[OPE-L:2584] Re: Critique [but no definitions]

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU)
Date: Tue Mar 21 2000 - 22:56:24 EST

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John, you still are leaving the issue of Marx's theoretical struggle for
"definitions" suspended in the air.

Anyway... Here is my direct, but not rancorous, response (I've come to the
stage in life where I prefer to cut to quick, right or wrong, and say so
when I find myself in error):

If I read you correctly you are well on your way to what Ellen Meiksins
Wood called "Retreat from Class" (she was indeed fired from editorship of
*Monthly Review*!).

Through your reification of fetishism/anti-fetishism, capitalists
disappear as active Sob's and workers are no longer victims of domination
and exploitation. Issues of working 12 fucking hours and getting 1 back
-- issues of surplus value -- vanish. Bill Gates laughs as you have
forgotten about that charming little hut he has had built for himself and
for his beautiful wife by thousands upon thousands of worker hours. And
Micron's CEO laughs at forgetting those women in El Salvador struggling to
make enough microchips to keep their jobs; women who only have to get
their anti-fetish act together to reach... what? serfdom, slavery,
communism -- who knows, since anti-fetishism has replaced concern over who
controls what means of production how?

But then maybe I don't understand you at all. Maybe Jerry understands you
    "There is no contradiction between saying that workers *are* victims
of capital and at the same time saying that they are *more than* victims."

In any case, I never expected to have to support an idea of the type 'if
workers are victims, ergo, we must have a Leninist revolutionary party',
with which you and Jerry might be in agreement were one to notice workers
as victims. And I don't even know where to begin critiquing such a
statement as "the possibility of the self-emancipation of the working
class, can only be approached through a critique of fetishism". What is
that "ONLY" doing there, as if anyone of us knows how we are to get our
revolutionary act together, that there is ONLY one true path?

Paul (who, at his own peril, does not apologize for being direct).

******************** http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/PZarembka

John Holloway <104164.2012@compuserve.com> said, on 03/21/00 at 06:56 PM:

>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.

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