[ Tribute to] The work of George Caffentzis

George Caffentzis is a political philosopher and autonomist Marxist. He is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Southern Maine and a founding member of the Midnight Notes Collective. George has spent a lifetime on the frontline of social, cultural and political struggles and engaged with movements of many kinds and helped think through the challenges they face.

George contributed to the first issue of The Commoner and many times since:

  • George Caffentzis: A Discourse on Prophetic Method: Oil Crises and Political Economy, Past and Future. [PDF]
    • from Issue 13: Winter 2009: ‘There’s an energy crisis (among others) in the air…
  • Silvia Federici and George Caffentzis: Notes of the edu-factory and cognitive capitalism [PDF]
    • from Issue 12: Spring/Summer 2007: ‘Value strata, migration and “other values”‘
  • George Caffentzis: Freezing the Movement: Posthumous Notes on Nuclear War [PDF]
    • from Issue 08: Autumn/Winter 2004: ‘Around commons and autonomy, war and reproduction’
  • George Caffentzis: On the Notion of a Crisis of Social Reproduction: A Theoretical Review [PDF]
    • from Issue 05: Autumn 2002: ‘Crises’
  • George Caffentzis: The Power of Money: Debt and Enclosure [PDF]
    • from Issue 07: Spring/Summer 2003: ‘The “governance” of imposed scarcity: Money, enclosures and the space of co-optation’
  • George Caffentzis: Varieties of Bancocide: Left and Right Critiques of the World Bank and IMF. [PDF]
    • from Issue 01: May 2001: ‘untitled’ – each article with its own added title, this one: ‘Shall we kill the banks?
  • George Caffentzis: Autonomous Universities and the Making of the Knowledge Commons [PDF]
  • George Caffentzis: Academic Freedom and the War on Terrorism: A Lobster Tale [PDF]
  • George Caffentzis: Peak Oil Complex, Commodity Fetishism, and Class Struggle [PDF]
  • George Caffentzis: A Critique of Commodified Education and Knowledge [PDF]
    • from ‘the editor’s blog on the old site

‘In Letters of Blood and Fire: Work, Machines, and the Crisis of Capitalism’

Karl Marx remarked that the only way to write about the origins of capitalism is in the letters of blood and fire used to drive workers from the common lands, forests, and waters in the sixteenth century. In this collection of essays, George Caffentzis argues that the same is true for the annals of twenty-first-century capitalism. Information technology, immaterial production, financialization, and globalization have been trumpeted as inaugurating a new phase of capitalism that puts it beyond its violent origins. Instead of being a period of major social and economic novelty, however, the course of recent decades has been a return to the fire and blood of struggles at the advent of capitalism.
Emphasizing class struggles that have proliferated across the social body of global capitalism, Caffentzis shows how a wide range of conflicts and antagonisms in the labor-capital relation express themselves within and against the work process. These struggles are so central to the dynamic of the system that even the most sophisticated machines cannot liberate capitalism from class struggle and the need for labor. Themes of war and crisis permeate the text and are given singular emphasis, documenting the peculiar way in which capital perpetuates violence and proliferates misery on a world scale. This collection draws upon a careful rereading of Marx’s thought in order to elucidate political concerns of the day. Originally written to contribute to the debates of the anticapitalist movement over the last thirty years, this book makes Caffentzis’s writings readily available as tools for the struggle in this period of transition to a common future.

SKU: 9781604863352
Author: George Caffentzis
Publisher: PM Press/Common Notions/Autonomedia
ISBN: 9781604863352
Published: 3/2013
Format: Paperback [or PDF]
Size: 6 x 9
Page count: 304

“George Caffentzis has been the philosopher of the anticapitalist movement from the American civil rights movement of the 1960s to the European autonomists of the 1970s, from the Nigerian workers of the oil boom of the 1980s to the encuentros of the Zapatistas in the 1990s, from the feminists of wages-for-housework to the struggle of the precariat for the commons. A historian of our own times, he carries the political wisdom of the twentieth century into the twenty-first. Here is capitalist critique and proletarian reasoning fit for our time.”
—Peter Linebaugh, author of The Magna Carta Manifesto: Liberties and Commons for All 

“George Caffentzis’s essays in this timely collection offer a sharply uncompromising analysis of the transmutations of capital over the last three decades and a rereading of the classic texts in light of our own times. They teach us the constant alertness that we must embrace at the frontline of value struggle.”
—Massimo De Angelis, author of The Beginning of History: Value Struggles and Global Capital

“These essays reveal not only the blood and fire of twenty-first-century primitive accumulation but also the inescapable linkage of this savage and ongoing process to new forms of futuristic dispossession inscribed with robot ichor, silicon chips, and genomic code. George Caffentzis has for decades been creating a contemporary Marxism that is profoundly theorized, deeply historical, utterly original, compulsively readable, and always connected to the fighting fronts of an ever-changing class struggle. Today his writings are integral to, and indispensable for an understanding of, the uprisings of a global proletariat that has again exploded across the planet.”
—Nick Dyer-Witheford, author of Cyber-Marx: Cycles and Circuits of Struggle in High-Technology Capitalism


George’s wide ranging intellect and interests have also included two studies of ‘money’:

… and a third one is on the way (expected publication: July 20th 2021 by Pluto Press) with the title ‘Civilizing Money: Hume, his Monetary Project and the Scottish Enlightenment’:

This is the long awaited final volume in a career-defining trilogy by George Caffentzis. Taking the Scottish Enlightenment philosopher David Hume as its subject, the book breaks new ground in focusing its lens on a little-studied aspect of Hume’s thinking: his understanding of money. Caffentzis makes both an intervention in the field of monetary philosophy and into Marxian conceptions of the relation between philosophy and capitalist development. He vividly charts the ways in which Hume’s philosophy directly informed the project of ‘civilizing’ the Scottish Highlands and pacifying the English proletariat in response to the revolts of both groups at the heart of the empire. Built on careful historical and philosophical detective work, Civilizing Money offers a stimulating and radical political reading of the ways in which Hume’s fundamental philosophical claims performed concrete political functions.