RSA Animate – Crisis of Capitalism

Today’s Must-See Animated Capitalist Takedown from RSA and David Harvey

thanks to Shuddhabrata Sengupta

June 29, 2010 | 6:24 p.m

If you watch just one funny and handsome Marxist critique of the financial crisis, make it the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce’s animated version of David Harvey’s RSA speech “Crises of Capitalism.” It’s been making the rounds this afternoon, and for good reason: Mr. Harvey, a Marxist scholar who heads CUNY’s Center for Place, Culture & Politics, describes not just the failures that caused the ongoing fiasco, but the failure of how we’ve explained it.

“It’s crap,” he says. “You should know it’s crap, and say it is. And we have a duty, it seems to me, those of us who are academics, and seriously involved in the world, to actually change our mode of thinking.”

Listening to Mr. Harvey would be one thing, but the one-hand work from RSA Animate — who has given the same treatment to Barbara Ehrenreich, Dan Pink, Jeremy Pifkin, Philip Zumbardo — does wonders.


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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Gilles Dauvé, Quand Meurent les Insurrections. ADEL, Paris, 1998.
This version, translated by Loren Goldner and revised by the author, first published by Antagonism Press, 1999.
“If the Russian Revolution becomes the signal for a proletarian revolution in the West, so that both complement each other, the present Russian common ownership of land may serve as the starting point for a communist development.”1

This perspective was not realised. The European proletariat missed its rendezvous with a revitalised Russian peasant commune.2


Brest-Litovsk, Poland, December 1917: the Bolsheviks proposed peace without annexations to a Germany intent on taking over a large swath of the old Tsarist empire, stretching from Finland to the Caucasus. But in February 1918, the German soldiers, “proletarians in uniform” though they were, obeyed their officers and resumed the offensive against a soviet Russia as if they were still facing the Tsarist army. No fraternisation occurred, and the revolutionary war advocated by the Bolshevik Left proved impossible. In March, Trotsky had to sign a peace treaty dictated by the Kaiser’s generals. “We’re trading space for time”, as Lenin put it, and in fact, in November, the German defeat turned the treaty into a scrap of paper. Nevertheless, practical proof of the international link-up of the exploited had failed to materialise. A few months later, returning to civilian life with the war’s end, these same proletarians confronted the alliance of the official workers’ movement and the Freikorps. Defeat followed defeat: in Berlin, Bavaria and Hungary in 1919; then the Red Army of the Ruhr in 1920; the March Action in 1921…

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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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