On the Uselessness of the Commodity

clown shoesGiven that the accepted definition of the commodity is an artefact that is at the same time an exchange value and a use value, the notion that the commodity is in some manner defined by its uselessness seems, at first sight, a contradiction. This apparent contradiction is an effect of a mistaken perspective that perceives use value as being a property of an object - the commodity. In fact, both use value and exchange value are relational concepts and their coincidence in a given artefact does not imply that they appear equally to all parties that they enter into a relation with. What is a use value to one person may be entirely useless to another. The aspect of the commodity we are exploring here is that of a use value that is useless to its possessor.

The Gates of Orthodox Ijtihad

Like Judaism, Islam is not only a community of faith but a system of law and jurisprudence. Islamic jurisprudence is based upon the interpretation of the texts of the Qur'an, the Hadith and Sunnah. Various schools or madhabs of past interpretations have built up over time such that coming to a ruling can come through two main routes - the imitation (taqlid) of past scholars and the traditional schools, or original interpretation of the source texts. This is ijtihad, a word derived from the same 3-letter root (j-h-d, jahada - "struggle") as jihad, meaning "struggle with yourself". It contains the idea that original interpretation is a product of struggle, arduous and potentially a mortal danger to body and soul.

The Haitian revolution, the earthquake, restructuring and resistance

Haiti is of enormous significance as the site of one of the world’s first republican revolutions and the first successful revolution against slavery that aimed at something beyond a return to an older order. The earthquake that has killed tens of thousands threatens to further enslave the descendants of those who fought for and won their freedom over 200 years ago.

Orthodoxy and Time

Dali melting clockThis piece is a sequel to the previous "What is Orthodoxy" post below and should ideally be read after that. Here we are looking at how the objectivist notions of class talked about in the first piece in the series, relates to a particular notion of time - the Epoch.

Tronti's Gentle Chiding

Mario Tronti

[This is another re-homed post, from October 2008.]

The Production of Use Values

This is again a re-posting of an old text in an attempt to consilidate my online texts in one place. This particular text is in fact nearly 20 years old. It is, like the vast majority of my written work, fragmentary and unfinished. Unlike the mass of fragmentary texts I keep around, however, this one I did publish, many years ago, back in the days of free geocities sites. I include it here unchanged for reference, although some of my views on these matters have since evolved. The "Four Levels of Use Value Production" post below represents more recent reflections on this topic, but it does not follow up all the ideas contained in this original.

Guattari on Marxism

This is a re-posting of a piece from my previous blog, originally put up in October 2006.

I include the following quote from Felix Guattari from "A New Alliance is Possible" from "Soft Subversions" because for me it sums up perfectly the only possible response to daft questions like "are you a marxist?"

Aporiai of Political Action

Binary Star GX 339-4As an example of the aporiai of political action I mean things like the deadly embrace between sectarianism and opportunism. Rather than being simply solitary dead-ends, these aporiai achieve their impasse effect as being binary systems of paired dead ends, the escape from one leading directly into the heart of the other and vice versa.

Audio from Gleneagles G8 protests and launch of RAG 1

Cop cordon at G* protestThese audio files are 11 interviews conducted via mobile phone with Irish protesters at the Gleneagles G8 summit in June 2005 and an interview with Tobie about the launch of RAG 1, the publication of the Revolutionary Anarcho-Feminist Group.  I'm adding them to the blog as part of the process of re discovering old audio I recorded and archiving it, in these cases I'd forgotten recording these at all until the point where I was writing the other two blogs on the topic.

170 years of Anarchism

This year, 2010, marks the 170th anniversary of anarchism as a named socio-economic theory. With the publication of Proudhon’s "What is Property?" in 1840, what was a tendency within history became explicit. Yes, libertarian ideas and movements existed before 1840 – some of them, such as radicals in the Great French Revolution and the Lyons mutualists, influenced Proudhon but before 1840 these were never called anarchist. Socialist politics would never be the same again!


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