working-class subjectivity

glevy at glevy at
Sun Feb 4 11:24:19 MST 1996

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 

>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?


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