[OPE] Productive labour and capital redistribution

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@telfort.nl>
Date: Sun Jun 14 2009 - 06:05:09 EDT

In any mode of production in historical civil society, the same activity can
be performed for the benefit of various different social classes, and
therefore those social classes are likely to take a different view of the
productiveness of the activity - if they benefit, they will regard it as
productive, if they don't benefit or it is a cost to them or they regard it
as a cost to society, they will regard it unproductive. Much depends on what
you really know about what it actually takes to realise, qua labour
activities, to realize a particular output; in a complex division of labour
things may not be so transparent. This view does not make the concept of
productive labour arbitrary; because if you really want to make profits, you
really need to know what is required to realise them.

I introduced the concept of the N.M.E.C. (admittedly something of a
conceptual blunt instrument with which Marxists such as Anders Ekeland are
uncomfortable) both because (1) it is historically accurate - as Christian
Rakovsky began to analyse, a cohesive political ideology can form class
power out of existing social stratifications, for a particular social
grouping with a distinctive socio-economic interest - and because (2) I
think we need to break the Marxists completely out of the idea that their
own Marxist prescription for a new social order automatically leads, upon
implementation, to a more efficient, less oppressive, more egalitarian and
more progressive society in which people have more possibility to develop
themselves. In my personal experience, said Marxists can be just as
parasitic and exploitative as anybody else, and history provides no reason
for believing that if they acquire real power, that they will suddenly be
any different. Once we drop any pretension of an a priori superior vantage
point, we are in a much better position to learn what to do to obtain a
superior vantage point.

The Marxists operate with a double standard, one for themselves and one for
the nasty capitalists and anti-socialists. It is always the other people who
caricature, while their own descriptions somehow aren't caricatures. This is
remarkable, because most real business people cannot even recognize
themselves in the Marxist picture of what they actually do. The Marxists
cannot stand the fact, that somebody else caricatures them, just as,
typically, Marx wanted to have the last word. This kind of thing is not
objective, and it can be healthy and useful to caricature the holy
principles of the Marxists.

In fact, that was precisely the surrealistic aim of Cornelius Castoriadis,
in his "revolutionary critiques of historical materialism" (published under
the pseudonym of Paul Cardan). Castoriadis laced one of his texts with Bible
illustrations by Gustave Doré, cartoonized with speech bubbles and captions.
You can see one example of this here:
http://revolutionaryboredom.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/dore.jpg (the
article link is
http://revolutionaryboredom.wordpress.com/2008/12/01/making-poetry-of-philosophy-an-experiment-with-cornelius-castoriadis/ )
. If I am not much mistaken, the English version is found in: Paul Cardan,
Modern capitalism and revolution. A solidarity book. London: Potter, 1965. I
owned these books thirty years ago in New Zealand, but I no longer have them
as I left all that behind.

The historical materialism that Castoriadis objected against, was mainly the
boring Marxist-Leninist droning about forces and relations of production,
mode of production, the categories of political economy and the inevitable
stages of historical progress, in other words the stale liturgy of the
Marxist world view. This liturgy not only obliterated everything vital and
essential for healthy human development and scientific common sense, but it
also killed the very meaning of radicalism and alternatives in which
individuals are active, creative subjects rather than the drones of a
defunct dictator.


Uh-huh, this towns full of money grabbers
Go ahead, bite the big apple, don't mind the maggots, huh
Shadoobie, my brain's been battered
My friends they come around and
Flatter, flatter, flatter
Pile it up, pile it high on the platter

- Rolling Stones, "Shattered"


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