From Revolutions to Resurrections: A Prediction on the Matrix 4

After seeing the latest Matrix 4 trailer that begins with “We’re all caught in these strange repeating loops”, I was struck by the fear that the latest entry in this movie series would follow the current trend of “time paradox” science-fiction movies: I’m thinking of the Interstellars, Arrivals and Dunes of recent times. All of these suffer from a brilliant premise that peters out into a “it couldn’t have happened any other way” scenario.

Could the Matrix 4 also fall into this cliché and, more importantly, would that go against what the movies have until now achieved? To answer this question, I will first look at Interstellar, Arrival and Dune as symptoms of contemporary science-fiction cinema; I will also complement this with a small commentary on Westworld and I will finally summarize the findings of my previous analysis of the trilogy. In doing so, I hope to give myself and others interested in the Matrix 4 a Marxian-inspired guideline for when the movie comes out next week.

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Chapter 1: The Commodity

After our study of the Matrix trilogy, we outlined a plan on how to approach Marx’s behemoth, Capital. After our study of the Soviet system, we argued why the study of Marx’s crowning work might be particularly interesting, especially concerning the relation between democracy and exploitation.

Today, we take a look at Chapter 1 (except the fetishism sub-section) and try to faithfully summarize its contents. Our challenge is to do it under the 1000-word mark. Here we go.

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Thomas Piketty, Revenant of Feuerbach?

I am in the process of going through Piketty’s newest book, Capital and Ideology. While I am very admiring of Piketty’s decision to refuse the Legion of Honour, there is a  profound contradiction between the data that Piketty presents in his two books and their implicit implications, and the explicit meaning he himself has given to the data. Were we living in a kind of censorship like the one attributed to Eastern European communism, I would simply assume that it is a stratagem to outplay the censors; fortunately or not, we are not in that situation, which begs the question: why would the title and data of both books be implicitly reminiscent of Marx’s own work (Capital), yet reject so explicitly the basic tenets of Marxian theory?

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The Fall of the Berlin Wall and of the GDR, 30 Years Later: What to Celebrate?

People-East-wall-gathering-West-Berlin-Wall-November-10-1989

Credits: Encyclopaedia Britannica.

That’s the Berlin Wall, on November 10th, 1989. A day before, the East German government had announced, in an infamous press conference, that all Eastern citizens were to be granted passage towards the West, effective immediately. This caused quite a commotion in both East and West Berlin, and eventually, soldiers at the checkpoints gave in and the crowds could move as they pleased.

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The Spectre of Contradiction

Who creates whom?

Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam.

RECAP: As we approach the opening of the (iron?) curtain to Marx’s Capital, we will set the stage by touching upon the work of those that Marx refers to in his magnum opus. Not only should excerpts of related thinkers help show how Capital is expected to be a step up from these, but they should also give a clue as to the power of Capital in highlighting with awesome lucidity the problematic nature of today’s capitalist social relations.

Today, we get closer to the examination of Marx’s Capital because, until now, we’ve presented elements of decor which were rather static: beginning with the worker’s desire, we zoomed out from his psyche and considered the existence of his “human nature”, then zoomed out once again until we saw chains binding him to the figure of the capitalist. In this post, we consider the dynamism of the relation between these two actors, with the help of Johann Heinrich von Thünen (1783-1850):

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The Ethics of Golden Shackles

Golden-shackles

Credits: sallyedelsteincollage.com

RECAP: As we approach the opening of the (iron?) curtain to Marx’s Capital, we will set the stage by touching upon the work of those that Marx refers to in his magnum opus. Not only should excerpts of related thinkers help show how Capital is expected to be a step up from these, but they should also give a clue as to the power of Capital in highlighting with awesome lucidity the problematic nature of today’s capitalist social relations.

Having first focussed on the importance of desire in the status of the working class, we then touched upon the notion that, because of human nature, workers would be comfortable in being dependent upon capitalists for their subsistence. Today, I want to come back to this notion of golden shackles, as it is described by Marx himself:

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Does Capital Feed off of Human Nature?

Arbeit_schändet_-_Georg_Scholz

By Georg Scholz. Source: Wikipedia.

RECAP: As we approach the opening of the (iron?) curtain to Marx’s Capital, we will set the stage by touching upon the work of those that Marx refers to in his magnum opus. Not only should excerpts of related thinkers help show how Capital is expected to be a step up from these, but they should also give a clue as to the power of Capital in highlighting with awesome lucidity the problematic nature of today’s capitalist social relations.

We first presented the status of the worker, focussing on the notion of desire and the role it plays in making a “good society”. In our second element of decor, F.M. Eden curtly describes human nature and gives some advice:

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Should Workers Be Entitled to Yachts?

Poor-man-yacht

Credits: Gizmodo and Chicago Tribune.

The Marxian Matrix is not dead! After a long and difficult hiatus in which we grappled as much with Marx’s Capital as with present-day capitalist constraints, the time has come to set the stage of our engagement with Capital Vol. 1 by touching upon the works of those that Marx refers to in his magnum opus.

Not only should excerpts of related thinkers help show how Capital can be a step up from these, but they should also give a clue as to the power of Capital in highlighting with awesome lucidity the problematic nature of today’s capitalist social relations.

In our first element of decor, Bernard Mandeville about the status of the worker:

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All Power to the Soviets: Aftermath and Reflections

berlin_brandenburg-wall

Berlin Wall. Credits: Googlesightseeing.com

In 1917, the world sees not only the rebirth of the soviet institution, but the birth of the Soviet State. Last time, we finished our story by showing how the principles guiding the birth of the Soviet State proved to be problematic, and we promised we would delve not only into the solutions devised for these problems, but also into reflections on the significance of the soviet as a social institution whose power rendered possible three revolutions, with variable results, in the span of little more than a decade.

On July 10th, 1918, when the first Soviet state constitution is proclaimed, we already see a change from the ideal that has guided the Bolsheviks in their fight to take power: all power to the soviets. Let’s make no mistake and remember that they promised peace, bread and land and, in the initial movement, these three promises were kept. But faced with considerable opposition both from its national constituents (tsarist nationalists, the Orthodox Church, Cossacks, moderate social-democrats) and from foreign armed forces (England, France, Czechoslovakia, Japan and the USA all send foreign troops against the Bolsheviks), the political leadership will institute legislation to maintain its grip on power.

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All Power to the Soviets: 1917 Rebirth

Kustodiev_The-Bolshevik-1920

B. Kustodiev’s 1920 “The Bolshevik”. Credits to UK Royal Academy of Arts.

Last time, we explored Russia’s 1905 crisis and revolution, specifically focusing on its specificity: the power of the Petrograd soviet. We ended by saying that social revolt had calmed for multiple reasons, the most important of which was the cancelling of the annual redemptive payments from the 1861 reform and the excellent harvests of 1908-1909. This time, we will delve into the heart of the Beast: Russia, 1917, and the rebirth of the institution that will define the 20th century.

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