My wagers are these: that the riot can now be thought as a fundamental form of class struggle rather than an impolitical spasm; that we can recognize in this the ascending significance of surplus populations within the dialectical production of capital’s antagonists; and that the riot can be in turn seen as a sundial indicating where we are within the history of capitalist accumulation.
Bernie Sanders’s run for President is over, but his campaign has left behind a coherent social democratic current in American politics. How did this current cohere, where is it heading, and what does this mean for radical politics today?
Alberto Toscano, Amanda Armstrong, and Delio Vasquez on periodization and proletarian self-activity in “the new era of uprisings.”
While Clover’s effort to historically situate and draw our attention to the riot as a form of anti-capitalist struggle outside of the workplace is certainly valuable, his insistence on interpreting its political value primarily through its relationship to the utopian keeps his analysis from accounting for the function and meaning that riots have for most of the people who participate in them, to say nothing of whether or not riot is really best understood through its relationship to consumption and circulation.
Clover argues against the continued viability of industrial strike organizing, suggesting that the time of the strike has passed, and that we now inhabit the time of the riot. But the conceptual and periodizing demarcations that Clover deploys in advancing these claims tend to obscure the actual forms of class struggle that broke forth during the supposed era of the strike – forms of struggle that may yet have something to offer us.
Can the riots really express and explicate our historical moment, serving as the “holographic miniature of an entire situation, a world-picture?” What I want to address here is the overarching principle that governs the composition of the book’s various conceptual elements, and which in the final analysis is Clover’s name for theory: periodization.
As we know, Marx never wrote a distinct tome on either international trade or on war and geopolitics – a tome that would have problematized the spaceless assumptions of either a stagist conception of world history or a universalizing capitalist world market. And in that sense International Relations – less as a discipline but more as a problematic – remains very pressing and urgent for Marxists to reappropriate.
While a Trump presidency is not impossible, in this topsy-turvy election it has turned out to be foolish to make predictions. It seems fair, however, to ask a question that is being ignored or suppressed: if eight years of Bill Clinton gave us George W. Bush, and eight years of Obama gave us Trump, what would eight years of Hillary Clinton give us?
By reading his work as animated by antagonisms and countervailing tendencies – where fundamental concepts are open to translation into different registers – we can detect the nodal points of Althusser’s oeuvre.
Audiotapes of Althusser’s 1964-65 seminar on Marx’s Capital will allow for the most accurate genealogy of one of the most important texts in 20th century Marxist philosophy.