Deep Link


Exit! 20: Editorial and Appeal for Donations

The left as a whole has been in a desolate situation since the collapse of 'really existing socialism.' They have missed the opportunity to reflect critically on this - especially self-critically on the structuring social contexts of their own actions and thinking. As a result, 'leftists' have either mourned the loss of the socialist alternative and urged each other to 'keep it up,' or they have sought to reach the 'cutting edge' in capitalism, in order to be recognized and to participate.

While the 1990s were still characterized by a party atmosphere and the conviction that capitalism would last forever despite numerous civil wars around the globe, the crisis of the tiger economies (in which the hope for a great capitalist future had previously been placed) revealed the first cracks in the framework of the seemingly victorious capitalism. This trend continued with the dotcom crisis, finally culminating in the crash of 2008.

Neoliberalism and globalization have characterized this development, especially since the end of the 1980s. The consequences were structural adjustment in the so-called Third World countries and a restructuring of the welfare state in Germany (Hartz IV, etc.). Even then, this gave rise to left-wing critiques of globalization, some of which were structurally anti-Semitic. With the merger of the PDS and the WASG in the mid-2000s, the left in Germany seemed to regain more influence in parliament. There also seemed to be glimmers of hope in other parts of the world. Leftist governments came to power in Greece, Spain and Venezuela, the 'Arab Spring' was on everyone's lips, and so on. After a panic reaction, the crash seemed to be averted for the time being by rescue packages. This prompted Robert Kurz to publish a collection of essays entitled Weltkrise und Ignoranz [World Crisis and Ignorance] (2013), among other texts, and to dampen hopes of revolution; a fundraising appeal for exit! from that year (2011/2012), for example, bore the title "No Revolution Anywhere." Such assessments have since been confirmed.

In Germany, the AfD and Pegida appeared on the scene. At the latest since Trump's election, the right has really taken off, a development that had already been decades in the making. The reasons for Trump's election were not least the obsolescence of abstract labor (directly visible in the Rust Belt), combined with tendencies toward impoverishment and destitution and the decline (or fear of decline) of the middle class. This also applies to the emergence of AfD and Pegida in Germany and the rise and success of toother right-wing parties in many countries. A right-wing development that began in the 1980s has reached its peak for the time being. Even if this development did not continue in a linear fashion - as is well known, Trump and Bolsonaro were voted out of office again - this trend is likely to intensify further if the socio-economic-ecological situation continues to deteriorate.

Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine have so far accelerated the crisis that was already there before, as has often been emphasized. Trump had already tried to implement a national isolationist policy by imposing tariffs. The Covid crisis and the war in Ukraine have made it all the more clear what distortions this leads to: value and supply chains are torn apart, with severe consequences, above all energy and food shortages, freezing and hunger. As in the aftermath of the 2008 crash, (rescue) packages are once again being put together today to mitigate the crisis. This, combined with increases in defense spending around the world, is fueling public debt. It is already clear that the rescue packages will be followed by austerity packages. The turbulence in the financial markets, which heralds another crash, has long since become apparent.

Conspiracy theories have been on the rise again since the 1990s.1 Since Covid, however, such fantasies have taken on a new quality, and the lateral thinker movement has become increasingly popular. The Corona virus is no worse than the flu. It was invented and instrumentalized to enforce repressive crisis management by the 'powers that be.' Bill Gates, George Soros and others are behind Covid. They are striving for a "Great Reset" (Klaus Schwab/Thierry Malleret). The pharmaceutical industry and Big Data are profiting from and driving this development. There is talk of a Deep State, politics being controlled by insiders etc., which can be read in the relevant organs of the lateral thinkers such as Rubikon and the Nachdenkseiten. Accordingly, the number of Right-wing, lateral thinking crash-prophets has boomed. In this context, even subversive intellectuals such as Fábio Vighi are taking up completely distorted Wertkritik arguments.2 After a left-wing perspective on the "collapse of modernization" (Robert Kurz) was scornfully rejected, it is now being taken up again in this oblique framework.

The more right-wing and authoritarian tendencies increase, the more currents spread that are beyond the left and the right and include different groups. The escalation of the crisis is also causing many a leftist to fall over. Right-wing ideas are being mixed with left-wing ideas. Instead of confronting the ever-growing resentment at the decline of capitalism and its structures and mechanisms, this resentment is being blindly acted out.

This is happening in the context of a general tendency toward regression and restoration, even among the left, as we have noted several times at exit!; more and more, people are clinging to myths of class struggle, to leftist classics like Lenin, for example, or to a leftist history, regardless of the demise of the Eastern Bloc, and the like. In the case of the Ukraine conflict, the situation becomes completely reactionary: sides are taken on Putin's behalf, instead of looking at the underlying structures in a global, world-historical way, which by no means leave the West unscathed. Sahra Wagenknecht is an example of this. All in all, it can be said that, after the Covid crisis, the lateral thinking scene has concentrated more on the Ukraine war and - in contrast to the frequent demonization of Putin - on a justification of Russian policy, in which Russia is portrayed as the victim and the West as the actual aggressor.

The Covid crisis in particular has exacerbated already existing divisions in society. These divisions also affect left-wing groups. In the exit! group, too, this crisis has led to conflicts and ultimately to splits. The critique of value or the critique of value-dissociation is de facto to be transferred into a context of lateral thinking. It is dressed up accordingly; lateral thinking is downplayed. Suddenly, the top-bottom relations of a vulgar Marxist are once again applicable: "They [science and medicine, RS] have almost always been in the service of the state and capital and are shaped by the latter in their basic structure."3

Instead, the fetish character of capitalist social relations should be taken into account. This means that these relations are indeed made by people, but they become independent in relation to them. Andreas Urban, on the other hand, assumes that the relation of action and structure is more or less fifty-fifty and that fetishism appears in the capital-entrepreneur relation, with both standing indifferently next to each other. In effect, an 'automatic subject' is cancelled. Horkheimer and Adorno already knew in "The Dialectic of Enlightenment" that society prevails over the individual and that the latter, for reasons of self-preservation, becomes the "Lurch" and co-preserves society as such. Instead, Urban & Co. thus shamelessly reactivate an old conception of society in a personalizing understanding à la capitalism/the state versus the proletarian/subordinate little guy and in this sense break down the value-dissociation critique. Today, this fetish relation determined in such a way leads itself ad absurdum, with the consequence that among the social individuals, resentment in the face of crisis, which Urban, Jappe et al. serve, increasingly prevails. Urban, who apparently knows what the critique of value really is, thus writes: "Why it should be per se against the critique of value-dissociation if certain tendencies in the actions and calculations of the state or of various segments of capital are the object of analysis and above all of critique is, against this background, completely and utterly incomprehensible. This is not only an arbitrary but also an inconsistent theoretical setting, which cannot be connected in any way with the critique of value-dissociation and the dialectical traditions of thought suspended in it. For it is on the empirical level of appearance - and this includes in particular the (interest-driven) actions of people - that the social being appears, so to speak. Whoever therefore believes that he or she can dispense with including the actions of the state and certain agendas and calculations of functional elites in the analysis and critique of the terminal crisis (admittedly not as the ultimate reason and 'cause' of social developments, but rather as a concrete manifestation of the social essence) may engage in many things, but certainly no longer in 'value (dissociation) critique.'"4

On the other hand, Robert Kurz, concerning the meaning of the relations of will in traditional Marxism, wrote that there was no investigation into "social constitution" and the reason for its constant reproduction: "The reason for this disinterest is simple: In the sociologically reduced approach, social relations are ultimately reduced to pure relations of will. Capitalism exists because its supporting subjects 'want' it. Capitalism is therefore, so to speak, identical with the capitalists themselves as such (the private owners of money capital, but also the managers) or with the social collective of the capitalist class. It is this will of the capitalist-subjects to which the majority of society, as waged laborers, has subjected itself."5

In this context, the critique of value-dissociation is not simply a matter of grasping subjectivity in the capitalist-proletarian constellation, but of grasping the ordinary citizen, whose position Urban/von Uhnrast and Jappe take up in a populist manner, by the collar: "Because the inner capitalist horizon of development has disappeared, emancipatory opposition can no longer be formulated in the categories of the modern commodity-based system. But this also means that it is no longer possible simply to fight an easily definable external enemy (the 'propertied class,' the 'reactionary forces,' 'imperialism,' the long-established powers, etc.), but that one's own capitalistically constituted form of action is also up for discussion. This is not only difficult to grasp, but also difficult to bear."6 Instead, the fetish relation determines the actions of the actors in Urban & Co only in the "last instance," as if it were merely external to the individuals and agents and the latter were otherwise autonomous.

In this context, it is necessary to make clear that class antagonism is only an illusion and that the class struggle is a distributional struggle immanent to the system, and capital fetishism must be exposed as a misunderstood underlying factor.7 "What transcends the acting subjects and constitutes the real condition of exploitation, however, is the whole of the 'automatic subject,' the constitutive and transcendental a priori that only appears in individual capital, but categorically is not this. Total capital alone is the self-movement of value, as it were, as a 'breathing monster' that confronts the actors, even though they produce it themselves."8 In this context, for example, "the machinations of the USA" would not be accounted for in the sense of an ontology of the abstract will to power, as is the case with Urban.9 Rather, it would be important to understand and analyze them as part of the overall capitalist social context. The critique of value-dissociation is accused by Urban of counteracting its critique of the logic of identity by equating value-critical Covid-belittlers with Covid-belittlers in general. But it is about the content and the context of the thought in which he articulates himself, otherwise one could - purely formally and mechanically critical of identity - insist that there are also many different Nazis and not all of them can be lumped together. Value-critical lateral thinkers, however, as already indicated, are out to substantiate a per se problematic Covid denier/belittler position in a value-critical way. This is then supposed to be a further development of the value-dissociation critique "on the cutting edge."10 Such development would actually require our Covid-belittlers to think against themselves, instead of completely distorting essentials of the critique of value-dissociation and throwing such a fleeting result of a previous value-dissociation critique in front of their feet as a further development, according to the motto 'bird eat or die.' In the case of such value-critical lateral thinkers, when they return to a personalizing critique of capitalism, they make a 180-degree turn.

They are not concerned, as has been suggested, with pointing out numerous contradictions, but rather with taking sides, albeit in an exaggerated manner. More specifically, taking the side of the lateral thinkers, because they believe that they can recognize in them an advocate of the freedom threatened by the actions of the rulers. What's missing is a demarcation from the lateral thinkers. It is merely formally, and thus hollowly, asserted as a given. The extensively applied yes-but and nevertheless method remains as a demarcation, whereby lateral thinking wins out in a blurred way. We pointed out the repressive potential of the policies implemented to fight Covid, for example. But we were seriously accused of going along with the mainstream.

One of the stitches of lateral thinking is to make use of individual elements of leftist critiques in order to turn them to the right and incorporate them into conspiracy theories. The 'value-critical' Covid-belittlers however, are in fact carrying out a vulgarization of the critique of value, which prepares to take the word of problematic positions of lateral thinking, which refer to a democratic constitution that itself has long since become obsolete and can therefore be appropriated by the right, on the basis of data that the authors themselves describe as inadequate from the outset.

Such a religious obsession with statistics, which is even skewered by their Streifzüge lateral thinker Franz Schandl in a text "Die toteste Kontinuität oder: Der Fetischismus der Fakten" [The Deadest Continuity, or: The Fetishism of Facts],11 albeit directed against the advocates of the Covid measures, is now directed against exit! Positons. As a criticism of exit!, it is pointed out that the fact that theologians collaborate with exit! and have asserted their moralizing influence has probably played a role in the refusal to take a clear stand on the side of the critics of the measures and against the repression of the 'rulers.' In this context, the fact that our value-dissociation-critical theologians are more than skeptical about morality and ethics is deliberately overlooked.12 Their criticism is aimed precisely at the fact that ethical and moral reasoning presupposes the fetish relations that should be the object of critical reflection. The fact that moralizing and, moreover, fundamentalist theologians such as the pastor Martin Miche are in the same boat as the lateral thinkers and proclaim "vaccination is a sin" is not taken into account. Jappe also moralizes, and on the same home page he argues that the Russian embargo should be used to achieve a transcendental perspective on the environmental problem of gas consumption. As a proven means, he brings into play a corresponding "virtuous circle."13

In Urban & Co., lateral thinking, structural anti-Semitism, and lateral media are essentially played down. They are only referred to in their peculiarity, in order to then, in a great gesture of resistance, in their apparent diffuseness, supposedly join such a context in a value-dissociation-critical oppositional way. They join a 'democratic resistance' in which freedom is defended against repression. The idea that democracy feeds on its children is obviously alien to the value-critical Querfronter. That is why one is supposed to take only one side. The fact that there are authoritarian democrats and democratic authoritarians in the decline of capitalist patriarchy can no longer be grasped in this way. Instead, one places oneself in a lateral-thinking way on the side of democracy and laments "the greatest loss of freedom since 1945" (Anselm Jappe). In this way, what has long been known thus falls prey to Alzheimer's, e.g. what Robert Kurz wrote more than 20 years ago (the essentials of which can also be found in earlier articles): "The democratic world is thus a world of 'mute compulsion' (Marx), which manifests itself in many forms as the law of the valorization of money. The great historical emancipatory achievement of democracy was that all people could become a "self" without class barriers; but gradually it has become apparent that this "becoming of the self" has come at a terrible price. Submission to the personal "master" qua birth has been replaced by submission to the impersonal and much more total domination of money. Everyone has the right to be what the total commodity society has made of him. Everyone is allowed to represent "his interests," even if it is those "as" a homeless person; but it is already this category of the commodity-shaped "interest" itself that structurally chains him to his own misery. Democracy is the freedom to die, at least for a growing majority of humanity. This core of subjectless repression, this subjection of the life process to the abstract fetish laws of modernity, has provoked criticism and rebellion from the beginning. But as long as the taut spring of the modernization process had not yet loosened, as long as the mechanical clock of market-based democracy had not run out, critique and rebellion could only take place within the same enclosure, inhibiting or accelerating its automaton-like progress, but not bursting this enclosure and escaping from it. While left-wing critique always sought as desperately as it did futilely to extend Western rationality beyond its objective reach, right-wing (and "radical right") critique has always mobilized moments of irrationalism, which is, after all, only the dark underbelly of Western rationality itself."14

By mobilizing to defend democracy against the Covid measures, value-critical lateral thinkers deny the danger of the Covid pandemic. The total cynicism that this implies is shown by a reference to Ivan Illich: "In the 'old normality' before 2020, there was still relatively broad medical consensus that very old people had only little chance of surviving invasive artificial respiration because of the massive strain on the body associated with it, which is why people tended to refrain from such intensive medical interventions in most cases. It is now considered fairly certain that the higher mortality rate, especially during the first wave of Covid, was at least partly due to the practice of early invasive ventilation of hospitalized and especially very elderly Covid patients. With regard to this practice, too, one can perhaps follow Ivan Illich and understand it as a manifestation of that modern repression of death, when Illich speaks, among other things, of a 'multiform exorcism of all forms of evil death' with regard to 'death in the intensive care unit.' 'Our great institutions are nothing other than a gigantic defense program by means of which we wage war in the name of 'humanity' against forces and classes that bring death. This is a total war.'"15

Such a reference to death, of course, has little to do with the critique of the repression of death as formulated in connection with a feminist critique of the dissociation of the feminine in the natural sciences, which at the same time, for example, opposes nuclear power when the survival of mankind is at stake. Urban's/Uhnrast's defense of dying, on the other hand, is close to a heroization of dying and a celebration of death, as is visible in Ernst Jünger's Stahlgewittern or in Heidegger's "freedom towards death."

Against this backdrop, they link the way that the Ukraine war has been processed in the West to the Covid crisis, seeing the same logic at work in both: "Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, we are experiencing remarkable parallels in the public sphere with the social debates during the Covid crisis [...] which have largely determined the discourse in the last two years: With the help of a huge propaganda apparatus, a public 'consensus' is produced that does not tolerate any contradiction or even differentiation. If already in the 'war against the virus' a 'community of solidarity' was created and conjured up, which reacted with fierce rancor to all those who dared to ask stupid questions (about lockdowns, mask mandates, vaccinations, etc.), now likewise an army of 'those in solidarity' stands side by side with the Ukrainian government and in unity against the Russian aggressor."16

The exit! editorial staff decided not to publish texts by Jappe, Urban, and von Uhnrast on the exit! homepage because these texts are diametrically opposed to value-dissociation-critical thinking.17

By publishing these texts we would have denied ourselves. We also did not comply with the demand to deal in detail with the long and logically inconsistent and contradictory papers of Urban/von Uhnrast. We did not want to get lost in hair-splitting debates, as if their basic assumption of a personalizing and vulgar Marxist critique of capitalism had not already been the subject of criticism in our texts for decades. In the meantime, Jappe's, Urban's and von Uhnrast's texts have made their rounds and have been further disseminated and commented upon in supposedly 'left-wing' lateral thinking circles.

It is to be feared that such lateral thinking will spread even further in the crisis as a dangerous variant of common sense that avoids overarching levels of mediation. In doing so, it defends a new post-postmodern normality that restoratively and regressively invokes the old and an abstract 'life' (including, in a social Darwinist way, the death of the weak), instead of envisaging a categorical rupture that a fortiori also radically questions such notions. A shift to the right and a truncated critique of value could already be observed after the Krisis split 19 years ago, especially in Streifzügen.

It is therefore not surprising that Andreas Urban has now also published in Streifzügen, where he complains about how students tried to block a series of events organized by lateral thinkers at the University of Vienna.18 He has also published a critical assessment of left-wing lateral thinking.19 But Streifzüge has no problem putting different positions next to each other anyway (cf. Editorial, exit! No. 14.). From a value-dissociation-critical point of view, it is rather important to continue to oppose any lateral thinking with all one's strength, and thus to oppose right-wing developments, instead of continuing to work towards barbaric tendencies in pseudo-leftist diction. The critique of value-dissociation is marginalized today. This is no coincidence in a time that wants to dissolve everything into interests, identities and concerns. Our critique, e.g. Thomas Meyer's critique of transhumanism, a non-materialist gender perspective, or comprehensive digitalization, is quite different from that of lateral thinking contexts, which basically want to hold on to the existing in a quite primitive and reactionary way instead of overcoming it. It is part of the style and a ploy of lateral thinkers to appropriate left-wing ideas and turn them to their own advantage, so that "left and right can no longer be mixed up," to quote a prominent saying by Ernst Jandl.

This also means that a dangerous and rotten normality is (again) presented as honest, decent, even resistant, that it hunts down every 'deviant' and that it still relies on an ontological concept of freedom that is ultimately rooted in the democratic-capitalist ideology, which also means the liberal right to a Lazarus-like existence. Exit! aims at something completely different.

The mainstream left is not only stuck in traditional categories, ideas and references, but is regressing even more in the deepening crisis and is doing a backward roll right into exit! circles. Thus, a critique of structural anti-Semitism is thrown overboard, not only among the value-critical lateral thinkers, but among the left in general.

The left, which is lying on the ground, first of all needs a new/different (theoretical) frame of reference and thinking in order to understand not only the current world crisis, but also why the left itself is in crisis. Otherwise, it will continue to rummage through the cobwebs again and again. For this reason, some essentials of the critique of value, which can be found especially in the texts of Robert Kurz, have been recalled here. Our task is to continue, and now more than ever, to make visible (overarching) structures and mechanisms in terms of value-dissociation (whereby 'dissociation' is often forgotten, not only in this conflict). Only from here can an attempt be made to identify practical alternatives. These alternatives cannot simply be conjured up from the outset and then implemented. It is therefore necessary to uphold a radical critique of society, to make a categorical break, even if this critique only speaks for a few right now, with the confidence that nothing has ever remained as it is.

At the moment it may seem that, since not only the right but also the left is a mess, we must look for a new emancipatory perspective beyond right and left. In our opinion, however, this emancipatory perspective can only emerge from the context of a left tradition that is aware of social contradictions. In this tradition, the unsettled must be insisted upon: Abolition of abstract structures of domination, association of free individuals, reconciliation with nature, elimination of social inequalities and hierarchies, not only of economic and educational ones, but also of racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism and anti-Gypsyism, hostility towards the elderly and the disabled. At present, the left considers these phenomena as mere side contradictions, which is an attitude that must be sharply criticized! If they are included in their own logic, a qualitatively completely different left self-understanding emerges than that which can commonly be found today.

Emancipation understood in this way cannot simply be demanded in a voluntarist way; since it involves human action, it must emerge from social contradictions, beyond a mere abstract moral postulate. As an abstract desire, it merely corresponds to obsolete 'autonomous' needs that believe themselves to be completely independent. It is only the left perspective that has a dimension of (global) social emancipation in mind, including the critique of a corresponding domination of nature, which does not want to leave anyone behind, but which also includes a historical critique of itself (not least of traditional and Eastern bloc Marxism). Only in this way would structure and action then be contradictorily united.

So far (mid-December), the expected winter of rage has remained within bounds, perhaps thanks to the old social-democratic trick of appeasement ("you never walk alone," "double whammy," and the like) and the willingness to pour out the cornucopia of welfare-state charity (but with the enormous problem of increasing national debt) up to a certain point - but not beyond. And you can't be mad at Habeckchen anyway, he only makes compromises against his own convictions. The gas and electricity back payments aren't due until next year, and the state subsidies won't be enough by a long shot. In addition, it cannot be overlooked that even among political actors who move within the framework of parliamentary normality, especially in the debates about citizen's money [Bürgergeld] and citizenship rights, from the treatment of refugees and the debates about Hartz IV, familiar defamations from the depths of the democrats have resurfaced: Repression and defamation of the superfluous, combined with compulsory work and the selection of the useful from the superfluous as an outgrowth of the fetishization of work. The original tone of the liberal Federal Minister of Justice can be seen as the tip of the iceberg: "As far as immigration is concerned, all helping hands in the labor market are welcome, but no one who only wants to hold out a hand in the social system. This also applies to citizenship" (Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, Nov. 29, 2022). Refugees have to pay the price for the liberalization of immigration: They are to be deported more quickly. Even Foreign Minister Baerbock does not care about human rights violations. She can speak touchingly about the birth of a child and being a mother when it comes to 'Putin's' war in Ukraine, but she can hand over refugees to the Libyan coast guard completely unaffected. The war that Erdogan is waging against the Kurds is also of no interest.

Raw bourgeoisie becomes visible as the other side of democratic sentimentality. It has established itself as part of democratic normality. The supposedly 'extreme' becomes 'normal.' Its "openly brutal forms of communication and action are inseparable from the normality of social and political life" and arise "out of it."20

Let's see what happens when the crisis situation comes to a head. Lateral thinkers and right-wingers are probably already sitting in the starting blocks. But even if everything goes smoothly, we will certainly not be rid of right-wing tendencies and lateral thinking any time soon; on the contrary, they are likely to become even stronger in the future, supported by democratic normality.

In this situation, an emancipatory social critique such as the critique of value-dissociation is indispensable. Therefore, we ask for donations in order to be able to continue to resist the developments described above. This is all the more true as the perspective of lateral thinking continues to spread, even within our group, and we may be forced to pursue our emancipatory goals with a thinner staff. The more a personalizing understanding of capital with structural anti-Semitism spreads and 'raw bourgeoisie' becomes the democratic normality, the more a critique of fetishism has to stand up against it, especially when it seems to be marginalized at the moment. Besides protests against the impositions of the capitalist patriarchy (fighting against increased energy costs and warmongering, but without downplaying the Russian regime) theoretical efforts are indispensable to be able to classify them at all and to give them a direction and - ceterum censeo - not to let them drift into the barbaric!

This issue of exit! begins with a text by Robert Kurz that was first published in 1994:21 "Labor Fetish - Marxism and the Logic of Modernization." In this text, Kurz explains that with the end of the Soviet Union, the previous Marxism also came to its historical end. For Marxism as an ideology of modernization, the modern real category of patriarchal labor was central (as it was for liberalism and fascism). In contrast to a categorical critique of capitalism, which understands labor, dissociation, value, etc. as historical categories and thus makes their overcoming and abolition conceivable rather than positing their enforcement or regulation (or hallucinating them as the ontological determination of being human in the first place), Marxism formulated a critique of capitalism from the standpoint of this very same labor. In the face of the world crisis of capital, classical working-class Marxism, which thinks it has already grasped the crucial point with 'class struggle' and with 'expropriation of private property,' can no longer grasp the seriousness of the reality of the crisis. With the end of the labor society, a standpoint of labor can only be reactionary, as Kurz makes clear.

Moishe Postone is a classic of the critique of value and one of the indispensable
'components' of the critique of value-dissociation. In particular, his reflections in the essay "National-Socialism and Anti-Semitism," which has been well received by many leftists, remain topical in view of the world crisis of capital (as the rampant right-wing populism, conspiracy mania, etc. make clear). In her essay "Value and the 'Others' - Value-Dissociation Critical Corrections to Moishe Postone's Theory," Roswitha Scholz lays out the problems of Postone's theory, which arise from the lack of a theory of crisis as well as from remaining within the confines of an androcentric perspective that prevails in most currents that are recognized as Wertkritik. Scholz shows that the problem of fetishism, as developed by Postone, must be qualitatively transformed by the critique of value-dissociation, which is necessary to account for the fractured totality of the value-dissociation relation.

The global spread of inflation is simplistically explained as a consequence of counter-cyclical policies and state interventionism in the context of emergency measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, which were exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. At the same time, since the outbreak of Covid-19, establishment epidemiologists have argued with proponents of sinophobic conspiracy paranoia, without recognizing the deeper determinants that form the origin of this pandemic in the crisis of capital, including its deepening forms of racism and patriarchy. Even as it was emerging, Rob Wallace - sometimes called a liberal, sometimes self-described as a critic of 'micro-biopolitics' - was able to identify the false contradiction between an obscurantist, truncated critique of modern science on the one hand, which sees the pandemic as the deliberate techno-scientific domination of bodies by 'Big Pharma' as well as states, and a ready epidemiological technocracy, on the other hand, that seeks to blame the Chinese and their so-called 'primitive' eating habits for the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, envisioning the possibility of a new wave of modernization of food systems in Asia in place of these practices that are seen as barbaric. In the essay, "The Pandemic in the Fundamental Crisis of Capital: Global Inflation, Bursting of the Recent Global Financial Bubble, and Social Decay in the Specificity of Brazil under Bolsonaro's Government," Fábio Pitta & Allan Silva thus start from the critique of the state-market antinomy and the critique of value-dissociation to locate the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic within the dual dynamics of the historical process of the collapse of modernization. Specifically, they argue that the emergence of Covid-19 is a product of the destruction of nature driven by the modernization surge initiated by the crisis of the fictionalized reproduction of global capital, which in turn drives inflation and a financial bubble economy, thus accelerating the movement towards the internal and external barriers of the capitalist social form. Linked to this dynamic are the self-sacrificial forms of coping with the health or economic crisis in Brazil, in their mediation with the 'crisis ideologies' of the new right-wing extremism, understood here as "immanent pseudo-rebellion" (Robert Kurz). Finally, the recent inflationary process is explained as the manifestation of another world financial bubble on the verge of bursting, which has led and will continue to lead to social disintegration along with the feralization of patriarchy, racism, and an increasing precarization of labor.

In the text, "Torn Between East and West - A Brief Historical Overview of the Road to the Ukraine War against the Background of the World Crisis of Capital," Tomasz Konicz attempts to trace the genesis of the war over Ukraine as a moment in the global crisis process. Beginning with a brief sketch of the failure of state capitalist 'really existing socialism,' which is related to the stagflation period of the 1970s and the debt crises of the 1980s, the catastrophic systemic transformation of Ukraine is presented as a particularly stark example of the socio-economic collapses in the post-Soviet space. It shows how Ukraine never recovered from this transformation shock, which often destroyed the rotten Soviet-style state capitalist industrial base without creating competitive alternatives in the disconnected semi-periphery.

Ukraine is understood as a barely viable economy that, like many post-Soviet states without exportable natural resources, can no longer sustain a sufficiently broad valorization process to ensure state and political stability due to global productivity levels. The 'weak' Ukrainian state, the formation of an oligarchy emerging from the nomenklatura, and the political instability of the impoverished country, which has been shaken by frequent and particularly severe crises, are understood as consequences of this inner barrier of capital, which is manifesting itself ever more clearly across the globe - especially since, as is shown, Ukraine has also been caught up in the corresponding regional deficit cycles and debt bubbles.

This internal instability, which did not lead to the formation of an authoritarian regime, as in Russia, but instead took the form of oligarchic rule characterized by constant factional struggles, provided - in addition to the concrete constraints of the systemic crisis - the levers of power for the external interventions that the West and Russia undertook with increasing intensity from the Orange Revolution to Putin's war of aggression. By 2013 at the latest, Ukraine had reached the end of its economic rope as a result of the crisis, and the ruling oligarchy had to decide in favor of integration into an alliance system. The ensuing escalation that led to the war was the result of both geopolitical camps, the West and the East, trying with all their might to keep this borderland out of the hands of their respective adversaries.

In the crisis process, war is also moving from the periphery to the capitalist centers. In conjunction with the other flashpoints of the crisis, the war in Ukraine and the Western responses to it have the potential to escalate into a global conflagration. In his text "World Destruction as Self-Destruction - What Makes You 'Think' Following Walter Benjamin," Herbert Böttcher takes up the analyses of Robert Kurz from Weltordnungskrieg (World Order War). In that book, he saw the processes of disintegration and the accompanying wars in connection with the emptiness of the capitalist form of production and reproduction. In recourse to Benjamin's understanding of history, in which past and present enter into a new constellation in the face of catastrophes as a 'moment of danger,' Böttcher casts a glance at the world crisis, which is dangerously coming to a head in the direction of world and self-annihilation. In doing so, Benjamin's reaching out - which can also be criticized as abbreviated - to the question of totality as a social context of crisis and fetishism can become an inspiring point of reference for the critique of value-dissociation. Contrary to the tendency, in view of the dangers, to seek immanently regressive orienting support in class, identity, interest, conspiracy, etc., Benjamin can be read in such a way that the break with the prevailing fetish relations becomes recognizable as an indispensable prerequisite for a perspective of salvation.

Thomas Meyer's text "Alternatives to Capitalism - In Check: Economic Democracy and Workers' Self-Government" deals with another theme discussed by many on the left (along with the commons, post-growth, the common good economy, etc.) that promises to overcome capitalism (or at least 'partially' roll back or tame its impositions). Both 'concepts' are seen as viable objections to (neoliberal) capitalism and its deadly ravages. In discussing these putative alternatives to capitalism, Meyer draws on the Marxist critique of democracy (most notably by the Austro-Marxist Max Adler), the critique of economic democracy (by, among others, August Thalheimer), as well as the critique of workers' self-management in Yugoslavia by the long-forgotten praxis philosophers (such as Svetozar Stojanovic and Michailo Markovic) to show that economic democracy has already been scathingly criticized, so that those who claim to 'rethink' economic democracy unfortunately do not really go beyond what has long been thought. It also shows that workers' self-management can by no means be seen as a "social transition beyond capitalism" (Richard D. Wolff). Economic democracy and workers' self-management amount to a democratization and a 'self-determined' execution of capitalist coercion and not to its abolition. Beyond the Marxist critique of democracy (which knows how to name appropriate points, but remains in the field of the proletarian class struggle), it is emphasized that the democratic recognition and participation of people presupposes their submission to the capitalist compulsion to valorize and their ability to valorize. This ability to valorize and thus the basis of democracy (which is, mind you, a capitalist one) is breaking down, with the result that democratic decision making in the economy and self-management by the workers of 'their' enterprises are becoming increasingly meaningless and will ultimately achieve little more than bankruptcy and a co-determination of misery. What is criticized about these discourses is the fact that they remain in the capitalist form and that these concepts are tied to a successful valorization of value and thus to a successful 'self-determined' assertion in competition, which is occasionally hinted at by discussants of economic democracy and soon 'forgotten' again, without developing a systematic critique of it.

As usual at the end, we would like to point out some publications: In French, Crise et Critique (Albi) has published: Robert Kurz: Grau ist des Lebens goldener Baum und grün die Theorie (Gris est l'arbre de la vie, verte est la théorie) and Es rettet euch kein Leviathan - Thesen zu einer kritischen Staatstheorie (L'État n'est pas le sauveur suprême - Thèses pour une théorie critique de l'État). In Italian at Meltemi (Milan): Das Weltkapital - Globalisierung und innere Schranken des modernen Warenproduzierenden Systems (Il capitale mondo - Globalizzazione e limiti interni del moderno sistema produttore di merce).

Consequência (Rio de Janeiro) has published a few texts by Moishe Postone in Portuguese: Antissemitismo et Nacional-Socialismo - Escritos sobre a questão judaica and in French a two-volume edition of his works will be published by Crise et Critique: OEuvres de Moishe Postone - Repenser une théorie critique du capitalisme au XXIe siècle (Volume 2 expected in late 2023).

Furthermore, an electronic book on the history of modernization in Brazil has been published by Edufes (Vitória/ Espírito Santo): Os sentidos da modernização: ensaios críticos sobre formação nacional e crise [The Meaning of Modernization: Critical Essays on National Constitution And Crisis] ( The authors are part of the value-dissociation critical group of São Paulo/Brazil, which are associated with the University of São Paulo. They present their research in several essays that address both the question of the constitution of abstract labor, patriarchy, and racism in Brazilian history, and the crises of capitalist categories after the recuperative modernization of the 1970s.

The book Ucrânia - O grande jogo - A luta pelo poder entre o Leste e o Ocidente na crise global [Ukraine - The Big Game - The power struggle between East and West in the global crisis] on the Ukraine war and its 'prehistory' was published by Consequência. The book brings together 20 texts by Tomasz Konicz published between 2014 and the first months of the war.

Herbert Böttcher in his book Auf dem Weg zur unternehmerischen Kirche (Echter-Verlag, Würzburg) (the book is an expanded version of the text of the same name, which has already appeared in exit! No. 17) describes the transformation of the church into an 'entrepreneurial church.' The 'cause' for this 'awakening' is the fact that the significance of the church is increasingly eroding - even amid social crises - which is accompanied by a massive loss of members. Reforms intended to address this seek to connect the church to concepts from business management, to adapt to capitalist conditions. They want to be at the 'cutting edge,' more precisely at the edge of the collapsing capitalist society. Böttcher deals on the one hand with concepts that pave the way to an 'entrepreneurial church' and on the other hand with the synodal renewal processes in which the church seeks internal renewal past the social crises and their victims. Thus, renewal becomes the optimization of adaptation to social conditions.

In his book Die 'Himmelfahrt des Geldes' in den Prinzipienhimmel - Zur Finanzialisierung des Kapitalismus und den Grenzen christlicher Sozialethik (AJZ-Verlag, Bielefeld), Dominic Kloos examines the arguments of Catholic social teaching. Using the example of the Vatican statement on the role of financial markets, Oeconomicae et pecuniariae quaestiones [Concerning Questions of Economy and Money], he makes clear how moral judgments and political positioning are derived from the 'principled heaven' of social doctrine without having critically examined the social conditions in the context of which financial markets are situated. It becomes clear that the multiplication of money through transactions on the financial markets is a reaction to the crisis of accumulation in the real economy. This in turn has its central cause in the replacement of surplus value-creating labor by technology. This inner, insurmountable barrier of capitalism cannot be compensated in the long run by the supply of "money without value" (Robert Kurz) and has disastrous consequences. All this should be the subject of reflection. Instead, it seems easier to cling to the actions of actors with recriminations, moral condemnations, and moral demands. In this way, however, there can be no turning back from the paths to disaster into which capitalism is driving in its crisis.

El capitalismo de hoy, la incertidumbre de mañana [Today's Capitalism - Tomorrow's Uncertainty] (Pepitas de Calabaza, Logroño) by Clara Navarro Ruiz introduces in an accessible way the basic concepts to develop a critical understanding of contemporary capitalism. The book is aimed at a broad audience and seeks to show them that, contrary to what its apologists say, the capitalist system is currently having serious problems reproducing itself. Even if the analysis relies only in part on the critique of value-dissociation, the book makes clear in any case that contemporary capitalism rests on shaky supports. These are clear signs that capitalism is in its inexorable and inevitable decline.

The text begins with a brief sketch of the basic concepts of the inner logic of capitalism (value, exchange value, abstract labor) and explains how capitalism is in decline today. To do so, the text turns to some aspects of Kurz's theses on the collapse of capitalism. The analysis then turns to the phenomena of globalization and 'platform capitalism,' showing the extent to which both are signs of a fundamental crisis of capitalism. The book concludes with a chapter on the effects of capitalism on the relationship with nature, on gender relations and on 'race.'

The book Der Dialog - Ein Gespräch über Sinn und Unsinn der politischen Ökonomie by Knut Hüller & Klaus Müller is published by Mangroven-Verlag (Kassel) and documents the debate of both authors, which took its starting point at Hüller's review essay of Müller's book Auf Abwegen - Von der Kunst der Ökonomen sich selbst zu täuschen (Cologne 2019) (the review and some of the debate contributions are published on

It should also be noted that English translations can be found on the site

Johanna Berger has been added to the editorial team.

Roswitha Scholz for the exit! editorial team in December 2022.

  1. Cf. Scholz, Roswitha: Die Metamorphosen des teutonischen Yuppie, 1995, at^

  2. Cf. Böttcher, Herbert: You Must Say "Health Dictatorship"! 2022, available in English at^

  3. Jappe, Anselm: Haben sie Gesundheitsdiktatur gesagt?, 2022, at^

  4. Cf. Urban, Andreas: Ein Gespenst geht um in der Wertkritik - Anmerkungen zur wert(abspaltungs)kritischen Corona- "Debatte," 2022, at^

  5. Kurz, Robert: Marx lesen!, Frankfurt 2006, 51.^

  6. Ibid, 42.^

  7. Cf. commentary by Herbert Böttcher and the editorial team on the Corona debate within exit!, at^

  8. Kurz, Robert: Geld ohne Wert, Berlin 2012, 178.^

  9. Urban, Andreas: Propaganda und der geopolitische Abstieg des Westens, 2022, at^

  10. Urban, Andreas: Ein Gespenst geht um in der Wertkritik, 2022, at^

  11. In: Birkner, Martin (ed.): Emanzipatorische Wissenschaftskritik, Berlin 2022,18-31.^

  12. Cf. Kloos, Dominic: Die Himmelfahrt des Geldes in den Prinzipienhimmel, Bielefeld 2022, and various publications of the Netztelegramm:^

  13. Jappe, Anselm: Schluss mit Putins Gas?, 2022, on^

  14. Kurz, Robert: Democracy Eats Its Children, 1993, at^

  15. Urban, Andreas; Uhnrast, F. Alexander von: Corona als Krisensymptom Teil 2, 2022: on^

  16. Urban, Andreas: Ukraine - Krieg, Propaganda und der geopolitische Abstieg des Westens, 2022, on^

  17. See the statement on the exit! homepage:^

  18. Urban, Andreas: Der autoritäre Konformismus der akademischen Jugend, 2022, at^

  19. Urban, Andreas: Corona von links, 2022, on^

  20. Heitmeyer, Wilhelm: Autoritäre Versuchungen, Berlin 2018, 279.^

  21. First published in: Fleischer, Helmut (ed.): Der Marxismus in seinem Zeitalter, Leipzig 1994, 162-184.^

Deep Link