Student as Producer: how do revolutionary teachers teach? – redrafted book abstract


I am continuing to work on my book Student as Producer: How Do Revolutionary Teachers Teach?  The content is being brought up to date to include the participation of students and young people in the 2017 UK election, and research undertaken at the University of Mondragon, a co-operative university in the Basque country in Spain, informed by the work of Andrej Grubacic on ‘non-state spaces’.



Student as Producer is a manifesto for revolutionary teaching that emerged from inside an English university at the start of the 21st century. Grounded in a pedagogy derived from Marxist social theory (Postone 1993, Clarke 1991, Dinerstein 2015, Holloway 2002), Student as Producer provides a practical and critical response to the ongoing assault on higher education by the social power of Money and regulations of the capitalist State, with a focus on Police (Neocleous 2000). The book is set within the period marked by  the student protests that erupted in England at the end of 2010 against the massive rise in fees, which appeared as a defeat of the student movement,  and the powerful democratic expression of students and young people in the 2017 UK General Election in support for a no-fee higher education and other progressive social polices, that looks like an important part of a new socialistic political project. This book explores the intellectual origins of Student as Producer (Benjamin 1934, Debord 1977, Weil 1952), as well as  a critical engagement with the work of  major writers on radical and revolutionary education (Freire 1970, Allman 2010, Ranciere 1991). Student as Producer’s revolutionary curriculum is  framed around unlearning the law of labour as a critique of capitalist work and the institutions through which the law of labour is enforced, including the capitalist university (Neary and Winn 2009, Neary and Winn 2017, Winn 2015, Hall 2014, University of Utopia n.d.). The answer to the question how do revolutionary teachers teach lies not in  critical pedagogy:  the ‘deceptive immediacy’ (Adorno 1968) of classroom teaching ( Neary 2017), but by remaking the knowledge economy as knowledge production at the level of society. This means reconfiguring the space occupied by higher education, through the dissolution of the power of Money and the State, to create a Co-operative University as the foundational principle for a non-state, non-party political settlement  (Grubacic and O’Hearne 2016) .


Adorno, T. (1968) Late Capitalism or Industrial Society. Address to 16th German Sociological Conference:

Allman, P. (2010) Critical Education Against Global Capitalism: Karl Marx and Revolutionary Critical Education, Sense Publishers, Rotterdam

Benjamin, W. (1973)  The Author as Producer. Understanding Brecht,  New Left Book, London [1934]

Clarke, S. (1991) Marx, Marginalism and Modern Sociology: From Adam Smith to Max Weber, Palgrave Macmillan, London and New York

Debord, G. (1977) The Society of the Spectacle, Black and Red, Detroit

Dinerstein, A. (2015) The Politics of Autonomy in Latin America: The Art of Organising Hope, Palgrave Macmillan, London and New York

Freire, P. (1970) Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Penguin, London

Grubacic, A. and O’Hearne D. ( 2016) Living at the Edge of Capitalism: Adventures in Exile and Mutual Aid. University of California Press.

Hall, R. (2014) ‘On the Abolition of Academic Labour: The Relationship Between Intellectual Work and Mass Intellectuality’, Triple C: Communication, Capitalism and Critique, Journal for a Global, Sustainable Information Society, Vol 12 (2)

Holloway, J. (2002) Change the World Without Taking Power, Pluto Press, London

Neary, M. (2015) Educative Power: the Myth of Dronic Violence in a Period of Civil War. Culture Machine.

Neary, M. (2017) Pedagogy of Hate. Policy Futures in Education.

Neary, M. and Saunders, G. (2016) Student as Producer and the Politics of Abolition: Making a New Form of Dissident Institution. Critical Education.

Neary, M. and Winn, J (2017) Beyond Public and Private: A Model for Co-operative Higher Education. Open Library of Humanities. [pre-publication version

Neary, M. and Winn, J. ( 2009) Student as Producer: Reinventing the Undergraduate Student Experience of Higher Eduction. In Howard Stevenson, Les Bell and Mike Neary (ends). The Future of Higher Education, Policy, Pedagogy and the Student Experience. New York and London: Continuum, 192 – 210.

Neocleous, M. (2000) The Fabrication of Social Order: A Critical Theory of Police Power, Pluto, London

Postone, M. (1993) Time, Labour and Social Domination: A Reinterpretation of Marx’s Critical Social Theory, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

Ranciere, J. (1991) The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation, Stanford University Press, Stanford

University of Utopia ( n.d.) On Sharing: Anti-curricula – a course of action

Weil, S. (1952) The Need for Roots, Routledge, London.

Winn, J. (2015) ‘The Co-operative University: Labour, Property and Pedagogy’, Power and Education 7 39-55


Sustainability and the Politics of Abolition


I was asked to be part of a panel at the University of Gloucestershire looking at the future of higher education, with a focus on sustainability. Each of the panel members had to make a five minute presentation on their position with regard to sustainability and higher education. Please see my contribution below.


I am arguing for abolitionism not sustainability. I am an abolitionist; part of a dissenting tradition with roots in the anti-slavery movement (Davis 2003), with a history of organising opposition to capital punishment (Linebaugh 2006), as a project to tear down the prison-industrial complex (Mathiesen 1994) and a campaign to ban nuclear weapons (Nuttall 1970). What I want to abolish is a society where no-thing is sustainable (Harney and Moten 2013 42), where everything about humanity-in-nature that we consider worth preserving is at risk (Moore 2016), where modernity itself is defined as a ‘risk society’ (Beck 1992).

Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, writing in the Communist Manifesto (1848) had it that ‘all that is solid melts into air’, describing a capitalist civilisation where the mode of production reduces everything to heat and dust, in ways now recognised as environmental destruction and global warming. But the Manifesto points to another aspect of unsustainability: capitalism itself is at risk, haunted by the spectre of resistance and refusal which Marx and Engels refer to as communism.

Following the financial crisis of 2008 it is clear that capitalism’s capacity to reproduce itself as a market-based system of social development has been discredited. Neoliberalism is finished. The progressive aspects of capitalist society, distributing wealth in the form of expanding wages and welfare was the bankrupting logic for the 1970s global economic crisis (Cleaver 2017). Keynesianism is dead. Paul Mason argues we are already living in a post-capitalist world (2015). So what comes next: barbarism, socialism, communism, fascism?  The militarisation of police and the brutality of state power becomes ever more intense as capital struggles to find renewed techniques for productive expansion (Graham 2010, Neary 2015).

A model of sustainability that avoids the logic of the Capitalocene (Moore 2016) is unlikely to achieve its development goals; reduced to a sterile debate between science-deniers, with their heads buried in the profits to be fracked from tar sands and other despoilisations of nature, and science-survivors, for whom the future depends on humanity’s resilience and adaptability and sustainability.

How can we avoid becoming apologists for a system that we claim to be against? We can recognise capitalism’s motive power as the exploitation of human energy and ‘cheap nature’, where value is calculated in measures of labour time and sold as commodities in exchange for money (Moore 2016). The accumulation of money rather than the satisfaction of human needs is the logic of capitalist expansion. In this life-world money becomes the supreme social power, as an impersonal form of social domination, relying for its continuing expansion on the imposition of poverty, debt and negative consequences beyond the human imagination.

My work focuses on the problem of labour, creating human associations in ways that undermine the logic of capitalist relations of production (Neary 2015, 2017). In the short term this means building cooperative institutions, which reconfigure the meaning of work (Neary and Winn 2017, Neary and Saunders 2016). I am now collaborating with others to create a new cooperative university where the contribution of students to the production of knowledge and performance of teaching and learning events: Student as Producer, is recognised, along with the centrality of workplace democracy as the basis for experimental science; where the natural and social sciences are combined to form “One Science’ (Marx 1844). In the longer term this means not resilience or adaptability or sustainability, not creating jobs or promoting employability, but to transform, revolutionise and abolish capitalist work so that a new society can be created not on the back of human and animal labour but on the principle of life-enhancing-life.


Beck, Ulrich (1992) Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. London and New York: Sage Books.

Clarke, Simon (1988) Keynesianism, Monetarism and the Crisis of the State. Aldershot: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Cleaver, Harry (2017) Rupturing the Dialectic: the Struggle against Work, Money and Financialisation. AK Press.

Davis, Angela (2003) Are Prisons Obsolete. Seven Stories Press: New York.

Graham, Stephen Graham (2010) Cities Under Siege: the New Military Urbanism. London and New York: Verso.

Harney, Stefano and Moten, Fred (2013) The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study. New York: Minor Compositions.

Linebaugh, Peter (2006) The London Hanged: Crime and Civil Society in the Eighteenth Century. London and New York: Verso.

Marx, Karl (2000) Early Writings. London and New York: Penguin Classics.

Marx, Karl and Frederick Engels (2002) Communist Manifesto. London: Penguin Classic.

Mason Paul (2015) Post-Capitalism: A Guide to the Future.  Allen Lane:London.

Moore, Jason (2015) Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital. London and New York: Verso.

Mathiesen Thomas (1974) The Politics of Abolition. Wiley.

Neary, Mike (2015) Educative Power: the Myth of Dronic Violence in a Period of Civil War. Culture Machine.

Neary, Mike (2017) Pedagogy of Hate. Policy Futures in Education.

Neary, Mike and Saunders, Gary (2016) Student as Producer and the Politics of Abolition: Making a New Form of Dissident Institution. Critical Education.

Neary Mike and Winn Joss (2017) Beyond Public and Private: A Model for Co-operative Higher Education. Open Library of Humanities. [pre-publication version

Nuttall, Jeff (1970) Bomb Culture. Paladin: London.






Stammering is Dada

I was asked to contribute to a forthcoming publication called ‘Dangerous Words’. The purpose of the book is to uncover the ways in which language works as a form of repression but retains the capacity for critical liberation. I chose to write about the word ‘stammer’. Below is a first draft of my contribution.


‘Words are torture in my mouth. Words are weapons when we shout ‘Ya basta!’ (Ecoversity un-conference, August 2016)[1]

What words will make revolution speak? How can we articulate the poetry of the future? (Marx 2016). Not by over-elaboration where ‘the phrase surpasses the substance’, but speaking so ‘the substance surpasses the phrase’ (Marx, 2016 4).  In other words, ‘Language has nothing to say about the future. The future cannot be said…. Its content is exorbitant to its phrasing’ (Taylor 2012). This is saying more than actions speak louder than words, or that meaning is lost in translation; rather, there is a disarticulation between the revolutionary world we are creating and how that world is spoken, as language and lyrics and poetry and prose. We can describe this disarticulation as social stammering.

Social stammering is enraptured by the word ‘Dada’: a staccato speech sound on the verge of exploding into a meaningful gush of rounded breath. Dada struggles to free itself from the language of anti-art and the slang of kitsch metropolitanism. Dada was made to disarm the rat-tat-rattle of the automatic weapons of the First Machine War (1914-1918) and the killing capitalist labour process out of which they were produced. Dada remade readymade art, against patented forms of capitalist death, as montage and performance, including sound poems made up of verses without words.

Adorno picked up on the relationship between Dada and stammering’s revolutionary vibe, sounding it out it as the basis for substantive thought:  ‘the whole of philosophy is actually nothing else than an infinitely extended and elevated stammer [Stammeln]; it is actually always, just like stammering, Dada, the attempt to say what one actually cannot say’ (Adorno quoted in Foster 2008 55).  Not as an exemplary method of speech therapy but as the phrasing for a negative dialectics.

Holloway knows what we are talking about. He reports that revolution starts with a howl of protest: ‘In the beginning is the scream. We Scream’ (2005 1), but understands the need for learning ‘a new language for a new struggle’ (2010 10). This new way of speaking is formed when we ‘stutter and mumble incoherently’ as a way of participating in the abolition of a cracked capitalism (2010 12).

We might think of capitalist language as ‘order-words’ (Deleuze and Guattari 1996), where ‘Language is not made to be believed but to be obeyed, and to compel obedience’(75). This order of order-words can be challenged by ‘creative stammering’ (Deleuze and Guattari (98), a writerly technique where authors carve out ‘a non-preexistent foreign language within…[their] own language …[making]…the language itself scream, stutter, stammer or murmur’ (Deleuze 1997 109-110). And so, in this way, ‘makes stuttering the poetic or linguistic power par excellence’ (111). Writing becomes something ‘that explodes like a scream’ (112); what might be taken as ‘inarticulate words, blocks of a single breath’ (112), is actually where a ‘deviant syntax…reaches the destination of its own tensions in these breaths or pure intensities that mark a limit of language’ (112).  So writing is poised ‘at the very edge of the seeable and the sayable, situated between sense and non-sense‘ (O’Sullivan and Zepke 2008 9), as a new common-sense.

Ranciere speaks of ‘the speaking being who is without qualification and political capacity’ (22) and, therefore, without a voice ‘doomed to ‘the night of silence or the animal noise of voices expressing pleasure or pain’ (22). This is not a demand to be heard, but what comes before recognition as ‘speaking beings’. Ranciere has many words to define this condition: ‘subjectification’: ‘a series of actions of a body and capacity for enunciation not previously identifiable within a given field of experience, whose identification is thus part of the reconfiguration of the field of experience’ (35); ‘disidentification’ (36): ‘ a multiplicity of fractured speech events’ from people without a voice (37), and the ‘part of the no-part (Ranciere 2001) a surplus population that goes unaccounted for and is unrecognised. Ranciere says it is in this space of not-speaking that politics occurs (26); or, speaking in my tongue, this is the site of social stammering.

Marx wants to bring us down to earth. He asks the question: how would it be if inanimate objects could speak in a world dominated by capitalist commodity production? He does not let his commodities speak but, like a ventriloquist, speaks for them, as if they are responding to his prompt:

Could commodities themselves speak, they would say: Our use value may be a thing that interests men. It is no part of us as objects. What, however, does belong to us as objects, is our value. Our natural intercourse as commodities proves it. In the eyes of each other we are nothing but exchange values’ (Marx 1990 176-177).

Marx is trying to articulate the way in which the intrinsic nature of things is overwhelmed by the domineering logic of capitalist exchange value, so much so that exchange value itself appears to be part of our ‘natural intercourse’. There is nothing natural about the social world; rather, the social world is abstracted from the process of capitalist production to appear in the form of real abstractions, which, in the world of capitalist intercourse, are dominated by money and language. Capitalist language is recognised only to the extent that it validates a society based on the logic of exchange. In capitalist civilisation money really does talk; it is the only language that everybody is forced to understand.

But we may be guilty of over-elaboration. How can we express this condition in a more visceral, animalist voice, as a precondition of our speaking being? Hugo Ball (1997), author of the Dada Manifesto, put it like this, as a sound poem intoned at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich in 1916:


jolifanto bambla o falli bambla

großiga m’pfa habla horem
egiga goramen
higo bloiko russula huju
hollaka hollala
anlogo bung
blago bung blago bung
bosso fataka
ü üü ü
schampa wulla wussa olobo
hej tatta gorem
eschige zunbada
wulubu ssubudu uluwu ssubudu
kusa gauma

Stammering is Dada.

Antonin Artaud, dramatist, poet and actor, looks for a response beyond ‘mere stammerings’ (Artaud 1992 218), in The Theatre and Its Double (1931 – 1936) to include not only human voices but the whole mise en scene: ‘everything that occupies the stage’ (231). As Pantomime (233) and Pandemonium. The affect is to overcome the ‘impotences of Speech’ (230), by including ‘everything that defies expression in speech’ 231 and ‘everything that is not contained in dialogue’ (231)   in the form of ‘a new physical language based on signs rather than words’ (215). Artaud’s theatre of sound must have ‘the evocative power of a rhythm… [and]… the musical quality of physical movement’ (216) as ‘a poetry of the senses’ (231) as much as ‘a poetry of language’ (231). For Artaud, there is no poetry of the future, only ‘a revolt against poetry’ (Artaud 1944).  The performance must recover the sense of danger that comes with the idea that ‘the present state of society is unjust and should be destroyed’ (235).

Stripped bare the starting point is not speaking or even screaming, but breathing. Artaud says ‘for every feeling, every movement of the mind, every leap of emotion, there is a breath that is attached to it’ (260). These ‘rhythms of breath’ (260) merge with the plastic and physical theatrical event to create a ‘fluid materiality’ (261). This concept of fluid materiality is a double for Marx’s real abstractions, which Artaud calls ‘metaphysics in action’ (237) or the ‘real metaphysical’ (243).  If the substance of Marx’s real abstraction is capitalist value: as the supreme form of social power, Artaud’s abstractions are filled up by a ‘universal magnetism’ (271) which he calls the soul (261): ‘unleashing an unpredictable flow of searing energy’ (Sontag xxiv 1988). Artaud’s abstractions are  something that must be confronted in order ‘to transgress the ordinary limits of art and speech, in order to realize actively…, in real terms, a total creation in which man[sic] can only resume his place between dream and events’ (245).

That is enough. For now.  We are almost out of breath, struggling for ecstatic transcendence (Holloway 2010 99). The moment of danger, recovered, beyond the danger of words.

Let us take a deep breath. Breathing. Slowly. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out.


Artaud, Antonin (1992) ‘The Theatre and Its Double’. Susan Sontag (ed) (1992) Antonin Artaud; Selected Writings. Introduction. University of California Press. Pp..

Ball, Hugo (1997) Blago Bung Blago Bung Bosso Fataka – First Texts of German Dada, Atlas Press.

Deleuze, Giles and Guattari, Felix (1996) One Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. London: Athlone Press.

Deleuze, Gilles (1997) ‘He Stuttered’. Giles Deleuze: Essays Critical and Clinical. London and New York. Verso. Pp 107-114

Foster, Roger (2008) Adorno – The Recovery of Experience. SUNY

Holloway, John (2005) Change the World Without Taking Power: The Meaning of Revolution Today. London and New York:Pluto Press

Holloway, John (2010) Crack Capitalism. London and New York: Verso.

Marx, Karl (2016) The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. Create Space Independent Publishing Platform.

Marx, Karl. (1990) Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Volume 1. London and New York: Penguin Classics.

O’Sullivan, Simon and Zepke, Stephen (2008) Deleuze and Guattari and the Production of the New. London and New York: Continuum.

Ranciere, Jacques (2004) Disagreements: Politics and Philosophy. University of Minnesota Press.

Ranciere, Jacques (2001) Ten Theses on Politics.

Sontag, Susan (ed.) (1992) Antonin Artaud; Selected Writings. Introduction. University of California Press. Pp xvii- lviii.

Taylor, Chris (2012) Stuttering Towards the Future: words


Political Violence: Capitalist Value, British Values and Academic Freedom

I was recently invited to give a keynote presentation about Student as Producer to a conference at a college in England. A condition of the invitation was that I sign a document agreeing with the proposition that the principles of democracy, liberty and religious tolerance are based on fundamental British values. The document forms part of the British government’s Prevent policy, which seeks to prevent people carrying out acts of terrorism. It is a  requirement of public institutions that they follow a set of protocols to deny the promotion of ‘extremist’ ideas on which terrorist activity might be based. I did not sign the document but set out my views about the relationship between British values and the principles of liberal democracy in an email that I sent to the organisers of the conference.  The organisers accepted my views on the matter so that I was cleared to accept the invitation and present my keynote. It is part of the Prevent protocols that colleges balance their legal duty to ensure freedom of speech and academic freedom with the requirement to challenge what the Prevent policy defines as  extremist views and ideologies. I have set out below an extended account of what I consider to be some of the main areas of contention with the Prevent policy.


The British Government’s policy to prevent people being ‘drawn into terrorism’ (Prevent Policy 2015) is deeply flawed, not least because of its claim to equate the principles of liberal political society with British values, but also for its refusal to acknowledge that political violence is an organising principle for all nation-states, including the British state, as well as the global system of international relations.

As a Professor of Sociology, who teaches and writes about political theory in an English University, I do not accept that the ideals set out on the document to be signed by visiting speakers: democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and respect and tolerance of religious faiths, are based on British values. The values are, in fact, the key characteristics of a particular political ideology known as liberal democracy or liberalism. This refusal to accept the provenance of these ideals as British values is not based on my personal opinion but is a reasoned and informed position grounded in understanding and insights gained from my study of social science, critical political economy and international history. The core aspects of liberal democracy: a free market and free labour regulated by a strong state are the essential aspects of capitalist society in general.

Capitalism did first appear in Britain in the 15th century but was not the result of  British values, rather it emerged out of the discovery of the way in which surplus value could be produced through the exploitation of labour rather than the exploitation of land (feudalism), and later how machines and technology could be used to intensify the exploitation of labour. The emergence of capitalism in Britain led to the development of a political and economic system along with associated cultures and behaviours that we now understand to be the basis of modern British society. The current legal system of order is based on the maintenance of capitalist freedoms of the market: the capacity to buy and sell commodities, and the freedom of labour as the basis of individual liberty, both of which are imposed by the state and enforced by the police.

This form of society was replicated elsewhere as other countries adopted these capitalist methods so that a liberal democratic political system is now the basis of many developed capitalist countries. As we now know capitalism has positive aspects along with some very negative consequences, including unemployment, poverty, environmental destruction and global warming. These negative consequences lead to popular forms of resistance which have been contained by extending the franchise through parliamentary democracy, legalising trade unions, along with other employment and human rights, as well as the provision of welfare and charity. A key feature of  liberal democracy is that any alternative form of political system that seeks to ameliorate the negative consequences of capitalism, e.g, through the redistribution of resources, promoting a less hierarchical society or the support for  internationalism: not the nationalism explicit in the concept of British values, is presented as chaos and confusion. Resistance to capitalism can be criminalised if it is counter to the rule of law and order on which capitalism is based.

It is important to be able to vote and to protest and to strike so that the politicians can be held to account, the system as a whole reviewed, with the possibility always open for reform as well as transformation.

A central aspect of capitalism and what distinguishes it from the pre-capitalist feudal period is that the religious principle of the divine right of kings was replaced by the rule of money and private property. As religion is no longer predominant it is possible to be indifferent to and tolerate religions as religion has ceased to become the dominant form of social authority. Discrimination is prevalent in British society, often based on behaviours carried over from pre-capitalist societies based on patriarchy, slavery, colonialism and hierarchical customs as well as other oppressive traditions. These practices are not central to the functioning of the rule of money and private property and so can be contained and eradicated through policy and political administration.

Liberal democracy can be contrasted to social democracy, which places more emphasis on collective organisation rather than individual liberty. Social democracy is also imposed by a strong centralised state as a way of ameliorating class based politics, for example, through comprehensive education and collective bargaining over employment rights and wages. Under our current parliamentary political system liberal democracy is the basis of right wing politics and social democracy is the basis of left wing politics.

The Prevent strategy to stop people engaging in terrorist activities is based on a refusal to acknowledge that political violence is an organising principle for all nation-states, including the British state, and the global system of competition among nation-states and their regional alliances. The imposition of international law is based on the condition that when national wills collide force decides. This global system of international political violence is evidenced by the history of imperialism and on-going regional and global wars as nation-states seek access to resources to continue the production of surplus value and maintain a competitive advantage. The epitome of this globalised system of mortal violence is the atomic nuclear bomb with the power to destroy all planetary life. This endemic nature of political violence is not only between nation-states but within nation-states. All nation-states and their political systems were formed through acts of mortal violence, a killing mentality denied to other groups that wish to challenge the authority of the nation-state system. This liberal framework of political violence is used extensively to justify acts of murder, sometimes under the guise of humanitarianism. To regard terrorist attacks as a form of political violence does in no way condone these atrocious acts.

In higher education it is very important that there is no dogmatic assertion of any political ideology, and that students are taught to understand how ideologies are constructed so as to be able to make their own decisions about their own place in the world. Student as Producer, which I was invited to speak about, is based a critical view of capitalist education derived from understanding and insights gained from the social sciences, critical political economy and international history.

To be asked to sign a document affirming the status of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and respect and tolerance of religious faiths as British values, while, at the same time, avoiding the violent nature of liberal political society, is not only against what I understand to be the basis of these ideals and the history of violent nationalisms, but  is contrary to the principle of academic freedom on which my professional integrity is based.

I have suggested some readings below that further elaborate on the points that I have made.

Benjamin, Walter (1921) Critique of Violence. Reflections. Shocken Books: New York, pp. 277 – 300.

Freedman, Des ( 2017) The Terror News Cycle. LRB Blogs. 24th May:

Kay, Geoff and Mott, James (1982) Political Order and the Law of Labour. Macmillan: London.

Meiksins-Wood, Ellen (2017) The Origins of Capitalism. Verso: London.

Mieville, China (2006) Between Equal Rights: A Marxist Theory of International Law. London and New York; Verso.

Nabulsi, Karma ( 2017) Don’t go to the Doctors. London Review of Books.  18th May. Volume 39 no.10, pp. 27-28.

Neary, Mike (2016) Educative Power: the Myth of Dronic Violence in a Period of Civil War. Culture Machine, 16. pp. 1-28.

Perelman, Michael (2000) The Invention of Capitalism. Duke University Press: North Carolina.

Seymour, Richard (2008) The Liberal Defence of Murder. London: Verso.

Thompson, Edward (2013) The Making of the English Working Class. Penguin Modern Classics: London and New York.

John Holloway: Reading Capital

John Holloway will be  presenting his latest work ‘Reading Capital: wealth in-against-and-beyond value’ at the University of Lincoln, England, on 16th of June, 1 – 4pm in Room MB1012.

John’s reading and writings on Marxist social theory are highly influential as a way of rethinking Marx in terms of ‘Change the World without Taking Power’ (2005)  and abolishing the social relations of capitalist production through acts of resistance, as ways to ‘Crack Capitalism’ (2010).

In this new work, ‘Reading Capital’, John points out that Capital does not start with the commodity, as Marx and probably all commentators since Marx have claimed. It actually starts with wealth: “The wealth of societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails appears as an ‘immense collection of commodities’ …” Seeing wealth and not the commodity as the starting point has enormous consequences, both theoretically and politically.

To start with the commodity leads into the analysis of capitalism as a system of domination, into an attempt to understand how capitalism works, its laws of motion. Class struggle remains external to this analysis. Capital is understood as explaining the structural framework within which struggle takes place. The analysis, in this view, shows the necessity for revolution, but does not indicate how it might take place. Essentially capitalism is understood as a closed system that can be broken only by an external force (the Party, what Party?) in the future.

To start with wealth takes us in a very different direction. The relation between wealth and commodity is not one of identity. Wealth “appears as” commodities, but, in order for us to say that, there must be a remainder: it must also be true that wealth does not appear as commodities. In other words, wealth exists in-against-and-beyond the commodity form. The starting point, the relation between wealth and the commodity, is an antagonism, a non-containment, and overflowing. Class struggle, far from being external to Capital, is posed in the opening words of the book. What follows is not the analysis of a closed system but the development of an antagonism between wealth and commodity, use value and value and, crucially, concrete and abstract labour.

To say that Capital starts not with the commodity but with wealth is both revolutionary and self-evident. The challenge is to trace this antagonism through the three volumes of Capital. This is the theme of the talk.

Pedagogy of Hate

Please see abstract below for a paper, Pedagogy of Hate, to be published in a forthcoming edition of Policy Futures in Education, and this link to a pre-print version of the paper.



Written as  an extended review of Peter McLaren’s ‘Pedagogy of Insurrection: from Resurrection to Revolution’ published in 2015, this paper contradicts McLaren’s affirmation of political religion and the version of critical pedagogy on which it is based, claiming hate rather than Christian love as a core concept of Critical Theory. Not a personal, psychological or pathological hate, but a radical hate for what the world has become, or absolute negativity. Hate must be invoked as love-hate for the magic of dialectics to work against the holy love of McLaren’s Christian socialism. Radical hate reveals the main transcendental tenets of capitalist civilisation: God and Money, as impersonal forms of social domination that must be brought down to earth so real existence can learn, learn, learn itself. That is the educative power of the Pedagogy of Hate. Now and forever.


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Teaching Marx in Anglophone Universities: interdisciplinary enquiry or unity of the sciences?

The purpose of this research is to reveal the ways in which the social theory of Karl Marx has been and is being taught in Anglophone Universities. The research will explore this issue starting from the emergence of Marx’s social theory as an academic subject in the twentieth century to the present day. This is not research into Marx’s teachings but the way in which Marx’s  teachings have been taught.

A distinctive feature of the research will be the way in which it draws out how Marx has been taught across academic disciplines: social science, arts and humanities, business and law and the natural sciences, through the work, for example, of Albert Einstein, John Haldane and Stephen Jay Gould. At the heart of this research lies the fundamental question, set out by Marx in the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts (1992/1844), of the possibility for creating a unified science between the social and the natural sciences as ‘One Science’ (p. 355). While the research carried out on this project will be interdisciplinary it will challenge the concept of interdisciplinarity itself, arguing that discrete subject disciplines, no matter how well connected, are not amenable to the holistic responses  required to deal with the many global emergencies facing humanity and the natural world. The research will be based on the hypothesis that the wide ranging application of Marxist science across academic subjects has the potential to provide a unifying principle through which to reappraise the fundamental nature of teaching and learning in higher education as well as the production of critical practical knowledge.

The ambitious scope of this project is emboldened by the research project:  Ordered Universe: interdisciplinary readings of Medieval Science, based at the University of Durham and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, which seeks to support fresh and original readings of medieval science. The Ordered Universe research project has a particular focus  on the work of Robert Grosseteste, 1170 – 1253, who sought to provide a cosmological theory for the medieval world based on empirical research methodologies, establishing a foundation for experimental science (Neary 2012).  Robert Grosseteste was a Bishop of Lincoln as well as being the first Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University. It is entirely appropriate that a research project which is, in part, inspired by his approach to experimental science should be established at the University of Lincoln where I teach.

The theoretical and conceptual framework for Teaching Marx is grounded in a version of critical theory that sought to connect the social and the natural sciences as a radical understanding of the world, a school of thought that has become known as ‘The Frankfurt School’, exemplified by the writings of Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer and Alfred Schmidt (Neary, Critical Theory and the Critique of Labour 2017); as well as more recent scholarship that seeks to recover the unity of Marx’s social theory and its relationship to nature as a ‘world ecology Marxism’ (Moore 2015). While the teaching of Marx and Marxism has been in decline due to the dominance of neoliberal orthodoxy, there has been a resurgence of interest in Marx’s work following the Great Recession of 2008. For example, students at the University of Manchester have developed their own approach to this issue, known as Post-Crash economics, arguing that the economic syllabus and teaching methods needs to be rethought from a more critical perspective. Teaching Marx is drawing on the ongoing reappraisal of Marx’s social theory which is producing fresh and original insights into Marx’s theory, based on the work of  Diane Elson, Simon Clarke,  Ellen Meiksins Wood, John Holloway, Werner Bonefeld Robert Kurz, Moishe Postone and Ana Dinerstein. This research will trace the way in which this reappraisal of Marx’s work is being taught in English speaking universities. The research methods will include archival research into how curricula for teaching Marx have been developed, as well as interviews with leading teachers of Marx during the twentieth century  who have now retired, those who have been  teaching Marx over a sustained period  and academics and postgraduates who are new to teaching Marx.

Outputs will include reports of regular seminars, a conference at the end of the project along with an edited book. Teaching Marx will have an online presence that will include resources for teachers teaching Marx in higher education.

This research brings together the main strands of my work: research into Marxist social theory and teaching and learning in higher education. During the period I was Dean of Teaching and Learning at Lincoln, 2007 – 2014,  I developed, in collaboration with other staff and students, a model of teaching in higher education based on the support for undergraduate research as a fundamental part of the teaching and learning programme. This approach, with the title Student as Producer, became in 2010 the basis for the University’s teaching and learning strategy across all subject areas at Lincoln. Student as Producer is based on the work of Marxist intellectuals, including Walter Benjamin, Guy Debord and Lev Vygotsky. This work has been developed in other HE institutions in the English speaking world in their own particular ways, in the US, UK, Australia and Canada, and has been identified as a major trend for the future of teaching and learning in higher education (NMC Report 2014 p. 15). The University of Lincoln is recognised by academics as well as external review agencies for its support for student learning through research-engaged teaching and so is an entirely appropriate site to base this research (Quality Assurance Agency 2011, Higher Education Academy 2015).

Teaching Marx is an ambitious project in scope and scale with deep theoretical and conceptual roots; not least in the way in sets out to challenge traditional disciplinary boundaries, through an appeal, following Karl Marx and Robert Grosseteste, for the unity of the sciences.

I am just beginning this work so would welcome any suggestions you might have as to how the research could be developed.