Beyond Capital

Polemics, Critique and Analysis

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Reinventing the Underground 4 – 7

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4. Spectacular political gymnastics – in which all of us are involved, left, right and centre – is a mere sign of anal expulsive personality that bourgeois liberalism and consumerist economy perpetuate – it is our instrumentalisation. The revolution in information technology has been mobilised to intensify and productivise this anal expulsiveness – you can see how the best minds of counterculture and radical thinking have been formally, if not actually, subsumed in this new enterprise through diverse corporate enclosures of the virtual space.

5. “The smaller a town the more richly it hums with gossip. There are no private affairs here. Gossip is the air we breathe.” (Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians) With technology, the whole world has become one segmented village, even serious thinkers and radicals inhale and exhale this air – gossiping about thoughts, ideas and politics.

6. Negative prefiguration in the form of communist solidarity practices is on “seeing” each other – with hugs, kisses and arms holding (“comrades-in-arms”), but now in the age of instantaneous “viewing”, solidarity is virtual and symbolic, it is reduced to emoticons and thumb signing (“you are doing good, keep it up”). But when we ultimately see each other we recognise and that’s all – virtuality has become our ideological reality in which we closet ourselves.(see Asimov’s The Naked Sun)

7. This public sphere of new media has transformed our reproductive domain to a factory – of bit production where variable capital is almost zero. Ideas and ideologies are discretized, reduced to bits, which are automatically recombined to produce newer ones.

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Written by Pratyush Chandra

June 13, 2018 at 11:24 pm

Reinventing the Underground 3

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It is strange that even self-professing hardcore materialists confuse the contingent with psycho-subjective factors, while reducing the objective to crude necessity. However, atoms of events like any atom are composed of nuclei and binding electrons. The matter of necessity is the nucleus, which is forever bound and negated by the electron-ic, giving shape to the contingent. Hence, our materialists would always consider the pilot – the psychic element to be the subjective and contingent factor. But in this story and in Kluge’s self-explanation, it is the corporeo-human element, i.e., “intestinal colic” which is “smarter” countering the necessary tendencies of “the age of asymmetrical warfare.” The objectification of our “head’s foresight” into general intellect – the machine paralyzing the psycho-human subject, forces our body to strike back. As Epicurus would have said, with whom Marx concurred, atoms do fall, but swerve. It is how the realm of “abstract possibilities” invades that of “actual possibilities”.

Written by Pratyush Chandra

June 2, 2018 at 8:20 am

Reinventing the Underground 2

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In an interview quoted by Devin Fiore in his Introduction to Negt and Kluge’s History and Obstinacy, Kluge explains, “If intestinal colic prevents the bomber pilot from propagating death in Iraq then his intestines were smarter than his head. And that the intestines do this dates back to a previous time. If the intestines’ ability to anticipate is greater than the head’s foresight — which is also artificially deadened again and again through education — then the intestines were the prophet. It concerns a reason that is underneath reason. That is the core issue.”(159)

Written by Pratyush Chandra

June 2, 2018 at 8:10 am

Proletarian class determination: epistemology or ontology?

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“Class determination of knowledge means that we do not know whether determination actually takes place in reality as the proletariat depicts it, since this class only knows reality through that facet of the prism corresponding to its collocation in the social structure. In a sense, therefore, the proletariat imposes its view of reality upon this latter so that determination is first of all an epistemological concept rather than an ontological one. This, however, calls for neither idealism nor absolute relativism since, from the point of view of the proletariat, its view does come from (is determined by) concrete reality and has inherent in itself the possibility of knowing reality correctly, as shown by verification. In short, the point of view of the proletariat is that each class secretes its own knowledge (class determined relativism of knowledge) and that within this view only the proletariat has the possibility of gaining a correct knowledge of all (and not only some) aspects of reality because of this class’s position in the societal labour process (class determined supersession of knowledge’s relativism).

“We do not claim that the proletariat depicts real processes as they take place in reality (reflection). But we do claim that this class’s view has the objectively determined possibility of being correct, to find a ‘match’ with the reality it depicts. It is in this sense that determination can be referred to as an epistemological calling into existence. And, it is in this sense that our view differs from the ‘reflection’ theory and can be called non-reflective realism: knowledge is not determined simply by material transformation, but by this transformation immersed in specific social contexts, that is, by the real concrete.”
–Guglielmo Carchedi, ‘Problems in Class Analysis: Production, knowledge, and the function of capital

To be read, in my view, as a crucial theoretical explication of Lenin’s axiom of truth being partisan, and Marx’s Eleventh thesis on Feurbach. Particularly the latter, on account of it being much abused as a shibboleth by vulgar ‘Marxian’-pragmatists. Justice can be done to Marx’s privileging of changing the world over interpreting it only if one grasps this affirmation of world-change rigorously in terms of Marx and Engels’ concept of “the real movement” and Marx’s conception of “practical materialism” that he derives through his critique of Feurbach’s “contemplative materialism” in The German Ideology and Theses on Feurbach. Thus Marx’s critique of interpretation, which is basically a critique of materialism articulated in contemplative terms, is not only a rejection of the primacy of contemplation but is also, by the same token, a severe criticism of decisionist pragmatism, which is contemplation reconstituted at the practical level of abstraction. Clearly, Marx’s privileging of world-change over world-interpretation is a dialectical critique of contemplation by having the modality of contemplation brush itself against its own grain. A theoretical, and philosophical, move that does not abandon knowledge and epistemology but radically alters their conception and status. And in this regard, Althusser’s explication of “overdetermination” and “epistemological void” (in ‘Contradiction and Overdetermination’) and his conception of “limit-form” (in ‘Marxism is Not a Historicism’), together with Badiou’s concepts of “metaontology” (in Being and Event) and “politics-as-its-own-thought” (in Metapolitics) are also indispensable.

Written by Pothik Ghosh

August 19, 2015 at 4:55 pm

Posted in capitalism, Marxism, Working Class

Tagged with ,

The Porn Controversy: Save Desire from the Moral Police and the Sexual Liberaliser Alike

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The recent ban on pornography, and the liberaliser’s discourse of outrage it has triggered, proves yet again the problem of sexual/libidinal economy is too serious a business to be left either to the ham-handed ways of the fascistic moral-police or the knee-jerk exertions of the terrorists and (academic) merchants of desire. Truth be told, they are the obverse of one another and are mutually constitutive of the neurotic subjecthood of capital in its late, crisis-ridden, neoliberal moment..

Marquis de Sade’s affirmative conception of an anti-procreative sexuality with its basis in revolutionary republicanism (see his ‘Philosophy in the Bedroom’), together with Wilhelm Reich and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s concerted engagement with the question of sexual economy as an economy of desire — and its productivising regimentation, and psycho-somatic and psycho-social segmentation in capitalism –, point us in directions that are much more fruitful in terms of strategising a politico-sexual revolution that will unleash an emancipated, anti-hetero-normative sex-economy of free association of direct producers.

The government decision to ban pornographic sites on the internet is, therefore, not an occasion for spectacles of outrage and liberal exhibitionism. It is, instead, to be seen as an opportunity to work towards instituting the thinking and discourse of a radical sexual/libidinal economy. For, it’s precisely the absence of such discourse and thinking vis-a-vis the concrete historical circumstances of the conjunctural crisis of capital as manifest in its sexual moment that has led to the consolidation of repressive sexual morality. It is this sexual morality that is the molecular basis of the current ban.

All concerned would do well to realise that the BJP-led Union government’s decision to ban internet pornography is a step forward for the project of politico-sexual counter-revolution. Such a move is counter-revolutionary precisely because it seeks to validate itself by drawing upon, instrumentalising and mystifying objective sex-revolutionary possibilities posited by psycho-social segmentation and psycho-somatic stratification (which includes “genitalisation of desire”) of desire and sexuality in their moment of precarity and crisis. It follows, therefore, that a politico-sexual counter-revolution kicks in and accomplishes itself precisely when objective revolutionary possibilities exist without being subjectively actualised as such.

In such circumstances, to envisage opposition to this ban in reactive terms — without lending even half a thought to how such opposition can be orientated to transform the structure of social relations of production, which in its historically concrete mediation makes possible and indexes psycho-social segmentation and psycho-somatic regimentation of desire — will just not do. Such liberal reactive politics of opposition to the consolidation of repressive sexual morality effectively amounts to no more than demanding the preservation of a given regime or order of socio-sexual privileges that the politico-sexual counter-revolution tends to alter only by preserving and reinforcing its basic structure of psycho-social and psycho-somatic segmentation of desire through its formal recomposition.

Clearly, such reactive politics of opposition to the ban is as implicated and invested in the structure of psycho-social and psycho-somatic segmentation of desire as the counter-revolutionary move to ban pornography. Therefore, the reactive politics of sexual liberalisation — as opposed to the transformative revolutionary politics of sexual liberation — reinforces the discursive-moral paradigm, which provides sustenance and support to the fascistic politico-sexual counter-revolution. Something the proponents of sexual liberalisation apparently oppose with much sound and fury. The reactive, all concerned would do well to realise, is also reactionary. And no less reactionary — probably more — than naked reaction itself because it deceives by the apparent vigour of its oppositional claim with regard to what is openly reactionary, all the while reinforcing the latter’s condition of possibility.

The Meaning of Anti-Casteism

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Ambedkar clearly defined the meaning of the struggle against the caste system. For him it was not simply a petty bourgeois assertion of identity, a struggle for mere representation, as many exponents for and against the dalit movement have propounded. In his ILP days and again in “Who were the Shudras” (1946), Ambedkar essentially viewed the origin and function of caste (and therefore casteism) as conversion of “the scheme of division of work into a scheme of division of workers, into fixed and permanent occupational categories”. So the revolt against caste system (or casteism in a capitalist society) is a revolt against the material and ideological division of workers, against labour market segmentation, against the individualist-competitive ethic (a petty bourgeois tendency) among workers (which frequently takes identitarian forms). Only by questioning and destroying the whiteness of the “white” workers, a larger united working class movement could be posed in the racist societies like the US. Similarly in a casteist society like India, only by attacking the “upper/middle-caste-ness” among workers, a working class alternative could be posed. A drastic reorientation of the dalit movement (and therefore of the working class movement) is needed if it has to pose a real challenge to the caste system and casteism, as Ambedkar understood them. Dalit Movement has to re-emerge as the vanguard of the working class movement.

Written by Pratyush Chandra

January 16, 2009 at 1:52 am

Beyond anti-capitalism

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The following statement from an ML leader is obviously in right direction – trying to deconstruct the Singur movement, identifying various forces in it. However, in my view, a further ideologico-practical move has to be made – mobilising the ‘new’ working class evolving around these neoliberal projects – an unorganised multitude which neoliberalism is bound to proliferate. Only this will stop us from being trapped in the mire of ‘nostalgic’ anti-capitalism, and encourage us to move ahead in the direction of beyond-capitalism.

Kolkata, September 4 At a time when Naxal groups are demonstrating along with Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee against the Tata Motors’ small car factory in Singur, CPI-ML (Liberation) — the largest Naxal party — vociferously criticised the Mamata brigade on Thursday.

The party criticised Mamata and her followers for siding with land owners, without sparing a thought for the landless labourers and unrecorded bargadars (those with no-eviction rights).

“She is only speaking about land owners in Singur. Why are they silent about the landless labourers and others? Those who are demonstrating in Singur and claim to be Naxals should fight for landless labourers,” said Kartik Pal, Politburo member of CPI-ML (Liberation).

According to a survey conducted by the party, there are 300 people who are either landless labourers or unrecorded bargadars in Singur.

“A number of them are absentee landowners who have already received payment for their land. But the agricultural labourers have got nothing. Neither Mamata Banerjee nor the state government is thinking about them,” Pal added.

At present, small Naxal groups are sharing the dias with Mamata in Singur. They include CPI-ML (SOC) led by Purnendu Bose and Dola Sen, CPI-ML (ND) led by Paltu Sen.

Written by Pratyush Chandra

September 5, 2008 at 9:52 am

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