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Reading Notes

ENGL 308

Table of contents
  1. The Communist Manifesto, Marx & Engels
  2. “Theses Concerning Feuerbach”, Marx
  3. “Bartleby, The Scrivener: A Story of Wall-street”, Melville
  4. “The Ideological Tensions of Capitlaism: Universalism versus Racism and Sexism”, Wallerstein
  5. “Class Conflict in the Capitalist World-Economy”, Wallerstein
  6. “What is Owed”, Hannah-Jones
  7. “Racial Capitalism”, Melamed
  8. Sorry to Bother You, Boots
  9. “Wages Against Housework”, Federici
  10. “Why Sexuality is Work”, Federici
  11. “The Dialectics of Still Life: Murder, Women, and Disposability”, Wright
  12. “Bounded Authenticity and the Commerce of Sex”, Bernstein
  13. “Economies of Emotion, Familiarity, Fantasy, and Desire”, Hoang
  14. “Bloodchild”, Butler
  15. “The Fetishism of the Commodity and its Secret”
  16. “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses (Notes towards an Investigation”, Althusser
    1. Infrastructure and Superstructure
    2. The Essentials of the Marxist Theory of the State
  17. An Example: The Christian Religious Ideology
  18. “A Letter on Art”, Louis Althusser
  19. Excerpts from Keywords, Williams
  20. Chapters from Marxism and Literature, Williams
  21. Parasite, Bong Joon-Ho dir.

The Communist Manifesto, Marx & Engels


  • Marx & Engels wrote The Communist Manifesto at ages 29 and 27; the work was published in February of 1848.
  • Marx studied at the University of Berlin and took to the teachings of Hegel’s master-slave dialectic.
  • Progress through conflict.
  • Marx later rejected the Young Hegelians for being insufficiently materialist and realist.
  • Marx moved later into Paris. Marx considered himself to be a communist.
    • Socialism was considered to be more of a pacifist term (associations - Utopian schemes, idyllic dreams)
    • Communism - more of a militant word, revolutionary abolition of private property.
  • Marx: “philosophers have hitherto merely interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.”
  • Manifesto was much ahead of its own time; a combination of German idealist philosophy, French socialist thougth, adn british classical economics.
  • Four sections:
    1. Summarize political aspects of the materialist understanding of history. The unique age is characterized by antagonissm between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.
    2. Marx and Engels explain that communists were not opposed to other working-class parties. Then, Marx & Engels deal with four common objections to communism.
    3. Mark out a distinctive doctrinal position for the Communist League by exposiing deficiencies of rival socialisms: the reactionary (Christian socialism, feudal socialism, the aristocracy), the bourgeois, the utopian.
    4. Deal with the attitude of communists to various opposition parties. A bit hastily written.
  • Marx and Engels projected future tendencies they saw at work in the present.


  • The spectre of Communism. Old Europe has come together to hunt out the spectre.
  • Communism is already acknowledged to be a power; communists should publish their views, aims, tendencies.

1. Bourgeois and Proletarians

  • The history of all existing society is the history of class struggles.
  • The Hegelian dialectic: freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, oppressor and oppressed.
  • The epoch of the bourgeoisie: class antagonisms have simplified into two great plants, the Bourgeoisie and the Proletariat.
  • The manufacturing system has replaced the feudal or guild organization of industry.
  • The modern bourgeoisie is itself a long course of development, revolutions in production and exchange.
  • The modern state is a committee for managing the affairs of the bourgeoisie.
  • The bourgeoisie has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, and idyllic relationships whenever it has gotten the upper hand.
    • Resolved personal worth into exchange value
    • The single freedom of Free Trade over all other freedoms
    • Every occupation is a wage-laborer.
    • The family is a relationship between money.
  • The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, the relations of production, and the relations of society.
    • Conservation of old modes was the first condition of existence.
  • The bourgeois epoch - constant revolutionizing of production.

All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.

  • The need of a constantly expanding market chases the bourgeoisie over the globe. It must be everywhere.
  • Exploitation of the world - intercourse in every direction, universal interdependence.
  • Control of production \(\to\) intellectual production. Intellectual creations of individual nations become common property.
  • World literature arises, narrow-mindedness becomes more impossible.
  • The bourgeoisie facilitate the transofmration of even the most barbarian nations into civilized ones.
  • Countries are subject to the rule of towns.
  • Doing more away with scattered p’opulations - populations are agglomerated, production is centralized.
  • The bourgeoisie has barely ruled for 100 years, but has created large productive forces.
  • Feudal society collapsed, free competition emerged as dominant.
  • The sorcerer that is no longer able to control the powers.
  • The epidemic of overproduction: society is put back into a state of barbarism, famine, devastation - too much civilization, too much industry, too much commerce, too many means of subsistence.
  • The productive forces become too powerful for the conditions by which they came about.
  • How does the bourgeoisie overcome these crises? Enforced destruction oor conquest of new markets.
  • The bourgeoisie felled feudalism with weapons that are now turned back on the bourgeoisie.
  • Laborers must sell themselves like a commodity. The modern working class live only so long as they find work.
  • The work of proletarians has lost all individual character; the workman has lost the charm.
  • The price of a commodity is equal to its cost of production.
  • As the repulsiveness of the work increases, the wage decreases.
  • Laborers are organized like soldiers. A perfect hierarchy of officers and sergeants is organized. Enslaved by the machine, the overlooker, the bourgeois manufacturer.
  • Differences of age and sex have no distinctive social avalidity for the working class.
  • All lower strata sink into the proletariat.
  • The proletariat’s development
    1. Struggle with the bourgeoisie
    2. Laborers contest the individual bourgeois.
    3. Attacks are directed not only against the conditions of production, but the instruments of production themselves.
  • If laborers unit to form more compact bodies (unions), it is as a result of the union of the bourgeoisie.
  • Proletarians fight enemies of enemies - monarchy, land-owners, non-industrial bourgeoisie.
    • All of history is concentrated in the control of the bourgeoisie.
  • With the development of industry, the proletariat grows stronger. Collisions between individuals become collisions between two classes. Workers club together to form combinations against the bourgeois.
    • Workers are sometimes victorious, but only sometimes. The real fruit of battles is in the expanding union of workers.
    • Every class struggle is a political struggle.
    • Organization of proletarians into a class and political party: often upset by internal competition, but always rises up again. Collisions between classes of the old society further the development of the proletariat.
  • The bourgeoisie is in constant battle. It must always somehow convince and furnish the proletariat.
  • The proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class. Other classes decya and disapear; the proletariat is an essential product.
  • Many fight against the brougeoisie to save their existence from extinction; they are not revolutionary but conservative, reactionary.
  • The proletarian is without property; they cannot become masters except by abolishing the previous mode of appropriation.
  • All previous historical movements were movements in the interest of minorities; the proletarian movement is the interest of the immense majority.
  • Every form of society is based on the antagonism of oppressing and oppressed classes.
  • Certain conditions must be assured to oppress a class to continue its slavish existence. The serf raised himself to membership in the commune, just as the bourgeois developed into a bourgeois.
  • The modern laborer sinks deeper below the conditions of existence instead of rising with the progress.
  • The bourgeoisie is unfit to rule because it cannot assure an existence to its slave within slavery.
  • Essential condition for exsitence is wealth accumulation, capital, and wage labor. Wage labor rests exclusively on competition between laborers.
  • The bourgeoisie produces its own gravediggers; the proletariat’s rise is as inevitable as the fall of the bourgeoisie.

2. Proletarians and Communists

  • Communists do not form a separate party opposed to other working-class parties; they do not have any separate principles; they point out common interests ot eh proletariat independent of nationality. Represents whole interests.
  • Communists aim to form the proletariat into a class, overthrow bourgeois supremacy, and conquer proletarian political power.
  • The Communiss only express true relations, rather than discovered or invented ideas.
  • All property relations of the past have been subject to constant historical replacement. Communism is not distinctive in advocating for the abolishmnet of property relations, but rather the abolition of bourgeois - private - property.
  • Common objection: Communists abolish the right of personally acquiring property as the fruit of one’s own labor.
    • The property of the petty bourgeois and the small peasant are already destroyed by industry.
    • Wage labor creates no proprerty for the laborer; it creates capital. Property is based on the antagonism of capital and wage labor.
  • Capitalists: not merely a personal but a social status in production. Capital is inherently a collective product. Capital is not personal, it is social.
  • When capital is converted into common property, capital becomes more true to its formation and being.
  • In bourgeois society, living labor is a means to increase accumulated labor. In a Communist society, accumulated labor enriches the existence of the laborer.
  • Under bourgeois conditions of production, freedom means free trade. If selling and buying disappear, though, free trade disappears too.
  • Argument: when individual property can no longer be transformed into bourgeois property, individuality vanishes.
    • Counter: the individual here is the bourgeois, the middle-class owner of property; these people must be swept ‘out of the way’.
  • Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate products of society, only to prevent the power to control the labor of others via such appropriation.
  • Argument: the abolition of private property breeds idleness and laziness.
    • Counterargument: In bourgeois socieyt, those that work acquire nothing and those that do not work acquiring everything. There can no longer be any wage labor when there is no longer any capital.
  • To the bourgeois, the disappearance of class property is the disappearance of production itself.
  • The modern family is premised upon capital and private gain. Abolition of the family.
    • The bourgeois sees only production in his wife.
  • Geopolitical tensions will resolve when class tensions are resolved.
  • Charges against Communism made from an ideological standpoint are not deserving of serious examination. Man’s consciousness changes with every change in the conditions of his existence.
  • Myth of the eternal truth
  • Exploitation of one part of society by the other.
  • Communist revolution ruptures traditional peoprerty relations.
  • The first step in revolution is to win the battle of democracy. Political power must be used to wrest capital from the bourgeoisie and to centralize instruments of production in the proletariat organized as the ruling class (the State).
    • This must be carried out first via ‘despotic inroads’ on property and the condiitons of bourgeois production.
  • Measures:
    1. Expropriation of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes
    2. A heavy progressive tax
    3. Abolition of inheritance rights
    4. Confiscation of the property of emigrants and rebels
    5. Centralization of all capital in the State
    6. Centralization of all transport in the State
    7. Extensions to instruments of production owned by the State
    8. Equal liability of all to labor
    9. Combination of agriculture with industry
    10. Free education for all children
  • When class distinctions have disappeared and production is concentrated in individuals, public power loses its political character. Political power is merely the power to oppress.
  • If the proletariat makes itself the ruling class, it will sweep away the conditions of existence for class antagonisms and of classes itself. Therefore, it will have abolished its own supremacy as a class.
  • A world without classes or class antagonisms: rather, free development of each and for all.

3. Socialist and Communist Literature

Feudal Socialism

  • The aristocracy are obliged to demonstrate forgetfulness of their own interests.
  • Aristocracy took revenge.
  • Feudal Socialism: half lamentation, half lampoon, half echo of the past, half menace of the future.
  • Feudal Socialism is always ludicrous in its effect.
  • Feudalists forget that feudalism was exploited under different and ‘antiquated’ conditions.
  • The modern bourgeoisie is the offspring of their own form of society.
  • The bourgeoisie creates not merely a proletariat, but a revolutionary proletariat.
  • Clerical Socialism with Feudal Socialism: hand-in-hand.
  • Christian ascetism can be easily given a Socialist tinge.

“Christian Socialism” is but the holy water with which the priest consecrates the heart-burnings of the aristocrat.”

Petty-Bourgeois Socialism

  • The feudal aristocracy was not the only class ruined by the bourgeoisie.
  • Medieval burgesses and the small peasant proprieters - precursors of the modern bourgeoisie.
  • The petty bourgeois fluctuates betweent he proletariat and the bourgeoisie; it renews itself as supplementary to bourgeois society.
  • Petty-bourgeois Socialism: writers who sided with the proletariat against the bourgeoisie should use the standard of the peasant and petty bourgeois.
  • Petty-Bourgeois socialism dissects contradictions in the conditions of modern productions.
  • However, it attempts to restore the old means of production or to ‘cramp’ modern means of production within the framework of old property relationships. It is either reactionary or Utopian.

“In its further development, this trend ended in a cowardly fit of the blues.”

German, or “‘True’”, Socialism

  • German philosophers and thinkers developed upon French Socialist and Communist literature.
  • To 18th century German philosophers the first French Revolution represented the demands of Practial Reason and pure Will.
  • German literati brought new French ideas into harmony with ancient philosophical conscience.
  • Appropriation via translation
  • French Socialist and Communist literature was completely emasculated.
  • To presrve the petty-bourgoeis class is to preserve the existing state of things in Germany. ‘True Socialism’ ‘solved’ the threat of industrail supremacy of the bourgeoisie and the rise of the revolutionary proletariat.
  • The German nation is marked as the dieal nation, the German man as the ideal of man.
  • Most so-called Socialist and Communist publishing in German “belong to the domain of this foul and enervating literature”

Conservative, or Bourgeois, Socialism

  • To continue the existence of bourgeois society, the bourgeois attempt to redress social grievances.
  • These are the likes of: economists, philanthropists, humanitarians, charity, etc.
  • Proudhon - Philosophie de la Misere
  • The Socialistic bourgeois want to improve the living conditions of modern society without struggle, to preserve the world as it is without revolution and disintegration.
  • The world in which the bourgeoisie is supreme is presumed to be the best.
  • A more practical but less systematic form of Bourgeois Socalism: depreciate all reform from the working class by showing that no political reform could be advantageous.

Crticial-Utopian Socialism and Communism

  • Attempts of the proletariat to attain their own ends initially fail.
  • Revolutionary literature produced in the first steps of the proletariat has a necessarily reactionary character.
  • The development of class antagonisms runs parallel with the development of industry.
  • Future history resolves itself into propaganda and execution of social plans.
  • The undeveloped state of class struggle causes Socailists of this kind to consider themselves superior to all class antagonisms, and want to improve the condition of all - including the ruling class.
  • Attempt to attain ends via peaceful means and small experimetns doomed for failure.
  • Utopian character of proposals: point to the disappearance of class antagonisms that are just emerging and undefined.
  • Utopain socialism is compelled to appeal to the feelings and purses of the bourgeois; this brand of socialism sinks into reactionary conservative socialism.

4. Position of the Communists in Relation to the Various Existing Opposition Parties

  • Communists fight for immediate and future aims.
  • The Communists turn attention to Germany; this country is on the eve of a bourgeois revolution.
  • Communists everywhere support the revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order.

Preface to the English Edition of 1888

  • Parisian insurrection of June 1848 - defeated, political spirations of the European working class driven underground.
  • Cologne Communist trial
  • International Working Men’s Association. Welding the militant proletariat of Europe and America together.
  • Trust in the intellectual development of the working class.
  • English translations into America; the Manifesto has obtained international recognition.
  • It could not be called the/a Socialist Manifesto; the Socialists were Utopians and dying.
  • Communism - militant, unsatisfied with mere political resolutions.
  • Socialism - respectable, middle-class movement.
  • In every historical epoch, the prevailing mode of economic and exchange form the basis of that epoch’s political and intellectual history.
  • The pattern of oppression from epoch to epoch has developed such thtat the proletariat cannot be emancipated without emancipating society at large.
  • The proposition of the Communist Manifesto will do for history what Darwin’s theory of evolution has done for biology.
  • Quotation from the German edition

“But then, the manifesto has become a historical document which we have no longer any right to alter.”

Preface to the German Edition of 1890

  • An updated German edition of the Manifesto has become necessary.
  • The Russian, Polish, Danish, French, Spanish versions have been published.
  • Inaccurate translations had been repeatedly reprinted in England; Samuel Moore printed an authentic version.
  • The International Working Men’s Association
  • The history of the Manifesto reflects the history of the modern working-class movement.
  • Socialists - considered to be Utopians or social ‘quacks’ attempting to eliminate social abuses through patchwork without hurting capital and profit.
  • The emancipation of the workers must be the act of the working class itself - and thus Communism was chosen, rather than Socialism.
  • “Working men, unite!” Few responded, but later the proletarians of most Western European countries unified through the IWMA.

Preface to the Polish Edition of 1872

  • A polish edition has become necessary.
  • The Manifesto has become an index of the development of large-scale industry.
  • A Polish edition indicates progress of Polish industry.
  • Poland has, throughout history, been hung out to dry; the workers of Europe need the independence of Poland as much as the Polish workers themselves.

“Theses Concerning Feuerbach”, Marx

  • All hitherto existing materialism has considered the object’s form, but not human activity or subjectively.
  • Feuerbach wants sensuous objects distinct from thought objectives but does not consider human activity to be objective.
  • Can objective truth be attributed to human thinking? A practical, rather than theoretical question.
  • Materialist doctrine: understanding the changing of circumstances. The educator must be educated himself.
  • Sensuousness is not considered to be practical.
  • Human essence is not inherent to individuals, but an ensemble of social relations.
  • All social life is practical. The rational solution is always found in human practice.
  • Contemplative materialism that does not believe sensuousness as practical contemplates single individuals and civil society.
  • Standpoint of old materialism: civil soceity. Standpoint of the new materialism: human society, social humanity.

“The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.”

“Bartleby, The Scrivener: A Story of Wall-street”, Melville

  • Bartleby - the strangest scrivener; nothing is ascertainable.
  • Narrator - soft, safe, prudent. The easiest way of life is the best.
  • Turkey - a short, pursy, old Englishman. Eccentricities overlooked in favor of usefulness to the narrator.
  • Nippers - whiskered, sallow, piratical, young. An annoyance to the narrator.
  • Ginger Nut - twelve years old. Quick-witted . An errand boy.
  • Bartleby - did an extraordinary amount of writin; no pause. Then; he refused work - “I would prefer not to”.
  • The themes of “passive defiance”, negative preference, remaning but not providing the means to remain
  • An existence without labor is an existence that cannot be comprehended by almost anyone.
  • Binarization of the means of labor - one works, or one does not work. One quits, or stays.
  • Authority and enforcement.
  • Government as a monopoly on violence.

“The Ideological Tensions of Capitlaism: Universalism versus Racism and Sexism”, Wallerstein

  • Universalist doctrine - “the brotherhood of man”.
    • Yet this emblem of universalism itself is gendered, implicit exclusive of females.
  • Universalism is so widely shared - but why do racism and sexism still persist?
  • Paradox. The major challenge to racism and sexism has been universalist beliefs, and the major challenge to universalism has been racist and sexist beliefs. Most of us find it plausible to pursue both simultaneously.
    • An enduring, widespread, structural paradox.
  • Previous history: no universalism, prioritization of a clearly demarcated insider over a clearly demarcated outsider, rather than abiding by abstract ideas about the human species, etc.
  • Two ways of explaining the oirings of universalism as an ideology.
    • Universalism is a culmination of an older intellectual tradition.
    • Universalism is an idea particularly appropriate to a capitalist world-economy.
  • Moral leap from the recognition of tribal gods to the unicity of God (and the implicit unity of humanity).
  • Modern Enlightenmnet derived moral equality and human rights from human nature itself - rights are naturally assumed rather than earned.
  • Previously excluded groups have been explicitly included into universalist doctrine.
  • Capitalist world economy as built upon the endless accumulation of capital. Commodification of everything. (Refer - Marx, The Communist Manifesto.)
  • Anything that prevents goods, capital, or labor from being a marketable commodity restrains flows; “particularisms of any kind” challenge the logic of capitalist social relations.
  • We have developed a system of institutions around meritocracy. It is said that meritocracy is economically efficient and politically stabilizing.
    • Inequalities in the distribution of reward are argued to result from differences in merit.
  • A meritocracy is a politically very unstable system - this political fragility allows racism and sexism to enter the picture.
  • Race and gender inequalities have increased in the modern world, correlative with the rise of universalist doctrine.
  • Racism is not merely disdain as defined by genetic or social criteria.
    • Xenophobia in history: we obtain purity of society by ejecting the barbarian, but lose their labor popwer.
    • A capitalist system needs all labor; ejection is pointless. To maximize capital accumulation, minimize the cost of production and political disruption. Racism is the ‘magic formula’ for this.
    • Racism as an ideology: Bartolome de Las Casas argued Indians had souls, they were humans, and the ruels of natural law applied to them. Now, they would form the bottom layer of the work hierarchy.
    • Racism - the ‘ethnicization’ of the work force.
    • Racism allows for boundaries of the past to be combined with present boundaries to hierarchically rank groups.
    • Accomplishes three things:
      1. One can expand or contract the ‘numbers available’ to the bottom class
      2. One can constantly recreate social communities that socialize children into playing suitable roles
      3. One can justify capitalism with a non-meritocratic basis.
  • Racism begets sexism - the two are linked. The ethnicization of the work force exists to permit very low wages; low wages are possible because lifetime wage income provides a small amount of total household income.
  • Labor input to non-wage work by women - ‘compensates’ the lowness of wage income. Sexism allows us not to think about low wages. The role of women in society creates surplus value for the owners of capital.
  • Ageism - we presume that the housewife’s work does not create surplus value; neither do the work inputs for the old and young.
  • Universalism-meritocracy: the method by which the system can be legitimized; racism-sexism serving to structure most of the work force.
  • When racism-sexism goes too far, they are resisted by the victims and economic forces.
  • Universalism cannot go too far because it can only be accomplished slowly and is easy to resist. One may denounce it as ‘reverse racism’.
  • Capitalism operates by a tense link between universalism and racism-sexism; there is always tension, always swinging from one side to the other.
  • Over time, the pendulum swings more and more extreme. Accumulation of historical experience. (Marx and the culmination into the victory of the proletariat?)
  • “Our” task: to invent new systems that use neither the ideology of universalism nor of racism-sexism.

“Class Conflict in the Capitalist World-Economy”, Wallerstein

  • Marx did not invent social class; the greeks knew about it.
  • Marx made key three contributions.
    1. All history is a history of class struggle.
    2. A class an sich is not necessarily a class fur sich (implicit vs explicit).
    3. The fundamental conflict of capitalism is between the owners and non-owners, rather than the productiv enad non-productive sectors.
  • Weber: argued that class was only one of three dimensions among which groups are formed (other two - status and ideology).
  • Social psychologists: the only meaningful construct is a ‘subjective’ one, in which class membership is determined by thought.
  • Analysts: polarization diminished over time - more than two classes exist.
  • Question: how to interpret Marxist premises.
  • What are the political consequences of the ways both the bourgeoisie and the proletariat have fit into the capitalist labor division?
  • What is capitalism as a mode of production? Capitalist is the only mode of production in which the maximization of surplus creation is rewarded. The market is a structure, but not an institution. Surplus is maximized for its own sake. The pressure is for constant exapnsion.
  • Capitalism rewards re-investment into itself, rather than consumption.
  • Those who do not accumulate capital, but merely consume surplus, lose out economically.
  • Bourgeoisie: those that receive part of the surplus value they do not create and use it to accumulate capital.
  • The bourgeoisie is not a static phenoemnon.
  • If we accept there is no ideal type of a bourgeoisie or a proletariat, we must deifne classes in terms of processes. One becomes a bourgeois by achievement in the market, but even more significantly by inheritance.
  • Stauts - fossilization of past achievement rewards.
  • Three segments of thed bourgeousie - the noveaux riches, the coasters, and the descendants. The third is the largest by far, the source of stability in the bourgeois class.
  • Intra-bourgeois conflict between the progressive and reactionary groups. The largest segment of the bourgeoisie have both privilege in class and status terms, and do not los from either of the definitions. These conflicts shake up the system.
  • Proletariat - those who yield part of the value they have created to others. The polarity here is structural; one must take what they have not created for reinvestment or yield it to others for reinvestment.
  • Eight sorts of workers: the classic worker, the petty producers, the tenant farmer, the sharecropper, the peon, the slave.
  • Wage labor is probably the most highly paid forms of labor. Thus, wage labor has never been the exclusive form of labor.
  • Capitalism has contradictions: what is profitable in the short run is not necessarily profitable in the long run.
  • Proletarianization - increasing percentage of wage labor.
  • At a certain level of income and rights, the proletarian becomes the bourgeois.
  • The role of the state in capitalism. State: to augment the advantage of some against others in the market - to reduce the freedom of the market. Transfer income; market restriction; restraining.
  • A state’s sovereignty is a claim to the monopolization of violence.
  • Many bourgeois share the surplus value of one proletarian.
  • The transfer of surplus value crosses national boundaries.
  • States are the primary arena of political conflict in a capitalist world economy.
  • Capitalism is a system in which the surplus value of the proletarian is appropriated by the bourgeois.
  • Concepts of - core, semiperiphery, periphery.

“What is Owed”, Hannah-Jones

Access here (link:

  • Black uprisings swept the United States in the mid-1960s; Johnson created the Kerner Commission. Americans voted a ‘law and order’ president - Nixon - who halted that work.
  • Swift developments: George Floyd, Black Lives matter,
  • Multigenerational protest army.
  • COVID-19 and awareness of racialized class divide

“The names of the mechanisms of social control have changed, but the presumption that white patrollers have the legal right to kill black people deemed to have committed minor infractions or to have breached the social order has remained.”

  • To fully address inequality, we must get to the root of it.
  • Lack of wealth has defined post-slavery black life. Wealth is the means to security in America.
  • Poll taxes - rules and policies involving money can effectively enforce segregation.
  • Black Americans with high incomes are still black and face discrimination due to lack of intergenerational wealth.
  • Today’s racism was conjured centuries ago to justify generation of capital from black people.
  • The white planter class earned their living from free black labor and with products produced from slave labor.
  • Slavery and racial apartheid as economic exploitation
  • Reconstruction as America’s second founding.
  • Education and contemporary narratives of slavery. Parchment rights vs - conditions of economics and sustinence.
  • Black people - the only race in the US to ever start out as an entire people with near 0 capital.
  • Many white American families descend from homesteaders.
  • Incalculable destruction of black property and life in the 1900s.
  • Many public policies provided white Americans with tools to advance social welfare.
  • The civil rights movement ended white advantage by law; changing laws marks the end of obligation.
  • Legislation stopped further sanctioned explicit damage, but did not repair a history of sanctioned and explicit damage.
  • King is misquoted and misunderstood by white Americans seeking to weave convenient and somewhat shallow narratives.
  • Americans are unaware about the persistence of racial economic inequality in the US.
  • The racial wealth gap and questions of responsibility.
  • The ability to purchase a first home is seldom the result of hard work and wise spending.
  • Wealth begets wealth.
  • Reparations can be used to remedy the racial wealth chasm.

“Reparations are not about punishing white Americans, and white Americans are not the ones who would pay for them. It does not matter if your ancestors engaged in slavery or if you just immigrated here two weeks ago. Reparations are a societal obligation in a nation where our Constitution sanctioned slavery, Congress passed laws protecting it and our federal government initiated, condoned and practiced legal racial segregation and discrimination against black Americans until half a century ago. And so it is the federal government that pays.”

  • Congress allocates money to support Holocaust survivors, but refused to pass H.R. 40 - a bill to simply study reparations.
  • Has the coronavirus changed things? It has dug up what is hiding beneath.

“If black lives are to truly matter in America, this nation must move beyond slogans and symbolism. Citizens don’t inherit just the glory of their nation, but its wrongs too. A truly great country does not ignore or excuse its sins. It confronts them and then works to make them right. If we are to be redeemed, if we are to live up to the magnificent ideals upon which we were founded, we must do what is just. It is time for this country to pay its debt. It is time for reparations.”

“Racial Capitalism”, Melamed

  • Three conditions: primitive accumulation, ideologies of capitlaist rationality (individualism, liberalism, democracy), new activisms.
  • ‘Racial capitalism’ - capitalism is racial capitalism. Capital can only accumulate by exploiting severe inequalities between human groups.
  • Racialized material and epistemic violence: executed by core capitalist states.
  • Accumulation under capitalism: necessary exproporiation of labor, land, resoources.
  • Understanding ‘racial capitlaism’ as a product of social separateness; technology of antirelationality.
  • Ideas of democracy, nationalism, and multiculturalism: key to racial capitalist processes of differentiation. People are differentiated into a collective existence via democracy and nationalism; groups are minoritized and homogenized via multiculturalism.
    • Identitarianism - obscuring shifting power and instability of social relations.
  • The capitalism Marx wrote about was already racial capitalism.
  • The hallmark of racial capitalism: dense connection between manufacturing and social separateness.Symbiotic development of colonialism and the credit system - Marx.
    • The flow of capital is purified
  • Failure in Marx’s text: Marx finds value to be a pharmekon, a simultaneous poison and medicine. Imposition of value everywhere motivates rationalism, Eurocentrism, reductive materialism, developmentalism.
  • Neoliberalism and rapaciousness for natural resources: ties itself to indigeneity.

Sorry to Bother You, Boots

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  • Art vs labor: toiling, just surviving, the circle (4:55)
  • Main character’s name - Cash, Cassius Green - Cash is Green.
  • God made the land for everyone - (7:05)
  • Cash’s uncle: systems of hierarchical control, webs of capitalism
  • Ronald Reagan - 9:00
  • Laziness - 9:05
  • Always stick to the script - 11:45. Imposing monetization, capitalization, upon human situations.
  • The telemarketers are predominantly black; 14:03 - white voices.
    • Will Smith, white proper.
    • What characterizes the white voice? Carefree.
  • Capital - social currency, digital medias.
  • Cash is pessimistic - different, worried about mobility
  • Food, ethnicity, race, whiteness - 22:15.
  • Hard work - the rat-race.
  • Capital and family - human relationships.
  • “I got the shit kicked out of me!” - most popular TV show.
  • Left Eye
  • The elevator and the stairs - 33:15.
  • The illusion of meritocracy and mobility - 35:33. The down here and the up there.
  • Selling power: firepower, manpower, etc.
  • Just sitting and being. 46:00
  • Scabs - crossing the picket line.
  • Racialization - 1:09:26, racial essentialization of art.
  • Tools as artificial extensions of biology.
  • What is the limit of capital?
  • Publicity, journalism, credibility.

“Wages Against Housework”, Federici

  • Women express wages for housework as a thing rather than as a poltiical standpoint.
  • Wages for housework does not make much of a difference for those with toher avenues of economic independence.
  • Wages for housework can be understood politically as a struggle for social power as women.
  • Wages for housework is revolutionary and the only feminist revolutionary perspective.

“A Labor of Love”

  • Housework is the subtlest violence of capitalism.
  • Under capitalism, every worker is manipulated - wages give the impression of a fair deal.
  • Having a wage means inclusion in the social contract.
  • Housework has become naturalized upon the female body and spirit.
  • Assumption: housework is not work.
  • Socialization and training by the unwaged mother to prepare girls into the roal.
  • Illusion that women marry for love - most marry for money and security; and regardless the work is significant.
  • Housework is denied a wwage and transformed into love.
  • Leads to accumulation of free work, the disciplining of male workers by providing a servant - an Eve for an Adam.
  • The poorer the family, the higher the enslavement of the woman. Capital acts differently for the middle class and for the working class.
  • Bringing the battle of the wife out of the private and into the public.
  • Fraud under the cover of love and marriage: housework is naturalized and sexualized, then becomes a feminine attribute.
    • This affects all women - even the unmarried and those with well-off husbands.

The Revolutionary Perspective

  • Wages for housework: a refusal of the expression of feminine nature as free housework.
  • The worker struggling for more wages challenges his social role, but remains in it; when women struggle for wages for housework, they struggle directly against the social role.
  • Forcing capital to restructure social relations in more favorable terms to women.
  • The power of the wage can be used to demystify feminity and make feminity as work visible.
  • Distortion of the face, the body, and the identity.
  • Mother’s Day - celebration of exploitation

The Struggle for Social Services

  • The female role must be attacked at its roots.
  • Struggle for social services must first originate from the establishment that femininity as work is work.

The Struggle against Housework

  • Men presume that housework is easy and enjoyable.
  • The attitude of men will change when they see love as work.
  • Housework becomes more educational.
  • Women are afraid of identifying with the housewife - the most powerless position in society.

“Why Sexuality is Work”, Federici

  • Sexuality - supposed to be compensation for work, naturalization.
  • Spontaneity is false
  • Painful transition from the private to the public
  • “Schizophrenic character of sexual relations”
  • Responsibility of pleasuring the man: sex is work and duty, built into the sexuality.
  • Women are objects to release repressed violence upon: raped in beds and the streets.
  • Heterosexuality has been imposed as the only acceptable sexual behavior.
  • Sexual contact with women is forbidden due to bourgeois morality: anything that is unproductive is perverted and obscene.
  • Lines between lovers and friends.
  • For women, sex is work.
  • Sexual freedom does not help. Sexual liberation intensifies work.
    • The right to sex is the duty to have sex and to enjoy it.
  • Sexuality is always under control. Sexual work is supervised.
  • Economic dependence is the ultimate form of sexuality control.
  • Commercialization of the female body.
  • Women are performing, pleasing - value is at stake in every sexual relation.
  • Nothing was happening.

“The Dialectics of Still Life: Murder, Women, and Disposability”, Wright

Ambiguity is the pictorial image of dialectics, the law of dialectics seen at a standstill. This standstill is utopia and the dialectical image therefore a dream image. Such an image is presented by the pure commodity: as fetish. Such an image are the arcades, which are both house and stars. Such an image is the prostitute, who is saleswoman and wares in one. - Walter Benjamin, Reflections.

  • Crime wave against women in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua.
  • Third world female disposability - factory production and urban violence.
  • Walter Benjamin - the dialectical image. What is the disposability of the Mexican woman worker?
  • Dialectical image: stillness obscures tensions that hold it in suspension, that keep it still.
  • Mexican woman - still life caused by a waste-value dialectic.
  • Mexican woman - variable capital fluctuating between value and waste. Labor power - producers value in excess to itself.
  • Marx - labor power is variable capital because it is worth less than the value of what it produces.
  • Labor power is worth less than the value of her labor.
  • ‘Turnover’ - dynamics of workers in and out of jobs, worker unreliabiility.
  • Gender distinguishes the untrainable and the trainable workers.
  • Kinship between discourse and materiality: women are protrayed as untrainable. Value of Mexican women does not appreciate into skill, but instead disintegrates; value is used up rather than accumulated.
  • The masculine subject is the other type of variable capital - the one that appreciates over time.
  • Wasting of the Mexican woman
    • Value appreciates in what she is not
    • Her turnover incorporates flexibility into the labor supply

The Murder Stories

  • Questions of murder victims: were they good girls?
  • “foreign serial killer” - the murder is imported from external lands.
  • Ciudad Juarez’s social shock: erosion of ‘traditional’ values due to contact with liberal American soceity.
  • Proposal: the problem is cultural climate.
    • Cultural declines anticipate death; cultural corrective against traditional values.
  • “Death by culture” narrative points to internal cultural forces that give rise to deviancy.
  • Femininity and wastedness: restore cultural values rather than seeking the perpetrators of crime.
  • Male jealousy of feminine independence is identiifed as the primary reason behind crime. Notion that industry cannot do anything to stop the crime.
  • Culture is used as justification for industry apathy. “invoking death by culture narrative to absolve the maquiladora industry of any implication in the violence”
  • The odd configuration of the Mexican woman: roots in female sexuality, motherhood, work ethic. Physiognomy of the Mexican female form.

Turnover and Corporate Death

  • Value-enhancing process of training.
  • Training - cultivation of the sustainable worker.
  • Variable capital: value of labor power varies not only because it produces value, but also because it produces waste.
  • Intrinsic appreciation vs degredation into waste.
  • Feminist contribution doesn’t replace Marxist analysis, but reveals how poststructuralist theorization of Marxist capitalist critique.
  • Maquiladora boosters connect worker quality with the fruits of their labor (products).
  • Potential transformation of labor
  • Sorting of labor into trainable nad untrainalb egroups.
  • Early differentiation of the worker pool into the skilled and unskilled; the female laborer is seen as unskilled and untrainable.
  • Relations of gender play out into untrainability - women’s skills are ‘natural’. A worker with an untrainable, immobile position.
  • Gendering of work positions.
  • The untrainable Mexican woman is still valuable to the firm.
  • Mexican women are coveted for feminine qualities - dexterity, detail, pateince; naturalization.
  • Women leave too quickly to extract the value from desirable feminine qualiites - excessive turnover.
  • Insufficient turnover is another waste: excessive productive capacity.
  • Harassmen tof pregnant women.
  • Dialectical determination of the female subject: ambiguous separation of value from waste.
  • Disposability - not worth the cost of her own social reproduction.
  • Turnover as attributed to cultural constitution.
  • Corporate deaths as evidence of death by culture.

Death by Culture

  • Juarez murderers discard victims once their value has been extracted.
  • Fluctuation between value and waste is appeal for the employer.
  • The Mexican woman can only be a temporary worker; intrinsic value does not appreciate but rather decays.
  • Fetish as an entity ‘on display’. Possibility of a human existence that is really worthless despite valuable representation.
  • Butler - “repeated inculcation of the norm”
  • Ambiguity: waste is never stable or complete. The possibility of value perpetuates sorting as we search for wasted value.
  • Dialectic constitution: suspended between antithetical conditions.

“Meanwhile, she hangs in the balance”.

“Bounded Authenticity and the Commerce of Sex”, Bernstein

  • Transformations in economic and cultural life manifest in bodies and sexual expression.
  • Sexual commerce in a late-capitalist global marketplace.
  • Wide range of commercialized sexual material and experience.
  • Relationship between economy and desire
  • Global restructuring of capitalist rpoduction in the 1970s are responsible for rapidly expanding and diversifying sex trades.

Old and New Markets in Sexual Labor

  • Modern prostitution has not existed for very long; decline of the traditional family.
  • New ideologies of gender and sexuality
  • Premodern sex commerce was organized during limited periods of hardship.
  • Female prostitutes as the outsided criminal
  • Postindustrial cities have seen remappings of vice boundaries.
  • New markets in the unsuspecting periphery of the city.


  • Classic paraphernalia of the sex trade recedes; sexual service becomes more dispersed.

The Subjective Contours of Market Intimacy

  • Modern prostitution - expedient and emotionally contained exchange of cash for sexual release.
  • prostitutes developed strategies to distance themselves from their labor.
  • ‘Career prostitute’ vs ‘crack prostitute’ - ‘crack prostitutes’ are perceived by ‘career prostitutes’ to not sufficiently separate public and private selves.
  • Remapping of the erotic body geography. Certain sexual practices, components of the self, parts of the body are off limits.
  • Not selling intimacy: selling the man his orgasm.
  • Postindustrial sexual commerce: incorporates emotional and physical labor.
  • Bounded authenticity - sale and purchase of authentic emotional and physical connection.
  • Postindustrial sexual commerce: emotional authenticity explicitly incorporate dinto the economic contract.
    • Fulfill clients’ fantasies of sensuous reciprocity.
    • Manufacturing genuine relations
  • Clear and bounded natur e of the encounter.
  • Reorganization of personal life in postindustrial urban centers.
  • ‘Girlfriend Experience’ - proceeds like a nonpaid encounter.
  • GFE is not merely a sad substitute for a ‘real girlfriend’ - attachment of money provides a boundary
  • Men want an emotional connection without obligations.
  • Erotic paradigm - premised upon discrete sexual encoutners compatible with individually oriented life.

Transformations in Economy, Kinship, and Sexuality

  • Frailty of marriage and long-term relationships in late-capitalist society.
  • Old and New regimes of intimacy. Gay marriage and abortion - distances form traditional procreative oreintations towards sex.


  • Bounded & commodified vs natrualized quality of transacted intimacy.
  • Procreative vs relational worldviews


  • Commodification of sexuality is not transparently equatable with emotionally diminished erotic experience.
  • More men, middle-class, young, white - soical groups entering bounded authenticity sexual ethos.
  • Labor conducted within market-generated social hierarchies.
  • Male and female sexuality - continually reconstructed with isolable techniques.

“Economies of Emotion, Familiarity, Fantasy, and Desire”, Hoang

  • Growth of global sex tourism - convergence of prostitution \(+\) global sex tourism \(\bot\) global \(+\) local
  • Anonomity of the consumer
  • Emotional labor and desire - low, mid, high-end sectors of sex work.
    • Low-end - cater to local Vietnamese clients. Repressive emotional labor.
    • Mid-tier - white men in the backpacker’s district. Emotions as currency; manipulated.
    • High-tier - emotions of care, cater to Viet Kieu overseas Vietnamese men. Economic activity mixed with intimacy.
  • Elizabeth Bernstein - compare sex workers in different sectors of a particular sexual economy.
  • Bounded authenticity - low-level transactions are impersonal, no involvement of emotional labor.
    • Low-end sex workers, on the contrary, perform repressive emotional labor.
    • Mid-level and high-level sex workers engage in expressive emotional labor.

Ho Chi Minh City

  • Vietnam closes in 1975; prostitution is somewhat restricted but not entirely.

Low-End Sector: “I Have to Finish Him Off in Twenty Minutes”

  • Disguised barbershops - about $40 per month to rent the spaces
  • Women - resembled local housewives, an object of desire centered around familarity.
  • Operates mainly throughout the day; work is concealed from families and can come home to children.
  • Survival sex - most men who participate are unemployed or unskilled laborers (proletariat?)
  • Single women enter sex work to support children. Can make more money than working in a restaurant.
  • Capital and sex - extracting value from female bodies

“Although clients do not expect these women to engage in forms of expressive emotional labor, the women in this sector engage in deep acting to suppress their feelings of disdain toward their clients.”

Mid-Tier Sector: “She’s a Strong and Honest Person”

  • Backpacker area: cater to international tourists of varied socioeconomic levels.
  • Sex workers are disguised as bartenders. They earn no wages from the bar owner; the bar is a space to meet foreign clients.
  • Bars have a high turnover rate.
  • Hanh - divorced Vietnamese husband for American husband, but still works in the sex industry: two different loves. Still need to send money to ex-husband and kids.
    • A love born out of what they have done for you.
  • Boundaries between emotional labor and authenticity - blurred.
  • Capitalization on country as poor and Third World to construct a fantasy in which clients feel as saviors.
  • Reciprocal care
  • Induce feelings of love and sympathy: enable support.

High-End Sector: “She’s Desired by Other Men, but She’s with Me”

  • Women in the high-end sector engage in complex economic and intimate relations.
  • Relational work - most women generate most profit fromgifts.
  • Invest significantly into image.
  • Capitalize upon beauty and commodification of emotions.
  • Viet Kieu men come to Vietnam to consume more than sex. They feel desired by purchasing the services of highly desirable women.Sex workers commodify their emotions: invoke power and masculinity in clients.
  • Expensive gifts - differentiation from mid- and low-end explicit sex schemes.
  • Deep-acting.
  • Convey to desirable clients that they are women with choices, desirable. Not a working woman.
  • Emotional labor/care work
  • Temporal dimension of relations: significantly extended temporality in the construction of a fantasy.
  • Compensation through gifts allows for anonymity.


  • Women capitalize and engage in expressive and repressive emotional labor.
  • Hierarchical complexity in Ho Chi Minh City’s sex industry.
  • Commodification of repressive nad expressive emotional labor, varying upon socioeconomic position.

“Bloodchild”, Butler

  • Sterile eggs - eating eggs.
  • Mother figure does not take the eggs.
  • Eggs prolong life and vigor.
  • Birth and trading of children
  • Grubs
  • Reproduction, ‘screwing everything’
  • Bodies, sex, gender
  • Protected from seeing
  • Injection - procreation? One-sided creation?
  • Pregnant man

“The Fetishism of the Commodity and its Secret”

  • The commodity appears obvious, but it is filled with deeper content.
  • Man changes nature to make it useful.
  • When an object emerges as a commodity, it levels beyond sensuousness.
  • Mystical character of the commodity
  • The commodity is a product of labor, thus ‘arises the enigmatic character’
  • The commodity-form and the value-relation of products of labor have no interrelationshipw ith the physical nature of commodity or material relations; is social.
  • Fetishism - products of the human brain appear as autonomous figures of their own; inseparable from the production of commodities.
  • Fetishism of the commodity arises from the labor that produces the commodity.
  • The labor of the individual is only relevant in terms of the relationship between producers.
  • Labor of the individual producer: twofold social character.
    • Must satisfy a social need, maintain itself as an element of total labor
    • Must satisfy the needs of the individual producer
  • To satisfy both these constraints, we must reduce labor to a greatest common divisor.
  • Unconscious activity: equate different kinds of labor as human labor of equating different products as exchangeable values
  • Proportional/multiple exchange of value and products
  • The form which stamps products as commodities already are fixed in social relation and existence.
  • The finished monetary form of the commodified world conceals the social relations between individuals.
  • Transfomration of product into commodity plays a subordinate role in ancient Asiatic and Classical-antique cultures.
  • Some economists are misled by fetishism attached to commodities.
  • Commodity form is undeveloped form of bourgeois production; appears early.
  • Value belongs to us rather than things (?)

“Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses (Notes towards an Investigation”, Althusser

On the Reproduction of the Conditions of Production

  • Every child knows that social formations that do not also reproduce the conditions of its production do not last long.
  • The ultimate condition of production is reproduction of the conditions of production.
  • The process of production puts into motion existing productive forces in terms of production.
  • Every social formation must reproduce productive forces and the existing relations of production.

Reproduction of the Means of Production

  • Everyone recognizes that no production is possible without reproduction of the means of production.
  • Reproduction of material conditions of produciton \(\neq\) reproduction at the level of the firm
  • Marx’s global procedure - study how capital circulates from the production of the means of production to the production of the means of consumption.

Reproduction of Labor-Poper

  • What distinguishes productive forces from the means of production?
  • Reproduction of labor power takes place outside the firm.
  • Wages are the means by which labor power reproduces. Necessary for bringing the laborer back to the factory gate every day and to reproduce more laborers.
  • Wages are determined not by a biological minimum wage, but the needs of a historically variable minimum (Marx - English workers need beer, French proletarians need wine)
  • Labor power must be competent
  • Reproduction of labor power skills are increasingly conducted outside the scope of production itself.
    • Capitalist education system and other institutions
  • Children learn useful industry information, morality, civics, etc. - to become good little bourgeoisie.
  • Reproduction of submission to the dominant ideology.
  • School, Church, Army - teach ‘knowhow’ in forms that ensure subjection to the ruling ideology, or mastery of its dissemination.

  • A new reality: ideology.
  • Reproduction of the relations of production; what is a society?

Infrastructure and Superstructure

  • Infrastructure - economic base, unity between productive forces and relations of production
  • Superstructure - the politico-legal level and the ideological level
  • Theoretico-didactic interest
  • Respective indices of effectivity.
  • The upper floors can not stay up in the air if they do not rest on their base.
  • The Marxist topography - the spatial arrangement of the base and the superstructure.
  • Althusser: we need to think about what characterizes the existence of the superstructure on the basis of reproduction.
  • State - conceived as a repressive apparatus in the Marxist tradition.
    • Apparatus - legal practice, the army, head of State, etc.
  • Marxist-Leninist understanding of the theory - understands that the State apparatus has the interests of the ruling classes in class struggle.
  • A ‘descriptive theory’: a contradiction, the development of the theory must go beyond the form of description
  • Marxist perspective on State as the principle of every later development of Marxist theoryr
  • Important to add something to the classical definition of the State as an apparatus to develop the descriptive theory into theory.

The Essentials of the Marxist Theory of the State

  • The State has no meaning except as a function of state power.
  • The State appratus can survive even with collapse of the State.
  • The State apparatus survives even after State power is seized.
  • Marxist classical thought:
    1. The State is a repressive State apparatus
    2. State power and the State apparatus must be distinguished
    3. Class struggle concerns State power and the user of the State apparatus by the classes
    4. The proletariat must seize State power to destroy the bourgeois State apparatus

The State Ideological Apparatuses

  • Ideological State Apparatuses (ISAs) - not to be confused with repressive State Apparatuses (SAs).
  • RSAs function by violence.
  • ISAs: religion, education, family, legal, political, trade-union, communications, cutlural, etc.
  • There is 1 RSA, but many ISAs.
  • ISAs are private rather than public.
  • RSAs function by violence, ISAs function by ideology.
  • Every SA functions both by violence and ideology, but RSAs function via repression; ISAs ultimately operate via ideology.
    • No such thing as a purely ideological apparatus
  • ISAs are always unified, despite their diversity and contradictions, beneath the ideology of the ruling class.
  • A class must exercise hegemony over ISAs to hold State power.
  • ISAs are not only the stake but the site of class struggle
  • Classical Marxist theory of the State - distinguish between State power and the State Apparatus

On the Reproduction of the Relations of Production

  • How to secure the relations of production?
  1. All SAs function by repression and ideology.
  2. ISAs are distinct and relatively autonomous, whereas SAs are organized wholes.
  3. ISAs are secured - often in contradictory forms - by the ruling ideology.
  • We can represent the reproduction of the relations of production according to a division of labor: the SA secures the political conditions of the reproduction of relations of production. ISAs secure reproduction of the relations of production behind the shield of the RSA.
  • Diversity of ISAs share a role of reproducing the relations of reproduction.
  • Pre-capitalist historical period: the dominant ISA was the church. Religious and educational functions.
  • Ideological revolution began with anti-clerical and anti-religious struggle.
  • ISAs are the dominant position in mature capitalist social formations.
  • The Educational State Apparatus is principal; political State apparatuses have been yielded in concessionary gestures, but ISAs are installed most importantly and foremostly.
  • The Educational apparatus replaces the previous ISA, the Church.
  • The School-Family dyad has replaced the Church-Family dyad.
  • Why Educational apparatus as dominant ISA in capitalist social formations?
    1. All ISAs reproduce the relations of production
    2. Each ISA contributes to the relations of production in a particular way
    3. “This concert is dominated by a single score…: the score of the Ideology of the current ruling class”
    4. one ISA has a dominant role - the School
  • Knowledge is wrapped in ‘know-how’. Children are ejected into production in adolescence; scholastically adapted youth cary on and become petty bourgeois; the summit become agents of exploitation, repression, ideologists
  • The education system provides sufficient ideology to explain and justify each’s role.
  • Education is an obligatory and free audience of all childre in the capitalist social formation.
  • Via the education system, ther elations of production are reproduced.
  • Most teachers do not recognize their role in the Education ISA.

On Ideology

  • “Ideology” - a system of ideas and representations that dominate the mind of a man or social group
  • Everything seems to lead Marx to a theory of ideology.
  • A theory of ideologies depends on the history fo social formations
  • Ideologies have a history; ideology has no history (??)
  • For Marx, ideology is an imaginary assemblage - empty, vain; ideology has no history.
  • Ideology has no history - does not mean that it does not have history in it, but no history of its own.
  • Althusser: argues that ideologies can have a history of their own, while ideology generally has no history of its own.
  • Ideology is endowed with a structure and functioning such that it becomes a non-historical reality, an omni-historical reality.
  • Ideology can and must have no history; the unconscious is eternal.
  • Justified in proposing a general theory of ideology; ideology’s structure transcends history.

Ideology is a “Representation” of the Imaginary Relationship of Individuals to their Real Conditions of Existence

  • Thesis 1: Ideology represents the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence
  • World outlooks - largely imaginary, do not correspond to reality.
  • However, world outlooks can be interpreted to discover the reality of the world behind it.
  • Mechanistic type; hermeneutic interpretation;
  • Ideology imagination-distorts the imaginary relationship of individuals to the relations of production and the deriving relations.
  • Ideology - the imaginary relation of individuals to the real relations in which they live.
  • Why is the representation adopted by individuals necessarily imaginary?
  • Thesis 2: Ideology has a material existence.
  • Ideas/representation have a material existence
  • Each ISA is the realization of an ideology, unified under a ruling ideology.
  • An ideology always exists in an apparatus; the existence is material.
  • Belief derives from the ideas of the individual concerned
  • Ideological representatinon of ideology is forced to recognize that subjects are endowed with a consciousness; the ideology of ideology recognizes that the ‘ideas’ of a human manifest across actions, or practices.
  • Pascal’s defensive dialectic - ‘kneel down, move your lips in prayer,a nd you will believe.’
  • There is no practice except by and in an ideology, and there is no ideology except by the subject and for subjects.

Ideology Interpellates Individuals as Subjects

  • There is no ideology except for concrete subjects.
  • Individuals are subjects - we live spontaneously in ideology; ‘man is an ideological animal by nature’
  • Ideological recognition
  • We are always already subjects practicing the rituals of ideological recognition.
  • All ideology hails or interpellates concrete individuals as concrete subjects.
  • Subject - recognize that you are hailed, one who is hailed always recognized he himself is being hailed.
  • Effects of ideology: practical denegation of the ideological character of ideology by ideology. Ideology never acknowledges that it i itself is ideology.
  • Ideology has always already interpellated individuals as subjects.
  • Ideological ritual around the expectation of birth.

An Example: The Christian Religious Ideology

  • Interpellation - yes, it is really you - Multitude of possible religious subjects under a unique, absolute, other subject - God.
  • All ideology is centered around an Absolute Subject, interpellating an infinity of individuals into subjects.
  • Ideology ensures:
    • Interpellation of individuals as subjects
    • Subjection of individuals to the Subject
    • Mutual recognition of the subject and teh Subject; subjects’ cross-recognition, and the subject’s self-recognition
    • Guarantee that everything will really be so on the condition of subject self-recognition.
  • Subjects ‘work by themselves’ - if they are bad subjects, they provoke the intervention of the RSA.
  • Most ‘good subjects’ are realized in the ISA.
  • ‘Amen - So be it.’

“A Letter on Art”, Louis Althusser

  • Relationship between art and ideology
  • Art does not give us strict knowledge, and thus does not replace scientific knowledge but allows us to maintain a relationship with knowledge.
  • Art makes us see, perceive, feel. We can see something that alludes, references, uncovers reality.
  • Art makes us see the ideology from which it is born.
  • Relationship between art and science: ideology manifests in all human activity; it is identical with lived experience of human existence. Lived experience is not given, but spontaneous.
  • Ideology, lived experience, individual are objects of science.
  • Art and science are different in the form in which they give us the same object.
  • Art makes us see conclusions without premises; knowledge allows us to produce conclusions out of premises.
  • Art does not have its ‘own logic’.
  • To answer the question of the relationship between art and knowledge, we first must have a prerequisite knowledge of art.
  • All spontaneous language is an ideological language.
  • Knowledge of art presupposes a rift between ideological spontaneity and scientific conepts.
  • Art gives us something else other than science; no opposition.
  • Concepts - not merely ideological but scientific and thus new; knowing art

Excerpts from Keywords, Williams


  • Within a common language, we can be conscious of social difference
  • We use the same words for most everyday things
  • What does it mean when ‘we don’t speak the same language’? - we have different modes of valuation and different consciousnesses.
  • ‘Culture’ - both social status (behavior, social superiority) and literature, ways of life.
  • Culture - class, art, industry, democracy.
  • Words take on not only an intellectual but historical shape.
  • Project - documenting keywords by illustrating a historical portrait.
  • Keywords - not a dictionary or glossary/dictionary - instead, an exploration into how vocabulary shapes our understanding of culture and society.
  • Understanding of words and meaning we group as culture and society.
  • Keywords - significant both in activities/interpretation, and in thought.
  • How has the meaning of culture and society changed?
  • We must be conscious of words as elements of problems.
  • Language requires a necessary confidence; the search for clarity can become brittle.
  • Questions not only of meaning, but meanings.
  • For words that involve ideas and values, consulting a stnadard diction is hardly effective.
  • Oxford English Dictionary
  • Sacral understanding of words - the proper meaning is rooted in its origins.
    • The origins are interesting, but the variations are more interesting.
  • How do words relate to concepts?
  • Language does not just reflect society and history; many social and historical processes occur within language.
  • Can individual words even be iolated?
  • Meaning can never be wholly dissolved into context, but certain words can be considered for their development.
  • Historical semantics - empahsis not only on historical origins and developments but the present as history.
  • Williams does not beleve that underlying semantics and clarification can help resolve disputes in terms of such syntactics.
  • What this contributes is not reoslution but the “extra edge of consciousness”
  • Crucial meanings are shaped by the dominant class; Keywords is an exploration of the shaping and reshaping of language.
  • Dictionary vs vocabulary


  • General meaning of art - any kind of skill
  • ‘Art’ was applied to a variety of contexts from the 13th to 16th centuries.
  • 17th century - application to specialized group of skills, painting, drawing, engraving, sculpture
  • Art - difficult to localize.
  • Art vs nature
  • Most sciences were arts until the 18th century; modern distinction between science and art comes from the 19th century.
  • Art vs industry, fine arts vs useful arts, useful arts \(\to\) technology
  • Artist distinguished from scientist/technologist.
  • “Art” becomes tied to production - art/artist acquire more general/vague understandings to express a non-utilitarian/human interest.
    • Most works of art, ironically, are commodities.


  • Class - origination in Latin and Rome; came into English.
  • Class was associated with education.
  • Modern understadnings of class develop from 1770 through 1840, during the Industrial Revolution.
  • Difficulty whether to understand class as a general term for any grouping or a specific description of a social formation.
  • Introduction of class relates to increasing consciousness that social position is made
  • Changed consciousness: increased individual mobility, and new sense of society.
  • New vocabulary of class as a generally available ad hoc term for grouping.
  • ‘Middle classes’ - an insertion between high and low.
  • ‘Middle class’ - interposition of rank and common people.
  • 1790s-1830s: class used to distinguish ‘productive/useful classes’ with the ‘privileged class’.
  • Adoption of the self-reference ‘working class’ in opposition with ‘privileged’, ‘idle’.
  • How does the productive/idle class dichotomy contrast with the lower/middle/higher class trichotomy/
  • Transfer of ‘useful/productive’ to ‘working classes’.
  • ‘Working classes’ - used proudly, in the same way ‘middle class’ was proudly used
  • Singular use of ‘working class’ by socialist use, plural use in conservative descriptions
  • Two common terms formed with different models to understand class.
    • ‘Middle’ - implies a lower and a higher.
    • ‘Working’ - implies productive activity, implying the ‘not working class’ as unproductive, useless.
  • Confusion still present today - how to reconcile between these understandings of class.
  • Hierarchical model - social position/distinction; working/idle - economic relationships.


  • Seems simple upon first sight, but really is incredibly difficult.
  • Literature - originally came in teh 14th century as ‘polite learning through reading’.
  • Literature corresponded to literacy/illiteracy/illiterature/literati.
  • Literature/literacy refers in more modern contexts to a larger body of text.
  • Possibility of a nation to have ‘a literature’
  • Various kinds of literature - creative, imaginative
  • Teaching of English is understood as teaching literature and literary crticisim.
  • Social and cultural history - modern arrangement of literature
  • Literature specialized towards imaginative writing under the axioms of Romanticism.
  • Pejorative understandings of ‘literary’ - past literature vs contemporary, or unreliable/fictional/imaginative as opposed to ‘real’/actual

Chapters from Marxism and Literature, Williams

Chapter 6 - Hegemony

  • Hegemony - traditionally understood as political rule or domination.
  • Marxism extends rule or domination to relations between social classes.
  • Antonio Gramsci - gives new understanding to ‘hegemony’
  • Difference between rule and hegemony - rule is expressely political; hegemony is a more complex interlocking of political, social, cultural forces.
  • Hegemony goes beyond culture - insists on understanding the entire social process.
  • Gramsci - introduces recognition of dominance and subordination.
  • Hegemony goes beyond ideology by recognizing the wholeness of the social process.
    • What is decisive - not just ideas and belief systems, but lived social processes that are ‘practically organized’ by meanings and values.
  • Ideology is popular in retrospective analysis - base-superstructure models, since ideas can be abstracted post-hoc.
  • The sense of ideology is abstractly applied to the consciousnesses of the dominant and subordinate classes.
  • Hegemony resembles ideology, but is distinct: it does not equate consciousness with the formal system (‘ideology’).
  • The meanings, values, and beliefs of the dominant class are not equated with consciousness, and does not reduce consciousness to these semiotics.
  • Sees relations as a saturation of the process of living (‘wholeness’).
  • Hegemony - not only the upper level of ideology, but a body of practices and expectations over the whole of living.
  • Lived system of meanings and values - hegemony constitutes a sense of reality for most people
  • Why pursue this concept of hegemony?
    • Forms of domination and subordination correspond more to normal processes of social organization in developed societies (as opposed to models of ideology that operate in older socieites).
    • Electoral democracies, leisure/private life, etc. can be understood through hegemony.
    • Different way of seeing cultural activity - not just a superstructure. Cultural tradition and practice are more than superstructural expressions, but instead basic processes of formation.
    • People see themselves in directly personal relationships.
  • Hegemony - pressures and limits are experienced but not necessasrily internalize din practice.
  • A working class has to become a potentially hegemonic class against the pressures & limits of the existing hegemony
  • We can be saved from blind alleys by recognizing the usefulness of the concept of hegemony.
  • Domination and subordination - refused by many.
  • A lived hegemony - always a process. Not a system or a structure, but a complex of experience, relations, activities.
  • Hegemony can never be singular.
  • Does not passively exist as a form of dominane - must constantly be re-asserted.
  • Hegemony is always resisted an challenged by other pressures.
    • Counter-hegemony
    • Alternative hegemony
  • Practice/theory dyad
  • Practice/abstract: speak of the hegemonic rather than the hegemony
  • In reality, hegemony is never total or exclusive.
  • There are always many different form sof struggle.
  • A static hegemony doesn’t quite manifest practically; it is an abstract totalizing construct. The hegemonic cannot just be a transmission of continual unchanging dominance. Any hegemonic process is alert and responsive to alternaitves.
  • We cannot reduce all contirubtions and initiatives to hegemony (structuralist approahces).
  • Large theoretical problem - distinguish independence of alternative and oppositional initiatives made within/against hegemony.
  • Nearly all initiatives/contributions are tied to the hegemonic through neutralization, reduction, and incorporation - but many active elements still emerge.
  • Instead of reducing works ot finishe dproducts, recognize openness and variation, activity.
  • Profoundly more optimistic understanding of change as in comparison to Althusser

Chapter 7 - Traditions, Institutions, and Formations

  • Hegemony is always active - organization of meanings, values, practices incorporated into a social order.
  • Incorporation - a major process.
  • Need to distinguish three components of the cultural process - traditions, institutions, formations.
  • Tradition - neglected by Marxism. Normally understood as a superstructure and as inert.
  • In practice, tradition is the most obvious expression of hegemonic pressures - it is one of the most powerful means of incorporation.
  • Selective tradition - intentioanl shaping of the past as an operative in ongoing shaping and definition.

Chapter 8 - Dominant, Residual, Emergent

  • Complexity of a culture - found in various dynamic interrelations.
  • ‘Epochal analysis’ - emphasis on dominant/definative features
  • Internal movement is often abstracted away with analysis of dominance. We must recognize complex interrleations within & beyond dominance to be more authentic in our historical analysis.
  • We must find a language that recognizes not only stages, but also dynamic relations.
  • We must speak of the residual and the emergent as they reveal characteristics of the dominant.
  • ‘Residual’ - formed in the past but still acitve in the cultural process as an effective element of the present.
    • Many values and meanings that do not quite exist in term sof the dominant exist as the residual.
    • Distinguish the oppositional nature of the resiudal from its active incorporation into the dominant culture. Organized religion is predominantly residual, for instance. Others: rural community, monarchy.
    • Distance from the effecitve dominant culture - yet some part has to be incorporated in the dominant culture for it to make sense.
  • ‘Emergent’ - new meanings and values are continually being created.
    • Hard to distinguish new phases of the dominant culture (‘species-specific’) and substantially different/oppositional devcelopments.
    • Emergent is meant in the strict sense
    • In any ‘actual’ society, there is always the basis for opposition to the dominant element.
    • A new class is always the source of emergent cultural practice.
    • Pairing of emergence an dincorporation - the basis of incorporation conditions and limits emergence.
    • Emergence - constantly repeated and renewable beyond a phase of practical incorporation.
  • Incorpoation - often takes the form of recongition, acknowledgement, acceptance. Confusion between the locally residual and the generally emergent.
  • Cultural emergence - no mode of production, social order, or dominan tculture includes or exhausts all human practice, energy, or intention.
    • Fact about modes of domination: they select from and therefore must exclude the rang eof human practice.

“…what the dominan thas effectively seized is indeed the ruling definition of the social”

  • Significant emergence is very difficult in the face of incorporation.
  • Emergent cultural practice is undeniable.
  • Complex process described in class terms.
  • Relations between class and the excluded social area are not contradictory
  • Emergent culture is distinct from both the dominant and the residual. Never only a matter of immediate practice - depends on finding new forms or adaptations.

Chapter 9 - Structures of Feeling

  • We cannot recognize human cultural activity until we stop coverting experience into finished products.
  • We can understand instead the powerful separation of the social from the personal.
  • How do we understand the present
  • Thought is really very complex - feeling, structures and forms of feeling
  • Art - finished in one sense, and continually dependent on the current state of reading/interpretation
  • The making o fpart is never in the past tense, always formative
  • Ideological systems - the ‘aesthetic’ and the ‘psychological’ - derived from senses. Ideological systems are relatively powerless against personal forms.
  • We cannot reduce the social to fixed forms - do not take terms of analysis as terms of substance.
  • Social forms are more recognizable when they are explicit.
  • Social forms become social consciousness only when they are lived in real relationships.
  • All consciousness is social.
  • Practical consciousness is always different from the official consciousness.
    • Practical consciousness - what is actually being lived, not just what is being thought of being lived.
  • History of language - additions/deletions/modifications, and change in style.
  • Changes of presence
  • Structures of feeling - concerned with meaning snad values as they are actively lived and felt.
  • Impulse, restraint, tone, affective elements, etc.
  • Structure - elements are a set with internal relations
  • ‘Structure of feeling’ - cultural hypothesis.

Parasite, Bong Joon-Ho dir.

Access for free here (has inappropriate ads and scams, but hey – it’s free)

  • Live below the ground, reaching upwards for connection (Wi-Fi). What is the signifiance of connection and height?
  • The residual fumigation - bodily harm expended
  • Inter-worker competition
  • Mocking the religious gestures - restated in terms of connection
  • Scholar’s rocks - what has animated the stone? Marx - commodity fetishism. What animates objects when we attribute material wealth with them, when it becomes a simulation\(\to\)simulacra for wealth (Baudrilliard)? “Food would be better”
  • Forgery, faking, cheating – what are the ethics of subversion here?
  • The road upwards, towards the sun
  • Gatedness, isolatedness, concentratedness.
  • How are sociological relations embedded in the architecture of the space?
  • Indigenous fetishism, imposed fetishism (Cub Scout leader)
  • The genius of art - what is good art? Who determines what art is good? How does the upper/dominant class shape and define what art is good or not?
  • Parasitic infiltration - relations of connection
  • Cross-international fetishism, education and meritocracy
  • Performance, the politics of the performative.
  • Reproductive work and emotional labor (25:00) - how genuine is the kiss?
  • Inter-worker competition: how do culturally codified structures of feeling (Williams) rechannel how workers/the lower class interact with one another and with the dominant class?
  • Assumptions and misinterpretations - how does the dominant class understand the lower class? (33:30) ‘Cocaine and meth’ - a ‘rational guess’.
    • Neutralization of sensitive topics via accustion of vulgarity, ‘stopping low’.
  • “I only trust a person recommended by someone I know” - “chain of recommendations is best” - maintenance of social rigidities
  • Blood ketchup on pizza - representation and illusion, abstraction
  • ‘Making up excuses’ - what is the significance here? Why neutralize the topic and abstract its negation?
  • What is love for the dominant class? “We’ll call it love” - to what extent is the wife free from Federici-style forced work?
  • Imagery and design, impression and illusions, allusions and simulacra
  • What has happened to the lower-class family? What has happened to the upper-class family? 51:50 How have relations all been rewrittenin terms of capital?
  • A world of impressions - need to use different smells, different dresses, different narratives to capture a trickle of capital
  • “Prayer of gratitude to the great Mr. Park” - how do relations get rewritten?
  • Gullibility - what is the vantage point/epistemology of the dominant class? “nice because she’s rich”, not “rich, but still nice”
    • The white voice, Sorry to Bother You
  • “He must’ve found a better job” - justification of worker competition and displacement. “Just focus on us”
  • Exploiting the capitalist/dominant epistemology. What is being interrupted?
  • Architectural significance of the ornate exterior covering the cemented hallway.
  • Fellow workers, fellow members of the needy.
  • ‘Nice people’
  • The power of the ‘send’ button
  • Worker competition
  • Respect, idolization, worship - how are relations reframed and re-understood?
  • ‘A ghost in the house brings wealth’ - the commodity fetishism
  • ‘We ordered from the US, so it will be fine’ - Williams and cross-international commodity fetishism
  • Flooding downwards
  • “You’re getting paid extra”
  • Holding the nose
  • Laughing
  • Struggling to understand the relationship, unusual - obscured relations.
  • Displacement, cycling, replacement.
  • “I’m sorry, Mr. Park”
  • “Walk up the stairs”
  • The dream raised, and its death.