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Lefebvre / Althusser: Humanist and Anti-Humanist Marxism

Sun, January 23, 2022 @ 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

$4 – $11

Considerations for Opposition to Capital in the 21st Century

with Andy Merrifield

Andy Merrifield has written two significant essays regarding the relationships of the lives and works of Henri Lefebvre and Louis Althusser, their working together and apart, both essays being important for conceiving next steps for an internationalist left now more than half a century past the events of 1968 in France and the Hot Autumn of 1969 shortly thereafter in Italy. Links to each essay is below the extracted quotes below.

“LIKE MARX INVERTING HEGEL, Lefebvre stands mainstream economic and sociological wisdom on its head: ‘we must consider industrialization as a stage of urbanization,’ he says, ‘as a moment, an intermediary, an instrument. In the double process (industrialization-urbanization), after a certain period the latter term becomes dominant, taking over from the former.’ This is a bold, provocative statement for any Marxist. For it suggests that the mainstay of the capitalist economy isn’t so much industrialization as urbanization, that industrialization all along was but a special form of urbanization. Capitalism reigns, Lefebvre says, because it now manages and manufactures a very special commodity: urban space itself — an abundant source of surplus value as well as a massive means of production, both a launch pad and rocket in a stratospheric global market.” —Andy Merrifield, https://mronline.org/2021/03/28/lefebvre-in-the-age-of-covid/

“LEFEBVRE’S AND ALTHUSSER’S WORK OVER THAT DECADE [1970s], from differing tried to valorize for the Left a capitalist state in crisis. Could a unified Left leverage state power away from a disgruntled Right? Could it do so in the streets, in the factories, and through the ballot box? Could forces within the state be modified by organized pressure from the outside? Could pressure from the outside not only transform the inside but actually become that inside? ‘Ons’engage,’ Althusser used to say, ‘et puis on voit.’ And yet, after engaging, after jumping into the fray, what one saw was a dramatic power shift, a transition and renewal in the reverse direction. It was the Right who got its act together, who closed ranks, whose class power ‘condensed,’ just as the Left’s fell apart, as its unity fractured into disunity.” —Andy Merrifield, https://mronline.org/2021/06/13/lefebvre-and-althusser-reinterpreting-marxist-humanism-and-anti-humanism/

Dialectical Urbanism shows a fruitful direction for the Marxism of the future. Exploring the collision between abstract capitalist space and concrete human place, Andy Merrifield offers a fresh vision of the totality of modern life.”   —Marshall Berman, City University of New York

“Exceptionally well written, informative insightful, thoughtful and thought-provoking, Marx, Dead and Alive: Reading Capital in Precarious Times is an extraordinary study and one that should be a part of every community, college, and university library Contemporary Political Science and Theory collection.”       —Midwest Book Review

Andy Merrifield is an independent scholar and the author of numerous books including his most recent Marx Dead and Alive (2020), of which his presentation with The MEP last year was one of our highlight events. His other books include Dialectical Urbanism (Monthly Review, 2002), Magical Marxism (Pluto Press, 2011), The Amateur (Verso Books, 2018), and What We Talk About When We Talk About Cities (and Love) (OR Books, 2018).


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Sun, January 23, 2022
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
$4 – $11
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The Revolutions Study Group