working-class subjectivity

Bryan A. Alexander bnalexan at
Sun Feb 4 18:51:13 MST 1996

Sure, I'd love to discuss these issues further.
	The introduction of Negri into the subjectivity debate involves
Spinoza quite heavily (although Marx does refer to Baruch a few times),
hence the idea of self-valorization.  Frankly, I'm not sure I understand
this idea, aside from the assertion that the laboring class produces
value.  Can someone carry this further?
	I'm more comfortable with NEgri's insistence on class
antagonism.  N. argues that this tension and force is present very
strongly in the GRUNDRISSE, and fades somewhat when CAPITAL 1 appears in
print.  "CAPITAL is only one part, and a non-fundamental one at that, in
the totality of the Marxist thematic..." (MARX BEYOND MARX, 5)  Indeed:
"The objectification of categories in CAPITAL blocks revolutionary
subjectivity"; in contrast, "Is it not the case... that the GRUNDRISSE is
a text dedicated to revolutionary subjectivity?  Does it not reconstruct
what the Marxist tradition has too often torn apart, that is to say the
unity of the constitution and the strategic project of working class
subjectivity?" (8)  This last bit is crucial: Marxism is about the makeup
and dynamic progress of the working class within and against capital.
Here Negri links analysis with action, subjectivity with insurgency.
	I'm not sure if Negri's reading of GRUNDRISSE plays out for other
subjectivity-minded recent critics - I'm willing to bet not.  But his
return to the notebooks, a move echoes by many others, is vital to the
whole subjectivity question within Marxism.
	I'm also not sure what we can make of this phantom limb of Marx,
these airy constructions across notebooks into the virtual volumes of
CAPITAL.  Perhaps this l*st needs to do a (re)read of the GRUNDRISSE.

Bryan Alexander					Department of English
email: bnalexan at			University of Michigan
phone: (313) 764-0418				Ann Arbor, MI  USA    48103
fax: (313) 763-3128

On Sun, 4 Feb 1996 glevy at wrote:

> In reply to Bryan and Rakesh:
> This issue is certainly at the heart of many debates among Marxists
> during the last 30 years. Interestingly, I think many different schools
> of thought are attempting to deal with essentially the same problem but
> from a number of divergent theoretical perspectives. The common ground,
> it seems to me, is a rejection of an overly mechanical, functionalist,
> and economistic view of the working class as subject. The common point of
> departure, then, is against "diamat", the interpretation of Marxism made
> popular particularly in the former USSR.
> At issue, in part, is the question of the relationship between the logic
> of capital and the class struggle. _Capital_, of course, stresses the
> former (although, some like Harry Cleever in _Reading Capital
> Politically_, following Negri, have challenged traditional
> interpretations of _Capital_).
> An interesting contrast, IMO, is between the works of Antonio Negri in
> _Marx Beyond Marx_ (Bergin and Garvey Publishers, Inc., 1984) and Michael
> A. Lebowitz in _Beyond Capital_ (NY, St. Martin's Press, 1992). Both
> Negri and Lebowitz were heavily influenced by a reading of the
> _Grundrisse_.
> >From Negri's perspective, the role of working-class subjectivity was at
> the heart of Marx's project in _Capital_ and the _Grundrisse_ (although,
> Negri identifies more with the latter than the former). Both Negri and
> Lebowitz point to Marx's 6-book-plan for _Capital_ regarding the question
> of the working-class as subject.
> Lebowitz claims that Marx intended but never got around to writing the
> proposed book on _Wage-Labour_ which was to follow the publication of
> _Capital_. Lebowitz's book is, essentially, both an attempt to write that
> missing book and an attack against what Mike calls "one-sided Marxism."
> Unlike Negri, Lebowitz claims that the books that became _Capital_ are
> themselves one-sided because they only deal with the logic of capital
> and do not consider the logic of working-class self-activity.
> Anybody want to discuss these issues further?
> Jerry
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