Sidewinder's blog

Reflections on the Egyptian Ultras and the Revolution

Port Said Masry/Ahly RiotAt the time of writing the wave of outrage over the killing of 73 young football supporters in Port Said on 2 Feb 2012, a year to the day after the Battle of the Camels in Tahrir Square, is still raging around the Interior Ministry in Cairo. Legend has it, that in the early 1970s the then Foreign Minister of Maoist China, Zhou En Lai, was asked what he thought of the French Revolution and replied "it is too early to tell". Certainly the effects of the Egyptian Revolution are far too early to tell. As we enter Year II, the anniversary has been marked by monster demonstrations in Tahrir Square, followed by the provocation of yesterday's massacre.

Capitalism and the Price of Fish

Within the last months a number of the UK's celebrity TV chefs have launched "Fish Fight", a campaign to address the rapidly increasing crisis in declining fish stocks that threaten the continues supply of fish for the dinner table. The campaign's aims are worthy and laudable and the sincerity of the celebrity chefs involved is unquestionable. But much as they understand food and the threat of the collapse of fish stocks, their limited understanding of the economic forces behind capitalism's inability to sustainably manage limited natural resources, guarantees that this well-intentioned campaign is ultimately doomed to failure.

The Antinomies of Antagonism

As a fundamental perspective we can see the principle task of the revolutionary movement is to aid in the process of the recomposition of an antagonist class subject.

However, those who focus on the aspect of antagonism to the detriment of the class aspect, are guilty of the voluntarist (& sectarian) conception of antagonism as belief or ideology.

For us antagonism is neither a belief nor form of consciousness, but an immanent characteristic of the capitalist dynamic. If we focus on the recomposition of the class subject, capitalism will provide the antagonism free of charge.

Money as rupture in the flow of consciousness

Consider the situation of loaning a spade to a friend or associate. Imagine further that you are away from your home for some time. In that time the loaner of the spade then loans it out to another person. When you return and need the spade back you may not be aware of where it currently is - that is you don't have total knowledge of the entire chain of transference - but you have the first link in the chain and a reasonable expectation that each link will either lead to another or, if the chain is broken, accept responsibility for replacing the spade.

The Balance Question

In the ongoing attempts to analyse the causes of the global financial crisis in the mainstream media, a continual refrain is that the underlying cause is the “imbalance” in world trade. This diagnosis is superficially tempting as it is always self-evidently correct. For the same reason, it is also an utterly cretinous tautology, rather like the sub-Marxian left’s kneejerk response of “overproduction” as the cause of any particular crisis.

The Assetisation of Labour

Another brief, unfinished piece. This time on the evolution of the condition of labour under capitalism from simple commodity to asset, into "human capital" as they would have us believe.


As 2007 turned into 2008 and the themes of the economic commentariat shifted from the question of whether a recession was avoidable to whether a depression was avoidable, a new theme emerged - the possibility of "decoupling".

All the right notes

Eric words up Previn

Andre Previn: "But... But... You're playing... You're playing all the wrong notes."
Eric Morecambe: [Grabs Previn by the lapels] "I'm playing all the right notes. But not necessarily in the right order"

This post is about the immaterial product, using the concept of use-shape, the occasional translation of Marx's Gebrauchgestalt, to explore this sometimes confusing concept. We explore the concept of the pattern form, a type of non-subjective, i.e. "really-existing", yet immaterial shape, which is the concrete form of the immaterial product.

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.


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