Posts Tagged ‘Marxism’
Weekly Worker Editorial Board Deciding Corbyn’s Strategy.
Senior Labour MPs are plotting to oust Jeremy Corbyn if he is elected party leader, amid growing fears that the leadership contest has been hijacked by far-Left infiltrators.
Shadow cabinet sources have told The Telegraph that Mr Corbyn would never be allowed to remain in the job long enough to fight the 2020 general election, if he is elected on September 12.
A coup could be launched within days of the result, which would plunge the party into even deeper crisis and division, but would be necessary to prevent an electoral “disaster” under Mr Corbyn’s leadership, senior figures said.
However, a growing number of Labour MPs believe Mr Corbyn’s campaign is being boosted by tens of thousands of radical Left-wing socialists who have paid £3 to sign up as an “affiliated supporter” in order to vote in the election.
There are reports that Unite, the country’s biggest trade union, which is backing Mr Corbyn, has been telephoning 1,000 people a day urging them to register with Labour and back their preferred candidate.
One shadow cabinet minister told The Telegraph a coup would be inevitable if Mr Corbyn is successful.
Reports the Telegraph.
On the 6th of May Seamus Milne announced:
The Tories are plotting a coup in the name of legitimacy.
Fleet-footed the People’s Assembly acted (7th of May):
Stop the ‘Tory Coup’.
Ipswich followed the lead.
Cde Milne swiftly replied:
We beat off that coup!
Our troops, after recruiting thousands of new Labour Party supporters, are ready again!
Ipswich Workers’ Militia in Training.
Europe’s Left: No Retreat to Nationalist anti-European Politics.
Alexis Tsipras’s grip on power suffers a blow with 32 of his own MPs rebelling as the Greek parliament votes in favour of new austerity measure against a backdrop of violence on the streets of Athens reports the Telegraph.
There are many things to say about the developing Greek crisis but I am still struck by the information given in Le Monde on Tuesday about the “Explosive Propositions of Wolfgang Schäuble“.
The German Fiannce Minister, Schäuble, wanted Greece out of the Euro (no doubt to the satisfaction of the ‘left’ critics of Syriza’s leadership ), for a “provisional” period (not enough, would say the ‘left’, the True Finns and Golden Dawn). He also demanded a through-going “depolitisation” of the country;s administration, under close EU supervision (not something the ‘left’ would welcome one suspects).
The details behind this are a lot worse – as presented by Jack Rasmus,
It is a known fact that Schaubel and the ‘right wing’ of Euro bankers and ministers have wanted to eject Greece from the Euro since 2012. In that prior debt restructuring deal, private bankers and investors were ‘paid off’ and exited the Greek debt by means of loans made by the Troika, which were then imposed on Greece to pay. 2012 was a banker-investor bailout, not a Greece bailout. What was left was debt mostly owed by Greece to the Troika, more than $300 billion. Greece’s small economy of barely $180 billion GDP annually can never pay off that debt. Even if Greece grew at 4% GDP a year, an impossibility given that Europe and even Germany have been growing at barely 1% in recent years, and even if Greece dedicated all its surplus GDP to paying the debt, it would take close to a half century for Greece to pay off all its current debt.
Schaubel and the northern Europe bankers know this. In 2012, in the midst of a second Eurozone recession and financial instability, it was far more risky to the Euro banker system to cut Greece loose. Today they believe, however, that the Eurozone is stronger economically and more stable financially. They believe, given the European Central Bank’s $1.2 trillion QE slush fund, that contagion effects from a Greek exit can be limited. Supporters of this view argue that Greece’s economy is only 1.2% of the larger Eurozone’s.
What they don’t understand, apparently, is that size of GDP is irrelevant to contagion. They forget that the Lehman Brothers bank in 2008 in the US represented a miniscule percent of US GDP, and we know what happened. Quantitative references are meaningless when the crux of financial instability always has to do with unpredictable psychological preferences of investors, who have a strong proclivity to take their money and run after they have made a pile of it—which has been the case since 2009. Investors globally will likely run for cover like lemmings if they believe as a group that the global financial system has turned south financially—given the problems growing in China, with oil prices now falling again, with commodity prices in decline once more, with Japan’s QE a complete failure, and with the US economy clearly slowing and the US central bank moves closer to raising interest rates. Greece may contribute to that psychological ‘tipping point’ as events converge.
But there’s another, perhaps even more profitable reason for hardliners and Euro bankers wanting to push Greece out. And that’s the now apparent failure of Eurozone QE (quantitative easing) policies of the European Central Bank to generate Eurozone stock and asset price appreciation investors have been demanding.
Unlike in the US and UK 2009-2014 QE policies that more than doubled stock prices and investors’ capital gains, the ECB’s QE has not led to a stock boom. Like Japan recently, the Eurozone’s stock boom has quickly dissipated. The perception is that stock stimulus from the Eurozone’s QE, introduced six months ago, is perhaps being held back by the Greek negotiations. Euro bankers and investors increasingly believe that by cutting Greece loose (and limiting the contagion effects with QE and more statements of ‘whatever it takes’ by central banker, Mario Draghi) that Grexit might actually lead to a real surge in Euro stock markets. Thus, throwing Greece away might lead to investors making bigger financial profits. In other words, there’s big money to be made on the private side by pushing Greece out.
So, when we are talking about Syriza’s ‘betrayal’ bear this in mind.
Read it carefully.
Most will rightly, dismiss as stale air, calls for a “true” revolutionary party which will abolish these difficulties, and no doubt make the bankers and Schäuble disappear from the Earth’s surface.
But there are serious people inside Syriza, the Left Platform, who offered an alternative strategy to Tsparis and who have not accepted the present deal.
One of their leading spokespeople, Stahis Kouvelalkis has declared of the pro-EU Syriza leadership (this could apply more widely to others on the left – to Tendance Coatesy amongst many others) (Greece: The Struggle Continues Sebastian Budgen & Stathis Kouvelakis):
So for these people the choice is between two things: either being “European” and accepting the existing framework, which somehow objectively represents a step forward compared the old reality of nation-states, or being “anti-European” which is equated with a falling back into nationalism, a reactionary, regressive move.
This is a weak way in which the European Union is legitimated — it might not be ideal but it’s better than anything else on the table.
I think that in this case we can clearly see what the ideology at work here is. Although you don’t positively sign up to the project and you have serious doubts about the neoliberal orientation and top-down structure of European institutions, nevertheless you move within its coordinates and can’t imagine anything better outside of its framework.
This is the meaning of the kind of denunciations of Grexit as a kind of return to the 1930s or Grexit as a kind of apocalypse. This is the symptom of the leadership’s own entrapment in the ideology of left-Europeanism.
Kouvelakis cites the Greek Marxist political writer Nicos Poulantzas, who wrote and lived in France for most of his career, to back his anti-EU ideology.
He says that Poulantzas said the following.
Yes, Poulantzas talked about European integration in the first part of his book on social classes in contemporary capitalism, in which he analyzes the processes of internationalization of capital and he clearly considered the European Economic Community an example of an imperialist form of internationalization of European capital within the framework of what he considered the new postwar structural hegemony of the United States.
Poulantzas indeed made this analysis in Les Classes sociales dans le capitalisme aujourd’hui, (1974)
But in L’État, le pouvoir, le socialisme (1978) Poulantzas offered an alternative to the domination of capital: a fusion of direct and representative democracy based ont eh workers’ movement and civil society. He famously stated that the state, is a ” « condensation matérielle d’un rapport de force entre les classes et fractions de classe » (a material condensation of relations between classes and fractions of classes).
The European Union is a judicial and economic framework which is, self-evidently, linked to these relations of changeable power.
It is not only a cabal of finance ministers, EU Commissioners, and neo-liberals who can do as they will – if there is a large enough power to stop them.
To change the EU, to fight neo-liberalism, requires a different relation of force: based on Europe-wide unity between the popular classes and lefts.
It means a political movement, across borders, with institutional weight.
The European Parliament, without any effective influence on EU decision-making, which is essentially inter-Ministerial and Commission based, is nevertheless a point where these bonds can, and are, made, through groups like the European Left Party – however weak they may be at present.
To leave the EU is to leave these potential ties of unity.
It is to give up the game at the first sign of difficulty – to follow those, misguided or simply opportunist ‘friends’ of Syriza who now turn on them when they have run into trouble.
It is to set the course for naked domination by the forces of international capital.
Or to put is more simply, no country, nor left, is in a position to break free of the IMF’s clutches, not to mention world financial markets.
Those on the Syriza left who proposed a Grexit, the centrepice of their economic plans, have yet to answer the point: would they have either offered a viable package, and how would they have warded off the financial locusts described by Rasmus?
They have yet to give a serious response.
A ‘New Britain’.
The Greek crisis has been a perceived as proof that the ‘pro-European’ left has failed, largely by those who were already convinced that this is so.
Briefly basking in Syriza’s reflected glory they have now returned to their own political projects.
In France, apart from the anti-Euro and ‘Sovereigntist’ Front National, a minority of the Parti de Gauche (45%) voted at their recent conference for this as part of a general “Eurosceptic” line (Libération). Their leader, Jean–Luc Mélenchon, has made frequent nationalist and anti-German remarks during the Greek crisis.
He said a few days ago,
For the third time in the History of Europe, the obstination of the German government is destroying Europe.
There is little doubt the same mood exists across Europe.
In Britain some see the Greek crisis as a sign to join in the campaign for the UK to leave the European Union.
This, Owen Jones dreams, would ” focus on building a new Britain, one of workers’ rights, a genuine living wage, public ownership, industrial activism and tax justice. Such a populist campaign could help the left reconnect with working-class communities it lost touch with long ago.”
Unfortunately this option will appear on no Referendum Ballot paper, when, one assumes the believers in a New Britain will mark their slips in the same way as the ‘populists’ of the far-right, and hard-line anti-socialist economic liberals.
As Jim Denham rightly says, “The left should fight, not to go backwards from the current bureaucratic, neoliberal European Union, but forward, to a democratic United States of Europe, and a socialist United States of Europe.”
In the meantime here are some serious articles by people the Tendance respects (though disagrees with) on Syriza and the present crisis:
Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin: Treating SYRIZA responsibly (Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal)
Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin, Athens
Update: A reminder from UNITE,
02 April 2015 By Tony Burke, Unite assistant general secretary
Two-thirds of manufacturing jobs in the UK are sustained by trade with the rest of the EU.
Between 2009 and 2011 the number of manufacturing jobs in the UK dependent on trade with the EU grew by 15 per cent.
But it is not just the economics that make membership crucial it is also the protection that workers have because of the EU.
Talk of employment directives may seem dry but protecting our members rights at work have come about because we belong to the EU, and because Unite and other trade unions have fought long and hard to achieve them.
Parental leave has been extended to at least four months for each parent no matter what type of employment contract a worker may be on.
Thousands of workers in part time jobs can no longer be treated less favourably than their counterparts who work full time.
Bosses don’t want anything that might interfere with their right to hire and fire at will so anything that provides protection for temporary agency workers from gross exploitation are hard fought. But we have been able to do it.
One of the major protections for workers is the transfers of undertakings directive a vital piece of legislation that guarantees workers’ rights and obligations in company takeovers and mergers – there was a time when companies could dismiss and automatically sack their entire workforces upon the transfer or sale of a business.
The working time directive protects workers from being forced to more than 48 hours on average and guarantees breaks during and between shits.
And lest we forget – guaranteed paid annual leave, of at least four weeks (28 days a year) – which now thanks to Unite has to be paid at average pay.
There have been massive improvements on equal pay; the right to be consulted on redundancies; to have information about your company and for workers in multinational companies the right to be heard and consulted at European level and improvements on health and safety.
Tory Eurosceptics and Ukip echo the right wing and defeated Tea Party in the United States offering Britain a prospectus of becoming an offshore financial centre – like Hong Kong. Left to them we will become Europe’s economic and political renegade.
If the Tories and Ukip get their way they will set us on this calamitous course to exit the EU. That’s why manufacturing workers need to vote Labour on 7 May.
The supplement Anti-semitism and anti-Muslim racism in Europe, by Yves Colman (from Ni patrie ni frontières) is published by the Alliance of Workers’ Liberty. It is essential reading.
These are some comments on one section, About the ambiguities of the “Islamophobia” concept.
The original title is perhaps more forthright: De l’usage réactionnaire de la notion d’« islamophobie » par certains sociologues de gauche et… Amnesty International. It is also, Yves notes, “a slightly different and longer version”. In French he refers to, for example, to claims about ‘hypersensitive’ Jews, by French academic, Olivier Esteves (joint author of De l’invisibilité à l’islamophobie : Les musulmans britanniques (1945-2010) with Gérard Noiriel. 2011). I doubt if anybody outside of France would be greatly interested in Esteves, although Yves’s annoyance at the use the writer makes of Maxime Rodinson would be shared by many on the left in the scores of countries where Rodinson’s works on Islam are read and appreciated.
This, nevertheless, suggests a wider point. The political and cultural bearings of any discussion about Islamophobia – and anti-Semitism – are different in France and Britain. This is not just that different writers can be, or need to be, cited, but that there are some deeper distinctions. Not only has continental Europe a more direct exprience of the history of the consequences of anti-Semitism, but France has a distinct relation to Islam (North African colonialism was more ‘immediate’ than, say the Raj), and a much stronger secular and radical left, which is hostile to the kind of religiously inspired fudging of these issues that exists in the UK.
Much of this may be well-known, but it is less appreciated in the UK, and elsewhere, just how far a large chunk of the French left just does not accept the same premises on these topics. It is doubtless partly due to the efforts of groups like the SWP, who systematically turn reports on France to fit their own ‘line’, but also from other groups, who are themselves aligned with the various (minority) French groups who make up such bodies as the Collectif contre l’Islamophobie.
We have to begin, then, by noting that in France, to a much greater degree than in the English-speaking world, the concept of ‘Islamophobia’ remains contested, above all on the anti-racist left. Houda Asal observes that it remains “champ de bataille ” (Battle field). That is, as a political issue of great importance, its content remains to be clearly defined (Contretemps). Above all, she notes, the identification of Islamophobia (a term she backs, as a supporter of the group cited above) as a form of racism, has met with sustained objections amongst important sections of the French left. A variety of objections have been made to the word, not least by important French left parties, such as the Parti de gauche of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who are firm secularists and fear a restriction on their right to criticise reactionary religious politics. Apart from the obvious point that faith is not in the genes, this runs up against the idea that people can have their ideas challenged and that they should be free to leave their ‘birth’ religion.
Yves Colman begins his article by giving some reasons why the word Islamophobia is not just ‘essentially contested’ but eminently contestable. This is is so not just in terms of French debates, but for the whole international left.
I have tried not to use the word “Islamophobia” in this article and chose expressions like “anti-Muslim paranoia”, “anti-Arab”, “anti-African” and “anti-Muslim racism”, in line with what Sacha Ismail proposed in Solidarity.
Among many other reasons, I prefer not to use the word “islamophobia” for the following motives:
• The phenomenon involved is not a simple phobia (fear) but a paranoia, therefore much more serious than a simple fear;
• This concept is manipulated by Islamists and the 57 States of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to prevent any criticism both of political Islam and Islamic religion;
• It’s used by left militants and social scientists who refuse to criticise religion: for example, Clive D. Field 60 considers the rejection of sharia courts in Britain an “islamophobic” prejudice!
It remains to be seen if one can clearly distinguish paranoia and fear. Or, that there is any point in saying that because anybody intensely dislikes, say Boko Haram, they are imagining something about them.
Viewers of this week’s BBC 2 documentary Kill the Christians, might equally become fearful about Islamic religious intolerance and hatred towards non-Muslims.
It is hard to see what worse one could imagine about groups such as the Islamic State – Daesh.
Which is not to say that racists, of any stripe, are not capable of deluded fantasies about the objects of their loathing.
There are few more disgusting sights than listening to Nigel Farage speaking, and his views on Muslims are no exception.
UKIP is striking evidence of that – and spans a very wide variety of targets. ‘Populism’ in this case seems about very classical scapegoating, too simple in fact to need any sophisticated cultural, ideological/discourse analysis. However it does not have one clear target: it’s an heap of images, Polish, Gypsy, Muslim, Chavs, Africans, Caribbeans, idle British benefit claimants, Brussels, single mothers, and, let’s not forget, the large Hindu and Sikh populations, to give a far from exhaustive summary.
But the deep rooted, all-embracing, hatred of one group has yet to take hold. There is not the obsessive loathing against Jews looked at in books such as Sartre’s Réflexions sur la question juive (1946), with their institutional and political backing in National Socialism and other European extreme-rights, has yet to take hold in large sections of the population. There is no version of the Protocols featuring Muslim ‘Elders’. Éric Zemmour, who advocates expelling Muslims from Europe, does not lead a political party, even a groupuscule.
These reservations should not obscure the principal point that across Europe there is widespread intolerance against migrants and all ethnic minorities.
In this noxious mixture there are anti-Muslim strands.
How can this best be termed? Sacha Ismail’s list strikes me as right: there is “anti-Arab”, “anti-African” and “anti-Muslim racism” . Though unfortunately one has to add a long list of other prejudices, xenophobic hatred, and biological racism to the tally. There is, though not at present of visible importance in Europe, intra-Muslim conflict, too well known to catalogue.
These qualifications said, Yves’s argument is extremely fruitful: it has implications for the left’s strategies to oppose this tide of prejudice.
The Left and ‘Islamophobia’.
As a first step we have to look at what we should not do.
The line advanced in the pages of the Socialist Workers Party magazine, Socialist Review, by Hassan Mahamdallie of the Muslim Institute (January 2015) gives some indications of very misleading approach. (Resist the racist offensive against Muslims)
Mahamdallie works with this central premise,
Although the term “Islamophobia” is widely used to describe the phenomenon of hatred and discrimination against Muslims, we should regard it like other racisms as having historic roots, and a particular role to play in modern capitalist societies.
This is true in the west, whose governments are failing to deliver the needs of their working classes, whilst engaging in military interventions in regions they see as strategic. Muslims in the West are being used as scapegoats for a situation not of their making, and simultaneously being divided from the rest of the population, cast as alien, dangerous and thereby set apart from those with whom they have most in common.
‘Islamophobia’ is not at all reducible to the something that can be reduced to a “function” or role in “scapegoating”. The expression is already flawed enough without this. But it’s the political consequences which Mahamdallie draws that are most ambiguous:
local initiatives include the vibrant campaign around the Trojan Horse affair in Birmingham; the work of activists to repulse the racialisation of child abuse “grooming” cases in towns such as Rotherham; and the defence of Tower Hamlets council and schools. This is a vital bulwark against Islamophobia, not only in demonstrating that Muslims can count on the support of others, but in radicalising a new generation of activists, Muslim and non-Muslim, who can feel that they can move from the defensive to the offensive, and by doing so making themselves active in changing the world around them for the better.
These are very far from clear issues. Anybody who ‘defends’ the Birmingham schools, to start with, is misled. Why Tower Hamlets Council leadership should be ‘defended’ without any qualification (or evidence in the courts) is equally questionable. Not to mention why the left should be deeply involved in the child abuse cases, which defy any kind of rational political intervention….
Indeed the words hornet’s nest barely cover the issues Mahamdallie baldly cites.
But, (we learn)
…there are bigger issues at stake, which means breaking out of the Good Muslim/Bad Muslim framework and championing the right of Muslims to practise their religion and to express themselves culturally and politically freely and without fear, to organise against war and injustice without suffering the fate of activists such as Moazzam Begg and to defend their communities and leadership without being labelled as “fundamentalist” conspirators.
It is natural that Britain’s Muslims should reach out for allies in this struggle. The responsibility falls on the wider movement against racism and imperialism, on trade unionists and socialists to actively demonstrate, without pre-conditions, that it will consistently unite with Muslims under attack. Only then can we begin to roll back the state repression and the bigotry and discrimination that are in danger of being embedded in British society.
No socialist can accept the phrase, “Without pre-conditions’, without, pre-conditions…..
We have just seen some reasons why; there are plenty of others.
Defending those who identify as Muslims, from racist assaults, is absolutely right, in general.
But what of organised groups, political and religious associations? Every single Salafist? And is every individual to be backed? ‘Against’ the state, and ‘against’ what else? Every, well the word begins with a ‘J’……
There is a drift, ultimately, to the blanket ‘defence’ of every Muslim, which the SWP, and many on the left, make all too often – for all their ‘yes ISIS is terrible’ but…...
Yves notes, that Islamophobia is used, in this context above all, to protect a range of figures from criticism (from Islamists to ‘traditional’ leaders, ‘conservative’ – reactionary – clerics, academics and perhaps most important, would-be political leaders) , to encircle ‘The’ (as if there is ‘one’) Muslim ‘community’ and as Charlie Hebdo’s murdered Editor, Charb says, to encourage ‘identity’ against the ‘enemies’ of Islam (Lettre ouverte aux escrocs de l’islamophobie qui font le jeu des racistes. 2015) (1)
Behind this is not a powerless body of migrants, but some wealthy and powerful countries, the 57 States of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
Does the left defend “without pre-conditions” all of these bodies?
Yves takes us the critique of official multiculturalism”. He singles out
“….imaginary “communities” whose self-proclaimed representatives want to impose a “traditional” law on their cultural/religious group, we can’t just look away and forget the necessity of defending democratic rights for everyone… including Muslim workers.”
The comrade from Ni patrie ni frontières looks at Amnesty International’s report 63 (April 2012).
“States must take measures to protect women from being pressured or coerced by third parties to dress in certain ways, and in so far as social, cultural or religious norms prescribing dress codes are a reflection of discrimination against women, the state has a positive obligation to take steps to prevent such discrimination.”
Amnesty is right to criticise the discriminatory policies adopted by Western states: in the countries where the hijab ban has been implemented (outside Turkey and Tunisia, where these decisions were taken by Muslim governments), it has only served to expel young girls from the state-run, or “non-denominational” schools, which was a major setback; it has pushed them either to abandon their studies, or to follow long-distance education and remain isolated at home, and made them more vulnerable to (self-) indoctrination; and it has reinforced the influence of private schools and religious (Christian or Muslim) schools.
I disagree that the French law on wearing ostentatious religious symbols in schools is wrong. There is no reason why a public education system should be permitted to become a battleground in which personal religious symbolism, above all, religious standards of ‘modesty’ and ‘purity’, should be allowed to enter. The French concept of laïcité for all its obvious faults (notably, the failure to tackle class and other inequalities), nevertheless represent an advance in this area: schools should not be the place for the aggressive assertion of faith, either by the instructors, or by those trying to extend the ‘micro-powers’ of religious observance.
To those who say that we not ‘defend’ the French state, I reply: schools are funded and run by the state. Unless you plan to take them away from the public authorities we are discussing about what should happen within them. Secularists want them to be secular. Obviously some on the left do not agree.
“The Islamophobia concept is sometimes used to counter the necessary struggle against anti-Semitism, the latter being presented, by the most extremists, as a “Zionist” tool to prevent any criticism against Israeli war crimes (see for example the opposition raised in the left by the working definition of anti-Semitism elaborated by an European Union commission which proposed to point the limits of anti-Zionism). “
In other words, everyone but the anti-Semites are responsible for…anti-Semitism.
There is another example of this in the Parti des Indigènes de la République, and its leading figure Houria Bouteldja (admired by Verso Books and Richard Seymour amongst others). Bouteldja has recently argued that there is a State philosemitism in France (philosémitisme d’État). This state, apparently, ‘uses’ this, including the Shoah, as shields (boucliers idéologiques) to disguise its own racism. Thus, Arab anti-Semitism in France is…..a reaction to this State (racist) philosemitism. (François Calaret Combattre le philosémitisme » : impasse de l’antiracisme).
We wonder where this particular journey will end.
In provisional conclusion: Yves Colman’s discussion and the major piece, Anti-semitism and anti-Muslim racism in Europe, are essential reading for everybody on the left. The AWL are to be congratulated on publishing it.
As the comrade says,
It’s never too late to recognise our errors and wage a clear fight against all forms of racism. For this we must understand their specificities, without negating the existence of any form of racism and without building an absurd hierarchy between them.
More articles by Yves on site Ni Patrie, Ni Frontières.
More on the increasingly overtly anti-Semitic Parti des Indigènes de la République (PIR): Non au philosémitisme d’État » : un slogan indigne ! (Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples).
Update: RW points us to this translation of the speech that marked this turn bytranslated into English.
The most striking is this sentence, “Last question: what is it that prevents the « real left » from struggling against state philosemitism? I will answer unambiguously: the real left is itself, with a few exceptions, philosemitic.” (State racism(s) and philosemitism or how to politicise the issue of antiracism in France ?).
Yes, they like Jews those French leftists……
(1) I am considerably more a “follower of the line of Charlie Hebdo” than Yves Colman.
In the latest Historical Materialism there are two articles on Robert Kurz (24 December 1943 – 18 July 2012) was a German Marxist philosopher, social criticism publicist, journalist and editor of the journal Exit!. He was one of Germany’s most prominent theorists of value criticism. His works have yet to be translated into, and published in, English.
They are worth signaling.
The late Robert Kurz was one of the principal theorists of ‘the critique of value’ in Germany. This paper uses the recent release of a collection of his essays in French translation and his posthumously published Geld ohne Wert [Money without Value] (2012) as a starting point for a discussion of the critical project that Kurz undertook over a period of 25 years. Kurz was exemplary in returning to the most radical insights of Marx, even when these went against some of the other ideas of the master. He was an ardent proponent of a crisis theory of capitalism: that the categories of the capitalist mode of production have reached their ‘historical limit’ as society no longer produces enough value. On this basis Kurz argued that none of the proposals for dealing with this crisis within the framework of capitalism are feasible. Kurz demonstrated that the basic categories of the capitalist mode of production, such as money, are not universal but that they developed at the same time, towards the end of the Middle Ages, with the invention of firearms and the states’ need for money that this fuelled. In Geld ohne Wert, Kurz asserts that money in pre-capitalist societies was not a bearer of value but a representation of social ties. He wonders whether, with the current crisis, we are seeing a return to a form of money without value, but now within the framework of a social sacrifice to the fetishistic form of mediation. The paper concludes by suggesting that Kurz has not yet reached a wider public outside Germany because for many his ideas still prove too radical to face.
Satanic Mills: On Robert Kurz
A critical overview of the contribution of German Marxist Robert Kurz (1943–2012), focussing in particular on The Black Book of Capitalism: A Farewell to the Market Economy (first ed. 1999) and War for World Order: The End of Sovereignty and the Transformations of Imperialism in the Age of Globalisation (2003). This review explores the genesis and the main tenets of Kurz’s theory – especially his concept of value, the automatic subject, crisis and anti-Semitism – and tracks how they are mobilised in his writings over time. It also touches on the legacy of these ideas in political groups such as the Anti-Germans.
Both articles are of great interest and importance.
Kurz seems, to put it mildly, a tosser.
He seemed to think that anybody that didn’t hold to his idea that the critique of the ‘value form’ revealed an incipient crisis was wrong.
But then I am an Althusserian who has always loathed ‘Wertkritik’.
Mind you Esther, an ex-SWP loyalist, seems to think he was also wrong because he was opposed to Islamism.
So he couldn’t have been all bad.
There is one minor point.
Can I be, no doubt not the first, to mention that apart from what Esther thinks is his unique contribution to the topic, there is another
Black Book of Capitalism: the title of a French book, Le Livre Noir du Capitalisme (The Black Book of Capitalism) a French (collectively edited) book published in 1998 which has an entry in the English language Wikipedia. It was a major media event with an impact in the Hispanic speaking world.
Kurz’s Schwarzbuch Kapitalismus: ein Abgesang auf die Marktwirtschaft (The Black Book of Capitalism: A farewell to the market economy) published in 1999 passed almost unnoticed outside of the German speaking sphere.