working-class subjectivity

glevy at glevy at
Sun Feb 4 17:36:21 MST 1996

Hugh Rodwell wrote:

> I'd say it wasn't just a question of wanting to. Until we get a clearer
> understanding of the economic and social imperatives at work in the
> development of capital, in the sense of the logic of capital, we won't be
> able to appreciate the constraints they place on working class
> consciousness and organization.

Hmm. Let me see if I can present the issue more clearly. The working 
class, which is itself created by capital, has an antagonistic 
relationship to capital. The logic of capital is not the same as the 
logic of wage labour. Workers are not merely objects of capitalist rule. 
They are a class which itself can and does resist the logic of capital. 
The question is: how does one relate the logic of capital to the working 
class as subject capable of autonomously acting in defense of its own 
interests? This is both an important theoretical and practical question.
> But to take Negri and Lebowitz as a starting point rather than Capital
> itself is lopsided.

Both Negri and Lebowitz took Marx as the starting point. 

> In particular Lebowitz's position as Jerry states it is
> a fetishization of Capital as opposed to the comprehensive dynamic of the
> whole activity of Marx and Engels to analyse and to organize to overthrow
> and replace the capitalist system in as concrete a fashion as possible,
> using both theoretical and practical methods. Don't forget that all of
> their theoretical work took place in a party context, and a revolutionary
> proletarian one at that by 1847 at the latest.

Lebowitz attempts to bring the issue of working-class self-activity back 
into the center of Marxist analysis. I'm sure that he agrees with the 
emphasis on locating Marx's critique of political economy within his 
revolutionary politics. I encourage you to read Mike's book. If I have 
time, I may write more about it.

> Negri's position as Jerry
> states it is unexceptionable in so far as working class subjectivity is at
> the heart of any revolutionary marxist project, but it disregards the
> importance of Capital for establishing limits to voluntaristic attempts to
> disregard the objective processes at work within the capitalist mode of
> production.

I think I'll let Bryan talk more about Negri if he is willing. What are 
the "limits" that you are referring to in regard to "objective processes"?
> I think it's dangerous to try and drive a wedge between the Grundrisse and
> Capital. The one builds on the other, and they also supplement each other -
> consider the importance of just two sections of the Grundrisse for Capital,
> namely the section on pre-capitalist economic formations with the whole
> emphasis on various ways of economic belonging (to the land, to means of
> production etc) that had to be stripped away before a 'free' working class
> was formed appropriate to the needs of capital, and the section on the
> operations of the labour process with respect to the maintenance, transfer
> and creation of value in a commodity. No way there's any conflict here
> between the two works.

There is both continuity and discontinuity between the _Grundrisse_ and 
_Capital_. To take an obvious example, the Hegelian influence on Marx is 
much clearer in the _Grundrisse_. The question raised above regarding the 
role of analyzing pre-capitalist modes of production within _Capital_ is 
itself a large question. What is your perspective on the relationship 
between the 6-book-plan and _Capital_? This was a question addressed by 
both Negri and Lebowitz.

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