[OPE-L:5172] open/autonomist marxism

Massimo De Angelis (M.Deangelis@uel.ac.uk)
Wed, 4 Jun 1997 11:03:54 -0700 (PDT)

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Reply to Mike Lebowitz, ope-L 5092.

Yes, I have been provoked to response. So, I break my silence
(mostly due to other commitments) and happily jump in (Just to
realize that Mike is away for two weeks !!!!).

In 5092 Mike writes: "Both [Negri] and Harry Cleaver's argument . . .
propose that the book on wage-labour does not have to be written
because it is already there latent in Capital; I don't think this
stands up, and my book . . . explicitly rejects that proposition".

Two considerations.

1. I think the position of Cleaver and
Negri is slightly different. The latter sees Capital mostly as a book
on - literally - capital, or at least one in which categories such as
struggle, working class, subjectivity, etc., are very marginal. This
is why, Negri, gives so much importance to the Grundrisse. And this is
why I would infer his discussion of this text is, in Mike's words
"quite fanciful in places, with many logical leaps". Negri's reading
of the Grundrisse is not aimed at discovering the **logic ** of
capital, but at making sense of the free activity of the social
subjects breaking out of capital. In this sense, his analysis provides
numerous insights, and it is necessarily characterised by "many
logical leaps" (to use a metaphor, a **strike** is, in a sense, a
logical leap, it is the refusal of the "ordinary run of things", it is
the refusal, say, of the logic of the assembly line (1930s/1970s) of
the logic of competitive subcontracting (1990s GM), etc.).

Cleaver's position is different, in his book Reading
Capital Politically he sees struggles/working class/subjectivity etc.
as central element for the definition of the categories in Das
Kapital. In my work on abstract labour (published in Capital and Class
1995) and commodity-fetishism (RRPE 1996) I move from this position.

2. What does the search for the "missing book on
wage-labour" mean? Does it mean the satisfaction of a curiosity
in the history of thought? In which case, it is a quite legitimate
mystery to be solved. Or does it mean that Marx has excluded from his
analysis the perspective of the working class? To me this is nonsense,
as the most important categories of Capital acquire a socially
relevant human meaning only to the extent they are referred to the
working class. The alternative is, it seems to me, pure scientism
(that is, using dictionary definition, "an exaggerated trust in the
ability or suitability of the methods of natural science to explain
social or psychological phenomena or to solve pressing human
problems."; We had some of this in ope-L). By the way, I wrote a
sympathetic critical review of Mike's book in #52 of Capital and
Class. Hope we can start discussing these issues. I have intentionally
left out any comments on dialectics, as I would like to proceed one
thing at a time.

Massimo De Angelis