Re: [OPE-L] Lawrence Krader on objective and subjective value

From: Paul Cockshott (clyder@GN.APC.ORG)
Date: Sun Nov 11 2007 - 15:21:31 EST

I would not pose things this way at all, since, these way of posing
things seems to me to start out with a notion that is intially
problematic and unscientific in its original domain :
 the cartesian notion of the subject, and applies it to a quite different
domain. The original domain is as an explanatory theory of
human behaviour, where the 'subject' is an amalgum of the religious
notion of the 'soul' and the effects of property and juridical
relations. As such it is entirely ideological, and no longer a
hypothesis used by cognitive neuroscience.
It is then projected onto a quite different domain, politics, and 
social classes are thought of using terms and language that was
originally used to think of and explain human behaviour.

But at the most basic level there is a dichotomy here, higher animals,
humans included, have central nervous systems that control their actions.
Social classes clear do not.

The concept of juridical subject can of course be applied to
abstract legal personalities, such as corporate bodies, states or
firms. But in these cases it appears applicable because all of these
bodies have some centralised decision making structure. But
even in these cases it is no more than a convenient fiction of juridical
ideology, it is not a materialist theory of the mechanisms regulating
the behaviour of these corporate bodies.

But a class is not even a juridical subject, since it lacks the
centralised decision making procedures. Political parties on the other
hand have some of these attributes, and might appear to have the
requisites of being 'subjects'. They can indeed be recognised as such
in law. But for social science, to treat this subjectivity seriously
is very misleading since it obscures the actual mechanisms by which
conflicting ideologies and conflicting class interests reproduce themselves
within political parties.

Quoting GERALD LEVY <gerald_a_levy@MSN.COM>:

> >Why should we concieve of classes as subjects, why should we concienve of
> >them as agents rather than classes?
> Hi Paul C:
> Agency is a constitutive element of class.  If one does not grasp the
> duality of
> class as object and subject, one can neither adequately theorize class
> behavior
> nor understand it in more concrete terms.   If one conceives of class
> entirely as
> subject then there is no necessary connection between the material world and
> class behaviior.  If one conceives of class entirely as object,  then one is
> led to
> one-sidedly  and mechancally view class action as simply a knee-jerk
> response to
> the actions of the 'other' class.  If one does not grasp the duality of
> class one can
> make no sense of the strategic behavior of classes in particular periods of
> time
> and space - whether one wishes to refer to "regimes of accumulation",
> "social
> structures of accumulation", "stages theory" or "conjunctural analysis".
> Without
> grasping this duality, one can not grasp either the nature of day-to-day
> class
> struggles under capitalism or the possibility of a revolutionary
> transformation.
> There are other concepts which, of course, are required as well, including:
> 1.  a fuller understanding at a more concrete level of abstraction of the
> duality requires
> that the character mask assumption be dropped.
> 2.  one must also conceive of class not as simple unity alone but also as
> difference and
> unity-in-difference.
> 3. one must grasp the ways in which national (and gender and race) divisions
> affect
> class behavior.
> In solidarity, Jerry

Paul Cockshott

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