Home Forum Political Economy Abdullah Öcalan’s CasP-like political writings

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  • #245473

    Have you came across Öcalan’s attempt to break with traditional Marxist theory? Though in crude lines, it seems to share the general thrust of conceptualizing capitalism as a mode of power. This literature is being read by the political community affiliated with the autonomous project of Rojava.

    Here is an excerpt from Manifesto for a Democratic Civilization [Vol.2] (p.120):

    Capitalism is not economy but power

    The insight that capitalism is not economy should lead to a work at least the magnitude of Das Kapital. Let me say outright that the ideas I will express here have nothing to do with power reductionism. Neither will I accept any criticism that I am linking capitalism (in terms of it being an economy) with the state. What I am talking about here is the formation of a political power that controls the economy but is conceptualized as “capitalism,” “capitalist,” and “capitalist economy.” This power became influential for the first time in sixteenth century Europe and later became the true dominant political power in the Netherlands and England under the aforementioned labels. That it makes use of economy does not affirm that it is economical in character. Fernand Braudel openly states that capitalism is antimarket, a monopolist plunder externally imposed on the economy, and he is the first sociologist and historian to have realized it. Although he is aware of having ruined one of the creeds of European thought, he is unable to put it into words. The question then arises: What is this thing that externally imposes itself, that is anti-market and not economy? The answer to the question is yet insufficient. Is it a political power, religion, or a school of thought?

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    • #245474


      1. Last i looked, the  ‘Autonomous Zone of Rojava’ (which was app0arently partly inspired by Bookchin’s ‘ecology of freedom’ and popular with some ‘social anarchists’ such as   David Graeber  (‘rip’)) is almost history.

      I sort of figured it wouldn’t last—sandwiched by or around syria, turkey, iraq, iran, russia…    Do people actually think a few western ‘radical journalists’ can visit some relatively small place sitting on top of or nearby alot of oil and spread its ‘ecology of freedom’ to the rest of the globe with a few articles?

      2. The author of this long book apparently was persecuted.  A few people like me only read long books for entertainment. They are things to read outside like a novel. Its probably an interesting book.

      3,   My view is all economics and politics (and everything else—eg sciences and arts) can be summarized in a few equations derived from Farjoun and Machover’s long book ‘laws of chaos’ and arrow and debreu’s , etc. papers on ‘general equilbirium’.  (arts such as music might require a little more than just equations but not much).

      The long books are like ancient discussions of the ‘ether, fire, air, water and rocks’–or whatever ‘elements’ they had before modern physics.

      Its probably possible to display a rigorous  mathematical  ismorphism between capital, power, capitalism, economy, the state, etc. and fire, water air and rocks.  If you add ‘god and spirit’ then you need the ‘ether’.

      (I have seen a few technical papers written by physicists which do this–but they do it partly as an an ‘inside  joke’.   Even Godel proved god existed as an ‘ultrafilter’ (math term). )

      Modern physics formalism summarizes  all of plato, adam smith, hegel, marx, heidegger, kropotkin, bakunin and all the rest in a few lines.

      (Its better termed metaphysics    –i.e. doesnt try to compute the hydrogen atom spectrum to the Billionth decimal place— which seemed to still be an ‘exciting topic of research’ up till a few years ago last i looked.  You can let lawyers do the calculations–eg at the Hague ICC.

      I actually prefer term   ‘stochastic’ (reminiscent of ‘caustic’ –see ‘eikonal equation’–used by Schrodinger to derive his equation–and even sarcastic).

      4.   My answer to the question posed in the last sentence of the abstract above is ‘religion’.

      People find value and comfort and power in religion and some turn it into forms of capital. Since orthodox economics has the real fake noble prize in econ maybe casp can have the one in religion or powernomics.
      In fact i’d endow the prize so people can collect 1 M$ each—i just need to win many of them and i can give away 1% to all who  show merit

      My ‘great country’ has ‘in  god we trust’ on our dollar bill. (Discussed in detail in the yotube video C.R.E.A.M. by Wu Tang Clan ).  I USA the dollar as is the holy holy trinity–me myself and i.

    • #245477

      My answer to the question posed in the last sentence of the abstract above is ‘religion’.

      People find value and comfort and power in religion and some turn it into forms of capital. Since orthodox economics has the real fake noble prize in econ maybe casp can have the one in religion or powernomics.

      Are you familiar at all with Eugene McCarraher’s The Enchantments of Mammon?

      Book here and one of the many podcast/interview appearances he did on the book here. I haven’t read it yet but it’s on my list after having listened to another fascinating interview he gave Lewis Lapham. A lot of what he talked about there resonated with my reading of CasP, especially about advertising and organization management.

      It’s no mystery that CasP uses a religious tone to describe the “ritual” of capitalization at the heart of the capitalist system, which Blair Fix goes into great detail about here. Of particular note from that much broader article:

      If [the capitalization] ritual seems arbitrary, that’s because it is. There’s nothing objective about the capitalization formula. It doesn’t point to any fundamental truth about the world, either natural or social. The capitalization formula is simply a ritual — an article of faith.

      This arbitrariness doesn’t lessen the importance of capitalization. Far from it. Rituals are always arbitrary. But their effects are always real. Just ask Bob, who’s about to be ritually sacrificed to appease the god of rain. The ritual is arbitrary — founded on a worldview that is false. Killing Bob won’t bring rain. But the rulers believe it will. And so Bob dies. The ritual is arbitrary. The effects are real.

      The capitalization ritual works the same way. The formula is arbitrary, as are its inputs. But that doesn’t matter. What’s important is that people believe in the ritual.

      And the subsequent embedded quote from CasP:

      Faith in the principle of capitalization now has more followers than all of the world’s religions combined. It is accepted everywhere — from New York and London to Beijing and Teheran. In fact, the belief has spread so widely that it is now used regularly to discount not only capitalist income, but also the income of wage earners, governments, and, indeed, society at large.

      Either way, McCarraher’s is another long book you could read with a tumbler of wine under the shade of a tree.

    • #245590

      Jeremy Zerbe —

      I listened to part of one of McCarraher’s podcast.  I basically agree with him but arrive at similar views  from a non-religious perspective.
      I read one book he mentioned— ‘small is beautiful’ by Schumaker.  I think that book sort of is one major source of current ecological type movements–as is Thoreau centuries before.
      My views are closer to Thoreau updated with modern science.

      My parents used to get Harper’s which Lapham edited for quite awhile so I used to read it and am familiar with him

      (It  has an interesting history— got into some controversy around 2006 when it published some ‘AIDS denialists’  including a then respected mathematical biologist—-ie said there was no AIDS virus.     The math biologist later sort of dropped out of science and became  associated with a far right wing group.     Most people said this group of denialists who advised that people not use condoms, etc. was basically an anti-gay and anti-African group–South Africa at the time was sort of the epicenter of AIDS.
      There are similar groups today regarding COVID–generally religious fundamentalists, conspiracy theorists, Trump supporters  etc.
      Harper’s got into another controversy recently for publishing an article on academic freedom which some took to basically be a defense of alot of sort of ‘right wing’ and ‘socially conservative’ professors (eg people who are against recognition of ‘transgenders’) , though a few moderates and leftists also signed.
      Chomsky I think signed  –he also supported in the past non-censorship of holocaust deniers.
      I’m also for free speech but likely wouldnt sign any letter with or promote the views of people I disagree with on certain things.
      They can write their own letters and books.)

      I sort of think you can come to any conclusion starting from just about any point of view—CASP, neoclassical economics, religion, science, etc.

      This is why I disagree with some views of CASP and Blair Fix.  They misrepresent in  my view some views of Marx and what they call ‘neoclassical’ or ‘mainstream’ economics.

      My view of Marxism and neo/classical  or ‘liberal’ economics  is its flaws are primarily because it originated decades or centuries ago.
      The views of the originators of modern science in same period  can be criticized for the same reason.

      One can’t criticize Darwin because he didn’t know what DNA was , or  Marx and the originators of marginal utility theory because they  didn’t know about ‘algorithmic trading’, supercomputers , hedge funds , ‘physics of finance’, or anthropogenic global warming.
      Even today noone really knows the significance of these modern developments.

      That you can arrive at different conclusios from same position is also  true in music—it used to be some ‘radical’ music forms such as rap/hip hop and punk were seen as ‘left’ / anarchist / revolutionary /anti-religion etc.   But later one had a whole set of right wing / religious /fascist rap and punk bands .

      Science including economics is not a monolith.   Often there are ‘majority opinions’ but I don’t think these are as uniform as some beleieve.

      It is true that the majority beliefs are what get presented in college textbooks as the orthodoxy.

      In Catholocism and protestantism and Islam  there is are orthodoxies  but there are also plenty of ‘believers’ who disagree with them .
      Feuds between factions in  religion, science and economics to me are similar.

      I sort of have given up on calling myself any sort of scientist or mathematician (and besides am not employed as one) , and to an extent say as some in CASP say about economics ‘who needs math and science if this is what math and science people do’?
      So instead ‘political science fiction’, ‘free math’,  ‘ir/rational un/natural philosophy’ , or ‘stochasticism’ is  more what i do.

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