Re: [xmca] New Book: Zones of Proletarian Development

From: Jonna Kangasoja <jonna.kangasoja who-is-at>
Date: Thu Jul 24 2008 - 05:48:43 PDT

Bruce, Mike and others,

I got the Mastaneh Shah-Shuja book yesterday and after a quick look
it seems well written and a fun read. Most importantly, like Bruce
said, after a long time of waiting this book breaks the crying
silence inside the CHAT field concerning research on contemporary
political organization, e.g. the anti-capitalist movement (why not
also the environmental movement) and by doing that opens up several
lines of 'non-discussion'.

One of the key arguments of the book is that the current phase of
capitalism consists of four methods of surplus value extraction: real
and formal, supplemented by 'pre-formal' and 'post-real'. The 'pre-
formal' represents the forms that could be called 21st century
slavery (e.g. child labor) and 'post-real' involve the application of
computing, cyber, genetic and biotechnologies to labor power. The
post-real mode of extraction will be completely original and may come
to dominate and shape the interaction within this four-runged matrix.

She writes:
"It is the the enterity of the this four-runged evolving hierachical
matrix (i.e. pre-formal, formal, real, post-real), with all its
tensions and potential for joint activity, that I have termed the
surreal phase of domination. [...] It is my argument that
collectivities, and perhaps especially those that turn riotous or
carnevalesque (i.e. those that transgress routine) provide
transformative space 'in which subjectivity is unfurled, through the
re-appropriation of of communication and the experience of co-
operation, a transformation in which the material operation of
reappropriation is also a moment of self-awareness' (Negri, 1989:138)."

The two case studies discussed in the chapter 'Activity theory and
Social Movements' are the 1990 anti-poll tax riots in Trafalgar
Square and the Anti-war demonstration of February 2003 in London with
over million demonstrators.

The chapter also presents critique of activity theory and reflects on
utility and limitations of it for the present analysis. (I think
that this type of section is too often missing in CHAT inspired

Why this contribution comes, what it seems, completely outside of the
'CHAT-field', is also an important question. Or has someone come
across the author before?

I hope she can join the discussion after people get the book in their
hands. Bruce promised in the previous note to start it.


BRUCE ROBINSON kirjoitti 21.7.2008 kello 18.27:

> Like London buses, you wait a long time for writings on CHAT and
> radical political consciousness and two come along at once (well,
> nearly - Wayne Au's paper on Lenin & Vygotsky has been out for
> about a year.) I imagine this takes a very different much more
> 'spontaneist' view of the zoped. I will get hold of a copy and post
> about it here. I haven't also forgotten my offering to write about
> Au and will when I get a bit more time. Maybe a comparison.
> Bruce R
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Phil Chappell"
> <>
> To: <>
> Sent: Monday, July 21, 2008 12:26 AM
> Subject: [xmca] New Book: Zones of Proletarian Development
>> Apologies for cross-posting
>> Phil
>> New Book Information (An OpenMute Publication)
>> Zones of Proletarian Development
>> Mastaneh Shah-Shuja
>> In this book, Mastaneh Shah-Shuja presents a novel approach for the
>> study-extension of the social movement. Employing conceptual tools
>> from Marx,Vygotsky, Bakhtin and Activity Theory she examines the
>> interaction
>> of individuals within crowds in a variety of settings including
>> London
>> May Day celebrations, riotous Iranian carnivals, the anti-poll-tax
>> rebellion, the
>> great anti-war demonstration of 15 February 2003 and a number of
>> historical and contemporary political organisations. She
>> identifies ?zones of
>> proximal development? (Vygotsky) where people learn from each
>> other, solve
>> social problems, develop consciousness and engage in collective
>> meaning-
>> making.
>> Crucially, she demonstrates how capitalism is metamorphosing at a
>> number of fronts simultaneously. She shows how new methods of
>> exploitation and
>> accumulation are being challenged by an emerging universal class
>> unencumbered by some of the limitations of previous struggles. The
>> reactionary
>> nature of liberalism, social democracy, fascism and bolshevism are
>> examined
>> whilst the once-radical ideologies of left communism, council
>> communism,
>> anarchism,
>> autonomist marxism, libertarian socialism and situationism are
>> subjected to critical interrogation.
>> Imaginatively presented, with a collection of illustrations, Zones
>> of Proletarian Development captures the increasing complexities of
>> the
>> class struggle in the twenty-first century and offers concrete
>> suggestions for organising against capitalism.
>> Table of contents
>> Introduction
>> Chapter one - Epistemology, Methodology and Method
>> Chapter two- Vygotskian May Days
>> Chapter three- Iranian football riots as Bakhtinian
>> carnivalesque
>> Chapter four- Activity Theory and Social Movements: Two case
>> studies
>> Chapter five- Towards a new kind of revolutionary organising
>> Appendix 1- Mindful Thuggery and the Spectacularisation of
>> Drama
>> Appendix 2- The Glorious Proletarian Siege of Oxford Street
>> References
>> Subjects:
>> Political Science-History & Theory - Radical Thought;
>> Psychology-Social Psychology;
>> Social Science-Sociology - Social Theory
>> ISBN: 978-1-906496-06-7 pbk.
>> May 2008, 244x170 mm, c. 360 pages
>> Recommended retail price: ?15/?21/$30
>> Author's biography: Mastaneh Shah-Shuja is an independent researcher
>> from an Afghani-Iraqi background although she has also lived
>> extensively in both Iran and Russia. She is currently living in the
>> United Kingdom with her two children. Mastaneh has been involved in
>> anti-capitalist politics since her early teens. Please send reviews/
>> comments to Mastaneh Shah-Shuja at: m.shahshuja {AT}
>> This book can be ordered from all good bookshops including Amazon:
>> For Amazon in UK go to
>> Shah-Shuja/dp/1906496064
>> For Amazon in USA go to
>> Shuja/dp/1906496064/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1209735928&sr=1-1
>> For Amazon in Canada go to
>> Shuja/dp/1906496064
>> For Amazon in Japan go to
>> shuja/dp/1906496064/ref=sr_1_8/503-4060494-
>> 3574325?ie=UTF8&s=english-books&qid=1209735460&sr=1-8
>> Other bookshops you can order it from:
>> The New Social Worker Online go to
>> Zones_of_Proletarian_Development.html
>> go to
>> Blackwell go to
>> nid=9518B86EDF540D371C4B07D9AF52CB10.bobcatt1?isbn=9781906496067
>> ----- End forwarded message -----
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