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[Xmca-l] Re: 62:3.5 billion



I think Andy's quote from Kautsky is a little misleading, and that its
power to mislead doesn't stop at the obvious place--that is, the obviously
false conclusion that the reason that the masses don't revolt is that they
are not yet sufficiently oppressed. I think that Carol is trying to rectify
that by saying that the reason that the masses don't revolt is that
although they are objectively oppressed enough, they are not subjectively
aware of their oppression or (what amounts to the same thing) they are not
subjectively aware of how unoppressed the top half of the world is.
Nevertheless, it seems to me that both points of view are wrong and neither
point of view provides a really sound basis for understanding how Vygotsky
exapts the term "crisis" to describe child development.

Marx was, in his way, a great champion of capitalism: he had enormous
respect for the productive power that the industrial revolution unleashed
and saw immediately that the establishment of a world market meant that
scarcity was no longer natural or necessary in any way in any part of the
world without exception. Marx's explanation for capitalist crises is not an
explanation that relies on under-production or on scarcity--quite the
contrary, for Marx the crisis is a crisis of under-consumption. Capitalism
has unleashed productive power that cannot be absorbed by workers, for if
workers are paid the wherewithal to reappropriate the product of their
labour, how can the capitalist appropriate surplus value? Where will the
capitalist's reinvestment capital, not to mention his profit, come form
without exploitation?

You might say that the problem is easily solved: capitalist and worker,
hand in hand, can export to the part of the world where Carol lives, and
together live off the surplus value expropriated from rich and poor in the
non-capitalist, or at least, extra-national capitalist, economy. But that
would leave out Marx's second great insight, which is that the
establishment of the world market transforms the whole world in the image
of capital and makes scarcity into a historical, rather than a natural,
law. South Africa must pay for its Apple computers somehow, and the only
way it can do that is by becoming itself part of the world which is paid
less than the value of its labor. The crisis is not done away with by
extending it to the world market; quite the contrary.

In a lot of the discussions of the various crises in child development that
Vygotsky posits (see Volume Five of the Collected Works in English, or,
better, the 2001 Lectures on Pedology) we can see the non-Vygotskyan idea
that the crisis comes to the child from the outside, by some demand made by
the social situation of development which the child does not yet have the
means to meet. But if that is really what Vygotsky has in mind, why can't
the crisis simply be abolished by eliminating those demands on the child
that the child cannot meet or by meeting them, as Karpov and other
"neo-Vygotskyans" insist? Why does Vygotsky say (on the very last page of
Volume Five) that the crisis is always INTERNAL in nature? And why does the
crisis seem to keep coming back in different guises?

It seems to me that Vygotksy's exaptation of the Marxian notion of crisis
is much better fitting than we have assumed. In fact, the crisis is always
brought about the SUPERPRODUCTIVITY of the neoformation. For example, the
child's "instinctive form of mental life" creates meaning potential
(realized as visceral fears in adults) that the child cannot use at two
months. The child's "autonomous speech" creates intonation and stress that,
unanchored to lexis, cannot be used to communicate at twelve months. And at
three, when the child learns negation, the child unlocks the vast store of
meaning potential which Huw was discussing on another thread, and is simply
unable to absorb it. That's the true origin of the crisis, just as the true
origin of the crisis in our own time is the inability to reappropriate the
products of labor and keep the market intact.

David Kellogg
Macquarie University

On Mon, Jan 18, 2016 at 3:24 PM, Carol Macdonald <carolmacdon@gmail.com>
wrote:

> What makes the end of capitalism more likely is that the bottom half of the
> world *get to know* about those billionaires.
>
> However, I think at the height of Victorian capitalism, the *relative*
> differences were as great, at least in England. (I can't talk about the
> rest of the UK.)
>
> Carol
>
> On 18 January 2016 at 07:31, Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>
> wrote:
>
> > Yeah... "unimaginable" but quite predictable, to our shame. What is more
> > sad is that "imagining" how to reverse this situation seems so difficult,
> > if not impossible, to most of us today. It reminds me Latour saying,
> "today
> > it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism".
> > He made this comment to point out that what classically had been thought
> of
> > as "Nature", now appears less stable and secure than the "artificial",
> that
> > is, than our economical/societal organization. It turns out that the
> latter
> > is just as real and natural as the former... The good news, I guess, is
> > that another way to do things should be just as imaginable as it is
> > desirable to many of us.
> >
> > Alfredo.
> > ________________________________________
> > From: xmca-l-bounces+a.g.jornet=iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu
> > <xmca-l-bounces+a.g.jornet=iped.uio.no@mailman.ucsd.edu> on behalf of
> > Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
> > Sent: 18 January 2016 06:07
> > To: xmca-l@mailman.ucsd.edu
> > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: 62:3.5 billion
> >
> > Kautsky certainly would have found this situation
> > "unimaginable":
> >
> >     We consider the breakdown of the present social system
> >     to be unavoidable, because we know that the economic
> >     evolution inevitably brings on conditions that will
> >     /compel/ the exploited classes to rise against this
> >     system of private ownership. We know that this system
> >     multiplies the number and the strength of the exploited,
> >     and diminishes the number and strength of the
> >     exploiting, classes, and that it will finally lead to
> >     such unbearable conditions for the mass of the
> >     population that they will have no choice but to go down
> >     into degradation or to overthrow the system of private
> >     property. (Kautsky, 1892)
> >
> > Andy
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > *Andy Blunden*
> > http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
> > On 18/01/2016 3:44 PM, mike cole wrote:
> > > Oxfam report: The world's 62 richest billionaires have as much wealth
> as
> > > the bottom
> > > half of the world's population.
> > >
> > > Literally unimaginable.
> > >
> > > mike
> > >
> >
> >
> >
>
>
> --
> Carol A  Macdonald PhD (Edin)
> Developmental psycholinguist
> Academic, Researcher, Writer and Editor
> Honorary Research Fellow: Department of Linguistics, Unisa
> alternative email address: tmacdoca@unisa.ac.za
> *Behind every gifted woman there is often a remarkable cat.*
>