Matt Bieber in The Wheat and Chaff:
MB: You’re teaching a course on “Marx and his Readers.” Obviously, that covers a lot of ground. Which aspects of the Marxist tradition do you see as most urgent, useful, or applicable to our contemporary situation?
SJ: What I’m not interested in doing is gaining converts or getting people to join a party or something like that. I don’t even know where to go to join a party. What I am interested in is getting people to think about class consciousness. I think more and more we need to be thinking through that stuff. Again, after 2008, after Occupy Wall Street, more and more I think that conversation is probably happening, but I think we need to keep having that conversation and keep thinking about it. In order to have that conversation, it makes all the sense in the world to turn to Marx and the Marxist tradition, to see what one of the finest thinkers on class consciousness has to say about this stuff.
Thinking through, for example, how capital works and how it creates this labor pool and underclass that capitalism depends upon in order to function. I think it’s a really helpful thing to witness as Marx makes these grand assertions in Capital. So working that through in Marx, but then working it through in Lenin, working it through in Lukacs and Althusser and seeing the ways others have run with this idea too.
Here’s the other thing I think we need to figure out, the big public conversation that needs to happen: how do you organize? If you’re worried about these issues, how do you organize resistance? How do you organize counterpunches? I mean, it’s one thing to sit and read these texts in a seminar, but how do you organize something?