We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Friday, May 12, 2017

Marx on Life After Capitalism

Click here to access a 55 minute interview with Peter Hudis conducted by Sasha Lilley on the program Against the Grain broadcast by KPFA, a listener sponsored radio station in Berkeley, California. 

Rather than reproducing the rather confusing introduction to this interview with Hudis provided by KPFA, I will provide a more revealing introduction given by Jason Schulman in his review of Hudis's recent book Marx’s Concept of the Alternative to Capitalism from Logos.
Hudis makes plain from the beginning of Marx’s Concept that he will not be visualizing the technical details of socialist society, nor does he pretend that Marx ever offered a comprehensive blueprint for such. His aim is modest: “to see what implicit or explicit indications [Marx’s work] contains about a future, non-alienating society.” Hudis makes it clear that—contrary to those who would enlist Marx’s support for an imagined “market socialism”—that value, or the computation of wealth in monetary terms, is seen by Marx as specific to capitalism and as incompatible with a classless society. The retention of value-production would render “socialist” society unable to overcome capitalism’s “inversion of subject and predicate, in which the products as well as the actions of people take on the form of an autonomous power that determine and constrain the will of the subjects that engender them.” ....

Marx famously criticized other anti-capitalists of his day, most notably anarchist forefather Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, for their failure to acknowledge the centrality of alienated labor to capitalism, and Hudis stresses the importance of alienated labor in explaining the oppressive and defective nature of the official Communisms of the 20th century, which he claims merely changed wage- and property-relations in order to produce a “state capitalism” wherein a ruling class imposed forced labor on workers.

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