The Marxian Interpretation Of History

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Marx’s interpretation of history constitutes an integral part of Marxian doctrine. It was his intent to peer into the future and to determine what historical fate was in store for the capitalist system. Only by understand­ing the forces that had caused historical events could the forces that would cause future events be envisioned. For this reason Marx sought the ulti­mate or basic causes of historical events.

To seek out the creative forces in history was somewhat more novel and daring in Marx’s day than it is now, when so many historians are vitally interested in studying the causes of historical events. Marx at­tempted to do something neither historians nor economists had done. His­torians had recorded events and economists had explained causes of eco­nomic events in specific historical settings without analyzing the creation of those settings. Lenin has summarized as follows the questions Marx felt had to be answered:

People make their own history; but what determines their motives, that is the motives of people in the mass; what gives rise to the clash of conflicting ideas and endeavors; what is the sum total of all of these clashes among the whole mass of human societies; what are the ob­jective conditions for the production of the material means of life that form the basis of all the historical activity of man; what is the law of the development of these conditions?

If history may be presumed to have a significant economic slant, it might be supposed that the economists would have sought out the laws of historical development, particularly in the field of economic phenom­ena. Marx found this not to be the case. He expressed this deficiency in “The Poverty of Philosophy” when he wrote: “Economists explain how production takes place in the above-mentioned relations, but what they do not explain is how the relations themselves are produced, that is, the his­torical movement which gave them birth.”

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The Common in Communism

Michael Hardt
The common must be the foundation of any communist hypothesis today. This is true due primarily to two interconnecting and conflicting conditions of the common with respect to capitalist production. First, contemporary capitalist production relies ever more centrally on the production and productivity of the common. And, second, the common, since it must be shared and open to free access, is antithetical to property. In other words, the common and its productivity are destroyed when relations of property (private or public) are imposed on it; and, in turn, the affirmation of the common implies the destruction of property. The dynamics of class struggle today and the project to overcome class society develop on the terrain of the common.

I generally agree with the efforts of Alain Badiou and Slavoj Zizek to renew the idea of communism and the communist hypothesis. The concept of communism, like that of democracy, has been corrupted so that today in standard usage it has come to mean its opposite, that is, state control of economic and social life. I would like to shift the discussion slightly, however, or recenter it from Badiou’s and Zizek’s focus on the political decision to the critique of political economy and the project for the abolition of property. To realize the communist hypothesis for our times we need to move, so to speak, from Lenin to Marx. Indeed one of the reasons that the communist hypotheses of previous eras are no longer valid is that the composition of capital – as well as the conditions and products of capitalist production – have altered. Most importantly the technical composition of labor has changed. How do people produce both inside and outside the workplace? What do they produce and under what conditions? How is productive cooperation organized? And what are the divisions of labor and power that separate them along gender and racial lines and in the local, regional, and global contexts? In addition to investigating the current composition of labor, we also have to analyze the relations of property under which labor produces. Along with Marx we can say that the critique of political economy is, at its heart, a critique of property. “The theory of the Communists,” Marx and Engels write in the Manifesto, “may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.”1

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The place of the Communist Manifesto in the elaboration of the Marxian idea of the post-Capital

In the text that follows we argue that the basic Marxian ideas concerning the type of society supposed to follow the demise of capitalism are contained in the Manifesto in a condensed form.

Accordingly, the first section offers an outline of what type of society the Manifesto envisages for the future as well as the conditions necessary for its appearance while the second section relates these ideas to Marx’s other texts.

In this paper post-capitalist society signifies what Marx calls a “Society of free and associated producers” “” also, indifferently, “communism” or “socialism”[1] “” based on the “associated mode of production.” This “union of free individuals,” the crowning point of the self-emancipation of the immediate producers, where individuals are subject neither to personal dependence, as in pre-capitalism, nor to material dependence, as in commodity-capitalist society, excludes, by definition, state, private ownership of the conditions of production, commodity production and wage labour. The Manifesto indicates, in a condensed and concise fashion, the essential elements of the envisaged new society as well as the objective and the subjective conditions of its realization.

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Marx: the quest, the path, the destination

Alexander Kluge’s nine-and-a-half hour long film of Marx’s “Kapital” is not a minute too long says Helmut Merker

What is a revolutionary? The writings of Marx and Engels both use the metaphor of revolution as the “locomotive of history”. Is, then, the revolutionary a standard bearer of progress, a pace setter, a frontrunner?

None of the above, because in a world ruled by a turbo “devaluation” where only the new has market value, where commodity production spirals out of control, the “train of time” is a deadly trend. Alexander Kluge instead opts for Walter Benjamin’s idea of the revolution as mankind “pulling the emergency brake“. We must hold up the torch of reason to the problems at hand, and the true revolutionary is therefore the one who can unite future and past, merging two times, two societies, the artist who montages stories and history. And so we come to Alexander Kluge and his art.

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La Filosofía como Repetición Creativa. Alain Badiou

Podría decirse que un autor es aquel sujeto que asume su implicación en un acto creativo. El objeto allí producido puede ser artístico, filosófico, de diferentes órdenes culturales. Su énfasis racional, afectivo, de pensamiento no lo hace ajeno allí al cuerpo. Por eso el filósofo puede no escaparse, su argumentación tiene una sede, un límite, tanto como ramas, derivas, conexiones, campos de intercambio y debate en ideas. Es, finalmente, una manera para abordar cosas y semblantes en movimientos y bucles de la vida de nuestra humanidad.

Deberé empezar refiriéndome a uno de mis maestros, el gran filósofo marxista, Louis Althusser. Para Althusser, el nacimiento del marxismo no fue una cosa simple. Estuvo compuesto por dos revoluciones, dos acontecimientos intelectuales principales. Primero, uno científico. Este acontecimiento fue la creación por parte de Marx de una ciencia de la historia, cuyo nombre es “materialismo histórico”. El segundo acontecimiento fue de naturaleza filosófica. Se trató de la creación, a cargo de Marx y otros, de una nueva tendencia, cuyo nombre es “materialismo dialéctico”. Podemos decir que se requiere de una nueva filosofía para clarificar y asistir el nacimiento de una nueva ciencia. La filosofía de Platón fue requerida, asimismo, por el comienzo de las matemáticas, o la filosofía de Kant por la física newtoniana. Después de todo no hay dificultad en todo esto. En este marco es posible decir dos cosas sobre el desarrollo de la filosofía.

Alain BadiouEste desarrollo dependió de nuevos hechos en algunos campos que no poseen una naturaleza filosófica inmediata. Particularmente, de hechos en el campo de la ciencia. Como las matemáticas para Platón, Descartes o Leibniz, la física para Kant, Whitehead o Popper, la historia para Hegel o Marx, la biología para Nietzsche, Bergson o Deleuze.

Por lo que a mí respecta, estoy bastante de acuerdo en que la filosofía depende de algunos campos no filosóficos. Y he llamado a estos campos las “condiciones” de la filosofía. Simplemente querría decir que no limito las condiciones de la filosofía al progreso de la ciencia. Propongo un conjunto más grande de condiciones, bajo cuatro tipos posibles: ciencia, pero también, política, arte y amor. Así que mi propio trabajo depende, por ejemplo, de un nuevo concepto matemático del infinito, pero al mismo tiempo de nuevas formas de la política revolucionaria, de los grandes poemas de Mallarmé, Rimbaud, Pessoa, Madelstam o Wallace Stevens, de la prosa de Samuel Beckett, de las nuevas maneras del amor que han emergido en el contexto del psicoanálisis y la completa transformación de todas las cuestiones en relación con la sexuación y el género.

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Drive your cart and your plough over the bones of the dead

Drive your cart and your plough over the bones of the dead
Autor: John Holloway[1]

“Drive your cart and your plough over the bones of the dead.”[2]

That is my response to those[3] who criticise my book[4] for being anti-historical. This article is not a defence of the book: I can think of nothing more boring. We need to drive the argument forwards, not backwards. Books, like revolutions, cannot be defended: they go forward or they die.

I Drive your Cart

Spit on history. History is the history of oppression told by the oppressors, a history from which oppression conveniently disappears, a history of Heroes, of Great Men.

Spit on history. History, even our history, is a history in which the struggle against oppression is invaded by the categories of the oppressors, so that it too becomes the history of Heroes, of Great Men, of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao.

Spit on history, because it is the great alibi of the Left, the great excuse for not thinking. Make any theoretical or political argument about revolution and the response of the Revolutionary Left is to bring you back to 1902, to 1905, to 1917, to 1921. History becomes a whirlpool, sucking you into the details of lives long dead. Present political differences become translated into disputes about the details of what happened in Kronstadt over eighty years ago. Anything to avoid thinking about the present, anything to avoid assuming the terrible responsibility that the future of the world depends on us and not on Lenin or Trotsky.

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Marx on financial crisis

In a system of production, where the entire continuity of the reproduction process rests upon credit, a crisis must obviously occur — a tremendous rush for means of payment — when credit suddenly ceases and only cash payments have validity. At first glance, therefore, the whole crisis seems to be merely a credit and money crisis. And in fact it is only a question of the convertibility of bills of exchange into money. But the majority of these bills represent actual sales and purchases, whose extension far beyond the needs of society is, after all, the basis of the whole crisis. At the same time, an enormous quantity of these bills of exchange represents plain swindle, which now reaches the light of day and collapses; furthermore, unsuccessful speculation with the capital of other people; finally, commodity-capital which has depreciated or is completely unsaleable, or returns that can never more be realised again. The entire artificial system of forced expansion of the reproduction process cannot, of course, be remedied by having some bank, like the Bank of England, give to all the swindlers the deficient capital by means of its paper and having it buy up all the depreciated commodities at their old nominal values. Incidentally, everything here appears distorted, since in this paper world, the real price and its real basis appear nowhere, but only bullion, metal coin, notes, bills of exchange, securities. Particularly in centres where the entire money business of the country is concentrated, like London, does this distortion become apparent; the entire process becomes incomprehensible; it is less so in centres of production.

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