(OPE-L) Re: the secret by which the capitalist class maintains its power

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Sun Sep 28 2003 - 08:40:05 EDT

In response to Paolo and Mike L:

To begin with, individual capitalists themselves might fail
to see their actions towards workers as class conflict.  
For example,  what is really class conflict might be 
conceptualized as "commitment to excellence" or
"flexibility" (of course, it's also the case that many other  
capitalists are fully aware that they are using codewords 
and know that they are engaged in class struggle). So, 
their awareness may be even more mystified than the 
alleged struggles over 'cost'  that Paolo notes.

Workers' consciousness also can be stuck at the level of 
appearances.   E.g. conflicts over state policy might be 
viewed as conflicts over "the public interest" and thereby
workers might be accepting the belief that the state rises
above all matters of class conflict and is "class neutral" --
a recipe for social democracy.

When we turn to the question of international relations both 
individual capitalists and workers may be stuck at the level
of appearances rather than recognizing the role of class
conflict in the process. E.g. they might view themselves as
'citizens' first, rather than primarily as members of a class,
and consequently might tend to view *wars* through the 
kaleidoscope of nationalism.   (Re wars:  national capital 
and the state seek  *unity* rather than division among 
workers within a nation.  Yet, the unity that it seeks is a unity 
behind the 'war effort'.  Within this context, it must always be
remembered that the type of unity that is required, from a 
working-class standpoint, is _international_ unity.  It is 
therefore at the level of the international system as a whole
that the unity-in-diversity of the working class is fully 

Note how in the move from capital in general to the state,
there is still mystification and at least some lack of class 
awareness even through it is a different, more concrete, level 
of abstraction.

In conceptualizing unity and diversity within the working class 
(and the capitalist class) we have to grasp not only simple unity 
and then diversity but also the richer and more complex nature 
of unity-in-diversity.  This is both a theoretical and a practical

In solidarity, Jerry

Mike wrote:
        I think Paulo has raised interesting points in relation to the extensive conflicts between capitalists and workers at the level of appearances. These are conflicts which clearly are class conflicts and in which class subjectivity is present. It is here that capitalists are conscious that their rule depends upon their ability to divide workers (although that can hardly be said to be a 'secret').
        In the absence of the 'secret' that Marx revealed in CAPITAL, however,--- the demonstration that capital is the result of exploitation, the above struggles occur within a framework in which capital is viewed as separate from workers, as an independent source of productivity and as necessary. Thus, they are struggles against unfairness (in wages, working conditions, etc), struggles for that fair day's work for a fair day's pay. To coin a phrase, in the absence of the understanding of the essence of capital, those conflicts at the surface of society yield in themselves only a trade union or social democratic consciousness.
Paolo wrote:     
Conflict between capital and labor does not manifest itself as a conflict over surplus value but as a conflict over cost, remembering that for the capitalist c+v are just costs; it manifests itself also as a conflict over the control of the labor process and its intensity among many other ways. This are instances in which the conflict appear in the surface of relations. It is at this level that capitalists are aware. Your question then ("at what point is class subjectivity introduced?")  could be answer thus: it can only be introduced at the level of the appearances since all categories Marx develops mistify the essence! Is there anything wrong in interpreting capitalist rule through manipulation of class divisions as a rule over cost, control,etc.? The rule over the working class through what appears in the surface of relations is still rule and domination. 

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