is marxism just too abstract?

by Nathan Coombs

The following commentary is in response to a forum organized by The Commune and the Marxist-Humanist Initiative, held in London on July 5, 2010.  This involved a talk by Anne Jaclard, “You Can’t Change the Mode of Production with a Political Agenda,” followed by a talk by Andrew Kliman, “The Transformation of Capitalism into Communism in the Critique of the Gotha Program.” Both talks can be read here.

In 1965 Louis Althusser opened his famous paean For Marx with a withering reflection on French theoretical culture at the time. He bemoaned the fact that ‘we have spent the best part of our time in agitation when we would have been better employed in the defence of our right and duty to know’.[i] The result of which was ‘the stubborn, profound absence of any theoretical culture’; whereas, he claimed, ‘Marxism should not be simply a political doctrine, a ‘method’ of analysis and action, but also, over and above the rest, the theoretical domain of fundamental investigation’.[ii] For this task Althusser saw as indispensable the role of intellectuals committed to necessary theoretical work.

Plato: an 'abstract' proto-communist?

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bristol communist discussion group, this sunday

The first of The Commune’s Bristol reading group sessions will be on Sunday 24th January at 6pm in Cafe Kino on Ninetree Hill, Bristol.

The series of sessions is entitled “Alternatives to capitalism”. The first session is called “Capital and capitalism”. A brief look at the features of capitalism. Capital, wage-labour, profit, capital accumulation and its effect on our lives.This first session sets the scene and will allow us to contast proposed alternatives. Continue reading “bristol communist discussion group, this sunday”

bristol reading group, sunday 24th january: capital and capitalism

The first of The Commune’s Bristol reading group sessions will be on Sunday 24th January at 6pm in Cafe Kino on Ninetree Hill, Bristol.

The series of sessions is entitled “Alternatives to capitalism”. The first session is called “Capital and capitalism”. A brief look at the features of capitalism. Capital, wage-labour, profit, capital accumulation and its effect on our lives.This first session sets the scene and will allow us to contast proposed alternatives. Continue reading “bristol reading group, sunday 24th january: capital and capitalism”

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.

the communal system of government – by mészáros

The following essay, “The Communal System and the Principle of Self-Critique,” by the esteemed Marxist scholar István Mészáros was published in the Hungarian journal Eszmélet (‘Consciousness, No. 79, Autumn 2008) with whom The Commune has fraternal relations.   Eds.

The Communal System and the Principle of Self-Critique
by István Mészáros

The Necessity of Self-Critique

The conscious adoption and successful maintenance of the orienting principle of self-critique is an absolutely fundamental requirement of the historically sustainable hegemonic alternative to capital’s social metabolic order as an organic system.

Since it cannot be allowed to conflict in any way with the necessarily open-ended historical determinations of labor’s alternative reproductive order—on the contrary, it must be a vital guarantee against all temptations to relapse into a self-complacent closure, and thereby into the reproduction of vitiating vested interests, corresponding to the traditional pattern of the past—the envisaged and knowingly pursued faithfulness to the theoretical as well as practical operative methodological principle of self-critique needs to be embraced as a permanent feature of the new, positively enduring, social formation. For precisely through the genuine and continuing exercise of that orienting principle it becomes possible to correct in good time the tendencies that might otherwise not only appear but, worse than that, also consolidate themselves in favor of the ossification of a given stage of the present, undermining thereby the prospects of a sustainable future. Continue reading “the communal system of government – by mészáros”

worse than they want you to think – a marxist analysis of the economic crisis

A talk by Andrew Kliman, author of ‘Reclaiming Marx’s Capital’*

update: click here for sound file

In the past few weeks, since we announced this talk, recognition has increased substantially that the United States, and now the world, are caught up in the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression.  Because Marxists are famous for “predicting five out of the last three recessions”, I need to point that the term crisis does not mean collapse, nor does it mean slump (recession, depression, downturn).  While the US is probably in the midst of a recession, the downturn has been-thus far-a relatively mild one. For instance, payroll employment has fallen nine months in a row, but the total decline, 760,000, is well less than half of the decline that occurred during the first nine months of the last recession, in 2001, which itself was relatively mild.   Continue reading “worse than they want you to think – a marxist analysis of the economic crisis”

mészáros, harman and brenner debate credit crunch

This evening the Socialist Workers’ Party’s Chris Harman, Richard Brenner from Workers’ Power and the Hungarian Marxist István Mészáros debated the topic ‘Marx and the credit crunch’ at Conway Hall in central London. Around 190 people attended the meeting.

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