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PD archives available here:
This site will be closed on 14 January 2015.
Breivik is a fascist, not in the unthinking pejorative sense which deploys the word ‘fascist’ as a generic insult but in the very real, totalitarian sense that fascism operated as an authoritarian system of government in Franco’s Spain, Mussolini’s Italy and, yes, before it succumbed to the collective madness of its political leadership, as it did in Nazi Germany.
So where did Breivik come from? Is fascism just rooted in the violent racism of the EDL and the overt bigotry of Melanie Philips? Or, are there broader ideas which give it a broader base?
As recently discussed on PD (here), much neo-folk music contains fascist imagery and references but its fans often claim that it is simply ‘esoteric art’ etc.
For instance, take the blogger Lord Bassington Bassington, a neo-folk fan, who is also another anglophillic norwegian. He doesn’t espouse any overt nationalism. However, although it never deals with any substantial subjects, the blog persistently furthers the idea of a better ideal, and that ideal is never multi-cultural. Further, if one digs around at the poster’s other blogs, there are far more references to esoterica and European myth.
So does being a a euro-centric fantasist and neo-folk fan, make someone a fascist? Possibly. Fascism isn’t just about attacking others, it is centred around a establishing an better order, with the contaminating elements removed. For fascism to develop, as well as attacking the contaminating elements, the central ideals also have to be perpetuated.
The ukrainian academic Anton Shekhovtsov makes a strong case for neo-folk being part of an effort to perpetuate fascism’s central ideas, without them becoming overly associated with political activity. A process he describes as apoliteic.
“Military imagery is unsurprisingly one of the most widely employed stylistic elements of apoliteic music. When such acts and artists as Death in June, Boyd Rice, Dernière Volonté, Les Joyaux de la Princesse and Krepulec dress in military or quasi-military uniforms for performances or promotional photographs, they emphasize their musical and lyrical image as ‘cultural soldiers’ who keep the flag flying in the fight against ‘the age of decay and democrazy [sic]’, as the title of one of Von Thronstahl’s songs has it. (…) The question, however, remains as to whether apoliteic bands can function as instruments for popularizing and promoting genuine fascist ideas, the adoption of which can eventually lead their listeners to contribute to the political cause, even if such bands—perhaps honestly—do not mean to. The answer, beyond any doubt, is ‘yes’. Music is a powerful instrument of (mis)education: the idealization of fascism, while over-emphasizing its ‘values’ and deliberately concealing (and even normalizing) its crimes and genocidal practices throughout the interwar period and the Second World War, effectively contributes to a misreading of modern history, especially by conscientious fans. We can only conjecture as to whether an individual will be satisfied with just ‘drifting in dreams of other lives and greater times’ or will eventually become involved in attempts at the practical implementation of those ‘dreams’.”
Full article here:
Apoliteic music: Neo-Folk, Martial Industrial and ‘metapolitical fascism’
(opens in new tab/window)
What is not in doubt, is that neo-folk sets out to normalise fascist ideas, and thus recruit sympathisers. For fans of this music, the burden of proof is on them to demonstrate that they are not fascists. As Breivik has shown, this has to go beyond simply stating a pro-Jew, mildly Christian outlook. It requires an explanation of how the ‘dark’, ‘esoteric’ etc. is not simply promoting cultural superiority. And, if one enjoys music that clearly steeped in fascism, why isn’t that in itself abhorrent?
But clearly, many neo-folk fans are fascists, and while kids are getting knifed by neo-Nazi thugs in the streets, these cultural aesthetes are laughing like drains, as they get away with dressing up in uniforms, and glorifying murder.
Dry your eyes mate. Condolences here.
Yom Kippur began in the evening of Tuesday, 25 September 2012, and ended in the evening of Wednesday, 26 September 2012.
Between 1948 and 1997, 20,093 Israeli soldiers were killed in combat, 75,000 Israelis were wounded, and nearly 100,000 Israelis were considered disabled army veterans.
Fuck the pinko leftist idiots (SWP, ‘Counterfire’, etc. etc.) who think the destruction of Israel is something to help organise, support and campaign for. Meanwhile, Socialist Unity is celebrating the launch of the new Chinese aircraft carrier, and the Morning Star supports the South African cops who massacred the miners and supports the jailing of Free Pussy Riot.
We leave you with this nauseating roll call of the idiot left – incontinent ‘Marxist’ fuckwits who know nothing of Hegelian Marxism, but remain entranced with defence of state building projects, of the past or of an imaginary future kind. Oh, and don’t forget that favourite retarded ‘Marxist’ insult dressed up as a compliment: ‘Fight for the right to work.’
Thank you and goodnight. This is the last communique ever from Principia Dialectica – probably.
Value is a social relation constituted by humans, but out of their control. It dominates humanity in every corner of the globe – there is nowhere to hide. It oversees a society on the very edge of the precipice. In order to challenge this state of affairs, we need to know exactly what it is we are fighting.
What is at the root of today’s crisis?
The very single act of purchasing a commodity in this society implies the existence of generalised commodity production by means of private labours. Value is like a sort of invisible spider’s web, connecting every act of production and exchange in society, but always operating in the background, expressing itself through the phenomenal forms of economic categories that seem to inhere in the nature of things themselves.
Value, although brought into being by human actions, takes on a life of its own and comes to dominate its creators. In order to overcome the beast, we have to follow its self-development, in all its destructive monstrousness, but we can never get away from the fact that it always expresses itself through these economic forms.
We never get to see the beast itself.
It also expresses itself through other forms, through religion, science, art and ideology, but first we need to understand the primary mode of expression, and that is why we have to start with Marx’s Capital.
The forms of thought, feeling and self-expression engendered by value, above and beyond the economic categories again presupposes an understanding of the self-unfolding of value as laid out in Marx’s Capital.
A talk will be held on these themes at the London anarchist bookfair in October 2012, and a pamphlet with articles by Robert Kurz will be distributed there at the same time. All those who were involved in Principia Dialectica look forward to helping a new radical project develop in the future, one theoretically robust enough to rise to the challenge of confronting a depraved economic system that is inadequate to human needs today.
News from Somewhere
E. P. Thompson’s study of William Morris is rightly considered to be a standard work on the man, though in some respects it remains incomplete. Hence the value of the current exhibition at Tate Britain called “Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Gardes” that concentrates on the circle of people around Morris and their socially-aware activities, rather than Morris himself. An article in “TATE ETC.” Issue 26, Autumn 2012 indicates that something new may also be learned about Morris and the Socialist League – Hammersmith.
George Lichtheim’s quote from Pelling suggests that the author of “A Short History of Socialism” (London: Penguin, 1970) did not think much of Morris’s background knowledge of socialist philosophy despite his huge amount of activity in so many spheres of practice related to a critique of capitalism. He wrote that “…William Morris, when asked by an earnest questioner: “Does Comrade Morris accept Marx’s Theory of Value?” characteristically replied:” To speak frankly, I do not know what Marx’s Theory of Value is, and I’m damned if I want to know”. As an employer at the time, and being part of a family that owned tin mining concerns that financed Morris, this was an understandable position for Morris to have taken but it was not consistent with his overall, publicly-declared objectives in life.
George continues with a criticism of the Fabians, “…(they) did know, or thought they knew (about the labour theory of value), and they had concluded that in economics J.S. Mill and Stanley Jevons were more relevant for their purpose. But this particular issue arose after the group had come together on the basis of what it conceived to be a socialist philosophy.”
In this respect E. P. Thompson was less pedantic yet more cautious than Lichtheim in his criticism of Morris and made it clear that “…while Morris remained always an avowed amateur in economic theory, in his historical and utopian thought he filled in certain silences of Marx and proposed certain qualifications to the already-hardening doctrines of the Marxists of the 1880s…” (“William Morris From Romantic to Revolutionary” London: Merlin, 1977, second edition)
One of the experiments in arts and crafts and a social theory of art conducted by Morris and his associates was the construction of Red House (1860), in Bexleyheath. This place has often been difficult to get into but it will be open to the public free of charge during London Open House on Sunday 23rd September. A visit to this listed building repays the effort involved (and children are welcome). It also affords the visitor the chance to discover how in the staff quarters on the top floor the windows were intentionally set so high that the servants could not see out into the garden where Morris and, or, his guests used to gather together. A socially aware designer of his calibre was therefore able to produce something as functional as windows in their most dysfunctional form.
It would take about another 100 years before Asger Jorn, an artist in the International Situationists, who wanted to supersede art and not carry on painting as usual, became embroiled in a critique of the capitalist system. Jorn attempted to grapple with the theory of value and in 1961 he published his “Critique of Political Economy” in which he tried to elaborate on the subject, although the result it not thought to be good. (“New Left Review” includes an article on the writings of Asger Jorn.)
Today a critique of the system is still on the menu but questions remain: Whose viewpoint? Whose theory? “…keeping oneself in a pure state, like a crystal.” (purported to be from Henri Lefevbre) may be close to the impossible but millions of fatalities are the outcome of previous conflicts supported by theory and ideology. Privately there is a widespread but misplaced mistrust of theory.
The following is an extract from a collection of essays called Vie et Mort du Capitalisme. The translators of the essays discussed a range of topics with Robert Kurz, as presented in the chapter called Theory of Marx, crisis and the supersession of capitalism (concerning the historical situation of the radical social critique). This talk was realised in May 2010 when this collection was published. The questions are those of the translators.
5. You , Robert Kurz , and Moishe Postone , of which Temps, travail et domination sociale has been published in French, develop two critiques of value which diverge on a central point. For you, with the gains of productivity, capital loses its substance (abstract work) and, with the third industrial revolution, it loses it absolutely. For Moishe Postone, on the contrary, the gains of productivity increase value, but provisionally. According to him, as soon as the gain of productivity has generalized itself, the growth of value is cancelled, the basic unity of abstract work (the hour of work) having been brought back to its initial level. Thus, for you, value is collapsing, whilst, for Postone, value is growing continually then comes back to its starting point. Hence the question: doesn’t that break down the plausibility of the critique of value? Or should we see in this a point undecided at the moment?
My common point with Postone is the critique of the concept of work conveyed by traditional marxism. The traditional vision has given to the purely negative critical and historical marxian concept of abstract labour a positive definition, by reinterpreting it as an eternal condition of humanity. What is lacking in Postone in the critique of abstract labour, it is the dimension of a theory of crisis -in this respect he remains traditional. A productivity which grows means that less human energy engenders more material products. That is why productivity never increases value, but always diminishes it, as Marx demonstrates it already in the first book of Capital. Those who pretend the contrary confuse the social level with the one of the economy of the firm, or confuse total capital with individual capital.
Individual capital increases its own productivity first in an isolated manner and acquires an advantage with competition. It offers the individual commodity at its best price, which permits it to sell more commodities and to realize for itself a greater part of the social mass of value. But that which, in terms of the economy of the firm appears as mere profit and, through this, a growing “creation of value” contributes , at the social level, to a diminution of value, and this at the expense of other individual capitals. From the moment that the increased productivity becomes widespread , innovative individual capital loses its advantage . But it is not a matter of a return to a point zero or to a previous starting point. (1) On the contrary , the augmented productivity transforms itself in a new general standard. The hour of work , as basic unity of abstract labour is always the same; it can’t have as such “different” levels. But the new standard of productivity imposes that less of these hours of abstract labour, always identical, be required for an increased mass of products. When, capital is devalued or destroyed , in the crisis, the standard of productivity reached remains the same, because it is inscribed in the aggregate that knowledge and know-how constitute.. (To say it simply: capitalism cannot go back from the standard of microelectronics to the use of the steam engine). A new growth of value becomes more and more difficult , from the moment that it must take place at an always higher level of productivity and, by the same token , to a new level of diminished substance of abstract labour. In the past , this constant diminution of value was always relative. Of course, with a standard of productivity always higher, the individual product could represent always less abstract labour and thus less value. But by the reduction of corresponding price , more and more old de luxe commodities have entered mass consumption – production and markets have increased. In this manner , the relative diminution of the social substance of value by the individual product could nevertheless lead to an absolute growth of the global mass of value, because the increased social production mobilized globally more abstract labour that it was made superfluous in the fabrication of individual products It is to this that is linked the mechanism that Marx calls “relative surplus-value”. The same process which reduced endlessly the relative part of the labour power (the only one to produce value) in the total capital reduces also – with the value of goods serving to the reproduction of this same labour power -the value of this one, thus making increase the relative part of surplus-value in the global production of value. But this is only worth in relation with each individual labour power. Now, what is determining for the social quantity of value and of surplus-value , is the relation between the growth of relative surplus-value by the individual labour power and the global number of labour powers which according to the standard of productivity , can be utilized socially. In the “Fragment on Machines”, Marx makes it known that, logically, that the increase of productivity must attain a point where it makes more labour superfluous that it can mobilize by the widening of the markets and of production . At this stage , even the growth of relative surplus- value by individual labour power becomes useless , because the number of labour powers which can be utilized globally falls too fast. One can demonstrate that this point, which Marx had anticipated abstractly, is reached at the same time in concrete terms and historically with the third industrial revolution. Apart from this , capital would have managed to mobilized on its own productive bases enough abstract labour and to increase the real production of value, instead of having to subsidize it, in an unprecedented measure , by getting into debt , financial bubbles and State credit. At all levels of capital, we are witnessing the shocks of devalorization. But there will be no return to some zero point starting from which this circus will be able to restart. today less than ever. On the contrary the cause of the disaster persist, that is to say : the new standard of irreversible productivity, laid down by the third industrial revolution. That is to say there is no other possibility than the always new creation , by the States and by banks , of capital-money without substance and will collapse at more and more frequent intervals.
(1) Kurz is referring here to Chapter VIII of Moishe Postone’s, “Temps, travail et domination sociale”, Paris: Milles Et Une Nuit, 2009.
The following is an extract from a collection of essays called Vie et Mort du Capitalisme. The translators of the essays discussed a range of topics with Robert Kurz, as presented in the chapter called Theory of Marx, crisis and the supersession of capitalism (concerning the historical situation of the radical social critique). This talk was realised in May 2010 when this collection was published. The questions are those of the translators. This discussion (question 4) continues here, and number 5 here.
1. What distinguishes the present crisis from the preceding ones?
Capitalism is not the eternal cyclical return of the same one, but a dynamic historical process. Each big crisis is produced at a level of accumulation, and of superior productivity than the one of the past. That is why the question of knowing if the crisis has been mastered or not arises each time in a different manner. Certain mechanisms of previous solutions lose their validity. The crises of the 19th century were overcome because capitalism had not yet seized all social reproduction. An interior space remained available for the industrial development.
The worldwide economic crisis of the 1930’s was a structural rupture at a higher level of industrialization. It could be overcomed thanks to the new Fordist industries and to the Keynesian regulation of which the war economies of the Second World War have been the prototype. During the 1970’s the Fordist accumulation reached its limits, Keynesianism has lead to an inflationist policy founded on State credit. But what one has called the “neoliberal revolution” has simply shifted the problem of State credit towards financial markets. All this has taken place in the background of the new structural breakdown in the capitalist development, marked by the third industrial revolution (microelectronics). At this level of this qualitatively new productivity, it had become impossible to create the necessary space for a real accumulation. During more than twenty years, a global situation of deficit which could not be viable in the long run thus developed, on the basis of debt and of financial bubbles without substance. As long as these crises remained limited to certain regions of the world or to some particular sectors, it was possible to contain them by way of a flow of liquidity floated by central banks. But with this, one only created the basis of the culmination of the process of the crisis. Since Autumn 2008, the crisis engendered by the third industrial revolution has taken on a global dimension. The bursting of the financial bubbles has made appear in the open the lack of real accumulation. The new keynesianism of crisis only but displaces the problem of financial markets toward State credit, but on a higher level than during the 1970’s. Just as then, the State is not able to subsidize lastingly the lack of real accumulation. The crisis of State credit replaces the financial crisis -Greece being but the submerged part of the iceberg. The redisplacement of the problem towards the State (a solution necessarily without imagination), shows today that there is no new mechanism which permits to solve the crisis at the realized level of productivity.
2. According to you, capitalism is nearing its end. Are we for the first time in history confronted to the possibility of superseding capitalism? Was it so that capitalism had to develop its internal contradictions for that to be possible? Was this not possible before?
The blind dynamic of capitalism deploys itself according to its own internal laws. This process is only ‘necessary” and determined insofar as the categories and the fundamental criteria of this mode of production and of life are not reassessed in practice. An appropriate intervention could have permitted to stop the march of capitalism at each stage of its evolution. The socialization of production would have then taken a form on which we can say nothing because it never took place. It is not a question of oibjective necessity, but of critical consciousness. Neither the revolts of the XVIII century or the beginning of the XIX century, nor the old workers’ movement or the new social movements of the last decades have been able to engender such a consciousness. On the contrary , the capitalist forms of abstract work, of the valorization of value and of modern Statism have been more and more internalized. But these here are just facts. It has not been that capitalism “had” to develop its internal contradictions to the point reached today, but it did it. We are thus confronted with the task of reformulating the critique of capitalist forms and to the one of their abolition given the level of contradiction they have reached. It is simply the historical situation in which we find ourselves, and it would be idle to cry on the lost battles of the past. If capitalism comes up objectively against absolute historical limits, it is nevertheless true that, given the lack of sufficient critical consciousness, the emancipation can fail today also. The results would not be a new spring of accumulation, but, as Marx has said it, the fall of everyone into barbarism.
3. According to the critique of value (the theory of Marx), the link between price and value goes through an infinity of mediations. This link is thus particularly flexible. From this how is it possible to say that capital has reached its objective limit?
The forms of mediation between value and price are not infinite, they constitute a succession of stages through which the outline of events can be determined and which is regulated by competition. That which, on the other hand, is practically infinite , is the number of individual transactions. But the two things are different. The multitude of empirical transactions, at all the levels of capital-commodity, of capital-money and of credit (that bourgeois statistics can only grasp in an insufficient manner) makes it that the situation of real valorization can never be worked out with accuracy. There exists always a certain tension between theory and the empirical evidence. Theory can nevertheless put in relation observable phenomenons and the internal process of valorization. Because if the value /price link is complex , it is not more flexible in infinity. The movement of competition refers to the global mass of real value and this one cannot be determined directly in an empirical fashion. However, according to Marx , the mass of real value is linked to the substance of abstract labour, thus to the mass of abstract human energy spent in the functioning space of capital. On the other hand, capital can only use as much human labour power that it wants, but only in function of each level of productivity which, also, is imposed by competition. The forms of mediation between value and price are not extendable for ever, and their flexibility finds its limit in the real quantity of social substance on which they are based. It is true that from an empirical point of view, it is always ex-post that one observes if the social relations between value and price are substantially balanced or if they represent nothing but wind. This is precisely what we are observing in the present crisis. The idea of infinite flexibility in relation to substance-value has been a vast illusion.
translated by a friend of Junius on the 2nd of September 2012.
to be cont…