[OPE-L:1526] Re: Lapides and Marx's wage theory

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Thu, 21 Oct 1999 19:52:28 -0400 (EDT)

Paul Z writes in [OPE-L:1521]:

> You lost me, Jerry.

OK, let's re-trace our steps.

Previously, you wrote in [1518]:

> I don't know what to make of your sentence "to the extent that class
> struggle is discussed in _Capital_, it is discussed in a one-sided
> manner". The Italian zero-work school would say that Capital is about
> what capital struggles TO IMPOSE, but labor resists at multiple levels,
> therefore, Capital is not about what capital actually ACHIEVES. To the
> extent that this is correct, I'm not convinced that what workers would
> want to achieve is understandable within the epistemological of Capital,
> "missing book" or no "missing book".

My point was that if we accept your summary of what the Italian zero-work
school suggests, then it might be interpreted to be supportive of a
"missing book" interpretation. Indeed, a number of authors from that
tradition emphasize the way in which workers in _Capital_ are treated as
if they were vampire-like (i.e. corpse-like, walking dead) subjects
without subjectivities. If one then takes the position that this is
because the subject of _Capital_ was what capital struggles to impose,
then the next logical step is to ask how workers with subjectivity can
resist this imposition and fight for (to use a term common in autonomist
literature) self-valorization.

btw, another emphasis of this same tradition has been on class analysis
(including such topics as class de-composition, recomposition, etc).

Marx was evidently concerned with this subject as well. Indeed, this was
the subject of the last chapter of Volume 3: "Classes". From a
epistemological perspective, one might suggest that this would be the
_next_ topic to examine after _Capital_. Indeed, so it appears in the
6-book-plan. After "Capital" (Book One), comes "Landed Property" (Book
Two) and "Wage-Labour" (Book Three). In other words, "the three great

Thus Marx begins *the last chapter of _Capital_* as follows:

         "The owners of mere labour-power, the owners of capital and the
          landowners, whose respective sources of income are wages, profit
          and ground rent - in other words wage-labourers, capitalists
          and landowners - form the three great classes of modern society
          based on the capitalist mode of production" (Penguin ed., p.

Well, this is quite a "coincidence", isn't it? It _just so happens_ that
he introduces the subjects of the three classes right before ending
_Capital_. If only Marx had told us what the next question to be
answered was ...

Well, he did! In a manner that would have made G.W. Hegel proud, he
introduces the next subject to be addressed:

          "The question to be answered next is: 'What makes a class?',
           and this arises automatically from answering another question:
           'What makes wage-labourers, capitalists and landowners the
           formative elements of the three great social classes?' (Ibid,
           pp. 1025-1026).
Note that he doesn't attempt to answer in the remaining two paragraphs
of Capital_ the questions that he said are to be "answered next".

In solidarity, Jerry

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