Capital is dead labour which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks. The time during which the worker works is the time during which the capitalist consumes the labour-power he has bought from him.
The global banking collapse of 2008 exposed the failures of a deregulated economic system run entirely for private financial gain. Despite the market crash, investors kept the fortunes conjured out of speculative bubbles and bankers kept their remuneration packages and bonuses, whilst governments agreed to pay the bill with huge transfusions of public money. Since then, the rich have grown richer, sucking up ever-larger proportions of wealth, gorging on luxury, whilst working people have been subjected to joblessness, the removal of social provision and benefits, and attacks on wages and working conditions. In the UK the ruling class dullards have used the bank bailouts and the recession not to curb market excesses, but as an opportunity to shrink the welfare state and the public sector, privatising control over areas of our collective lives from housing to health to education. Wealth spurts up towards a bloated mediocrity, while the majority are increasingly proletarianised in order to make the country ‘competitive’; and the media, when they are not celebrating the ruthless spirit of enterprising halfwits, comment on how Dickensian it is all looking, what with all the homelessness and dispossession. As food banks multiply and quaint relics of Victorian charity attempt to mop up the aftermath of frenzied assaults against the poor and sick and most vulnerable, many people, in their effort to understand our collective submission to capital’s relentless intensification, have been led back to the most far reaching analysis and critique of our system of political economy, Marx’ Capital.
Marx takes us beyond both the moral and technocratic complaints that capitalism is an unfair and unstable system in need of reform and regulation, to show that in its very lifeblood, capitalism is a practice of accumulation based on robbery and exploitation backed by compulsion and force. It is a class relation which cannot ultimately be ameliorated but which must be overthrown through collective struggle. The work in this exhibition is an attempt to visualise the moments of this vast, homogenising abstraction that dominates our lives today, as described by Marx in Capital Volume One.
The show has grown out of a regular Marx reading group meeting at the Royal Festival Hall, one of the last vestiges of post-war free public space in London.
Andrew Cooper, Enda Deburka, Dean Kenning, John Russell – Capital
xero, kline & coma
258 Hackney Road
London E2 7SJ
Private view: Wednesday May 1st 19:00 – 21:00
Exhibition runs: 4.5.13 – 26.5.13, Sat. – Sun. 12:00 – 18:00