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


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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All Power to the Soviets: Aftermath and Reflections


Berlin Wall. Credits:

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: Context


Petrograd/Leningrad/St. Petersburg. Credits:

Previously, as we were moving on from the Matrix series, I said that the way to move forward would be to study Marx’s magnum opus, Capital. The reason I gave was that we had gotten to Marx through a few cherry-picked quotations, but that now we needed to have a systematic understanding of him.

(I also said that posts would be getting shorter, and this doesn’t seem to be the case for now.)

As time has passed, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is an insufficient reason. We should have a concrete reason to study Marx, we should have a problem to propel us through his very dense and complex system of concepts and theories. In my Beginnings post, I hint at why I like Marx and why I’ve decided to dedicate time to this blog, but it stays on the feelings level.

So let’s go to the reasons level.

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Being friends with Christians


Credits: National Gallery of Art.

The other day, I came upon an article written by a self-appointed Christian, courtesy of the WordPress Reader, not too long and well organized, which ends on the recommendation of two films that “will equip you to do what you can where you are to combat Communism and Socialism”.

This made feel a bit queasy because I know a lot of people out there who are Christians and they’re usually not so fast to call to “combat” (not sure how violent this is). There’s lots of violent people out there with different “world views” though, communists included, so let’s leave this aside.

What bakes my noodle more is how to deal with this.

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Matrix analysis (1): Battery

Credits and copyright: Warner Bros.

Picture credits and copyright: Warner Bros.

This publication is called the Marxian Matrix and I thought it would be a great idea that we start by a precise analysis of the Wachowskis’ Matrix. After watching the movies again for the purposes of this analysis, I have come to believe that it is not only a great idea, but an indispensable stop on the path of our inquiry into the present structure of social relations. This first part and the next three that follow are, as it were, arguments for this indispensability.

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