Re: postone

> > From: Stephen D'Arcy <darcy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> > To: foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> > Subject: Re: postone
> > Date: Sunday, November 09, 1997 6:34 PM
> >
> >
> > I would suggest that, insofar as "traditional Marxism" (which is, of
> > course, what Foucault would call a "heterogeneous ensemble") took the
> > labour theory of value as its starting point, it had to focus on the
> > process of production. Hence Marx's first volume of capital is
> > devoted to the topic of the "process of capitalist production". More
> > narrowly, it devotes a key chapter (ch. 5, as I recall) to the
> > labour-process in particular, as a form of human activity (considered
> > in abstraction from "production relations" which distinguish, say,
> > peasant agricultural labour from physically indistinguishable
> > proletarian agricutlural labour).
> >
> > The whole point of CAPITAL v. 1 is to argue that all capitalist
> > wealth, which "presents itself as an immense accumulation of
> > commodities" (i.e., things), is really reducible to productively
> > harnessed human labour, and that such labour has a "two-fold
> > character" insofar as it produces both use-value (a relation between a
> > product and a consumer) and commodity-value (very roughly, a relation
> > between the labour of one producer and that of all others). Capital
> > itself, accordingly, is construed as "objectified labour." CAPITAL,
> > in other words, is devoted to the de-reification of the wealth
> > embodied in commodities.

I think there's a lot of ways to characterize _Capital_ and the one you
suggest above is certainly accurate, but I would say another big point of
the analysis is to reveal the inherent, systemic antagonism between the
bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The "General Law of Capitalist
Accumulation" which acts as a summary phrase for the whole book, is that
"within the capitalist system all methods for raising the social
productivity of labor are put into effect at the cost of the individual
worker" (_Capital_, Fowkes trans., p. 799). Precisely because this
antagonism was beyond the control of actors in a capitalist economy,
serious and at some point final conflicts would characterize mature

I take Postone (based on what I've read and the useful comments from Steve
and David) to be arguing that we need to separate Marx's own critique of
capital as a system from the less essential issue of whether or not the
proletariat is the primary critical force in capitalist society.


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