Saturday, December 18, 2010
Sunday, October 10, 2010
For a while, I didn't get finance capital's place in the broader system of capital. I understood that it was a means of accumulating wealth and enabling business ventures and transactions, but it always seemed abstract and disconnected from the exploitation of laborers that operates on a daily basis. When an investment gets wrapped up in some kind of security and then resold on a secondary market with lots of other securities (as in the credit default swap pyramid scheme that helped bring down the global financial system in 2008), it gets difficult to follow the connection to labor. But this is exactly what Marx meant when he discussed the concept of fetishism. Real relations between people are obscured by seemingly abstract numbers and market fluctuations. It all seems fake, but we treat it as real. The finance capitalist says that it's all just numbers on a page, but continues to treat those numbers as if they were the most important thing in the world.
This made it easier for me to play my role in the financial system. After all, I wasn't out their crushing unions or helping to deny health care claims. I was just shuffling paperwork between different capitalists, helping some protect their assets from others with cutting edge trust instruments. But my paper pushing amounted to another form of fetishism. I knew very well that these instruments were imaginary abstractions, but I treated them like they were real and their legal status caused them to have a real effect on people.
Estate planning is fairly boring, but it plays an important role in modern capitalism. Over the years, liberal governments have created various tools to minimize the accumulation of multi-generational wealth. Even free market advocates saw this as beneficial to stop the concentration of wealth in a few hands―along with all of the social tension that that might cause―and retain some notion of desert to justify the system as a whole. It gets difficult to believe Horatio Alger parables about capitalism benefiting those who work hard when social mobility is low and your ability to become one of the haves or have-nots depends so much on your family's socioeconomic background.
The rich found ways to get around this, often transferring wealth to remote generations, avoiding imposition of the estate tax for quite some time. This was addressed with the Generation Skipping Transfer (GST) tax, that imposed a tax on transfers to so-called "skip" persons in remote generations. Now, however, there is a way of getting around both estate and gift taxes: the trust.
Modern trusts have their roots in English history. While they have existed in various forms for a very long time, they became important during the reign of Henry VIII. The basic idea of a trust is that the owner of property (the settlor) transfers property to a recipient (the trustee) for the benefit of another person (the beneficiary). The trustee holds legal title and the beneficiary has beneficial title. This can provide a number of benefits, allowing for privacy (unlike the probate process), efficiency, the avoidance of transfer taxes, control over assets, and protection from creditors (this is a lot of the work I had been doing).
The biggest obstacle to using trusts to maintain family wealth was the Rule Against Perpetuities (RAP). Anyone who has gone through law school probably shudders at the thought of RAP because of how difficult it is to learn and apply on law school exams.1 The basic rule goes something like this: Any property interest is invalid unless it must vest within 21 years of some life in being at the time of its creation.2 I'll leave aside the strange scenarios that you have to use to determine whether a trust is valid under this rule (imagine situations in which a property interest is created and then everyone who was alive on the planet dies). I'm probably not explaining it very well, which is why I got a terrible grade in Property 2; but the basic idea is that, at some point, a property interest has to vest in someone and the trust has to terminate. This prevented people from creating perpetual trusts that would avoid estate taxes forever.
However, states have been gradually doing away with RAP. Some have extended it to 1,000 years and others have abolished it outright. While this is nice for attorneys who can't grasp the rule's strange application, it's even better for someone who wants to concentrate family wealth. It gets even better when you realize that certain "grandfathered" trusts don't have to deal with the GST because they existed before Congress created the tax. The tricky thing is that a lot of those trusts were created while RAP existed, so they are set to terminate some time this century. That has led estate planners to craft some tricks to transfer the old trust assets into new perpetual trusts while maintaining their GST-exempt status. There is a small time frame in which to do this because GST and estate taxes have been abolished during 2010 because of the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. Right now, lots of estate planners and rich individuals are planning ways to create something called a "dynasty trust" before the year is out, shielding their wealth from public scrutiny and transfer taxes for a very, very long time. If you're in South Dakota, that's forever and if you're in Utah, it's a thousand years.
Wealth disparity is a real problem in this country. Slate had an interesting piece about it recently that looked at a number of reasons for it and why it's a bad thing from a liberal perspective called the Great Divergence. Noah chalks the gap up to a number of factors:
- Race and gender are responsible for none of it, and single parenthood is responsible for virtually none of it.
- Immigration is responsible for 5 percent.
- The imagined uniqueness of computers as a transformative technology is responsible for none of it.
- Tax policy is responsible for 5 percent.
- The decline of labor is responsible for 20 percent.
- Trade is responsible for 10 percent.
- Wall Street and corporate boards' pampering of the Stinking Rich is responsible for 30 percent.
- Various failures in our education system are responsible for 30 percent.3
While tax policy is not given a large share of the blame, it gets some. The role played by Wall Street also implicates trust law, since trusts have an investment function. A large part of the motivation for dynastic trusts isn't simply that they shield wealth, but that they also allow it to grow. This is largely done by investing trust assets.
But how is any of this possible? Where does dynastic trust wealth come from? It surely does not emerge ex nihilo from the aether. It turns out that my middle of the road estate planning was more directly tied to exploitation through the concept of finance capital than I had understood.
In Chapter Four of Capital, after several chapters explaining the development of the commodity form and the money commodity in often-excruciating detail, Marx explains a key historical shift that makes capital possible. Traditionally, someone produced a commodity, traded it for money, and then exchanged that money for a commodity that he or she wanted. I make a plate of muffins. They have both a use value and an exchange value. I don't like peach muffins, so they have little use value to me. However, they do have an exchange value in that others will exchange a certain quantity of other commodities for my muffins. So I sell them to someone who wants them for $5. I then exchange that $5 for a bag of potato chips. In the end, I am left with the same exchange value, except it is measured in a different commodity: $5 of chips instead of $5 of muffins. But the exchange makes sense because the chips have a use value to me that the muffins didn't. This is called C–M–C exchange (commodity -> money -> commodity). This exchange is intuitive and no one would question it.
But then we get an important historical shift. The capitalist exchanges money, for a commodity, for money (M–C–M exchange). But when this happens, the law of equivalence doesn't make sense anymore. Why would I give someone $5 for muffins and then exchange those muffins for $5? Getting back the same exchange value in money makes no sense. You might as well have just kept the $5 and not wasted your time. There has to be a reason to enter into the transaction: the prospect of generating a profit. This can accomplished either by charging interest (finance capital, which takes on the even stranger sequence of M–M where money is directly exchanged for more money) or by finding a way of extracting surplus value from the process (industrial capital). For this to happen, the capitalist needs to find a commodity that produces more value when it is consumed. That commodity is labor power. Capitalists and laborers meet in an open market where the laborer is free to sell the commodity of his or her labor power (usually as measured by time) to the capitalist. In the M–C–M sequence, money is advanced to the laborer for a certain amount of time worked, rather than spent outright, and received back (hopefully plus profit). David Harvey makes the point in his lecture on Capital that not all money is capital; rather, capital is a process whereby money is put into motion for this purpose.
In his discussion of fetishism, Marx makes a nicely worded point:
The independent form, i.e., the money-form, which the value of commodities assumes in the case of simple circulation, serves only one purpose, namely, their exchange, and vanishes in the final result of the movement. On the other hand, in the circulation M-C-M, both the money and the commodity represent only different modes of existence of value itself, the money its general mode, and the commodity its particular, or, so to say, disguised mode. It is constantly changing from one form to the other without thereby becoming lost, and thus assumes an automatically active character. If now we take in turn each of the two different forms which self-expanding value successively assumes in the course of its life, we then arrive at these two propositions: Capital is money: Capital is commodities. In truth, however, value is here the active factor in a process, in which, while constantly assuming the form in turn of money and commodities, it at the same time changes in magnitude, differentiates itself by throwing off surplus-value from itself; the original value, in other words, expands spontaneously. For the movement, in the course of which it adds surplus-value, is its own movement, its expansion, therefore, is automatic expansion. Because it is value, it has acquired the occult quality of being able to add value to itself. It brings forth living offspring, or, at the least, lays golden eggs.4
I was caught up in this mysticism. I believed that capital simply created value and that trusts could be protected from taxation and other creditors and continue to grow, abstracted from the brutal process of day-to-day exploitation. The increase in value of a dynastic trust doesn't come from nowhere, but from the M–C–M (or M–M) cycle. The notion of the dynastic trust spontaneously creating wealth is the kind of occult golden egg laying hen that Marx mocks. Part of the goal of Capital is to demystify this process. As wealthy families grow in size and inflation and income taxes eat away at the real value of dynastic trusts, new means of maximizing profit will have to be achieved.5 This will force ever downward pressure on wages as wealthy people attempt to receive the trust bounty to which they feel they are entitled.
I am an enabler of a violent system.
fn1 Lucas v. Hamm, 364 P.2d 685 (Cal. 1961).
fn2 John Chipman Gray, The Rule Against Perpetuities 191 (4th ed. 1942)
fn3 Timothy Noah, The United States of Inequality, SLATE.COM, Sept. 15, 2010, http://www.slate.com/id/2266025/entry/2267384/.
fn4 1 KARL MARX, CAPITAL (S. Moore & E. Aveling trans., Frederick Engels ed., 1st Eng. ed. 1887) (1867), available at http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch04.htm.
fn5 William J. Turnier & Jeffrey L. Harrison, A Malthusian Analysis of the So-Called Dynasty Trust, 28 VA. TAX REV. 779, 787–88 (2009).
Monday, August 16, 2010
This is going to be the first installment of my study of Marxism. I think it’s a good place to start because it seems to deal with some of the major issues in Capital (based on my understanding from secondary sources since I’ve only gotten through the first few chapters), which many readers never get to because they give up during the dull―but important―section on commodities.
I am using a text edited by Fredrick Engels. There is some argument that Engels’s views represent a specialized offshoot of Marxism and attempt to make it into a scientific version of political economy. Here, Engels’s goal is to turn the essay into a work that Marx would have written in 1891, rather than 1849. He notes that his chief alteration is to describe workers as selling their “labor power,” rather than their “labor” in exchange for wages. I don’t know of any reason to think that this affects the substance of the work.
Labor power is a commodity that workers sell to capitalists. Like any commodity, labor power has both a use value and an exchange value, which conflict with each other.1 From the perspective of capital, labor power is a use value and the capitalist purchases the right to put the worker to work for a certain period of time. That labor power produces goods or services that the capitalist can sell to replace expended materials, pay labor costs, and generate profits.
In contrast, labor power only has an exchange value to the worker. The worker does not receive a direct share of the product of his or her labor power, but receives the amount that the employer is willing to pay for that labor power. The exchange value of labor power consists of the wage. Workers are forced to sacrifice their labor time and power to those who own the means of production because the alternative is typically starvation (the capitalist system has imposed high costs on unemployment since the proletariat was forced off the land and into the cities and it became necessary to compel them to choose work rather than criminality or some other unproductive (from the standpoint of capital) means of living).
The value of labor power is affected in the same fashion as any other commodity: when demand outpaces supply, the exchange value (wages) go up and when demand decreases, prices go down. If Marx seems to be drifting a little close to classical microeconomics, his approach remains thoroughly non-orthodox.2 He goes beyond mere supply and demand and explains how armies of sellers and workers compete not only with each other, but with themselves. This relationship is dialectical, since the competition is also internal: different kinds of workers (e.g., undocumented immigrants and union labor) compete with each other, driving down wages. However, despite the flux of supply and demand, prices tend to balance out, more or less, meaning that a commodity’s exchange value is brought in accord with the cost of its production: in this case, the cost of materials and labor time.
Another key point is that commodities symbolize social relationships. Something only becomes capital by being transformed by the social relations of production. Not all commodities with exchange values are capital. They must be multiplied and produced via labor power: “It is only the dominion of past, accumulated, materialized labor over immediate living labor that stamps the accumulated labor with the character of capital.” (See Marx's discussion of fetishism in Capital).
Marx shows how the interests of capital and labor are mutually exclusive. Whenever profits grow, relative wages must shrink, widening the lines of stratification between the bourgeois and working classes and increasing social control over labor. A rise in actual wages may often be offset by other factors. One such factor is a rise in commodity prices (often necessities, on which the working class spend the bulk of their income). See Frederick Kaufman, The Food Bubble: How Wall Street Starved Millions and Got Away With It, Harper's, July 2010, at 27 (describing how grain speculation led to a dramatic rise in global wheat prices). This effectively reduces the real wages of workers because, even if they receive more income, they can do less with that income. Capital, on the other hand, experiences an increase in profits, since commodity prices go up faster than does the need to pay workers (this is especially true in a speculation situation in which prices go up without the need for more labor inputs).
Further, even if real wages go up, they will rise more slowly than profits. Money received by businesses while selling goods can be divided into three segments: (1) the cost necessary to replace and fortify the material implements of production, (2) wages, and (3) profits. Since the cost to cover materials merely replaces preexisting wealth, wages and profits must be divided up from the fruits of labor power. This alienates the proceeds of the worker’s labor power and allows capitalists to benefit themselves to a proportionally greater degree than laborers. The effect is that wages fall in a relational sense, since the socioeconomic gap between the worker and the capitalist grows.
This argument is persuasive in light of recent events. First, wages have not kept pace with increases in productivity. Second, moral hazard (the idea that insuring loss discourages loss avoidance) has been inscribed into the capitalist system. It was necessary for the federal government to bail out banks and investment firms when their speculation schemes fell through. The people who stand to profit from such risky activity are effectively shielded from that risk and only stand to gain in the form of short-term profits or a golden parachute. Those who bear the risk (workers, communities, environmental stakeholders, etc.) are simultaneously unable to receive the rewards of such risk-taking and must bear the brunt of it when the bubble bursts and the system collapses. It is difficult to imagine a form of capitalism that would do away with this kind of moral hazard. Simply letting the banks fail would have caused an even greater depression, wounding the working class. However, while large firms are now recovering from the recession and are seeing larger profits, those firms are sitting on their new revenues, rather than allowing them to "trickle down" to workers. See Tom Petruno, Big Companies are Awash in Cash as Economy Picks Up, L.A. Times, Mar. 24, 2010, http://articles.latimes.com/2010/mar/24/business/la-fi-rich-companies24-2010mar24. Meanwhile, the jobless rate continues to be abysmal. While recent numbers might show a slight decrease in unemployment, that may be because some of the jobless have simply given up hope of finding a job and are no longer counted on the unemployment roles. Andy Kroll, More Grim News on Jobs Front, Mother Jones, Aug. 6, 2010, http://motherjones.com/mojo/2010/08/more-grim-news-jobs-front. For a discussion of the moral risk argument as applied to capitalism, see Slavoj Žižek, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce 12-13 (2009).
Marx isolates two means by which capitalism ensures that profits rise to the detriment of wages: (1) technological development and (2) the division of labor. The technological side of this was evident when I was paid to do data entry at Blue Cross–Blue Shield and the company moved from the inefficient process of having people directly type insurance claims into computers to a scanning system. While scanning might have been less unpleasant from my perspective, it required a lower degree of skill and didn’t take as many hours to complete. This meant slashing hours and pay. People who were on track to become full-time employees remained part-time, losing out on health benefits. While the technology allowed me to accomplish the same amount of work in less time, it became more difficult to qualify for productivity bonuses, so I found myself working more hours (informal full-time hours without accompanying benefits) to earn my old wage. Counterintuitively, the rise in productivity allowed by technology forced a drop in real wages, since I had to work longer and donate more of my time to my company without receiving the health insurance that would have once accompanied such an increase in working time.
Competition between capitalists drives this process on a global scale, something we have seen in the outsourcing of labor to nations with lower wages and less strict labor standards during recent decades. As available work and wages fall, workers must work more hours and do so under less pleasant circumstances. This increases the supply of labor and further depresses wages, allowing workers to hurt their own interests as a class for the sake of their individual well-being. Laborers not only compete with each other, but with themselves.
The commodity itself appears as unity of two aspects. It is use value, i.e. object of the satisfaction of any system whatever of human needs. This is its material side, which the most disparate epochs of production may have in common, and whose examination therefore lies beyond political economy. Use value falls within the realm of political economy as soon as it becomes modified by the modern relations of production, or as it, in turn, intervenes to modify them. What it is customary to say about it in general terms, for the sake of good form, is confined to commonplaces which had a historic value in the first beginnings of the science, when the social forms of bourgeois production had still laboriously to be peeled out of the material, and, at great effort, to be established as independent objects of study. In fact, however, the use value of the commodity is a given presupposition -- the material basis in which a specific economic relation presents itself. It is only this specific relation which stamps the use value as a commodity. Wheat, e.g., possesses the same use value, whether cultivated by slaves, serfs or free labourers. It would not lose its use value if it fell from the sky like snow. Now how does use value become transformed into commodity? Vehicle of exchange value. Although directly united in the commodity, use value and exchange value just as directly split apart. Not only does the exchange value not appear as determined by the use value, but rather, furthermore, the commodity only becomes a commodity, only realizes itself as exchange value, in so far as its owner does not relate to it as use value. He appropriates use values only through their sale [Entäusserung], their exchange for other commodities. Appropriation through sale is the fundamental form of the social system of production, of which exchange value appears as the simplest, most abstract expression. The use value of the commodity is presupposed, not for its owner, but rather for the society generally.
Karl Marx, The Grundrisse 881 (M. Nicolaus trans. 1973).
2 See David Harvey, The Limits to Capital 8 (1982) (“Marx accepts the importance of supply and demand in equilibriating the market, but he vehemently denies that supply and demand can tell us anything whatsoever about what the equilibrium prices of commodities will be. ‘If supply and demand balance one another, they cease to explain anything, do not affect market-values, and therefore leave us so much more in the dark . . . .’” (quoting 3 Karl Marx, Capital 189 (F. Engels ed. 1967))).
Thursday, August 12, 2010
If you have a suggestion of something I should check out, feel free to contact me. I'm open to old and new things, regardless of whether I think I'll agree with them or not. I'm definitely missing out on some people who are influenced by Marx, but are not Marxists per se, and a lot of non-Marxist socialism, like the Utopians, Proudhon, anarchists, etc.
I can go back to being a good post-structuralist next year.
- Karl Marx - Wage Labor and Capital (this seems like a good prelude to Capital, since it lays out the argument that people often don't get to because of the dry and difficult early chapters)
- Slavoj Žižek - First as Tragedy, Then as Farce (not chronological at all, but I just read it and it's giving me some ideas about the limits of industrial democracy, especially in relation to collective bargaining, unionization, and shareholder proxy voting)
- Karl Marx - Capital (this will be informed by Harry Cleaver's Reading Capital Politically & Study Guide to Capital and David Harvey's The Limits to Capital as well as his podcast lectures).
- Karl Marx - The Poverty of Philosophy (I suppose this should be in conjunction with Proudhon's Philosophy of Poverty)
- Karl Marx - Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right
- Karl Marx - Contribution to a Critique of Political Economy
- Karl Marx - Critique of the Gotha Program
- Karl Marx - The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte
- General Rules of the International Working Men's Association
- Mikhail Bakunin - Statism and Anarchy
- Mikhail Bakunin - God and State
- Karl Marx - Conspectus of Bakunin's God and State
- Ann Robertson - The philosophical roots of the Marx-Bakunin conflict
- Post-Fordism and Social Form: A Marxist Debate on the Post-Fordist State - Bonefeld/Holloway, Eds.
- State and Capital: A Debate – Holloway/Picciotto, Eds.
- The State Debate - Clarke, Ed.
- Law and Marxism
- Rosa Luxemburg - Reform or Revolution
- Rosa Luxemburg - Organisational Questions of the Russian Revolution
- Rosa Luxemburg - The Mass Strike
- Rosa Luxemburg - Leninism or Marxism
- Eduard Bernstein - Evolutionary Socialism
- Karl Kautsky - The Economic Doctrines of Karl Marx
- Karl Kautsky - Thomas More and His Utopia
- Karl Kautsky - The Class Struggle
- V.I. Lenin - What is to be Done
- Alexandra Kollontai - The Worker's Opposition
- G.V. Plekhanov - Materialist Conception of History
- G.V. Plekhanov - Monist View of History
- Evgeny Pashukanis - General Theory of Law and Marxism
- Leon Trotsky - Results and Prospects
- Leon Trotsky - 1905
- Leon Trotsky - Terrorism and Communism
- Leon Trotsky - Platform of the Joint Opposition
- Leon Trotsky - The Third International After Lenin
- Leon Trotsky - The Permanent Revolution
- Leon Trotsky - The Revolution Betrayed
- Leon Trotsky - The Stalin School of Falsification
- Tony Cliff - Trotskyism after Trotsky
- Tony Cliff - The Nature of Stalinist Russia
- Tony Cliff - Rosa Luxemburg
- Ernest Mandel - The Marxist Case For Revolution Today
- Ernest Mandel - Trotsky's Ideas and the Soviet Union Today
- Ernest Mandel - Trotsky's Conception of Self-Organisation and the Vanguard
- Ernest Mandel - How to Make No Sense of Marx
- Ernest Mandel - Social Democracy and Social Movements
- Ernest Germain - In Defence of Leninism
- Ernest Mandel - Rosa Luxemburg and German Social Democracy
- Ernest Mandel - World Revolution Today
- Ernest Mandel - The Labor Theory of Value and Monopoly Capital
- Ernest Mandel - An Introduction to Marxist Economic Theory
- Ernest Germain - The Theory of State Capitalism
- Tom Novack - Understanding History
- György Lukács - What Is Orthodox Marxism
- György Lukács -History and Class Consciousness
- István Mészáros - Marginal Utility and Neoclassical Economics
- István Mészáros - Marx's Theory of Alienation
- Etienne Balibar - The Philosophy of Marx
- Etienne Balibar - Self-Criticism
- Etienne Balibar - On the Dictatorship of the Proletariat
- Anton Pannekoek - Workers Councils
- Anton Pannekoek - Party and Working Class
- Anton Pannekoek - General Remarks on the Question of Organisation
- Paul Mattick - Economic Crisis and Crisis Theory
- Paul Mattick - Bolshevism and Stalinism
- Cajo Brendel - Proletarian Spin-off of the Russian Revolution
- Cajo Brendel - Goodbye to the Unions! - A Controversy About Autonomous Class Struggle in Great Britiain
- GIK - Fundamental principles of communist production and distribution
- GIK - Origins of the Movement for Workers' Councils in Germany
- Syliva Pankhurst - Communism and its Tactics
- Sylvia Pankhurst - Communism vs. Reformers
- Herman Gorter - The Lessons of the March Action
- Herman Gorter - Why we need the Fourth Communist Workers' International
- Herman Gorter - Open Letter to Comrade Lenin
- Dave Graham - An Introduction to Left Communism
- Otto Ruhle - The Fight Against Fascism Begins With the Fight Against Bolshevism
- Otto Ruhle - The Revolution is not a Party Affair
- Paresh Chattopadhyay - On Some Aspects of the Dialectic of Labor
- Paresh Chattopadhyay -Value and Exploitation
- Paresh Chattopadhyay - Marx on Capital's Globalization
- Cyril Smith - Marx vs. Historical Materialism
- Cyril Smith - Meszaros on Lenin
- Cyril Smith - Marx's Critique of Political Philosophy
- Cyril Smith - Karl Marx and Human Self-Creation
- Karl Korsch - Marxism and Philosophy
- Karl Korsch - The Present State of the Problem of Marxism and Philosophy
- Karl Korsch - A Non-Dogmatic Approach to Marxism
- Hiroshi Uchida - Marx's Grundrisse and Hegel's Logic
- Karl Marx - Grundrisse (all the way down here because it's so heavily associated with Negri and the Italian autonomists)
- Antonio Negri - Marx Beyond Marx
- Antonio Negri - Goodbye Mr. Socialism
- Hardt & Negri - Empire
- Nick Dyer-Witheford - Cybermarx
- Nick Dyer-Witheford - Autonomist Marxism and the Information Society
- Nick Dyer-Witheford - Cognitive Capital Contested
- Selma James - The Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community
- Selma James - Sex, Race, and Class
- Midnight Notes - Darkness at Midnight
- Midnight Notes - Spatial Deconstruction in D.C.
- Midnight Notes - Promissory Notes
- Midnight Notes - Strange Victories
- Raniero Panzien - The Capitalist Use of Machinery
- Raniero Panzien - Surplus Value and Planning
- Mariarosa Dalla Costa - The Door to the Garden
- Sergio Bologna - Class Composition and the Theory of the Party at the Origins of the Workers' Council Movement
- Sergio Bologna -Nazism and the Working Class
- Mario Tronti - The Strategy of Refusal
- Mario Tronti -Social Capital
- Mario Tronti -Workers and Capital
- Aufheben Magazine - Decadence
- Harry Cleaver - Crisis Theory
- Harry Cleaver - The Chiapas Uprising
- Harry Cleaver - Kropotkin
- Harry Cleaver - On Schoolwork
- Paulo Virno - Between Disobedience and Exodus
- Maurizio Lazzarato - Possibilities in the Public Sphere
- Paulo Virno - Creating a New Public Sphere Without the State
- Adelino Zanini - Multitude and Working Class
- Adelino Zanini - Postfordist Lexicon
- Matteo Pasquinelli - War Porn War Punk
- Antonio Negri - Against Empire
- Antonio Negri - Approximation
- Antonio Negri - Empire and Multitude
- Antonio Negri - Strategies of Resistance
- Matteo Pasquinelli - Radical Machines Against Technoempire
- Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri - Marx's Mole is Dead
- Antonio Negri - Concept and Practice
- Alessandro Pandolfi - Are We all Schmittians
- Antonio Negri - Multitude and Metropolis
- Maurizio Lazzarato - Biopolitics-Bioeconomics
- Maurizio Lazzarato - Machines to Crystalize Time
- Maurizio Lazzarato - A Deafening Noise
- Paolo Virno - Republic of the Multitude
- Antonio Negri - Grammar of the Multitude
- Antonio Negri - Capitalist Domination and Working Class Sabotage
- CLR James - State Capitalism and World Revolution
- CLR James - Notes on Dialectics
- Raya Dunayevskaya - Socialism or Barbarism
- Raya Dunayevskaya - Women's Liberation, Then and Now
- Raya Dunayevskaya - The Uniqueness of Marxist Humanism
- Raya Dunayevskaya - A restatement of some fundamentals of Marxism against 'pseudo-Marxism'
- Paul Romano and Ria Stone - The American Worker
- Radical America 1-1
- Radical America 4-4
- Claude Lefort - What is Bureacracy
- Cornelius Castoriadis - On the Content of Socialism
- Cornelius Castoriadis - The Working Class and Organisation
- Cornelius Castoriadis - Modern Capitalisma nd Revolution
- Cornelius Castoriadis - From the Analysis of Bureacracy to Workers Management
- Socialisme Ou Barbarie - The Role of Bolshevik Ideology in the Birth of the Bureacracy
- Henri Simon - Some Thoughts on Organisation
- Henri Simon - From the Suburbs Riots to the Student Movement
- Henri Simon - The New Movement
- Henri Simon - The Refusal of Work
- Andy Anderson - Hungary '56
- Solidarity - Third Worldism or Socialism
- Solidarity - As We See It
- Amadeo Bordiga - The Story of our Origins
- Amadeo Bordiga - Is This the Time to Form Soviets
- Amadeo Bordiga - Towards the establishment of workers councils in Italy
- Amadeo Bordiga - Theses on the Role of the Communist Party in the Proletarian Revolution
- Gilles Dauve - When Insurrections Die
- Gilles Dauve - Eclipse and Re-emergence of the Communist Movement
- Jacques Carnatte - About the Revolution
- Jacques Carnatte - On Organization
- Louis Althusser - On Marxism
- Louis Althusser - How to Read Marx's Capital
- Louis Althusser - Notes on Lenin and Philosophy
- Louis Althusser - We Must Change in the Party
- The Prison Notebooks
- Max Horkheimer - Critique of Instrumental Reason
- Max Horkheimer - Eclipse of Reason
- Max Horkheimer - Traditional and Critical Theory
- Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno - Dialectic of Enlightenment
- Theodor Adorno - Hegel: Three Studies
- Theodor Adorno - Negaive Dialectics
- Theodor Adorno - On Pop Music
- Theodor Adorno - The Culture Industry
- Theodor Adorno - Culture Industry Reconsidered
- Jurgen Habermas - The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere
- Jurgen Habermas - Legitimation Crisis
- Jurgen Habermas - The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity
- Walter Benjamin - The Life of Students
- Walter Benjamin - The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
- Walter Benjamin - Critique of Violence
- Herbert Marcuse - Negations: Essays in Critical Theory
- Herbert Marcuse - Counterrevolution and Revolt
- Walter Benjamin - Illuminations
- Ernst Bloch - Hitler's Force
- Herbert Marcuse - One-Dimensional Man
- Herbert Marcuse - The Foundation of Historical Materialism
- Raoul Vaneigem - The Book of Pleasures
- Raoul Vaneigem - The Revolution of Everyday Life
- Guy Debord - Theses on the Situationist International and Its Time
- Guy Debord - Society of the Spectacle
- Guy Debord - Preliminaries Toward Defining a Unitary Revolutionary Program
- Guy Debord - Beneath the Idol, the Bureacrat
- Guy Debord & Gil J. Wolman - Pourquoi le lettrisme
- Guy Debord, Attila Kotanyi, & Raoul Vaneigem - Theses on the Paris Commune
- Situationist International - May 1968 Documents
- René Riesel - Preliminaries on Councils and Councilist Organization
- Mike Rooke - Marxism is Dead! Long Live Marxism
- Asger Jorn - Internationale Situationiste No. 1
- Gilles Dauve - Critique of the Situationist International
- Gilles Dauve - Intakes
- Massimo De Angelis - Value Struggle or Classs Struggle
- Massimo De Angelis - Marx's Theory of Primitive Accumulation
- Massimo De Angelis - The Zapatista's Voice
- Massimo De Angelis - Globalisation, Work, and Class
- John Zerzan - Organized Labor versus the Revolt Against Work
- William Cleaver - Wildcats in the Appalachian Coal Fields
- The Zerowork Collective - Introduction to Zerowork 1
- George Caffentzis - Throwing Away the Ladder
- Paolo Carpignano - US Class Composition in the 60s
- Ferruccio Gambino - A Critique of Fordism and the Reformist School
- Werner Bonefeld - The Permanence of Primitive Accumulation
- Werner Bonefeld - The Politics of Debt
- Werner Bonefeld - Labor, Capital, and Primitive Accumulation
- Werner Bonefeld - The Politics of Globalisation
- Werner Bonefeld - Social Constitution and the Form of the Capitalist State
- John Holloway - Change the World Without Taking Power
- John Holloway - Class Struggle is Assymetrical
- John Holloway - The Concept of Power and the Zapatistas
- Daniel Deleon - Reform or Revolution
- Daniel Deleon - The Burning Question of Trade Unionism
- Daniel Deleon - What Means This Strike
- Hal Draper - Marx on Democratic Forms of Government
- Hal Draper - The Myth of Lenin's Revolutionary Defeatism
- Hal Draper - The Two Souls of Socialism
- Hal Draper - Marxism and Trade Unions
- Hegemony and Socialist Strategy
- The Shock Doctrine (I don't know where to put this, but I want to read it)
- Jacques Lacan - Écrits
- Jacques Lacan - Various Seminars
- Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari - Capitalism and Schizophrenia volumes
- Slavoj Žižek - Revolution at the Gates
- Slavoj Žižek - In Defense of Lost Causes
- Slavoj Žižek - Violence
- Alain Badiou - Being and Event
- Alain Badiou - Metapolitics
In a sense, it's kind of liberating. I don't have to worry about being a respectable lawyer. I don't even have to be a lawyer. Extinction might have kept me in law school just like a hapless pledge who keeps pursuing frat membership just so the week of humiliation he has already received will not be in vain, but I don't need to let that control my life. Sure, I need a job to pay soaring medical bills, avoid homelessness, and eat, but the death cult of the law doesn't have to my way of doing that (especially if the law doesn't want me).
So I think I'm going to try to focus on two things that I've neglected: my interests in philosophy and creative writing. I think I can use this space to post some of my attempts at writing fiction about new religious movement eschatology and exploring the ins and outs of libertarian Marxism and psychoanalysis that I thought I didn't have time to think about over the past two years because I was neck-deep in the drivel that I tried to pass off as legal writing.
We'll see. A plan might be forthcoming.