There are so many consistent threads that run through Marx Beyond Marx that I am reluctant to pick up on one of them out of concern that the some further point elaborates or contradicts or answers some question that I may bring up. Of the Marxists texts that we have read, Negri’s seems to be the most biblical—the most easily misinterpreted by close reading. Then again, if he is following the dialectical mode, then the particular and the general should be reflective of one another. But enough introductory fluff, I am interested specifically in Negri’s discussion of crisis in pages 26 and 27.
One of the most memorable Humanities on the Edge lectures was Joshua Clover, at least for my money. I don’t really have a problem with the concept of tearing shit up to prove a point. I, myself, have just recently been curious about how cathartic it might be to turn over some cars and set things on fire in Mississippi. After all, the most entertaining parts of many movies are the bar fights. But just like real life, I am mindful that the bar is typically innocent, a distraction from the real action, the real villain, and the real problem.
Specifically, Negri explains that “crisis … does no come from the imperfection of circulation in a regime of equivalence, and it cannot be corrected by a reform of circulation in a regime of equivalence” (26). The selling of one’s labor for the production or surplus value is an exchange of equivalencies. (I got this wrong with my first encounter with Capital.) Since Clover’s visit, I have been thinking about the role of crisis. As you all know (and may be getting tired of), I come from a community that was for a long time perpetually pissed off. It is worth noting that many seem to be less pissed off now that we are allowed to be more equally productive in the traditionally married sense; our hostility proved to be easily co-opted. This result is due to the fact that hostility, anger, and rage are not rational states—rationality being the key to real transformation. By the end of Marx Beyond Marx, Negri addresses, among other things, the impetus for and paradigms of transformation. Moments of crisis (burning cars, etc.) frequently demand the most expedient solution, which the dominant mode (capitalism) is more than happy to supply: “Capital seeks the development of reformism, which provides it with protections against critiques from the worker’s side” (Negri 26).
There is a time and place to risk violence to oneself, the logical risk associated with initiating violence. But if it is service to the cause against which one is opposed, then it is a critical failure of action.
BONUS CONTENT: I was listening to conservative Christian radio this weekend (don’t ask) when I came across the Phyllis Schlafly radio show. I was so inspired by what I heard that I tracked down a copy online. If you can spare five minutes (or if your blood pressure is at risk of falling dangerously low) then I recommend that you listen from minute 12:00 to minute 17:00. These five minutes touch on many, many things we have covered this semester. It’s amazing: