Zero Squared #6: Cultural Marxism?

Feb 11th, 2015 | By | Category: Articles, Zero Squared

zerosquared6C Derick Varn is the guest this week. Varn is a reader at Zero Books, a University lecturer and teacher currently living in Mexico, and my co-host on the Pop the Left podcast. In this episode of Zero Squared we briefly discuss his new podcast Symptomatic Redness and then discuss the notion of Cultural Marxism. Cultural Marxism is, as Varn puts it, a concept and misunderstanding held by paleo-conservatives and fascists, it's the term the far right deploys to describe a mishmash of often contradictory thinkers and concepts, including thinkers from the Frankfurt School, Gramsci, Lukas, and late 20th century feminist thinkers and “stand point” epistemologists.

There are several titles in production now for April. Eugene Thacker has two more Horror and Philosophy books coming after his success with “In the Dust of this Planet,” and Justin Barton's book “Hidden Valleys: Haunted by the Future” is due out as well. Barton's book suggests that the future is always alongside us, sometimes closer, sometimes further away, which I guess means that all six titles due out in April are, in a sense, already here.

You'll here the voices of Herbert Marcuse, Erich Fromm, Rick Roderick, Suey Park, Laurie Penny, Nikita Kruschev, and Che Guevara. You'll also hear the music of Theodore Adorno, reedited sounds from Mungo Jerry's hit “In the Summertime,”some Calliope Music, as well as the theme from Rick and Morty as run backwards through the dialectic.

At the start of the podcast you'll hear a few minutes from a youtube video about the Frankfurt School and Cultural Marxism, but it doesn't last too long.

If you enjoy the Zero Books podcast consider listening to the Inside Zero books podcast on Patreon!
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5 Comments to “Zero Squared #6: Cultural Marxism?”

  1. Justin Ziegler says:

    “…there is a difference between the way capitalism exploits people, and alienates them from their living labor and killing a million people and, you know, piling up the bodies.”

    Is there really? By what metric should we measure the worth of human lives?


  2. I think the difference is obvious on it’s face, but I’ll spell it out for you.

    The exploitation under Capitalism is, simultaneously, a mode of production. On the one hand it is the way we organize our productive labor and it is a way we lose our connection to our creative activities.

    The murder of tens of millions is just that, murder.

  3. Justin Ziegler says:

    I think you’re excusing everything short of murder on the grounds that it isn’t murder.

    • “I think you’re excusing everything short of murder on the grounds that it isn’t murder.”

      How is pointing out that there is a category difference, excusing anything? Marx separated out exploitation and oppression for reasons having to do with the organizational differences, does it follow that it he was excusing exploitation when his entire project was organized around eliminating it.

      I just don’t understand the point on defending “pseudo-Bordiga” on conflating the accumulation of dead labor with the elimination of entire population categories. It doesn’t undo the horror or wrongness of such accumulation nor its cost in lives, which it has. That said, elimination explicitly is even beyond oppression, much less exploitation.

  4. Do you disagree that Capitalist exploitation is both a way that we organize our productive labor and a way we lose our connection to our creative activities? And do you fail to see how that is different than extermination?

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