The Real Movement

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Tag: marxism

Chris Cutrone’s masterful take down of post-war Marxism

Chris Cutrone and James Turley engaged in a debate over Lukacs in which only Cutrone ever laid a glove on his opponent.WAR & CONFLICT BOOK ERA:  WORLD WAR II/PERSONALITIES If you have not read it, you can find the entire series of exchanges here.

Of course, Cutrone’s point is so deeply buried in his argument, you will need a backhoe to excavate it. It is a complex, (almost unintelligible for me), argument about the applicability of classical Marxists ideas to our own present situation. Cutrone basically asks: Do the ideas, strategy, tactics of the post-Engels Marxists regarding social emancipation apply directly to the era of fascist state political-economy.

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“The real fruit of their battles …”

This is part three of a three part series. Part one can be found here; part two can be found here

3. “What Marxists once meant by ‘class consciousness’ is no more.”

wotwuIn the previous section of this essay, I argued, properly understood, Marx and Engels assumed the proletarian social emancipation does not take the form of a conflict with the ruling class. To say this has implications for the present crisis is an understatement. I think it goes a long way toward explaining why the most remarkable feature of the present crisis is the lack of a class struggle — which absence has been puzzled over by both bourgeois ideologues and by Marxists.

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“The consciousness of the necessity of a fundamental revolution …”

This is part two of a three part series. Part one can be found here.

Part 2: Bourgeois Consciousness versus Proletarian Consciousness

In part one of this series, I claimed that, in the German Ideology, Marx and Engels argued that the proletarian revolution quote-marxism-is-essentially-a-product-of-the-bourgeois-mind-joseph-schumpeter-165264does not play out the way the bourgeois revolution plays out and it cannot play out that way for very specific reasons. Given this claim, I have to answer the obvious question: If the proletarian revolution is not an assertion of a proletarian class interest against the ruling class, as Marx and Engels themselves asserted, what is it?

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Proletarian Class Consciousness and Social Emancipation

This is part one of a three part series

1. Social Emancipation in the imagination of Marxists

If asked about social emancipation, the typical Marxist will state walmartstarvesandexploitssomething to this effect: At some point the working class will acquire something that can be called a class consciousness — a recognition of its interests as a class and of its position in society. It will then undertake a political revolution that consists of the assertion of this interest against the other class, a revolution, in which the other class is overthrown and the proletariat sets out to reorganize society according to its interest.

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Marxian Hipsters, Old Skool Marxists and the Abstract and Fetishized Notions of Social Emancipation

worksource-oregon-job-fairThe hipsters of value critique can often be heard describing present society as one founded on an abstract and fetishized mode of social domination. Most of the rest of us have no idea what the fuck any of that means, but we know it sounds pretty impressive. If pressed to explain what this bullshit even means, the value critique hipster might refer to Adorno or some other theoretical heavy, as does the writer of this blog post, “The All-Penetrating Ether of Society: Adorno, Exchange, and Abstract Social Domination”:

“[A]ccording to Adorno, unlike the ‘idealist’ ‘subjective and ‘reflexive’ prognosis of reification, which centres on the undialectical appearance of the thing, and criticism that seeks to dynamize these things, the trouble is with the social ‘conditions’ that structure human interaction.

In Adorno’s view the later is theorized by Marx’s analysis of the fetish character of the commodity, which Adorno reads as a social category that expresses the objective social form of existing social relations.

“the fetish-character of commodities is not chalked up to subjective-mistaken consciousness, but objectively deduced out of the social a priori, the process of exchange.”

Ah!”, I nod in what appears to signal agreement, mostly because I don’t want to expose my complete inability to understand a single damn word the blogger wrote, “Yes, we must objectively deduce something that requires eight semesters of Hegelian philosophy out of something else that requires mastery of Capital, volumes 1, 2 and 3. Uh … by the way, would you like fries with your order?”

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Race, Gender and Class: Guess which one doesn’t belong

As you might know, of late the twitter Left has been aflame with intersectionalismvarious expressions of the circular firing squad that is intersectional politics. First, it was some feminists confronting transgendered folks (“Your penis is not female!”); this later morphed into women of color taking on white feminists (#SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen); later episodes featured a (for me at least) long-awaited World Series of intersectional disputes: black women expressing their anger at the abuse they have suffered over the years at the hands of black men.

So it goes.

Which is not to say any of these internecine outbursts were unjustified. I just wondered for a while where it would erupt next. So while I was waiting for the next front in the circular firing squad, I figured I would do some reading up on intersectionality. I decided to read two very interesting articles: “MARXISM AND CLASS, GENDER AND RACE: RETHINKING THE TRILOGY” by Martha E. Gimenez and a popularized Marxist take on the same subject, “What is intersectionality?” by Shanice McBean.

Frankly, I am not impressed with either argument.

There have been reams of paper, gallons of ink and trillions of web page electrons devoted to this question. I am no expert on the matter and admit at the outset all the nuances of the discussion probably go right over my head. So if this commentary seems theoretically naive, chalk it up to someone putting his nose in the middle of a dispute where it doesn’t belong.

In any case here goes:

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Proletarian consciousness can only be global: a reply to Chris Cutrone

I was reading Chris Cutrone’s “Class consciousness (from a Marxist perspective) today”, when some thoughts occurred to me that I feel necessary to outline. Although this might appear to be polemical that is not my intent. I want to outline my understanding of the subject of class consciousness based on the text, The German Ideology, in hopes of getting some feedback.

In the piece, Cutrone states:

“The difference between Marx’s time and ours is not in the essential problem of society, its self-contradictory form of value between wages and capital, but rather in the social and political conflicts, which no longer take the form primarily, as in Marx’s time, of the “class struggle” between workers and capitalists.”

wotwuClass, argues Cutrone, is no longer the active expression of the contradictions in bourgeois society that it was in Marx’s day. “Class consciousness” as Marxists define it, “is no more.”

I found this to be a very peculiar argument, since, so far as historical materialism is concerned there is not and never was such a thing as a working class consciousness. Engels and Marx do reference a consciousness in the German Ideology, where they first outline the materialist conception of history, but this consciousness is most decidedly not a class consciousness.

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