Marx Reloaded

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The financial crisis of 2008 has a lot of people going back to Karl Marx to see if his work holds any answers to what's going on. In a highly recommended episode of the radio show Entitled Opinions (About Life and Literature) on the subject of Karl Marx, guest Mark Mancall says that "Today in many parts of the world, Marx has come into his own again, you find right, left, middle, up and down, everywhere, people are beginning to recognize in Marx's writings a description of the reality we ourselves are now living in". You can find the free podcast of that show on iTunes by clicking here (Episode 36). Karl_Marx_001

The social theorist David Harvey has been teaching a course on Marx's Capital for nearly forty years, and a couple of years ago he put a free video series of his lectures online. This inspired Andrew, Juma, Bergen and I to join a biologist and four graduate students in urban studies to do a year long reading of Marx's text along with Harvey's online guidance. Unbeknownst to us when we formed the group, we're not the only ones doing this. According to Benjamin Kunkel in a very rich review of Harvey's latest book The Enigma of Capital: And the Crises of Capitalism, "[Harvey's] lectures on Volume I of Capital, available online, have become part of the self-education of many young leftists, and now supply the framework for his useful Companion to Marx’s ‘Capital’".

So now I have about ten days left to finish the first chapter, sixty pages on the commodity! According to Harvey the first three chapters are the real ball breakers, its where Marx lays down his theoretical framework and where most people get stalled. However, he says the text is very readable and rich with insights and ideas after these sections, so I'm looking forward to that. In preparing to read Capital, I picked up and read Francis Wheen's recent book Marx's Das Kapital: A Biography, a short accessible book that provides a lot of context for Marx's life and the text he struggled with for over twenty years. One of the many interesting things that Wheen karl_marx_bookhighlights is that Marx considered Capital first and foremost a work of literature, and not political economy. Marx was a voracious reader of literature, and Capital apparently teams with literary allusions. Wheen himself, who also wrote a lively biography of Marx, considers Capital "a phantasmagoric Victorian novel".

For a couple local resources around Marx and his work, one of the first pieces I wrote for Beams was a look at Marx's work through an evolutionary lens, called Marx and the Bourgeoisie- A Modern Love Story. And TJ posted an animated version of one of David Harvey's lectures, called Why Did the Economy Collapse?- A Lecture With Drawings.

And lastly in all things Marx, there's a new documentary film out called Marx Reloaded. Featuring a series of heavyweight left philosophers, it (according to its website) "examines the relevance...of Karl Marx's ideas for understanding the global economic and financial crisis of 2008—09". Here's the trailer below:


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  • Comment Link F Judge Saturday, 30 April 2011 20:28 posted by F Judge

    Nice surprise to find out that this film is being made by a philosopher, not one of these f***ing dorks with implants (brain or breast). Will check it soon for sure. Actually I just found an interesting piece by Jason Barker in a back issue of Polygraph

  • Comment Link R. Michael Fisher Sunday, 01 May 2011 04:16 posted by R. Michael Fisher

    A welcome contribution Trevor and good to see there's a "red pill" force behind this (nice Wachowski Bros. spin in the video clip). I haven't the motivation to read what you dudes are reading, so all the power to ya and I'll look forward how your integral interpretations of it all will show forth--particularly, in light of my own (and a few others) attempts to keep the "critical" in integral theory as a newest form (perhaps) of the critical (conflict) theory traditions of historical and socioeconomic analysis. I'd ask you to keep an 'eye' on how Marx and others along that line would construct a society that is no longer based on "fear" (i.e., a "culture of fear")--that is, "blue pill" culture. Does Marx et al., have what it takes to seed the re-make of a "red pill" culture--and Integral Age?

  • Comment Link R. Michael Fisher Monday, 02 May 2011 01:07 posted by R. Michael Fisher

    Trevor, I took this all a little further today and wrote a blog entitled "Integral Reloaded" making a few more connections for you and your readers. Check out my recent blogpost at

  • Comment Link Trevor Malkinson Tuesday, 03 May 2011 13:26 posted by Trevor Malkinson

    F Judge, thanks for the tip on Barker and his work on Badiou in Polygraph. Here's a recent article by David Harvey you might enjoy: "Nice day for a revolution: Why May Day should be a date to stand up and change the system"

  • Comment Link Trevor Malkinson Tuesday, 03 May 2011 14:14 posted by Trevor Malkinson

    Michael, thanks, some very rich and intriguing work in your post. I have a few questions for you. The first is to do with the 'culture of fear' and fear studies. I'm come across this a little bit (I think by seeing Barry Glassner in 'Bowling for Columbine') but I'm not sure I have any real handle on the depths of what's being said there. I know you've written a full book length treatment on the subject, but do you have any shorter accessible articles/blogs on the topic that might provide an introduction to this area of study? Perhaps one that we could even publish here, adding fear as a 'beam' in the collective process here. For as you say:

    "The one specific thing I asked Trevor et al. to do, if they want, is to look at their reading of Marx (and Marxism) through the integral lens which is capable of snooping out anything that is "fear-based" (i.e., primarily fear-motivated). Why? Because, according to Clare Graves, and Spiral Dynamics (a la Don Beck), "integral" is meaningful because of its "stage" (v-meme) structure which no longer is primarily motivated by fear. Okay, then Integral-R theorizing ought to really take that seriously".

    Secondly, on the topic of fear culture, did you see Adam Curtis' film 'The Power of Nightmares'? And if so, did you like it, and is this in your opinion a decent entry into the field of fear studies?


    I was also curious about this concept of the 'matrixical' emanating out of Bracha L.Ettinger's work. Is it possible for you to give a short basic definition of this term, I couldn't find one on the net. Perhaps you can direct me to a blog post where you break it down a little.

    Thanks Michael, nice to exchange as always.

  • Comment Link F Judge Tuesday, 03 May 2011 16:10 posted by F Judge

    Trevor nice link to the David Harvey, I'm liking that. This dude is heavy duty analytic, but he presents his arguments well

  • Comment Link R. Michael Fisher Wednesday, 04 May 2011 13:02 posted by R. Michael Fisher

    Trevor, I appreciate the inquiry further into further "beams" as you say of integral analysis and performances in the future a la post-postmodern. Yes, I'd love to dialogue on potential "beams" such as fear(uality), culture of fear, and matrixial theory (i.e., the Integral-R "corrective"). I really wouldn't want to write another piece on these anew at this time but I'd much rather do an interview-dialogue with you that maybe could be published on B & S.

    Most of my writing on fear ('fear')-- Phobos and Thanatos and fearlessness can be found in a search of Google Scholar using my name (or my blogsite) and/or go to my archival website (, I have found people don't read much of it seriously as it is mostly too scholarly and tedious for the majority of readers, thus, a dialogue is a better way to explore this on B & S, in my opinion, if you want an "intro" version that is more fun, spontaneous, creative, digestible...

    let me know.

  • Comment Link Trevor Malkinson Thursday, 05 May 2011 19:18 posted by Trevor Malkinson

    Michael, an interview-dialogue sounds grand, I'll drop you a line and we can communicate about what might work and how to go about it. Thanks for the offer, looking forward to digging into that material together.

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