“Marx alone sought to combine the politics of revolt with the ‘poetry of the future’ and applied himself to demonstrate that socialism was more modern than capitalism and more productive. To recover that futurism and that excitement is surely the fundamental task of any left ‘discursive struggle’ today.” -Fredric Jameson
This seminar will examine Marxist reflections on technology and their role in both consolidating capitalist power and potentiating post-capitalist futures. From Marx’s initial ambiguous writings on technology – sliding between immense respect and outright horror – the Marxist tradition has grappled with these tensions in a variety of ways. This seminar will be reading classic and not-so-classic Marxist texts in an effort to uncover what technology may be able to offer for a future political economy.
To what extent can technology be repurposed? What are the social consequences of automation? And what might technological development look like after capitalism? Topics covered will include automation, the fetters of capitalism, the critiques of productivism, labor process theory, cybernetic planning, and socially useful production. The Seminar will examine a range of thinkers, including Marx, Lenin, Luxemburg, Panzieri, Cleaver, Noble, Federici, Mandel, Wainwright, Dyer-Witheford, Ramtin, and Morris-Suzuki.
The seminar will be composed of four two and a half hour sessions, each split between an hour and an hour and a half lecture and around an hour of group discussion. Readings will be set for each week, and students will be expected to write 400 words on some aspect of the week’s topic in advance. This will be posted to the google classroom page for everyone to read and comment upon as they wish, providing some preliminary threads for the group discussion. The final assessment will consist of a 2500 word essay on a topic agreed upon with the instructor in advance.