Unearthing The Grundrisse

An Introduction to the Critique of Political Economy

Part 1: 12 sessions with Gil Gardner

The foundational thought and research for Karl Marx’s Capital is carefully recorded in notes he wrote in 1857-58 during the first global economic crisis. Undiscovered for nearly fifty years and with only a few copies reaching the West from a limited 1939-1940 publication in the USSR, these notes were first published in their entirety in English as The Grundrisse: An Introduction to the Critique of Political Economy in 1973. As the title suggests, it serves as the groundwork and introduction to Marx’s economic work. Moreover, The Grundrisse perhaps best reveals the unity of Marx’s early, “humanist” writing with his later analysis of the capitalist economy. While David Harvey (2010) argues that Marx’s published works represent only about an eighth of what he hoped to write, David McLellan (1973) asserts that The Grundrisse is the “centerpiece” and most complete and expansive of Marx’s work. The Grundrisse may thus serve as an overview of what he intended to publish. While publication and distribution of The Grundrisse was stifled in the Soviet Union as it countered rigidities in Stalinist interpretations of Marx, many argue that, despite a recent, simmering interest, it still has not received nearly the attention it deserves.

Gil Gardner

has been researching and teaching Marx’s works for over 40 years. During that time, he has also taught in and developed college programs in over 20 prisons and written on the history of prison industry in the U.S. He is currently working on an introduction to Marx’s work entitled ‘Unearthing The Grundrisse: An Introduction to Marx and the Critique of Political Economy’.

This class will not meet on December 23, December 30 or January 20

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Paradoxes of Exchange Society

News from Ideological Antiquity:
Marx–Eisenstein–Capital
Part 3. Paradoxes of Exchange Society
a film by Alexander Kluge

The Verso Loft
20 Jay Street • Suite 1010
Brooklyn DUMBO / transit: A to High Street, F to York

3:00-6:45 pm (200 min)
with intermission
Discussion to follow

The third part, “Paradoxes of Exchange Society,” inquires into the social contract that is both presupposed and reproduced in all human exchange. As the title of Kluge’s film indicates, the exposition of Nachrichten aus der ideologischen Antike (News from Ideological Antiquity) seeks to constitute an antiquity appropriate to today’s challenges. Its strong argument for a return to Marx is best captured by Fredric Jameson: “Marx is neither actual nor outmoded: he is classical.”

“… important devices should be added: Russian Formalist defamiliarization and Brechtian distancing. Never very far from didactic methods, Kluge insists: “We must let Till Eulenspiegel [a trickster figure in German folklore] pass across Marx and Eisenstein both, in order to create confusion allowing knowledge and emotions to be combined together in new ways.” — Julia Vassilieva, Screening The Past

No one turned away for inability to pay

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Reading Capital Politically

A Six Session class: July 12, 19, 26, & August 2, 16, 23 (no class August 9)

“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of contending classes.” —Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto

For 150 years, Karl Marx’s Das Kapital has fascinated, frustrated and or confounded readers. It is most often read as a work of political economy whose aim is to understand how the capitalist economy works or even philosophically for its method (the influence of Hegel and his method continues to be debated). However Marx himself intended Capital to serve as a “weapon” in the hands of the working class. This makes Capital first and foremost a political work. But what does it mean to read capital politically? To answer this question, this class will examine Reading Capital Politically by Harry Cleaver (the most well known American exponent of what has come to be labelled “class struggle” or “Autonomist” Marxism after the Italian “Autonomia” movement of the 1970s). For the autonomists, Marx’s maxim that class struggle is the “motor force” of history is to be taken literally and not viewed as simply some literary metaphor. But what does this mean in the real world? How does this work? And, how should we read capital politically?

Reading for this class will include:

Reading Capital Politically by Harry Cleaver (https://libcom.org/files/cleaver-reading_capital_politically.pdf)
Capital Volume 1, Chapter 1 (https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch01.htm)
CyberMarx by Nick Dyer-Witheford Chapter 4 (on Autonomist Marxism) https://libcom.org/library/cyber-marx-nick-dyer-witheford

Dan Karan has been studying Marxism for 40 years and was a student of John Gerassi, Jean-Paul Sartre’s official biographer.

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Kluge’s News From Ideological Antiquity. Part 2: All Things Are Bewitched People

When Eisenstein had the idea to film Capital, he thought that the literary methods found in Joyce’s Ulysses would be helpful for his project. According to Fredric Jameson, what Eisenstein had in mind here is “something like a Marxist version of Freudian free association—the chain of hidden links that leads us from the surface of everyday life and experience to the very sources of production itself. Eisenstein’s idea was use the structure of Ulysses, a ‘day in the life’ narrative interrupted by stream-of-consciousness, together with his theories of montage to depict a narrative film version of Capital. ” (See New Left Review, No 58 for Jameson’s review)
“… important devices should be added: Russian Formalist defamiliarisation and Brechtian distancing. Never very far from didactic methods, Kluge insists: “We must let Till Eulenspiegel [a trickster figure in German folklore] pass across Marx and Eisenstein both, in order to create confusion allowing knowledge and emotions to be combined together in new ways.” — Julia Vassilieva, Screening The Past
Kluge’s film is divided into three parts: Part III. Paradoxes of Exchange Society will be scheduled at a future July date.

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Money and Totality

MONEY AND TOTALITY:
A Macro-Monetary Interpretation of Marx’s Logic In Capital and the End of the “Transformation Problem”

a book discussion with author Fred Moseley
at Unnameable Books
600 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

Correcting a longstanding misinterpretation, Moseley argues that there is no ‘transformation problem’ in Marx’s economic theory. This ambitious book presents a comprehensive new ‘macro-monetary’ interpretation of Marx’s logical method in Capital which emphasizes two points: (1) Marx’s theory is primarily a macroeconomic theory of the total surplus-value produced in the economy as a whole; and (2) Marx’s theory is a monetary theory and the circuit of money capital, M-C-M, is its logical framework.

“The complete form of the process is therefore M-C-M’, where M =M + ∆M, i.e. the original sum advanced plus an increment. This increment or excess over the original value I call ‘surplus-value’.”
—Karl Marx, Capital, Volume 1

“The capitalists, like hostile brothers, divide among themselves the loot of other people’s labor, so that on an average one receives the same amount of unpaid labor as another.”
—Karl Marx, Theories of Surplus-Value, Volume 2

Fred Moseley is Professor of Economics at Mount Holyoke College. He is the author of The Falling Rate of Profit in the Postwar United States Economy and editor of Marx’s Logical Method: A Reappraisal, New Investigations of Marx’s Method, Heterodox Economic Theories: True or False?, and Marx’s Theory of Money: Modern Reappraisals.

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