Principia Dialectica Commits Collective Suicide

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Angelus Novus
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Oct 29 2009 08:36
Principia Dialectica Commits Collective Suicide

Abandoned by their idol Robert Kurz:

Quote:
Kurz, who achieved prominence as an advocate of overcoming an alleged "class struggle fetish" in the left, but who has apparently changed his mind since the AEG strike right in front of his Nuremberg doorstep, sounded on this morning like a champion of class autonomy, that is to say, quite reasonable. What is needed is an "autonomous, border-crossing movement" that must struggle for demands like higher wages and the abolition of Hartz IV, but which in light of the crisis can only do so if it doesn't give a shit about financial responsibility or the world market.

Source: http://jungle-world.com/artikel/2009/11/32975.html

On the news that their demigod Kurz is now a "class struggle dinosaur", the PD collective committed collective ritual suicide.

Boris Badenov
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Oct 29 2009 14:22

collective suicide would imply that Principia has principles; I think it's more likely that they just went with it, and are now trying to out-Aufheben Aufheben.

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jef costello
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Oct 29 2009 14:26

When did you stop loving them?

B_Reasonable
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Oct 29 2009 14:51

@AN Previously,here , you pointed out how you think Kurz gets too much credit.

Angelus Novus wrote:
Sean68 wrote:
I really don't think it is an exagerration to say the ideas coming out of that circle are at the cutting edge right now.

I strongly disagree with this. To take the two I cited in my blog, I think Elbe and Heinrich are tops. Elbe's knowledge of the neue Marx-Lektüre is encyclopedic; dude has really done his homework. Check out www.rote-ruhr-uni.com And Heinrich is a master at condensing the results of these discussions into concise, clear guides to reading Capital.

Aside from disagreeing with the crisis theory of the Exit/Krisis folks, I don't like how they give insufficient props to the people who have done so much spadework. At least Jappe does mention Backhaus and Reichelt as forerunners in his book, but he still tries to represent Kurz as some sort of apotheosis of theoretical development.

I, for one, took that on board but an inability to read German meant I couldn't take it any further. I'd also be interested to understand your criticism of the crisis theory - is it on your blog?

The extract you've posted, doesn't seem to show that Kurz has renounced but is rather in the vein of the outlook typically found on libcom where anyone who sees a fetishism of the working class is labelled as: lacking principles, liberal, anti-working class, anti-struggle, postmodern etc. This false logic therefore means that any support for a struggle etc. is then taken as also a change in attitude to the role of class as the subject. On the other hand, perhaps Kurz has had a religious experience and felt the mystical power of the proletariat? Oh well, I can see the attraction - things seemed so much simpler then.

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Khawaga
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Oct 29 2009 17:34

On cue?

http://www.principiadialectica.co.uk/blog/?p=576

Angelus Novus
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Oct 29 2009 17:46
jef costello wrote:
When did you stop loving them?

Isn't teasing part of love?

B_Reasonable: The Krisis/Exit crisis theory is based upon a reading of the machine fragment in the Grundrisse that regards the reduction of necessary labor-time as leading necessarily to systemic breakdown. I regard this as a misunderstanding, since the reduction of necessary labor-time is the basis of relative surplus-value production.

But to be fair, there is an article by Claus Peter Ortlieb in the newest issue of Exit! that supposedly deals with this objection (as formulated by Michael Heinrich), but I haven't read it, so I can't say one way or the other. (It's here, but in German, sorry: http://www.exit-online.org/link.php?tabelle=autoren&posnr=382

My frustration with PD is more their tendency to see Kurz and Postone as the last word in form-analytical readings of Marx. Rubin and Paschukanis were doing that stuff waaay back in the 1920s, and Backhaus and Reichelt re-ignited the discussions in West Germany in the 1970s.

Kurz's "innovation" was to basically form an organization around it; taking what was previously an academic debate and making it the basis for an agitational group, and then tacking on the crisis theory. I can sort of see why such a quasi-vanguardist approach would be appealing to former Situationists.

Mike Harman
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Oct 29 2009 17:46

"Comments are closed.".

sad

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Khawaga
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Oct 29 2009 17:59
Angelus Novus wrote:
The Krisis/Exit crisis theory is based upon a reading of the machine fragment in the Grundrisse that regards the reduction of necessary labor-time as leading necessarily to systemic breakdown. I regard this as a misunderstanding, since the reduction of necessary labor-time is the basis of relative surplus-value production.

Do they argue that just the reduction will lead to this or that the elimination of necessary labour leads to systemic break down? If they argue the former, it appears (as you say) that they didn't read the chapter on relative surplus value. The latter is a more sound argument.

B_Reasonable
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Oct 29 2009 23:05
Angelus Novus wrote:
The Krisis/Exit crisis theory is based upon a reading of the machine fragment in the Grundrisse that regards the reduction of necessary labor-time as leading necessarily to systemic breakdown. I regard this as a misunderstanding, since the reduction of necessary labor-time is the basis of relative surplus-value production.

The Krisis/Exit argument seems reasonable for a theoretical economy consisting of companies who all have the same rates of profit, as each other, i.e. the average. But is it reasonable to apply the argument to an economy with a dynamic distribution of rates of profit, and treat the effects as that of a universal average? I'm not sure that I agree with the conclusions, derived from the following extract, but I do think it highlights this overall question. Surely this has to be addressed before evaluating the merit of Krisis/Exit's versus your arguments since, I assume, they both operate within this average assumption?

Quote:
Some Marxists think of the fall of the average rate of profit towards zero in much the same way as Christians think of the Apocalypse: an occurrence that according to the scriptures should have ‘shortly come to pass’, but which has been delayed to the indefinite future; and when it finally comes about, it will be a grand and violent event which will put an end to the world as we know it.

This apocalyptic view is based on two main errors. The first error is that of believing that the average rate of profit has an inherent long-term tendency to decline. The second error is that of believing that the average rate of profit can gradually creep downwards until it is so low that capitalism as a whole will have to go out of business. The root of this second error is the assumption that the rate of profit tends to be uniform. Under this assumption it is very tempting to visualize the behaviour of an entire capitalist economy with respect to its average rate of profit in much the same way as the behaviour of a single firm with respect to its rate of profit. But in reality these two types of behaviour are quite different, because a capitalist economy, unlike a single firm, does not have, at any given time, a single rate of profit but a statistical distribution of different rates of profit among the multitude of firms in its firm space.
...

Almost everyone knows that in reality the rate of profit is never uniform; but the economic theorists, like most exponents of pure science, think by means of theoretical models, and tend to get hypnotized by them. So, if their models assume a uniform rate of profit, the theorists sometimes forget that in reality things are very different.

Laws of Chaos, Machover & Farjoun, 1983 p163-4

They go on to argue that a dynamic equilibrium operates which keeps the long term average rate of profit fairly constant.

Angelus Novus wrote:
I can sort of see why such a quasi-vanguardist approach would be appealing to former Situationists.

A better alternative to 'quasi-vanguardist' might be 'coherent and impactful communication'. It is good to know the history of ideas but I think PD trying to find and propagate better theories rather than becoming trainspotters of them.

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Oct 30 2009 16:26
B_Reasonable wrote:
A better alternative to 'quasi-vanguardist' might be 'coherent and impactful communication'. It is good to know the history of ideas but I think PD trying to find and propagate better theories rather than becoming trainspotters of them.

I'm all in favour of agitational groups and propagating theories, but I've never really seen "communication" as being that high on PD's list of priorities.

B_Reasonable
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Oct 31 2009 03:08
Weeler wrote:
As if Kurz ever said anything that new to begin with. PD's knowledge of the Postal Strike is pathetic to the point that you would have to wonder if there has been a problem with their subscription to the Guardian? Their politics are so inconsistant - lining up behind the bail out of the banks (sean68 did it) and then lining up alongside the far right on the streets of London protesting Iran. One too many gallery launches and half a reading of Debord, they won't make the salt mines, they will be shot on sight.

A nicely strung together set of entirely unsubstantiated slurs, topped off with a bit of bolshevik porn - trolltastic.

Farce wrote:
I'm all in favour of agitational groups and propagating theories, but I've never really seen "communication" as being that high on PD's list of priorities.

Fair point, I think communication is a priority for PD but they tend to write what they would like to read rather than considering whether a potential audience might find something else more accessible.

Angelus Novus
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Nov 1 2009 22:24

Wow, backtracking on Postone's alleged uniqueness as well, and starting to acknowledge the elders:

Quote:
Until Moishe Postone’s exegisis of Marx’s ideas in Time, Labor and Social Domination, Rubin’s contribution was entirely unique, and, until recently, largely overlooked.

http://www.principiadialectica.co.uk/blog/?p=579

Looks like the PD crew are capable of learning after all!

Wellclose Square
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Nov 1 2009 23:11

Weeler wrote:

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As if Kurz ever said anything that new to begin with.

'The horror... The horror'

B_Reasonable
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Nov 2 2009 01:27
Angelus Novus wrote:
Looks like the PD crew are capable of learning after all!

In the last 8 months, while Postone had 45 page-mentions, Rubin also got 9. You should base your criticisms on a sound historical view!

Weeler wrote:
Of course, these are different matters, none of our concern.

I don't understand the point you're trying to make. Firstly, you try to construe that Sean68 was "lining up behind the bail out of the banks" but in the quote you show, he is simply saying that what would have happened if the banks hadn't been bailed out, i.e. barbarism. The whole thing is a bit of a non-issue because the resulting Teabreak doesn't seem to suggest not bailing out the banks or scapegoating "greedy bankers".

Here you made a number of points against blaming "greedy bankers" including:

Weeler wrote:
This is not what revolutionaries should be telling people, they ought to be contesting the idea that this was caused by "greedy bankers" which is put forward by capitalists to rebuild confidence in the system.

Neither supporting the bail-out, or not supporting the bailout, are radical positions - a bail-out was capital's 2008 approach and no bailout was capital's 1929 approach (I know there are a great deal of substantive differences between the two periods). However, unless you believe that events such as the Spanish Revolution were dependent on the previous decision to not bailout the banks in 1929 - and that similar conditions still hold today - then why would you take issue with someone pointing out that no bailout would have likely caused a great deal of hardship and insecurity, probably resulting in a far more barbaric state?

Mike Harman wrote:
"Comments are closed.".

They're open now.

Angelus Novus
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Nov 3 2009 15:10
B_Reasonable wrote:
In the last 8 months, while Postone had 45 page-mentions, Rubin also got 9. You should base your criticisms on a sound historical view!

How's this for a historical review: the post on Rubin has disappeared! *LOL*

It's probably embarrassing for the lads to admit that their hero isn't the lone genius they claim he is. Even more embarrassing for them when confronted by somebody who actually knows a bit about the discursive context that Postone and Kurz emerged from, and that they constitute a micro-constituency within it.

Not that ignorance itself is a crime, it's just that the PD folks constantly make such overbearing, shrill interventions about how nobody has ever thought the kind of thoughts that Kurz and Postone have. I thought the props for Rubin were a sort of polite backtracking, but now they're backtracking on their backtracking!

B_Reasonable
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Nov 4 2009 13:05
Angelus Novus wrote:
it's just that the PD folks constantly make such overbearing, shrill interventions

You mean like...?

Angelus Novus wrote:
On the news that their demigod Kurz is now a "class struggle dinosaur", the PD collective committed collective ritual suicide.

Or...?

Angelus Novus wrote:
It's probably embarrassing for the lads to admit that their hero isn't the lone genius they claim he is. Even more embarrassing for them when confronted by somebody who actually knows a bit about the discursive context that Postone and Kurz emerged from, and that they constitute a micro-constituency within it.

Not that imitation itself is a crime, it's just that imitating what you are criticising when criticising what you are imitating shows how difficult it is to communicate effectively in this area. Alright, revised score: Kurz 45 - Rubin 8, happy now?

It's good that you have perspective of where Postone and Kurz fit into the wider debate. I also don't think it's helpful, for the wider propagation of these ideas, for them to be overly identified with particular individuals. However, PD is rightly wary of the typical approaches to broadening the base of a set of ideas: forming a group round a manifesto (e.g. the SI), productising the ideas into a brand (e.g. Class War) so it is hard to see how to move beyond the "lone genius" stage. There is also a theory that 'Postonian' ideas will be adopted by existing groups, such as anarcho-syndicalists, in the same way that they have assimilated council communism etc. I'm sceptical about this because I think that the trenchant class-as-subject approach is a support for some unresolved authoritarian tendencies.

Jason Cortez
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Nov 4 2009 13:59

Hey Wheeler your thread that was was unfairly binned on post 499 by the fascistic mods, has made me forgive you for wearing that hideous excuse for a cardigan. In fact I feel so well disposed towards you,I am not even going to mention the swastika buttons.

Quote:
it is hard to see how to move beyond the "lone genius" stage

so good to see you guys trying tho.

B_Reasonable
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Nov 4 2009 21:00
Weeler wrote:
So what about the time you lined up alongside the far right? Hurr durr.

I believe this to be what you're trying to make something of - is there any chance of you actually making a substantive point? Or, are you just going to keep dribbling on about inconsistencies, half-read Debord etc. and, of course, your awesome cardigan?

Jason Cortez
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Nov 5 2009 11:17

Rather Wheeler's cardigan than another issue of PD any day.

Jason Cortez
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Nov 5 2009 11:21

actually making a substantive point? I think you find the wonderfully woeful Wheeler made a very substantive point at the end of the thread you link to.

B_Reasonable
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Nov 5 2009 12:23

If "What a mess." counts for you as a substantive statement then no wonder cardigans bring you so much pleasure.

Jason Cortez
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Nov 5 2009 21:12

Well for some writing a lot of text in verbose jargon counts as substantive, for others, it is saying what needs to said in as a clear and concise manner. On the thread you link to, it is clear that Wheelers made a substantive post in just three words, which totally summed up what needed to be said. It would appear that it is necessary for the wicked Wheelers of the West to magic the said text into a three thousand word essay of dense Kurzian turdrid language for you to understand.

B_Reasonable
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Nov 6 2009 01:05

Do you support these actions? You probably don't know, until you've had a chance to consult your proletarianometer, and work out whether these students are sufficiently working class enough to be able to make a proper revolution, or whether are putting sufficient effort to connect with the right sort of workers.

Heaven forfend that you might be stirred to show some support. Some fascists might also turn up there too, and then your mates - hurr durr - might think you've become a bit fascist too. Like, I've heard it's catching if you stand too close. No, you'd better make sure any demos you go on are invitation-only and you get to see the guest list beforehand.

"What a mess" isn't substantive, it's a platitude which applies to many things such as my sockdraw, entropy, capitalism and most aspects of the left.

Sure, Kurz, et al',s turdrid (sic) language can be off-putting but you are wrong to assume that it therefore has no value. You should ask yourself, how important is it to have a good theory of capitalism? Postone (in Time, Labor and Social Domination), develops an argument that the understanding of labour held by traditional marxists was instrumental in the failure of past revolutions. So criticisms of working-class-as-subject aren't being driven by some kind of intellectual exercise but a genuine concern that the class-struggle approach isn't capable of moving beyond capitalism. Read the book - ignorance is no defence!

Jason Cortez
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Nov 6 2009 01:13

Nah can't say Ican support them foreign students, have you seen the cardigans they're wearing. postone is no defence!

Boris Badenov
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Nov 6 2009 01:24

going to student demos? that's what PD replaced the 'obsolete' proletarian struggle' with? Oy vey....

Angelus Novus
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Nov 6 2009 06:44
Jason Cortez wrote:
dense Kurzian turdrid language for you to understand.

Kurz is not turgid; he's great fun to read. He's one of the best polemicists writing in German today. The dude isn't an academic, he's a publicist.

His writing style is not the problem with Kurz. It's his completely wrong notion of a "final crisis" of capitalism that is the problem.

RedHughs
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Nov 6 2009 16:26

Is there any Kurz in English on the web?

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Entdinglichung
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Nov 6 2009 17:04
RedHughs wrote:
Is there any Kurz in English on the web?

http://www.exit-online.org/text1.php?tabelle=transnationales&index=1

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Noa Rodman
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Nov 6 2009 18:05

One of the PD-bloggers can't stomach the fact that Zizek is "now" "praising" Postone on the "blogosphere", for surely "now" that Zizek has been "taken apart" by Adam Kirsch as a deadly jester, this can only be proof of what exactly? That Postone isn't the unique intellectual property of PD. That these "nows" are actually one year old news, already discussed elsewhere long ago. That Zizek only will "praise" someone, if he can add some criticism of his own (see his polemical remark on Postone made in his First as tragedy book).

RedHughs
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Nov 6 2009 20:48
Quote:
One of the PD-bloggers can't stomach the fact that Zizek is "now" "praising" Postone on the "blogosphere", for surely "now" that Zizek has been "taken apart" by Adam Kirsch as a deadly jester, this can only be proof of what exactly? That Postone isn't the unique intellectual property of PD. That these "nows" are actually one year old news, already discussed elsewhere long ago. That Zizek only will "praise" someone, if he can add some criticism of his own (see his polemical remark on Postone made in his First as tragedy book).

Maybe PD's afraid that Zizek is like a king's jester while they are more like the kind of clowns who scrape for birthday party gigs at upper middle class homes.

Boris Badenov
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Nov 6 2009 20:52

How the hell can the leninist Zizek be praising Postone? Or is it just a pat on the back, from overhyped academic to overhyped academic?