Use Value (and not really Aesthetics)

jones/bhandari djones at
Sat Apr 1 18:56:14 MST 1995

Howie wrote:

>For example, is our vision of socialism a society where all domestic
>activities are "socialised"? (BTW, it seems to me that these are issues that
>Postone addresses; I have just started to dip into _Time, Labor and Social
>Domination_ so I would be interested in hearing from those more familiar
>with his stuff whether I have the right impression, and what he would say on
>these questions).

Postone's analysis is centered on the commodity form.  He neither
romantically condemns nor promulgates the universalization of this form. He
is interested in analyzing how commodity-producing labor becomes the
structural source of its own domination.

I agree that the commodification of child-care, cooking, laundering,
cleaning, etc. is a very important development, about which Paul C comments
were quite interesting I thought.  In their "domestic" form Postone would
not understand these activities as productive, nor would he attempt to
defend the "dignity of such labor" by attempting to prove it productive.
In so far as such activity becomes adequated to the production of value and
surplus value, Postone would  then *critique* it as productive labor which
in his interpretation of Marx is not "a transhistorical and affirmative
category of political economy" but the "structural source of its own
domination." (356)This critique of proletarian labor is perhaps the most
provocative argument of the book (as both Postone and his reviewers have

I'm really not sure whether this speaks to Howie's concern.


ps Jon,  whom I happy to say looked me up when in the San Francisco Bay
Area, recently asked me about an article I mentioned on speculation in the
art industry-- Paul Mattick, Jr. "Excesses and Corrections", Arts Magazine,
May 1991: "One might even say, therefore, that the art fever of the 80s,
with its auction room applause for multi-million dollar prices, threatened
the illusion that sustains that art business as a traffic founded on the
official disavowal of economics."  Jon may be interested to know that
Mattick makes interesting use of Bourdieu.

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