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Forces of production, relations of production . . Rigour

Forces and relations of production are notions adopted from historical materialism/Marxism. In their origins these were applied to the commonplace domain of (liberal-individualist, capitalist) economics - the ‘dead-labour’ landscapes of money, abstract markets, tradeable goods, calculus, whatever. However, in foprop they are taken much further, into cultural materialist territory and beyond. Here they are notions that apply to formations of activist practice, and the skills that activists need to cultivate and mobilise in establishing and mobilising those practices. foprop addresses FoPs in each of the landscapes, each requiring particular kinds of attention, skill and organisation.  xxx

Equally, the FoPs in each landscape are organised by RoPs that are particular to those kinds of materials and forces. xxx

These alternative RoPs lie at the heart of the patterns of commoning, and the material remaking of the fabric of forces of production, that constitute a Living Economy. Each pattern frames some clash of RoPs, in the ordering of some constellation of FoPs - a piece of the fabric of living and working. When RoPs are transformed, a different mode of production (of society) is prefigured. When sufficient RoPs are transformed in sufficient pieces of fabric, a new mode of production is achieved.


Each pattern has an analytical or discursive framing deriving from various modes of investigation and engagement. All of these are, in some sense, fields of theory-of-practice, each of which has its own particular object of attention and mode of rigour. The fields include

Evolutionary neuroscience, cultural history, buddhist theory-and-practice of mind and intention (dhamma traditions), labour-process perspectives, participatory design, constructivist studies of science and technology, innovation economics, ecodesign, ethnomethodological investigations; etcetera.

These fields too, as specifically skilled domains of practice, have patterns, and where these are of particular significance for the general movement and inflection of the activists’ language, these too might be described within the foprop frame. But foprop is basically a language of commoning and weaving together, not of specialising and, certainly, not of intellectual abstraction or academic-disciplinary separation.

Mobilising and weaving together all these diverse kinds of analytical and discursive framing is all about identifying and deploying #rigour - or rather rigours, plural: simultaneously mobilised, mutually recognising-and-respecting modes. One aspect of this is the simultaneous visioning and mobilising of numerous patterns, layered and interwoven, in

  • §1 material/operational space; and

  • §2 narrative/conceptual/organisational space; and

  • *§3 aesthetic/affective/‘poetic’ space

to organise a living constellation of practices that has significant force and focus, on significant scale, enabled by significant formacion.

'Formacion' is a name for the work done by forces of production of activist formations.

All this essential ‘rigour’ stuff is cultural landscape business: numerous §2 patterns are implicated. Knowing and organising - and organising in order that particular kinds of things can be known; then effectively engaged with them in practice - is at the heart of activism and making; thence, the intentional (re)making of society; thence, a Living Economy.


These dimensions have arisen to particular prominence during the baby-boomer generation - the generation of the emergence of #post-Fordism as the dominant mode of capitalist organisation - as signified by the prominence of frames like:

  • Theory-of-practice (an industrial-capitalist frame from classic Marxism)

  • ‘Organic intellectual’ practice (a Fordist frame from Gramsci’s Marxism) and

  • ‘The knowledge economy’ (a post-Fordist frame).

Landscape §2 is a core element of the foprop weave because it represents an entire dimension of politicised formations and activist modes of capability and organising, which has an intrinsic historical significance. With foprop, we're in the history business. Without engaging post-Fordism we're not in the history business at all.

Previous | The foprop weave


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