A Marxist theory of music: it’s all in the groove

rs21 | June 17, 2018

Much analysis of modern music focuses on lyrical content, but how can we understand modern musical forms? What relation do they have to the capitalist world in which they’ve developed? To answer these questions Kate Bradley interviewed Mark Abel, author of Groove: An Aesthetic of Measured Time.A Salsa band playing on the street in Trinidad, Cuba. Image: Pixabay

Is it fair to say that Groove is a defence of popular music from a Marxist perspective? Could you summarise your argument in brief?

It is a defence of popular music, but in the first place it is an attempt to explain why the music of our time sounds the way it does. In studying music, I hold to the Marxist principle that cultural phenomena are shaped by the material practices of the society that produces them. Culture also tends to get naturalised so that it seems to most people that things couldn’t be any other way. In the case of music, what I call ‘groove music’ is so ubiquitous that we are tempted to think that it’s just the way that music is, but it’s important to have a historical picture which can show that groove arises in music around the beginning of the twentieth century, initially in America. In turn, it represents an intensification of an aspect of music – meter – which dates from only a few hundred years before that.Read More »

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Ecosocialism and the recovery of Marx’s ecological legacy

[Editors Note: In commemoration of the World Environment Day, June 05, Journal of People editorial board has decided to reproduce this essential essay on ecosocialism and Marx’s thought on ecology in the hope that it would help our readers understand the current ecological crisis and its political economic aspects] 

by Michael Löwy

While mainstream ecological theory has been dismissive of Karl Marx, serious research in recent decades has recovered some of his very important insights on ecological issues. The pioneers have been James O’Connor and the journal Capitalism, Nature and Socialism — a tradition continued by Joel Kovel — but the most systematic and thorough investigations on Marx’s ecological views are those of John Bellamy Foster and his friends from Monthly Review.Read More »

The Specter of Marxism: interview with John Bellamy Foster

IL GRIDO DEL POPOLO | 22 May, 2018

 

Is Marxist ideology relevant today? Or is it that we just have “leftovers” of it implemented in parliamentary group who stick to the mainstream social democratic house and basically have the same programs as right-wing parties?

There is no doubt that the Marxian theoretical critique of capitalism is more relevant today than ever and is exerting enormous and growing influence in many parts of the world, a mark of the deepening crisis of the system, and the rise of dissent. How to Read More »

Marx and Metabolism: lost in translation?

By Ian Angus

Climate and Capitalism | 21 May, 2018

 

Ecology Marx art full

 

During a recent discussion of Marxism and ecology, a friend asked,

If metabolism and metabolic rift were important concepts for Marx and Engels, why did Marxists take so long to realize it? Why were their views on those subjects overlooked until the end of the twentieth century?

Marx green treeThere are three answers to that question.

The first and most important explanation was offered by Rosa Luxemburg in 1903. Marx’s work was so wide-ranging and ahead of its time, she wrote, that aspects of it are not recognized as important until the actual class struggle catches with him. Often, “our needs are not yet adequate for the utilization of Marx’s ideas.” When new circumstances arise, then, for “the solution of new practical problems … we dip into the treasury of Marx’s thought, in order to extract therefrom and to utilize new fragments of his doctrine.”(1)Read More »

Karl Marx at 200

by C.J Atkins

People’s World | May 04, 2018

Karl Marx at 200

To honor Karl Marx’s birthday, artist Ottmar Hörl set 500 of these sculptures up throughout the philosopher’s hometown of Trier, a city in western Germany. The different shades are reportedly meant to suggest that Marxism can be interpreted in more than one way. | DPA via AP

Marx is back. For his 200th birthday, the socialist revolutionary’s bearded image is popping up everywhere. Books, seminars, and conferences devoted to his legacy and enduring relevance abound across the capitalist world—from Brooklyn to London to Berlin—as well as in the countries which still declare their loyalty to his communist ideals.Read More »