[OPE-L:1746] Re: question of subjectivity

glevy@acnet.pratt.edu (glevy@acnet.pratt.edu)
Thu, 11 Apr 1996 17:12:32 -0700

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Massimo wrote in #1738:

> First, in the last 100 years readers of Marx's
> capital have concentrated especially on this capitalist subjectivity,
> in such a way that today everyt " tendency " IS understood as capital's
> subjectivity, while working class subjectivity is confined at most
> to the realm of countertendency. <snip>
> Thus in this light, to bring up the issue of working class subjectivity
> at the very least represents a counterweight to the opposite
> attitude.

I don't understand here what you mean by capitalist subjectivity. In Ch.
24, capitalists are presented as "capital personified." As such, aren't
they subjects without subjectivity: mere bearers of economic relations --
character masks?

This, surely, is a incomplete and one-sided description of capitalist
behavior. In effect, aren't you assuming that (to paraphrase a bright
young Marxist) living capitalists are living-dead capitalists, a
subject-less mob, completely consumed human beings with not even a
residual of humanity, stupid brain washed beings ....?

I believe that this distinction has importance for other topics such as
competition and the state.

On that last topic, what about nationalism? Is that also not an element
of the consciousness of (some) capitalists which leads them to behave
differently in certain circumstances than if they viewed themselves as
capitalists alone?

[DIGRESSION: the events leading to the formation of the Hungarian Soviet
Republic of 1919 are relevant here. Following the submission of the Vix
Note, what did the bourgeois democratic government under Karolyi decide
to do? --> something that some Marxists claimed that capitalists would
never do under any circumstances].

> Second. To me, the two kinds of subjectivities are different.
> Capitalist subjectivity can only be VIS A VIS the working class, that
> is it can only devise STRATEGIES to subsume the working class and
> MAINTAIN the current mode of production.

This reduces capitalist behavior to its strategies re the working class.
Yet, they also develop strategies towards *each other* which are often
antagonistic. Also they exist as capitalists within particular nation states
and, thereby, identify their interests differently than if we were to
assume the non-existence of nation states.

> Working class subjectivity
> on the contrary is not only VIS A VIS capital but at the same time
> BEYOND IT. In Marx's capital there is no much of this latter
> dimension (a part few hints on reduction of working time as a
> precondition for freedom,, etc. in Volume three and few other
> remarks).

This is a rich topic well worth investigating. What sections are you
referring to?

In OPE-L Solidarity,