Taking notes 37: Meritocracy, repression and Piketty’s apocalyptic asymptote

by Sanjay Perera
Much has been said about Thomas Piketty’s important and much talked about book. But not enough has been said about his nuanced wit and jibes at a system of meritocratic capitalism that is starting to merge with the hereditary accumulation and growth of wealth termed as patrimonial capitalism. But then it can also get quite serious. Continue reading Taking notes 37: Meritocracy, repression and Piketty’s apocalyptic asymptote

Sociality, solitude, and the struggle for socialism

by Jeff Noonan The basic principle of historical materialism is that all complex socio-cultural systems and institutions are rooted in and ultimately depend upon reproductive and productive labour. Reproductive and productive labour connect human beings to each other and the sustaining natural environment. “The production of life,” Marx wrote in The German Ideology, “both of one’s own in labour and of fresh life in procreation… appears as two-fold relation: on the one hand, as a natural, on the other, as a social relation—social in the sense that it denotes the cooperation of several individuals.”[1] The second principle of historical materialism … Continue reading Sociality, solitude, and the struggle for socialism

Theory and practice reconsidered: the role of ‘critical theory’

by Chris Cutrone Why read Georg Lukács today?[1] Especially when his most famous work, History and Class Consciousness, is so clearly an expression of its specific historical moment, the aborted world revolution of 1917–19 in which he participated, attempting to follow Vladimir Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg. Are there “philosophical” lessons to be learned or principles to be gleaned from Lukács’s work, or is there, rather, the danger, as the Communist Party of Great Britain’s Mike Macnair has put it, of “theoretical overkill,” stymieing of political possibilities, closing up the struggle for socialism in tiny authoritarian and politically sterile sects founded on “theoretical … Continue reading Theory and practice reconsidered: the role of ‘critical theory’

India and the politics of ‘corruption’

by Anjan Chakrabarti & Anup Dhar Politics begins where the masses are, not where there are thousands, but where there are millions, that is where serious politics begins. — Lenin Think of all the people in Tagore’s Red Oleander, residing perhaps in post-independent India –– who did not have names and were identified as mere numbers, 21F, 79D, 84M, etc. — forming their own party with the assistance of Nandini, the female rebel protagonist (Ranjan — the other rebel protagonist had already been killed by the King) and challenging the King, the Gosain (clergy), the Adhyapak (professor) and a host … Continue reading India and the politics of ‘corruption’

Feudalism, capitalism and corporatism: How the corporation is changing the world

by Jeffrey Harrod Write about my vision of a “post-capitalist world,” I was requested. But I find this difficult. Difficult because I believe we are already in, or nearing, a post-capitalist world if by capitalism is meant the system described by Marx and his followers about 150 years ago.  In this essay I raise the possibility for future discussion and action that there is an ongoing attempt to create a system for the maintenance of privilege and the production of poverty which is so different from the past that a new name should be found for it. Because a key … Continue reading Feudalism, capitalism and corporatism: How the corporation is changing the world

Anarchism in the academy

by Jeff Shantz Anarchist academic David Graeber devotes the first section of his book Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology to his attempt to answer the question, “Why are there so few anarchists in the academy?”  For Graeber this is a pressing question given the veritable explosion of anarchist theory and lively debates over anarchism outside of the academy, especially within the numerous social movements which have emerged recently.  Despite the blossoming of anarchist thought and practice, David Graeber is perplexed that this flowering of anarchism has found little reflection in the academy.  Graeber seems to long for the type of … Continue reading Anarchism in the academy

The relevance of Lenin today

by Chris Cutrone If the Bolshevik Revolution is — as some people have called it — the most significant political event of the 20th century, then Lenin must for good or ill be considered the century’s most significant political leader. Not only in the scholarly circles of the former Soviet Union, but even among many non-Communist scholars, he has been regarded as both the greatest revolutionary leader and revolutionary statesman in history, as well as the greatest revolutionary thinker since Marx. — Encyclopedia Britannica 2011 — year of revolution?  [1] Time magazine nominated “the protester,” from the Arab Spring to … Continue reading The relevance of Lenin today