[OPE-L:8255] Re: 'entrepreneurial ability' in late capitalism

From: Michael Eldred (artefact@t-online.de)
Date: Tue Dec 31 2002 - 14:21:44 EST

Cologne 31-Dec-2002

Re: [OPE-L:8253]

gerald_a_levy schrieb  Tue, 31 Dec 2002 08:25:37 -0500:

> Re Michael E's [8252]:
> > > > Some workers enjoy their work, work willingly and well and do not need
> > > > a supervisor to "extract" work from them.
> > > Yes, indeed.  Some prisoners also enjoy being in prison and can't
> > > imagine living outside of a prison.  Some residents of insane asylums
> > > claim to be perfectly happy there and do not desire a change in
> > > residence.
> > Such an analogy implies that many workers are imprisoned and insane.
> > Insanity, an unsoundness of mind, implies a distorted view of the world.
> > The question is  how to get to the truth of capitalist society without
> > falling into Weltanschauung. Do you call people who enjoy their jobs
> > insane prisoners of capitalism? How do they respond?
> I'm afraid you missed my point which was not to imply that many workers
> are imprisoned or insane.  Rather, my point was to suggest that whether
> many workers work willingly, enjoy their jobs, etc. can not be used as a
> barometer for  determining whether or not they are exploited.  E.g. serfs
> commonly believed,  influenced by the culture and set of  customary mutual
> obligations of  feudalism,  that they were _not_ being exploited.  Yet they
> _were_  exploited whether or not they recognized their relation with lords
> as constituting an exploitive relation.

My original comment questioned only whether work had to be "extracted" from
workers by supervisors.

> > > > After all, the workers agreed to work  when they entered the
> > > > employment  contract.
> > > This highlights the element of choice in the employment contract but
> > > does not grasp the *essentially* coercive character of the relation.
> > The only coercion I see is the coercion to earn a living. In being a
> > human,  there is also the 'coercion' to lead one's life, to bear this
> > burden and cast  one's own existence in some more or less satisfying
> > way, sharing  it with others.  As human beings we also live under the
> > 'coercion' to share  a world with each other.
> The coercion results from the following condition:  one class is
> characterized by its ownership and control of the means of production and
> one  class is characterized by its non-ownership and non-control of the
> means of production.  For the class of non-owners and non-controllers of
> m of p, to be able to obtain the goods, which now take the commodity-form,
> with which they need to survive they must sell their labour-power on the
> market to capitalists in exchange for a wage.  This is essentially coercive
> since the members of this class have no other real options for meeting
> their subsistence requirements.

With collective social ownership and mediated social collective control of the
means of production, the coercion to earn a living would take another form. The
struggle for control of the means of production and the social plan for
production would be then a direct political struggle, with other losers and
winners. The individualism of Western capitalist societies has an intimate
connection with the abstractness of association through the social relation of
value. The reification of social relations in money is also a setting-free from
social control by a superior power. I think that Marxism has not thought deeply
enough about this.

> > Okay, capitalist exploitation has to be conceived more specifically. How
> > do you  characterize human being under capitalism?
> As a creature whose movements and actions are limited by the set of
> class relationships associated with this mode of production.  Thus,
> individual human beings have choice but that choice is limited by the
> existing  social relations.

The existing class relationships and social relations in any kind of society lay
down the framework of possibilities for leading one's life in that society. In
more traditional societies, individual choice is more tightly constricted by
accepted and lived social relations than is generally the case in Western
individualist capitalist society. Religion, especially, is a binding force on
the individual (religio means 'to bind back'), a significant social relation
that enables and prescribes a certain way of social living. It seems to me that
the greatest anxiety among Western individuals is to be set free from
constrictions and be confronted by sheer nothing.

> As a species, our capabilities and potential
> are vastly underutilized  (we only use what % of our brains?).

Assuming that our potential and capabilities can be localized in the brain. It
was Descartes who first postulated that thinking was located in the brain, in
fact, in the pineal gland. It is only ever very few people who want to or feel
the need to devote themselves to the practice of thinking.

> Our
> attitudes and desires are shaped by existing social institutions and we
> can say very little about what is "natural" for our species (and when we
> do say something is "natural"  it  generally  turns out to be a
> rationalization for the existing social understandings and conditions, i.e.
> the status quo).

I agree that social relations are never natural. Even our deepest conceptions of
nature are historical.

> As a species which relates to other species  with a
> human-chauvinist and human-centric conception of the world.

The kind of thinking according to which human beings constitute a _species_
again goes back to the Greeks, who first thought human being as the _zoion_
(living being) with the _differentia specifica_ of "having the _logos_" (_zoion
logon echon_). It is questionable whether this way of thinking about human being
is at all adequate.

> > Before apportioning blame, and before trying to comprehend causes it could
> > be  important to _simply_ consider phenomena such as stealing, cheating as
> > kinds of  social exchange relations.
> Why before trying to comprehend causes?

Because people usually stop questioning once they have found causes, having
overlooked the phenomena themselves. The usual mode of thinking is to search for
an explanation. An explanation works by making plain something which is still
obscure in terms of something that is already in the light. The German word for
'explanation' is 'Erklaerung', which means literally to clarify something, bring
it to light in terms of what is already well-known. Another type of thinking
(phenomenological) attempts to stick with the phenomena themselves, attempts a
kind of tautologous thinking that clarifies the essential structure of a
phenomenon by bringing its various aspects to light.

Happy New Year
_-_-_-_-_-_-_-  artefact text and translation _-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_
_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_- made by art  _-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_
http://www.webcom.com/artefact/ _-_-_-_-artefact@webcom.com _-_
_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_ Dr Michael Eldred -_-_-

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