I want to take a moment to sum up some of my thoughts regarding Marxism that has occurred to me during my occupation of the Marxist Academy. This is only a rough outline of those ideas and I welcome comments on them from readers of this blog.
Postone ends his critique of Michael Hardt with these words, the last sentence of which I find to be as theoretically repugnant as his critique of Hardt was sublime:
These brief considerations suggest that a future beyond capitalism would require a fundamental transformation of the division of labor and that, without movement in that direction, increasing numbers of people will be rendered superfluous, susceptible to hunger, disease, and violence. They will increasingly become the objects of militarized control. On this level, the current crisis can also be understood as a crisis of labor interwoven in complex ways with a crisis of the natural environment. Against this historical background, the old slogan of “socialism or barbarism” acquires new urgency, even if our understanding of both terms has been fundamentally transformed.’
I have a complete distaste for the slogan “socialism or barbarism”, because people who raise it most vociferously, apparently hold to the idea barbarism is somehow a future prospective alternative to communism. Those who raise that slogan are only saying shit hasn’t gotten deep enough to make them close their mouths yet.
I just have one response: “For Christ’s sake don’t swallow, idiot!”
Capital’s power appears to be stable and solid. … the balance of forces appears to be weighted against the workers… and yet precisely at the points where capital’s power appears most dominant, we see how deeply it is penetrated by this menace, this threat of the working class.
Can I say Tronti cannot just be dismissed. His argument is very complex and rich; his argument in “Struggle Against Labor” is so absolutely precise and full it demands a reading. And, I think, Postone’s critique of Hardt points to a potential for synthesis of a reconstructed Marx’s value theory with autonomism or workerism. I want to explore that potential briefly by looking at Tronti’s argument in his piece, which, according to the poster at Libcom.org, is “One of the existing English language excerpts from Tronti’s influential book Operai e capitale”
A new article (PDF) by Postone is likely one of the best things written by a Marxist on this crisis. In the critical segment posted on Principia Dialectia, Postone critiques, and demystifies, Hardt’s concept of value. This critique of Hardt shows why Postone remains the single most insightful Marxist scholar today. His reconstruction of Marx’s labor theory of value is one of the single most important theoretical accomplishments of our time.
To understand the far-reaching significance of the argument Postone makes in this piece, substitute the term “socially necessary labor time” for the term “value”.
Skepoet interviewed me, covering a range of issues related to my core argument in my occupation of the Marxist Academy.
Or, why Zizek believed, ‘We must not succumb to the temptation to act’
Between Kliman’s critique of the Occupy movement, Ollman’s critique of Marx on working class consciousness and Zizek’s critique of Negri, I notice something of a pattern. Ollman in his piece, which I examined in my last blog, argues “between determining conditions and determined response is the class consciousness of the actors”. Action without this class consciousness is insufficient to accomplish the revolutionary project.
Similarly, in his 2001 critique of Negri, Zizek warns us not to yield to the temptation to act without questioning the hegemonic ideological coordinates because, as he argues,
“If, today, one follows a direct call to act, this act will not be performed in an empty space”.
The space within which we act is dominated by the “liberal-parliamentary consensus” where the only rule is “say and write whatever you want-on condition that what you do does not effectively question or disturb the predominant political consensus.” To act against existing social relations without calling into question the political expression of these social relations is not sufficient.