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Mondays 6.30-9.30 PM
Goldsmiths College, University of London
Room 257, Richard Hoggart Building, Lewisham Way, New Cross

With Speakers (in order): 

Rex Dunn (Writer)
Zhoe Granger (Director, Arcadia Missa) 
Peter Osborne (Professor Of Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University) 

Panel description: 

If it is true that the 'commodity-structure' (Lukács) is the defining feature of modern capitalism down through the present, then it stands to reason that it has no less impacted the way art is produced, consumed, circulated, and exchanged. This shift in art's character happened both objectively (e.g., as in an article produced for exchange on the market), and subjectively (i.e., as a kind of experience and form of expression for the social and individual body). However, art's relationship to its status as a commodity is an ambivalent one: Art has become at once more free from past forms of domination, but its freedom is constrained when subject to the dynamics of capital. Art as a commodity is both its cure and poison, and has evolved into a social problem for its practice. Since becoming aware of this problem, artists, philosophers, curators, and critics have taken various approaches in seeking to overcome it.

How has art under a capitalist society changed from its pre-capitalist practices? What is the commodity form, and what is art's relationship to its logic? Must art seek emancipation from the commodity form, or is it at home in it? In what sense does art take part in the Left and emancipatory politics, if at all? By asking these questions, this panel seeks to reinvestigate art's relationship to the commodity form, and make intelligible how this problematic relationship still sticks with us today.

Our preliminary readings have four weeks on radical bourgeois philosophy (Rousseau, Hegel, Nietzsche), three weeks on the 1960's New Left (neo-Marxism, gender and sexuality, anti-black racism in the US) and one week on 'precursors' to the Frankfurt School (Reich and Kracauer). The primary reading group lasts eleven weeks and focuses on two questions: What is the left, and what is Marxism?

Meeting Mondays, 6pm

Goldsmiths College, Richard Hoggart Building, Room 257

required / + recommended reading


Marx readings pp. from Robert C. Tucker, ed., Marx-Engels Reader (Norton 2nd ed., 1978)


Recommended background readings

+ Edmund Wilson, To the Finland Station: A Study in the Writing and Acting of History (1940), Part II. Ch. 12–16 (from "Marx and Engels go back to writing history" to "Karl Marx dies at his desk")
+ James Joll, The Second International 1889–1914 (1966)


Week 1: 20th June

+ Karl Korsch, "The Marxism of the First International" (1924)
• Karl Marx, Inaugural address to the First International (1864), pp. 512–519
• Ferdinand Lassalle, Open letter to the German workers’ movement (1863)
• Mikhail Bakunin, A Critique of the German Social-Democratic Program (1870)
Bakunin, Marxism, Freedom and the State (1872)


Week 2: 27th June

+ Korsch, Introduction to Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme (1922)
Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme, pp. 525–541
Marx, Programme of the Parti Ouvrier (1880)
• Karl Kautsky, The Class Struggle (1892)


Week 3: 4th July

Kautsky,The Social Revolution (1902)


Week 4: 11th July

• Peter Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread, especially Chapters 3, 11 and 12 (1906)
Kropotkin, Anarchist Communism (1909)


Week 5: 18th July

Kautsky, The Road to Power (1909)

 

 

How has art under a capitalist society changed from its pre-capitalist practices? What is the commodity form, and what is art's relationship to its logic? Must art seek emancipation from the commodity form, or is it at home in it? In what sense does art take part in the Left and emancipatory politics, if at all? By asking these questions, this panel seeks to reinvestigate art's relationship to the commodity form, and make intelligible how this problematic relationship still sticks with us today.