One would have to be pretty naïve to assume that a new social movement, under the impact of the crisis, would immediately commence with a radical critique of the commodity production system. It is, rather, more likely that such a perspective can only be mediated by a public debate and by conceptual discussions in the midst of the social struggles and conflicts themselves. One does not start from zero, however. In societies in crisis, there are diverse initiatives for a “cheap economy” which, however, are still in the infant stage. These hardly do justice to a kind of reproduction “that transcends the market and the State”, since in most cases they rely on State (municipal) subsidies or else are restricted to creating enterprises based on the most basic developmental forms of the market and the State.
Monat: April 2013
So how is a “natural microelectronic economy” possible as an embryonic form? The difficulty consists in the fact that the capitalist form of the functional division of society, as in the case of the capitalist structure of use value, cannot be assimilated, without alterations, into an emancipatory reproduction. The personnel of an enterprise which, for example, produces ships, cannot emancipate themselves, such as they are, from the social form of value. Since they do not consume the ships and cannot satisfy their own needs with the means of production of their enterprise, and since, at the same time, the specific production of their enterprise is incorporated into a capitalist system of division of labor, they remain dependent on the production of commodities, with all the familiar social consequences.
The modified or “superseded” notion of the productive forces and its connection to the relations of production is obviously the precondition for solving the real problem: the supersession of the form of fetishistic value in social relations. On this point it is also necessary, first of all, to bridge the gap between the reductive conceptions, immanent to the system, of the Marxism of the workers movement and that of the alternative movement or the cooperatives. As in the question of the productive forces, we see these movements evincing a speculative and complementary attachment to fetishistic structures. Both political Marxism and the alternative movement reduce their goal to a critique and a supersession of private property in the means of production, although in different ways. When, however, one speaks of the institution, “private property”, it is clear that one is dealing with a moment of the commodity production system, i.e., of its juridical form. It is thus clear that this moment cannot be overcome alone, without overcoming the other moments of the value form and even the latter itself as such. The attempt to eliminate private property in the means of production and at the same time to maintain the forms of mediation of the commodity and money, can only lead to social paradoxes.
If we are not to allow ourselves to be confused by the past, we have to attempt to elaborate socioeconomic definitions of an embryonic form, beyond commodity production, at the current level of socialization, without falling into a vulgar practicality. It is thus not by any means a matter of direct plans of action (which can only be developed, furthermore, within the context of a social movement), but of theoretical and practical reflections to concretize the critique of value. The question of the embryonic form of a reproduction no longer mediated by monetary and commercial relations has to be approached historically, analytically and theoretically.
The misery of the radical critique of the commodity production system, that is, of a “mode of production based on value” (Marx), appears to reside in the fact that it is incapable of representing a historical praxis (not to be confused with just any little practical activity), of taking the initiative, of finding a way out and heralding a common mass consciousness, and is thus condemned to an esoteric existence, confined to socially remote domains of purely theoretical reflection or even philosophical speculation, and ultimately to a gradual descent into an eccentric sectarian existence. Even if an emancipatory socialization eliminating fetishistic forms of the commodity and money were possible—it would still be a book sealed with seven seals for this form of critique.
The following translation of the German »Antiökonomie und Antipolitik« by Robert Kurz (1997) base on a Spanish translation which is no longer available on the web (the same or another Spanish version can be found here). The essay had an enormous influence on the discussion about an alternative to capitalism — not only keimform.de was one outcome of the debates initiated by this text. Kurz himself was very sceptical about the references to his text, and he often polemically dissociates himself from these references. On keimform.de we repost the text in five parts (the chapters of the text). The links below will function in the future. The following preface is from the translation at libcom.org. Here we go:
In this 1997 essay, Robert Kurz discusses the question of the “embryonic form” of “the productive forces developing in the womb of bourgeois society” (Marx); rejecting both the “all-or-nothing” view of the extreme left that sees such a project as doomed to integration into capitalism, and the reformist concept of “dual economy” where cooperative businesses produce for the capitalist market, he advocates a process of “disconnection” from the value matrix that incorporates aspects of both the old cooperative movement and modern “microelectronic” technology while preserving a commitment to overcoming the system of commodity production and a refusal to produce for the market.
Yeah, nice often-quoted scene from Star Trek.
Ein transnationaler Austausch-Workshop zur Produktion und Selbstverwaltung sozialer Güter und Rechte jenseits privater und staatlicher Besitzverhältnisse. Am Samstag, 20.04.2013, 12:00 bis 18:00 Uhr, in der Regenbogenfabrik, Lausitzer Straße 22, 10999 Berlin.
Mit Aktiven von:
- Fundación de los Comunes (Madrid)
- Nuovo Cinema Palazzo (Rom)
- Alpha Kappa (Thessaloniki)
- Projekten um demokratischen Förderalismus (Deutschland/Kurdistan)
- FelS-Klima AG, aktiv am Berliner Energietisch (Berlin)
Die diesjährige Commons-Sommerschule hat noch ein paar Plätze frei und wünscht sich noch Anmeldungen aus dem Bereich der digitalen und Wissenscommons. Die zweite Commons-Sommerschule findet wieder in Bechstedt/Thüringen statt, und zwar vom 29.06. – 06.07.2013. Weitere Informationen zur Teilnahme und Anmeldung gibt’s auf der Sommerschul-Site. Die letzte Sommerschule war ein großartiges Erlebnis, zwei Ergebnisse findet ihr hier und hier.