SUBJECTIVITY, HEGEL'S ABSOLUTE, SELF-EXPANDING CAPITAL

jones/bhandari djones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Mon Jul 24 02:24:15 MDT 1995


>I'm still not clear what we are discussing in considering Hegel
>and capital together.  Is it Hegel exegesis?  Is it the
>understanding of capital?  Is it the logic of capital?  Is it the
>Marxian use of Hegel?

Ralph, I am interested in understanding capital and its logic (I do not
find persuasive the Althusserian-inspired attempt to deny that capital does
have a logic; long ago I commented on such an attempt--Stephen Cullenberg's
The Falling Rate of Profit: Recasting the Marxian Debate).

 Postone is making the argument that what Marx found rational about Hegel
was his idealism, and the peculiar properties of Hegel's Absolute Subject
are actually the properties of Capital as self-moving substance. In other
words, through his analysis of Capital, Postone is able to specify
historically what is rational about Hegel.  I cannot judge this argument as
I do not remember the little Hegel which I have read.

This by no means exhausts the nature of the Marx/Hegel relationship however
as Hans Despain's posts on Tony Smith's works indicate.

>Capital as Subject, so what does this mean anyway?

I did quote  a relevant  passage from Postone in a previous post. What did
you think of his elaboration of how capital takes on the attributes of a
Subject? I agree that such a concept must be elaborated with care, but
Postone takes hundreds of pages of elaboration and re-elaboration of the
argument, and I will not do it justice if I attempt to summarize it.  So
perhaps someone else...

>  I imagine subjectivity under state cap Stalinism is to
>put it mildly not at all identical with such under our capitalism,
>esp. in the area of privatization and hysterical speculation,
>which accentuates the irrationalism of the system rather than
>bureaucratic rationalization.

Albritton makes this brilliant comment: " The extreme subjectification of
individuals through private property, competition, and the prevailing cash
nexus is the counterpart of the extreme objectification of individuals as
they become mere objects for the use by capital in its own self-expansion.
This seemingly paradoxical juxtaposition of subjectification and
objectification is at the very heart of capitalist reification.  And it is
only through the study of a purely capitalist society that we can come to
grasp fully the implications of this all too real contradiction."p 90 of
Transformation 1, ed. Mas'ud Zaverzadeh.

>Does the logic of capital include the resistance to it, or is that
>somewhere outside?  Why are we discussing this?

Separating Marx's analysis of the logic of pure capitalism from its actual
history, Albritton writes "At the level of pure capitalism reification is
total and persona are simply bearers of structures. At the level of history
where reification is not total, persons actively engage in political
struggle to better their lives." Albritton's point here appears in a
section entitled "Capital's Distinct and Complex Ontology." pp89ff.

Sometime ago I posted a comment about Chomsky's work, and I think a mistake
he makes is not to conduct an analysis of capital in its pure form.  This
allows him to be deceived, seduced by it, to criticize reality *sometimes*
on the basis of imperfection vis-a-vis a pure capitalism. The left may
still be beholden to the charms of capital's promise, always being
deferred.  But this is complicated, and I think Albritton's works really
need to be studied to understand this explication of Marx's analysis of
pure capitalism and its function in his critique of political economy.  I
was skimming through Albritton's 1986 book, and I can see the challenge.

>
>On Rakesh's point about the logic of "co-optation": I don't quite
>understand his point about where the resistance comes from and
>becomes (or already is?) part of the system.  However, C.L.R.
>James's logic of historical development (see NOTES ON DIALECTICS)
>deals with the successive incorporation of each historic level of
>resistance into the next level of organization of the capitalist
>system itself, using examples from the French to the Russian
>revolutions.

I am not dealing with successive incorporation of each historic level of
resistance.  This is what I meant by cooptation. And there have been many
studies of the movement from decolonization to neo-colonialism which would
be apposite here.

 I am dealing with capital's own resistance to its own structures in order
to re-maintain its autonomization. I know this sounds metaphysical, but no
one has ever accused of Schumpeter of metaphysics, and isn't this what he
means by the Principle of Creative Destruction?

I do not think most of us want to be bearers of the destruction or creation
which capital as self-moving value requires.  But our autonomy from its
autonomization requires us to understand its logic, the better to attack
and free ourselves from it.
Rakesh



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