God Complex

I cannot help but see debates about origins as theological. In religious studies we see two kinds of origin myth – in the Bible there is a God (well ‘the’ god) who intervenes upon the primordial swirl to separate out day from night, land from sea etc., then makes life and says that it is good. According to some anthropology I read way back when, in some parts of Papua New Guinea the ‘god’ is a crocodile who arrives the  with intent to eat men, and in thrashing about by their land, turns the area into swamps and marsh and rivers and land all mixed together. To the extent that men can kill crocodiles they might stop this thrashing about and so create dry land on which to live. See Gregory Bateson The Naven on this.

There is a debate over sovereign power versus the power of security – I read this as related to the theological approaches mentioned above. Agamben as monotheist, Foucault as pagan would not even do it justice as of course the thing is more complicated..

What does this mean for reading capital and the suggestion I made two years ago that sometime we might start reading Capital from section 8, so-called Originary Accumulation, before reading the rest? Reminding ourselves that the process of valourisation is ongoing [that ‘so-called’ is key].

It is not quite so simple as offering up some version of theological teleology in Marx as having an origin story in accumulation – the accumulation is not only at the ‘start’ just as I do not think his argument so easily fits a binary code of separating capitalists and labour in some co-constituting or contradictory embrace. It is also the case that the flux orientation of multivariant power is not simply randomisation interrupted by strategies of security – there is however agency of the class plausible here too, even as that is more evident against the hegemonic sovereign. Ahh mythology – and different versionings of the origin story, each obscure this possibility or intervening to make things really new. Thus ideology obfuscates.

Border residue

Spaces of Migration, just published by Pavement Books returns me to the suggestion on this blog some time ago, and no doubt elsewhere, that the discussion of borders has a too easy conception of space. Borders can be aural, temporal, conceptual, and proliferating right here. Where? He-re.

The policy pronouncements of the border authority replicates authoritarianism across the body politic. The compliance of some with G4s or other privatised border tools makes border agents of us all.

Abject humanity subjected to austerity and its justifications, proliferation of pollutants met only with fake environmentalist concern, the persistence, and indeed global extension of workplace ‘alienation’ viewed as nostalgia, deskilling/desktop killing for everyone, not just the ruling class – all this seems to generalise a lumpen character.

Maintain the reserve army and keep us all in fatigues seems the only strategy capital has in this crisis. Besides scrambling for a cut of course, and a crazy generous cut at that. Snouts in the trough, but keeping us all in the sty. Some are more in the mud than others, some are bacon, most are fed on swill – oink oink. The uniformed ones collaborate with the omnipresent butcher. Some are tagged with an RFID chip on their ear. Higgledy po.

Letters of Blood and Fire – Caffentzis in the UK

From PM Press

In Letters of Blood and Fire: Book Launch with George Caffentzis
Tuesday 19 November
Hydra Books – 34 Old Market
Bristol BS2 0EZ
Organised in collaboration with PM Press and Bristol Radical History Group

Debt | Crisis | Capitalism: a public Lecture
A public lecture on debt, crisis and capitalism with George Caffentzis, David Graeber and Nick Dearden.

Thursday 21 November
ULU – Malet St
London WC1E 7HY
Organised in collaboration with: PM Press and Jubilee Debt Campaign


In Conversation: George Caffentzis and John Barker
To celebrate the recent release of In Letters of Blood and Fire, George Caffentzis and John Barker will be in conversation to discuss work, machines and crisis.

Friday 22 November
doors open 6.30pm for 7pm start
Common House
Unit 5E Pundersons Gardens E2 9QG
Organised in collaboration with: PM Press, Mute Magazine and The Common House
All events are free, however seats are limited so we suggest you arrive early to guarantee entry. Full event details can be found on the PM Press website www.pmpress.org

Bonfire night got a whole lot more interesting

bonfire of Austerity | 5 November 2013

Tomorrow (Tuesday 5th November) The Peoples’ Assembly is calling for a day of protest in every town and city in the country. The South East London People’s Assembly are hosting a ‘Bonfire of Cuts’ in Lewisham:

Bonfire of Cuts – 6pm @ Grassy Knoll opp. Lewisham DLR
-Bring effigies of politicians, bankers or the 1% to burn. Will be music, speakers and fire.

Procession against austerity, the bedroom tax and local
cuts – 4.30pm @ Catford Town Hall
-Bring placards or effigies for the route which will pass Lewisham Hospital, still under threat, and other key local places affected by the cuts on our way to the Bonfire.

Performance about austerity politics – 1.30pm @ Deptford Lounge Public Square

Action against poverty – 10am @ Deptford High Street/New Cross Road
-Led by the local food bank

Come to one or all of these acts of civil disobedience against austerity organised by the South East London People’s Assembly. All of them will be family friendly, and welcome participation from everyone.

Quid pro quo – talk at Melbourne Uni

“Quid pro quo’: Marx on India, from the Black Hole to the East of Capital”

John Hutnyk

The paper moves from re imagining Das Kapital if the book had been written at a major point of value extraction – Bengal – and follows this drift to the east up to the present day regeneration of the old East India Docks in London by a Chinese Corporation.

Venue: University of Melbourne, Friday 13 December 2013 (2pm-4 in the 4th floor common room John Medley Building)


Abstract: My case is Marx writing on India, examining his theoretical and journalistic work together, each informed by an emergent anthropology, by historical hermeneutics, by a critique of political economy and by attention to a political contest that mattered more than philosophy. Marx reading history, already against the grain and without being able to make actual alliances, is nevertheless seeking allies in a revolutionary cause. Is it possible to observe Marx coming round to realise, after the shaping experience of the 1848-1852 European uprisings, the possibilities for the many different workers of the world to unite? I consider the sources Marx finds available, what he reads, and how his writing practice parses critical support as habitual politics, and how far subcontinental events, themes and allegories are a presence in the key moves of his masterwork Capital almost as if India were a refocussed bromide for Europe, just as slavery is for wages. I will take up four cases – the ‘founding’ of Calcutta by Job Charnock (disputed); the story of Clive sacking Chandernagor and going on to defeat Suraj-ud-duala at Palashi/Plassey in 1757 in retaliation for the ‘Black Hole’ (did it exist?); Disraeli verbosely saying nothing about the so-called Indian ‘mutiny’ 1857 (‘the East as a career’); and the question of legalizing Opium in China and the advent of Matheson-Jardine Company after the East India Company comes to an end (‘quid pro quo’). A coda returns us to London and the redevelopment of the old EIC shipyards in Deptford, returning Capital to the capital.