[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [xmca] Polls are closed: Manfred Holodynsk's article is choice

Martin, I think the labor process and the history of workers' movements
strongly exemplify how a project with an immanent goal differs from an
activity with a goal fixed from the "outside". As I don't have much time
now because I'm on fieldwork in Egypt, I take the liberty of presenting a
quick and dirty quote from my phd:

   "The historical process of capital accumulation and proletarianization
on a world scale has created forms of wage labor and exploitation that
constructed the modern working class as a passive Object of history.
Persons who can freely dispose of their labor power, but who do not
possess their own (sufficient) means of production are forced into the
activity-system of modern wage labor.[1][1] Their activity of wage labor
is born out of necessity, and oriented towards the goal of reproducing
their natural and social life. By providing the tools for the actions that
encompass the labor process, the capitalist ? whose goal is profit
realization ? organizes, disciplines, and mediates the activity of the
workers. Conversely, for him, workers are a means that mediate his
activity of capital accumulation. The State also intervenes in the
activity through forms of institutionalized coercion and consent. Through
his domination and commodification of the activity of labor, the
capitalist prevents workers from appropriating their labor as their own
activity and immanent Project.
        Robert Cox claimed that: ??if the production process creates the
potentiality for classes, it does not MAKE classes.?[2][2] From an
?immanent? point of view, this means that the formal and real subsumption
of labor under capital[3][3] is in itself not the basis of working class
formation, because it does not offer workers the means to develop
themselves as a social Subject; on the contrary, capitalist wage labor is
the /objective/ predicament of exploitation and alienation ? the social
situation of development in which the activity of struggle of the workers
unfolds. The /subjective/ mirror of this condition is the being-in-itself
of the working class, its social and ideological fragmentation and
dissolution ? what Gramsci called the ECONOMIC-CORPORATE CONDITION of a
class. As Georg Lukács[4][4] argued, the workers? subaltern position
within the relations of production is not automatically and mysteriously
?reflected? in consciousness as a proletarian Subjectness. The logical and
real starting point of the working class as a developing Subject is not
the activity of capitalist wage labor, but the concrete class struggle
over the buying and selling of labor power. This was also Marx?s brief
conception of class in the Poverty of Philosophy:
   Economic conditions had first transformed the mass of the people of the
country into workers. The combination of capital has created for this mass
a common situation, common interests. This mass is thus already a class as
against capital, but not yet for itself. In the struggle, of which we have
noted only a few phases, this mass becomes united, and constitutes itself
as a class for itself.[5][5]
   The Marxist historian E.P. Thompson agreed with such an ?emergentist
theory of class struggle?[6][6]:
   Class happens when some men, as a result of common experience
(inherited or shared) feel and articulate the identity of their interests
as between themselves, and as against other men whose interests are
different from (and usually opposed to) theirs. The class experience is
largely determined by the productive relations in which men are born ? or
enter involuntarily. Class-consciousness is the way in which those
experiences are handled in cultural terms: embodied in traditions,
value-systems, ideas, and institutional forms.[7][7]
   People find themselves in a society structured in determined ways
(crucially, but not exclusively, in productive relations), they experience
exploitation (or the need to maintain power over those whom they exploit),
they identify points of antagonistic interest, they commence to struggle
around these issues and in the process of struggling they discover
themselves as classes, they come to know this discovery as
   This echoes Marx?s ?negative? class description of the small peasantry
in The Eighteenth Brumaire:
INSOFAR as millions of families live under economic conditions of
existence that separate their mode of life, their interests and their
culture from those of the other classes, and put them in hostile
opposition to the latter, THEY FORM A CLASS. INSOFAR as there is merely a
local interconnection among these small-holding peasants, and the identity
of their interests begets no community, no national bond and no political
organisation among them, THEY DO NOT FORM A CLASS.[9][9]
   Class does not simply ?exist?, but it ?happens?: it comes into being;
it is a movement from  a ?mode of life? through struggle and ?inherited or
shared common experience? to a self-consciousness.[10][10] The working
class can be equally conceived as a system of activity, a social Subject,
a movement, and a collaborative Project. All these conceptions are ?true?,
in the sense that they highlight a different determination of the subject
matter: coherence; agency; development; and immanence. Moreover, they all
accentuate that, without collaborative struggle, there is no coherent
working class, only an amorphous collection of wage laborers. Mario Tronti
stressed that:
   We begin with struggle? It is not that before the mass labor struggle
there was no working class. There was a different working class, in a
lower level of development, with undoubtedly a lower degree of intensity
of its internal composition, and with a shallower and less complex network
of possible organization? As we have already indicated, we go from the
struggle to the class: from the mass struggle to the massification of the

[1][12]/Pace/ Hardt and Negri (2006) capitalist wage labor necessarily
includes ?immaterial? labor as well. Wage laborers are not defined by
their products but by their position within relations of production.
(Callinicos 2004)
[2][13] Cox 1987: 355. Emphasis in original.
[3][14] See Marx 1990: 1023-38. Formal subsumption of labor under capital
is the expansion of wage labor through the (formal) labor contract. Real
subsumption of labor under capital is the integration of labor into the
capitalist mode of production: the (real) transformation of the labor
process itself.
[4][15] Lukács 2000.
[5][16] Marx and Engels 1976: 211.
[6][17] Morton 2007: 211.
[7][18] Thompson 1963: 9.
[8][19] Thompson 1978: 149. Note that this second ?definition? of class
emphasis ?the process of struggling? as constitutive of class
(consciousness) ? as opposed to ?cultural experiences? in the first
paragraph. The transition from a class-in-itself to a class-for-itself
liesexactly in the transition from being the Object of capitalism to
becoming a Subject in its own right.
[9][20] Marx and Engels 1979: 187.
[10][21] See ?Social practices shaped by events give people the common
experience of class identity and of collective action.? (Cox 1987:356)
[11][22] Tronti 2005. 

Quoting Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu>:

There seems to be little room here for the institutionalized exploitation of wage labor. Worker and management simply have different projects? No social classes? No legislation? No market?


  On Mar 31, 2013, at 7:32 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
Helena, I am trying to make the point that a person's motivation, and thus their emotions, must be understood in terms of their commitment to a project (or activity) or more than one (possibly in conflict) or even none at all (a pathological condition discussed by Vasilyuk), rather than some personal condition which is qualitatively different from "the" activity which is, by (Manfred's) definition, oriented to a *societal meaning*.
  xmca mailing list

[1] file:///C:/Users/bvdesmet/Documents/Doctoraat/Papers%20&amp;%20articles/PhD%20text/Text/The%20Prince%20and%20the%20Pharaoh.docx#_ftn1 [2] file:///C:/Users/bvdesmet/Documents/Doctoraat/Papers%20&amp;%20articles/PhD%20text/Text/The%20Prince%20and%20the%20Pharaoh.docx#_ftn2 [3] file:///C:/Users/bvdesmet/Documents/Doctoraat/Papers%20&amp;%20articles/PhD%20text/Text/The%20Prince%20and%20the%20Pharaoh.docx#_ftn3 [4] file:///C:/Users/bvdesmet/Documents/Doctoraat/Papers%20&amp;%20articles/PhD%20text/Text/The%20Prince%20and%20the%20Pharaoh.docx#_ftn4 [5] file:///C:/Users/bvdesmet/Documents/Doctoraat/Papers%20&amp;%20articles/PhD%20text/Text/The%20Prince%20and%20the%20Pharaoh.docx#_ftn5 [6] file:///C:/Users/bvdesmet/Documents/Doctoraat/Papers%20&amp;%20articles/PhD%20text/Text/The%20Prince%20and%20the%20Pharaoh.docx#_ftn6 [7] file:///C:/Users/bvdesmet/Documents/Doctoraat/Papers%20&amp;%20articles/PhD%20text/Text/The%20Prince%20and%20the%20Pharaoh.docx#_ftn7 [8] file:///C:/Users/bvdesmet/Documents/Doctoraat/Papers%20&amp;%20articles/PhD%20text/Text/The%20Prince%20and%20the%20Pharaoh.docx#_ftn8 [9] file:///C:/Users/bvdesmet/Documents/Doctoraat/Papers%20&amp;%20articles/PhD%20text/Text/The%20Prince%20and%20the%20Pharaoh.docx#_ftn9 [10] file:///C:/Users/bvdesmet/Documents/Doctoraat/Papers%20&amp;%20articles/PhD%20text/Text/The%20Prince%20and%20the%20Pharaoh.docx#_ftn10 [11] file:///C:/Users/bvdesmet/Documents/Doctoraat/Papers%20&amp;%20articles/PhD%20text/Text/The%20Prince%20and%20the%20Pharaoh.docx#_ftn11 [12] file:///C:/Users/bvdesmet/Documents/Doctoraat/Papers%20&amp;%20articles/PhD%20text/Text/The%20Prince%20and%20the%20Pharaoh.docx#_ftnref1 [13] file:///C:/Users/bvdesmet/Documents/Doctoraat/Papers%20&amp;%20articles/PhD%20text/Text/The%20Prince%20and%20the%20Pharaoh.docx#_ftnref2 [14] file:///C:/Users/bvdesmet/Documents/Doctoraat/Papers%20&amp;%20articles/PhD%20text/Text/The%20Prince%20and%20the%20Pharaoh.docx#_ftnref3 [15] file:///C:/Users/bvdesmet/Documents/Doctoraat/Papers%20&amp;%20articles/PhD%20text/Text/The%20Prince%20and%20the%20Pharaoh.docx#_ftnref4 [16] file:///C:/Users/bvdesmet/Documents/Doctoraat/Papers%20&amp;%20articles/PhD%20text/Text/The%20Prince%20and%20the%20Pharaoh.docx#_ftnref5 [17] file:///C:/Users/bvdesmet/Documents/Doctoraat/Papers%20&amp;%20articles/PhD%20text/Text/The%20Prince%20and%20the%20Pharaoh.docx#_ftnref6 [18] file:///C:/Users/bvdesmet/Documents/Doctoraat/Papers%20&amp;%20articles/PhD%20text/Text/The%20Prince%20and%20the%20Pharaoh.docx#_ftnref7 [19] file:///C:/Users/bvdesmet/Documents/Doctoraat/Papers%20&amp;%20articles/PhD%20text/Text/The%20Prince%20and%20the%20Pharaoh.docx#_ftnref8 [20] file:///C:/Users/bvdesmet/Documents/Doctoraat/Papers%20&amp;%20articles/PhD%20text/Text/The%20Prince%20and%20the%20Pharaoh.docx#_ftnref9 [21] file:///C:/Users/bvdesmet/Documents/Doctoraat/Papers%20&amp;%20articles/PhD%20text/Text/The%20Prince%20and%20the%20Pharaoh.docx#_ftnref10 [22] file:///C:/Users/bvdesmet/Documents/Doctoraat/Papers%20&amp;%20articles/PhD%20text/Text/The%20Prince%20and%20the%20Pharaoh.docx#_ftnref11
xmca mailing list