Wednesday, April 18, 2012
First & Third Wednesdays, March & April
@Chicago Public Library
Harold Washington Library Center
400 South State St. Chicago IL
Progressivechange in the United States is severely hampered owing both to the failure ofthe left to project an alternative to capitalism and to the myths projected bythe right regarding the nature of capitalism. On the other hand, Karl Marxprojected an alternative socioeconomic system that comes into view in hiswritings in significant part in and through exploding the myths aboutcapitalism. This series of five classes will explore the myths of capitalismthrough discussions of selected writings of Marx, and others.
Readings are available online or from U.S.M.H. Online readings are available from U.S.M.H inpdf format for e-readers etc.
Sponsoredby the U.S. Marxist-Humanists
March 7th - Myth #1: Capitalism is the Economic Systemmost in Accord with Human Nature
Contradictoryconcepts of human nature abound in the culture of capitalism. Human nature is saidto be fundamentally greedy and selfish, or, contrariwise, cast in an image ofperfection, or both. These concepts are used to justify social and economicpolicies that promote and protect capitalism, but this can only work if theirhistorical origin in capitalism itself is obscured. This class will explore theconcepts of human nature extant in capitalist societies and counterpose them toconcepts drawn from the Marxist-Humanist tradition. The myth that capitalism isreflective of human nature will be exploded in a discussion of the followingreadings:
Erich Fromm, Marx’sConcept of Man, pp. 24-43, “The Nature of Man“
Karl Marx, Grundrisse,”Introduction,” pp. 84-110
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan,Chapter 13: “Of the Natural Conditions of Mankind as concerning their Felicityand Misery“ and Chapter 17: “Of the Causes, Generation, and Definition of Commonwealth“
Karl Marx, “Theses on Feuerbach“
Leading the discussion: Marilyn Nissim-Sabat, author, Neither Victim nor Survivor: Thinking Toward a New Humanity
March 21st – Myth #2: Democracyis Compatible with Capitalism.
Therhetoric of the candidates for the Republican nomination for president of theUS, as well as their opponents in the Democratic Party, makes it unequivocallyclear that for them, and probably for the majority of Americans, capitalism isentirely conflated with ‘democracy.’ That is, the notion of the ‘free market,’value production, and the drive to accumulate capital for its own sake havebeen superimposed on the meaning of democracy as a political system as if tosay that only the economic system known as capitalism can facilitate democracy.This myth will be exploded in discussion of the following readings:
Karl Marx, “The Communist Manifesto“
Karl Marx, “Address to the Communist League ofMarch, 1850“
Raya Dunayevskaya, Marxismand Freedom, Chapter VI, The Paris Commune Deepens the content of Capital, pp. 92-102.
Raya Dunayevskaya, RosaLuxemburg, Women’s Liberation and Marx’s Philosophy of Revolution: Marx’sTheory of Permanent Revolution.” 1843-83, pp. 158-163.
Leading the discussion: Anton Evelynov, student activist
April 4th - Myth #3:State Forms of ‘Socialism’ are Fundamentally Different from Capitalism
Proponentsof capitalism, as well as many post-Marx Marxists, have attempted to identify “socialism”or “communism” with state control of the economy and a centralizedstate. However, the Soviet Union as well as “Communist China” and theEuropean welfare state represent not so much a departure from capitalism as arealization of it. This class will explore whether there is an alternative toeither reducing a new society to state control of the economy, on one hand, orrefraining from the need to seize state power as part of a revolutionarytransformation, on the other. The myths regarding state forms of capitalismwill be exploded in a discussion of the following readings:
Raya Dunayevskaya, Marxismand Freedom, Chapter IV, “Worker, Intellectual, and the State, “pp. 69-77.
Raya Dunayevskaya, State Capitalism and Marx’s Humanism “Lenin vs Bukharin” pp. 10-18.
“Build It Now“: An Interview with Michael A.Lebowitz
John Holloway, Changethe World without Seizing State Power, Chapter 2, “Beyond the State?“pp. 11-18.
Leading the discussion: Ali Reza, Iranian activist and member of Iranian LeftAlliance Abroad.
April 18th - Myth #4: There is No Alternative to Capitalism
Proponentsof capitalism as well as many critics of it have maintained that it isimpossible to overcome such phenomena as commodity production, exchange value,alienated labor, and the existence of classes. This stance has within it all ofthe myths of capitalism, i.e., that capitalism reflects and honors ‘humannature’; that it is a form of democratic practice; and that it prevents thedevelopment of state control of the economy. It has also been claimed by manyon the left that any effort to spell out the content of a new, post-capitalistsociety is at best useless and at worst harmful. The myth that there is noalternative to capitalism will be exploded in discussion of the followingreadings:
Karl Marx, Critique of the Gotha Program .
Raya Dunayevskaya, ThePower of Negativity, “Presentation on the Dialectics of Organizationand Philosophy, ” pp. 3-14.
Leading thediscussion: Peter Hudis, author of Marx’sConcept of the Alternative to Capitalism
Wednesday May 2nd
MayDay Celebration and discussion
U.S. Marxist Humanists would like toinvite all participants in this class to continue the discussion in honor ofMay Day in a convivial setting, with food and drink. Venue to be announced
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