working-class subjectivity

glevy at glevy at
Thu Feb 8 20:13:38 MST 1996

Hugh Rodwell wrote:

> Wrong as to wage labour. Wage
> labour is a category of capital, therefore the logic of wage labour is in
> fact the logic of capital.

*From the perspective of capital*, "wage labour is in fact the logic of

> Working class subjectivity has as its main goal its own abolition.

I believe this is one of Negri's central points.

> The whole political problem of relating the logic of capital to working
> class action is one of where to aim for strategic results, and deciding
> what strategic results you want.

Working class political action can not, I believe, be expressed simply as
a strategic process. There is also: a) the theoretical question
concerning the effects of working class self-activity on capital; and b)
the development of class consciousness (by no means a simple process to

> If the strategic result you want is maintaining a certain level of wages
> within the capital-wage labour setup, you have economism.

This does not consider the relation of tactics and strategy nor does it
consider the process of "becoming" in terms of class consciousness.

> The thing is, if your strategic objective is less than .... <snip>

Who is "your"? I am not referring to the political positions of groups on
the Left (which, at best, represent a small minority of the working
class). Instead, I am addressing the question of the processes whereby
the class as a whole develops, asserts its own will, and comes into
conflict with capital.

> Re- dynamic: <snip>
> Re- non-reversible: <snip>
> Re- unstable:<snip>

Capitalism, of course, is all of these. However, capitalism will not
breakdown of its own accord. Only the working class, the "gravedigger",
can end capitalism and abolish the wage system. How does this happen?
What, in _Capital_ explains this process from the standpoint of wage-labour?

> I think, and
> I'd like to get opinions on this, that a lot of this comes from a utopian
> interpretation of the equilibrium schemes in Capital Bk II. Instead of
> interpreting these as an indication of the practical impossibility of ever
> attaining equilibrium under capitalism (the sense of the schemes as far as
> I'm concerned), they are taken as policy recipes indicating the
> attainability and desirability of equilibrium 'if only the capitalists
> understood their own best interests'.

What writers do you have in mind?
> In Cap, written for publication, his audience could have
> no such familiarity with Hegelian concepts or language, so a lot of his
> intellectual shorthand had to be refashioned.

Were what became Volumes 2 and 3 intended for publication?

What about the "Preface to the French Edition" (1872) of VI?

> My limited experience of arguments focusing on shortcomings in Capital
> related to a failure to realize its original plans is that they are
> sterile.

Do you think that the subject matter of the last 5 of Marx's proposed 6
books was "sterile"? In addition, Marx planned (while he was still
writing the drafts for what became V3) a subsequent volume on
competition. Is that a "sterile" subject as well?


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