Bulletin N° 763


1 September 2017

Grenoble, France

Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,


As the summer drew to an end and capitalist contradictions deepened, I completed the first volume of Peter Weiss’ novel, The Aesthetics of Resistance. Written in the style of a James Joycean stream of consciousness, Weiss’s work falls under the rubric of  ‘proletarian literature,’ reflecting the unremitting reality of class domination, with all the necessary human sacrifices performed in order to make the system work. In the opening pages, the author describes how quality education is withheld from workers to the point that most do not even know what they are missing, and if they gain an inkling of an idea, they immediately assume that they are not fit to undertake the activity. Most are unable to even open a book.


Weiss celebrates the power of the imagination and seeks - like the classic hero of Greek mythology, Heracles - to defend the udowntrodden by any means that will produce justice. The setting of his intellectual odyssey is Hitler’s Germany and the Spanish Civil War. Two recurring questions in Weiss’s novel are: Why do the oppressed collaborate with their oppressors? and What prevents acts of resistance from developing into full-scale revolution?


The scientific knowledge withheld from workers serves to keep them mystified and passive within the system of class domination. They are made to feel their inadequacy, and little more. From time to time Weiss enters into a description of the aesthetics of the relationship of domination/submission between the classes in what we call ‘civilization.’ The book reflects the mental life of a working-class teenager living in Germany at the moment of the Nazi seizure of power. The unnamed narrator has two teenage friends, Heilmann and Coppi; all three of these young men are autodidacts, studying art history, and their working-class families encourage them in their intellectual pursuits to appropriate the knowledge that has been withheld from the working class and which by necessity they must reframe in a class-conscious context, the only context intelligible for their purposes, given the conditions of their lives under fascist capitalism.


The gap between the classes was a gap between diverse realms of understanding. The world was the same for both, the same stars could be seen, yet separated from the servants, the untutored, there was knowledge that did not alter things themselves but gave them additional values and functions to be used by the insiders. The man who believed that  the earth was a disk surrounded by a torrent of Okeanos, from which the lamps of the gods were withdrawn at night, the man who believed that Selene with her brightening and darkening moon-mirror dictated the lightness and gravity of coming events and that Poseidon blew the waves to the shores and hurled lightning from the clouds at seafarers, that man would not venture abroad on his own, but he had to entrust himself to protection by the leaders and the armed men. Wood, fire, wheat, minerals, and metals looked the same in the eyes of those who worked things with tools and those who received the products and harvests, but the advantage enjoyed by these recipients was that they could already calculate the net profit, for they owned the ground that yielded the desired things and owned the market for selling them. The slave held the heavy chuck of ore in one hand and the light leaf in the other, he saw veins and the glitter of grains and stripes, the thin tissue had been broken from the branch, the fragment had been removed from the split rock, the light, which the lord of the land also saw, played upon the ore, but he knew that matter was composed of infinitesimal particles, the atoms, which, in a wide variety of characteristics and attributes, gave every phenomenon its shape. Whenever he walked across the same soil as his underling, peering across the vast rondure, with its hills, its flocks of cranes, and the hazy mountain crests, he, the lord, was aware of utterly different proportions than the cottager. Driven by the urge to understand what he needed, he had stepped into the four-dimensional concept of space; after curving the plane of the earth, finding its roundness, gaining the possibility of returning to the starting point by following a straight line, and thereby discovering that he was located in infinity, on a rotating sphere, which, together with other spheres, revolved around the sun, the lord had added the relationship with time to his thinking. Lying stretched out, in the clear night on the Aegean Sea, in Egypt, mapping the position of the stars on the celestial chart, learning the rules by which the moonlight waned and waxed, he established his calendar, precisely reckoning the length of the earth’s rotation, the time it took the moon to circle the earth, the earth to orbit around the sun, and the participation of the sun, with its planets, in the system of the millions of stars, which altogether, an utterly remote and milky concentration, formed a gigantic ring with which the infinite closed itself up. Just as he understood what he needed, so too the simplest explanation was the true one. Earlier it had been simple and true that the gods had created the world with all its life, but after forging across the mountains and oceans and extending his view aloft, he was no longer dizzied by the thought that the earth, left alone by the gods, was flying with him through the universe. From a well in Egypt’s Syene he took bearings of the sun at its zenith. The string of the plumb bob transmitted the line that could be drawn from the fiery star to the center of the earth. Since by measuring he knew that the rays of the sun were parallel when hitting the earth, an angle had to emerge between the ray falling at the same time in Alexandria to the north and the vertical line he had set. With the aid of this angle and the distance between the two places, he could find the degree of the curvature of the earth and then its circumference, almost down to the exact kilometer. However, just as here, in the valley basin, in the olive plantation, he kept the reasons for the lunar darkening, the solar eclipse, ebb and flow, thunderstorms and rainfall to himself, so to he never let on that masses of primal matter had once torn loose from the universe and linked up in the void, that worlds had been created and destroyed by collisions before the fiery lump of the earth crusted over, the flaming storms were snuffed, the continents ascended from the boiling water, and the first fishlike creatures developed in the slime, ultimately producing human beings. The dynamics of the whole thing, it was said when people asked about the purpose of existence, was the law of necessity, and anyone who recognized this law also mastered it with his free will. The action of the freeness was solely an abiding by necessity. Driven to increase his possessions, he explored the earth all the way to the icy isle of Thule in the north and southward all the way to the African cape, westward beyond the Pillars of Heracles and eastward to the widely branching flow of the Ganges, while the peasant, measuring clumsily, paced off his scrap of farmland. The bound man sat on the thwart down in the galley, all he had was the unvarying forward bend and the brief hard backward bounce to the slave driver’s drumbeat, the navigator on deck possessed the vast reaches of the sea with its currents, monsoons, and trade winds, which he harnessed on his cyclical voyages, locating his whereabouts by the constellations. For the unfree man there was never anything but what was immediately before him, and all his efforts had to be used up to cope with it. For the free man there was always the suspense of the new, he mapped coastlines and geographic formations, located seaways, strikes of raw materials, opportunities for trading. The people condemned to servitude rapidly withered in the monotony, but he, who had initiative and variety, grew younger. He did not, amid the masses conducted by the priests, need to pray for being saved from illness, for healing, the physicians had spelled out the workings of the organs, the pulse, the nerves, the circulation of blood and prepared all sorts of medicaments for him. The have-nots made sacrifices on their altars to the gods of fertility and weather, of the lower and upper regions of the world, deities whom their ruler barely knew by name, and the purpose of the offerings was to move the deities to let them have a sliver of the abundance. The well-to-do could attain anything they desired, with minted money, with banks, with expeditionary troops. Their philosophers found that the giving and taking , the continual counteracting and interacting was consistent with the essence of all living things, every object was formed by compounding and separating, by thinning and thickening, by attracting and repulsing, there was no matter that did not consist of pairs of opposites. Just as knowing the world meant controlling it, so too control was bound up with the right to power and violence. With their filled silos, their laden freighters, their country villas, palaces, and art treasures, the entrepreneurs demonstrated the correctness of their actions. They stood on the side of progress, they doled out the work, they called for whomever they needed, they dismissed whoever no longer suited them, they started workshops and manufactories, they sped up the production of skins for writing after the competing Egyptian authorities outlawed the export of papyrus, they developed the technique of dyeing sheep’s wool; Weavers, tailors, sandal makers, and blacksmiths worked for them, their caravans brought back ivory, jade, silk, and porcelain from China, spices, perfumes, slaves and pearls from India; For their shipyards they had the workers haul timber from the high forests, they had them extract copper and iron ore, gold and silver form the mines, tend the herds of cattle, raise horses, and bring the grain and wheat, so that this agricultural profusion earned their’ country the rank of the granary of Asia Minor. That, said Coppi, was when they gained their advantage over us, which keeps confronting us with the fact that everything we produce is utilized way over our heads and that it trickles down to us, if at all attainable, from up there, just as work is said to be given to us. If we want to take on art, literature, we have to treat them against the grain, that is, we have to eliminate all the concomitant privileges and project our own demands into them. In order to come to ourselves, said Heilmann, we have to re-create not only culture but also all science and scholarship by relating them to our concerns. We have stated common knowledge about the shape of our planet and its position in the universe, but for us there is something odd about this simple lore. When we say the world is round and turns on its own axis, we are confirming that there are haves and have-nots. If we state principles of physical orders, they involve the division of labor into doers and drivers, a split as old a science. Whenever the image of the world as established by ancient scientists is taken over in its full scope, it always expresses the tie to the existing rules of social conditions. Only by realizing that we are on a rotating sphere and by a forgetting all the connected things that are taken for granted can we grasp the horrors that mold our thinking. Two thousand years had elapsed since the highest stage of the Pergamene Imperium, yet nearly one century after the Manifesto the rulers, whom we had always helped to bring to power, still claimed all discoveries for themselves. Decay was already seeping in, but so huge still were the superior strength of the idea of being chosen and the commandment of subordination that nothing could as yet make the workers understand that it was they who carried every advance to the next phase of society. On the mountains over the fruitful fields of Mysia, over the hustle and bustle of the port of Elea, the nobles in the castle devoted themselves to their skills, the fundamental questions about the mechanics of the world were clarified, the government watched over the interplay of exploitation and profit, the business was conducted by specialists, the governors had subaltern bureaucrats and functionaries, who made sure the production quotas were met, the rents collected from the small landowners, the taxes levied in the villages, often under the pressure of troops from the garrisons, the town councils ensured the order in the towns, foreign politics was conducted by the Supreme Council, and in the courts, halls, and covered walks of the gymnasium, originally built to train the youths for military service, teachers and pupils could focus undisturbed on the disciplines that next to solidity and rigorous organization were inexhaustible, epics, elegiac and lyrical poetry, painting and sculpture, music, dance, and drama, singing and calligraphy. To haul art down to us, we had to head for the peak encircled by dazzling white walls and lined with cypresses and flower beds, the mountain top where art led a life of its own. The directors of the academies dubbed themselves skeptics, for their task was to examine, to mull and doubt, and they bore the honorary title of critic because they took on nothing without analyzing it and subjecting it to change. On the basis of their authority in the ruling world they could question everything they dealt with, they could forge ahead into previously unknown intellectual regions because the ground they were on was stabilized  and systematized And when we stand next to a self-perfected man like Crates, said Heilmann, in his customized park and listen to him defining the features of language, we can jot down his very last word, and he opened his notebook under the kitchen lamp. Literary criticism, according to Crates, had three tasks, first of all, to test diction, syntax, and sentence articulation, secondly, to evaluate phonetics, idioms, style, and figures, and thirdly to make a historical assessment of the ideas and images used. For him and his school, linguistic qualities could be ascertained only if all obscurities found their rational explanations, so that every statement was compared with empirical observation and practical experience. The boundaries of conception were widened on the basis of logic, and beauty was attributed to anything that had found name and form out of the unknown. Hence understanding was always given priority over the sensation of the marvelous; art was a science like geometry and statics. Thus the sages at the court of Pergamum acted on the same perspectives established by the early naturalists, everything they found was weighed in terms of its usability;, they set rules that still held sway two thousand years later, they served the further evolution of the intellect, thereby also serving those who permitted its development. This kingdom of the mind had sprung up by means of violence, every utterance of art, the philosophy was grounded in violence. And the grander and more sublime the creation, the more furious the reign of brutality had been. The heyday of the Pergamene Kiingdom lasted for only a few short decades, and it had been preceded by one a century of unabated warfare. This was the pattern still inherent in most polities today. The laws of the ancient slaveholding society were still in effect. All revolts notwithstanding, the majority of the populace still had to take the field for the elite. More than two thousand years had passed since the conscripted farm boys, the prisoners captured during the military operations had been driven the length and breadth of Asia Minor by their respective commanders, bleeding to death in battles that led to the ruin of one usurper, the rise of the other. Only twenty years ago, our fathers had returned from their massacres, and minuscule was the period since the October when the signal had been given for a fresh start after the long history of murder. The superiors had always asserted their rights, and they had always insisted on their hegemony until they were replaced by other powerful men, and we had never managed to get beyond buckling and submitting, and once again we faced a burgeoning tyranny that we had not seen coming. In our sealed-off kitchen, we pictured the continent as Alexander had left it, with its Greek settlements, its mix of nations;, its fortresses, where the generals who had conquered the empire for their ruler now administered their own kingdoms, having switched from partners to adversaries, jealously pressing to expand territories, siccing their troops on one another, from Macedonia, from Thrace, Bithynia, and Pontus, from Cappadocia, Babylonia, Syria, and Egypt. The lands of the Diadochi lay on the bare surface of the table, Coppi sat leaning back in front of the Hellespont, from where Lysimachus, former bodyguard to the army commander, had thrust southward, along the Aegean coast, and installed Philetaerus, a young captain from Tius on the Black Sea, as governor of Pergamun. Coppi’s mother bent over the Taurun Mountains, which formed the northern border of the realm of Seleucus, king of Babylon, Heilmann’s hand slid up from Alexandria, the seat of Ptolemy, across the sea, toward the center that was to become the residence of the Attalids. Assigned to build up the garrison and protect the work of the governors, Philetaerus promptly realized the possibilities afforded him by his authority, instead of serving Lysimachus he now wished to challenge his monopoly. He took the money box stored in the mountain tower, its nine thousand talents equal to thirty-two million gold marks, and he instantly invested funds to concentrate forces from all regions for shielding his venture. Who cares about demands, he could ask when his ruined boss reminded him of the obligations he had agreed to. No dangers threatened Philetaerus form that source, and with Seleucus, his southern competitor, he entered into an alliance based on mutual respect so long as the balance of the military potential could be maintained. This was styled a friendship treaty, and according to the terminology of the market administration he established a protectorship over the coastal cities, which had regained some of their earlier freedoms after Alexander’s routing of the Persians. The catchwords verbalized by the great conqueror, who claimed that he meant to restore democracy and that Greeks had precedence over all other races, suited the polis just fine. During his ten-year march across the Asian interior, where he established military bases all the way to the Indus, naming them after himself, and did likewise with fortified colonization sites for specially tax-privileged merchants, the Alexandrian slogans changed. In order to unify the empire he had grabbed in his boundlessness and his passion for fame, he had to forswear racial discrimination. Now, reconciliation was the catchword, a melding of West and East, community and unity, and yet this spelled nothing but an insatiable need for victorious battles, for enemy potentates slain and tortured to death, for captives to be used as slaves, as army reinforcements, for women given to officers and meritorious soldiers. Supposedly Alexander saw the light before his untimely death and was well-nigh stricken with humility, but what really struck him was intense hysteria, which erupted regularly with mutinies of impatient troops. In a cadence not attained by even the corporal who was now trying to climb to the rank of world ruler, Alexander drew the doubters, the exhausted back to his side by promising them anything. Had the fever not snatched him away at thirty, he would, after a time of raging, have perished in his gigantic, untenable, ubiquitously crumbling structure. He left behind chaos, ruins, and hostility. Reared in the spirit of graft, Philetaerus granted privileges to the landowners and merchants, whose support he initially required, the latifundia could be expanded, the warehouses had free access to the colonial goods, for a while the citizens could gorge themselves, the tributes and rentals were collected from tenant farmers, craftsmen, and workers. For the inhabitants of coastal cities, which had previously been sucked dry by a Spartan or Athenian military junta, a Lydian king, a Macedonian, Thracian, Rhodian admiral, a period of economic prosperity seemed to be heralded by the founding the Pergamene Kingdom, and it was in the interest of those coastal dwellers for the regent in the acropolis to surround himself with glamour and prestige, for the more portentous he made himself the more he was respected by the neighboring empires. It dawned on nobody as yet that he was depriving the polis of more and more clout. The walled cities still had the class division between citizens, foreigners, soldiers, freemen, and private, public, and imperial slaves; the citizens had a say in the seemingly democratic government, practiced by the legislative assemblies of the House of Representatives and the Council, the members of the Municipal Council could be elected by the people. Alien mercenaries who had proven their loyalty to the army obtained citizenship, lands were distributed to officers, arable patches to soldiers who had distinguished themselves in combat, the transition from the  society of Greek city states to the absolute Hellenistic monarchy occurred in the education of a broader propertied stratum that had an interest in maintaining its cultivated grain, its cattle and orchards. A national feeling was thus developed by a prudent Philetaerus, who had aroused the willingness to undertake an armed defense of the state. (pp.32-37)


The anonymous narrator carried his proletarian understanding of western civilization to Spain with him when he left his family and comrades in Berlin to fight in the International Brigade against Fascism. Once there, he imagined the historic arrival of the great Greek merchant ships on the southern coast of Spain in the 6th century B.C. and the Punic Wars fought on this same land between the super powers of Carthage and Rome in the 3rd century B.C. The history, as always, is one of class struggle and ruling class conquest.


The concept of Greek civilization had usually been appreciated as the idea of supreme cultural development. But this idea would have been nothing  without its stable foundation. At the top the thought of democracy emerged, the doctrine of the unity and equality of human beings. At the bottom the maltreated laborers, kept away from all rights. The artistic sculptures and the buildings with columns, all commissioned by the propertied classes, were carried by hecatombs of chained bodies. The noble proportions could detach themselves from dankness and putrescence. The patriarchs bluntly established the separation, which was the prerequisite for their economic system. The priests and the philosophers validated themselves in this order, making sure that the masses were kept in check by superstitious dread, anyone who so much as dared to articulate a word of enlightenment was expelled. Slaveholders and slaves, the former allied with supernatural powers, glorifying their thievery in poetry, the latter, existing only as beasts, as living tools, jointly they formed the two-part structure that we were still struggling to dismantle today. Greek civilization rested on unspeakable plundering, wars were ceaselessly fought to conquer slaves, and it was supposed to be a great boon for the rounded-up creatures to be allowed to serve such exquisite masters. The Hellenic market economy grew out of arrogance and brutality, racism and cynicism, in the harshest rivalries between the city-states, competing internally for the highest profits. With its four harbors, Miletus, the most populous city in the Near East, controlled the Aegean commerce, in its expansion the metropolis cut the smaller fortified towns off from any access to the sea. Military campaigns had devastated the farmlands, the young men were forced to hire themselves out to the armies, and the large landowners in the coastal areas had to look for new lines of production. In Phocaea, on the Bay of Hermos, the constriction provoked a readjustment from agrarian to maritime thinking, the entrepreneurs, who had never before ventured out to sea, who had been content to steal cattle and loot neighboring villages, were now lured by the accounts of foreign sailors to build ships of their own for bringing cargoes from very distant climes. Their distress, transformed into boldness, was reflected in the construction of the vessels, with which they outdid anything created by Phoenician technology. More than a thousand rowers, on three levels, a machinery, directed by the beat of the drum, drove the ship forward, on deck the merchants lay in tents, overcoming their seasickness, by looking forward to all the treasurers they would acquire. Down below, an incessant crunching and creaking, up above, at the command post, a gauging, measuring, calculating. Swift as an arrow, its ruddy sail belling in the wind, the oars striking down, sweeping up, spraying drops, the galley, with its ram bow thrusting far ahead, sliced through the water, the crew raiding every foreign ship that crossed its path. For the shipbuilders of Phocaea, the superior position they had won soon became their hubris . . . . (pp.284-285)


The poetic license used in this unusual novel reveals the ambiguities and confusions that are encountered in everyday life. The cultural richness of the internal life of the narrator prepares him to attempt to rationally understand the relationships he encounters in his voyage through 20th century capitalism. His consciousness is not that of a petty bourgeois opportunist, but rather that of a proletarian youth looking forward to a better future and preparing to participate in its construction through class struggle and class solidarity.

The 12 items below will help CEIMSA readers recognize the nefarious effect consumer culture is having on all of us. The complex classical culture, to which Marx referred frequently in his various writings, has been covered over with ubiquitous one-dimensional corporatist culture from Disneyland and McDonald's, and pornographic fantasies of omnipotence/total submission, and sadomasochistic relationships representing power for no more than its intrinsic value. Under such restraints, any stream of consciousness today would likely read as narcissistic graffiti, devoid of social content.



Francis Feeley

Professor emeritus of American Studies

University Grenoble-Alpes

Director of Research

University of Paris-Nanterre

Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements

The University of California-San Diego






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From: William Blum
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From: Alan Grayson
Sent: Saturday, 26 August, 2017
Subject: Join The Resistance Movement


Join the Resistance


Dear Francis,

We need an organization dedicated to ending the Trump Administration.

So here it is.  Welcome to the 
Resistance Movement!

Become a Founding Member of our movement >>

We want Donald Trump 
indicted, or we want him impeached and convicted, or we want to force him to resign.  Any way it happens, the Angry Creamsicle has got to go.

Right now, 
getting rid of Donald Trump is Issue 1, 2, 3, 4 and ∞.  And we won’t stop until he’s gone.

Help make it happen – Dump Trump! >>

This is not an organization for people who have mixed feelings about Donald Trump, or who worry about whether VP Pence would be better or worse, or are willing to let Senate Republicans “investigate” Trump and leave it at that.  No.  This is an organization for people who have decided that 
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What kind of action?  This kind of action:

·        We will 
crowdsource” independent investigations of Donald Trump and his henchmen driven by whistleblowers, and then feed that information to watchdogs and prosecutors who will punish, indict or impeach.
·        We will 
demand commitments from Democrats (and sane Republicans) to block Trump appointments, orders and legislation, and to impeach Trump if the Democrats take over Congress next year.
·        We will 
boycott Trump businesses, and those of his family, allies and henchmen.
·        We will 
make noise, particularly on our Days of Resistance, the 20th of each month (inauguration anniversary).
·        We will 
keep up the attacks through our newsletter ‘The Trump Dump’; network and share information at LockHimUpNow.org; spread the word through social media; and ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE.

We will fight Trump every single day, until he is OUT.

Ready to get started?

Join me now at LockHimUpNow.org, and follow The Resistance on Twitter and Facebook

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From: Richard Wolff
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Subject: "Economic Update"



Dear Friends,

It is now 5.5 years that I have produced a weekly radio show, "Economic Update." From its beginnings on New York City's WBAI to the current listing of about 85 radio stations that regularly broadcast the program, it has been primarily a radio show. Tomorrow at 8:30 PM Eastern Time that all changes as we add a TV version of the show. We have signed a contract with Free Speech TV that will bring the TV version to approximately 40 million receivers across the US. With the help of a professional videographer and access to You Tube studios in Manhattan, the FSTV version is a major upgrade in the program's production values.

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