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The Enigma of Capital and the Crisis this Time

Περίληψη

There are many explanations for the crisis of capital that began in 2007. But the one thing missing is an understanding of “systemic risks.” I was alerted to this when Her Majesty the Queen visited the London School of Economics and asked the prestigious economists there how come they had not seen the crisis coming. Being a feudal monarch rather than an ordinary mortal, the economists felt impelled to answer. After six months of reflection the economic gurus of the British Academy submitted their conclusions. The gist was that many intelligent and dedicated economists had worked assiduously and hard on understanding the micro-processes. But everyone had somehow missed “systemic risk.” A year later, a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund said “we sort of know vaguely what systemic risk is and what factors might relate to it. But to argue that it is a well-developed science at this point is overstating the fact.” In a formal paper, the IMF described the study of systemic risk as “in its infancy.”1In Marxian theory (as opposed to myopic neoclassical or financial theory), “systemic risk” translates into the fundamental contradictions of capital accumulation. The IMF might save itself a lot of trouble by studying them. So how, then, can we put Marx’s theorization of the internal contradictions of capitalism to work to understand the roots of our contemporary dilemmas?

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Precarious Changes: Gender and Generational Politics in Contemporary Italy

Περίληψη

The issue of a generational exchange in Italian feminism has been crucial over the last decade. Current struggles over precariousness have revived issues previously raised by feminists of the 1970s, recalling how old forms of instability and precarious employment are still present in Italy. This essay starts from the assumption that precariousness is a constitutive aspect of many young Italian women’s lives. Young Italian feminist scholars have been discussing the effects of such precarity on their generation. This article analyses the literature produced by political groups of young scholars interested in gender and feminism connected to debates on labour and power in contemporary Italy. One of the most successful strategies that younger feminists have used to gain visibility has involved entering current debates on precariousness, thus forcing a connection with the larger Italian labour movement. In doing so, this new wave of feminism has destabilized the universalism assumed by the 1970s generation. By pointing to a necessary generational change, younger feminists have been able to mark their own specificity and point to exploitative power dynamics within feminist groups, as well as in the family and in the workplace without being dismissed. In such a layered context, many young feminists argue that precariousness is a life condition, not just the effect of job market flexibility and not solely negative. The literature produced by young feminists addresses the current strategies engineered to make ‘their’ precarious life more sustainable. This essay analyses such strategies in the light of contemporary Italian politics. The main conclusion is that younger Italian women’s experience requires new strategies and tools for struggle, considering that the visibility of women as political subjects is still quite minimal. Female precariousness can be seen as a fruitful starting point for a dialogue across differences, addressing gender and reproduction, immigration, work and social welfare at the same time.

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Reflections on Feminism, Immaterial Labour and the Post-Fordist Regime

Περίληψη

In the many articles and books written in recent years on the topics of precarious labour, immaterial and affective labour, all of which are understood within the over-arching frame of post-Fordist regimes of production, there is a failure to foreground gender, or indeed to knit gender and ethnicity into prevailing concerns with class and class struggle. I seek to rectify this by interrogating some of the influential work in this terrain. I draw attention to those accounts which have reflected on gender and on changes in how feminists and sociologists nowadays think about the question of women and employment. I ask the question, how integral is the participation of 'women' to the rise of post-Fordist production, and what kind of role, do women, especially young women now play in the urban-based new culture industries? By prioritising gender I am also critiquing its invisibility in this current field of new radical political discourse associated with writers like Hardt and Virno (eds 1996) and Hardt and Negri (2000). I argue for a more historically informed perspective which pays attention to the micro-activities of earlier generations of feminists who were at the forefront of combining forms of job creation with political activity (eg women's book stores and publishing, youth-work or 'm�dchenarbeit', child care and kinderladen ) under the auspices of what would now be called 'social enterprise'.

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From Precarity to Precariousness and Back Again: Labour, Life and Unstable Networks

Περίληψη

In Florian Schneider’s documentary Organizing the Unorganizables (2002), Raj Jayadev of the DE-BUG worker’s collective in Silicon Valley identifies the central problem of temporary labour as one of time. Jayadev recounts the story of ‘Edward’, a staff-writer for the Debug magazine: ‘My Mondays roll into my Tuesdays, and my Tuesdays roll into my Wednesdays without me knowing it. And I lose track of time and I lose hope with what tomorrow’s going to be’.

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Is it written in the stars? Global finance, precarious destinies

Περίληψη

This paper explores an artwork - Black Shoals Stock Market Planetarium, by Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway - as a visual metaphor of the conditions of digital labour in the contemporary financial sphere. The experience of networked trading, the nature of the meta-commodity that is bought and sold, and the aesthetic of the ‘creative city’ that has grown up around the electronic exchanges are shown to cohere into the larger pattern of a predatory society, where ‘super-empowered individuals’ eat away the social framework that spawned their own increasingly precarious existence. Such is the destiny of the flexible personality. In conclusion, the paper inquires into the philosophical principles, scientific calculations and aesthetic figures that could chart another future.

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Welcome to postnormal times

Περίληψη

Ό,τι ως τώρα ήταν «κανονικό» έχει εξατμιστεί. Έχουμε εισέλθει στους μετακανονικούς καιρούς, την ενδιάμεση περίοδο όπου οι παλιές ορθοδοξίες έχουν πεθάνει, οι καινούργιες δεν έχουν ακόμη αναδυθεί και τίποτε δεν φαίνεται να έχει νόημα. Για να σχηματίσουμε μιαν άποψη για το άμεσο μέλλον, οφείλουμε να κατανοήσουμε τη σημασία αυτής της μεταβατικής περιόδου η οποία χαρακτηρίζεται από τρία C: πολυπλοκότητα (complexity), χάος (chaos) και αντιφάσεις (contradictions). Οι τρεις αυτές δυνάμεις ωθούν και συντηρούν τους μετακανονικούς καιρούς, οδηγώντας σε αβεβαιότητα και διαφορετικούς τύπους άγνοιας που καθιστούν την λήψη αποφάσεων προβληματική και αυξάνουν τους κινδύνους για τα άτομα, την κοινωνία και τον πλανήτη. Σύμφωνα με το άρθρο, οι μετακανονικοί καροί απαιτούν να εγκαταλείψουμε τις ιδέες «του ελέγχου και της διοίκησης» και να επαναστοχαστούμε πάνω στις έννοιες της προόδου, του εκσυγχρονισμού και της αποδοτικότητας. Ο δρόμος προς τα μπρος πρέπει να βασίζεται στις αρετές της ταπεινότητας, της μετριοφροσύνης και της υπευθυνότητας, οι οποίες είναι απαραίτητες για μια ζωή μέσα στην αβεβαιότητα, την πολυπλοκότητα και την άγνοια. Πρέπει να φανταστούμε τους εαυτούς μας έξω από τους μετακανονικούς καιρούς και μέσα σε νέα εποχή κανονικότητας – εξοπλισμένους με ηθική πυξίδα και ένα ευρύ φάσμα οραμάτων παρμένων από την πλούσια ποικιλία των ανθρώπινων κουλτουρών.

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Reading Capital Politically

Περίληψη

In this book I re-examine Karl Marx's analysis of value through a detailed study of Chapter One of Volume I of Capital. The object of this study is to bring out the political usefulness of the analysis of value by situating the abstract concepts of Chapter One within Marx's overall analysis of the class struggles of capitalist society. I intend to return to what I believe was Marx's original purpose: he wrote Capital to put a weapon in the hands of workers. In it he presented a detailed analysis of the fundamental dynamics of the struggles between the capitalist and the working classes

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Abstract Labour: Against its Nature and On its Time

Περίληψη

During the last decade there have been a number of critical studies on abstract labour. Apart from three articles in Capital & Class by de Angelis (1995), Arthur (2001), and Kicillof and Starosta (2007), notable contributions have come from Heinrich (1999), Kay (1999), Kicillof and Starosta (2008), Postone (1996), Saad-Fhilo (2002), Starosta (2008), and Vincent (1991). These works reject Ricardian inspired approaches to value according to which value is labour embodied in commodities. Instead of analysing value magnitudes, the transformation of value into prices, and the allocation of resources to socially necessary branches of production, the works examine value as a specific social form of wealth. Generally speaking, the former partakes in a substantialist approach to value, and the latter in a social and monetary approach.[1] Examination of value as a specific social form entails reassessment of abstract labour as the substance of value.

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The Labor Theory of Value and the Strategic Nature of Alienation

Περίληψη

In order to avoid reifying Marx's social theory, it is important to focus on the social relations that Marx's analytical categories denote. By focusing on value formation as the process of reproducing social control, the imposition of alienation takes on a richer meaning. Not only is alienation a process of human degradation, it is also a strategic instrument in the valorization process.

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Marx’s Theory of Crisis As A Theory Of Class Struggle

Περίληψη

Theories of crisis have always been intensely political. Different views of capitalist development and breakdown have always shaped, and been shaped by, political strategies. In the early and mid-1970s the onset of a crisis of Keynesian policy, and hence theory, brought on by an international cycle of working class struggle, led to a widespread preoccupation with "crisis theory" in both capitalist and anti-capitalist circles. While capitalist theorists struggled to find ways to restore control and accumulation, the Left gloated and said, once again, that it was all inevitable and dusted off a variety of old theories to prove it. This essay was written as the first chapter of a book intended as an intervention in the debates of those times.

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