Re: [OPE-L] Bloody Capital and Dead Labour Cultural Studies or the Critique of Political Economy? By Mark Neocleous

From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Mon Apr 24 2006 - 22:05:16 EDT

Re: [OPE-L] Bloody Capital and Dead Labour Cultural StudieRakesh, 

Wow, that was a long time ago.  Here's what I think I meant. 
If capital fed off of the "capitalized blood of children", then 
capital was vampiric.  But when the undead bite the living the
living also become transformed into the undead.  The bitten 
labor then, if one pursues the vampire metaphor to its logical
end,  would be neither living nor dead.  If you see the subsequent
posts I wrote shortly afterwards in early May, 1996,  I raised 
the question of  *workers'  subjectivity*.

To truly have subjectivity requires that workers be conceived as 
subjects with wills that are not totally at the command of others,
unlike what happens to the victims of vampires who do not have
the capacity to challenge the commands of their vampire masters.

That's what I _think_ I meant, but I wrote that way back in 1996
and, frankly, had forgotten about it.  The point is, though, that
the notion of capital as vampiric is consistent with conceiving of
labor as undead.  This highlights a problem with the metaphor: 
it is  *one-sided* since it can not conceive of workers employed by
capital who truly have subjectivity.  This does not mean that the 
metaphor should be rejected, but it does suggest that it needs to
be surpassed in the further unfolding of the theory.

In solidarity, Jerry

PS: there seem to be some posts, including this one, which are
missing from the May, 1996 archives.  Fortunately, there are copies
of the posts elsewhere (I had to look up the post in a cd-rom Iwao
sent me _many_ years ago!) so they can be recovered. (
  Sat, 4 May 1996 04:56:48 -0700
  Massimo asked in [OPE-L:2072]:
  > "A great deal of capital, which appears today in the United States
  > without any birth-certificate, was yesterday, in England,
  > the capitalised blood of children." (V.I. p. 921)
  > I guess also the quote could be dismissed on the ground that
  > it represents a simple metaphor, in which case I would like
  > ask: a metaphor for what? May I have your 
  > distinguished views on the matter
  It's a vampire metaphor, of course. Taking the metaphor literally, one could 
  refer to labor as "undead labor" -- neither completely living or truly dead.

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