Train Research Group

This Wednesday 1st Feb, 4pm G3 Laurie Grove Baths is the second Goldsmiths meeting of the Train & TubE Research Section (ahem, I am not really suggesting we call the group ‘tatters’! Its just that the abbreviation TRG also does not scan).
all welcome.
The following few things sent in may also be of interest:
The Olympics Premium (aka buying off the workers with Uncle Tory’s fast cash bribes):
Russian art group Voina have done the ‘lunch on the metro’ stunt too (you need to scroll down to the third image):
Also, in Belgium they are making the point somewhat more directly.  This is the latest and most dramatic action on the Brussles Metro following an unpopular fare rise:

And a few things circulated from the UFSO:

 – here’s some inspiration – AD Block Sweden:

Here is a link to a documentary about the struggle of tube cleaners from a few years back,
if you haven’t seen it:

And here is a great Hungarian Metro thriller ;)

Perspective Society : Marx, Ford, Jobs.

An outline for a block course as part of “Theories of Modern Society” at Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen in Feb-March 2012:
Perspective Society : Marx, Ford, Jobs.
This 3-part discussion takes Theories of Modern Society as a research problem in the tradition of workplace Inquiries. In part one, by examining the Blue Books and Factory Inspector reports that Marx used for the Working Day chapter of Capital Volume one, we will look at the Industrial Revolution in the mid 18th Century. In part two we will consider Fordist Production systems and the global advent of assembly work, then in part three the co-research tradition of Autonomist Marxism and Kolinko permits us to look at processed work and the alienations and precarity of net-life.  Each of the sections coheres around ideas of workplace or social inquiry and co-research. Each section will also include some topical film analysis and discussion (eg: Germinal and Hard Times for mid 1800s, Tucker and Modern Times for 1920s, and Clerks and The Social Network for processed work for late 20th early 21st Century). Assessment will be your own inquiry into your own conditions of work, broadly defined.
Feb 24-25 Read ‘The Working Day’ chapter of Marx’s Das Kapital (chapter 8) or in English as Capital (chapter 10). This is about 90 pages. (you may of course read the earlier chapters if yu wish, but these are not compulsory, though they will be referred to in class, alongside illustrative films for discussion).
March 23-24 Read Part 4 of Marx’s Capital (chapters 10-13 in the German or 12-15 in the English). Again there will be films, discussion and additional reading in class.
April 20-21 Read ‘Hotlines’. Available online in English and German:
The class will be in English, but reading can be German or English. Additional resources on the blog
All welcome.
Professor John Hutnyk
Goldsmiths College,University of London

Bees again

Nothing can be understood, as Adorno said of Hegel, in isolation from the whole:

‘in the context of the whole, but with the awkward qualification that the whole in turn lives only in the individual moments. In actuality, however, this kind of doubleness of the dialectic eludes literary presentation’ (Adorno 1963 Hegel: Three Studies – in the third one)

But the thing is that we can also cite Adorno’s aphorism from Minima Moralia that ‘the whole is the untrue’, and be sure here that although Marx now reveals the secret of value, this is, also, untrue. It is neither correct except insofar as a great numb of conditioning factors are held aside, nor is it incorrect, but it certainly is in need of supplementing. Without Hegel, and I would say without Adorno to guide a reading of Hegel, there is no chance of getting Marx. Lenin says as much as well.

Adorno’s Hegel is important for example when he says that Hegel does not fall for the uncritical facade:

‘there are good reasons why the dialectic of essence and appearance is moved to the centre of the Logic. This needs to be remembered at a time when those who administer the dialectic in it’s materialist version, the official thought of the East Bloc, have debased it to an unreflective copy theory’ Adorno Three Studies p8

We should be wary of appearances for sure, but also of essences. The essentializing character of seeking out value, or the tool, or the primitive instinct, over against the essence of human creative labour as architect, even the worst architect. Mediation has to be kept alive here, as perhaps a labour of thought. It is not a middle term, but it brings thinking to life between essence and appearance, and it is a permanent confrontation, this dialectic. It is not a world view (Adorno Three Studies p9)

Marx had said of the Phenomenology, as Adorno notes, that in it Hegel had grasped the nature of labour and man as the result of his labour. This labour is social, labour as something for something, or someone, else (Adorno Three Studies p18). This is quite a thing, to suggest Hegel’s spirit is social labour

 ‘the crucial connection between the concepts of desire and Labour removes the latter from the position of a mere analogy to the abstract active of the abstract spirit. Labour in the full sense is in fact tied to desire, which it in turn negates; it satisfies the needs of human beings on all levels, helps them without their difficulties, reproduces human life, and demands sacrifices if them in turn’ (Adorno Three Studies p22)

But idealism is mistaken to turn the totality of labour into something existing in itself as metaphysical principle, as if social labour could be conceives as separate fro nature on which it depends. No nature as such either, of course, and no abstract desire. We do not talk of human nature, nor think there are universal needs.

Adorno quotes Marx on nature and labour from the Critique of the Gotha Programme, ‘labour is not the sours of all wealth. Nature is just as much the source of use-values’ (in Adorno Three Studies p23) even as Marx notes this is both ‘correct’ and a bourgeois children’s book phrasing that cannot be left without a comment or two about the way in which humanity works with nature and that any suggestion that nature is a basis for subordinating those who only have their labour power to sell to be compelled to sell it ‘as a slave of other men who have made themselves the owners of the material conditions of labour’ (in Adorno Three Studies p 24)

This is followed by a critique of Hegel,s idealism in which labour is detached and becomes ideology as an inherent value. Adorno mentions the section on lord and bondsman but passes quickly rather to Hegel’s comments on religion and ‘spirit as artificer’, as labour, as an instinctive operation ‘like the building of a honeycomb by the bees’ (Hegel in Adorno Three Studies p24). To this inclusion of labour in spirit Adorno suggests ‘only a little more would be needed – remembrance of the simultaneously mediated and irrevocably natural moment of labour – and the Hegelian dialectic would reveal its identity and speak it’s own name’ (Adorno Three Studies p25)

Still, at least we can see where Marx got his interest in bees.

Hegel, in Phenomenology of Spirit, in the section on The Artificer, writes:

‘SPIRIT, therefore, here appears, as an artificer, and its action whereby it produces itself as object but without having as yet grasped the thought of itself is an instinctive operation, like the building of a honeycomb by bees

The first form, because it is immediate, is the abstract form of the Understanding, and the work is not yet in its own self filled with spirit. The crystals of pyramids and obelisks, simple combinations of straight lines with plane surfaces and equal proportions of parts, in which the incommensurability of the round is destroyed, these are the works of this artificer of rigid form. On account of the merely abstract intelligibleness of the form, the significance of the work is not in the work itself, is not the spiritual self. Thus either the works receive Spirit into them only as an alien, departed spirit that has forsaken its living saturation with reality and, being itself dead, takes up its abode in this lifeless crystal; or they have an external relation to Spirit’ p421

Leonard Horner Hall

Since one of the first (positive) mentions of a really existing individual in Marx’s Capital is Leonard Horner, we should find out a little about this fellow who will not be forgotten…: ‘Leonard Horner was one of the Factory Inquiry Commissioners in 1833, and Inspector, or rather Censor of Factories till 1859. He rendered undying service to the English working class. He carried on a life-long contest, not only with the embittered manufacturers, but also with the Cabinet’ (Marx)

Patrick Corbett (Heriot-Watt University) recently took part in the Society’s Chartership programme as a scrutineer. Interestingly, the Society had chosen to host the meeting in the Leonard Horner Hall at Heriot-Watt University ….

Geoscientist 20.4 April 2010

Leonard Horner entered Edinburgh in 1799 at the age of 14 and learned, among other subjects, mineralogy – which stimulated a lifetime interest in geology. After leaving university he spent a quarter of a century as a linen merchant, travelling extensively and keeping up his intellectual interests. During this time became a fellow of the Geological Society (in the second year of its existence, 1808), was Secretary (1810-14) and twice President (1845-46, 1860-61). His first paper to the society was “On the mineralogy of the Malvern Hills”. In 1835 he helped initiate the Geological Survey of Great Britain. In his obituary W.J Hamilton, then President, recorded that Horner possessed a “cautious manner in which he avoids a too hasty generalisation” and concluded that he had laid the foundation of the principles that Murchison and Sedgwick subsequently applied to understanding the Palaeozoic rocks. Charles Lyell was obviously influenced by Horner, as the former married the latter’s daughter, Mary. He did much to promote a wider public interest in geology. After he retired as “the Inspector General of Factories” at age 74 in 1859, in the five years before his death, he spent time rearranging and cataloguing the Society’s museum collection.

In 1821, Horner founded the Edinburgh School of Arts (the first ever Mechanics’ Institute – for training skilled artisans) to promote high academic standards for the élite while extending useful knowledge to the labouring classes. Its prospectus stated the objectives “for the purpose of enabling industrious Tradesman to become acquainted with such principles of mechanics, chemistry and other branches of science as are of practical application in several trades”. Classes were held in the evening and included mineralogy for tradesmen working in the textiles industry for use in dye-making.

Karl Marx admired the work of Horner as a reforming factory inspector and eulogised that “his services to the English working classes will never be forgotten. He carried on a life-long contest, not only with the embittered manufacturers, but also with the cabinet”. In 1827, Horner was also invited to be the warden of the new University of London. He was effectively both Vice-chancellor (Principal) and Secretary of the new University. From this position of patronage, he was able to invite Charles Lyell to the chair of mineralogy at King’s College London in 1828.

The Edinburgh College of Arts was the progenitor institution from which Heriot-Watt University was created in 1966. Today the University retains the ethos of teaching practical subjects in a way that people in industry can participate, through international distance learning programmes – very much in the style of Leonard Horner – one of the founding fathers. I suspect Leonard Horner would have approved of the idea of professionalism (which is now embedded in Chartership and rather more evidence-based than in his day!) and the need for Continuing Professional Development .

Further reading

O’Farrell, P.N., 2004 Heriot-Watt University, An Illustrated History, Pearson Education, 511pp. Watch out for Patrick’s next book, a biography of Leonard Horner, the research for which has involved him in many happy hours in the Burlington House Library.;jsessionid=3990B0009259ABF0F9F646D2EB19AC74
If the past is the key to your present interests, why not join the History of Geology Group (HOGG)? For more information and to read the latest HOGG newsletter, visit the HOGG website at:]

Horeners letters –

Market Project on Banks(y)

Alistair Gentry: To me it relates pretty closely to the banks being “too big to fail”, I think in this country-

John Hutnyk: Banksy is too big to fail.

Alistair Gentry: Yes, Banksy IS too big to fail.

Julie Freeman: He’s actually very short.

Alistair Gentry: He’s not a big man… in any sense.

Julie Freeman: Allegedly.

From part four of the transcript of the Market Project Too Many Artists debate:

Vijay Prashad’s most excellent course rubric


(1) 300 level course. This is a 300 level course. That means that its purpose is to push you beyond introductions to this or that part of the world, and into an investigation of how to theorize the world, how to do an analysis of problems and opportunities in the world. I expect very high standards from students. You will be expected to do all the work on time, to miss no classes and to allow yourself to be challenged, and to allow yourself to challenge each other (and me).

(2) Regular attendance. If you miss even one class without prior permission, you are liable to fail the course. I am ruthless about this point. Please make sure that you send me an email at least an hour before class (so that I have time to get back to you with my assent). If you have to miss a class (even for health reasons), I expect, by the Wednesday following the class, to have a ten-page paper that lays out the main analytical points in the reading for the Monday you missed. This is non-negotiable. If I do not hear from you before class that you are missing class, or if you fail to get me this paper by Wednesday, you will get an F grade for the course.

(3) Regular reading. I will call on you at will to discuss the reading. If you have not done the day’s reading, I recommend you simply say that you have not done so at the start of class (please hand me a note with your name on it – this will count against your grade, but it will count less if I ask you a question and you have no idea what I’m talking about). If you hand me the card with your name on it, and you do not wish it to count against your grade, you may write a five-page analytical essay on the reading (delivered to me by Wednesday). The reading is not easy. Please be prepared to study hard, and to learn vast amounts. Some of what I assign will need to be read twice. So bear that in mind. Take notes. Be prepared to discuss the readings. Come with questions.

• “Even in a seminar class it seems a little silly to require participation. Some students who are cripplingly shy, or who can’t always formulate their best thoughts and questions in the rapid back-and-forth of a group discussion, are nevertheless good and serious students. On the other hand, as Prof — points out supra, our class can’t really function if there isn’t student participation—it will become just me giving a half-assed ad-lib lecture for 90 minutes, which (trust me) will be horrible in all kinds of ways.” David Foster Wallace (1962-2008).

(4) Regular writing. I will ask you to write about the books and class discussions periodically. You will be given a few days to do these assignments. I do not take kindly to complaints about the volume of work, so be prepared in advance and do not be surprised by my assignments. Every class I teach is a writing intensive class, so please be prepared. If you email me a paper, I won’t read it. I only accept papers in hardcopy, given to me in class (not left outside my office: unless we make special arrangements).

There are four (max. 10 page) papers due for this class on Feb. 24, Mar. 15, April 12, and May 3. You will never get an extension. That I have informed you now of the due dates is all the extension you require. When you hand in a paper, I expect to see alongside it (stapled to it really) the notes you made not for class or for the reading but in drafting the paper. One of the lessons I’ve long learned in trying to express my opinion is to make extensive notes on paper (not on the computer). I would like to see these notes with the final paper. They will help me get a handle on how you have been thinking about the question, and the material in general.

• “If you are used to whipping off papers the night before they’re due, running them quickly through the computer’s Spellchecker, handing them in full of high-school errors and sentences that make no sense and having the professor accept them ‘because the ideas are good’ or something, please be informed that I draw no distinction between the quality of one’s ideas and the quality of those ideas’ verbal expression, and I will not accept sloppy, rough-draftish, or semiliterate college writing. Again, I am absolutely not kidding.” David Foster Wallace.

(5) Regular Speaking. Each student will be asked to write and deliver a “philosophical tantrum” in the manner of Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Each of you will be assigned a section of the reading for the day, in rotation, and then asked to write and deliver in class the tantrum based on the reading, the events of the time, and your own core values. The list for the tantrums will be created before the second class, so that we can begin our intellectual fiesta straight away.

(6) No Electronics at all. My classroom is an electronics free zone. No cellphones to be brought out, no texting, no computers on the desk. If you bring out any electronic equipment, I am given license to borrow it for the week, and you shall get it back on the following Monday. This time, I’m absolutely not kidding.”