[OPE-L:5092] Re: Antonio Negri

Michael A. Lebowitz (mlebowit@sfu.ca)
Wed, 21 May 1997 15:56:23 -0700 (PDT)

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In 5074, Jerry responded to Seongjin's question about Negri and Autonomist
Marxism in 5070

> There are many different issues that we could (and should) discuss. I
> won't attempt here to offer a critique of Open Marxism, but I will
> suggest a few possible topics worthy of discussion:
> a) the _Grundrisse_ and _Capital_
> It seems to me that Toni Negri and Mike L share a similar
> (but NOT the same) perspective on the "one-sided" nature of _Capital_ and
> the importance of the _Grundrisse_. On the other hand, I think there is
> quite a sharp difference in terms of Negri's reading of _Capital_ and that
> of fellow Open Marxist, Harry Cleever (in _Reading Capital_, Austin,
> University of Texas Press, 1979).

I hope we can get a discussion of this going if Massimo is still following
our value debates. While I think that Negri basically has it "right" with
respect to the importance of the Grundrisse and the book on wage-labour, I
recall his discussion of the Grundrisse as quite fanciful in places, with
many logical leaps; the result is that unless you are predisposed to his
position, I don't think the Marx Beyond Marx argument is compelling
logically. Both his and Harry Cleaver's arguments (in Reading Capital
Politically) propose that the book on wage-labour does not have to be
written because it is already there latent in Capital as a premise; I don't
think that stands up, and my book (Beyond Capital: Marx's Political Economy
of the Working Class) explicitly rejects that proposition.

> I understand that a discussion between
> Mike L and Harry was taped and I think it might prove to be an interesting
> source of discussion if it were reproduced here.
Actually, I should try to dig that up. I've never seen a transcript. The
occasion was a visit by Harry to Vancouver and occurred in a discussion
group which had been meeting for about a year composed of autonomists and
people interested in reading more and understanding their position (my
category). My recollection is that the main dispute with Harry was over
Hegel--- over his (and Negri et al's) rejection of the concept of totality
and an organic system, that this represented capital's imposition upon
workers (and had from the time of Hegel). I both challenged that and also
argued that the autonomist concept of self-valorisation of workers (which I
agree with--- although I call it the "self-development" of workers and link
it explicitly to Marx's concept of revolutionary practice) had its roots in
Hegel's Phenomenology and in the concept of the self-development of the
Idea. (Here's one thing I think Andrew and I can agree upon.)
In any event, I'd like to see us explore questions like the ones that
Jerry set out and hope that Massimo can be provoked to respond.
Finally, Seongjin commented:

>Recently, Negri related Autonomist Marxism has become a fashinabloe trend
>among distressed left intellectuals in Korea after the Althusserian and
>Postmodern fashion receded.

Although I do not consider myself an autonomist marxist, I definitely
would view this shift from Althusserian and Postmodern fashions a great leap
forward. 8^)
in solidarity,
Michael A. Lebowitz
Economics Department, Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
Office: (604) 291-4669; Office fax: (604) 291-5944
Home: (604) 872-0494; Home fax: (604) 872-0485
Lasqueti Island: (250) 333-8810
e-mail: mlebowit@sfu.ca