hall of fame

MARIPOWER716 at aol.com MARIPOWER716 at aol.com
Mon May 12 13:22:08 MDT 2003


>What characterizes the commodity form of social relations, as analyzed
by Marx, is that it is constituted by labour, it exists in objectified
form and it has a dualistic character. including many of Marx's
earlier conceptions regarding history, society and labour, as expressed
in the idea of a dialectical logic.

>In order to elucidate this description, Marx's conception of the
historical specificity of labour in capitalism must be clarified.

>Marx maintains that labour in capitalism has a "double character:" it is
both "concrete labour" and "abstract labour". "Concrete labour" refers to the
fact that some form of what we consider labouring activity mediates the
interactions of humans with nature in all societies. "Abstract labour," I
argue, signifies that, in capitalism, labour also has a unique social
function: it mediates a new form of social interdependence.

>Let me elaborate: In a society in which the commodity is the basic
structuring category of the whole, labour and its products are not
socially distributed by traditional ties, norms, or overt relations of
power and domination -- that is, by manifest social relations -- as is
the case in other societies. Instead, labour itself replaces those
relations by serving as a kind of quasi-objective means by which the
products of others are acquired. A new form of interdependence comes
into being where no-one consumes what they produce, but where,
nevertheless, one's own labour or labour-products function as the
necessary means of obtaining the products of others. In serving as such
a means, labour and its products in effect pre-empt that function on the part
of manifest social relations. Instead of being defined, distributed and
accorded significance by manifest social relations, as is the case in other
societies, labour in capitalism is defined, distributed and accorded
significance by structures (commodity, capital) that are constituted by
labour itself. That is, labour in capitalism constitutes a form of social
relations which has an impersonal, apparently non-social, quasi-objective
character and which embeds, transforms and, to some degree, undermines and
supersedes traditional social ties and relations of power. <

Comment

Makes sense to me. Actually, the entire statement makes sense to me, although
several conclusions (the content of democracy and defining social life as
view from the impact of abstract character of labor and how commodity
production recast social life structures), that we have in common were
arrived at by a different avenue. I have no desire to be a pinprick. Marxism
is not and cannot be this wonderful theoretical system that explains
everything. Something cannot explain everything.

There is no such thing as a Marxist approach to baseball, love, sex, music or
art, as such. In the same vain the so-call Marxist aesthetics means little
and next to nothing to me, in respects to the laboring process allegedly
expressing social-life forms. I simply do not proceed from an assumption that
a Marxist approach to rhythm or "everything in existence" is a serious.
Marxism cannot instruct one on how to make a hard boiled egg or paint a
picture.

The discussion over whether or not a qualitatively new ingredient has been
injected into the industrial process that compels its reconfiguration led to
this series of discussion, which was further advanced under the title of
giving robots their hall of fame. How can one take such a conception of what
is taking place serious? Your article is very serious and I agree that social
life is not the history of the socialized life of tools, instruments and
machines. This conclusion was arrived at not from a careful reading of Marx,
but a standpoint that says Marx theoretical propositions are merely guilds to
frame the unfolding social revolution. Social revolution is defined as social
upheaval that results in way or another in social life being reconfigured
around new material power of production.

To state, "labour in capitalism constitutes a form of social relations which
has an impersonal, apparently non-social, quasi-objective character and which
embeds, transforms and, to some degree, undermines and supersedes traditional
social ties and relations of power" is indisputable in my estimate and also a
measure.

The measure is with social relations that are "less impersonal" as they
existed in the society from which capitalism emerged. In other words we are
talking about a boundary or juncture being crossed in which social ties and
social relations - in the most broad meaning, have been recast - sublated.

I most certainly cannot quantify the distance that constitutes postindustrial
society, but "post" in front of industrial defines itself as a juncture has
been crossed. In real life people striving to understand the logic involved
in social change on various levels and impact the national body politic,
proceed from forms of social intercourse as opposed to the technological
changes in society, although no one proceeds from the idea that life is
divided into categories. In a real way the mass struggle cannot be fought out
in that constituting the economy. My approach is based on certain factors in
our social life and a projection that ask, "How will large groups of people
be compelled to behave and what is their trajectory?" The shape of this
behavior is not the trajectory.

People are compelled to try and secure continuous means of subsistence. The
shape of this fight - striving, and on what basis the political revolution
breaks out (the ultimate democratic striving) appear to be taking place as
driven by the war crisis provoked by American imperialism and financial
crisis which seems to be intersecting with a falling capacity to consume.

The need to rethink traditional Marxism also arises from an understanding
that the last century was an era of transition from agriculture to industry
proper. From time to time a discussion emerges to redefine what is meant by
the bourgeois revolution or the transition from feudalism to industry or as
is the case amongst certain sections of Marxism "carrying out the bourgeois
revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat."  "Carrying out the
bourgeois revolution," defines itself as industrialization or bourgeois
property relations and the value producing system under the control of "the
proletariat," which of necessity was the centralized state. Bourgeois
property relations without the bourgeoisie doe not transform social relations
of production view from the organization that is the material power of
production.

The proposition that industrialism is capitalism - as you state, as it
evolved and then at a certain stage of development the industrial system
begins to operate on its own basis - a law system unique to it, sets the
basis for 'this stage' of "democratic assertion," in the political sense of
the word and in its meanings as "social life." Bourgeois property defines
itself and has a shelf life. Bourgeois property relations are the immediate
enemy - the mode of existence of state/bureaucratic evil, to the majority of
the people of earth.

Given the current technological capacity of existing American society there
is no need for the centralized state as mediator of socially necessary means
of production and distribution. Bureaucracy as centralized state contains its
own mode of existence - not simply as armed bodies of men, but as
distribution channels and the administrative apparatus for accumulation. It
will require an entire era to simply redefine what constitutes "socially
necessary." "Socially necessary" is consolidated as a product of capitalism,
the value producing system and bourgeois property relations. And also
historically evolved social life in all its recasting and distortions.

The proletariat revolutions and attempts at proletarian revolts and
revolutions of the past century were in the main brought to a head by war
crisis in the context of a transition from agriculture to industry.  This is
most certainly is true of the Soviet revolution, the Chinese
Revolution/Revolution in China, Vietnamese Revolution, Korea, the emergence
of the Peoples Democracy and the Socialist Block. These bourgeois revolutions
under the leadership of the "proletariat" defined themselves.

The proletarian revolution is not a revolution of the proletariat as such but
a social revolution that results in political reorganization of society.
Social revolution is not possible until a transition in the material power of
production is underway. The political revolutions of the past century - no
matter what goals they proclaimed or how they defined themselves, could not
but be expressed in the context of the transition from agricultural society
to industrial society.

Today the social revolution unfolds in a different context. We are not in an
epoch of transition from agriculture to industry. The event horizon has been
crossed. In my opinion there is no way to substantiate this proposition
outside an approach to the technology factors of the means of production. The
shape of the political revolution generated on the basis of the social
revolution has everything to do with the social life of wo/man.

Specially, the formulation called "social life" through the prism of Marx
articulation of "abstract labor" and its "dualistic character" poses no
theoretical challenge for me because I have not approached social life as the
laboring process. If I understand your meaning, here is an example: the
musical form of sound specific to the African American people was not created
as the result of the laboring process, although the African American people
were in fact created as a people on the basis of a specific laboring process.
The articulation of the music of sound has prehistoric roots and under the
impact of technology, instruments and social intercourse becomes continuously
reshaped as the sound of music. The laboring process does not create the
music of sound expressed through man/woman, although it impacts and provided
instrumentation through, which this music is reshaped and recast. That is to
say how the laboring process and technology mediates social life is not the
determining factors of social life.

Again, my standpoint of a critical social analysis of capitalism - in
respects to the environment, begins with the environment that is man.
Capitalism as it evolved has never reckoned will agricultural ecology and the
biosphere. Not simply because it converts the process of mobilizing the land
from direct consumption to mobilization based on the production of exchange
values,  - embodying the totality of the commodity and value form of products
and production, which in itself causes a breach in the unity that is
wo/man-biosphere, but rather this process takes place on the basis of the
destruction of people.

Pinpointing the qualitative technology feature of a specific mode of
production is not a "non-social" analysis of capitalism and the industrial
system. It is the social life of people, in its totality and as it assumes an
external mode of manifestation through that which constitutes mode of
production, that social revolution is driven. Unless of course, we have in
fact reached the end of history, which I do not subscribe to. Marx outlined
the general features of the process in which social revolution becomes
manifest. And I believe the proposition below retains its validity.

"At a certain stage of the development of the material power of the
productive forces of society, it comes in conflict with the existing
relations of production, or . . . with the property relations within which
they have been at work hitherto. From forms of development of the productive
forces these relations turn into their fetters.

Then begins an epoch of social revolution. With the change of the economic
foundation the entire immense superstructure is more or less rapidly
transformed.  . . .
No social order ever perishes before all the productive forces for which
there is room in it have developed; and new, higher relations of production
never appear before the material conditions of their existence have matured
in the womb of the old society itself. Therefore mankind always sets itself
only such tasks as it can solve; since, looking at the matter more closely,
it will always be found that the tasks itself arises only when the material
conditions of its solution already exist or are at least in the process of
formation."

In the past Marx statement has been called the basic law of societal
transformation and the existence of human beings possessing a social life was
presupposed. In my understanding Marx statement is an outline of the basic
law of societal transformation as the progressive accumulation of productive
forces, although I have in the past called this the law of society in
short-speak.

This proposition has been debated for more than 100 years. "At a certain
stage of the development," has screamed for a determination of qualifying
that, which constitute 'a certain stage.' At a certain stage of the . . .
material power of production . . . then begins (begins) an epoch of social
revolution.

"No social order ever perishes before all the productive forces for which
there is room in it have developed," is understood not as a purely
quantitative expansion of productive capacity and hitting the limits of the
market wall. "(F)or which there is room" implies and indicates a quantitative
expansion of a specific qualitative configuration. A concrete determination
of the specific properties of a given state of development of the material
power of the productive forces or mode of production has to be made.

It is true that past generations or rather section of the "traditional
Marxists" have understood this to mean it was possible to jump to communism
from agricultural society because that "certain point had been reached." Some
felt that world political revolution (what a comrade from Japan called
'political will unity') was sufficient for an epochal reconfiguration of the
mode of production, while others felt that capitalism had to further develop
without being able to quantify or give qualitative definition to "develop how
much more," or what constitutes "for which there is room."

"(F)or which there is room" does not mean the same thing it meant to
revolutionaries 60 years ago. "(F)or which there is room" means until a new
qualitative ingredient emerges that halt the quantitative expansion of the
material power of production on the basis of that in which it has be
expanding. The material power of production is driven on the basis of its
mode of accumulation and that, which is being driven how human being interact
with a specific stage of development of tools, instruments, machinery and
power source.  At this point in time this is defined on the basis of
technology not social relations or the category called social life. This is
not a category but explained as a category. What halts electromechanical
process is electro-computerized process. By definition electro-computerized
process contain its self-defined boundary, which is conditioned by energy
source and countless other factors I cannot ascertain.

 This is the basis in which social relations and social revolution revolves
and evolves. Herein resides the essence of categories of class and how people
interact with these impersonal external modes of man productive impact and
interactivity with nature. Social life is recast in its external mode of
existence. Kinship is not dissolved or negated but sublated.

At least this is how things appear to me in 2003.

How this process of social revolution appears in the collective consciousness
and battles are fought out is another matter. In this regard I do not feel
compelled to embrace the anticlericalism of that section of the Marxist
movement that emerged in combat with the Church as property owner. I
understand Marx various comments on religion to be an affirmation of his
standpoint to why societal reconfiguration takes place in an intellectual
arena where the general thinking was "change takes place by the grace of
God."

How and to whom one pray is certainly none of my business. Actually, I
maintain a certain disdain for philosophy as such and feel more comfortable
proceeding from a defined standpoint. I would trade the power of critical
observation for every "philosophy of man" on earth at the drop of a hat.
After all imagination is higher than thinking.

What is truly frightening is past precedence in terms of the dialect of
change and political revolution. During the transition from feudalism to
capitalism or rather, from agrarian social relations where the primary form
of wealth was contained - as a property relations, in land to industrial
capitalism, a section of landed property merges with and becomes capital as
ruling class. Why should the impending political revolution be any different?

We surrender the masses to the fascist when we proceed to fight for things
people either do not want or are not already in motion fighting for and when
we try to impose ideological doctrines on them. As the saying goes, "if you
like it I love it."

Peace

Melvin P.








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