McKenzie Wark: Capital Is Dead: Is This Something Worse? (2019)

16 October 2019, dusan

“It’s not capitalism, it’s not neoliberalism—what if it’s something worse?

In this radical and visionary new book, McKenzie Wark argues that information has empowered a new kind of ruling class. Through the ownership and control of information, this emergent class dominates not only labour but capital as traditionally understood as well. And it’s not just tech companies like Amazon and Google. Even Walmart and Nike can now dominate the entire production chain through the ownership of not much more than brands, patents, copyrights, and logistical systems.

While techno-utopian apologists still celebrate these innovations as an improvement on capitalism, for workers—and the planet—it’s worse. The new ruling class uses the powers of information to route around any obstacle labor and social movements put up. So how do we find a way out? Capital Is Dead offers not only the theoretical tools to analyze this new world, but ways to change it. Drawing on the writings of a surprising range of classic and contemporary theorists, Wark offers an illuminating overview of the contemporary condition and the emerging class forces that control—and contest—it.”

Publisher Verso, London, 2019
ISBN 9781788735308, 1788735307
202 pages



Alexei Gutnov, et al: The Ideal Communist City (1966–) [RU, EN]

25 April 2019, dusan

“The Soviet group of architects New Element of Settlement (NER) was invited to the 1968 Milan Triennale by Giancarlo De Carlo, following the publication of their influential book NER, On the Way to a New City (1966). They were asked to present their plans for an ideal communist city in the section devoted to “transformations of the physical environment.” Their installation was one of the few in the exhibition that provided a critical response to the culture of consumerism, in tune with ongoing student revolts.

The concept of NER was first developed in 1957 as a diploma project by graduates of the Moscow Institute of Architecture (MArkhI). As students, NER members studied the elements of the city, its quantitative and qualitative characteristics, eventually dismissing traditional planning principles in favor of a new approach to urban development as a dynamic process. Drawing on Marxism, they sought to provide a spatial agenda for the communist ideology, representing the younger generation of thinkers in the radical split of the Soviet architectural profession following de-Stalinization. They actively criticized the state of Soviet urban planning, arguing that “today, the city is not fulfilling its primary purpose to be an organic living environment.”

In late 1968, De Carlo wrote an introduction for NER’s influential publication, The Ideal Communist City. In their radical proposal, NER attempted to provide a spatial agenda for Marxism, drawing both from the Communist Manifesto and the Constructivist avant-garde of the 1920s. NER’s new city was based on creative communication in a classless society, in which the city was no longer dependent on its industrial center but instead formed around a center of communication, independent from the economic characteristics of the city. The major shift brought in by this new urban wave—later implemented by one of its members, Alexei Gutnov, within the curriculum of MArkhI—was to see the city as a living organism, in which cells would be born and eventually die. This led to a change in the status of architectural form: it was conceived as temporary and mobile—its birth implied the process of its imminent destruction. This approach anticipated the later understanding of architecture as an activity or as environment—form was no longer relevant because it hindered the organic processes within the dying city. The system emphasized the correspondence between urban structures and social relationships in communism, based on the reading of the urban plan as “simultaneously a symbol of the idea and a program for its realization.”” (Masha Panteleyeva, Radical Pedagogies)

English edition
By Alexei Gutnov, A. Baburov, G. Djumenton, S. Kharitonova, I. Lezava, S. Sadovskij, of Moscow University
Translated by Renee Neu Watkins
Preface by Giancarlo de Carlo
Publisher George Braziller, New York, [1971]
i Press Series on the Human Environment
ISBN 080760576X 9780807605769
166 pages
via Outlaw Urbanist

Reviews: Kenneth Frampton (Architectural Forum, 1972), Outlaw Urbanist (2016).
Commentary: Alicia Kurimska (Center for Opportunity Urbanism, 2015).

Wikipedia (RU)

Novyy element rasseleniya: na puti k novomu gorodu (Новый элемент расселения: на пути к новому городу, Russian, 1966, 22 MB, via)
The Ideal Communist City (English, trans. Renee Neu Watkins, [1971], 4 MB)

South Atlantic Quarterly, 116(2): Autonomia in the Anthropocene (2017)

5 October 2018, dusan

“Despite Autonomia’s widespread influence on political action and post-Marxist scholarship, it has been surprisingly slow to address planetary change and environmental politics. With a focus on cognitive capitalism, many autonomist scholars have downplayed or fully ignored the ecological dimensions of post-Fordism—its foundations in extractive energy economies, its links to the accelerating financialization of nature under the banner of so-called green capitalism, its harnessing of nonhuman capacities, and its wildly uneven toxic geographies. This lack of engagement is regrettable given that, we propose, autonomist insights hold great promise for understanding both the transformed relation between capital and nonhuman natures in post-Fordism and the many political movements that have emerged in response. […]

It is no longer evident that key terms found in the autonomist lexicon—species being, the common, multitude, potentia—survive the challenge of the Anthropocene unchanged or that the production of subjectivity (a cornerstone of autonomist thought) can be understood solely in terms of language, habit, or gesture. It may therefore be necessary to think beyond the struggles of the factory floor, or those of the cognitariat today, to imagine and think from other sites of struggle, other forms of solidarity, and other experiments in “commoning.” These bring into play unfamiliar actors and unacknowledged geographies: sites of extraction and circuits of waste, indigenous communities and territories, rising seas and toxic landscapes that are materially present within the informationalized economies of global capitalism, but often invisible to those working within them. We might say, then, that the Anthropocene names autonomist Marxism’s unthought, an unthought that intrudes on its political imaginaries. What happens to autonomism if it begins to question the autonomy of the human? Or if it leaves its privileged sites in the global North?”

With contributions by Sara Nelson and Bruce Braun, Miriam Tola, Jason Read, Elizabeth R. Johnson, Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Matteo Pasquinelli, Karen Pinkus, Marco Armiero and Massimo De Angelis, Anja Kanngieser and Nicholas Beuret, and Isabelle Stengers.

Edited by Sara Nelson and Bruce Braun
Publisher Duke University Press, Apr 2017
ISSN 0038-2876
178 pages