Act of official government-recognized labor unions as a historical gain or setback for workers, that “freedom is in the eye of the beholder,” a version of the usual Leftist “freedom for who?” dismissal of the question of social freedom — the freedom of society as a whole, over which Marxists such as Lenin and Adorno considered capitalism to be dominating as an impersonal force, affecting all of its members.
As Postone did later, Pippin confessed that he felt he “couldn’t really understand” Benjamin and Adorno, which made sense to me as ignorance of the Marxism at the core of their work. Pippin highlighted a sentence in one of my course papers on Marxism about the philosophical difficulty of “recognizing oneself as a subject of change from within the process of self-transformation.”
Postone’s courses — which I attended with Stephanie and sometimes Richard as outside auditors — on Marx and the Frankfurt School as well as on the post-1960s “Left” criticisms of capitalism, were a welcome respite from the otherwise unrelenting anti-Marxism of postmodernist academia — if however, as I soon came to realize, they were their own form of anti-Marxism. Moishe would say that, while Marx himself was politically a “traditional Marxist,” his theoretical work pointed beyond this. When teaching Adorno’s work, Moishe confessed that he wasn’t sure he really understood it: I replied simply that Adorno was a Marxist; and maybe Marxist politics was more and other than what Moishe thought.
In Moishe’s classes, I met a new friend, Spencer Leonard, with whom I immediately engaged on issues of Lenin, Trotsky, the Russian Revolution and historical Marxism more generally. Spencer, Stephanie and I formed a close friendship circle; we were joined by fellow graduate student friends Atiya Khan, Sunit Singh and James Vaughn.
I appreciated the pedagogy in Marx and the Frankfurt School we were receiving from Postone, but felt it all made sense only if one took certain things about Marxism for granted, politically, which Moishe did not and indeed opposed. Still, I was a little shocked when Moishe told me point-blank, angrily, that I was inappropriately trying to reconcile his work with what it was designed precisely against, Marxism — more specifically, Lenin. But it was clear to me that Marx and Lenin wanted to overcome labor as a social relation and not hypostatize it politically, as Postone alleged. James’s old Trotskyist professor Robert Brenner (and member of Solidarity) said that Moishe’s insights into Marx were nothing new to actual Marxists, and his political apprehensions were misplaced. But I knew that most “Marxists” were exactly what Moishe said they were, not really followers of Marx at all: they were the socialists and communists that Marx himself had critiqued in his day. Marxists had always complained of the constant degeneration into “vulgar” and pseudo-“Marxism” and relapse into pre-Marxian socialism, for instance Luxemburg’s critique of reformist Revisionism of Marxism.
Moishe objected to what he called my characterization of “Luxemburg and Lenin as bosom buddies walking arm-in-arm,” and was incensed when I produced evidence that Luxemburg spoke and wrote fondly of Lenin and that they were indeed good friends who spent many an evening together, walking arm-in-arm, to which he responded dismissively that, “Of course Luxemburg was a traditional Marxist anyway.” Moishe ended up protesting stridently during my dissertation defense on Adorno’s Marxism, but relented when I talked him down, admitting, “Perhaps everything ended in 1919, but we’re still thinking,” to which I replied, “But are we really thinking, Moishe?” Meeting for coffee several weeks later, he said, “You know, Chris, you might have a point about Lenin, but you need to support it better.” I thought Lenin supported it best himself.
In any case, I remained independent from Postone in ways that always irritated him and made him distrustful of me. He told others that while he admired that I am “always thinking,” he thought that I was, problematically, “once a Spartacist, always a Spartacist.” — Here Moishe agreed with Adolph. Nonetheless, Moishe hired me in the College Core Curriculum of the Social Sciences, teaching undergraduates courses on Marx, Weber, Durkheim and Freud for the next decade and a half — until, after Moishe’s death, his students were purged from the staff.
When I began teaching Adorno and the Frankfurt School at SAIC, 9/11 had happened and the War on Terror was already underway, and Iraq had been invaded, but the U.S. occupation was facing difficulties, and the anti-war movement was regaining ground. My students attended protests and encountered the “Left” and its “Marxist” organizations, and the effects of this filtered back into my classes, raising many questions.
My students at SAIC and Univ. Chicago asked me to start an extra-curricular reading group in early 2006, wanting me to inform them more explicitly of the political implications of the Marxism I was teaching, outside the academic classroom. I warned them that this would become very intense and very political very quickly. Among the first writings we read together was something recommended to me by Adolph Reed more than a decade earlier, Korsch’s 1923 essay on “Marxism and Philosophy.” We attended “Left” events as a group, including the first national conference of the new Students for a Democratic Society, held at the University of Chicago in summer 2006. These activities soon led to founding an organization, the Platypus Affiliated Society, in 2007.
The rest is history. | P
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.bad guys more movies 간기남 다시보기 다운로드 마인크래프트 18.104.22.168 다운로드 Download the Spore Hangul edition
The dictatorship of the proletariat and the death of the Left
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
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: https://platypus1917.org/2021/09/02/a…
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.
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.” https://platypus1917.org/2011/06/01/l…
In the second part Parrot Room discussion, Chris Cutrone addresses topics such as:
1 Directx sdk. What can the American left do now during what is sometimes called our “Bern Out.”
2. Have we already witnessed the death of the socialist turn 비디오포털 다운로드?
3. Do you think the culture war can exhaust itself or will it just exhaust us?
4. How should the left reconstitute itself?
5. What role can left podcasts and left youtube serve today Download Toshiba External Hard Driver?
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.서브웨이 서퍼 버그판 Download MotorLock 새 굴림체
The Politics of Critical Theory
Chris Cutrone’s opening remarks begin at: https://youtu.be/Xo2WOy7vgN4?t=2099
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