On the 14th of December, 1981, while still a PhD student at Johns Hopkins University, Neil Smith sent a paper to Perry Anderson at the New Left Review. “I enclose an article on Marx’s concepts of depreciation and appreciation, devaluation and revaluation, and devalorization and valorization,” Neil wrote in a concise and still useful summary.
Due both to confusion in Marx and to mistranslation, these concepts have never been understood at all in English language marxism. They are three distinct pairs of concepts, but their distinctiveness has been lost. Clarifying their meaning and the differences between them is important, not just for the technical merit of such a project, but for its practical conclusions. The clarification of these concepts is important for understanding the origin of crisis, and the structure and circulation of fixed capital, among other things.
“Unfortunately, they view this urgent set of problems in primarily individualistic terms and fail to take seriously the historical background and social context of the current crisis. The black conservatives claim that the decline of values such as patience, deferred gratification, and self-reliance have resulted in the high crime rates, the increasing number of unwed mothers, and the relatively uncompetitive academic performances of black youth. And certainly, these sad realities must be candidly confronted. But nowhere in their writings do the new black conservatives examine the pervasiveness of sexual and military images used by the mass media and deployed by the advertising industry in order to entice and titillate consumers. Black conservatives thus overlook the degree to which market forces of advanced capitalist processes thrive on sexual and military images.
Ought we to be surprised that black youths isolated from the labor market, marginalized by decrepit urban schools, devalued by alienating ideals of Euro-American beauty, and targeted by an unprecedented drug invasion exhibit high rates of crime and teenage pregnancy?
My aim is not to provide excuses for black behavior or to absolve blacks of personal responsibility. But when the new black conservatives accent black behavior and responsibility in such a way that the cultural realities of black people are ignored, they are playing a deceptive and dangerous intellectual game with the lives and fortunes of disadvantaged people. We indeed must criticize and condemn immoral acts of black people, but we must do so cognizant of the circumstances into which people are born and under which they live. By overlooking these circumstances, the new black conservatives fall into the trap of blaming black poor people for their predicament.”
Cornel West Race Matters Ch. 4: Demystifying the New Black Conservatism p. 84,85
There is much here that his applies to such as the common tired question, “what about black on black crime?“
Took a drive into the sprawl To find the house where we used to stay I couldn’t read the number in the dark You said “let’s save it for another day” I took a drive into the sprawl To find the places we used to play It was the loneliest day of my life You’re talking at me, but I’m still far away
Let’s take a drive through the sprawl Through these towns they built to change And then you said “The emotions are dead” It’s no wonder that you feel so estranged
The cops shone their lights On the reflectors of our bikes Said “Do you kids know what time it is?” Well, sir, it’s the first time I felt like something is mine Like I have something to give
The last defender of the sprawl Said “Well, where do you kids live?” Well, sir, if you only knew what the answer’s worth Been searching every corner of the earth…
Whispering: the murmur of power in a lo-fi world by Xinghua Li
As the Industrial Revolution and the Electric Revolution turn our acoustic environment into a ‘lo-fi’ soundscape, modern communication tends to evolve into an escalating ‘volume war’ where one shouts, yells, cries and screams. This article challenges the assumption that ‘volume is power’ and explores an alternative mode of vocal emission — the whisper. Weak in volume and yet persistent in resonance, evanescent in space and yet lingering in time, elusive to knowledge and yet haunting to unconscious desires, whispering questions some key assumptions about the relationships among voice, body, space and power. Commonly used in private address (by mothers, lovers and friends), whispering bears the imprint of domesticity and is seldom related to publicness. When associated with politics (e.g. the whispering politicians), it reminds us of secret plots, double dealings and the obscene underside of publicness. Is whispering doomed to turn sour when it enters the public space? Can we bring out its subversive power and make it a political act? This article explores the various ramifications of whispering in physiology, theology, sociology, psychoanalysis, ethics and theorizes a new type of political agency that is urgently needed in our contemporary lo-fi world — the world of acoustic claustrophobia and attention deficit.