[OPE-L:2628] Re: Critique

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU)
Date: Tue Mar 28 2000 - 21:20:28 EST

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Gerald Levy <glevy@PRATT.EDU> said, on 03/28/00 at 07:29 PM:
>* Do you now think that there is an element of commodity fetishism in the
>way in which the factory worker conceives of the assembly line or the
>office worker conceives of the computer on her/his desk? Although
>elements of constant fixed capital, these objects (things) seem to have a
>power over their lives. Indeed, workers sometimes give them "names"
>(often expletives) and conceive of the machines as their enemies.

There have been Luddite movements and Marx pointed out their contradictory
nature in a very clear manner I thought: "It took both time and experience
before the workpeople learnt to distinguish between machinery and its
employment by capital, and to direct their attacks, not against the
material instruments of production, but against the mode in which they are
used." (*Volume 1*, p. 404)

Having noted that, I remain a little unclear concerning your point: "an
element of commodity fetishism" would be a long way from John and Andrew
and, relative to their position of totality, is not something needing
engagement, as far as I am concerned. In other words, the issue is the
"totalizing" position of John and Andrew.

>* What about, since you mentioned time, the time clock? Note the quote
>that you give above.

I don't understand. The worker very much knows from WHOM his or her work
life is dictated and it is NOT the clock. It is the capitalist who PUT
the clock on the wall and control worker lives with it (and who cheat
workers in various ways around a clock, including the methods detailed by
Marx in production of absolute surplus value).

>* What about the commodity output? E.g. do many workers not conceive of
>automobiles as social beings often giving "them" (note how the language
>itself promotes this usage) "names" and talking to the cars? Note, also,
>how the auto manufacturers recognize this, and incorporate it within
>advertising (and aren't TV commercials "things" with a power over human
>minds) when they frequently name models after living beings, e.g.

With my posting I followed Marx at the end of Part II and entered the shop
floor. I believe you are wanting to get us out quickly, too quickly, into
the sunlight. Such discussion of course has a place but let's not be too
much in a rush.

>* And there is money, of course. Remember the famous quote in Volume 1
>from Shakespeare's "Timon of Athens" concerning gold? Have you never seen
>someone kiss or caress lovingly their paycheck?

Same as previous.

>* Don't workers sometimes conceive of *themselves* as commodities and/or
>machines, e.g. as mere "cogs in a wheel"? In this case there is an
>inversion where human beings come to conceive of themselves as machines.
>Isn't this inversion also seen in the objectification of women (and men)?

I would phrase it differently and in any manner which would make a
considerable difference: "Don't workers conceive of the attempt of their
bosses to turn them into mere 'cogs in a wheel'"? The answer to that is


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