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Archive for the ‘Marxism’ Category

David Harvey RCA Lecture – Animated

In economics, Lectures, Marxism on July 2, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Alex Callinicos on Marxism 2010

In Communism, Conference, Marxism, Zizek on July 2, 2010 at 8:37 pm

the constitutionally myopic financial markets are beginning to wake up to the fact that capitalism is very badly broken. The Keynesian economist Paul Krugman wrote a few days ago: “We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression,” following those of the late 19th century and of the 1930s. Marx described his own intellectual project as the critique of political economy: Marxism therefore lives or dies by its ability to make sense of the dynamics of capitalism and to offer a way out of it.

from the Guardian

….and feel free to play ‘spot the examples of capitalist realism’ in the cif section below the article.

David Harvey Interview on BBC HardTalk

In Anti-capitalism, economics, Interview, Marx, Marxism on May 9, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Outline of David Harvey’s central points regarding capitalism and its limits.

Marx and Philosophy Society Annual Conference

In Conference, Lectures, Marx, Marxism, Philosophy on April 27, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Marx and Philosophy Society‘s 7th Annual conference has just been announced for June 5th.

Details below

7th Annual Conference of the Marx and Philosophy Society

Abstraction, Universality and Money

Institute of Education, University of London
20 Bedford Way, London
Saturday 5 June 2010, 9.30-6.00

Plenary speakers:

Richard Seaford (Exeter)
Money, Abstraction, and the Genesis of the Psyche

Alberto Toscano (Goldsmiths)
The Dead Pledge of Society: Methodological Problems and Political Consequences of “Real Abstraction”

Christopher Arthur
Abstraction, Universality and Money

Graduate panels:

Jan Sailer (Freiburg)
Securities: The Purest Form of Abstract Wealth. A Re-evaluation of the Concept of “Fictitious Capital”
Nick Gray (Sussex)
Abstraction, Universality, Money and Capital: The Capital-Theory of Value
Marina Vishmidt (Queen Mary, University of London)
Art in and as Abstract Labour

Brian Fuller (York University, Toronto)
Materialism and Dialectic: Reading Marx after Adorno
Tim Carter (Sussex)
Alienation and Domination in Marx and Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Anthropologies
Chris Allsobrook (Sussex)
Meta-Maieusis: The Ideological Normative Grounds of Immanent Critique

£15 waged, £10 unwaged (provides annual membership of the Society).

To reserve a place in advance please email David Marjoribanks at


Cahiers pour l’Analyse Available Online

In Althusser, Badiou, Journals, Lacan, Marxism on April 26, 2010 at 7:55 pm

The influencial French journal Cahiers pour l’Analyse has been made available online thanks to the AHRC and Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy at Middlesex University.

As a joint project of the philosophy graduates at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, the journal ran for ten issues between 1966 and 1969. You only have to look at the dates to know that these were some of the most influencial years in the history of French and modern European Philosophy. And this is certainly something equally reflected in the list of contributors from short time that the journal was operative. Jacques Derrida, Jacques-Alain Miller, Alain Badiou, Jacques Lacan, Louis Althusser and Michel Foucault all contributed texts in various forms.

The site is gradually adding to the original texts with summaries, synopses and at a later stage, hopefully, translations.

New Issue of the Zizek Studies Journal – Johnston and Vighi

In Anti-capitalism, Badiou, Johnston, Journals, Marx, Marxism, Zizek on February 24, 2010 at 9:31 pm

The latest issue of the International Journal of Zizek Studies hit the net today.  It is the first of an annual special ‘Zizek and Ideology’ edition edited by Cardiff University’s Centre for Ideology Critique and Zizek Studies.  It has some great contributions including, Jodi Dean’s on  Zizek and the Internet (I’m hoping this will feature in her new book Blog Theory) . And an excellent breif exchange between Adrian Johnston and Fabio Vighi regarding the former’s new book on Zizek and Badiou, The Cadence of Change.

Anyone familliar with Johnston’s work will know that it offers a formidanble (and encyclopedically argued) critical reading of both Badiou and Zizek. His most important contribution, and one that Zizek acknowledges in several places, is that we must carefully supplement the notion of Event (as used by both Zizek and Badiou) to overcome the common criticism hurled at it (i.e. by describing a transformation so radical that it creates it’s own presuppositions retroactively, the event/act can only result in political quietism and the naive belief that change can and will occur ex-nihilo ).

Johnston’s argues that to prepare the ground for the radical (truly) historical otherness which flares up all too briefly in an Evental situation, we need to develop a mode of pre-evental awareness (in time/politics).  Rigorously outlined in his latest book, this will ensure that we will engage in practical action in the meantime and yet still be ready for the big event when it “seems suddenly to present itself”.

Vighi’s critical retort to this is that, although insightful, it fails to break out from the specifically Badiouian/Zizekian problem that Johnston initially aims to overcome. By limiting his intervention to merely outlining a philosophical problem and daring not to apply it in the current conjecture, Johnston is only really, in effect, repeating the problem.  (i.e once again in a formal way Cadence of Change succumbs to an awkward quietism whilst awaiting  the miraculous intervention of an Event.)

In this way, Vighi rightly questions, to what extent does Johnston’s intervention, finely balanced as it is, “address the real problem” in Zizek’s and Badiou’s work? Even with Johnston’s important contribution to the debate, it he appears to remain “stuck in a somewhat fetishistic use of critical theory”.

Vighi asserts that the gap between theory and practice which Johnston attempts to bridge is in fact a false dichotomy. Thus, whilst theory is undoubtedly vital, it can only go so far. As he argues, “by definition, a political theory that does no include ‘seeds of the future’ by defying the material and ideological framework from which it speaks, cannot even dream to connect with empirical reality in the struggle for radical emancipation.”

What I really like about Vighi’s argument is that it unabashedly affirms a necessarily Marxist stance.  Indeed, the whole direction of his argument is along the lines of Marx’s statement regarding the  significance of ‘practical-critical’ activity. To once again state Marx’s oft-repeated eigth Thesis on Feurebach: “all mysteries which lead theory to mysticism find their rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension of this practice.”

Slavoj Zizek – Cardiff University, 3rd March

In Anti-capitalism, Lectures, Marxism, Zizek on February 23, 2010 at 3:42 am

First as Tragedy, then as Farce: Economic Crisis and Ideology Critique Today

Zizek is coming to The Centre for Ideology Critique and Zizek Studies at Cardiff University next week to give a public lecture on the explicitly ideological dimension of the economic crisis.  For those unfamiliar: in his latest book, First as Tragedy, then as Farce, Zizek argued that The financial meltdown signals that the fantasy of globalization and liberal-capitalist utopia is over. The blatant irrationality of a system that staggers punch-drunk from contradiction to crisis is once again plain for all to see: from the exorbitant amounts of purely speculative money thrown to the interests of capital to the job losses and increasingly expanding gap between rich and poor, Capitalism appears fundamentally corrupt to all.  Yet, nonetheless it remains standing and functioning (albeit for the interests of the few). Whilst we know Capitalism is inherently flawed, it still dictates political interests and individuals across the globe. In this sense, it remains the Real (in both the Lacanian and everyday sense) of our lives. How do we understand this gap? It’s in the Ideology, Stupid!

The Lecture is open to all, although you need to register! 19:00, Wednesday 3rd March 2010,  Julian Hodge Lecture Theatre, Colum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU

For further details and registration (which is essential, i’ve been reliably informed) see here

David Harvey – Organising for the Anti-Capitalist Transition

In Anti-capitalism, Marxism, Zizek on February 7, 2010 at 2:37 pm

‘Of course this is utopian! But so what! We cannot afford not to be.’

A Fantastic piece drawing from David Harvey’s new book appeared online last week. If this is a taster of what’s to come in the ‘The Enigma of Capital‘  we can look forward to some incredibly interesting debate.  Perhaps the most important issue Harvey points to is the question of legitimacy which the ongoing crisis of Capitalism should raise. In the darkest days of the most recent crisis ‘the irrationality of capitalism’ was plain for all to see.  We need only consider the incredible amounts of money thrown at the crisis next to the continual and immense suffering of the poorest to view this quite unstomachable contradiction.

Harvey, however, suggests this question of legitimacy is a curious case. Curious, at least in the Sherlock Holmes sense, to the extent that it remains one rarely asked. Like Jameson, Zizek and, most recently, Mark Fischer, Harvey argues that within our ideological milieu the legitimacy of Capitalism as a system is seldom questioned.  It is a problem made all the more accute alongside Harvey’s prediction that if we continue with the current  ‘exit strategy’ ‘then almost certainly we will be in another mess within five years’.  Based on much of the theoretical work laid out in Limits to Capital, Harvey suggests that the mass devaluation that a crisis demands has been restricted by intervention with fictious money serving only to paper over the cracks. As he argues, ‘The faster we come out of this crisis and the less excess capital is destroyed now, the less room there will be for the revival of long-term active growth’

If this is the case then our fundamental task, as the title of the piece suggests, is Organising for an Anti-Capitalist Transition.  There is certainly a hint of Zizek in Harvey’s provocation that being Utopian, radical and taking risks is imperative (I was immediately reminded of Zizek’s notion that we need to invent a new mode of dreaming in times of deep crisis, as well as Adorno’s ‘the dreams do not dream’).  I think this element is all the more important when considering much of Harvey, nothing less than hugely impressive, theoretical work: when reading Limits to Capital, I have often been struck with the question of what, in practical terms, does this imply? Yes, Harvey always points to the contradictions within Capitalism, but does so on such a total global level that it often paralyses thinking through the consequences – in terms of concrete politcal action at least.  It seems like Harvey begins to address this here. He talks of a ‘co-revolutionary’ theory which rejects the notion that a singular “silver bullet” or particular event can lead to the change that we need.  Rather, change, he argues, will occur through dialectically co-evolving moments mediated by contradiction and conflict – the very mechanism that capitalism came to being through and has sustained itself by internalising.  Harvey suggests that this requires both a local and global level and his assertion that ‘there is no way that an anti-capitalist social order can be constructed without seizing state power’ indicates that we must not be afraid of finding some way of translating the particular and diverse into the united and universal.

In sum, it is an exemplary short analysis that asks that basic, but all too difficult question,  ‘What is to be done’. The traces and early drafts of possible paths, and further questions, provide much food for thought.  It is certainly a step towards linking his economic and geographical work to social and political theory and I think the most interesting questions will arise in this space.   Immediately there are issues addressed to, as well as points of convergence with the Badiou/Zizek bloc. However, and I feel more importantly, it also gravitates towards traditionally  ‘liberal’ groups:  Harvey adamantly declares the failure of NGOs and similarly ‘progressive’ organisations whilst challenging them to consider the same questions which he is addressing.  He also considers how any movement must integrate and work alongside ’emancipatory movements around questions of identity’ and particular interests.  By doing this Harvey is opening a space to enable a broad coalition and facilitate – at the very least – a debate between a myriad of individual and group interests centred around the issue of capitalism’s failings.  Indeed, it is this above all else which is most urgently needed today.