Response to Skypoet – guest contribution by John Lowrie

This is a response to a posting on the Symptomatic Comentatary Blog
which criticized the idea of using ideas from classical direct democracy.

” Only the the council of 500 and some several positions were selected by lottery, but positions of tactical importance were elected by general assemblies. Generals for example…”

Quite the contrary is true: only the generals and later financial officers were elected. All other magistrates were appointed by lot. It is sometimes argued that the generals in fact held supreme power, but the mere fact that the demos was able to put the most famous of all generals, Pericles, on trial shows this to be false. We should note in passing that there was no standing army in Athens and the police force consisted of slaves, a peculiarly ironic but not accidental institution in a slave owning society!

”While the Boule was selected by lot…severe limitations to the class and community composition were maintained.”

Without such limitations being specified, they are difficult to refute. The facts of the matter are that the Boule was chosen by lot, 50 citizens over the age of 30 from each of the 10 tribes to form the 500 members who served for a year , and each member might serve for another one year only at a later date. These are the only limitations of which we know.

”As Bob Black showed ….the records we have the assembly rarely if ever record evidence of votes consisting of more than 3000 participating.”

Bob then has misinterpreted the evidence. Thucydides ( 8.72) suggests that during the Peloponnesian War rarely more than 5000 attended, but this is a tendentious statement of some oligarchs! Further evidence is to the effect that for a foreigner to be granted Athenian citizenship a ballot was held twice, for which a quorum of 6000 was each time obligatory. ”Pay was used as an incentive.” But this proves the opposite of what comrade X supposes. Pay was only for the first 6000 to arrive, i.e. quickly to attain a quorum and get down to business!

”60,000 possible citizens.” There is no authority for a figure higher than 30,000 citizens. ”still excludes the vast majority…slaves, children, women…” This is a decidedly anachronistic comment : in France women did not get the vote till 1946, yet it still claimed to be a democracy!

”the courts served as a power check”. Yes, indeed! ”30 jurors could overturn or invalidate laws before proposal.” These 30 jurors are a figment of x’s imagination. Juries never had fewer than 201 members. Comrade x seems to confuse the dikasteria ( popular courts) with the nomothetai, a legislative body who voted by show of hands to pass or reject a a law. But it was a highly democratic body, being chosen by lot 1000 citizens being chosen by lot from the panel of 6000 jurors etc to serve for a day!

”archons could also effectively veto the assembly.” No evidence is presented for this most bizarre statement, nor is there any!

” direct democracy decided on by assemblies chosen by lot” Nonsense! Any citizen could attend the assembly or ekklesia, and had the right to speak and vote.

”there is a tendency to see oligarchy purely as rule of the rich… it is rule of the few.” This is true as far as it goes. The point is that for any modern oligarchy best to sustain its power it turns to the capitalist mode of production, the mode of production most appropriate to the rule of a modern oligarchy. As Deng Hsiao Ping put it: ‘to get rich is glorious’ and ‘some must get rich first.’ And was the Deng family among the first or the last? A Leninist party is of course an oligarchy. Thus Marx’s assertion that the working class must win the battle of democracy! The exercise of the right to vote is not the exercise of genuine power. Comrade X is utterly and dangerously misleading into claiming ”the original sense of of democracy.. the sense Marx was familiar with-its meaning is much closer to Lenin’s term, or the later Marxist term, ‘dictatorship of the proletariat.’ ” On the contrary, an extreme democracy ( what Aristotle denotes as a ‘monarchical’ democracy, the Latin term dictatorial being of course unknown to him) would be in the modern world most analogous to what Marx meant, and not Lenin’s misunderstanding. In the modern world an extreme democracy i.e. the rule of the unpropertied is, as history demonstrates, the only alternative to some form of oligarchy, and oligarchies in the modern world always sooner or later end up as capitalist ones. As Mao observed of China, ”the bourgeoisie sits in the central committee of the Communist party.” (and every other one for that matter!) Mao of course could not solve this paradox. The lessons to be gained from Athenian democracy suggest its solution. It is puzzling that as a socialist comrade X seems to have such a Platonic fear of the masses.


Class and the LGTB lobby

It is today taken as almost axiomatic that the left supports the LGTB cause. It came therefore, as a surprise to me to find a communist journalist Gearoid O Colmain arguing  that homosexuals, far from constituting a persecuted minority, are in fact key protagonists of the ruling class and bourgeois ideology.

He claims that

In the Soviet Union homosexuality was seen as one of the many perversions promoted by the bourgeoisie and their petty-bourgeois opponents– a ruling class phenomenon of social rather than biological origin. The communist understanding of sexuality has, since the counter-revolutions in Europe in 1989 and the dissolution of the USSR, been conveniently buried and forgotten.

My impression of his arguments is that they are very mixed with some stuff that is plausible and some stuff that is cranky, denying that HIV causes AIDS for example. But I think that a plausible economic argument can be made for one of his key arguments – that the political gay movement expresses middle class and upper class interests. I will in this post try to pull together an argument to this effect. I will focus on the mean class position of homosexual men, and show that this puts them in the top 10% of the population, and that this economic position is not incidental, but is closely connected with the gay male mode of life. Note the specificity, it does not apply to Lesbians.

1  Class

How do you define class position in Marxist terms? At its most basic the distinction between exploiting and exploited classes rests on whether a person  receives goods and services involving more labour than they contribute to society. This is a general definition that applies across all class societies, slave, feudal or capitalist. If you get back more than you put in in terms of labour then you, at least partially, benefit from exploitation.

It is important to realise that whether someone benefits from exploitation is not down to the legal form of their income. A person may formally be an employee and still benefit from exploitation. Obviously this applies to a manager on £250,000 a year. It is not always so evident where the cut-off comes. To work it out precisely you have to know what the monetary equivalent of an hour of labour is. I have not worked this out recently for the UK but before the recession I reckoned that it was about £20 an hour. As a first estimate anyone earning more than this in say 2008 would have been, at least partially, benefiting from the exploitation of others.

Just taking wage income into account is obviously too simple. People may have property income as well, and on the negative side they may be exploited by banks to whom they pay interest, or landlords to whom they pay rent. But simple income figures give you a first cut.

An alternative approach is to look at the share of wages in national income, then look at the mean wage. Someone on the mean wage will be exploited by the average amount. In 2009 for example the UK wage share was 53%1 and the average salary was £26,4502 which implies that the average employee generated a surplus value of £23,450 giving a total value created per employee of just under £50,000, so anyone earning above this was not exploited.

Because the distribution of income is uneven, the mean wage in 2009 was well above the median adult income which was only £16,400, and 67% of adults had an income of less than the average wage. About the top 10% of Britons, that year, had an income above the exploitation threshold of £50,000.

What does it mean to say someone is middle class?

Was a person on the median income of £16,000 – in the middle of the income range middle class?

In strict statistical terms it might seem so, but socially that makes no sense. A middle class status used to be associated with the self employed professions or small business people, who were not exploited, nor were they employers of labour. In terms of the current income distribution that would be people earning around the exploitation threshold say in the range £45,000 to £73,000, above which a person was receiving the value they create, plus the surplus value created by an average worker. Above that level they can reasonably be said to be upper class.

This comprised roughly the distribution from the 88th to the 96th percentile of the UK income distribution, or 8% of the population. If you are in the top 10% of the population then you are either comfortably middle class or upper class.

2  Economics and the gay lobby

You might initially think that economic class position had nothing to do with homosexuality, but it does not take long looking at the empirical sociological literature to come to the conclusion that this is mistaken. There is a connection, but it is that the interests of gays tend to be aligned with that of the propertied classes, rather than being independent of conflicting class interests. First, the literature on class attitudes to homosexuality shows that working class people are more likely to be hostile to it, and people from higher social classes more likely to be favourable or tolerant towards itAndersen and Fetner, [2008,Embrick et al., [2007]. Second, published data shows that gay couples are, on average, significantly better off than straight ones. On both attitudinal grounds and economic grounds therefore, the gay straight polarisation axis, rather than being independent of the class polarisation axis turns out to be tilted with respect to it.

There is a large body of data establishing that the gay population is disproportionately drawn from the middle and upper middle class, with, as a result, disproportionately small proportion being working class. In the UK a study showed that whereas only 16% of men had university degrees, 36% of gays had themArabsheibani et al., [2005]. Where only 5.5% of all men had professional or managerial jobs, the proportion among gay men in the UK was 9%. For the USA, where educational opportunities have traditional been better than the UK, a study of couples showed that 43% of gays and lesbians had college degrees, whereas only 28% of straight men and 26% of straight women had such degreesBlack et al., [2007]. Similar results come from Berg and Lien [2002],Billy et al. [1993]. Given this difference in jobs and education, one would expect that there would be a significant economic disparity between the position of gay and straight families. This is indeed what we find.

A large Swedish survey of 1,029,420 heterosexual and 940 gay and 968 lesbian couples found that gay couples had the highest incomesAhmed et al., [2011] . They show that gay couples earn more than heterosexual couples who in turn earn more than lesbian ones. This is unsurprising since male earnings are pretty consistently higher than female ones, so an all male household would be expected to earn the most and an all female one the least. No attempt is made in this survey to compute the per-capita incomes of different household types, i.e., to take into account non-earning dependents, principally children, but also potentially older relatives. To do this one would have to know the average family size for different households.

Black et al Black et al., [2000] give data on the proportion of heterosexual and homosexual couples with 1,2,or 3 or more children in their households, thought this is for the USA not Sweden. Nonetheless, it is possible to use their data to compute the mean household sizes for different types of couples (Table 1).

Table 1: US Family size by category, calculated from Black et al. [2000],table 11 .
married unmarried
children gay hetero hetero lesbian men women
couple couple couple couple single single
0 0.948 0.408 0.638 0.783 0.952 0.77
1 0.03 0.224 0.181 0.126 0.029 0.101
2 0.012 0.23 0.11 0.05 0.014 0.076
3 0.011 0.138 0.071 0.04 0.005 0.045
total 0.087 1.098 0.614 0.346 0.072 0.388
family size 2.087 3.098 2.614 2.346 1.072 1.388

ArabsheibaniArabsheibani et al., [2005] produces data for hourly rates of pay for men and women in the UK who are in either gay couples or married heterosexual couples. This broadly reproduces the results of Ahmed, Andersson and Hammarstedt for Sweden, in that he showed that the median wage of gay men in couples was higher than that of heterosexual married men, which in turn was slightly above that of lesbian women, who in turn earned more than married heterosexual women (Table 2). He does not estimate incomes of couples. This can not be done just by adding the hourly wage rates of married men and women, firstly because of the lower employment rate of married women 71% against 85% for women in Lesbian couples and 87.5% for men in gay couples, and secondly because married women have lower working hours. However if we did simply add the mean hourly pay of the married men and women scaled by activity rates and divide by an estimated family size we can get the an estimate of mean hourly pay per family member. Table 3 gives such an estimate for the UK and Table 4 corresponding estimates for Sweden. Both these tables depend on the use of family size estimates derived from Black et al. We can expect the relative family sizes of gay, lesbian and hetrosexual married couples to be similar accross countries at comparable stages of development. Although the exact divisors that should be used will vary from country to country, the ordering that we obtain of per capita income as being gay couples > lesbian couples > heterosexual couples will be robust.

Table 2: Comparision of median hourly wages of gay and heterosexual individuals in the UK, year 2000. From Arabsheibani et al. [2005]. Note that the figures in both cases are for cohabiting couples.
Same sex Heterosexual married
Men £10.10 £8.90
Women £8.70 £6.20

#1Estimate of percapita incomes in gay and straight couples in the UK. Mean pay rates and activity rates from Arabsheibani et al. [2005], family size estimates derived from Black et al. [2000].

Gays Lesbians Married men Married women
Mean pay rate £11.70 £10.10 £10.70 £7.60
Activity rate 0.87 0.85 0.84 0.71
Product £10.18 £8.58 £8.99 £5.40
Per couple £20.36 £17.17 £14.38 £14.38
Scaled by family size
Per capita hourly income £9.75 £7.32 £4.64 £4.64
Table 3: Incomes of Gay, Lesbian and Heterosexual couples in Sweden.
Type of couple Gay Lesbian Heterosexual
Mean income of couple SEKAhmed et al., [2011] 584,000 464,000 532,000
Per capita adjusted for family size Black et al., [2000] 280,000 197,000 190,000

For example we can derive figures for per-capita income for gay, lesbian and straight couples in the US from the data in Black et al. [2007] giving the same ordering. Again the per capita income of gay male couples is highest, followed by lesbian couples, followed by heterosexual couples (Table 5 ).

The figures for the UK in Table 3 show a two to one advantage in per capita incomes for gay as opposed to straight couples. If we combine this with Arabshebani’s figures for the distribution of wages by deciles, we see that this means that the median gay income is as high as the top decile of of heterosexual family incomes. Only the top 10% of straight families are as well of as a mid income range gay couple. This amounts to an appreciable socio economic class difference.

2.1  Unpaid social labour by couples

But the analysis so far has only dealt with the market economy and earnings obtained there. The family is also a place where work is done, the domestic economy. Indeed this is the original meaning of economy, managment of the household. This work does not assume monetary form, either because it is entirely private : a person cooking their own meal, or because, although it is social : looking after children, it occurs under non-capitalist relations of production. Even the ‘private’ work of a person feeding themself, is in a sense socially necessary labour, since, absent such cooking, the population would starve. But shopping, cooking, cleaning up, washing are all activities that take place whether the household has children or not and are thus not relevant in the comparison of different household types. On the other hand child care time will vary according to whether the household has children and depend also on the number of children they have. Since much of our data has come from North America let us look there. Statistics Canada give figures which show that in the average family with children the mother spends 2.55 hrs a day in childcare and the father 1.55 hours a day, to give a total per couple of 4.1 hours. On the assumption that Canadian and US household time budgets are similar we have computed the expected number of hours of childcare time in different categories of family, weighting 4.1 hrs a day by the probability that the household has children (Table 5).

Table 4: Estimates of gay, lesbian and straight couples incomes and contributions of unpaid labour for the US 2007. Incomes derived from Table 5 in Black et al. [2007], and family size is derived from Table 2 in the same paper. Bourgeois valuation of unpaid labour follows the valuation of Colman and Atlantic [1998] and is in 1998 $Can. Hours per year unpaid Socially Necessary Labour Time (SNLT) derived from figures for daily childcare by men and women couples in Canada [2011] weighted by the probability that a given family type has children (Table 1).
Gay Lesbian Straight
Mean couple income $82,000 $66,500 $65700
Mean family size 2.144 2.356 3.173
Per capita income $38259 $28234 $20700
Unpaid SNLT hrs/yr 74 329 882
Bourgeois value $567 $2495 $6692
Marxian valuation $2324 $10229 $27433

Derivation of Marxian valuation

US percapita GNP 2007 $46000
Participation rate 63%
GNP per participant $73000
Paid working week, hours 47
Hours per year 2350
Value created per hour of labour $31

From this we see that straight couples perform much more unpaid socially necessary labour time. But how much is this labour worth. One approach taken in Colman and Atlantic, [1998] was to value childcare labour at the rate of pay of childminders in private childcare businesses. From the standpoint of Marxist economics this is wrong, since that confuses the value of labour power with the value created by labour and from the standpointsome of orthodox economics it also underestimates the impact of withdrawing this much labour from the market economy. Workers are only paid a fraction of the value they create, so valuing unpaid labour at the prevailing wage rate is a serious underestimate of the value that that labour would have created were it deployed in the market sector. It amounts to the assumption that there would be no additional property income were the effective labour force to increase. Adding the equivalent of millions of additional full time workers to the market economy would generate additional value flows that would filter through to profit, interest, tax revenues etc.

A better procedure is to estimate the monetary equivalent of social labour time, as is done in the subsidiary table. This gives a figure of about $31 value created per hour by US labour in 2007. Scaling the unpaid childcare labour in families by this gives the bottom line of Table 5. We see that whereas the average gay couple did unpaid social labour with a value of about $2300 a year, the average straight couple did unpaid social labour to a value of over $27000 a year, more than 10 times as much. Of that labour about $17000 worth is done by the mother and $10000 worth by the father.

It could be argued that this is an unfair comparison; that having children is a private decision and it is nobody else’s business if a gay couple do not want to have children. Why should they work to create labour power for the capitalist system?

The reality is that having children is, in part, a private decision although social expectations play a huge role in the decision. However, things can be simultaneously private and social. Commodity production rests on this kind of duality: commodities are produced by private individuals and firms, but they are produced to meet social needs. Children are produced as a result of private actions but once they are grown up, they constitute the future society, and via their work, support that society. A person who, due to choice or circumstances, has no offspring, depends for their day to day existence on the offspring of others. It may appear that by saving for their old age they have provided for themselves. But this is a monetary illusion. You do not save for your old age by putting cans of beans and sacks of flour in a cellar to sustain you; instead you rely on freshly produced food, clothes etc, produced by the labour of the generation that follows you. If you rely on a state pension then the next generation will be taxed to support you. If you have a private pension it will be invested in government bonds to produce interest. That interest will again come from tomorrow’s tax payers. If it is invested in shares, then the pension will come from the employment of tomorrow’s workers.

The unpaid labour of raising children, labour predominantly done by mothers, is socially essential and all the current generation, whether they have children themselves or not, benefit indirectly from it. Gay activists are wont to identify their campaigns with campaigns against women’s oppression, but the economic analysis so far shows that this concept is fallacious. Not only are gay couples financially better off, they also, in the main, often opt out of the socially necessary unpaid labour that is at the root of the disadvantaged position of women/wives. The establishment and normalisation of gay marriage will tend to increase the inequality of men and women in this respect. Insofar as a portion of the male population were once covert homosexuals, who would have hidden their preferences, married women and helped to bring up children, they can now move directly into a respectable gay marriage where they are statistically very unlikely to do any unpaid child raising work. The net effect is obviously to accentuate the disparity between men and women, and shift even more of the burden of raising the next generation onto women.

The economic basis of marriage is not love. As both experience and the tradition of romantic literature tell us, you do not need to be married to love, and many marriages continue despite an absence of love. The legal institution of marriage regulates, on the one hand, rights and duties with respect to children, and on the other, the sharing of various juridical assets. These include both direct ownership of dwellings, instances where there are heritable tenancies, and personal rights to other public and private benefits: pensions, insurance, citizenship. In the early stages after the legalisation of homosexuality, gays were relatively uninterested in marriage, and, if anything, disdained it as a mark of respectability.

Two processes operating over the last decades may have made the juridical asset aspect of marriage more attractive. The first of these is just the cumulative result of the economic advantage that gay couples enjoy. It enables them to accumulate property faster than other couples, so they have more to share on the death of a partner. Gays are twice as likely to own dwellings in the highest property band as heterosexuals. Black et al., showed that over 34% of middle-aged gays owned houses in the highest property band as against under 16% of married men and women of the same age. We have been unable to find statistics on ownership of financial assets, but one would expect, from the big income disparity, to find a similar bias there. At the same time, the advance of privatisation, neo-liberalism and the undermining of universal health and social benefits increases the importance of heritable or shareable private insurance rights.

Couples seeking to protect their relationship and family through wills and other mechanisms in the absence of a marriage contract need significant resources, including knowledge and money. This is equally the case in the dissolution of a relationship not recognised by the state, where only those with these same resources can pursue an equitable distribution of joint assets.” Bhroin, [2009]

The conclusion from the evidence so far is that the gay marriage movement is fundamentally conservative, aimed at the securing of relatively privileged property ownership and it makes the relative position of women in society slightly worse3. The economic effects are small since the affected population segment is tiny, but the debate on gay marriage takes on a prominence way beyond any direct socioeconomic effect that it may have.

Reproductive Semi-reproductive Non-reproductive
Atomised nuclear family lesbian couple gay couple
Semi-communal extended family
Communal phalanstery/kibbutz nunnery/monastery
Table 5: Family forms on two axes.



[Ahmed et al. 2011]
Ali M Ahmed, Lina Andersson, and Mats Hammarstedt. Inter-and intra-household earnings differentials among homosexual and heterosexual couples. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 49 (s2): s258-s278, 2011.

[Andersen and Fetner 2008]
Robert Andersen and Tina Fetner. Economic inequality and intolerance: attitudes toward homosexuality in 35 democracies. American Journal of Political Science, 52 (4): 942-958, 2008.

[Arabsheibani et al. 2005]
G Reza Arabsheibani, Alan Marin, and Jonathan Wadsworth. Gay pay in the uk. Economica, 72 (286): 333-347, 2005.

[Berg and Lien 2002]
Nathan Berg and Donald Lien. Measuring the effect of sexual orientation on income: Evidence of discrimination? Contemporary economic policy, 20 (4): 394-414, 2002.

[Bhroin 2009]
Feargha Ní Bhroin. Feminism and the same-sex marriage debate. Electronic, Marriage Equality, April 2009. URL

[Billy et al. 1993]
John OG Billy, Koray Tanfer, William R Grady, and Daniel H Klepinger. The sexual behavior of men in the united states. Family planning perspectives, pages 52-60, 1993.

[Black et al. 2000]
Dan Black, Gary Gates, Seth Sanders, and Lowell Taylor. Demographics of the gay and lesbian population in the united states: Evidence from available systematic data sources. Demography, 37 (2): 139-154, 2000.

[Black et al. 2007]
Dan A Black, Seth G Sanders, and Lowell J Taylor. The economics of lesbian and gay families. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 21 (2): 53-70, 2007.

[Canada 2011]
Statistics Canada. General social survey – 2010 overview of the time use of canadians. July 2011.

[Colman and Atlantic 1998]
Ronald Colman and GPI Atlantic. The Economic Value of Unpaid Housework and Child Care in Nova Scotia. GPI Atlantic Halifax, 1998.

[Embrick et al. 2007]
David G Embrick, Carol S Walther, and Corrine M Wickens. Working class masculinity: Keeping gay men and lesbians out of the workplace. Sex roles, 56 (11-12): 757-766, 2007.

[Nair 2015]
Yasmin Nair. The secret history of gay marriage. 2015. URL


1From Extended Penn World Tables

2 See

3 “In short, the secret history of gay marriage is that its real history, as a rapacious, greedy, and entirely selfish campaign carried out by rapacious, greedy and entirely selfish gay men and women has been systematically erased by gay men like Frank Bruni and their unctuous straight allies like Frank Rich and Linda Hirshman. The secret history of gay marriage is not that it might prevent our sex lives from being more interesting, but that its victory enables the cementing of a neo-liberal society where only private relationships can ensure access to economic security and healthcare. The preferred narrative is that gay marriage will be a dream come true. The reality is that gay marriage is nothing but a nightmare and neo-liberalism’s handiest little tool.” [Nair, 2015

File translated from TEX by TTH, version 4.08.

Reply to Brewster

The von Mises organisation website has a paper by Brewster that critiques our book Towards a New Socialism. I have been asked by so many people for a response, that instead of sending them my response as notes, I am putting it up here.

My first conclusions are that:

  1. He concedes that Cottrell and Cockshott’s model is the only coherent intellectual opposition that the Austrian school face from the left
  2. He concedes that we have demolished the argument that socialist calculation is too complex to be feasible.
  3. He has an argument that what we are doing is no longer socialist calculation because it is not independent of the market ( because we allow a market for consumer goods ),
  4. Following on from 3 he argues that our labour values are no longer labour values because they are contaminated by market effects.

We will reply mainly on points 3 and 4 which, we think, are very weak argument.
Those that Hayek was arguing against like Lange and Dickinson allowed for markets in consumer goods, this did not lead Hayek to say : Oh you are not really arguing for socialism since you have conceded a market in consumer goods, he did not, because there remained huge policy differences between him and Lange even if Lange accepted consumer goods markets. It is thus a very weak argument by Brewster to say that what we advocate is not really socialist calculation because it is contaminated in some way by market influences. There still remains a huge policy difference between us and him. If he wants to argue that what we advocate is not real socialist calculation, well he can do so, but this would be seen as quibbling over definitions of socialism. There remain substantive policy differences and he has now to show that the policies we are advocating would be impossible in practice.
He is wrong in saying that our labour values are no longer labour values since they are now influenced by market prices. In Marxian economics there are three distinct concepts, value in use, value in exchange and labour value. Value in use is held to be non-comparable, it sets up no scale, and is a matter for technology and design study rather than political economy. Value in exchange, is, when represented in monetary prices, a scalar quantity. Labour value is another scalar quantity but is distinct from exchange value. Exchange value ratios closely approximate labour value ratios in capitalist economies[Petrovic(1987),Ochoa(1989),Shaikh(1998),Cockshott and Cottrell(1997),Tsoulfidis and Maniatis(2002),Zachariah(2006)] but deviate from them under the influence of imbalances in supply and demand. We continue to reproduce these distinctions in the consumer goods market. The deviation between the two continues to indicate imbalances in supply of final goods.
But it is wrong to say, as Brewster does, that this prevents labour values from being usable for economic calculation when dealing with intermediate goods. They continue to perform several distinct functions. The role of labour time accounting is to:

  • De-mystify economic relations by revealing the underlying social division of labour,
  • In the process they create a basic presumption towards social equality. Were all all prices marked in terms of hours, and were all payments in terms of hours employees would rebel against current dispensation where they are paid the equivalent of 4 or 5 hours for an 8 hour day’s work.
  • To provide a decentralised heuristic measure of social cost that aids work units to select among alternative techniques of production those which are likely to be of the lowest social cost. The labour values provide those people, who have to chose between different production techniques, with a provisional indicator as to which is likely to be socially cheaper in the long run. The labour values also provide those people, who have to chose between different production techniques, with a provisional indicator as to which is likely to be socially cheaper in the long run. It is worth our while explaining below why this is only provisional.
  • It is necessary to work out the labour values of intermediate goods if we are to have the labour values of final goods, since intermediate ones enter into final ones.
  • And we need the final labour values as an index to regulate the consumer goods market.

Today, in a market economy information provided by current prices is only provisional as they are likely to be different in the future and decisions made on todays prices may be invalidated by tomorrows prices. Market prices have only a short term validity. The situation is somewhat the reverse for labour values in a planned economy. These have intermediate term validity, but can not be the sole decision criterion for short term local production plans. We have never claimed that labour values are more than one component that enters into economic calculation. They have to be backed up by other mechanisms of calculation, just as computation in prices has to be backed up by other mechanisms.
The fact that a given component, say a particular chip, call it the X10a to be used in a computer is cheaper in terms of labour than an alternative component does not mean that sufficient X10as to meet the Northern Star computer factories planned production for next year. That can only be determined at an aggregate social level. So Northern Star computer factory puts forward its proposed models, including one that uses the X10a, and perhaps some older models that use the previous X9b chip.
It is up to the social planning network, which has access to information about all the factories that would like to use the X10a, and about the expected output levels of the plant producing X10as, to select a scale of production of different computer models that will be compatible with one another. In the short term this may mean that Northern Star are told to go on producing more of older models than would appear to be justified solely on the basis of comparing the labour costs of the X10a and the X9b. In the medium term, the decision to design a new model using the X10a will turn out to be justified, but in the short term it is not appropriate. Even in a capitalist economy, firms do not trust price data to be sufficient, not unless they are very naive. A well established firm will back up price data from its suppliers with queries about stocks held, delivery times, expected production schedules.
Why is this?
It follows from basic information theory. The structure of production is a ( sparse ) matrix, whereas a price system or a value system is a vector. No single vector of prices or values can capture the information structure encoded in the input output matrix. Values are a solution to a set of equations defined by the input/output system under operations which involve multiplying the rows of a matrix[1]. This multiplication operation corresponds in the real world to a change in the scale of output of a product. That in turn implies that inputs can be redirected to or from particular activities. To the extent that labour and other resources can be redirected from one branch of activity to another, labour values   are a good indicator, over the medium term, of relative social costs of products. Over the long term they will be misleading as technical advances can lead to substantial changes in relative labour costs. The same restriction applies to prices. A price is only useful to the extent that it can be multiplied by a number of units to be purchased. Since the current production of inputs is finite, a price is only valid for an adjustment in usage that is of the same order as the buffer stocks or excess capacity that exists for that product. Over the short term, values and prices are insufficient unless backed up by holistic information, since there may, in the short term be lags in the production of necessary inputs.
Brewster is dismissive of this sort of holistic calculation associated with Neurath writing :

Their cardinality certainly makes units of socially necessary labor time more plausible as a basis for socialist calculation than comparisons in nature as suggested for instance by Neurath.

then adding in a footnote

One of the glories of the internet is you can now find people who take even calculation in kind seriously.

He is surely wrong to dismiss in-natura calculation in this cavalier fashion. Neurath may have been relatively easy to deride, all the easier because his work was until recently only available in German[Neurath(2004),Neurath((1919) 2004)]. But what of Kantorovich?

As long ago as the late 1930s[Kantorovich(1960)] he was showing that precisely the sort of optimisation problem that Mises was concerned with, the optimal choice between alternative techniques of production, was possible using calculations that were entirely in physical quantities. Indeed every economic system must calculate in kind. The whole process of capitalist economy would fail if firms like Honda could not draw up detailed bills of materials for the cars they finally produce. Only a small part of the information exchanged between companies relates to prices. The greater part relates to physical quantities and physical specifications of products.

Within capitalists companies, Kantorovich’s methods have been widely adopted to optimise the selection of production techniques. For linear programming to work, the sub-system of the economy under consideration needs to be supplied with a target vector from the outside. A capitalist firm is supplied with a vector of market prices from the outside, and using these can apply linear programming to optimise its resource usage. A socialist factory or unit of production is supplied with a plan ray : the ratio in which final outputs must be produced, and final inputs consumed. This is illustrated in Figure 1. The relative prices provide a capitalist firm with isovals, lines of constant worth, in terms of output, and the aim is to find the intersection between the production possibility frontier and the isoval furthest from the origin: the combination of outputs that will maximise the value of sales. The socialist factory has a plan ray which it seeks to maximise: it tries to select a point on the production possibility frontier that maximises the implementation of the plan. In each case the amount of information required to specify the ray or the set of isovals is the same: for n outputs we need a vector of length n−1 being either relative prices or relative proportions of planned output. Provided with such information there are a number of different computational techniques by which an optimal production plan can be arrived at: Kantorovich’s solution[Kantorovich(1960)], the Simplex [Dantzig and Wolfe(1961)] method, or various interior point methods[Karmarkar(1984)].  In our book[Cottrell and Cockshott(1992)] we advocated the use of what amounted to an interior point technique.
Figure 1: Diagram showing, for the two dimensional case, how linear programming can be solved either by providing a set of hyperplane given by prices as a guide, or a plan ray. The socialist enterprise would select point Q given the plan ray shown, and the capitalist enterprise would select point P given the relative prices given.

Provided with either a vector in natura, or a vector of prices, an economic sub-system can optimise.


There is no logical[2] reason why the sub-system could not be the entire production structure of the economy. Our argument is that the state can derive a plan ray from a number of inputs:

  • From recording sales and selling prices of final consumer goods.
  • From politically arrived at priorities for public goods.
  • From international treaties such as the Kyoto protocol.
  • From scientific knowledge of the environmental or health risks of different products.

Part 1 is a market mechanism. Brewster holds that allowing such a market in a socialist economy is logically impermissible since he asserts that a plan must be independent of the market and the market independent of the plan.

The problem is that in order for any rational socialist plan to be formulated, it must utilize markets, but insofar as markets are useful for planning, they must be unaffected by the plan. However, if there is a plan, the markets cannot be unaffected by it. ([Brewster(2004)] p75)

Just why he believes this he does not say. It seems an unreasonable requirement. In no country can the market be independent of the general social context: pattern of property ownership, taxation, government regulation, cultural norms etc. A planned socialist economy will have a very different distribution of income from a capitalist one, and this will certainly influence the structure of the market for consumer goods. But so what?

socially necessary labor time was introduced as an “objective” measure of value and as such proclaimed uncapricious and scientific. It turns out instead to be “subjective” thrice over.10 It is, as we have seen, created in the first instance by consumer demand, modified or overruled by the planning authority in turn guided to whatever degree by democratic processes. ([Brewster(2004)] p 72)

This is to misunderstand what we are saying. Consumer goods would be indeed marked with two numbers, their labour content in hours, and in addition to this, if the good was in short/excess supply, they would be marked with a premium/discount also expressed in hours. Consumers would would have pay the labour value +/- the premium or discount when purchasing a good whose supply was not approximately in equilibrium. The labour value gives to the consumer a good idea of what the good is going to be worth in the medium term. If a particularly popular model of MP3 player is marked at a value of 5 hours with a premium of 2 hours, that is a good indication that it will be worth holding off purchasing until the premium drops to zero.
Within the state sector, where public services and industrial inputs are being costed, goods and services would be valued at par. The premiums in the consumer goods market need not penetrate here. Within the state sector there are no further purchases or sales and the appropriate intensities of production of intermediate goods can be directly computed, as indeed Brewster conceeds.
Even in advanced capitalist economies, a very substantial part of the economy is in the made up by the public sector. This either directly produces public goods, for example the UK National Health Service or the French Ministry of Education; or like the Navy, it purchases goods made by the private sector. So the fact that a large portion of the social product is allocated according to explicitly political criteria is common to advanced societies. The state orders 3 new aircraft carriers of 70,000 tons displacement and speed of 30 knots[3]. It specifies the construction of 1000 new public schools. It sets targets for numbers of surgical operations and for waiting times for operations. The targets of these public interventions are all explicitly in-natura.
In addition there is a growing awareness that we live on a finite planet, whose ability to provide us with inputs and absorb or waste is limited. This results in international initiatives to conserve our environment, the Kyoto protocol, European Fisheries directives etc. These are expressed in physical units : so many million tons of CO2, so many thousand tons of cod, etc. At the same time advanced society is plagued by problems of ill health and premature mortality caused by excessive consumption of trans-fats, sugars, and addictive drugs. There is a consequent pressure to regulate the consumption of these products. Such regulation would amount to further politically decided in-natura targets that the economy had to meet. But the meeting of in-kind targets by market mechanisms is both uncertain and politically unpopular.
Let us take a three examples: carbon dioxide emission control, the sale of trans-fats, and finally the sale of addictive drugs.


[Arena(2005)]Mark V. Arena. The United Kingdom’s naval shipbuilding industrial base. Ministry of Defence, RAND Europe, 2005.
[Brewster(2004)]L. Brewster. Towards a new socialism? By W. Paul Cockshott and Allin F. Cottrell. Nottingham, UK: Spokesman books, 1993. The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, 7 (1): 65-77, 2004.
[Cockshott and Cottrell(1997)]W. P. Cockshott and A. F. Cottrell. Labour time versus alternative value bases: a research note. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 21: 545-549, 1997.
[Cottrell and Cockshott(1992)]Allin Cottrell and Paul Cockshott. Towards a New Socialism, volume Nottingham. Bertrand Russell Press, 1992.
[Dantzig and Wolfe(1961)]GB Dantzig and P. Wolfe. The decomposition algorithm for linear programming. Econometrica, 29 (4): 767-778, 1961.
[Kantorovich(1960)]L.V. Kantorovich. Mathematical Methods of Organizing and Planning Production. Management Science, 6 (4): 366-422, 1960.
[Karmarkar(1984)]N. Karmarkar. Anew polynomial-time algorithm for linear programming. Combinatorica, 4 (4): 373-395, 1984.
[Neurath(2004)]O. Neurath. Economic plan and calculation in kind. Otto Neurath: Economic Writings 1904-1945, 2004.
[Neurath((1919) 2004)]Otto Neurath. Economics in Kind, Calculation in Kind and their Relation to War Economics. In Thomas Uebel and Robert Cohen, editors, Economic Writings. Kluwer, (1919) 2004.
[Ochoa(1989)]E. M. Ochoa. Values, prices, and wage-profit curves in the us economy. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 13: 413-29, 1989.
[Petrovic(1987)]P. Petrovic. The deviation of production prices from labour values: some methodolog and empirical evidence. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 11: 197-210, 1987.
[Shaikh(1998)]A. M. Shaikh. The empirical strength of the labour theory of value. In R. Bellofiore, editor, Marxian Economics: A Reappraisal, volume 2, pages 225-251. Macmillan, 1998.
[Tsoulfidis and Maniatis(2002)]L. Tsoulfidis and T. Maniatis. Values, prices of production and market prices: some more evidence fro the greek economy. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 26: 359-369, 2002.
[Zachariah(2006)]David Zachariah. Labour value and equalisation of profit rates. Indian Development Review, 4 (1): 1-21, 2006.

1This is true whether one uses iterative or analytic techniques to arrive at the solution.
2Brewster is careful to restrict his substantive criticism of us to logical grounds, conceeding that we have shown that problems of this scale are effectively computable.
3In deciding how to do this even a capitalist state has to plan and to do large scale calculations in-natura see [Arena(2005)]. It was in the context of war economy Neurath originally raised the issue of in-natura calculation.

The desire for a convergence of heterosexuality.


Robot Butler

The passage is, like words, the maternal body, discharged as excrement, literally rendered Other. This appears as a Hence, one that will take the internality of the French context.

In other words, the wars waged among women that preexists their oppression, or perhaps women or woman and/or men and women and the Other is assumed: You ought to be. If poetic language, not biology, but these sheaves are not easily consumed to be the phallus. In consequence, one can satisfy this drive only through the regulatory regimes. Those bodily figures who do not immediately signify sex as the Other as taking place. The question of the It would be no outside, no doubt strange, and homes. All of this notion of an ideal sexuality prior to articulation performatively contradict itself and spawn alternatives in its thorough break with Saussure and with gay and lesbian practice instantiates feminist theory ought to be. I would say, and those subjects who are in no way implies that they cannot be within the cultural stakes in designating as an instance of power is articulated here through a genealogical critique refuses to search for the erotic presupposition of its sexed significance. Indeed, the various forces that police the social contract. Hence, the overthrow of compulsory heterosexuality may alter, and provocative argumentation during the of a teleological instrument. The order of things. For Lacan, the entire world, including people we know and lose, do some butch lesbians who become parents become dads and others become moms?

Perhaps there is a significant movement for sexual recognition and freedom, Wittig’s own formulation to accept the phantasmatic effect of naturalized gestures. Does that regulation is reproductive or heterosexual hegemony?

The totality and closure of language and politics that feminism can seek wider representation for a masculine attribute and to mask its lack, the unmediated cathexis of homosexual desire, produce new forms of acknowledged fragmentation might facilitate coalitional action precisely because they constitute the legitimacy of the feminine could never be recovered or known. Physical features appear to be able to think them before we come to see the general. If the body presents itself as a condition of speech and which shall die is often understood to establish the essential part of the category of women achieve stability and coherence only in relation to the incest taboo, among others. Freud goes on to the goal of feminist theorizing has come under challenge from within spoken language; that prohibitive or juridical structure is shown both to counter those views that made presumptions about the presumptions of universality in exclusive negative and exclusionary terms. , the results of affectivity being formed or fixed through the category of sex can be sustained within the circle of signifier and the homosexual, fails to consider that speech itself is revealed through the other. Although the book has been the case of Herculine is not the figure of identification that ought to be at the level of both bodily seduction and the rule of exogamy in the sense that the category of women for feminist analysis, I did not know that the incorporation of a heterosexual matrix for conceptualizing gender and sexuality, we shall later consider the ways in which the ego assumes the character of normal grief. In Kristeva’s words, a lifeless construct, a cause for anxiety. As Denise Riley’s title suggests, Am I That Name? is not produced by the apparent Francocentrism of the incest taboo may result either in an exterior space through a single determinant and that gender takes. I did not appreciate the variety of contemporary cultural struggle. Indeed, according to grammarians, concerns substantives. They argue further that this impossibility in The Second Sex that one functions as one might not actually possess, or does it authorize? Although Foucault’s genealogical critique of phallogocentrism or any other candidate for representation or, at Whitney exhibitions, and the dual consequentiality of a refusal to grant freedom and the repressive hypothesis that Foucault seems to belong primarily to philosophy. This kind of cultural/corporeal action that can conjure and reify such spaces. Because all cultures seek to accomplish precisely that unregulated field of molecular cell biology, but as a denial of this failed model of dialogue is culturally specific and historically specific mode of criticism and to refuse the notion of a masculinist culture is to seize language as a normative telos of human rights issues. There seems also to remain as two. This foundationalist fiction gives her a point of this desire would lead to an imaginary past needs to be prior to the inevitable lack and loss that ground feminist theory, such as poetic language or cultural identity is constructed in the service of the masculine signifying economy that includes both the cause or origin of oppression, as Beauvoir would suggest. Further, this requisite of sociality, only if the paternal law always remain threatened by the discursive production of discrete and hierarchized genders, but preserves ,and hence not to suggest that introjection is a new gendered way of understanding that emanation as both a scholarly and clinical enterprise. I want to have the Phallus , the young girl who enter into the Oedipal complex to explain lesbian experience but the very domain of all convention. Romantic and sentimental narratives of impossible loves seem also to be specifically invested with this problem that feminism ought to be the governing principle of equal access to a primitive ontological concept that enforces in language. With the postulation of primary nouns and subordinate adjectives.

It has lost the formalism of its exercises. All of this text does not subscribe to a set of free-floating attributes, essential and positive ,same-sex identification, or displacement requires a new journal, Studies in Gender Trouble. Prohibition, Psychoanalysis, and the original unity of the Phallus, the material practices of identity serve as a unifying principle of identity categories that resist the domestication of gender disorder. I do not mean to claim that one way. Taken to its logical limit, the term to be spoken,, The relation between the two enterprises has broken down. There will be the Phallus is to lose something of the Law itself, are turned inward and sustained from cultural stereotypes. A Lacanian analysis might argue that prior to the ego where the logos ,which are not only can but ought to be at the cost of giving birth does not appear here is that a psyche performs. This ideal tends not only proves nothing, but in terms of the heterosexual object choice. Moreover, the very notions of power dynamics within sexuality is in part because the Oedipal conflict work to keep the name of the interiorizations that a conversation is happening, another may be necessary in order to make my points. My view is that this kind of gender are in no sense prior to individuation because the maternal body is not impris-oned by or within the gendered stylization of the law challenge its self-grounding presumption. But there are other power/discourse centers that construct and condemn Herculine’s sexuality. It would be a kind of sex was established, and if the sexes Gender Trouble has been revealed to him. Here the proliferation of pleasures in which the split between instinct and representation are controversial terms. There must be rejected? Is the dualism necessary at all. Sometimes gender ambiguity can operate in the ways in which sexual difference, the public appearance of being, with the critical scene.

I have revised and expanded my views in Bodies that Matter. On the other hand, she maintains that the emergence of homosexual women who effectively refuse him?

We succeeded in explaining the painful disorder of melancholia by supposing that ,in those linguistic expressions which disobey, as Foucault ironically terms it, and psychosis? From the time, the Other, and there will be examined in the service of a primary cathexis for the critique of Irigaray’s efforts to wield a discourse of the category of sex. Indeed, perhaps it is equated with poesis itself, series of markers with no other significance than the notion that the Other is one of cultural politics, as its prohibition. This utopian notion of gendered exchange, clothed first in one patronym and then conceals the fact that being a girl, Freud argues, is heterosexuality. As Drucilla Cornell, in turn, structures the very terms of language gives us a clue to what extent does gender hierarchy, but denies the varied meanings and semantic possibility of a fully developed femininity are very similar refers to the imposition of the sexed body assumes, then perhaps there is a viable accomplishment. But even this comedy is the case of a discursively conditioned experience. These limits are always already female, in turn, is a category of women because they tend as well as to replicate uncritically relations of power from which it belongs. There seems also to understand that this human was not to celebrate drag as the performative construction of sexuality, namely, the opportunity to read together, constitute a site of parodic practices based in the mode of belief, depending on the surface of the paternal signifier and signified. the anticipation conjures its object.

In effect, the illusion of substance is a process that serves yet another set of free-floating attributes, gestures, one in which this happy limbo of a subject before the advent of individual subjects demands first destroying the categories of sex is understood primarily as a practice of identity that repression has kept from view; rather, to reconcile the discourse of reproduction with the priority of sexuality in The History of Sexuality and in the telling. Lacan disputes the notion of the incest taboo, and they enjoyed great popularity among literary scholars and some of my recent articles on psychoanalytic topics have sought to undermine the univocal and hegemonic discourse of truth that stipulat-ed that certain kinds of gender is a model for readers of the same those differences that might then serve as a multiple displacement of a normative ideal rather than exercise a repressive and regulatory consequences of taking on of attributes that fail to conform to a French context. In other words, sex is the following distinction: a guarantor of an original and true sex was established, however, suggests a dissonance not only deconstructs sex and so become subject to an end.

The abiding gendered self or parody the mechanism that tries to enforce the subject’s sense of abjection that is not to celebrate drag as the active agent, it has a phantasm as its naturalized interiority and surface, inner and outer worlds of the utter-ance decidable. ,, Although Kristeva concedes that the internalization of the semiotic function within language—only on the socially real through the production of gender and sexual discrimination. Gay people, for Kristeva is understood depending on the maternal libidinal economy becomes clear, as if theatre and politics in Germany, it is a variable cultural accomplishment, a radical project of lesbian experience but as the consequence that both consolidates and differentiates kinship relations is women, of necessity repudiates her masculinity from the heterogeneity of drives. On an abstract level, she argues, is masculine. Such a strategy to denaturalize gender in the production of identity-effects remained constant.

A genealogical critique refuses to search for the purposes of social regulations, to expand the realm of gender bending or changing. If the Symbolic, is heterosexuality. That production may well be the Phallus, Lacan, Kristeva describes the maternal body, but the very signifying practices of gender at all times and all places. The notion of a female object who inexplicably returns the glance, reverses the gaze, and deregulate identity. In speaking,, sic,—not even be that gay men, a thesis whose traces can be used to come to terms with this dual function of power that produce the subjects they subsequently come to grips with race. my appearance ‘outside’ appearance is achieved through a performative contradiction, within language. This move not only because my own views on the work of mourning as the world, including the radical disjunction between straight and gay community on the very language of presumptive heterosexuality that fails to recognize that puts the being of gender identity? It can operate precisely to contain or deflect non-normative sexual practices that govern gender.

But there does seem to identify a monolithic as well as for Beauvoir as for Wittig, a, gender, and the reader, b, radical and uninterrupted plenitude.

1   In Mourning and Melancholia.

Indeed, bisexuality is the displaced maternal body is internalized as a model for readers of the text does not She provide a magical resolution of conflicts , and, consequently, a linguistic reality. Here we see how the assertion of an irretrievable self-loss? Kristeva prefers to explain the conditions of normative heterosexuality, homosexuality is to contest the descriptive capacity of a given version of culture as a common ground no longer sustaining the other hand, presume that gender should be overthrown, eliminated, or a natural sort of politics? And to what is to keep normative sexuality intact. There is no sex/gender distinction suggests a radical solitariness that, in effect creates the fundamental structures by which the human, indeed, oppressive. The taboo against the doctor, for Wittig, the law in the mind of people, for Wittig, a lesbian and gay men simply may not be understood to be sought. Transsexuals often claim a radical rethinking of the XY Corral: the girl-child, the distinction between gender and sexuality, what contingent social relations take place through language. This problem is not to prefer monogamy and the Super-Ego ,Ego-Ideal, proceeds, however, it would seem that the exchange of women.

This is not to promote a politically neutral. Learning the rules through which one waits. The loss of the categories of sex, culturally constituted bodies, suggesting that sexual heterogeneity ,paradoxically foreclosed by a repulsion that founds society as heterosexual. According to Wittig, who are women will be cultural studies or critical theory, such as Gender Trouble by virtue of my life. As a shifting and contextual phenomenon, gender is culturally and historically specific mode of otherness. For Irigaray, that argument does not consecrate femininity or signal a gynocentric world, that begins with Plato and continues to move outside the academy, but multiple. , The opening discussion in this critical encounter, since the word is one tactic among many, deployed centrally but not preserved.

On the Genealogy of Morals that there is not produced by that performative surprise. This absence is not a being; on the body on which they base their judgments on how to read together, in effect, the taboo against homosexuality must precede the heterosexual matrix for conceptualizing gender and identity, but always under a similar expectation concerning gender, with the idea of the feminine, as is the irrecoverable memory of pleasure before the law constitutes its contextualizing frame; indeed, a repressed and, ultimately, institutions. The vacillation between the two oppositional moments of the universal human: a heterogeneity confined by a repulsion that founds the subject is always already gendered? The masculine subject position that there may well be contested by a power ,the institutionalization of heterosexuality and masculine, but in the context of concrete actions that have not yet exist, and lesbian culture that constructs gender is constructed in the Annual Review of Genetics suggest that Herculine might reasonably suspect that some people suffer in becoming gay, the moment the problem that resonates with my own work or the Symbolic, but as the multiplicity of a dissonant and complex historical system of compulsory heterosexuality will inaugu-rate a true humanism of the body is not to culture as sex. The construction of gender in ways that the factor that decides which identification is not the heterosexual matrix? Incorporation, on the X chromosomes of females. Page claimed to have a subversive repetition might call into question their alleged relations? Subjects of Sex/Gender/Desire, reconsiders the status of the semiotic as a corporeal signification. The feminist appropriation of Foucault. This ideal tends not only as a happy but accidental feature of experience, of the literal vagina, and those histories condition and limit the research into the most satisfying expression of the always-already-masculine subject.

In the first formation of sex? Divine notwithstand-ing, gender, with the hyphen-ated doubt: that is, the journals and their relations is not fully satisfactory. Since then we have come to take into account the full responsibility of the plausibility of that law. Part of the Other and to call attention precisely to contain or deflect non-normative sexual practices call into question the subject-verb requirements of those terms? What would the world have to be. I do not appear here is that no human agency could hope to revise some of its coherence. As discussed earlier, they particularize themselves within this signifying economy. Her point is rather the thoughts that come to think that it disavows its socially marked embodiment and, through the subversive sites of corporeal permeability and impermeability.

Those who make such prescriptions or who are in anthropologist Clifford Geertz’s Local Knowledge,, This rather astonishing statement provides insight not only a route to a juridical conception,; a construction within the discourse of the world have to be singular and prediscursive cannot ask, what will and will not be anticipated in advance. Despite my own work or the work of mourning, but that the internalization of the rules of kinship. In Foucault’s terms, finally, about the presumptions of universality in exclusive negative and exclusionary aims, but gender acquired, and if female homosexuality is to guarantee the universality of that conception in rendering it culturally unintelligible. Within Lacanian terms is to formulate within this all-encompassing masculine cultural identity is always already masculine, but rather to underscore that the prohibition against the body’s surface.

The loss of an inscription from a belated and retrospective point of view of the performance is in part the same time subscribing to a normative framework which asserts that subversion, effectively renaming the body by the law forecloses the narrative as a woman or man, and that inner world, as I have turned increasingly to psychoanalysis as both juridical and the dual consequentiality of a subversive or call it, calling gender a fictive sex. In other words, is ever-shifting and far from discrete each of these dispositions? What aspect of the body. Pleasures are said to have a beginning and, hence, it is the cultural laws that establish and circulate the misnomer of natural division. The naming of sex is immutably factic, but occasionally entertains the fantasy of fleeing its embodiment altogether. Of course, French Theory is not a defining and limiting essence. but this is yet another psychic function.

2  If in some way?

Perhaps also part of her dispositional nature, and the strategies that figure a utopian future? If these styles are clearly most eager to combat it.

Indeed, the one that might then rethink the ideal speech situation. Distorting and concealing that ideal gender dimorphism works in both of their prohibition? Further, this dependency, although it rarely if ever, read one another, and chromosomal and hormonal dimensions, no political revolution, no access to a sexuality before the Law produce these positions unilaterally or invariably? Can one do the regulatory practice in Foucault or a cultural practice. In the Oedipal dilemma can be raised about the notion that lesbian practice instantiates feminist theory and politics. Instead, we might understand gender as a law of kinship relations is women, in whatever network or marginal zones is spawned from other discourses. This repetition is bound to fail.

Any theory of Monique Wittig has subscribed to a damning law, according to Foucault, Herculine becomes a woman, she does this aggression serve, and identity. What separates off the very invisibility of its guises, poststructuralism appears as the universal and that a reconsideration of the field of ontological plenitude, in this text. Rather than a descriptive account of construction, whether radical or fundamental tendency. In the first volume of The Mark of Gender Trouble clearly drew upon the coherence and continuity of the fear of feminization associated within heterosexual cultures with male homosexuality. In other words, acts, repeated over time, and how precisely do the various clans to a law may be diagnosed as a pregendered person transcends the specific paraphernalia of its economic base, strictly speaking, a lesbian. Her theory appears at first to be explained as symptomatic of an emotional tie.

In effect, the text does not make either claim explicitly, both discursive and institutional power, he proposes sexuality as the limits and propriety of gender takes. I am firmly in favor of this loss through its cultural appropriations. Indeed, repression, one that we can understand this conclusion to be a given anatomy ,although not, I knew many people who were trying to find a book that I sought to understand that attribute as a sanction and taboo which, it is figured as external to the psychotic nature of desire always exceeds the physical body through and within the terms of that term suggests. The temptation to romanticize h/er world of pleasures which would naturalize or universalize the paternal law is not the consequence that all minority practices are considered, however, what is described by the category of sex, failed to acknowledge the ways that the text in the existential analytic of misog-yny is always already signified, and ,, Let us say that that past from the Chinese encyclopedia which confounds the Aristotelian distinction between the materialist and Lacanian ,and clearly, the eroticized presence of AIDS. Similarly, we are always distinct,. In pursuing the question: for instance, then perhaps there is no reason to assume that genders ought also to understand the matrix of power requires a differentiation from the point of departure is the psychic world for granted. Although Wittig does not follow that to be prior to the formation of the binary results in a male one, might fit the requirements of representation and of identity. Further, Wittig’s texts have been a part of the naturalization of bodies, In these latter cases, an imaginary perspective from which all possible sexuality is understood to be read through multiple lenses at once, and that the feminine, awaiting representation in or by the distinction between inner and outer constitute a simple replication or copy of the prohibited object is not one.

The American Council of Learned Societies provided a more effective strategy of melancholy. The sexed surface of bodies as politically constructed, disintegrated, and the body is marked, that is nevertheless fully inside, not as an object; this homosexuality is conceived as a performative twist of language and by the father in public discourse as necessary features of the law emerged in light of transgenderism and transsexuality, lesbian and gay men simply may not do all that he wants implicitly to suggest that Herculine might reasonably suspect that some people suffer in becoming gay, the social order, and create erotic havoc of various kinds. The asymmetrical structure of femininity prior to the social world as what is to nature; gender proves to be an elaboration of the child on the question of how the mundane violence performed by certain habitual and violent presumptions. The Garbo Image quoted in Esther Newton, Mother Camp

Categories of true sex was thus able to think through their productive capacities together? On the status of women as a sex in any given discourse, to say that that will effectively guarantee unity as the psychotic nature of homosexuality culminates in the marking by sex, the acquisition of gender bending or changing.

Rose is no position outside this field, as Irigaray has called it, she is designated to be appropriated to its body, that is surely not all one is not the figure of identification that she herself examines, which, by the recourse to the task of rethinking subversive possibilities for a full apologia in these brief pages.

3   There is nothing radical about common sense.

It has been one of the ego changes place with the requirements of representation and of the constitutive contradiction of this problem that resonates with my own project as I read Beauvoir who explained that to be determined by the credibility of those incoherent or discontinuous gendered beings who appear to be discarded from a desire avowedly rooted in structuralist anthropology, there is an identity politics tends to fracture and multiply meanings; hence, to reflect or represent some true order of things. For our purposes, for Abraham and Maria Torok it seems that the prohibitive law that prohibits incest and forces an infinite displacement of a pre-discursive libidinal multiplicity within the category of sex. But what is the effect of culture, but they are said to be obvious to anyone who cares to look. What one sees a man. And yet, is thus a difference between Foucault’s position in a sentimental and melodramatic tone, the contingent limits of its continuing circulation. But further, projects that disavowed and disparaged embodiment on to the female sex constitutes the subject as well as the repressive law. As such, the semiotic, that the agency of various kinds. The feminist appropriation of her own phallicism but the description of lesbian experience to a structuralist distinction between lesbian and gay replicates the kind of gender identity onto a fresh object. I do not, and natural desire. The female body that is a model for readers of the Human Y Chromosome Encodes a Finger Protein, samples of DNA had somehow been misplaced. The passage is, the acts it evokes have never been committed, because juridical subjects are invariably related, chiasmically so, and without incoherence with these positions unilaterally or invariably? Can this body, that must be a truth of female homosexuals understood as the retractable operation of volition; indeed, to ask is not the modality of desire, is determined.

The language of usurpation suggests a radical discontinuity between sexed bodies, and, causal principle and argues that her analysis is right, then, as well.

Thus, for Wittig, is feminine, is clearly limited by the empty mouth which becomes the founding moment of arbitrariness within a language which is not to seek recourse to a metaphysical quarrel with hegemonic modes of nonpsychotic activity are those which, within her framework to consider it a phallic organization of sexuality, inevitable.

Paradoxically, the maternal body as ground, but the central distinctions of structuralist anthropology, there is an illusory appearance. In other words, a leave-taking of heterosexuality, but never caused, by which gender does not describe their convergences within the discourse of truth to delegitimate minority gendered and sexual practices compel the question of the self-aggrandizing gesture of synecdoche, come to represent; hence, a fugitive operation of compulsory heterosexuality within a totalizing logical structure that effectively returns his analyses to the law performs a third gender that, It is an example of the relation between the incest taboo, then conversely, sex, prior to the imposition of the masculine. Such a strategy of displacement. In other words, the binary, with Foucault in claiming that sexuality and identity. Newton writes: nausea makes me feel like a woman is not universally true and original. The very inacces-sibility of the feminine could never be translated into several languages and has had, nor to language, or is it produced and reproduced, what kind of credibility it once did, the hommo-sexuality that Irigaray suggests that the desire it is, through locutionary acts of speaking subjects. Bodies cannot be fulfilled and an object of love suffers a necessary attribute. Others, following Beauvoir, would argue that it is precisely the moment when one cannot with surety read the body, and if that desire. This is naturalized through grammatical norms, as well. The super-ego is, in its masculinity. This is not cause gender, its usual location, to name the criterion for subversiveness will always fail, and contests the self-grounding postures of the paternal law, which for them go without saying, for Franke, it is clear that the excluded, by his/her anatomical discontinuity. Foucault’s Discipline and Punish Foucault challenges the viability of the master on the east coast of the paternal law not only forbids sexual union between boy and mother as well as the consequence of identification? Indeed, precisely because that option is already clear that feminist theory occupies an ambiguous position within the cultural production of identities along the axis of sexual difference fundamentalism, I have offered a reconsideration and revision of my work in recent years, however, Kristeva’s theory of performativity is not born a woman. The strategy of displacement. But even this comedy is the consequence of the subject that is prior to any fact or a recovery of preindividuated jouissance. The locus of intractability, whether they were both result and manifestation of sexual difference within its terms centers on the free play of appearances. On an abstract universality, her description warrants not only between the two enterprises has broken down.

There will be shown as productions that create the distinction between an abstract universality, her description warrants not only to draw attention to the Symbolic guarantees the failure of the category of women. This is naturalized through grammatical norms, as a medium, surface, or, indeed, where the maternal libidinal economy which occasionally makes itself convincing as a construction that cannot be grasped through the effects of the same opportunity to read the body in The History of Sexuality that sexuality and belief are related in a problematic break between the semiotic as the foundational moment in which language figures as a masculinist discourse. In such perceptions in which the relationship remains ambivalent and unresolved, the unitary subject can no longer find his ,

By giving birth:

But how can an epistemic/ontological regime be brought into question the subject-verb requirements of propositional sense are clearly bits and pieces of masculinity and femininity constructed here as rooted in unresolved homosexual cathexes. Pastiche is, of its economic base, strictly speaking, the feminine within any given discourse, whereby the female body prior to the epistemological, ontological, and reads a good deal, that seeks to extend visibility and legitimacy to bodies that have animated this book, it is culturally constructed body will then be possible to invert the representation of the question to ask, what relation instates women as subject paradoxically undercut feminist goals risk failure by refusing to take the internality of the homosexual point of reference for a position or set of sexed polarities, these are pleasures that clearly pervade Freud’s text.

As a shifting and contextual phenomenon, gender, and because gender is a pre-paternal causality would then be possible to maintain a parallel but oppositional internal coherence of the juridical law of the body may be one in which case he fortifies his attachment to his father by identifying himself with him , Irigaray would maintain, however, in other words, the institution of heterosexuality and homosexuality are taken to its body, much later than in other words, Kristeva appears to designate the very desire it is primary bisexuality, that binary relation.

The ideal of a significant theoretical mistake to take issue with genitally organized sexuality per se only because my own work reveals a problematic break between the early and later chapters of this dream, one which must be approached through active verbs that attest to the constancy of cultural relations. His critique of foundationalism has guided this reading of Kafka’s Before the Law and can potentially expose the tenuousness of gender, and at the outset of The Use of Pleasure , history , it has lost the formalism of its instincts as a relationship among sex, as well.

In post-Hegelian terms, the imaginary meanings that it is not a simple imitation, reproduction, and parodic convergences that characterize gay and that is said to be a homosexual without homosexuality, as Monique Wittig echoed that phrase in an unmediated way. Indeed, sex is adequate to the mask dominates as well as for Beauvoir as for the substantializing view of heterosexist oppression in other coun-tries. I opposed those regimes of heterosexism and phallogocentrism are understood as the facticity of sex and to strategize its intervention in feminist theory has changed precisely through its appearance as gendered, admits of possibilities ought to be conceived merely as the invocation of a man’s arms, whenever she took some heavy glamour part, is not really Kristeva’s concern, for her relentless imagination, keen criticism, and the breasts or to distort what is described by the paternal economy? As Drucilla Cornell, in fact, a genuine or authentic sexual identity and to exercise the various clans to a superstition that deceives not only that under conditions of possibility for gender itself need not be understood as a model for readers of the institution of a negative valence. To be a culturally constructed sexuality, inevitable. For Lévi-Strauss and structuralism in chapter On the other hand, it is only culturally constructed genders.

The task of this economy of sexuality remains problematic. Women are not also social facts.

4  The Straight Mind

On the other hand, the performativity of gender? What does transparency keep obscure?

Prohibition, Psychoanalysis, and the productive ,inadvertently generative, functions of differential relations. To what extent do regulatory practices that establish and circulate the misnomer of natural fact or a given sex or a slave morality. As Foucault makes clear that the substantive effect of a non-phallocentric erotic economy will dispel the illusions of the natural and unconstrained sexuality .

Whether gender or of the body. In a sense of place in history. And the sexual positions, suggests that women who claim that gender is something right in Beauvoir’s claim that one becomes a free-floating artifice, play, falsehood, and how precisely do the rhythmic constraints, for Beauvoir, gender identity ,h/er sense of self, but perhaps such questions simply show that the expressive model loses its descriptive force of Wittig’s most recent theoretical work, Sexes et parent鳬 Through his cursory reading of Freud possible? And clearly, the prohibition which grounds the presumption of an intermediate type, that does not seem to be, but the acquisition of such a law enacted in the place of sex as a personal/cultural history of criminology. In The Lesbian Body is supposed to illuminate the persistence of gender, for the feminine in The Psychic Life of Power and several of my view that any and all places. As a very partial effort to question women as political subjects; on the subject, a leave-taking of heterosexuality.

Hence, I also drew from French poststructuralism to make clear who refuses whom.

As readers, and not merely as the prediscursive as an identity within the category of sex is taken as an enacted testimony to the convergence of cultural intelligibility of sex: If a stable and oppositional relation to an open and complex historical system of compulsory heterosexuality, I have tried to understand that what we believe to be the work of Vicki Schultz, Katherine Franke, it is feeling, displacement, or do women have a gender which persons are said to defy. As early as Revolution in Poetic Language , later date is a sedimentation of gender into its conditions of normative heterosexuality. That production may well be true about the categories of the discrete and internally coherent gender identities, her novels follow a narrative account of construction, an early essay, The woman in marriage qualifies not as a question produced by the uncritical reproduction of the self-grounding postures of the body as its prohibition. This doesn’t mean that all speaking presupposes and implicitly recalled for any one way. Taken to its authority. Here Foucault assumes that the construction of a bisexual psychic composition. The construction of a law or set of acts, I abject myself within the Symbolic, and the artificial, depth and surface, inner and outer make sense for feminism. Without a doubt, feminism continues to affirm that incest, and their relations is not to occupy an unnamed, excluded from the maternal body. Any psychoanalytic theory of performativity that is, as Marx put it. It offers the possibility of a love lost or prohibited of the original to be delivering a psychoanalytic perspective. In his early book on Sartre. Certainly, one cannot with surety read the desire of the semiotic, through repression, exclusion itself might qualify as such, circulates the term normative also pertains to ethical justification, how do non-normative sexual practices. This is an historically specific mode of signifying the female, the taboo against homosexuality as well as to replicate uncritically relations of radical gender asymmetry. The result is that no one who has understood what it is a conflation of the movement of thought to be necessary to produce the speaking subject? What is hidden is not cause gender, the object is not the heterosexual aim; on the body ,of, primary process.

The alternative is not a prediscursive reality , the normative function of a set of punishments. The loss of the unconscious or after the law of heterosexual exchange and distribution of hetero-, bi-, and necessity of the description of Herculine’s pleasures how the dynamic nuclear-cytoplasmic interactions alter during differentation ,

If I treat that grammar imposes upon thought, a desire for the implicit norms that govern the invocation of the Symbolic is predicated upon a repression of primary condition of oppression or in the ,now repressed, maternal element. However, I am currently working with a group of homosexual desire, in the convent, and the law that is, however, is a tactical construction of these reified categories of sex? Divine notwithstand-ing, gender, and sex, to the Symbolic with the paternal law. Perhaps the subject of feminism itself. Hence,Wittig calls for the purposes of a coalitional assemblage can be said to be underestimated, but is a public action. the totalizing claims of a stylized set of corporeal permeability and impermeability. Those bodily figures who do not follow that the woman in mas-querade that she seeks to expand the realm of gender norms produces the univocity of each position within the emerging canon of feminist sexual theory, but that very apparatus of production whereby the female Other suddenly exposes his autonomy as illusory. That particular dialectical reversal of regulatory regimes. Those who make such prescriptions or who are women will be the foundation for a critical genealogy of gender significations are inscribed or as the paradigm of subversive action or, more specifically, a meaning prior to culture itself.

Although the right of women is neither a woman is necessarily female. The Lesbian Body and elsewhere, however, logically entails the death of autobiographical writing, indeed, a position of the constituency that it eludes the very terms of gender identities, her account that guarantees a presocial ontology of persons in language or the proliferation of the cold fixity of the self-subjection of the social order, and reads a good deal, that activity of making upheld in Plato’s Symposium as an immediate given, through the pity for others who are women will be the only concept I know that the boy usually chooses the heterosexual masculinity of the masculine subject on the critical point of view, if sex itself is not the same time that the process of identity that work in radical sexual the-ory, in other countries. I read Sartre for whom lack is ,sometimes we do not merely exceed the purposes of social regulations, to be answered through recourse to the presumed fixity and universality and the factic, but produce this categorial fiction for reasons not always understood about the limits and regulatory structure also requires reconsideration from this loss through its advent into culture. From the start only a sophisticated and mythic construction, and very often at odds with one another. The effort to think gender? How does language construct the categories of identity as a new departure for understanding the taken-for-granted world of pleasures in which identifications are to be a closed phallogocentric signifying economy through exclusion. The feminine is never free of the feminist emancipatory model presumes that female homosexuality or heterosexuality. What is its ontological status prior to sexed being.

This has seemed necessary to foster the political elaboration of a prolifer- ating field of bodies disrupt the signifying function takes on the central distinctions of structuralist anthropology, there is someone here ,I will try to live in the interplay of conflicts , . what, if the formation of the paternal law, then, the overthrow of the paternal law in order to maintain the complexity of these disparate elements, biological functions, initiates a loss of the hegemony of the after are discursively and performatively instituted modes of temporality that are supposed to illuminate the persistence of gender acts that qualify over others as foundational and causal functions within any given discourse, invariably associated with forms of acknowledged fragmentation might facilitate coalitional action precisely because it is less clear in his own theory maintains an ontological presumption of an originally homosexual libidinal directionality and produces the displaced maternal body. Hence, power appeared to operate as sites for intervention, exposure, and what would be wrong to think gender? What circumscribes that site as the psychotic alternative to the number of institutional and individual forms of cultural unruliness and disorder. If Foucault contends that the distinction between lesbian and gay culture as sex. This incoherence troubles Page’s argument as well as resolves these refusals suggests that appropriation is the expropriation of that set limits on the subversive from the gender hierarchy to the perceptually perceived body?

For Kristeva, poetry and maternity represent privileged practices within gay and lesbian sexuality nor that the only sex represented within a given gender without dictating which kinds of cultural differences as examples of the sense that it is, for me to concede, however, logically entails the death of autobiographical writing, indeed, homosexuality is, one which, within the body in its discreteness that might then serve as a counterstrategy to the understanding of heterosexual constructs, produced by the distinction between an irrecoverable past, makes innovative use of redeployment and transvaluation time and again to a form of the complexity of sexuality, and sex, of course, the strategy of melancholia becomes the operative term within a discourse of truth that stipulat-ed that certain kinds of practices that produce culturally intelligible. The notion of an original desire ,not determined, in which the sexed body as a signification that an ,already, sexually differentiated body assumes, then it seems crucial to understand identity as a normative ideal relieved of coercive force. Within the spectrum of French feminist and antifeminist contexts alike suggests that what we take to be argued about at all. Sometimes gender ambiguity can operate in the final sections of chapter , there is no reason to assume that these categories always work as background for one another. The Symbolic order creates cultural intelligibility that govern the cultural reality that founds this perception in this context is a subversive enactment? How is this the only way in which active ovarian contributions to sex differentiation have never been committed, because women are the effects of a subversive possibility to it. In Discipline and Punish Foucault challenges the Lacanian narrative ideologically suspect. The dialectic of master-slave, here the old dream of symmetry, as if they were matriarchal or matrilineal in structure, whether gender is culturally constructed genders. Foucault explicitly takes a stand against emancipatory or libera-tionist models of sexuality and gender are radically distinct from the universal and that that will not be like for my sexual life. In melancholia, the Oedipal complex in the following sections on psychoanalysis, especially as it was among the above belong to cultural studies or critical theory, such as Gender Trouble, the question instates the kinship relation between the early and later chapters of this causality and understand this conclusion to be discursively constituted identities. When we consider various new forms of hierarchy and compulsory heterosexuality in an institute in the construction of gender as well. Poetic language thus suggests a refusal of this economy of binary sex, where the object she forbids herself to love. ,. bear the mark of gender, and desire for women, an omnipresent meaning: sex inequality takes the category of sex would itself disappear and, rather, must be understood as a substantive person who is the exception, the loss of the self and maintains that the law:What is the desexualized status of the Law that takes juridical structures as their emblem. For inner and outer constitute a site of fusion, self-loss, and imagined; my own at the same name, published in those drives belonging to the magic of this denaturalization was not to show how the assertion of I, even if the boy either internalizes the loss is the body, the act of domination. Wittig continues with a crossing-over, sitting on Rehoboth Beach, wondering whether I could link the different sides of the key fabricating mechanisms through which political transformation is articulated. Is the premature insistence on a legitimating recognition for my sexual life. As a result, this configuration of power that replay and redistribute the possibilities for behavior and identity. What kinds of genders, but this is the strategy through which heterosexual identity is always acquired. On the way in which the designation of the repressive from the economy of identity a misnomer. rather, genealogy investigates the political construction and regulation of sexuality. The notion of an emotional tie. In his early book on Sartre. Certainly, I want to suggest, however, this Nietzschean criticism becomes instructive when it tries to enforce discrete and internally coherent gender norms would have as their necessary ground. The assumption of the cold fixity of masculine subject/signifier becomes essential to the species that either ,a substitution is required, no woman can say I without being for a masculine identification, and the punitive production of sexual difference.

His clear suggestion here is that one is not a process or a sexuality constructed ,not determined, in principle, take on some other kind? How do certain sexual practices. As a result, that binary relation fated to reproduce themselves without proscription?

This structure of representation as inadequate. The historical possibilities materialized through various publications. For L鶩-Strauss and structuralism in chapter order of things. But politics and representation are controversial terms. By restricting the paternal law institutes the production of a natural indisposition. Serious as the repressive hypothesis in The History of Sexuality,Volume I. Although she fears the retributive consequences of castration. Riviere explains the fear of losing cultural sanction and taboo which, for Abraham and Maria Torok it seems, only men are not, significantly, Stuart Hall, one that is not cause gender, and, hence, within the terms of every infantile entrance into this conflicted cultural field of embryology has come under criticism for its genesis. The structural systematicity of L鶩-Strauss himself induces from the illusion of a developmentally necessitated repression, one that might be a woman; it is definitionally ,by virtue of the recovery of preindividuated jouissance. The tactical production of a diffuse regulatory economy of sexuality within the terms of an original or genuine femininity is the gathering of attributes into coherent gender identities fail to appear as the taken-for-granted world of pleasures as the paradigm of subversive action or, rather, the splitting of the category of sex.

This becomes politically problematic if that system can be historicized in ways that would not have a history of how the field of power from which s/he feels inevitably distanced, suggesting that the performance suggests a radical discontinuity between sexed bodies can proceed, ideally, without laughter, without a radical critique of sexual difference is an essentially metaphorical activity in which the mundane social audience, subject to an imaginary past needs to acknowledge its contradictions and take the variable construction of the female homosexual, fails to conform to the way toward that destruction, women who claim that the discontinuities in these instances cannot be reduced to a death within life? Is there a gender and desire for that parent, but finally toward the conclusion that a number of institutional and individual forms of power, and fag redeploy and destabilize the categories of identity as a category of sex as such, the fear of feminization associated within heterosexual cultures with male homosexuality culminates in tautology. It was difficult to bring clinical and scholarly work into productive dialogue on questions of sexuality, to refer to a natural sex is an act of differentiating linguistic rules that govern intelligible speech is an act of giving birth, the legitimate from the semiotic, besides childbirth, which scandalizes all manner of theory ,although not, and lesbians. She writes: Ferenczi pointed out . But if these substances are nothing other than by means of a person, denoting a universal patriarchy has been appropriated by men. Thus, the multiplicity of drives against the plunge . . This radical splitting of the trope of the American Psychoanalytic Association and the repressive hypothesis that Foucault, the category of sex is a set of relations, and the paradoxical opposition to feminism, is a man. And what is this mechanism formulated? Can we refer to the paternal law itself, literalized by the structure of its own interior fixity. At the same those differences that might be disclosed, an interior essence that might be reframed. The performance of gender categories that resist the belittling of drag and cross-dressing, and it creates them, and the subversion of the oppressor instead of offering a different history, or histories? Is it possible to isolate the repressive hypothesis to the modality of desire and aim that constitutes culture’s concealed foundation. Juridical notions of oppression or in the failure to repeat or, more inclusive than the humanist originally thought. Normative clearly has at least two meanings in this world that has been discredited on empirical grounds, he appears to be understood on the maternal body. Kristeva’s theory of gender within the context of its economic base, strictly speaking,, meaning that the two sexual dispositions, but from convergent social movements of which are not condemned to a historically specific mode of criticism and to naturalize its effects through its cultural appropriations. Indeed, to become a troublesome term, a difficult task within reigning discourses of sexual love of the performer and the fꬵre, discontinuity, metonymic slippage. As Drucilla Cornell, in its present and necessary form. In other words, should be qualified by going back to the way toward that destruction, women who claim that gender is not the consequence of the ego ideal thus serves as the mundane violence performed by certain habitual and violent presumptions. The main strategy of the violence of gender intelligibility.

Is masquerade the consequence that her analysis is clearly not enough to inquire into how women might become more acute as we generally assume it to be opposed, I shall attempt to show that what we take to be determined by the petrifying gaze and which exposes the dialectic altogether. Although she effectively exposes the postulation of an original pleasure and insisting on a specific historical configuration of power through which one waits. The notion of the category of sex, gender, and he can seek wider representation for a radical rethinking of our basic categories: what contingent social relations take place not in some of its natural necessity. Kristeva writes:

Prohibition, Psychoanalysis, and the Heterosexual Matrix, offers a critical challenge to that political structure through the prohibitive law that prohibits incest and forces an infinite displacement of the accused. The question of what makes gender intelligible, an assertion of an outside that economy, Rose writes that for Lacan, the same kind of advance purchase on unity? Perhaps also part of a transparent observer. But the body and its aim, that prohibitive or juridical structure is shown to produce women’s common subjugated experience. The feminist norm of solidarity at the base of melancholic heterosexuality.

He claims that the relation of difference between signifier and signified. Paradoxically enough, Beauvoir prefigured this impossibility in The Second Sex that one is one’s gender to the law, Herculine deploys and redistributes the terms of phallogocentrism, colonizing under the category of women or woman and/or men and women. , is constituted.

If gender is a precipi-tate of abandoned object-cathexes and that it is not to assert an ideal and unconstrained sexuality . . as it is not divided.

Gender is the sole condition under which the designation of its production that is finally impossible, and sexuality, itself a discursive formation and effect of a political goal. Wittig is clearly being refused. Indeed, perhaps more appropriately, to which she explicitly calls in her work. Although Foucault revised his historiography of sex would itself disappear and, hence, clear a social bond between men and man, and acts not merely the outburst of libidinal dispositions, sexual practice has the power relations. His sentence continues, then, to affirm that incest, and then as board chair of the maternal body as the various speaking agents occupy equal positions of employment because they constitute the domain.

Robotically constructed using 4th order Markovian Statistics from the writing of Judith Butler, inspired by

Why no Roman industrial revolution?

In my last post I repeated Marx’s phrase the the hand mill gave you the feudal lord the steam mill the industrial capitalist. One reader objected that this overstated the role of technology and that steam power was already known to the Romans. I concede that Marx over simplified. There were thousands of water mills in England recorded in the Domesday book. So ownership of water mills was a key part of the power of the feudal lords. A better phrase would have been that the water mill brings you the feudal lord the steam mill the industrial capitalist. But to return to the original question.

The ancient Romans already had a working steam turbine in Hero’s aeolipile. Why were they not able to turn this to use in industry, pumping water or turning millstones?

Why no industrial revolution in antiquity?

There are well known arguments about the social relations of slavery impeding the development of labour saving technology, but is this enough of an explanation?

We know that the ancients harnessed the power of water for grinding corn and other industrial uses, so they were not completely indifferent to artificial sources of power.

Could they not have used steam turbines instead of water wheels to grind corn?

There are the obvious objections that the Mediterranean basin has no coal deposits to fuel steam engines. But in due course they had conquered Northern Gaul and Britannia where they were able to extract coal. Could they have set up and industrial economy in these areas?


Figure 1: Hero’s turbine, or aeolipile reproduced from [1].

I think not. There are inherent technical limitations to the usefulness of Hero’s device, basically its low torque and inefficiency. Steam turbines are now the preferred prime mover – in use in fossil and nuclear power stations across the world, but their superiority has depended on the ability to produce high pressure steam and high rotational velocity. The actual technology that started the industrial revolution – the Watt steam engine had the virtues that it could develop very high torques at low velocity using very low steam pressures.

In order to get a functioning fossil fuel economy you had to have a prime mover and a way of providing fuel for it. The main fuel available was coal which was obtained from mines prone to flooding. The Watt engine was originally developed for pumping out mines, an application which required a lot of force but tolerated a relatively slow engine. The torque T supplied by a Hero style turbine is given by the rule

T = p × 2a × r

whee p is the steam pressure, a the area of each exhaust nozzle and r the radius of the turbine.

The torque provided by a Watt beam engine was given by a similar rule

T = p × a × l

where p is now the pressure difference between the boiler and the condenser, a the area of the cylinder and l is the beam length.

The early Watt engines were huge, with beam lengths of over 3 meters compared to the few centimeters for the length of hero turbines. This is a factor of 100 difference. In terms of diameter of bore a practical Hero turbine would not have exceeded 1 cm against half a meter for a Watt engine. This is a factor of about 2500 greater area for the Watt machine. Let us assume both operate at the same steam pressure, since the technology of boiler construction was initially the limiting factor. That means that the torque of an early Watt engine was about a quarter of a million times greater than an aeolipile.

Could you build an aeolipile that generated comparable torque?

Well yes if you had arms a couple of meters long on the turbine and nozzles a half a meter in diameter, then the torque would be comparable. But the nozzles of the aeolipile are open to the air, so a nozzle half a meter across would use up an entirely impractical quantity of steam.


Figure 2: Laval’s first turbine used to power a cream centrifuge in 1884. It used a simple modification of Hero’s turbine in concept, but relied on precision engineering and high pressure steam.

An aeolipile is only practical as a power generating device if the revolutions per second are very high. A small torque multiplied by a very high number of revs per second can generate a useful amount of power.

The aeolipile had to go through a series of of steps before it could be converted, in the 1880s into practical turbines by Laval and Parson. The first practical use of of a reaction turbine was for Laval’s cream separator. This required very rapid rotation, around 1000rpm, to centrifugally separate cream from milk, so a high speed device was desirable. Laval’s first prototype was based on the aeolipile but heavily geared down using friction gear to get it down to 1000rpm. His second prototype switched to the impulse principle – directing a jet of high pressure steam against a rotating set of turbine blades.

Rotation speeds were very high the 300hp turbine in Table 1 had a peripheral velocity of 366M/s or 1317Kmph – supersonic velocity.

Table 1: The performance of production Laval turbines of the late 19th century. Data from [1]

Horse Power Radius Revs per min of turbine Revs per min of geared output

5 5cm 30,000 3,000

30 11cm 20,000 2,000

300 35cm 10,000 750


Figure 3: Laval’s second turbine 1886 switched to the impulse principle and went into practical production.

Between the start of steam power and the first practical use of a reaction turbine over 100 years elapsed, during which many engineers came up with suggestions for turbines. But it was not until the 1880s that Parson and Laval designs actual got into use. They depended on having high pressure steam, precision engineering and high strength steels to work. None of these were available to the Romans. They did not have the blast furnaces and forges necessary to make the wrought iron for boilers, far less the Bessemer converters to produce the steel for turbine blades. Steam turbines only became practical as a source of power once industrial society was in full swing.

Well even if turbines were not practical, what stopped the Romans building something like one of Watt’s engines?


Figure 4: The demonstration of atmospheric pressure by Guericke who pumped the air out between two copper hemispheres and demonstrated that even two teams of horses could not pull them appart. This experiment was a key to the development of atmospheric engines like those of Watt.

Basically a lack of scientific knowledge. The Watt engine depended for its power stroke on atmospheric pressure. Steam was supplied at near atmospheric pressure, and then condensed to create a vacuum. That depended in turn on two key prior concepts – the discovery of atmospheric pressure by Torricelli, and the concept of heat as a quantity to be conserved developed by Watt’s supervisor at Glasgow Prof. Black.

Technologies have an order of dependence to them that can not be arbitrarily skipped over. Without the knowledge and skills associated with a particular stage of technology, you can not simply go on to develop the next.


[1]   Alexander Jude. The Theory of the Steam Turbine. Griffin and Company, 1910.

Big Data and Super-Computers: foundations of Cyber Communism

I shall be elaborating on the following theses:

  • The inability of 20th century socialism to progress to communism led to the crisis of the USSR.
  • Communism requires a definite stage of development of technology.
  • This stage was only reached at the very end of the 20th century.
  • But this problem of technical adequacy can not be understood in just humanist  terms of ‘plenty’ or in terms of ‘the realm of necessity’.

In the process I will address what I see to have been misconceptions about communism on the part of the Soviets, before going on to look at the transitional stages a modern economy would need to achieve communism.

1 What is a mode of production

Is Socialism a mode of production?
The standard account, derived from Stalin, is that a mode of production is a combination of productive forces and production relations:
Mode of production = productive forces + production relations
This was sumarised by Stalin as

the productive forces are only one aspect of production, only one aspect of the mode of production, an aspect that expresses the relation of men to the objects and forces of nature which they make use of for the production of material values. Another aspect of production, another aspect of the mode of production, is the relation of men to each other in the process of production, men’s relations of production. [19]

This has been the orthodoxy, but I think it is wrong. Another meaning of the phrase mode of production is, according to Marx, the mode of material production. This mode of production, according to Marx’s 1857 preface, conditions the social and political life. The relations of production only have to be appropriate to the productive forces.

In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life.[12]

This conception had been expressed by Marx ten years earlier in his pithy phrase :

The hand mill gives you society with the feudal lord; the steam mill, society with the industrial capitalist. [11]

In this conception the essential feature of capitalist production is that it is machine industry, production by means of (steam) powered machines. But this should give us pause to think, for is not socialism also characterised by machine production, by the use of artificial forms of energy?
Recall that Lenin expressed this very idea when he gave the following equation:
Socialism = Soviet power + Electrification
Since the difference between steam power and electrical power is secondary, and we know that capitalist economies also use electricity, the important point is that capitalism and socialism share the same mode of production.
We can summarize this in two equations defining the mode of production:

Capitalist mode of production = powered machine industry.
Socialist mode of production = electric machine industry.

So the socialist mode of production is a subset of the machine mode of production – that which uses nationwide electric grids. Hence the first aim of the USSR was to set up GOLERO the electricity plan.
Socialism and capitalism differ not so much in mode of production as in the social relations.

Capitalist production relations =

Commodity production +
Private ownership +
Wage labour+
Market anarchy

Socialist production relations =

Commodity form of consumer goods+
Public ownership +
Wage labour +

The significant differences are firstly that socialist production relations can restrict the commodity form to the consumer goods market. Within the publicly owned sector there is no change in ownership as means of production go from one state factory to another – hence these goods are not commodities. Secondly the socialist economy substitutes public for private ownership. Third it replaces the anarchic market with directive planning. These are differences in production relations but not in the mode of production.

2 Marx vs USSR on Communism

Marx, in Critique of the Gotha Programme presents a three stage process of transition to communism.

  1. Capitalism
  2. First stage communism No commodities or money, no private owners, payment in labour tokens according to physical work done. Public services paid for by an income tax on labour incomes.
  3. Second stage communism Payment according to need, large families etc get higher incomes.

Note that even in the first stage Marx assumes the abolition of money. There is also – contrary to the impression spread originally by Bukharin[1] – no mention in Marx of the idea that all goods will be distributed for free in a communist system. Distribution according to need is based on an objective assessment of need – life saving healthcare may be freely available to those who need it, but cosmetic surgery -no.
Now let me contrast this scheme with what became the Soviet orthodoxy derived variously from the Bukharin text mentioned earlier and from Stalin[18]. Again we have a 3 stage model

  1. Capitalism
  2. Socialism: Commodities and money are kept, state+coop ownership, payment in money wages according to work done and status of work ( male jobs paid more than female ), indirect taxes on sales not income tax provide the main state revenue.
  3. Communism: Commodity production replaced by barter, free distribution of many goods, full state ownership.

The significant differences are that the Soviets identified the first stage of communism with something much less radical : socialism. They forget that Socialism was a much wider trend than communism, and that in the Communist Manifesto a whole chapter was devoted to explaining how the Communists were different from socialists. The socialism of the USSR was essentially the 1902 socialism of the still revolutionary Karl Kautsky[17,10]. All the key elements were in that work by Kautsky. The pretence that a socialist monetary economy was the same thing as a non monetary communist one, was a misrepresentation.

3 Why did USSR not reach communism?

The material and technical basis of communism will be built up by the end of the second decade (1971-80), ensuring an abundance of material and cultural values for the whole population ; Soviet society will come close to a stage where it can introduce the principle of distribution according to needs, and there will be a gradual transition to one form of ownership-public ownership . Thus, a communist society will in the main be built in the U.S.S.R . The construction of communist society will be fully completed in the subsequent period. (Programme CPSU 1960)

The USSR in 1960 was still very ambitious. They had a very optimistic time table for overtaking US and in many key industries this goal was in fact achieved. The transition to communism was seen solely in terms of quantity of output not in terms of changed social relations. A key technical development was still seen to be electrification: Electrification, which is the pivot of the economic construction of communist society,plays a key role in the development of all economic branches and in the effecting of all modern technological progress. It is therefore important to ensure the priority development of electric power output. It is notable that no particular attention was paid to information technology as an enabling technology for communism.

How well did they actually do? Well table 1 shows that in their key goal of electricity the USSR was already by 1990 doing better than the leading European capitalist countries had achieve a quarter century later.

 Table 1: Comparison of power available to different economies converted into human labour effort equivalents per head of population. Assumption is that a manual worker could do 216 KWh per year of work.
year Gwh human labour
equiv per head
China 2014 5665000 19.2
US 2014 4331000 63.1
EU 2014 3166000 19.7
USSR 1990 1728000 27.3
USSR 1940 48000 1.2
USSR 1931 8800 0.3
Russia 1913 1300 0.0
GB 2014 338000 24.8
GB 1907 61320 7.3

Was this enough power for communism?

What about food production?
How well did the USSR achieve its goals there?
Pretty well according to Table 2.

Table 2: Comparison of late Soviet with UK, Brazil and US annual per capita output of major protein foods. Note that for all categories the late USSR had better figures. Sources [14], FAOSTAT and USDA databases.

Year Meat Milk Eggs
Kg Kg Units
USSR 1988 69 375 299
Brazil 1988 49 96 163
UK 1988 55 265 201
USA 1988 58
USA 1990 236
USA 1995 259

Was this enough food for communism?

But Soviet growth slowed down. The Kruschev era had assumed continued exponential growth and had defined communism in terms of achieving exponential growth. The assumption of exponential growth was unrealistic. Actual growth can not be exponential for long, it inevitably starts to slow down. Actual growth tends to follow a logistic curve like this.

Khrushchev s Communism downplayed social change

Under communism there will be no classes, and the socio-economic and cultural distinctions, and differences in living conditions, between town and countryside will disappear ; the countryside will rise to the level of the town in the development of the productive forces and the nature of work, the forms of production relations, living conditions and the well-being of the population. (Programme CPSU 1960)

But the concrete programme gave no measures to abolish classes or abolish money and commodities. When the impossibility of continued 10% growth made itself felt, this was seen as the failure of communism, since social change had not been at its core. If society was not moving forward, it failed to morally inspire people and by the late 1980s communists could not resist the pressures from capitalist ideology.

4 Bourgeois theorists said Communism impossible


Only money provides a rational basis for comparing costs Calculation in terms of labour time impractical because of the millions of equations that would need to be solved.


Market is like a telephone system exchanging information to tie up economy Only the market can solve problem of dispersed information

There was some limited truth in this. Marx s communism was not yet possible in 1960 due to limitations in information processing. Marx s Communism stage 1 assumed

  • No money
  • Calculation in terms of labour time and use values
  • Payment in labour credits

But to work out the labour content of every good required the solution of millions of equations. 1960s computers were not powerful enough. This had its effects in limitations of Soviet Socialism.
Money was still needed for economic calculation even in the planned sector. There was a problem of aggregation in planning which required setting monetary objectives. There was an inability to handle disaggregated plans at all Union level. Money was still needed for wage payments. But cash led to black markets, corruption and pressure to restore capitalist relations.

5 Key developments in productive forces since 1960

But since 1960 there have been a set of technical advances that allow us to remove these old objections to communist economics.


which allows real-time cybernetic planning and can solve the problem of dispersed information – Hayeks key objection


allows concentration of the information needed for planning.


can solve the millions of equations in seconds – von Mises objection

Electronic payment cards

allow replacement of cash with non transferable labour credits.

Computational complexity

How easy is it to solve the millions of equations. There are some problems that become computationally intractable even for the largest computers. Is economic planning or the use of labour accounting like that?
No it is not. In a series of papers[2,6,5,4,9,8], Allin Cottrell, Greg Michaelson and I have shown that the computational complexity of computing labour values for an entire economy with N distinct products grows as Nlog(N) This means that it is highly tractable and easily solved by modern computers

Direct Democracy

It is also possible to harness computer networks and mobile phone voting to allow direct democratic control by the mass of the population over the economy. This allows major strategic decisions taken democratically, questions like: How much labour to devote to education? How much to health, pensions, sick? How much to environmental protection? How much to national defence? How much to new investment?
All this can be done by direct voting using computers or mobile phones every year. We have prototyped software to aggregate the wishes of the public this way[7,15,16,3].


Marx s principle was that non-public goods should be distributed on the equivalence principle – you get back in goods the same amount of labour – after tax – that you perform. Hence goods are priced in labour hours. Cybernetic feedback from sales to the plan adjusts output to consumer needs as shown in Figure  1.
Figure 1: Cybernetic planning
Marx argued that calculation in terms of labour time would lead to greater efficiency. The wages system undervalues the real social cost of labour and deters the use of the most modern machinery. Transition to communist calculation will lead to the rational use of labour time, and faster growth of labour productivity.
Figure 2: The growth of labour productivity has been shrinking over the last half century in the UK. Growth rates computed as moving average over last 5 years fron ONS data for output per worker for the whole economy.
Figure 3: The decline in productivity growth is an international phenomonon. Data obtained from Extended Penn World Tables. Note that this data only goes up to the start of the 2008 recession.
Throughout the capitalist world this law is in effect, slowing down the growth of labour productivity. The capitalist class seek cheap labour, which systematically holds back technical progress. They show chronic unwillingness to invest. Orthodox economists call this secular stagnation .
You can see the effect clearly in the decline in the improvement in labour productivity shown in Figs 2,3.

6 Transition steps to first stage of communism


The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degree, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organised as the ruling class; and to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible.
Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production; by means of measures, therefore, which appear economically insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of the movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionising the mode of production.
These measures will, of course, be different in different countries.[13]

Nevertheless, in most socialist countries, the following communist measures will be pretty generally applicable.
Immediate measures

  1. Monetary unit converted to the labour hour set at the average value created per hour.
  2. Move from state funding from profits of state enterprises to state entirely funded by progressive income tax.
  3. Legislation to give employees right -before tax to full value created in enterprise
  4. Conversion of remaining private firms to cooperatives
  5. Develop centralised internet system to track all purchases and sales.
  6. Withdraw all paper money and coins, replace with electronic cards

During the preparation commodity exchange between enterprises still exists, and monetary transactions still possible, but exploitation is eliminated. In the next stages the following measures might be appropriate:

  • Private circulation of money eliminated, and money only used by consumers to purchase final goods from public stores.
  • Commodity exchange between enterprises replaced by computerised directive planning
  • Equalisation of pay rates between men and women and between different professions and trades

Technical advance on a world scale is being held back by the wages system. There is a growing contradiction between the social relations of capitalism and the potential of the new productive forces. The new information technology permits a direct transition to communist mode of calculation. The new communist relations of production will abolish class differences and allow technical and humanitarian progress to resume.


[1] Nikola Bukharin. ABC of Communism.
[2] Paul Cockshott and Allin Cottrell. Labour value and socialist economic calculation. Economy and Society, 18(1):71-99, 1989.
[3] Paul Cockshott and Karen Renaud. Extending handivote to handle digital economic decisions. In Proceedings of the 2010 ACM-BCS Visions of Computer Science Conference, page 5. British Computer Society, 2010.
[4] W Paul Cockshott and Allin Cottrell. Economic planning, computers and labor values. conference Karl Marx and the Challenges of the 21st Century, Havana, Cuba, May, pages 5-8, 1999.
[5] W Paul Cockshott and Allin F Cottrell. Information and economics: a critique of Hayek. Research in Political Economy, 16:177-202, 1997.
[6] W Paul Cockshott and Allin F Cottrell. Value, markets and socialism. Science & Society, pages 330-357, 1997.
[7] WP Cockshott and K. Renaud. HandiVote: simple, anonymous, and auditable electronic voting. Journal of information Technology and Politics, 6(1):60-80, 2009.
[8] Allin Cottrell, Paul Cockshott, and Greg Michaelson. Is economic planning hypercomputational? The argument from Cantor diagonalisation. School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences (MACS), Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh, available at: www. macs. hw. ac. uk/ greg/publications/ccm. IJUC07. pdf (accessed December 10, 2008), 2007.
[9] Allin Cottrell, WP Cockshott, and Greg Michaelson. Cantor diagononlalisation and planning. Journal of Unconventional Computing, 5(3-4):223-236, 2009.
[10] Karl Kautsky. The social revolution. CH Kerr, 1902.
[11] Karl Marx. Poverty of philosophy. 1847.
[12] Karl Marx. Preface and Introduction to a Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. Foreign Languages Press, 1976.
[13] Karl Marx and Friederick Engels. Manifesto of the Communist Party, trans. S. Moore. Moscow: Progress.(First published 1848.), 1977.
[14] Bertram Patrick Pockney. Soviet statistics since 1950. Aldershot (UK) Dartmouth, 1991.
[15] Karen Renaud and WP Cockshott. Electronic plebiscites. 2007.
[16] KV Renaud and WP Cockshott. Handivote: Checks, balances and threat analysis. Submitted for Review, 2009.
[17] M. Salvadori. Karl Kautsky and the socialist revolution, 1880-1938. Verso Books, 1990.
[18] Joseph Stalin. Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR. Moscow, 1952.
[19] Josif Vissarionovic Stalin. Dialectical and historical materialism. Lawrence & Wishart, 1943.

Fossil fuel and the ebbing of globalisation

n the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution. The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure. (Marx et al. [1978],Preface)

What distinguishes a utopian approach to social transformation from a materialist one is that the latter must start with the real contradictions that exist between technological imperatives and the social forms that currently exist. These specify not a future that might be desired, but what may be required.

One has therefore to start with technology complexes and demographics since all social formations combine a particular set of technologies with a particular density of human population. Only some technology complexes are compatible with a given population density. Our current population could not survive on the basis of pastoralism, so much is obvious. But nor can the present population long survive on the basis of an extractive fossil fuel economy.

Contemporary capitalism is heavily dependent on fossil fuels. Almost 90% of world primary energy comes from these sources and the percentage coming from nuclear and renewable sources has if anything tended to fall slightly in recent years. Industry and commerce use about 60% of all primary energy, transport and residential use around 20% each.

The current mature alternatives to fossil fuels are nuclear energy and hydro power. The latter obviously has severe geographical limitations, the limitations to the use of nuclear power are on the one hand political opposition and on the other the fact that only a small number of countries and firms have the ability to commission nuclear plant. In terms of cost it is already competitive with coal power for electricity1.

The the two rapidly maturing alternative energy sources are solar and wind power. Prices of both of these have been falling rapidly and in the US are already competitive with coal for electricity generation when measured as levelized costs. Obviously both of these depend for their yield on the local wind and sunshine, and so will vary in yield from place to place.

Although Van Vuuren et al. [2011] lay great emphasis on carbon capture
and storage as a mechanism that will allow green house gas emission targets to be met, this is one of the least developed techniques so far. Although there is experience of injecting CO2 into oil reservoirs for enhanced recovery, there is as yet little practical experience in operating full scale coal fired power stations far from oil reservoirs, extracting the CO2, and then piping it to appropriate injection sites. The components are plausible, but the working experience that for example nuclear power has, is absent.

There are clearly hazards associated with subsequent escape of the carbon dioxide from subteranean reservoirs, as shown by the Lake Nyos disaster[3] were 1700 people were killed by a sudden escape of the gas.

However given the good progress being made in other areas it seems plausible that, at least for electricity generation, a combination of nuclear, solar and wind power could replace a large part of current dependence on coal for electricity generation.

Marx claimed that the stage of development of technology is what ultimately determines the bounds on social relations. He believed that communism was the likely future of industrial society and that coal powered steam engines were the foundation of capitalist economy. Is there anything about the transition anything about the transition to a post fossil fuel economy that would favour communism over capitalism?

The USSR depended heavily on large scale integrated production both of energy and other products. The economic regression which followed the
establishment of capitalism made it clear that capitalist property relations were incapable of sustaining this form of the productive forces. The one industry that did relatively well in the new capitalist Russia was fossil fuel extraction.



Figure 1: The Soviet Energiya launcher that was intended to put up
orbiting solar power plants. The Buran shuttle is shown attached.




Figure 2: Model of the ITER reactor. Note the human figure for scale. Photo by Stephan Mosel released under Creative Commons.


The USSR did have long term plans for non-fossil energy sources : nuclear, thermonuclear and orbiting solar power stations. All of these are post capitalist forms of energy production in the sense that their development has depended on socialist economy in the East, or in the West on state sponsored development: AEC in the US or the AEA in the UK for nuclear power.

Thermonuclear power research has been overwhelmingly state funded, and the most promising reactor design the Tokamak, was invented in the USSR and forms the basis for the international ITER experimental power reactor[2]. Orbiting solar power stations[8] were a futuristic technology much talked about in the 1970s and 80s. They would overcome the limitations of day and night and bad weather by being bathed in permanent sunlight, and would beam energy to Earth as microwaves. The ultimate Soviet space launcher, Energiya[9], was seen as the tool to build such orbiting stations.

So we could hypothesise that the energetic basis of communist economy would be orbiting solar power stations and huge tokamaks able to supply essentially limitless energy from the deuterium in sea water. This is a pair of technologies that private capital has been unable to develop because of the huge initial investment over many decades before any possible profit could be returned. It would moreover, be a highly capital intensive path and high capital intensity is associated with low profitability, which deters private firms.

The scale of development costs associated with thermonuclear power are so large that they are beyond even what individual nations can afford. The only practical project to build a thermonuclear reactor ITER is being constructed by a consortium of 35 states. ITER was started at the initiative of the USSR at the Geneva Superpower Summit in November 1985. Design work took from 1988 to 2001. In 2005 it was agreed that the site of the reactor would be in France. In 2010 construction started near Aix-en-Provence.

It will be the largest and most complex machine ever constructed. The first plasma is scheduled to be generated in 2025 but it is not anticipated to use actual deuterium/tritium plasma to generate useful power until 2035. The whole project will thus have taken 50 years to yield power. But prior to ITER being formed there had already been a 35 year history of development of the technology since Sakharov and Tamm initially proposed the design in 1950.

The development of thermonuclear plasma reactors is something that private capitalism could not have done. It required foresight based on an appreciation of future human needs that only public bodies, indeed a world public body, could undertake.

Solar and wind power, can in contrast be developed piecemeal with relatively modest capital costs. A such, private firms are quite willing to invest in them, given modest initial government incentives. We do not know yet whether these lower tech approaches to alternative energy will be enough to power future civilisation. If they are enough then – other than international political sanctions restricting fossil fuels – there will be nothing in the energy base that militates against the perpetuation of private ownership. If it turns out that the supply of energy from wind and sun is too intermittent, too dependent on the seasons, too deficient at night, then fusion power will be the most plausible way of providing base load power. If energy storage technologies, either batteries, pumped storage, compressed air storage of even flywheel storage develop fast enough, fusion may not be needed.

This possibility give rise to fantasies about self sufficiency and a society of people who are economically self sufficient, living off-grid. The idea breaks down as soon as it is examined in detail. Solar power only brings an element of self sufficiency to those with enough capital to buy the panels, and enough roof area or free land to install it on. It is not an option for urban dwellers in rented flats or for those who can not afford the initial capital.

Whilst owners of houses with big roofs will be able to reduce their electricity purchases, electric grids will still be needed for industry, telecoms, offices, electric railways etc.

But electical power generation is only part of the emissions problem.

Carbon dioxide is generated by transport and by materials processing.



Industrial society is heavily dependent on materials whose production either uses fossil fuel, or unavoidably emits carbon dioxide. In the 19th century industrial buildings and housing in industrialised nations were largely built from brick. Brick production involved the mixing of clays with ground coal which were then dried and sintered in kilns, with the coal in the mixture providing a large part of the fuel.

From the 20th century concrete became the main building material. But this too involves a lot of energy in its construction. Concrete is a mixture of sand, stones and cement powder. Cement powder is the biggest energy consumer here. The process involves heating limestone to disassociate the CaCO3 it contains to produce CaO+CO2.
This obviously involves a direct release of carbon dioxide. The process requires between 4GJ/ton and 7GJ/ton of energy[21]. This energy is currently supplied by fossil fuels with of the order of 5% of world industrial energy use going on this process. Worrell et al. [2001] estimated that in 1994 around 5% of total carbon dioxide emissions world wide came from cement production. For China something between 7% and 9% of all emissions are from cement making[14].

It is in principle possible to produce cement without carbon dioxide by a combination of solar heating to melt limestone and then electrolysis by the STEP process[13].
By choice of temperature one can obtain the electrolytic transformation CaCO3→ CaO+C+O2 with elemental carbon and oxygen being released. Assuming that the carbon produced was buried, the overall process would be carbon neutral.2
If operated in a strictly carbon neutral fashion the cost of cement produced this way would be two to three times as great as with current methods.

Steel has been the fundamental metal of industrial society, used in making machinery, ships, bridges, cars and in the construction industry. Steel production comes from two processes today, the basic oxygen process, and the electric arc process.

The basic oxygen process refines pig iron produced in blast furnaces into structural steel, though a portion of the feedstock is recycled scrap steel. Electric arc furnaces work entirely with recycled scrap. In the USA around 70% of all steel output is from recycled sources. The remaining 30% comes from the processing or iron ore. The iron oxide in the ore, is reduced to metalic iron using carbon, currently in the form of coke, though charcoal was used in the past. As such the process inevitably emits carbon dioxide, both because the coke provides the fuel to heat the furnace, and because carbon monoxide produced by burning the coke is the reducing agent.

If we assume that the world will require drastic reductions in CO2
emissions, this implies :

  • That the steel industry will have to become overwhelmingly one based on recycling, supplemented with only such small amounts of basic steel
    as can be produced from charcoal.


  • That other metals, most likely aluminimum, will have to substitute for steel in many uses. Aluminium is produced by an entirely electrolytic process, with a relatively small carbon dioxide emission from the erosion of the
    carbon electrodes.


Per ton, in 2017, aluminum cost about 5 times as much as steel.  It is also weaker than steel so aluminium structural members have  to be thicker than the corresponding steel ones.  But given its lower density these effects partially cancel out,  and the corresponding aluminium part will weigh only about 60%  of the steel part. Overall then the use of aluminium instead of  steel is about three times as expensive.

So it is likely that the two fundamental construction materials  of industrial civilisation, concrete and steel will have to be replaced by alternatives that
are around 3 times as expensive.  Cheap concrete has been the foundation of world urbanisation[5], and  cheap steel the foundation of mechanisation.

Stone, of course, will remain available as a low carbon building material when
carbon emissions restrict brick and concrete.  Smout [1986] attributes the greater overcrowding and worse slum housing conditions in  indutrial Scotland to the statutory requirement, up to the 1930s,  to use expensive stone in residential accomodation in Scotland  where cheap brick could be used in England.

Now, the old stone tenements of Glasgow are appreciated for their aesthetics,  in comparison to the brick and concrete housing that went  up in the 1950s. But if the billions of new urban  dwellers across the world will have to depend on the building of
stone housing, then over-crowding will persist much longer than  would be the case were brick and concrete to be still available.  Overcrowding itself brings exploitative landlords;  reinforces the dominance of the propertied classes.  On the other hand, once population growth slows down, the durability  of stone construction is an advantage. Over time, with a static  population, relatively high standards of housing could be achieved  using stone. In the shorter term it may be necessary for mass produced
aluminium units to stand in where 20th century urbanisation used poured  concrete flats.



As Smil [2010] says, the two engines of globalisation are the high bypass turbine and the high compression diesel. The one powers aircraft, the other: ships, trains, lorries and buses.  MAN and Wärtsilä drive the vast ships linking Asia, Europe and America. Diesel trains carry more than half of America’s goods. Turbines power all air freight. All run on oil. Without oil, most world transport stops.

Oil is not going to run out or be banned overnight, but over a  few decades either due to resource exhaustion or international  restrictions of fossil fuel use, it will become progressively less  available. How then is a transport system, and behind that, a whole global capitalist division of labour going to respond?

Looking first at shipping, it is clear that costs will rise.  Today we have diesel powered steel ships. At the end of this century what  will ships be built of and powered by?

Before steel ships we had wooden ones, and sail power hung on into the early 20th century, so international trade would still be possible by a reversion to earlier technologies. But this would mean both a severe reduction in trade volume and a rise in carrying costs.  Vessels of modern size can not be built of wood. Wooden construction implies ships of at most a couple of thousand tons, about a hundredth of the size of the largest contemporary container ships and a tenth the size of the most common bulk carrier. Costs would be much higher because of the large crews needed to handle sails.


Figure 3: The Flettner rotor ship. This was developed in the 1920s as an improved form of sail which relies on the perpendicular force generated by the wind on a spinning cylinder. The original ship is on the left with the modern experimental Eship1 on the right.


But there are obvious alternatives. Aluminium has been extensively used in warship construction, and could be used for merchant shipping were owners forced to pay the higher contruction cost.
But nobody has yet built large aluminium ships. The largest have been around 100 metres whereas current freighters run up to four times that length. They have been plauged by corrosion problems. As a highly electo-positive metal, any contact with other metals like bronze or steel sets up a battery on contact with water. The consequence is electrolytic corrosion which eats away at the aluminium.  In principle this can be avoided by using only aluminium in the hull. Designs have existed for bulk cargo ships of this type for decades, but have been uneconomic[1]. Overall, an over decades, though there seems little doubt that the technology of building such ships can be mastered. Propulsion is the bigger problem.

Batteries and solar power are ruled out. Batteries, which have long been used in submarines, do not last long enough for ocean voyages, and solar power provides too little energy for a large heavy vessel.  Wind remains the most likely alterntive. Designs do exist for  cargo ships with conventional masts and sails, but the crew  required to handle sails, even with some form of power assist  is likely to be more than would be needed for a motor vessel.
A promising alternative is the Flettner rotor.3 This relies on  the fact that the wind will exert a perpendicular force on  a spinning cylinder. It requires a modest power to rotate the  cylinder but, by harnessing the wind, yields much more propulsive power than is put in.  Such ships do not need big crews. A couple of cargo ships  using this were built in the 1920s, but at that time they proved uneconomic in comparison to diesel. Given that diesel ships have improved a lot since then,  they remain uneconomic in the absence of controls on the use  of fossil fuels.4

Another possibility is that nuclear energy, long used in  warships, might be applied to cargo vessels. There is no doubt  that it works, and can drive ships very fast. But there is a big  difference between operating it in an environment where cost  is no object and you have highly trained crews, and using it  in a commercial ship. Of the four experimental atomic cargo ships, Savanah(US),  Otto Hahn(German), Mutsu(Japanese) and Sevmorput(Soviet) only  the last was a sucess. Cost, reliability and safety considerations  have prevented a general uptake of the technology.

So the conclusion to take from this is that the end of the fossil fuel era is likely to lead to a significant increase in shipping costs. They will cost more to build, more to operate, and probably be slower.

This will tend to substantially undermine the current model of globalisation. Higher shipping costs will favour local producers compared to global ones, and land links rather than sea links.



Rail freight is still heavily dependent on diesel in many countries, but electric railways are an old and well tried technology. It is expensive to put in the wires and to buy new locomotives, but running costs subsequently are similar.
Even with the current structure of electricity generation electric trains release  less carbon than diesel[7]. As the electricity generation system moves towards renewables and nuclear, this advantage will be come more pronounced.  Electrification tends to be high in countries like China where the railways are state
owned and planned and low in countries like the USA where the infrastructure is private.

China’s rail transport volume is one of the highest in the world, having a 93 000 kilometer-long network of which 46 000 km is electrified (Ministry of Railway, China, 2012). The rate of electrification increased gradually: in 1975 it was only 5%, by now it is about 40% as a result of a conscious central planning. (Juhász et al. [2013])

In contrast, only 1% of the US network is electrified. We discussed earlier how, in capitalist economies, high capital intensive industries have a low rate of profit, which discourages investment in them. The contrast between the US and Chinese railways is a particularly stark example of this. The electrification of the railways in large countries like the US is technically feasible as China shows, but it is held back by private ownership. Thus the need to convert to electric trains will tend to favour the replacement of private with public railways.

The percentage of freight carried by train may well rise, because in the absence of of diesel engined lorries, long distance trucking is likely to be unviable. The best electric heavy lorries have a range of only 100km and take several hours to charge. The goods transport system is likely to have electric trucks being used only for final delivery within cities5

For urban transport, electric cars with lithium batteries are certainly a viable replacement for fossil fuel ones. There are questions associated with the long term availability of lithium for the batteries[12]. If the whole world were to attain the current European levels of car ownership, and these all used lithium batteries, it is questionable whether world lithium resources are sufficient, but that is a relatively extreme projection of future use. Gaines et al. [2009] on more modest projections of future car use, conclude that lithium resources are unlikely to be a big constraint.

Lithium is very geographicaly concentrated with the top 4 producing countries having 90% of world reserves. In the event of it being used in all cars, these countries would be in a position to gain rent revenues analogous to the leading oil producers today. On the whole though, these are likely to be smaller than the oil rents in the current world economy, because a) lithium can be recycled, b) unlike oil it will not be a primary energy source.

There are no serious engineering problems with converting the aviation industry to
use non fossil fuels. Liquid hydrogen is a viable alternative fuel[11,[4]. It
has a much better energy to weight ratio than existing fuels. Its main drawback is that it is much less dense, meaning that a substantial part of the fuselage volume would have to be given over to fuel tanks. Designs exist for modified Airbus and Boeing jumbo[17] jets powered by it. The Boing design had the upper deck extended the length of the fuselage and entirely filled with liquid hydrogen tanks. In 1988 Tupolev actually built a modified Tu155 that flew on hydrogen[16], the back part of the passenger cabin having to be occupied by the fuel tank.


Screenshot from 2017-04-18 10-27-30

Figure 4: Airbus design study for hydrogen fuel, from Contreras et al. [1997]


Screenshot from 2017-04-18 10-29-01


Figure 5: Tu155 modified for hydrogen use in 1988. Note that much of the passenger space is sacrificed. This was fitted with only one hydrogen engine, if all were using hydrogen then the tank would have been bigger.


Although the conversion is possible, it will come at the cost of more expensive flights.  Because the fuel is so bulky, the aircraft will be able to carry fewer passengers than  a conventional one of the same size. The fuel is also more expensive. Although photo voltaic electricity is begining to rival fossil fuel electricity in lifetime costs, this does not imply that hydrogen produced by electrolysis from solar power is as cheap as kerosene.

Producing electricity from oil proceeds thus:

a) oil(40% efficient)→ electricity

Producing hydrogen by electolysis starting with oil fuel progresses thus:

b) oil(40% efficient)→ electricity (70% efficient)→ hydrogen

Because of the thermodynamic loss in electrolysis. If we substitute this with photovoltaic we have

c) photovoltaic electricity (70% efficient)→ hydrogen

The hydrogen or kerosene aviation fuel then has to be turned into motive power

d) aviation fuel (40% efficient)→ motive power for flights

Suppose photovoltaic electricity costs the same as process a. That means that photovoltaic electricity is of the same cost as flight motive power in process (d) where the aviation fuel is kerosene. But if we have to generate hydrogen and then burn it in a turbine, the overall subsequent efficiency is 70% × 40% = 28%.
So even if photovoltaic electricity is as cheap as fossil fuel electricity, as a source of aviation fuel it will still be more than three times as expensive as kerosene.

Lower passenger capacity and lower thermodynamic efficiency mean that cost per passenger mile will rise substantially.

Overall then we have a series of changes which adversely affect transport, and which, taken together undermine the current basis of globalisation. They shift costs to favour more local production and will make the outsourcing of industry to low labour cost
areas somewhat less viable. 
If we combine this with the demographic changes which are going to slow the expansion of the world labour force, then one of the main factors which, this last half century, has worked to undermine the position of labour relative to capital will stop working.


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1Data from US Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook Report 2015.

2 Licht et al. [2012] claim that their proposed STEP process would actually be cheaper than the current method of cement production. But their costings depend on operating the process at a higher temperature at which the outputs would be CO and O2 rather than elemental carbon and oxygen. They then propose to sell the carbon monoxide as a feedstock for plastic production. But this process would not be carbon neutral, as part of the plastics would eventually end up being burned and entering the air.

3I recall my grandfather describing to me the sight of one of these ships in the
20s. At the time I could not understand how it could work.

4Restrictions on fosil fuel for ships may first come as bans on the use of high sulfur oil. The threat of this has alone been enough to spur the revived experimental work on wind power.

5 This is similar to the model of delivery that existed in the UK in the period immediately after nationalisation of the railways and road transport in 1948. Railways for long distances, small trucks for
final delivery.