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Dawns false and true

By Owen Paine on Thursday March 17, 2011 03:49 PM

"There is no denying that bourgeois society has for the second time experienced its 16th century, a 16th century which, I hope, will sound its death knell just as the first ushered it into the world. The proper task of bourgeois society is the creation of the world market, at least in outline, and of the production based on that market.

Since the world is round, the colonisation of California and Australia and the opening up of China and Japan would seem to have completed this process.

For us, the difficult question is this: on the Continent revolution is imminent and will, moreover, instantly assume a socialist character. Will it not necessarily be crushed in this little corner of the earth, since the movement of bourgeois society is still, in the ascendant over a far greater area?"

-- Karl M to Fred, October 8, 1858

Not often enough pondered, this passage -- at least for one of my kidney. A few fragmentary notes to start a chat round here (perhaps):

1) seems bourgeois society has had at least one more 16th century, eh? By which of course I mean the post-WWII decolonization and subsequent intensified globalization.

2) The word "crushed" has a nice ring. I wonder what sort of mechanics the evil Doctor had in outline in his head as he penned that bit?

3) How often in the past 150 years have good and bright spirits had something like this in their brain's gut: "revolution is imminent and will, moreover, instantly assume a socialist character" -- about some advanced "little corner of the earth "?

4) It still appears to be the case that "the movement of bourgeois society is still, in the ascendant over a far greater area," and if one stares long enough at Chindia alone, the solar god of capital does seem exceeding bright.

Lesson for today: despite these endless orbits of darkness, Clio every once in a blue moon of blue moons likes to pull off a fast quake-like jerk from deepest midnight to a new dawn. We just had one in the Arab world, eh?

Comments (16)

1) They're still raking in the coins here in Ay-May-Ree-Kay, even if the % of America so doing is shrinking -- they've spread the last decade's profits widely enough that a lot of folks still are happy, fat, flush and lording those states of existence over the rest of us at every chance. Lots of BMWs, Audis, Hummers moving into my town. Lots of McMansions being built.

2) The Kids in the Hall "head crusher" skit.

3) Constantly. A lot of people forget to take the lessons of 150 years ago and make them current. Most people seem to do this. 99% of them.

4) Yeah that is what I was saying in (1) and it's why I say a lot more soul-crushing needs to happen in order to wake the Great American Consumers from their New Toy slumbers.


I take it you're being ironic about the "fast quake-like jerk". Or did you mean something that knocks the glasses off the shelf and makes the chandelier sway, and leaves everyone a little edgy for an hour?

Capital cannot escape its impending run in with the second law. Ascendant or not, that second law won't budge. The invisible hand is smoke, and its boosters will prattle on about it long after the machinery it explains has rusted. But that machinery, and the people who trail along in its wake and call that running it?

They're running headlong into an impact.

Too bad the rest of us our tied to their legs.


Glad you're so certain that the dead-end of capitalism is revolution. I'd be really pissed if it turned out to be fascism, where the allure of profit is replaced by the allure of control.

What Jack said. Plus:
In my estimation, the second paragraph suffers from a poor (direct) translation. The result is a loss of irony. It should read: Since the world has been round...


"Da die Welt rund ist." Am I missing some subtlety?

Fascism IS capitalism IS fascism.

Fascism doesn't require jackboots asking for your papers and disappearing you if you don't show them.

It requires only government being the handmaiden of business, putting business before personal.

Which is what capitalism is all about.

I disagree with senecal.

Of course the theorybound booktied ivorytowerfettered will hairsplit on what fascism is or isn't. I'm talking about how it looks from where I stand in the system.

Not how it looks, say, to Chomsky.

PS: the post immediately above is a fleshing-out of (3) in my first post. Whatever capitalism was to Glossy Karl, that's not what it is today. Whatever fascism was during Mussolini's era, that's not what it is today. Move with the times, don't stay in an ivory tower for a lifetime.


I think davidly's native tongue is German. Play on words sort of thing, what he's doing.


"Fascism IS capitalism IS fascism.

Fascism doesn't require jackboots asking for your papers and disappearing you if you don't show them.

It requires only government being the handmaiden of business, putting business before personal.

Which is what capitalism is all about."

Yep, agree. Well put. We're getting into hairsplitting territory here. Random examples ---- Bradley Manning, anyone living under the jackboot in the inner city, anyone hanging upside down in one of of our detention centers (like our local Gitmo here on Atlantic Ave), anyone with the name Mahmoud, Ahmed, anyone getting wiretapped, etc etc etc etc etc etc ---- demonstrate that the academically abstract is unfolding before our eyes, with flag & Bible.


Fascism IS capitalism IS fascism.

Sounds like we have some fans of Jewish Poker around.

Speaking of things Jewish, perhaps one needs to have one's Talmudic scholarship hat on to make esoteric sense of a seemingly run of the mill letter from "the Master" to "the General".

No, that's my bad. I tried too lazily to find the original text. I'd assumed that it had been translated from "Seit die Welt rund ist..." and that the translator failed to take the German non-use of the Present Perfect in such cases into consideration and translated it directly.

In being so kind as to provide the original "Da...", Mr. Smith has clarified that it is since=because. Sorry.

I wouldn't know Jewish Poker. I would know a response that shows missing the point and using a put-down to recover, however. How about manning up and walking down the street, instead of doing a drive-by?


Oxy: if it's "splitting hairs" to say that we are not yet living under fascism (totalitarianism might be a better word), it's inflating hairs to say that capitalism IS fascism. The issue is what does either view tell you about what to do in the present?

I was responding to Crow, who seemed to be taking the traditional Marxian view that capitalism is marching inexorably to its doom. I think the point of the original post was that that's been a panacea for leftists for a long time.



Thanks for the Jewish Poker link. Rosen's comment is the best, most succinct description of what's wrong with continental philosophy/"Theory" that I have ever read. It sums up my own opinion better than I could myself.


I wasn't arguing a Marxian view of anything. I'm just suggesting that the second law of thermodynamics is standing in the way of the capitalist domination of an non-expanding closed system, and when capitalist expansion comes into contact with the inexorability of the second law, it won't be fund managers who walk away with a win.

I do agree with Marx that there's nothing inevitable about the outcome of capitalist concentration of wealth. The ruination of all is certainly possible, whether you want to call that fascism or collapse.

But, as for marking a traditional Marxian claim: didn't do it. Made an ecological and physical one.


Heh. I should have finished my last sentence with a question mark, not a period.

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