Capital as The Subject

Chris Burford cburford at gn.apc.org
Sun Jul 23 16:50:33 MDT 1995


In a comment on subjectivity, Rakesh quotes from an essay by
Albritton, on capital as The Subject:

"one of Marx's
greatest contributions was his understanding of how capitalism, once firmly
rooted in society takes a life of its own such that persons tend to be
reduced to mere instruments used by capital for its own self-expansion."

Rakesh adds:

"In the monthly News and Letters, there has been an on-going debate about
such a position. I am interested in any comments about this attempt to link
the attributes of the Hegelian subject not to a revolutionary proletariat
but to capital as a set of self-reifying social institutions  This seems to
me to be one of the more difficult arguments in contemporary marxism. So
any help is appreciated."


Chris B:

I find Lenin's formula intriguing in the barely two pages devoted to
economics in the middle section of "The Three Sources and Three
Component Parts of Marxism" -

"Production itself becomes more and more social - hundreds of thousands
and millions of workers become bound together in a systematic economic
organism."


"A systematic economic organism".

I do not claim that Lenin and Marx
were systems theorists, but in a decade in which the onward march of
the proletariat has been halted, not least by 750 million unemployed in
the world, I continue to feel that a sustained critique of capitalism
as a perverse self-organising *system*, provides one of the richest
roads to the renaissance of marxism.

At any rate, if Lenin called it a systematic economic organism,
such an exegesis cannot easily be called heretical!


Chris Burford, London.


cc djones at uclink.berkeley.edu (jones/bhandari)


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