Capitalism and the State: March 21 at 7 p.m.

Part 8 of Occupy Philly Education and Training Working Group’s
Dissecting Capitalism Series:
Capitalism and the State with Gabriel Rockhill and Avi Alpert of the Machete Group

Wednesday, March 21 at 7 p.m.
at LAVA space, 4134 Lancaster Ave, Philly
Gabriel Rockhill
“State-Driven Capitalism and the Neoliberal Recuperation of Economic Determinism”
This talk will explore the historical emergence of laissez-faire economics as the product of deliberate state action in order to debunk the widespread myth of a structural opposition between the state and free market capitalism. Against this historical backdrop, it will further examine the rather suspect neoliberal recuperation of economic determinism and historical teleology–two mainstays of vulgar Marxism. It will conclude by raising a central question concerning the current political and economic conjuncture: Has neoliberal economics “triumphed” by clandestinely recycling the supposedly defunct historiography of vulgar Marxism?
Avi Alpert
“Is Capitalism Like a Language?”
This talk will present a series of theses about how research into the words we use may help illuminate the economic system in which we live. The hope is that language may reveal to us both some hard truths and real possibilities for the transformation of capitalism, the state, and beyond.
The Dissecting Capitalism series provides an introduction to capitalism, highlighting its historical, social, and political constructs as well as its systemic, global impact. Each session will feature speakers, open discussion, and for certain dates, short readings designed to facilitate participatory debate, dialogue, and popular education. We envision the series as forming a cohesive whole, and encourage participants to attend all ten sessions, if possible. The education series is free, as all education should be, but donations to West Philly’s collectively run LAVA (Lancaster Avenue Autonomous Zone;; 4134 Lancaster Ave Philadelphia, PA 19104), which is generously letting us use its space, are greatly appreciated.
Future events include:
Wed, March 28 at 7 p.m.
Part 9: Capitalism and Racism
Josh Lukin (to be announced soon)
Wed, April 4 at 7 p.m.
Part 10: Imagining a Postcapitalism (details will be announced)
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Lecture at UPenn: January 24th

“Rancière’s Productive Contradictions: From the Politics of Aesthetics to the Social Politicity of Art”
by Gabriel Rockhill 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012.
6:30 p.m.
UPenn MB 102 (201 South 34th Street)

More info

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Intersections: Race, Class, Gender and the Occupy Movement

Machete Group Members Avi Alpert and Gabriel Rockhill in dialogue with Annika Thiem and Homay King


Due to a conflicting event, this discussion has been postponed to Monday, November 14th at 5:30 pm.

Continuing our Confrontations series in experimental Public Pedagogy in support of the Occupy Together Movement, the Machete Group proposes a collective symposium on “Intersections: Race, Class, Gender and the Occupy Movement.” Building on classic readings by Angela Davis and Cornel West, we will bring to the fore the question of who is the 99%. Through these readings and the discussion that develops, we aim to foster critical dialogue while at the same time foregrounding the point that paying attention to race, class and gender is not divisive, but rather can help strengthen the movement. We hope to engage with various voices trying to understand how our different social positions can come together to make a lasting and sustainable movement.

Although it is not a requirement for participation, the texts of reference are available for download below. A limited number of hardcopies will also be made available at the Occupy Philadelphia Library.


Angela Davis, “Class and Race in the Early Women’s Rights Campaign”
Cornel West, “The Pitfalls of Racial Reasoning”

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Reform and Radical Social Transformation

Open Seminar by Gabriel Rockhill, Annika Thiem and Adam Takacs

Wednesday, 26 October, 2011 at 5:30 p.m.
The Library of Occupy Philadelphia, Central Arch of City Hall (west side),
Intersection of Market Street and Broad Street, Philadelphia

As an extension of the Machete Group’s Confrontations series (see “Capitalism and the State” and “Resistance and Revolution”), we are proposing an open seminar that explores the longstanding debate between reform and revolution.  By taking two exemplary texts by Rosa Luxembourg and Herbert Marcuse as our starting points, we will critically reflect on the binary opposition between the status quo and its transcendence.  More specifically, we will question the relevancy of this dichotomy to contemporary social and political movements.

The texts of reference are available for download below.
Rosa Luxemburg, “Social Reform or Revolution
Herbert Marcuse, “Art and Revolution

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Institutions and Interventions

The Problem of Social Emancipation from the Status Quo:
From Revolutions to Occupations

Workshop for the Marcuse Society Conference Critical Refusals
Participants:  Gabriel Rockhill (Villanova University, Collège International de Philosophie, Machete Group), Adam Takacs (Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary), Annika Thiem (Villanova University).

Thursday, October 27th, 7-8:30 pm
Slought Foundation
4017 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-3513

(To be followed by Interactive Symposium on Marcuse — details below)

This workshop, run in conjunction with the Machete Group’s new series at the Slought Foundation, will focus on one of the central themes of Herbert Marcuse’s work:  the relationship between the institutions of the status quo and the acts of critical intervention that seek to overcome them through projects of social emancipation.  More specifically, it will concentrate on the paradoxical situation of social criticism, which purports to transcend the status quo while being squarely situated within a social nexus.  This problematic of immanent transcendence is further complicated by the necessity of not only breaking with the status quo but also establishing alternative institutions that aim at orienting society in a new direction.  In short, the central question of this workshop will be:  how can we transform society from within, and what role can philosophy play in this process?

Rather than a traditional academic panel, we would like to propose a workshop that explores the legacy of Marcuse’s socio-philosophical project and its relevancy to the contemporary conjuncture.  We thereby seek to call into question traditional modes of knowledge production and transmission in the name of mobilizing theoretical tools from the past for pressing practical issues in the present.  To this end, each participant in the workshop will explore the conundrum of social criticism through a concise presentation of a specific social institution in order to generate a larger, collective discussion.  The respective titles of the individual presentations are:  “Can History Have an Emancipatory Power? Reflections on the Possibility of a ‘Revolutionary’ Historical Science” (Takacs), “New Affects for a New Society:  Beyond Repression vs. Liberation” (Thiem) and “Revolution or Recuperation?  Overcoming False Polarizations in the Art World” (Rockhill).  The methodological orientation of the entire workshop will be to draw on the work of Marcuse in order to discuss modes of critical intervention in the current conjuncture of status quo institutions.

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Machete on Marcuse at Slought

Marcuse’s The Aesthetic Dimension:  A Performative Symposium on Art and Politics

Thursday, October 27th, 9pm-11pm
Slought Foundation
4017 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-3513

As part of our continual effort to investigate the interactions between art, philosophy, and politics, the Machete Group hosts a presentation/conversation on Marcuse’s The Aesthetic Dimension: Toward a Critique of Marxist Aesthetics (1978) as part of our series, “Prisms of the Possible.”  The goal of this symposium is to stage an aesthetic and theoretical constellation through which we collectively test and explore – with all those in attendance – the performative power of theory.  Each of the three short presentations by Avi Alpert, Alexi Kukuljevic and Gabriel Rockhill will function as individual prisms to refract Marcuse’s work and open up possibilities for its use and interpretation – as we struggle with ideas, thoughts and images that speak to our present condition.

Please note:

As this will be a participatory and interactive symposium, attendees are encouraged to review Marcuse’s The Aesthetic Dimension in order to take part in a dynamic public exchange. The text is available here.

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Capitalism and the State

Machete Confrontation at Occupy Philadelphia

Machete Group members Avi Alpert and Gabriel Rockhill in dialogue with Nancy Fraser and Annika Thiem

Friday, 21 October, 2011 at 5:45 p.m.

The Library of Occupy Philadelphia (SE Corner of Encampment)
City Hall, at the Intersection of Market Street and Broad Street

As a continuation of our Confrontations series on Public Pedagogy in support of the Occupy Together Movement, the Machete Group proposes a collective symposium on “Capitalism and the State.”  Based on the confrontation between various texts (see below) and points of view, we propose a public discussion on the relationship between capitalism and the state.  We will critically explore the supposed opposition between the state and the ‘free market,’ questioning the credo of economic liberalism.  We will also raise questions regarding the history of the relationship between capitalism and state intervention in order to shed light on our current conjuncture and debates on the ‘new spirit of capitalism.’

Although it is not a requirement for participation, the texts of reference are available for download below. A limited number of hardcopies will also be made available at the Occupy Philadelphia Library.

Budgen, Sebastian, “A New ‘Spirit of Capitalism’” (book review)
Engels, Friedrich and Karl Marx, “Manifesto of the Communist Party
Harvey, David, selection from A Brief History of Neoliberalism
Polanyi, Karl, selection from The Great Transformation

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