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Theory of Power

Marx, Foucault, Neo-Zapatismo

Carlos Antonio Aguirre Rojas

The subject of power (singular) and multiple social powers (plural) is unquestionably central to contemporary societies all over the globe. Growing stronger and expanding farther all the time, the world’s anti-systemic movements have been forced to address this issue—the nature of power and powers—as among their most pressing debates. In the process, these movements have also been forced to consider the best possible strategy for confronting them. Should they seize political power, even if they run the risk of simply reproducing it? Should they destroy it altogether? Is it enough to destroy political power while economic, ideological, military, and religious powers remain untouched? And what is the most effective anti-capitalist and anti-systemic way to confront, defeat, and overcome the many different powers found in all present-day societies on Earth? To answer such questions, among others, this book discusses the rich, complex contributions of Karl Marx, Michel Foucault, and neo-Zapatismo to a complicated and essential subject: the theory of power.
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Chapter Three: (More) Marxist Teachings: The Power(s) of Money Capital, the Impotence of Political and State Power(s)

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Political power as such will no longer exist, for political power is precisely the official expression of class antagonism within civil society.

Karl Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy, 1847

As Marx has brilliantly and incisively explained in many of his texts, we must view modern bourgeois society, through the long-term perspective of human evolution as a whole, as a clear “point of historical transition.” That is, as a society that shares and recreates a set of features common to all societies in this ongoing “human pre-history,” while also remaining unique. Radically different than all of its predecessors, modern bourgeois society both affirms and develops (albeit in a potential and, for now, contradictory and antithetical way) a series of premises for and elements of what the eventual, approaching communist society will be. This future communist society will mark the beginning of true human history.1

A dense synthesis of heterogeneous, even contrary features, modern bourgeois society is linked to all prior classist and even prehistoric societies. At the same time, Marx also portrays it in all its singularity and associates it with the post-capitalist, post-classist, post-prehistoric society of the imminent future. He also defines the characteristics that imbue social power overall, other forms of powers, and especially capitalist political power with their different constitutive strata and levels. Let’s review all of these ideas carefully.←45 | 46→

First, Marx insists on the idea that bourgeois, capitalist modern society is the final expression (and thus the...

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