A MARXIST GAME. - an assault on capitalism in six stages

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1 A MARXIST GAME - an assault on capitalism in six stages PREMISES it may seem as if capitalism won, but things might potentially play out otherwise the aim of a marxist game is to explore how marxism and marxist concerns and alternatives do or can come into play in the contemporary world the game can be initiated by 3 or more players, these being individuals or groups you may either be playing as yourself or as someone else - this is determined by the game the game progresses from playing individually towards increasingly playing as a collective, and it is based on a series of tasks that serve as vantage points for ongoing discussions and re-arrangements of the board ITEMS aside from the board, the game consists of 7 different figures: marxist fixes, struggles, objectives, borders, barriers, overlaps and alternative circles, 4 card types: marxist fix cards, marxist fix card examples, theme cards and leisure cards, and a marx mandala PLAYING THE GAME the game consists of 6 individual stages. read each stage aloud and fulfill the tasks mentioned. do not proceed to another stage before the current stage has been completed

2 STAGE 1: SPATIAL FIXES the practical application of the principles will depend, as the manifesto itself states, everywhere and at all times, on the historical conditions for the time being existing (marx & engels, preface to the communist manifesto) david harvey coined the term spatial fix to convey the geographical dimensions of industrial capitalism. capitalism needs to be spread out in order to overcome its own overaccumulation, while at the same time maintaining its presence in particular places in order to secure built-up investment over time. as a vantage point for the game we will use capitalism against itself by building up geographical, marxist fix-points that underscore both the widespread problems created by capitalism along with objectives to work against it. as harvey notes, class struggle unfolds differentially across (a) highly variegated terrain and (the) drive for socialism must take geographical realities and geopolitical possibilities into account. this is the first step of the game a player reads aloud one or more examples of a marxist fix all players pick a marxist fix card and prepare a background story in relation to it, taking as much time as needed based on this story, the goal of this step is to determine 1) what is your struggle? and 2) outline obstacles and objectives for creating alternatives note down x on x, y on y and z on z on a piece of paper

3 STAGE 2: PRELIMINARILY UNITE THE WORKERS OF THE WORLD the global proletariat is far larger than ever and the imperative for workers of the world to unite is greater than ever. but the barriers to the unity are far more formidable than they were in the already complicated European context of 1848 (harvey, spaces of hope) a commodity, writes marx, has a value because it is a crystallization of labour power. with the global spread of capitalism the contemporary world consists of an intricate web of such crystallizations. yet while some such crystallizations connect and create a basis for collective actions, others remain separated. for instance, as argued by ivor southwood, low paid migrant workers might actually have less in common with the freelance creatives arranging carnevalesque protests on their behalf than with people in formerly secure jobs ( ) who have been subjected over recent years to a gradual heating up of anxiety through the imposition of temporary contracts, reconfigurations and performance reviews. in that sense, he concludes, it may be more appropriate to talk of a spectrum of precarity rather than different classes for this stage, players add layers to the board by presenting and putting down their marxist fix and by explaining and putting down their individual struggles and objectives. objectives can either be local (short strips) or global (long strips) following this, the fixes should be put in relation to each other based on a discussion about which common interests the players define (using overlap strips) and where borders and/or barriers currently exist on the board

4 STAGE 3: INTRUSIONS/COLLECTIVES freedom is the recognition of necessity (engels, anti-dühring) since marx put forth his critique of capitalism some 150 years ago his ideas have been interpreted, discussed, expanded upon, clarified and diverted in and by numerous contexts and thinkers. this has resulted in various schools and perspectives of marxist thought that are sometimes aligned with, and sometimes opposed to, each other. as a consequence, people who agree on the centrality of marxist thinking do not necessarily agree upon which of the themes should be seen as being the most central ones alongside the obstacle faced by yourself, there are among your like-minded peers growing concerns over a thematic that may or may not fit with your own. on the one hand this may present itself as an obstacle, on the other it might be a new possibility. the question of human rights for instance, as noted by harvey, may present one possible avenue in face of the dilemma of integrating struggles at different spatial scales. that is, bridging the microscale of the personal (or national) with the macroscale of the political-economic (or global) for this stage, all players team up with each other and pick a theme card that outlines a particular perspective along with a marx quote which all players have to align with their own objectives based on the thematic and the quote on the card, players define how the thematic can be used to adjust their objectives without loosing their unity but rather strengthening it and, potentially, removing and/or shifting as many barriers and borders as possible

5 STAGE 4: DEFAULT MODE it seems impossible to change or even influence capitalism: its cushion-like quality implies that one s actions do not really matter or change the way things are, which often leads to the conclusion that it does not seem worthwhile even trying (krøijer, figurations of the future) through days, weeks and months of struggle you have found yourself in a situation of exhausted indifference towards your cause. capitalism turns out to be a stubborn enemy and there have been little if any results emanating from your tireless work against it iddleness does not go well with capitalism. indeed, the establishment of desires, needs and wants within the proletariat forms one of the central foundations of the growth of capitalism the more we work the more commodities we can consume. yet, recent studies from cognitive science have found that doing nothing may have its benefits. as immordino-yang observes, inadequate opportunity for children to rest and adolescents to quietly reflect and to daydream may have negative consequences both for social-emotional well-being and for their ability to attend well to tasks. given that there are crucial tasks at stake in this game, all players now momentarily have to go into default mode for this stage, although knowing that it may speak against your principles of taking action, you pick a leisure card when all players have read their card and prepared what needs to be prepared, one player sets an alarm (on a phone or an egg timer) for ten minutes. after these ten minutes all players reconvene at the board

6 STAGE 5: ALTERNATIVES whose imagination is to prevail in the construction of any alternative (harvey, spaces of hope) ghassan hage has noted on left-wing politics that while sometimes succesfully overturning the political orders they were anti about, they have been less successful in structurally integrating into their politics an alternative to the realities they have overturned we have been anti for a long time: anti-capitalism, anti-globalization, antiestablishment. but how will we be alter? for this stage solidarity has to be played out acroos the board what should be done and how in terms of dealing with the loose ends on the board, that is, the struggles and objectives yet to overlap? using an alternative circle, begin by creating an alternative solution to the overlap created by the theme card following this, collectively create as many alternatives as possible in terms of connecting the remaining struggles and objectives on the board. which struggles and objectives can be connected through alternatives and which have to be removed from the board? which principles need to be established or abandoned? who s alternative is to prevail?

7 STAGE 6: RE-ASSEMBLING UTOPIA the present society is no solid crystal, but an organism capable of change, and is constantly changing (marx, capital, volume 1) franco bifo berardi has argued that the 20th century was the last century to believe in the future and that the era of post-future has begun. this is due to the fact that the utopias envisioned by marxists (and others) to supplant capitalism failed to materialize. stage 1 departed from marx and engels observation that historical conditions determine the particular struggles created by capitalism. the vantage point of the current stage is that the same holds true for the creation of utopias. hence, as stages 1 and 2 put forth, today s struggles and forms of unity differ in contextual ways from those of the past - in this final stage of the game, the goal for the players is to apply this principle once again, only this time in terms of collectively creating a new utopia, one that stays true to marxism yet still differs from utopias that emanated from the situation of workers in the late 19th century a series of layers now cover the board and the original crystallizations of labour power. clear the board of all layers, keeping in mind all struggles, barriers, connection points staying true to the characters you have all been playing, introduce your own figures to the board that visualize a common utopia for all players. that is, by giving the existing figures completely new meanings or designing completely new figures of your own choosing, create a utopia based on the contemporary situation

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