What we're about

This is a group for anyone, regardless of their beliefs, who is interested in politics, economics, Marxist or Marxist-influenced philosophy, feminist theory, societal change, social and economic history and the history of ideas. You don't have to be a partisan for any particular philosophy to participate, but you do have to be willing to engage with the material critically and participate in discussions with an open mind. We meet for an assigned text or set of texts at least once a month, and have frequent informal coffee meetups as well.

We will sample ideas widely, reading some core Marxist thinkers as well as numerous others from diverse backgrounds and strands of critical thought. Our goal is to expand the thinking of every participant and stimulate vigorous, if structured and respectful, debate on serious topics.

Upcoming events (2)

Reading Capital Week 2: Chapter I, 'Commodities', Sections 1 and 2

Doctoral School, SOAS University of London

Welcome to week two! Last time, we collectively made some decisions about how to approach Capital and our optional companion work, Michael Heinrich's Introduction to Capital. So if you missed the the first meetup, don't worry: this second meeting is where we'll actually start discussing the assigned portions of Capital. Last week was just us getting to know each other and planning next steps. For this meeting, please read as much as you can from Sections 1 and 2 of the first Chapter of Capital, 'Commodities'. We'll discuss what we think Marx is trying to say with this portion of the text, and whether or not we think he's right. We'll also read through the really important bits together. Everyone will have the chance to share their views, even if you just have questions. Section 1 is sub-titled "The Two Factors of a Commodity: Use-Value and Value". Section 2 is sub-titled "The Two-Fold Character of the Labour Embodied in Commodities". Find it here or wherever else works for you: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch01.htm#S1 These sections deal with the basic building blocks of the capitalist mode of production according to Marx: the different 'forms' of 'value'. Value for Marx is far more complicated than the liberal economists would have you believe. As we move through Capital, we'll see how social relations under capitalism are fundamentally conditioned by value in its various forms. In practical terms, this means that we live our lives in an endless loop of buying and selling, including the sale of our own time and energy: always at work to create value for someone or something else, but never to create for ourselves. Everything in Marxism rests on understanding the concept of value, which illustrates how capitalism functions, how it is different from previous historical periods, and how it may eventually come to an end. This is therefore an extremely important chapter, and one which has been endlessly debated by theorists and historians of philosophy. Note: in addition to Sections 1 and 2 of Capital Chapter I, it's worth having a look at Chapter 2 of Michael Heinrich's introduction to Capital. This is very useful for understanding the different debates Marxists and other writers have had about what Marx is doing with Capital and especially in this very important chapter, chapter 1. Heinrich's work is available via Monthly Review Press, on Amazon, Abebooks, and in PDF or Mobi form via Libcom. https://monthlyreview.org/product/an_introduction_to_the_three_volumes_of_karl_marxs_capital/ https://libcom.org/library/introduction-three-volumes-karl-marxs-capital -- Doors will be open from 6:30 PM, so find us inside any time around then. Just sign in and ask the receptionist to point you in the right direction, or follow the signs. Looking forward to seeing folks there! -- ABOUT 'CAPITAL IN DARK TIMES': Times are changing, but in many ways, we live in a world less different from Karl Marx’s than many would like you to believe. Over a century after Marx published his most famous work, Capital, the world still faces war, poverty, exploitation, and cruelty; all justified by interlocking ideologies of bigotry and oppression. What’s new about our time is that this is where it ends: either the world transitions to socialism, or it gurantees ecological and social catastrophe. Much of the world capitalism built may already be beyond saving. Marx’s Capital shows us why, and possibly where to go from here. This year, we’re reading Capital front cover to back. Each meeting is open to everyone, no matter if it’s your first time or your fiftieth.

Radical Films: 'Children of Men' by Alfonso Cuarón

Alfonso Cuarón's 2006 classic, Children of Men, has become a cultural touchstone for the left. It vividly - even terrifyingly - portrays a world gone to hell with the kind of realism and humanity that stays with you long after your first viewing. Not for nothing have cultural critics like the late Mark Fisher used Children of Men as an example of the power of film to shape how we imagine the future of our planet and of capitalism. Set in a near-future dystopian Britain, it portrays a world in which all women have mysteriously become infertile and childbirth has become impossible. With the future prospects of the human race cut off, society descends on the one hand into chaos and on the other into authoritarian, racist state terrorism. Clive Owen's lead character has to navigate this world and salvage some kind of hope for the future of the human spirit. Since the film came out, the intensification of climate change and the rise of violent nationalism have only made its themes more resonant. The task of the left, of course, is to imagine solutions to the tasks set by history, and not to wallow in despair. But that does not make this masterfully-crafted piece of art any less enjoyable or important. Children of Men can be read as a depressing film, but it can just as easily be read as a useful warning of what might lie in wait for humanity if its most progressive and passionate fail to come together and act. Doors will open at around 7:00, and the screening will begin at 7:15. Snacks and non-alcoholic drinks will be available free of charge (though don't expect a feast!). Those so inclined will be heading to the pub downstairs after the screening for a pint and some chat. Tickets are free. Hope to see you there!

Past events (36)

Reading Capital Week I: Setting the Scene

Doctoral School, SOAS University of London

Photos (47)