Should communists be union reps?

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pepe carvalho's picture
pepe carvalho
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Sep 14 2006 22:21
Peter wrote:
So you haven't read this thread then?

But to cater for your laziness, how about why should communists put themselves in a position where they'll end up acting against workers' struggles?

Pete

are you an ICC member or supporter? if so i have interest in further debate, because you are a worthless cuntwit

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Sep 14 2006 22:42
pepe carvalho wrote:
Peter wrote:
So you haven't read this thread then?

But to cater for your laziness, how about why should communists put themselves in a position where they'll end up acting against workers' struggles?

Pete

are you an ICC member or supporter? if so i have interest in further debate, because you are a worthless cuntwit

I am quite sure that Peter is not a member, or supporter of the ICC, and neither am I. I think that we do both hold a similar position to them on the unions though.

The level of debate here; 'you are a worthless cuntwit' is impresive though. Some people might consider it flamming.

Devrim

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Sep 14 2006 22:46

if he's not an ICC member that's fine, i'll come back with a sensible answer in the morning

suffice to say anyone who takes an ICC line on anything is politically worthless to say the least

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Sep 14 2006 22:52

This is ridiculous. I'm an ICC member. I agree with Peter's post. Why not just answer the arguments? The communist critique of the trade unions wasn't invented by the ICC and it's not only defended by them today.

bastarx
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Sep 14 2006 23:17
pepe carvalho wrote:
if he's not an ICC member that's fine, i'll come back with a sensible answer in the morning

suffice to say anyone who takes an ICC line on anything is politically worthless to say the least

Pepe, I'm not an ICC member or supporter. I do however have similar positions on many things. These positions are not the property of the ICC or myself or any other communist group or individual. Now you may not agree with any of them but you'll have to come up with a better argument than:

1. The ICC believes X
2. The ICC is bad
3. Therefore X is false and whoever affirms X is politically worthless.

But I guess sloppy arguing is your forte, you did jump into the end of a 12 page discussion and declare there can't be any decent argument about the subject of that discussion.

Pete

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Sep 14 2006 23:22

I think that this thread needs some sort of a split.
Dev

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Sep 14 2006 23:32

I agree, in fact I said it first.

I also think this post should itself be split:

"So far therefore as labour is a creator of use-value, is useful labour, it is a necessary condition, independent of all forms of society, for the existence of the human race; it is an eternal nature-imposed necesity, without which there can be no material exchanges between man and nature, and therfore no life" (Marx, Capital, vol 1 chapter 1).

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Sep 14 2006 23:48

Aw, shucks, Revol, I can’t take the credit for uncle Karl’s work, but I did send it in because I basically agree with you against cph-shawarma’s arguments.

I meant to send you these links some time ago, when the question of Marx’s early writings and the concept of alienation (which cph-s seems to reject as idealist) came up. They are from our series on communism:

http://en.internationalism.org/ir/070_commy_03 (on the concept of alienation in the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts)

http://en.internationalism.org/ir/075_commy_07.html (on how this concept was continued in Grundrisse and Capital).

It would be interesting to have your opinion (not on this thread though).

cph_shawarma
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Sep 15 2006 05:51

I clearly, fucking said that use value and exchange value are distinct, but dialectically unified. Read my fucking post again, and stop confusing my argument with ridiculous BS (or maybe that's your drive).

And I still think you are quite naive to think that we can simply "take over" capital, that is precisely the notion which is common to all those that propose reformism, Bolshevism, councilism and all other ancient communist efforts.

Quote:
Millions of tonnes of food are dumped for reasons of exchange value whilst millions around the world are literally dying to experiance it's use value.

Well, by stating this you have fallen for the capitalist notion of usefulness. There is a reason for these people starving and the reason is the ever-expanding food production, ie. capitalist food production. And "feeling sad for" people who are starving is something we all do, but that does not change that the solution is not in expanding production, nor even distributing all the goods, but in breaking the type of production which is ever-expanding, ie. breaking capital down. And capitalism is class struggle, see for instance Marx's notes on crisis in the third volume of Capital. Therefore we must stop class struggle, since class struggle is capitalism (not the capitalists, but the relation that links capitalists and workers). (And no, the workers in Spain did not stop class struggle, they ceded to capital, which is still class struggle, duh!)

Ah, fuck it. We're not even close to being at a fruitful discussion, I simply don't like idealism and humanism.

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Sep 15 2006 10:01
cph_shawarma wrote:
capitalism is class struggle, see for instance Marx's notes on crisis in the third volume of Capital. Therefore we must stop class struggle, since class struggle is capitalism (not the capitalists, but the relation that links capitalists and workers)

but how do you just "stop class struggle" without abolishing classes, i.e. transforming property relations? you seem to follow Postone into the dead end of seeing classes and property relations as the mere 'appearance' of capital, whereas commodity exchange, commodity fetishism, Ch.1 Vol.1 of Capital is it's 'essence' - a reading which stands the materialist marx on his head and returns to idealism, where we just "stop class struggle" and capitalism goes away.

cph_shawarma
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Sep 15 2006 14:23

Class struggle was for instance (partially) stopped in Argentina, when they begun to communise their relations, ie. when their production started work without wage labour, ie. without class struggle, without a proletariat and without a capitalist class. It is stopped when we snatch ingredients from our workplace to produce bread or food for ourselves, class struggle stops when communist activity begins, when the activity which does not separate labour from "free time", which does not measure activity by an abstract principle, which does not separate the producer from the means of production, which does not imply a division of activities in "productive" and "improductive" begins, then class struggle stops. (Of course its a lengthy process, there is no on/off switch, but rather a dimmer which turns back and forth until it is fully lit and locked in place.) The green wave is another (failed) example of a halt in class struggle, when people went out in the woods and expropriated land to feed themselves without wage labour. A comrade of mine said quite a beautiful thing on the limitations of the green wave (which was an utter failure): "The problem with the green wave, was that they did not grow their carrots in the factories." Which is very true. Another example are squats, which is a rudimentary cellular form of communist living, which most often fail, since it is not connected with a wider attack on capitalist society. That has been the main problem of all communising insurrections, they have failed to expand, but they are getting bigger (as in Argentina 2001). But class struggle was stopped, capital was no longer able to wield power for a while, until the ever-expanding and ongoing "primitive" accumulation got back in the game. It is an ongoing struggle of leaving class struggle altogether. That's what I thought communists wanted, to leave class struggle, not having to go up every morning to the nursing home and waging a war against management!

Stopping class struggle does not mean laying down the proletarian struggle against capital, but stopping the mere possibility of struggle against capital. This can only be done by destroying the possibilities for class power, ie. by destroying capitalism and property relations. Class power, and thus class struggle, seizes to exist in those moments when production of natural use values (naturliche Dasein) is not aimed at accumulating value. There is a fucking difference between the natural use of a product and the way in which use value is composed in capitalist society, societal use value is the basis for capitalism itself. Without societal use value, no capitalism. With societal use value, no communism. There is a reason there are two terms for "use value" in Marx's Capital. Duh!

Simply, class struggle is stopped when production is no longer capitalist, when its aim is not the accumulation of value, nor the upholding of accumulation of value (as that of improductive labour), nor the production of commodities. When these categories, which are class struggle categories (the whole point of Marx's project was to display that the categories of value, labour etc. are class struggle categories and not some hocus pocus ahistoric Idea).

We still will need natural use values, but we can not have societal use values, ie. we can not have the use values which exist in the form of commodity in contemporary capitalism. That is why your idea of liberation of labour seems quite antiquated, quite like Plechanov or Bernstein, and a correlate to the "liberation" of the State.

To paraphrase Marx:

What is free labour? Free labour means a world where labour is free to rule the world. And today labour is the ruler of the world, all we do is labour, the only thing valued is labour. Labour rules us all. And that is precisely what must be negated through communism.

Of course class struggle is already here and if you recall I am involved in class struggle myself. The idea of stopping class struggle has nothing to do with idealism, merely the notion that class struggle reproduces class struggle, ie. capitalism reproduces itself. It is a spiral movement, not a linear movement. The end of the process is the beginning of the process, it's a dialectic for crying out loud, not a linear evolution which finally escalates to one Big Bang. Class struggle means restructuring, not escalation, struggles are qualitative and not parts of a sum which keeps adding up with each "struggle increase". A strike means a restructuring of capital, for instance.

And if you have read my posts you know this does not mean a moralist standpoint, I do not go out to the world and say Kneel! I merely explain what the world is doing and what it is forced to do, and in what manner we may some day be able to force it to stop doing what it's doing: making us proles.

I'll quote Marx on use value:

Quote:
the price-form is not only compatible with the possibility of a quantitative incongruity between magnitude of value and price, ... but it may also conceal a qualitative inconsistency, so much so, that although money is nothing but the value form of commodities, prices cease altogether to express values. Objects that in themselves are not commodities, such as conscience, honor, etc., are capable of being offered for sale by their holders, and thus acquiring, through their prices, the form of commodities. Hence an object may have a price without having a value.

(ie. societal use value is the basis for even beginning to conceive of a capitalist society)

Quote:
(english): The utility of a thing makes it a use value. But this utility is not a thing of air. Being limited by the physical properties of the commodity, it has no existence apart from that commodity.

(german): Die Nützlichkeit eines Dings macht es zum Gebrauchswert. Aber diese Nützlichkeit schwebt nicht in der Luft. Durch die Eigenschaften des Warenkörpers bedingt, existiert sie nicht ohne denselben. Der Warenkörper selbst, wie Eisen, Weizen, Diamant usw., ist daher ein Gebrauchswert oder Gut.

Quote:
(english): And lastly, from the moment that men in any way work for one another, their labour assumes a social form.

Whence, then, arises the enigmatical character of the product of labour, so soon as it assumes the form of commodities? Clearly from this form itself. The equality of all sorts of human labour is expressed objectively by their products all being equally values; the measure of the expenditure of labour power by the duration of that expenditure, takes the form of the quantity of value of the products of labour; and finally the mutual relations of the producers, within which the social character of their labour affirms itself, take the form of a social relation between the products.

(german): Endlich, sobald die Menschen in irgendeiner Weise füreinander arbeiten, erhält ihre Arbeit auch eine gesellschaftliche Form.

Woher entspringt also der rätselhafte Charakter des Arbeitsprodukts, sobald es Warenform annimmt? Offenbar aus dieser Form selbst. Die Gleichheit der menschlichen Arbeiten erhält die sachliche Form der gleichen Wertgegenständlichkeit der Arbeitsprodukte, das Maß der Verausgabung menschlicher Arbeitskraft durch ihre Zeitdauer erhält die Form der Wertgröße der Arbeitsprodukte, endlich die Verhältnisse der Produzenten, worin jene gesellschaftlichen Bestimmungen ihrer Arbeiten betätigt werden, erhalten die Form eines gesellschaftlichen Verhältnisses der Arbeitsprodukte.

The commodity form is dependent on the societal existence of labour and use values, that men produce for eachother (ie. for a market) and not for themselves. The societal use value (Gebrauchswert) is not the same thing as the natural "use value" (naturliche Dasein).

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Sep 15 2006 15:02
cph_shawarma wrote:
Class struggle was for instance (partially) stopped in Argentina, when they begun to communise their relations, ie. when their production started work without wage labour, ie. without class struggle, without a proletariat and without a capitalist class. It is stopped when we snatch ingredients from our workplace to produce bread or food for ourselves ...

i'm with you here - class struggle ends when it is successful. i agree, class struggle is the process by which the proletariat seeks its own abolition. but

cph_shawarma wrote:
...class struggle stops when communist activity begins

:? i don't think that makes sense, class struggle is the necessary process by which the proletariat negates itself, which i would say is part of communist activity becuse we can't just leap from the capitalist here to the communist there without any process in between, and that process, class struggle, is part of communist activity.

Nobody's holding up class struggle as an end in itself, but as a neccessary means - the failiure of squatting, 'the green wave' you mention, crimethinc etc is entirely down to the refusal of class struggle which neccessarily leaves such movements isolated, classes are not negated by withdrawal to the margins but by the successful seizure of the means of production/stuff in general, what you seem to call 'communisation', a process which is effectively the success of class struggle. To hold up communisation as opposed to class struggle is therefore to hold up swimming without getting wet.

cph_shawarma wrote:
Stopping class struggle does not mean laying down the proletarian struggle against capital, but stopping the mere possibility of struggle against capital. This can only be done by destroying the possibilities for class power, ie. by destroying capitalism and property relations.

yes, class struggle from a proletarian perspective is the struggle against class, not against the bourgoisie, but like i say you're holding up the success of class struggle as somehow separable from the process, as if communisation springs from nowhere.

i'll let revol field the stuff on labour and use-values, since he started it, though i'll quickly answer this:

cph_shawarma wrote:
The commodity form is dependent on the societal existence of labour and use values, that men produce for eachother (ie. for a market) and not for themselves.

producing for each other doesn't have to mean for a market, but simply that there is a division of labour. communism without a division of labour would be a pretty poor standard of living. my reading of marx is that the whole point is that labour is an inherently social activity which is set to work by capital as a result of violently enforced property relations. the social dimension to labour is that which is aufhebunged via the means if class struggle in the ends of communism, hence the stress on the social nature of any production where there is a division of labour (and thus the progressive aspect of capital vis prior forms of production with a lesser division of labour), the 'general intellect' etc. Like i say by repeating quotes from chapter 1 volume 1 as definitive you seem to be repeating what i think is Postone's error in treating everything after C1 V1 as 'appearance' as opposed to 'essence' - when in fact the dialectical progression of Marx's argument really doesn't function that way; the rest of Capital really can't be reduced to a footnote on 'appearances'.

that wasn't as short as i hoped tongue

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Sep 15 2006 15:06
pepe carvalho wrote:
Peter wrote:
So you haven't read this thread then?

But to cater for your laziness, how about why should communists put themselves in a position where they'll end up acting against workers' struggles?

Pete

are you an ICC member or supporter? if so i have interest in further debate, because you are a worthless cuntwit

This is a no-flaming forum. There have been arguments on here - such as reps are put in a position of having to publicly declare themselves against the strike in the media or what have you. I'm not convinced, but there were serious arguments worth more than "worthless cuntwit" roll eyes

cph_shawarma
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Sep 15 2006 16:47

Yes, proletarian class struggle is indeed needed for communisation. But it's there to be superceded, not to come to its own end (since class struggle has no end, but is the reproduction of itself, the closure of its own movement). And class struggle does not end when communisation begins, but when communism begins, the production based on a communitarian community can not be based on class struggle, but the struggle against the proletarian condition does not end for the squatters, the green wavers etc. They are still exposed to the proletarian condition, even isolated tribes in the Amazon are not living in a communist community, since they are exposed to the proletarian condition. But, the process of communisation means the disassembly of class relations altogether, even the class relations of the proletariat, ie. the proletariat seizes to be proletariat in its movement against itself, not as a proletariat, but against its own class interests. This does not imply, however, that communisation comes like a UFO from the sky, but rather through the evolution of certain immediate needs which constitute a break with the class relations of capital. There is a need for a theory concerning transition, we already have quite a good theory of class struggle in Capital, but we need a theory of transition, and for me that theory is immediate communisation.

Appearances are indeed important, there is no dualistic separation between appearances and essence, but there is a dialectic separation, one which combines them. I use the althusserian concept of overdetermination to conceptualise the appearances as the reproduction of capitalist society, for instance, ie. overdetermined class struggle, a distributive network of capital/labour, which objectifies the structure and imposes itself on every other particular capital/labour. And this objectification is what we need to destroy, which TC explains quite nice in Self-organisation...

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Sep 15 2006 16:56

I still think it's important to distinguish between reps, and just a shop steward. Also it's important to keep in mind if there is a contract, how the union raises it's funds, how accountable are you to the rank and file and what the union can actually do to you for not following their collaborationist policies.

Also you are afforded certain things which are very valuable as a shop steward, such as investigating grievances, and contacts in other departments.

As a workplace agitator the network that the union gives me for organising with fellow workers and agitating beyond bread butter issues is vital. Because I work in a workplace with 1800 employees, and because I'm a delivery driver the union provides the face to face contact with my fellow workers that I just simply don't have anywhere else. Now granted there is a trade off which we have gone over in detail but I still think that in many jobs depending on the shop in question at least a basic involvement in the union is not harmful, and in some workplaces makes the difference between being a respected millitant and being some kind of radical crackpot.

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Sep 15 2006 17:28
cph_shawarma wrote:
Yes, proletarian class struggle is indeed needed for communisation. But it's there to be superceded, not to come to its own end (since class struggle has no end, but is the reproduction of itself, the closure of its own movement) ... we already have quite a good theory of class struggle in Capital, but we need a theory of transition, and for me that theory is immediate communisation.

on this, i highly recommend Felton Shorthall's 'The Incomplete Marx', which is in the libcom library here, and virtually impossible to track down in a hard copy sad

he argues that Marx provisionally closes his dialectic in Capital in order to effect his critique of political economy, but since he never finished it we are left with the closure. thus i don't think of class struggle as a closed struggle between classes but a radically open struggle by the proletariat against class itself.

Thus to me, a theory of "immediate communisation" is unneccessary because a radically open dialectic of class struggle contains the possibility of its own supercession, and its ahistorical because everywhere there has been (partial) communisation, it has not been without prior class struggle, and so is not immediate. For example Malatesta left a lasting legacy in the libertarian traditions of the Argentinian workers movement, which re-emerged in the recuperated factory movement during the financial collapse in 2001. It wasn't a leap from capitalism to communisation, but an explosion of class struggle, that had it spread could have superceded itself by abolishing the material property relations which sustain class itself.

apologies to everyone else for the tangent embarrassed

cph_shawarma
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Sep 15 2006 17:42

Well, I don't consider the recuperated factories as part of the communisation process. Instead the piqueteros movement and asambleas barriales were rather the spaces where communisation began. See for instance the above mentioned TC text, which has a chapter on Argentina, or Ana C. Dinerstein's excellent articles on the piqueteros movement, asambleas barriales and a deep study of the battle in the Argentinian capital city. The need for communisation comes from the inadequacy of class struggle to accomplish communism, it is necessary but inadequate.

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Sep 15 2006 17:51
cph_shawarma wrote:
The need for communisation comes from the inadequacy of class struggle to accomplish communism, it is necessary but inadequate.

i could agree with that, but i guess we're into semantics. i mean if class struggle is seen as negation then a further affirmation is needed to actually create something else. i'd still say this affirmation is born in class struggle though, even if it comes of age on its grave.

but i still don't see communisation as immediate

cph_shawarma
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Sep 15 2006 18:08

revol68: Well, it seems that you have read Althusser as the stalinists in his time read him. Too bad for you. With a perverted Althusser we can bridge the gap between determinism and voluntarism and thus end both of them. Furthermore he wasn't a very good party member, since no one in the PCF liked him until he died and they could use him as they hade used Marx for half a century...

And it seems you haven't read Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses, nor On the Materialist Dialectic, nor Reading Capital, since none of these stupifying accusations are valid. Althusser argues against the idea of ideology as "illusion" (remember interpellation perhaps? didn't think so), he argues against the notion of "forces of production" as "things" (see for instance Reading Capital, where he explicitly discusses the fact that "forces of production" is a production relation, ie. a class relation). I won't even continue with this, since you haven't done your homework, it seems more likely you read some article on Althusser and then drew your own conclusions, instead of going to the source and reading what is actually said...

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Sep 15 2006 20:49

Cph_shawarma wrote:
No, you were reading me in a completely different manner from what I wrote, we were not discussing which of accumulation or class relations was first. Ever since the beginning I have claimed that accumulation is and becomes a class relation, not that accumulation precedes class relations. Now I'm up to circa 5 times saying this...
The whole point of the dialectic is that this identity, ie. the foundation, is a non-identity. I have also said that there is and becomes a non-identity between classes, the proletariat is not "class-for-capital", it is and becomes indeed a class-in-and-for-itself, but only as a consequence of the existence of accumulation (ie. separation of producer from means of production). Accumulation (ie. the "first" class relation, separation) is thus the foundation on which both the proletariat and the bourgeoisie play out their struggles. What I have claimed is that this foundation must be destroyed, since the very existence of a proletariat must be abolished, and thus the foundation of the existing proletariat must be crushed (probably not by sledge-hammer .

Chris:
Indeed, I had read you incorrectly at first, reading class relation for constituted classes. We do not disagree that constituted classes are logically posterior to the class relation and value. I apologize for not explicitly recognizing this in my last post.

However, I noted the shift by changing the point to class relation versus form of the relation, where IMO you still maintain an emphasis on the identity rather than the non-identity. As such, I agree with Revol’s first point:
“Rather like the final scene in Fight Club, the narrator shoots himself in the head and kills Tyler. He does not kill himself, but rather by killing Tyler he comes back to himself, he brings to life that kernel of truth that was always latent within him. Even if this truth was never experianced as itself previously, but rather as gaps and contradictions.”

It is this not-capital as only experienced negatively, as gaps/contradictions, which is both included in the capital-labor relation and yet which exists beyond it.

Even though the class relation exists in the form of value, and all of the other subsequent forms, logically it is the antagonism with a remainder which is analytically prior.

Cph_shawarma:
I have never said that labor and capital are identical (then you ought to read my posts again), their non-identity however becomes an identity since they play on the same ballfield. To once again take the love relationship as an example, the man and the woman does not constitute an identity, they are non-identical, however they play on the same ground, the love relationship, whereas in that aspect their non-identity becomes the identity of the foundation, the relationship.

Chris:

Cph_shawarma said:
And since I do not claim that there is an identity between labor and capital, I do not propose that capital always wins, that would be absurd. The proletariat wages struggle and sometimes win, however that win is based on the actual existence of an antagonist, ie. based on the reproduction of the foundation. And, once again, since I do not want to repeat the same thing next time too I do not propose an identity between labor and capital (SIC! SIC!).

Chris:
I think we have something different in mind by proletariat and by “wins.” For me, the proletariat is the totality of labor acting in such a way as to pose the possible destruction of the capital-labor relation. It is not the “working class.” And in this context, every win that is not the abolition of the relation is always partial, a partial defeat therefore as well, for the proletariat only wins with the abolition of classes.

Cph_shawarma said:
And furthermore you are completely wrong about capital's "need for labor". Of course, capital needs labor, but the postulate that labor does not need capital is precisely the postulate of autonomism, and that's where I think you are stuck right about now. The fact of the matter is that with accumulation, the "first" class relation, whereby producers get separated from the means of production, the actual and real existence of the proletariat is based on a dependency of capital. To keep existing as a proletariat, ie. as a waged class, the proletariat needs capital, ie. it is dependent on the first class relation: separation of producer and means of production (ie. accumulation of value).

Chris:
Actually, the postulate that labor does not need capital is something postulated by Open Marxism, and yet it is Richard Gunn who has most clearly made the critique of labor in the generic, labor as what he calls an empiricist abstraction as opposed to a determinate abstraction (made in both his essay in Vol. 2 of Open Marxism and in his essay Marxism and Philosophy in Capital & Class 39.) Gunn even points out clearly that this way of posing labor is present in Marx’s 1857 Introduction to the Critique of Political Economy, the one associated with the Grundrisse and therefore very much not associated with his 1843-45 period that Althusser makes so much out of.

However, I disagree with Gunn and you on this not on the ground that there was somewhere out there a notion of labor as generic that preceded capital, but that it is exactly capital which makes it possible to conceive of labor in a generic way. However, under capital, labor is still treated as a resource, rather than the means by which human being shape their world for themselves as their own end. This usage is obviously still present in the 1857 Introduction, but also in the missing chapter from Capital on “Results of the Immediate Process of Production”, as is the concept of alienation:

“Thus at the level of material production, of the life-process in the realm of the social – for that is what the process of production is – we find the same situation that we find in religion at the ideological level, namely, the inversion of subject into object and vice versa. Viewed historically this inversion is the indispensable transition without which wealth as such, ie the relentless productive forces of social labour, which alone form the material base of a free human society, could not possible be created by force at the expense of the majority. This antagonistic stage cannot be avoided, any more than it is possible for man to avoid the stage in which his spiritual energies are given a religious definition as powers independent of himself. What we are confronted by here is the alienation [Entfremdung] of man from his own labour.”

As such, I was pleased with the reference to how our own knowledge of ourselves allows us to retroactively understand the ape. In the same way, it is only through the absolute alienation of labor from its means of producing that it becomes possible to see generic human labor back into the past. Marx as such posits the human being sui generis as brought into view only by capital, in the mode of being denied, in the very reduction of human beings to mere human labor power by the exploitation of that activity by capital.

I also agree with Revol that you seem to suddenly shift from labor to proletariat qua totality of workers, and this is a mistake. As I said before, I also do not mean what you mean by proletariat, so I would not use the term in this fashion.

In this, while I am sympathetic to Postone’s critique of previous notions of labor, I am going to side with Werner Bonefeld’s critique of Postone as throwing the baby out with the bathwater in denying labor subjectivity ever. But if we go here, then this is going to become a very large discussion indeed. Actually, it already is.

Cph_shawarma said:
Once more, I honestly think that you are quite unfair in your reading of me. Maybe it's because I'm unclear, but since I have had to tell you that I do not claim an identity between labor and capital in almost every post (I have never even come close to this notion) and that I propose the accumulation of value (ie. separation) as the first class relation and not as something "preceding" class relations (as if there were something as absurd).

Chris:
I was posing that you made an identity between the class relation and value (in going directly to accumulation, you skip 24 chapters of Capital, so I consider myself as more generous than unfair in reading you as I have, but maybe that is hubris). I disagree with this identity (logically) because it leaves no gap. It sutures the gap, whereas IMO that the antagonism between capital and labor is prior to value logically indicates that the ruptural principle of labor is instantiated in the antagonism, so that the value form is not certain of reproduction by class struggle, even if it can only be reproduced through class struggle because one of the terms of the class relation always threatens to turn out the non-reproductive possibility: the explosion of the class relation. Hence my emphasis on communism as inhering in this historically particular relation, as one moment of its movement, split between the reproduction of capital and its destruction. This is the openness of the gap. Therefore, IMO, you implicitly identify capital and labor (and explicitly, for example, in your formulation of them as symmetrical:
“In this dialectic we find that labor is not-capital and capital is not-labor, and the way this dialectic (accumulation of value) works is by joining the two, the dialectic is a reciprocal causality.”

Cph_shawarma said:
The rupture is caused from within, but not as a birth (capital does not come bearing communism), but the idea of the critter popping out in Alien seems like quite a nice analogy of the idea of communism. A parasitic organism, which expands on the expense of the social body to finally kill it off and live on its own ground (and this parasitic organism is not the proletariat, but rather the communisation process, the body of communisateurs).

Chris:
Well, I suppose that this figures. What I thought of to myself as the limit of the metaphor, that of course the alien is implanted from outside, you take as the strength of it. But unlike the alien, communism is not implanted from outside; it is inherent as the denied subjectivity of labor within the capital-labor relation itself, with labor as constitutive not merely of value or things, but of the social relation of capital itself. Only as such could it have the power to destroy the relation.

Cph_shawarma said:
Yes, it is pragmatic, and yes, it is apolitical. I am interested in doing what I am able to do, and this has to be pragmatically resolved, ie. it must come from practice within class struggle, and that is where the word pragmatic evolved from (pragma = practice), I am not interested in theories which do not help me in my daily life (for instance I would probably never read Negri). And furthermore, I am fairly uninterested in the workings of the State (polis), and I do not see the need to build big and shiny political organizations, thus I am at the moment quite apolitical and do not even see the societal need for politics, at least not for what I am able to do together with my fellow comrades.

Chris:
Since I cannot pass up a cheap shot, no one misses much by not reading Negri. However, I fail to see what is beneficial about being apolitical, in the sense that a revolution which is not about the destruction of the social power of capital, which I cannot imagine without the establishment of the social power of freely associated labor (to use the Late Marx’s phrase), without which the suppression of value, money, markets, etc. are unintelligible. How is this not political? But that may take us off in another direction entirely.

Also, I am not sure how to express it, but this idea that theory should help you in your daily life strikes me as anti-intellectual. How? Does knowing about commodity fetishism make you able to not be controlled by it? Hardly. Theory is a class weapon, an illumination, but it is not a tool or pill or something that can “help” you. Am I misunderstanding what you mean?

Cph_shawarma said:
I am even further not very interested in critique for the sake of critique, the critique must come bearing with a projective outcome if I would be interested in it... Critique for the sake of critique is an ultimate sign of ultra-leftism, a "principal" and totally abstract discussion without any meaning in the real world.

Chris:
By critique, I only mean as it is directed as a weapon, not in general or as criticism. This discussion is proceeding in the form of a critique in which we both have an interest. Critique does not specify the object, it must grow out of the object from within and therefore be related to something meaningful for us (‘us’ in the broad sense, not simply you and I.)

Cph_shawarma said:
Of course, consciousness is a necessity, but the main deal is not to equate consciousness with theoretical consciousness (ie. a bourgeois notion of consciousness). I have never seen such idiotic people in the workplace as those who have read to much Marx and never read a single work place inquiry or even some short text on work-place struggle. They are often totally ignorant to class struggle around them, and most often they are intellectuals in the classic sense. I could go on ranting about academics for a long while, but the half-witted retards who teach in academic institutions and at universities (there are a few exceptions) are not even worth my rant.

Chris:
Well, this is an interesting point. I agree and formally so would any Marxist. The problem as you point out is that in taking on the role of educators or bringers of “class consciousness”, revolutionaries in fact act as if they equate practical communist consciousness with theoretical consciousness. However, communists who merely reproduce the conscious of their class at all moments are not communists at all. I do not think that there is a clear line that can be drawn between the two, as communists attempt to intervene at the level of ideas vis-à-vis critique. Turning to mere empiricism about ‘real class struggles’ does not resolve the problem. The problem is to unify both (the old trotskyist group I was in as a very young man emphasized this by making people read novels, histories, biographies, and auto-biographies from people involved in class struggles, alongside of and supplemental to theoretical work. It was not a bad idea, although it was pretty much directed at the students in the groups as a whole regardless of whether or not they cam from working class families because it was assumed that students were middle class, and this included high school students, even though our brightest high school member, who I went to high school with and who recruited me, was from a South side of Chicago working class Italian family.)

In any case, this is a real problem, and the issue is not to succumb to a kind of workerism or empiricism as well. I am not saying you are (yet), but that it is a problem that must be recognized as I know more than a few middle class radicals who idealized ‘real workers’ struggles’ through a rather nasty anti-intellectualism. It was always a good way to guilt the middle class people, especially the younger people, into line by attacking their intellectualism as pernisciously middle class. For the most part, the actual workers in the group were much less nasty towards the young people.

A note on the “idealist” notion of labor you protest, sadly it must seem to you and Richard Gunn, that Marx never broke with his early conception of labor:

“We shall, therefore, in the first place, have to consider the labour-process independently of the particular form it assumes under given social conditions.

Labour is, in the first place, a process in which both man and Nature participate, and in which man of his own accord starts, regulates, and controls the material re-actions between himself and Nature. He opposes himself to Nature as one of her own forces, setting in motion arms and legs, head and hands, the natural forces of his body, in order to appropriate Nature’s productions in a form adapted to his own wants. By thus acting on the external world and changing it, he at the same time changes his own nature. He develops his slumbering powers and compels them to act in obedience to his sway. We are not now dealing with those primitive instinctive forms of labour that remind us of the mere animal. An immeasurable interval of time separates the state of things in which a man brings his labour-power to market for sale as a commodity, from that state in which human labour was still in its first instinctive stage. We pre-suppose labour in a form that stamps it as exclusively human. A spider conducts operations that resemble those of a weaver, and a bee puts to shame many an architect in the construction of her cells. But what distinguishes the worst architect from the best of bees is this, that the architect raises his structure in imagination before he erects it in reality. At the end of every labour-process, we get a result that already existed in the imagination of the labourer at its commencement. He not only effects a change of form in the material on which he works, but he also realises a purpose of his own that gives the law to his modus operandi, and to which he must subordinate his will. And this subordination is no mere momentary act. Besides the exertion of the bodily organs, the process demands that, during the whole operation, the workman’s will be steadily in consonance with his purpose. This means close attention. The less he is attracted by the nature of the work, and the mode in which it is carried on, and the less, therefore, he enjoys it as something which gives play to his bodily and mental powers, the more close his attention is forced to be.” (Ch. 7, Capital, Vol. 1, paras. 1 and 2)

Or further in the 1861-63 Manuscript for Capital
“In so far as actual labour creates use values, is appropriation of the natural world for human needs, whether these needs are needs of production or individual consumption, it is the universal condition for the metabolic interaction between nature and man, and as such a natural condition of human life it is independent of, equally common to, all particular social forms of human life.[43] The same is true of the labour process in its general forms; it is after all nothing but living labour, split up into its specific elements, whose unity is the labour process itself, the impact of labour on the material of labour working through the means of labour. The labour process itself appears in its general form, hence still in no specific economic determinateness. This form does not express any particular historical (social) relation of production entered into by human beings in the production of their social life; it is rather the general form, and the general elements, into which labour must be uniformly divided in all social modes of production in order to function as labour.”

This does not make Marx right, but it makes your assertion of a fundamental break with 1884 wrong. He did not break with it in 1857 or 1861-3 or 1867 or in 1873-5 (because it is present in the French Edition, the last one Marx edited himself), so apparently there is a radical continuity between these and 1844. If one agrees with Marx’s comments on form and historical formation o social relations, then one must either argue that these are meaningless, which you cannot because you have accepted that in 1844 they were illegitimate, immature, idealist, or you must argue that Marx is simply wrong in a substantial way. I would suggest that the Later Cammatte lies in the latter direction.

I mean, I agree that use-values are always already objects of utility in the form of capital, but an apple, which is a value (unity of use-value and value) will not cease to be tasty, sweet and good for you, or food, or an object of utility, after the abolition of capital. Rather, its objectivity as an apple (where its use-value is its material expression as a commodity, and therefore a thing with properties outside of whatever usefulness is gives to a human being) will cease to be over and against us, and will be fleeting, only in relation to it as an object of our conscious subjectivity. Communism is not the abolition of things or objects, but the abolition of their rule over us, as it is the abolition of the domination of people by people (which is formally pre-capitalist, but also obviously very much still at issue.)

I would like to end by emphasizing that some of these issues are very much 'familial' squabbles. I am emphasizing differences for the sake of discussion. I would only be able to judge the practical import of these if we shared a common frame of practice.

Cheers,
Chris

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Sep 16 2006 02:01

cph_shawarma said:
Class struggle was for instance (partially) stopped in Argentina, when they begun to communise their relations, ie. when their production started work without wage labour, ie. without class struggle, without a proletariat and without a capitalist class. It is stopped when we snatch ingredients from our workplace to produce bread or food for ourselves, class struggle stops when communist activity begins, when the activity which does not separate labour from "free time", which does not measure activity by an abstract principle, which does not separate the producer from the means of production, which does not imply a division of activities in "productive" and "improductive" begins, then class struggle stops.

Chris:
I admit I find this odd at best. We have now gone from "Communism is the real movement that destroys the present state of things" to communism is the moment after the real movement. Or rather, it seems that the real movement is only capital's self-reproduction. Real as actual or, since this is how actuality exists in Hegel and Marx, as activity of, can only mean the activity that destroys the present state of things. Now I suspect we will read this differently, but to me this is real in the here and now, the real struggle between labor and capital, not in some future when class struggle stops and then communism begins.

I do not disagree with the end of the separation of “free” time and “labor time”, but I think that when Marx argues that “In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labor, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labor, has vanished; after labor has become not only a means of life but life's prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly---only then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!” he is not abolishing labor or conceiving of it in a purely capitalist sense. Stages of communism aside, Marx clearly has a notion of labor as expressive, creative human activity. This is present in his opening of Ch. 7 of Capital too.

But so what, right? Well, it means that Marx does not say what Althusser and you think he says and this has implications for what we understand by revolution. These become a bit clearer below.

cph_shawarma said:
The green wave is another (failed) example of a halt in class struggle, when people went out in the woods and expropriated land to feed themselves without wage labour. A comrade of mine said quite a beautiful thing on the limitations of the green wave (which was an utter failure): "The problem with the green wave, was that they did not grow their carrots in the factories." Which is very true. Another example are squats, which is a rudimentary cellular form of communist living, which most often fail, since it is not connected with a wider attack on capitalist society...

and later “Well, I don't consider the recuperated factories as part of the communisation process.”

Chris:
Ok, well so far we have hippie communes and squats but not the recuperation of the factories. Can I charge primitivism now? Because this is far more like autonomist Marxism than anything I have ever said. I frankly don't see how it is possible to imagine a revolution that does not take over the means of production inherited from capital and in the same move radically restructure the labor process and destroy large sections of capitalist industry. The above sounds like run of the mill autonomist/anarchist activist stuff. No wonder what one does in relation to the unions is irrelevant!

cph_shawarma said:
Class power, and thus class struggle, seizes to exist in those moments when production of natural use values (naturliche Dasein) is not aimed at accumulating value. There is a fucking difference between the natural use of a product and the way in which use value is composed in capitalist society, societal use value is the basis for capitalism itself.

Chris:
There is absolutely no such thing as a natural item of utility except maybe air and the ground you are on. After that, almost everything else requires social labor, collective human productive activity. “natural use-values” is a metaphysical non-entity. There is no natural “use” to a product because a product's use is determined by human beings. However, in this society, this fact only happens through social relations in which it seems that things, use-values, determine their own use, as commodities. “Natural use” is bourgeois ideology, as if objects for us had a use of their own independent of human subjects, which is perverse.

In fact, I agree that all items of utility appear in this society as use-values, and therefore as Values. There will be no use-values after capital because use-value only makes conceptual sense in relation to exchange-value. There will be useful things, and most of them will be the produce of social labor, labor which is directly social and at the same time, the labor of the social individual, that is, social labor sans domination in any form.

There is no space here to take up Althusser. That, like this, is a whole other thread.

Cheers,
Chris

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Lazy Riser
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Sep 16 2006 02:42

Hi

What an excellent post, love it.

Now that I work for the caaansole innit, I assume it's wise for me to join Unison. Would anyone, who understands Statutory Immunity, suggest that I shouldn't?

Love

LR

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Sep 16 2006 02:55

What does all of this have to do with communists and union reps?

What is at stake is the notion of revolution, which, all eschewing of principles aside, should have a determinate effect on how one views how we ought to relate to unions. The issue is communism, and only from the perspective of what revolution entails does this make sense.

cph_shawarma's point seems to me to be that since class struggle is already always the reproduction of capital, all class struggle is unionist in nature and only those struggles which become struggles to abolish capital, i.e. struggles of communisation, are particularly communist. Our relation to the unions ought to be pragmatic, as such.

I happen to think that all class struggle is the very instability of the success of the re-imposition of the capital-labor relation, and all forms of organization which act as an impediment must be actively opposed, rather than propose forms of struggle which somehow suspend class struggle because only through the contradictions will revolution be actualized by the class or treat the unions as pragmatic "tools", which like the state they are not.

Neither of us believes that participation in workers' struggles, union or not, is ruled out. The issue should be what activity we take towards a struggle and whether or not to take a specifi position in relation to the unions. Workers generally do not engage in struggles for theoretical reasons, but for practical reasons, whether political or economic.

However, communists have obligations as communists that are not merely to follow the workers, but to defend the general interests of the class as a whole. To me, ths idea is meaningless to cph_shawarma. Our task is to be in struggles and promote communisation, though I admit I do not know what that means.

I believe that communists and anarchists should generally not take a formal position in a union anymore than in parliament because the organizations themselves are anti-working class, that is they act, even when protecting workers' immediate interests, in a way that must betray the workers' class interests as a whole. However, I do not deny that in any given struggle at the point of production that it may be a tactical choice to accept election into a position in order to block it from becoming a position to be used against the workers in a particular struggle, which could at best be a position in a local. In the abscence of workers' struggles in which their own self-activity is developing or where the idea is to "get to the workers through the union" or to represent the workers when their own self-activity is non-existent, participation in the union is mere militantism and should be avoided like the plague. I have no desire to do for others what they cannot do for themselves because the dynamic is itself a reactionary, social worker relationship.

So this is how I understand the import of this very long discussion in as brief a way as possible.

Chris

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Lazy Riser
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Sep 16 2006 03:20

Hi

Quote:
I believe that communists and anarchists should generally not take a formal position in a union anymore than in parliament because the organizations themselves are anti-working class

I think you’re underestimating the breadth of the points just made. I’d suggest that being a rank-and-file member is a formal position in a union. If you’re prepared to be a member, and comrades want you to take on this-or-that-role, then you take it up or turn it down with good conscience as long as you advertise the fact that the Union itself is as anti-working class as the host company.

Trade Unions are like companies-within-companies, if you're prepared to work for one, then you may as well work for the other.

Quote:
In the abscence of workers' struggles in which their own self-activity is developing or where the idea is to "get to the workers through the union" or to represent the workers when their own self-activity is non-existent, participation in the union is mere militantism and should be avoided like the plague. I have no desire to do for others what they cannot do for themselves because the dynamic is itself a reactionary, social worker relationship.

This is a very interesting point. I’d suggest that Unions exist within an overall situation where tactical action (that, as you assert, mitigates election to formal positions) is a constant. I understand the social worker metaphor though, so fair play.

Love

LR

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Sep 19 2006 08:29

redtwister: First off I'm sorry for the late reply, but I've been working 13 hour days this weekend, and that sucks ass, so my activity went down.

Second, very good summary, and maybe it surprises you that I am mostly on your side, or maybe it doesn't, since you correctly stated that this is mostly a family argument.

Therefore, I would like to clear up some things which I think is important for any further discussion and which I have missed to point out (which may have been the cause of many of the disagreements).

1. The class does not hold any a priori interests, ie. there is no such thing as the interests of class "as a whole", at least not given a priori by its position as proletariat. Therefore I disagree on the assumption that the role of communists is to uphold "general" class interests, as contrast to "specific" interests. These general class interests can only be the product of a dialectical unity of specific interests, and these specific interests are constantly changing. When I have been talking about class struggle as inherently unionist, it is because class struggle is not a fight between two armies (Proletariat and Bourgeoisie), but rather a distributed network of specific fights, where different proletariats stand against different bourgeoisies, thus rendering different (but connected) class interests. This explains for instance racism and other forms of xenophobic behaviour: class struggle divides the class. Unity can only be achieved by the conscious intervention of communists (and I do not see communists as those who read Marx or Bordiga, most communists don't even know who these people are). The task of communists is rather the overcoming of separations, the identification of the limitations of a specific struggle and the identification of its overcoming. Which essentially means that the task of communists is self-activity (which is not the same thing as self-organisation, which is a certain form of organisation of the working class).

2. The matter of the union does matter, it has never been my aim to have some kind of "laissez-faire", laid-back approach. On the contrary. It does have consequences whether a union is used or not, but these consequences are only given in a specific situation, there is no definite outcome of either strategy. This makes the self-activity of waged labourers imperative, self-organisation is the first act of the revolution. And the task of theoretical communists is to push this self-activity as much as possible, not saying "no, don't use unions", but instead forcing people to do things for themselves and not for someone else. Saying "don't use unions" is taking on the same representative task as unionist ideologists do, but inversed. In the end the self-activity must include abandoning unions as well as class struggle altogether.

3. Thus, my points are aimed at a break with determinism and voluntarism, as well as both objectivism and subjectivism. Communism is not already there in the proletariat (which is the assumption which is made when one poses that "worker interests as a whole" = "communism"), it is built by wage-workers in contrast with their current conditioning as struggling labourers.

4. On hippie communes. Did you happen to miss my note on argentinian piqueteros and asambleas barriales? And my consideration that hippie communes failed since they did not attack capital, but "just" withdrew and created their own isolated externalities. Any communisation process which has any possibility of success must both involve the class' struggle against capital and the class' abandonment of its own existence as class. It would be impossible to just withdraw or just attack (which is why class struggle empirically has closed the gap, rather than opened it up, see for instance Silver [class struggle = restructuration]). And, no I don't consider the recuperated factories to be part of the communisation movement. The reason is simple, they produced for a world market, they waged their labourers and they wanted the State to run their corporations. They made no attempt to even try to break the production cycle which is immanent in capital. And that separated them from the communisation movement in Argentina (mainly in the piqueteros and asambleas barriales).

5. On Alien. Yes, I thought the analogy was limping on account of the inserted virus and I anticipated your response. There are no good analogies concerning the body, since the body is either broken down from the outside (diseases) or completely by its own mechanics (auto-immune diseases and death), and the best analogy I can come up with is an auto-immune disease which causes external diseases and external bodies, a physiological impossibility (at least to my knowledge). Thus there is no externality already there, but the externality is built in the spaces opened up by internal destruction of capital. But they are separate practices and the non-capitalist production can not be called "class struggle", that would be mere nonsense, since no class struggle can exist in a classless production. The communisation process goes class struggle->communism, not class struggle->class struggle (which is capitalism, the reproduction of class struggle).

The main point in regard to class struggle, is that it seems as though you replace the objectivist theory of decadence with a subjectivist theory of decadence (that of the proletariat's "immanent" goal: communism and thus the destruction of capital). And this is where I find the biggest problem of this theory, since crisis theory merely concerns the internality of capital (stated by Marx quite nicely in Capital vol. 3, but I don't have the quote on English, only Swedish, I will try to find it, shortly it says that crisis is merely the restructuration of capital to solve its own contradictions, including struggling with the proletariat).

It seems to me that the idea of the proletariat as potentially communist closely relates to Negri's idea of "immaterial production" (a totally worthless term) as virtually communist. The first one subjectivist, the second one objectivist. It seems as though there already "is" a communism, which is always stopped from appearing by capital, and not because of the activity of every member of the capitalist world society. I find this quite a dangerous path... I rather think of communism as the impotence of capitalism, ie. the impotence of proletariat and bourgeoisie.

Now I need to get back to work.

Have a nice day,
cph

redtwister
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Sep 20 2006 04:16

cph_shawarma,

As before, since I do not conceive of the proletariat as a positively existing class, your use of the notion of proletariat strikes me as sociological. The proletariat is not this mass of wage-labor. It is the determinate negation of capital and has "general interests" only insofar as it only exists as the negation of capital, for communism. This is how I understand Marx's phrase "The proletariat is revolutionary or it is nothing", where we should take nothing to be literally no-thing. There is no positive "working class" to point to that could be anything other than what you describe as for-capital. As such, I am completely against Negri, who posits the multitude as already existing, as a sociological category, as the positive truth of commuism immanent and only needing to be freed. The proletariat is either those acting communistically, i.e. abolishing value, markets, state, capital, private property, religion, family, labor, etc. or it is nothing.

But for the proletariat to be, it must be materially predicated on those exploited by capital as labor, that is, the negation of labor must subsist as a contradiction, as the negation, the no thing, of labor itself. It is therefore inherent in labor as capitalist labor, but not as its good expression, but as its negation. Otherwise, it could not be determinate and would merely subsist as a moment of capital. That is why the communism is both the negation of classes and at the same time produced by a specific class negating the conditions of its own existence. Communists as a practical mass, and Party here merely as the organized, centralized, concentrated activity of that mass, has to have a root within the specific, historical form of labor as abstract, value-producing, sans property and properties.

Mine is not subjectivist, as such, since this is not a proletariat of will, but one grounded in the actually-existing relations, but only in the mode of being denied, only negtively as its not-being.

However, the fact that your communists seem to have no ground, makes them seem to appear from thin air, disconnected from exploited labor and therefore declasse and external. It seems like it has no connection to the particular, historical form of social relations qua capital-labor and seems therefore to be possible in any historical epoch as an act of will or that communists could come from any end of the class relation.

Communism is the real movement because it subsists as the denied contradiction, not because it is already here waiting to be unleashed, but because it must be created, must be imposed as the abolition of classes, capital, etc. But its creation is not a rabbit pulled from a hat, it is possible only as the negation of this particular antagonistic social relation, which takes the form of value, money, market, etc.

What I think we do agree on is that communism is not the extension of "workers' control"; it is not "the workers' running things", it is not "workers' management" of 'the economy' or the state; it is the abolition of all that. I think it is therefore also the negation of democracy, of localism, federalism, councilism, etc. which are descriptions of how the workers will manage what is, rather than destroy it.

To destroy the state without destroying value, wages, exchange, etc. is to guarantee the reproduction of the state, but, and here we differ, I do not think it is possible to destroy value, wages, etc. without the use of political power and the conscious use of that power for those ends. The proletariat is not that which labors for capital, but that which must, because of its place within this antagonistic social relation as labor, abolish capital and therefore abolish its own activity objectified against it.

In trying to positively state what communism is qua communisation, I think you may end up in a loop back at councilism. Maybe not.

I'll give Lazy his point in joining the union, maybe. But in the US, if you are in a union shop, you have no choice. You get joined. Actively organizing a union is another matter entirely, however.

Cheers,
Chris

p.s. 13 hour days? FFS, that is brutal... hang in there...

cph_shawarma
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Sep 20 2006 05:55

Well, I do not conceive of the proletariat as a sociological category. I too conceive of it as the negation of capital, but I conceive of capital as the negation of labour, two poles which mutually include each other in an antagonistic relationship. They are mutually dependent, the proletariat needs capital to wage it (since the proletariat is the people separated from the means of production, unable to produce for themselves, but constantly producing for someone else), and capital needs the proletariat to produce surplus-value. This is not a sociological category, but rather the way I conceive of the proletariat as socially constituted within the labor-capital production process. However, the possibility of communism is exactly the negation of value, markets, state, capital, private property, labor etc. But since the proletariat is expressed within these categories (as the negative side of the internal dialectic) and not as its negation, the material foundation for communism is the proletariat's negation of itself, ie. negation of the negation, it's deobjectification of capitalist objectivity, rendering a desubjectification, ie. making the proletariat into a not-proletariat (the negated negation). We need the proletariat for communism, but only as a point of departure, as a stepping stone for the communist activity of breaking down itself. We need to view these terms not as voluntarist terms, but rather as activity based on necessity, an active determinism, in contrast to many decadence theorists, councilists etc. which base themselves on passive determinism, ie. teleological determinism.

My communists are those who participate in the negation of the negation, ie. those ripping apart the relationship which binds the proles to capital and links it with it. The communists are those who stop demanding things from capital and instead deobjectify its structure, by for instance appropriating means of production (and not merely seizing them). And if this activity does not expand it is dead, as for instance the green wave, the squatters etc. And communists are predicated by the capital-labour relation, but only as the positively organised negation of the negation (puh wink. The positivity of communism is a necessary part of my theory, but it is not posed as answers, there are no predetermined structures which we can define today, we can however pose the positivity of communism as questions, ie. as a problematic, which the revolution must deal with or die.

And I totally agree that communism is only possible as the negation of this specific relationship, but I think the problem arises when one equates this negation with the negative definition of the proletariat (negation of capital, not-capital), whereas the negation of this specific relationship must be the negation of the proletariat as well, and not the affirmation of the negation.

/cph

PS. I managed to pull it off, but it's pure hell to work 13 hour days. Fortunately we managed to get more people than last year on the weekends, so in the morning we can take it a little bit slower. DS.

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Joined: 6-05-05
Sep 20 2006 20:48

Hi

Those last two posts have caused me to modify my position. I maintain the best interests of the working class are served by allowing its members to take on formal positions within capitalist enterprises, including trade unions, should they see fit. However, I concede that communists, defending the fundamental objectives and methods of communism, should not be union reps.

As for the political content of redtwister’s and cph_shawarma’s communism, well they're both pretty bullet proof and I would make an even bigger idiot of myself than usual if I attempted to simplify either of them enough to start a fight here. Good luck to them both.

Love

LR

redtwister
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Joined: 21-03-05
Sep 22 2006 14:38

Well, I'm bowing out. I think it is good to end on a more open moment. We could wrangle over aspects further (negativity, proletariat, etc.), but I think we have reached a certain clarity and i can't see a way for myself at least to say more that would be useful.

Not sure if this ended up adding much for people who were looking for an answer in the simple sense of whether or not we should be union reps or whatever. Probably not smile

Revol, thanks, I really appreciated your posts as well. Its only a shame we could not drag Devrim in away from pointless arguing over the ICC.

Chris

john
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Joined: 9-07-06
Sep 27 2006 23:18

All these words, and this

Lazy wrote:
Trade Unions are like companies-within-companies, if you're prepared to work for one, then you may as well work for the other.

is the most thought-provoking statement in all these threads, I think (which is slightly worrying for me because as far as I can tell LR always tries to make his posts as nonsensical as possible).

One question though, Rinser, surely what we've got here is a question of 1 company bad, 2 companies worse. So just because we're in one company, I see no reason why this opens the floodgates to join a second.

Sharma - I sort of get where you're coming from on the idea that the class struggle merely reproduces the classes we wish to negate. BUT, I think revol hits the nail on its head - how the hell is the whole class thing going to vanish in one big boom? To cite Argentina is a bit weird, to me. Surely the reason Argentian didn't account for much was exactly because it was located within a class struggle (and most certainly not outside of class struggle) - and the representatives of the anti-working class, in this case the Argentinian state and its IMF/international capital backers, made sure that the occupied factories/picqueteros (sorry, can't spell that) didn't get the upper hand and remained relatively harmless marginals in Argentinian society. I.E. it was precisely because it WAS part of a class struggle, and that the proletariat (in the form that it took in the case of the Argentinian struggle), was far weaker than its class enemies, that it was defeated.