Date: Tue May 16 2006 - 06:10:01 EDT
Here are the abstracts for the May 27 MPS conference in London which I told you about on April 21. See <www.marxandphilosophy.org.uk> for further details on the conference. In solidarity, Jerry ============================================================= Abstracts (1) Bob Cannon 'Capitalism, Fetishism and Modernity' In this paper I argue that a progressive critique of capitalism is impossible in the absence of modernity's normative resources. This means taking issue with social commentators that identify modernity with capitalism either to discredit the former (Jameson) or to validate the latter (Habermas). To this end, I argue that the legitimacy of modernity is grounded in the norm of self-constitution. This sets modernity in opposition to pre-modern conceptions of morality, which acquire their legitimacy from (a combination of) tradition, nature and the divine. From a modern perspective social rules are only valid if they express the ends of those to whom they apply. This sets morality apart from the natural world, upon which it previously claimed to be grounded. The separation of nature and sociality is central to a modern conception of rationality. To be rational in the modern sense of the term, argues Kant, is to treat objects as mere means to an end and human beings as ends in themselves. This is the normative foundation upon which the notion of fetishism rests. Social practices that attribute ends to objects and reduce agents to the status of mere objects appear fetishistic (invalid, irrational and pre-modern) from a modern perspective. According to Marx, capitalism is fetishistic because it comprises a self-constituting system with its own objective imperatives, in which capital (self-valorizing value) acquires the status of a 'subject' and labour is reduced to a mere 'instrument' of production. However, because Marx fails to put his critique of capitalism upon a normative foundation he violates the normative criteria upon which his critique is predicated. Instead, he performs an 'objective' critique of capitalism, which treats self-constitution as a natural property of (purposive) labour. This not only renders capitalism's capacity for self-constitution a mere 'illusion' - with all its attendant epistemological problems. It also usurps the normative standpoint of agents for whom capitalism's self-constituting 'reality' is unjust, immoral and invalid. Only by grounding the critique of capitalism in the struggles of agents (above all the labour movement) to redeem the normative promise of modernity is it possible to render the former consistent with the latter. (2) Drew Milne 'Michel Henry's Marx: The Ontology of Labour' Michel Henry's Marx (1976 / trans. 1983) poses a number of questions for the future of socialism. Henry's interpretation of Marx as a philosopher focuses on the 'ontological insufficiency' of economic reality as it is determined through processes of abstraction from human praxis. Against the abstractions of labour and the labour process, Henry claims that Marx continually sought to discern what Henry calls the 'subjective essence of production', its production and preservation through living labour. The resulting conception of socialism is not one in which labour becomes the ontological ground of production and social being, however, but a radical reconception of the relation between labour and life. Rather than reappropriating alienated labour, Henry's conception of socialism builds on the dissociation in capitalism between the production process and the labour process, so as to transcend economic reality. Henry's interpretation of Marx proposes an unusual reconciliation between phenomenology and historical materialism, but one which is hostile to most Marxist interpretations of Marx, notably Althusser's. Against the tendency in Henry's account to reduce Marx to a philosophical text, this paper seeks some reconciliation between the problems posed by Henry and Marxism, offering an introduction to Henry's Marx which is nevertheless critical. This paper also takes with Jacques Derrida's attempts to displace Henry's account in Spectres of Marx, arguing that there is more to contend with in Henry's account than a 'philosophy of life'. The conception of 'living labour' in Marx's theory of value and the consequences for a political conception of praxis emerge as conceptual problems which are still important for twenty-first century Marxist thought. The paper concludes with some comments on Henry's Marx seen through the perspectives offered by McKenzie Wark's A Hacker Manifesto (2004). How might a new politics of solidarity conceive the internationalism of labour, including intellectual labour, within contemporary capitalism? (3) Mark Neocleous 'The Politics and Philosophy of Redemption: Marxism, National Socialism, and the Dead' This paper aims to build an argument about the place of the dead within Marxism. I suggest that while Marx had good reasons for arguing that we should 'let the dead bury their dead', a phrase he was fond of using, this is a dangerous political move, as it leaves the dead to be appropriated by the political Right. This appropriation will be explored through a number of sources in and around National Socialism, from populist sloganeering to Heidegger's arguments about death. In response, the paper will propose that we need to find a way to incorporate a very different argument about the dead into Marxism. This will have its roots in the idea of redemption, an idea excavated via the work of Walter Benjamin, and which can then be set against the fascist notion of resurrection.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed May 31 2006 - 00:00:03 EDT