Karl Marx wrote that the only way to write about the origins of capitalism in the 16th century is in the letters of blood and fire used to drive workers from the common lands, forests and waters. This collection of essays by autonomist Marxist George Caffentzis argues that the same is true for the annals of 21st century capitalism. Information technology, immaterial production, financialization and globalization have been trumpeted as inaugurating a new phase of capitalism that put it beyond its violent origins. Instead of being in a period of major social and economic novelty, however, the course of the last decades has been a return to the fire and blood of struggles at the advent of capitalism.
Emphasizing class struggles that have proliferated across the social body of global capitalism, Caffentzis shows how a wide range of conflicts and antagonisms in the labor-capital relation express themselves within and against the work process. These struggles are so central to the dynamic of the system that even the most sophisticated machines cannot liberate capitalism from class struggle and the need for labor. Moreover, the theme of war and crisis permeate the text but are also given singular emphasis, documenting the peculiar way in which capital perpetuates violence and proliferates misery on a world scale. The collection draws upon a careful re-reading of Marx’s thought in order to elucidate political concerns of the day. The essays in this collection have been written to contribute to the debates of the anti-capitalist movement over the last thirty years. This book is meant to make them more available as tools for the struggle in this period of transition to a common future.
In Letters of Blood and Fire: Work, Machines, and the Crisis of Capitalism
Common Notions/PM Press 2013. New paperback; 288 pages