More on Marx (and women) in anarchism

Some people have pointed out that the last post was not as cheery as it could be, so I’ll try to be a bit more upbeat and constructive in this one. These remarks are valid to make generally more people apt in dealing with Marxist ideas and to solve that Marx-privilege problem.

1. De-mythifying Marx

Marx is really not that hard a writer to understand. People should not be as scared as they are to read him. But, further than that, we should move from a culture of reading to a culture of sharing. Quality debates and, generally, the oral tradition have been grossly overlooked. Accounts of how anarchism came to Spain in The Spanish Labyrinth should convince anyone that it is time to write less and speak more: an unreadable exchange of posts could be great theatre, as people tend to be a lot more interesting when the audience is present and is not something you can avoid by making the exchange troll out and never be read by anyone ever. That said, I personally am the worst orator, my heart almost explodes if I’m surrounded by more than two unknown faces, and I’m not alone in this case, so that is hardly a sufficient solution.

The move from books and academic articles to blogs is also a step towards greater accessibility. Breaking down issues into independent blogs can make people read through the same number of words they would never ever attempt in a book.

Then, also there is the issue of moving back from academic language to “normal language”. There is no word count on the internet, you can afford to make sentences that you don’t have to re-read 5 times to interpret. I say ‘back to’ normal language, because Marx is really not that academic at all: when he does create a new phrase, it is because he has lead to it and explained it for a while. Marxists might like to drop them like authoritative bombs into their own arguments, but Marx starts from simple to complex in a very reassuring way.

Marxist concepts can be handled accurately and with ease in every day anarchist speech.

2. Education material

There are books about books for people who are still afraid of tackling the Great Beard. I have no pretense to know whether they help or not. I know I was never able to understand Debord until I came across Jappe’s book on him, which made the obscure simple, and I think some people have a knack for that.

On the larger issue of economics (and not only Marx), AK Press’s Disassembly Required is definitely another book I would recommend.

An interesting (if ambitious) work is the Critical Encyclopedia of Capitalism, which proposes articles on Marxist concept (so far, Fetishism, Praxis, Separation and Commodity) and I’m ot only saying that because I owe Mr. Hemmens much gratitude.

3. The problem with most Capital 101

When selecting secondary reading, the problem is that they all pretend to be neutral, when actually they give one possible reading of Marx, often quite oriented.

For example (and I apologise to him because I still haven’t written back to him because I’ve been busy explaining important things to people such as why Robin Thicke was rapey and cisgender was a word), I found Wayne Price’s pretention to deal with Marx’s political economy (all of Capital + Grundrisse) a bit underwhelming when his book was actually mostly about Capital volume 1, avoided value critique and took “libertarian communism” to its most uninteresting acception of “more democratic Trotskyism”. He does not agree with my view of his work, and I’m sure he’s got a point.

To some extent, even Disassembly Required which I was proposing earlier has some bits (about Gramsci’s hegemony) that I found random and uncalled for. Any reading will always have to be taken critically.

But that’s it, rather than teach people about the truth of Marx, we must give us all the keys to be comfortable with Marxist concepts and ideas (not currents and parties), especially the ones developped by Marxist currents which exist mostly in relation to anarchism (communisation and Wertkritik).


2 thoughts on “More on Marx (and women) in anarchism

  1. Pingback: But, you didn’t speak about women? | Some anarchist reviews of stuff

  2. “I still haven’t written back to him because I’ve been busy explaining important things to people such as why Robin Thicke was rapey and cisgender was a word”

    Thus quite neatly justifying the gloominess of your last post. And you are someone who, at least in my observation, is WAY more interested in economic analysis than in social issues — even you get pulled into spending lots or even most of your energy on that stuff. Women like me, who are about equally interested in both, end up spending almost all of our time on the latter. Discounting, e.g., comments on lectures, snarky tweets, and things like that, I don’t think I’ve engaged in a serious discussion about economics in a couple of years. Then you have all the women who are maybe more interested in the social issues, but still are interested in economics and would definitely participate in these discussions if there were space for them to do so: they generally end up not engaging at all, because they get all their energy sucked away fighting bullshit (even from their own comrades!), and the barriers to entry into the conversations are just too damn high.

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