Articles

Marxism Contra Justice

Bernardino Mei, Allegory of Justice (1656)

A critique of egalitarian ideology

Revolution is a job that must be done without weakness… We are but the instruments of a necessity that carries us along, drags us forward, lifts us up… which will doubtless pass over our dead bodies. For we are not chasing after some dream of justice [aucun rêve de justice] — as the young idiots who write in little magazines say — we are doing what must be done, what cannot be left undone. The old world dug its own grave, and is now falling in. Let’s give it a little shove.

Victor Serge, Conquered City (1930)1

One of the most common misconceptions surrounding Marxism today is that it constitutes a doctrine of “social justice.” So widespread is this belief that one often finds it held by Marxists and anti-Marxists alike. Alan Maass, editor of the American Trotskyist organ Socialist Worker, considers Marxian socialism “part of a rich history of opposition to inequality and injustice,”2 being at its heart a “struggle for justice and equality.”3 Likewise, coming from a quite different tradition, the French Maoist octogenarian Alain Badiou upholds “justice” as “the qualification of an egalitarian moment of politics in actu.”4 Even Richard Spencer’s right-wing Radix Journal affirms something similar: “Marxism is the [intellectual] source of the modern ‘social justice’ movement… prevalent among youths and in universities.” While the evaluation here is no doubt negative, especially when compared with the positive appraisals of Maass and Badiou, the reactionaries nevertheless come closer to understanding this ideology’s material root: “Communist ideas [about justice] are appealing on a superficial level, because ‘equality’ seems an obvious truth in a society that revolves around money.”5

In either case, whether positive or negative, these value judgments rest upon a faulty interpretation of Marxism’s theoretical and practical premises. Neither Karl Marx nor his immediate successors based their critique of capitalism on an ideal of justice. This stood in marked contrast to the strains of utopian socialism that came before, which couched their demands in terms of “righting wrongs” and redressing historical grievances.6 Despite explicit disavowals on the part of Marx, however, many readers believed there was at least an implicit sense in which he felt that capitalist society is unjust. Roughly three dozen articles were written on the theme between 1970 and 1990, by analytical Marxists like Norman Geras, G.A. Cohen, and Allen W. Wood. But this debate rehashed, without knowing it, an earlier debate that pitted Eduard Bernstein against Rosa Luxemburg on the one hand, and Ernest Belfort Bax against Paul Lafargue on the other. Grasping the true stakes of these debates requires a certain familiarity with the issue’s development over time, so a brief overview of the various historical conceptions of justice is in order. Once this has been achieved, Marx’s own views on the matter may be further elucidated, which will then shed light on what came later. [Read more →]

Frankenstein, or the 8-Bit Prometheus – Micro-literature, hyper-mashup, Sonic Belligeranza records 17th anniversary by Riccardo Balli

The Reddit Controversy

Riccardo Balli, however obscure and enigmatic he might appear in his writing and featured on his picture discs, has shown that he can be highly lucid and brilliantly persuasive in expounding his ideas when he is provoked to defend himself by attacks, such as the one Toby Reynolds, the literary critic of Datacide, launched against him on Reddit in the summer of 2018.

In reviewing ‘Frankenstein, Or The 8-Bit Prometheus’, Reynolds warned his readers of the danger that Balli might become the messiah of the enemies of realism. “Here at last was a self-proclaimed advocate of anti-writing: explicitly anti-realist and by implication anti-reality as well. Here was a writer ready to declare that words were meaningless and that all communication between human beings was impossible. Reynolds conceded that Balli presented a valid personal vision, but “the peril arises when it is held up for general emulation as the gateway to writing or music of the future, that bleak new world from which the humanist heresies of faith in logic and belief in man will forever be banished.’ Balli was moving away from realism, with “characters and events [that] have traceable roots in life” – from the writing of Paul Virilio, Stewart Home, Bill Drummond, Mark Manning, Lester Bangs, Brecht and Sartre.1
Reynolds’ attack opened one of the most interesting discussions on this subject ever conducted in public. Balli replied that he certainly did not see himself as a messiah,

[Read more →]

A Fascist Tulpa in the White House? Right-wing ‘Meme Magic’ and the Rise of Trump

A review article of ‘Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump’ by Gary Lachman, 2018

Friday 13th July 2018 – The US President is on a visit to Britain and on the streets of London one of the biggest week day demonstrations in living memory is taking place, with as many as 250,000 people marching to Trafalgar Square to oppose Donald Trump. There is a wide range of banners, portable sound systems, marching bands (including ‘Trumpets Against Trump’) and home made placards weird and wonderful. It seems that every contemporary cultural reference point is being mobilised. A group of women in red are dressed as characters from the Handmaid’s Tale with a sign declaring ‘Gilead steals our babies too’ alluding to the caging of children of migrants caught crossing the Mexican border. Trump is satirised as a baby, as the devil (a placard pictures him with the caption ‘Not today Satan’) and as an evil dementor from the Harry Potter tales with the words ‘Expecto Patronum’ – the magic charm used by Potter to raise a spirit guardian to defend against the dark forces of Voldemort. )

But supposing occult forces really are at work in the Trump aeon? That is the thesis of Gary Lachman’s ‘Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump’ (2018), which sets out to explore the ‘new incursion of far-right occultism into the contemporary political landscape’ both in the USA and in Putin’s Russia.

[Read more →]

Talk: Revolution & Counterrevolution in Germany 1919 @ Vétomat Berlin 14-01-2019

Our new series of talks, discussions and presentations brought to you by Datacide and next:now is going into its fourth round on January 14th, 2019 with a talk about Revolution and Counterrevolution in Germany 1919 and beyond, by Christoph Fringeli.

As always at Vétomat, Wühlischstr. 42, 10245 Berlin

Doors open 7pm, talk will start 8.30

On January 15th, 1919, communist revolutionaries Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were murdered in Berlin. They were only the two most prominent victims of the counter-revolutionary white terror that followed the attempts at a socialist revolution in Germany after World War I.
Only two weeks earlier they had been involved in the foundation of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). It was at a crucial moment of the revolutionary development that had forced the Kaiser to abdicate and saw workers and soldiers returning from the battlefield to set up workers’ councils.

The biggest of the workers parties, the Social Democrats (SPD), created a coalition with centrist bourgeois parties as well as with the military and the proto-fascist Freikorps fighters, who they used to squash the uprising rather than supporting the radical changes demanded by their base.

CF will look at the historic dynamic unfolding from the failed revolution, the developments of the communist movement in Germany and the contradictory ways these events are remembered and commemorated.

Datacide Talk/Performance/Discussion with Joke Lanz & Christoph Fringeli at Vétomat Berlin 17.12.2018

Illustration by Joke Lanz for Datacide 18 (coming soon)

The second in a new series of talk and discussion events hosted by Datacide and next:now at Vétomat Berlin.

Datacide presents
Talk, performance, discussion
With Joke Lanz and Christoph Fringeli

17-12-2018

At Vétomat, Wühlischstr. 42, 10245 Berlin

Doors open 7pm

8pm
Christoph Fringeli: The Situationist International as World Cultural Heritage? A critique of the historicisation of a revolutionary group.

9pm
Joke Lanz: Spoken Word Performance

+ public discussion.

 

JOKE LANZ (*1965 Basel)

Joke Lanz has worked as a garbageman, factory worker, sales assistant, caretaker, housekeeper, carpet dealer, chicken farmer, record shop owner, night watch, sauna assistant, roadie, secretary, cleaner, nude model, part-time single father, chocolate producer, bike messenger…
Just to name a few! [Read more →]

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