On the occasion of Karl Marx’s 200th birthday this year, numerous conferences, edited volumes and special issues have celebrated his work by focusing on its main achievements – a radical critique of capitalist society and an alternative vocabulary for thinking about the social, economic and political tendencies and struggles of our age. Albeit often illuminating, this has also produced a certain amount of déjà vu. Providing an occasion to disrupt patterns of repetition and musealization, Krisis proposes a different way to pay tribute to Marx’s revolutionary theorizing. We have invited authors from around the globe to craft short entries for an alternative ABC under the title “Marx from the Margins: A Collective Project, from A to Z” – taking up, and giving a twist to, Kevin Anderson’s influential Marx At the Margins. The chief motivation of this collaborative endeavour is to probe the power—including the generative failures—of Marx’s thinking by starting from marginal concepts in his work or from social realities or theoretical challenges often considered to be marginal from a Marxist perspective. Rather than reproduce historically and theoretically inadequate differentiations between an ascribed or prescribed cultural, economic, geographic, intellectual, political, social, or spatial centre and its margins, the margins we have identified and inspected are epistemic vantage points that open up new theoretical and political vistas while keeping Marx’s thought from becoming either an all-purpose intellectual token employed with little risk from left or right, or a set of formulaic certitudes that force-feed dead dogma to ever-shrinking political circles.
We have welcomed short and succinct contributions that discuss how a wide variety of concepts – from acid communism and big data via extractivism and the Haitian Revolution to whiteness and the Zapatistas – can offer an unexpected key to the significance of Marx’s thought today. The resulting ABC, far from a comprehensive compendium, is an open-ended and genuinely collective project that resonates between and amplifies through different voices speaking from different perspectives in different styles; we envisage it as a beginning rather than as an end. In this spirit, we invite readers to submit new entries to Krisis, where they will be subject to our usual editorial review process and added on a regular basis, thus making this issue of Krisis its first truly interactive one. The project is also an attempt to redeem, in part, the task that the name of this journal has set for its multiple generations of editors from the very beginning: a crisis/Krise/Krisis is always a moment in which certainties are suspended, things are at stake, and times are experienced as critical. A crisis, to which critique is internally linked, compels a critique that cannot consist simply of ready-made solutions pulled out of the lectern, but demand, in the words of Marx’s “credo of our journal” in his letter to Ruge, “the self-clarification (critical philosophy) of the struggles and wishes of the age”.
With contributions from:
Sonja Buckel, Lukas Oberndorfer, Dan Swain, Gerardo Montes de Oca Valadez, Roberto Nigro, Nicola Lauré al-Samarai, Peggy Piesche, Ewa Majewska, Pepijn Brandon, Dan Hassler-Forest, Sina Talachian, Christian Neuhäuser, Sudeep Dasgupta, Sanem Güvenç-Salgırlı, Bruno Leipold, Ankica Čakardić, Daniel de Zeeuw, Darin Barney, Zafer Yılmaz, Gundula Ludwig, Mathijs van de Sande, Isabell Lorey, Julia Tirler, Nikita Dhawan, Mauro Basaure, Yolande Jansen, Max L. Feldman, Niki Kubaczek, Gerald Raunig, Li Yitian, Tania Herrera, Mariana Teixeira, James D. Ingram, János Weiss, Lina Dokuzovic, Bianca Tavolari, Ido de Haan, Birgit Sauer, Felix Stalder, Massimiliano Tomba, Ulrich Brand, Markus Wissen, Michael Klein, Jeanette Ehrmann, Özgür Yalçın, Katharina Hausladen, Marc Tuters, Jeff Diamanti, Chad Kautzer, Gianfranco Casuso, Andrew Poe, Florian Knasmüller, Nora Ruck, Katharina Piening, Marc-Antoine Pencolé, Emmanuel Renault, Joost de Bloois, Anette Baldauf, Moira Hille, Annette Krauss, Wang Ran, Urs Lindner, Serhat Karakayali, Drehli Robnik, Johan Frederik Hartle, Susanne Lettow, Raimund Minichbauer, Eva Meijer, Harriet Bergman & Matt Colquhoun
Digital data increasingly plays a central role in contemporary politics and public life. Citizen voices are increasingly mediated by proprietary social media platforms and are shaped by algorithmic ranking and re-ordering, but data informs how states act, too. This special issue wants to shift the focus of the conversation. Non-governmental organizations, hackers, and activists of all kinds provide a myriad of ‘alternative’ interventions, interpretations, and imaginaries of what data stands for and what can be done with it.
Jonathan Gray starts off this special issue by suggesting how data can be involved in providing horizons of intelligibility and organising social and political life. Helen Kennedy’s contribution advocates for a focus on emotions and everyday lived experiences with data. Lina Dencik puts forward the notion of ‘surveillance realism’ to explore the pervasiveness of contemporary surveillance and the emergence of alternative imaginaries. Stefan Baack investigates how data are used to facilitate civic engagement. Miren Gutiérrez explores how activists can make use of data infrastructures such as databases, servers, and algorithms. Finally, Leah Horgan and Paul Dourish critically engage with the notion of data activism by looking at everyday data work in a local administration. Further, this issue features an interview with Boris Groys by Thijs Lijster, whose work Über das Neue enjoys its 25th anniversary last year. Lastly, three book reviews illuminate key aspects of datafication. Patricia de Vries reviews Metahavens’ Black Transparency; Niels van Doorn writes on Platform Capitalism by Nick Srnicek and Jan Overwijk comments on The Entrepeneurial Self by Ulrich Bröckling.
Image from Tactical Tech‘s “Our Data Our Selves” Project.
With contributions from:
Stefania Milan, Jonathan Gray, Stefan Baack, Helen Kennedy, Lina Dencik, Miren Gutiérrez, Leah Horgan, Paul Dourish, Thijs Lijster, Patricia de Vries, Niels van Doorn, Jan Overwijk & Lonneke van der Velden