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EconoSpeak

The Econospeak blog, which succeeded MaxSpeak (co-founded by Barkley Rosser, a Professor of Economics at James Madison University and Max Sawicky, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute) is a multi-author blog . Self-described as “annals of the economically incorrect”, this frequently updated blog analyzes daily news from an economic perspective, but requires a strong economics background.

Book proposal: Marx’s Fetters and the Realm of Freedom: a remedial reading — part 2.9

The return of disposable time: time filled with the presence of the nowFraming the revolution as being about disposable time brings Marx closer to Walter Benjamin’s remark about revolution being “the act by which the human race traveling in the train applies the emergency brake.” Benjamin’s “On the concept of history” was composed in the wake of Benjamin’s despair at the Hitler-Stalin pact that sealed his disillusionment with the Soviet Union along with the interpretation of historical...

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Book proposal: Marx’s Fetters and the Realm of Freedom: a remedial reading — part 2.8

A nation is really rich if the working day is 6 hours rather than twelve. In “The Trinity Formula,” in chapter 48 of volume 3 of Capital, Marx returned to the contradiction between the forces and relations of production. This time, however, it was not to deplore or analyze the fetters but to examine the realm of freedom that would become possible when “socialized man, the associated producers, govern the human metabolism with nature in a rational way, bringing it under their collective...

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Book proposal: Marx’s Fetters and the Realm of Freedom: a remedial reading — part 2.7

The revolutionary class “The working class is either revolutionary or it is nothing,” Marx wrote to German politician J.B. von Schweitzer and copied “word for word” in a letter to Engels. In The Manifesto of the Communist Party, Marx and Engels wrote “the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class.” Marx cited that statement in a footnote at the very end of the penultimate chapter of volume 1 of Capital. Without denying the plausibility of other, canonical, interpretation of the...

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Book proposal: Marx’s Fetters and the Realm of Freedom: a remedial reading — part 2.6

From sufficiency to planned obsolescence… and back? In the Grundrisse, Karl Marx argued that capital’s response to the barrier to increasing production posed by satiated consumption took three paths: promoting greater consumption of existing products, expanding markets for existing products to new territories, and creating new needs through the “discovery and creation of new use values.” In the twentieth century, with the help of advertising and marketing, capital has added a fourth method:...

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Book proposal: Marx’s Fetters and the Realm of Freedom: a remedial reading — part 2.5

 Pauperism and “minus-labour” “It is already contained in the concept of the free labourer, that he is a pauper…“ Pauperism and surplus population play brief but strategic roles in the Grundrisse, appearing in the three fragments on pages 397-423, 604-610, and 704-711, respectively, that all deal with the inverted relationship between necessary labour and the superfluous – the first and third fragments also revolving around disposable time. These two themes – or two moments of the same...

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Book proposal: Marx’s Fetters and the Realm of Freedom: a remedial reading — part 2.4

 Alienated labour and disposable timeMarx’s remarkable, yet largely neglected statement that “[t]he whole development of wealth rests on the creation of disposable time” and his subsequent analysis of the relationship between disposable time, superfluous products, and surplus value suggests an alternative analysis of alienation that identifies disposable time itself as that which is appropriated and confronts the labourer as alien property. Marx came close to making such an analysis explicit...

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Book proposal: Marx’s Fetters and the Realm of Freedom: a remedial reading — part 2.3

 Inversion Marx stated repeatedly in the Grundrisse that capital inverts the relationship between necessary and superfluous labour time. Capital both creates disposable time and expropriates it in the form of surplus value, reversing the nature-imposed priority of necessity before superfluity and making the performance of necessary labour conditional on the production of surplus value. Marx’s analysis of this inversion bears unmistakeable traces of Ludwig Feuerbach’s critique in The Essence...

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Book proposal: Marx’s Fetters and the Realm of Freedom: a remedial reading — part 2.2

Ambivalence Published in 1821, The Source and Remedy of the National Difficulties was a major influence on Marx's analysis of ‘disposable time.’ In an 1851 notebook, Marx logged a 1000 word summary of the pamphlet. He also discussed it extensively in volume 3 of Theories of Surplus Value. His discussion of disposable time in a section of his Grundrisse notebooks that came to be known as the ‘fragment on machines’ has inspired rethinking of Marx's mature work by authors ranging from Raniero...

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Book proposal: Marx’s Fetters and the Realm of Freedom: a remedial reading — part 2.1

Der Gefesselte Marx Karl Marx's preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy contains the best-known description of his theory of history. At some point contradiction between the relations of production and the forces of production become fetters on the latter, ushering in a period of social revolution. The traditional interpretation is that the social revolution will unleash technological advances that enable industrial production to expand by “leaps and bounds,” even as...

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Book proposal: Marx’s Fetters and the Realm of Freedom: a remedial reading — part 2.0

The second part of my book proposal is a chapter outline and summary. I will be doing that on the installment plan, one chapter at a time. Below is a table of contents:Fetters/Der Gefesselte MarxAmbivalenceInversionAlienated labour and disposable timePauperism and “minus-labour”From sufficiency to planned obsolescence… and back?The revolutionary classA nation is really rich if the working day is 6 hours rather than twelve.The return of disposable time: time filled with the presence of the...

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