[OPE-L:1815] Re: question of subjectivity

Massimo De Angelis (M.DeAngelis@uel.ac.uk)
Thu, 18 Apr 1996 06:37:22 -0700

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> Date: Thu, 11 Apr 1996 17:12:32 -0700
> Reply-to: ope-l@anthrax.ecst.csuchico.edu
> From: glevy@acnet.pratt.edu
> To: Multiple recipients of list <ope-l@anthrax.ecst.csuchico.edu>
> Subject: [OPE-L:1746] Re: question of subjectivity

> 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?

Jerry, I was using your terminology. I would not use "capitalist
subjectivity" when talking to capital vis a vis working class.
> 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 ....?


> > 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.

Ahhh, this is THE point, the "ALSO" ARGUMENT. Capitalists not only
have strategies vis a vis working class but ALSO towards each other,
but ALSO towards the tax collectors, ALSO towards their suppliers,
ALSO towards themselves when they try to minimise the time they spend
in the toilet (time after all is money), ALSO etc. etc.
Yes Jerry, life is full of instances and if we add them up we cannot
make sense of them. So the question is, where do we draw the line,
what is our criteria to reduce the messy multiplicity of life into
something that makes sense. But when we ask ourselves what is the
criteria, we must take a stand, implicitly or explicitly. What
matters to me is not the formal effect of competition of capitalist A
in relation to capitalist B, what matters to me is the effect of this
competitive struggle vis a vis the workers employed or dismissed by A
and B. THIS IS ALL IT MATTER. Thus the struggle between cap A and B
can very well end up (as it has) in a war fought by the workers of A
and B. etc .etc. What I am trying to say is that from our
perspective, the RELEVANCE acquired by the competitive struggle
between A and B is only VIS A VIS the working class, a project of
emancipation, andthe overcoming this capitalist mode of production.
All the rest is a matter of abstract contemplation and/or devicing
theories of competition to better enable capitlaists to compete.

> > 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?

Jerry, I do not have VOL. 3 or Grundrisse here in the office, and I
am terrible with memory. There is a chapter around the falling rate
of profit and one section in the Grundrisse. Promise I look it up at
home, but I am sure someone else has the ref straighty away (Andrew
you know what I am referring to aren't you??).