why is it difficult to sell a paper to a random stranger?

Daniel Harvey gives a theoretical insight into the existential problem of relating to others as a revolutionary in a liberal society.

The old slogan of bourgeois entertainment, ‘But you must have seen this’, which just represented a swindle in the market place becomes a matter of deadly seriousness with the abolishment of amusements and the market alike. Formerly the supposed penalty was being unable to participate in what everyone else was talking about. Today, anyone who is unable to talk in the prescribed fashion, that is of effortlessly reproducing the formulas, conventions and judgments of mass culture as if they were his own is threatened in his very existence, suspected of being an idiot or an intellectual.

Adorno, ‘The Schema of Mass Culture’

What's missing?

One of the most misleading delusions we hold about ourselves is that there is some insoluble distinction between our public and our private selves. This illusion gives us the flattering idea that we are only forced to wear social masks, that underneath this persona that capitalist society forces us to adopt, there is some redeemable ‘real me’, who would be able to express themselves if only they were allowed to.  This distinction supposedly makes us unhappy and depressed, alienated even, and we feel it separates us from bonding with the people around us.  ‘Express yourself’ is now probably the most common advertising principle, and it’s a true testament to advertisers professional skill that they have made doing this seemingly very simple task so expensive. Some sad cases in the 60s took this and turned it into an entire new ‘self discovery’ industry.  The wealthy and bored go on long and expensive retreats to monasteries filled with Indian, so called, mystics, and then Louis Theroux made a documentary about it. Continue reading “why is it difficult to sell a paper to a random stranger?”

updates on 19th june ‘beyond resistance’ summer school

The Commune’s June 19th summer school ‘Beyond Resistance’ is now just three weeks away, and we are finalising details for the day’s workshops. Below appear the blurbs for three of the planned sessions, as well as a timetable for the whole event.

The event takes place from 11am-6pm on Sat 19th June at 96-100 Clifton St, London EC2. All welcome. Download double-sided A5 leaflet or A3 posterClick here to buy ticket – pay £5 if waged or £3 for concessions, and click here for map of venue. More details shortly. Continue reading “updates on 19th june ‘beyond resistance’ summer school”

sheffield communist discussion group, 14th april: alienation

The next Sheffield Communist Discussion Group meeting will be held at 6:30pm, Wednesday 14th April in The Rutland Arms. The topic of the discussion is “Alienation”.

Below is a reading list to give you a general introduction to the topic, but by all means also look elsewhere for further information to enrich the discussion. All welcome, email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com for more info. Continue reading “sheffield communist discussion group, 14th april: alienation”

the global commune: communism for the 21st century

On January 16th Edinburgh played host to the ‘Global Commune’ day school, hosted by Scotland’s Republican Communist Network and supported by The Commune.

Although we are faced with the greatest crisis of capitalism for decades, the majority of socialists today are not prepared to make the case for a viable alternative social order to get us beyond the ever-deepening capitalist crisis.

The objective of the day school was to develop communist thinking on what kind of society we want to create and how that relates to our activism and our slogans in the context of today. Continue reading “the global commune: communism for the 21st century”

introduction to marx’s understanding of work

An essay by David Broder on Marx’s understanding of wage labour drawing together notes for a recent meeting of our London reading group on workplace organising.

Capitalists pursue development to accumulate capital: they do not invest in the production of linen because they want lots of linen or in the extraction of oil because they want lots of oil, but because they believe that putting capital into the production process will allow them to accrue capital by selling the end product.

Although wealth exists in nature and not just thanks to human endeavour, capitalist development must depend on investment in a commodity which can itself produce further value – this means human labour, our mental and physical energies. In this framework our work must create some goods or services which satisfy some human desire or need (‘use value’) but also be sold as a commodity to those able to pay for it (‘exchange value’). Continue reading “introduction to marx’s understanding of work”

texts for 23rd march reading group

The next of The Commune’s London reading groups on ‘communism from below’ takes place from 6:30pm on Monday 23rd March at the Old Red Lion, near Angel tube station.

The subject of the discussion will be “capital, alienation and commodity fetishism”. Does the alienation of labour only exist in an economy where commodities are produced for the purpose of market exchange? How is alienation from the natural environment related to workers’ alienation from their labour? To what extent can we see a “humanist” trait in Marx? The suggested reading is:

The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof (section four of the linked page, from Capital volume one)

The Labour Process or the Production of Use-Values (section one of the linked page, from Capital volume one)

Estranged Labour (from the 1844 Manuscripts)

A comrade will also be giving a lead-off on the subject of Istvan Meszaros’s work Marx’s Theory of Alienation, although such is the size and density of this text, it is not necessary preparation for the discussion.

All are welcome. Email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com for further details or if you would like to be posted printed copies of the texts.