This is chapter 7 of my 2007 book The Beginning of History. Its title is Enclosures and Disciplinary Integration and it discusses capitalist crises as “disequilibrium” crises or “social stability” crises. It might be useful to provide a general framework to understand the current crisis in terms of the latter. It also maps out crises as mechanisms for capitalist reproduction and discusses the role of shifting capitalist governance to deal with these crises as well as the possible cracks in this governance
Many if not most of the open spaces - commons, woods, greens - of any size that remain today in South London, or London as a whole, exist because they were preserved from development by collective action. Whether by rioting, tearing down fences & re-opening up enclosed land, or by legal agitation, much of the commons & parks that make life in the Smoke just about bearable wouldn’t be there if they hadn’t been actively defended.
Aufheben's review and critique of The beginning of history: Value struggles and global capital by Massimo De Angelis, Pluto Press, London, 2007.
Amid the resurgence of anti-capitalist movements across the globe, the centenary of Lenin's What is to be Done? in 2002 has largely gone unnoticed. Leninism has fallen on hard times - and rightly so. It leaves a bitter taste of a revolution which heroic struggle turned into a nightmare. The indifference to Leninism is understandable. What, however, is disturbing is the contemporary disinterest in the revolutionary project. What does anti-capitalism in its contemporary form of anti-globalization mean if it is not a practical critique of capitalism and what does it wish to achieve if its anti-capitalism fails to espouse the revolutionary project of human emancipation?
Creative Time in Common Prehistory Drift: Narvskaya Zastava (Saint Petersburg, 2004) Aside from researching the urban environment during a two-day walk around a chosen location, an important component of this project was the results of communication within the group, the personal lives of its participants, and the associations that arose in connection with the places that were researched. An objective mapping of the site was organized in parallel with the subjectivity of the community, which gained new experience by jointly living through a certain moment of time in an environment alien to it. The methods developed in Drift were a continuation of the Leningrad-Petersburg tradition of strolling around strange places. This culture is directed towards the experience of communities that are based on friendship and aspire to a reclaiming and détournement of urban space, thus demonstrating with their own experience the contrast between what life is and what it might be.
‘They might have the strength to impose their will, but we will never give them our consent…’ Gustavo Esteva looks back at the Oaxaca uprising of 2006 and explains how the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca posits an alternative solution for governance
The Luddites were not, as not only popularizers of theories of technology but also capitalist apologists for unregulated innovation claim, universally technophobes. The Luddites were artisans -- primarily skilled workers in the textile industries in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Cheshire, the West Riding of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Flintshire in the years between March 1811 and April 1817 -- who when faced with the use of machines (operated by less-skilled labor, typically apprentices, unapprenticed workers, and women) to drive down their wages and to produce inferior goods (thereby damaging their trades' reputations), turned to wrecking the offensive machines and terrorizing the offending owners in order to preserve their wages, their jobs, and their trades. Machines were not the only, or even the major, threat to the textile workers of the Midlands and North. The Prince Regent's Orders in Council, barring trade with Napoleonic France and nations friendly to France, cut off foreign markets for the British textile industry
The Soviet government parades missiles and marches soldiers on May Day. The American government has called May First "Loyalty Day" and associates it with militarism. The real meaning of this day has been obscured by the designing propaganda of both governments. The truth of May Day is totally different. To the history of May Day there is a Green side and there is a Red side. Under the rainbow, our methodology must be colorful. Green is a relationship to the earth and what grows therefrom. Red is a relationship to other people and the blood spilt there among. Green designates life with only necessary labor; Red designates death with surplus labor. Green is natural appropriation; Red is social expropriation. Green is husbandry and nurturance; Red is proletarianization and prostitution. Green is useful activity; Red is useless toil. Green is creation of desire; Red is class struggle. May Day is both.
Amid the resurgence of anti-capitalist movements across the globe, the centenary of Lenin’s What is to be Done? in 2002 has largely gone unnoticed. Leninism has fallen on hard times – and rightly so. It leaves a bitter taste of a revolution whose heroic struggle turned into a nightmare. The indifference to Leninism is understandable. What, however, is disturbing is the contemporary disinterest in the revolutionary project. What does anti-capitalism in its contemporary form of antiglobalization mean if it is not a practical critique of capitalism and what does it wish to achieve if its anti-capitalism fails to espouse the revolutionary project of human emancipation? Anti-capitalist indifference to revolution is a contradiction in terms. Rather then freeing the theory and practice of revolution from Leninism, its conception of revolutionary organization in the form of the party, and its idea of the state whose power is to be seized, as an instrument of revolution, remain uncontested. Revolution seems to mean Leninism, now appearing in moderated form as Trotskyism. Orthodox Marxism invests great energy in its attempt to incorporate the class struggle into preconceived conceptions of organization, seeking to render them manageable under the direction of the party. The management of class struggle belongs traditionally to the bourgeoisie who ‘concentrated in the form of the state’ (see Marx, 1973, p.108), depend on its containment and management in the form of abstract equality. The denial of humanity that is entailed in the subordination of the inequality in property to relations of abstract equality in the form of exchange relations, is mirrored in the Leninist conception of the workers state, where everybody is treated equally as an economic resource.
The critique of class society finds the positive only in the classless society, in communism. The difficulty of conceiving of human emancipation has to do with the very idea of communism. In distinction to the pursuit of profit, seizure of the state, pursuit and preservation of political power, and economic value and human resource, it follows a completely different entelechy of human development. Communism means Commune, an association of the direct producers where each contributes according to her abilities, and where each receives according to her needs. In distinction to the second and third Internationals, which subscribed to naturalised conceptions of society and history, there is no universal historical law that leads human kind from some imagined historical beginning via capitalism to communism. If, however, history is not the consequence of either divine revelation or abstract historical laws, what is it? History does not make history. Neither is history on the side of the working class. History takes no sides: it can as easily be the history of barbarism as of socialism. History is made, and will be made. The future that will come will not result from some objective laws of historical development but will result from the struggles of today. The communist future is a future present. Its reality is the everyday struggle over the production and appropriation of surplus value.