[OPE-L:3227] Re: process & subjects

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@dcs.gla.ac.uk)
Date: Tue May 16 2000 - 08:23:40 EDT

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At 07:19 15/05/00 -0400, you wrote:
>In [OPE-L:3155], there is a reference to a "process without a
>Is it possible to conceive of capitalism as a subjectless process?

I disagree, as soon as one specify laws of motion of a system one
escapes from the idealist subjectivist problematic.

>I think not. That is because capitalism is a (particular) social
>and class system. To conceive of capitalism as if it is a process
>without a subject is tantamount to assuming that classes (capitalists,
>workers, and other) have no role in determining the direction of
>this mode of production. This also means that we can not conceive
>of the class struggle in any meaningful strategic sense in which the
>subjects have some role -- within limits -- in determining their
>actions, but rather as a mechanistic driver-less process.

There are subjects in capitalist society but they are not classes,
they are abstract juridical subjects - firms and individuals.
E B Pashukanis is good on this.

>If capitalism is a "process without a subject", then the only
>way it can be surpassed is as a result of some blind subject-
>less mechanistic process in which the process breaks down due
>to its own (subjectless) internal dynamic.

Yes, but the blind mechanistic process is not purely economic
it is political as well. It involves the struggles of politica parties
and armies. Since these are organised collectivities that, to
a certain extent are subject to a unified command and control
structure, the notion of subjects retains some limited purchase
as a means of thinking through what happens. But in general
we must drop ideas of subjects when dealing with collectiivities
as large as whole societies.

>Since there is no
>reason to believe in such a subjectless process of self-
>destruction, one must conclude that capitalism will last

What was the 'subject' in the paleolithic/neolithic

I have never heard of any plausible subject for that
most momentous of all human revolutions, despite
this the paleolithic ended.

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