[OPE-L:2581] Re: Critique

From: John Holloway (104164.2012@compuserve.com)
Date: Tue Mar 21 2000 - 18:56:54 EST

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1) In OPE-L 2575, Paul Z. quotes me as saying:

> Simply that: critique is the movement of anti-fetishisation,
>nothing else. We start from the fetishised appearances of 'things' and
>try to understand both that they are products of our own doing and (the
>return journey, as Marx calls it in the Grundrisse)...

and comments:

"As presented, this seems to be getting rather close to blaming the victims
(the workers)."

        I think that you put your finger here on the core of the problem,
Paul. I feel that your approach treats the workers (a 'them') as victims,
as the objects of class domination. That is also my worry about 'class
demarcation', and, I might as well add, to cast my aspersions as widely as
possible, it is the central problem with the idea that there can be a
'Marxist economics' as opposed to a Marxist critique of economics/
political economy/ sociology/ politics etc.

        What I understand from your and Jerry's interventions is that you
understand capital as the subject of capitalist domination and capitalist
development and the workers (labour) as the object of capitalist domination
and development. Hence the characterisation of the workers as victims. The
problem with this understanding is that, as Lenin quite rightly pointed
out, it makes the self-emancipation of the working class an impossibility,
so that the only way forward is through the Party (or, better,
intellectuals like ourselves).

        The theoretical problems begin when you try to go beyond that and
to understand that capital as subject is a subjectified object (a real
fetish, as Andrew correctly points out) and that labour as object is an
objectified subject (really fetishised), but that labour is not completely
objectified and the apparent (and real) subjectivity of capital is in fact
totally dependent on the subjectivity of labour. But the importance of the
subjectivity of labour, and therefore the possibility of the
self-emancipation of the working class, can only be approached through a
critique of fetishism, that is through a critique of the 'topsy-turvy
world' in which capital is subject and labour is object (victim). The
understanding of Capital as critique is thus politically very important.

2) In OPE-L 2577, Andrew said:

"John Holloway is in no way responsible for what I write, and vice-versa.
I suggest that anyone who has a beef with me not burden John with it, nor
pretend that it constitutes a response to him."

I agree entirely, though I did like very much what you wrote.

3) In OPEL 2576, Jerry says:

"I don't think that the claim that we try to "understand the world in
terms of our own subjectivity" fits in very nicely with Marx's
materialist conception of history..."

I think I am only saying what Marx says in the Theses on Feuerbach, namely
that materialism has to be understood in terms of the primacy of practice
(human doing), which, I agree, is a long way from the Engelsian conception
of materialism.

4) At moments I feel that there is a rancorous tone creeping into the
discussion. That is certainly not my intention. If in the interests of
brevity or clarity, I have seemed unnecessarily abrupt, I happily


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