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From Marx


Marxism, romance, redemption

"Indeed, Marxism has always wagered that in the long run human history would have, or at least could have, the structure of romance. Precisely in its utopianism, then, romance may offer a legitimate vision not of the prehistory lived in class society, but of that authentic history that may someday succeed it." (Walter Cohen, Drama of a Nation 391)

"It is in the context of the gradual reification of realism in late capitalism that romance once again comes to be felt as the place of narrative heterogeneity and of freedom from that reality principle to which a now oppressive realistic representation is the hostage. Romance now again seems to offer the possibility of sensing other historical rhythms, and of demonic or Utopian transformations of a real now unshakably set in place; and Frye is surely not wrong to assimilate the salvational perspective of romance to a reexpression of Utopian longings, a renewed meditation on the Utopian community, a reconquest (but at what price?) of some feeling for a salvational future. The association of Marxism and romance therefore does not discredit the former so much as it explains the persistence and vitality of the latter, which Frye takes to be the ultimate source and paradigm of all storytelling." (Fredric Jameson, The Political Unconscious 91)

"Indeed, [Jameson] suggests, it is only the short-sightedness of a bourgeois-secularist perspective that fails to recognize the validity of the socially liberating impulse of both romance and the myths of the redemptive religions since time immemorial. If Marxism looks, sounds, and feels like a traditional religion, it is because it shares the desire for redemption that motivates the latter, even if it translates this desire into social terms and locates it in the domain of history as its proper field of possible cathexes." (Hayden White, "Jameson's Redemption of Narrative" in The Content of the Form 155)

Is the Marxist narrative of history really a romance? Is romance, as a genre, itself Utopian, or in some other way conducive to political transformation? (Perhaps only in certain historical moments? And if so, which ones?)

Was Simmel a Marxist or a Martian?

I don't think he was either. Yet he inspired some of our favourite Marxists and Martians, such as Georg Lukacs, Ernst Bloch, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer.

Socialist Kitsch

A. Could you suggest some recipes for the socialist kitchens of the future?

B. No, I'd rather not.

Not Marx but Cornelius Castoriadis's On the Content of Socialism.

Marxist economics in the present day?

Some problems
1. Shareholder system, where prole-level workers come to own a piece of capital and thus have a stake in the system: the disappearance of the proletariat?
2. Rent vs capital. The rising importance of branding and advertising, the taking into account of comparative advantage and disadvantage, such that capital is no longer the determining factor in production.

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