[OPE-L:7908] Re: John Holloway on time

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Tue Nov 05 2002 - 02:36:48 EST

Dear John,

I am sure unsure of what I say here that I hesitate to submit it. 
There may well be non sequitars and philosophical howlers, but I'll 
take a chance given our no citation policy.

Well, I do agree of course that proletarian doing is the doing of 
workers and thus cannot have ontological or conceptual priority over 
the doers themselves; it would seem that  this process of alienated 
labor is ownership attributable with respect to a substantial agent, 
viz. the worker. Of course some processes, e.g, the erosion of a 
shoreline or the vibrancy of a magnetic field, are not really the 
machinations of identifiable things/agents/substances. But the labor 
process is surely the doing of workers.   Yet doesn't alienated 
laboring activity have (either conceptual or ontological) priority 
over proletarians since the latter are constituted by (or in and 
through) the former? Wouldn't Werner Bonefeld agree?

  I read you to mean that we can't understand proletarian labor simply 
as the activity of proletarians since the latter are a product of or 
constituted by  the former.  Proletarians do not only produce use 
values and surplus value but also constitute themselves and their 
condition.  Unlike machines whose parts no matter how well they work 
together have nothing to do with building machines,  proletarians as 
a class are in fact a self-organizing and self-reproducing entity. A 
machine implies an external agent, a machine maker; a living organism 
is self-organizing entity. In living activity Marx found a basis for 
a philosophy of vital materialism on the basis of which he broke with 
mechanical materialism implicit in the Englightenment and positivism.

  Marx  discovered in the proletariat not only privation and exclusion 
but also the active principle or the activity which makes and remakes 
the world. As Marx and Engels say in reply to Feuerbach in the German 
Ideology, man is not a sensuous object but a sensuous activity. Marx 
defines man as a verb, not a noun; he is a philosopher of activity or 
process, not substance.

If we consider storms and heat waves verb-entities rather than noun 
entities such as dogs and oranges, perhaps we should consider the 
proletariat as a self constituting verb entity, not a noun entity 
such as an agent or a thing. Perhaps thinking of the proletariat as a 
verb entity rather than a noun entity makes it easier to talk about 
what would be entailed by the self abolition of the proletariat (an 
expression also from the German Ideology)?  What does the critique of 
nouns and perduring things in favor of the verbs or processes by 
which they are constituted suggest in terms of workers' understanding 
of their own ("noun") identities? That their own identities are not 
perduring things but no less results of their own alienated activity 
than commodities? Moishe Postone develops this theme, if I remember 

John, if these comments do not make any contact with what you are 
tying to say, please feel free to ignore them, and I shall leave 
behind the ideas which I have in my head from another mss.

All the best, Rakesh

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