Re: [OPE-L] vampire blues

From: Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM
Date: Tue Oct 04 2005 - 19:45:19 EDT

vampire blues> in Capital as a vampire? definitely, yes


Capitalists as blood-suckers is a variation on the trans-historical 
image of the ruling class as parasites.  

Let us consider the vampire analogy -- and all it implies -- more 

The analogy to bloodsucking is colorful but misleading.  It is
not workers' blood that capitalists survive on, it is by 
capitalizing on what they produce.    The commodity is not 
the blood of workers even if it was produced with workers'
blood, sweat, and tears.

There is no distinction that capitalists make between virgin workers
and experienced ones.  If anything, experiences ones -- to the degree
that they have more skill -- are more highly prized.   Virginity
has special meaning in Victorian society when the Dracula myth
was popularized;  capitalists are willing to exploit both virgins and 
non-virgins equally. 

Sunlight is poisonous for vampires.  Not so for capital.  All 
hours of the day are utilized where possible to accumulate 
capital (and, contrary to the image in Volume 1) consume
unproductively surplus value.  Also, the extraction of surplus 
value (unlike the extraction of blood by vampires) takes place
during all hours of the working day rather than only during the

Vampires are neither living nor dead -- they are undead.  This might
seem to fit in rather well with the imagery of capitalists as capital
personified.  It certainly fits in well with the predatory nature of 
capitalists as a class.  

Yet, if capitalists are vampires what does that make workers? 
Once bitten by a vampire one joins the undead and is condemned
*forever* to slavishly follow the commands of  one's master.
There is *absolutely* no room for subjectivity or revolt on the part of
the bitten.  Thus, the only prospect for defeating the vampire must
come from an *external* source -- i.e. somebody who has never been
bitten.    This perhaps represents a fantasy of capital but by no 
means a reality.  A good thing too since the working class could 
never be the "gravediggers" of capital and "expropriate the
expropriators" if that were true.  

Thus, if one believes that this is the message of _Capital_ then
all hope is lost and all struggle by workers is impossible since
the bitten can not struggle against their vampire master: their 
blood has been poisoned and they have no will. If this is the
message then it is not a revolutionary one.

It is therefore a nice analogy but one that is highly misleading
if we take it too literally.

> my point is that the commodity compels Marx to speak the 
> language of ghosts and vampires.

He spoke the language of ghosts throughout his literary career.  For 
fun I did a search at in the Marx archive at (click
on Marx's head) by typing in "ghost."   For an atheist, there
were an enormous quantity of references to ghosts -- and on 
*many* more topics than just the commodity.  

A "specter" is haunting Europe!  It is not the specter of capital, is it?   
Rather, the specter is communism  -- an image that is quite contrary 
to the imagery of workers as lacking in subjectivity and only capable 
of following the commands of their vampire master.

Perhaps we should have saved this topic for discussion near the
end of the month ....

In solidarity, Jerry

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