Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Sunday, March 14, 2010
I finished the last post in this series so hastily, that I wanted to rewrite the last paragrpahs. So this final post actually begins in the middle of things with the rewritten material.
Beyond a general strategy for communist activism, this conclusion additionally proposes a specific strategy for revolutionary work in Germany. The apparent conclusion on workers’ associations and the putative coda on the positive side of wages form a coherent topical unit, despite their formal division. The theme is the overthrow of the old society. We will need to reflect on the character of the ‘old society’ in a moment, before we proceed. The statement that concludes the sketch of the revolutionary overthrow of the old society through the workers use of their wages conjoins the subjective and objective sides of revolution in a singularly complex pun that the linked English translation fails to capture. This conjunction of elements condenses the program that Marx and Engels will in a matter of months write for the members of the League returning to Germany to participate in the revolutionary movement of 1848.
The last paragraph on workers associations and the coda on the positive side of wages are bound together in another chiasmus. What the translation calls “the overthrow of the entire old society” is in German the Sturz, the fall of that society, the fast, hard fall. The paragraph closes with the objective ‘revolutionary activity of the workers’ through their wages in their organization. The first paragraph of the coda resumes the topic of the proletariat ‘revolutionizing’ “the old society” and “itself.” The revolutionary process is then specified in a series of indexically mediated subjective ‘falls.’ The first two falls are explicit, “everything patriarchal falls away” and “halo of sanctity is entirely fallen” (which ‘fallen’ the translation turns into ‘gone.’) In the next paragraph, the ‘higher forms of labor’ have ‘lost their old sanctity.’ Since ‘sanctity’ is effectively synonymous with ‘halo’ in as much as the ‘halo’ signifies ‘sanctity,’ ‘lost’ is chained with ‘fall.’ The final step reverses the perspective of ‘lost’ from the negative to the positive, the workers “first became free of their subjection to a given relationship.”
Exactly how have the workers ‘lost’ patriarchal relations and gained ‘freedom’? Marx defined patriarchal relations briefly in the last piece of complete text in his discussion on the lower limit of wages, “The peasant still has free time and can earn something on the side.” Because the peasant is bound to the ground he lives on, he can, outside the time required for his manual services, provide his own subsistence. He owns the means of production, aside from the soil from which he cannot be alienated. This self-subsistence furnished the material basis for the feudal class struggle over the time spent in services and the amount of payments in kind. The surplus that belongs to the peasant for himself exists primarily as use-values. He struggles to eat more and drink more of the produce of his hands. The largely local collective struggle of the peasants secures for each individual the right to consume the produce of his own labor.
The factory worker cannot provide for his own subsistence. He cannot consume the produce of his own labor because that particular commodity could not meet his subsistence needs, perhaps not even one of them, even if it were his property and not that of the capitalist. But in contrast to the produce of the peasant, wages as money are the universal equivalent of all other values. Their equivalents extend beyond the narrow range of subsistence goods. Just as the factory workers labor collectively, their money can be pooled. When the workers pooled their money for collective struggle against “the entire old society” in Germany in 1847, their struggle would include the struggle against the feudal relations of exploitation as well as against capitalist exploitation. This double struggle comprises the strategic point of the coda’s conclusion.
The translation of the decisive final sentence in the coda, unfortunately captures only half the meaning of a profoundly conceived, but for a contemporary reader, complicated pun, and thus obscures its political sense. The sentence says in full, “The advantage both over payment in kind and over the way of life prescribed purely by the (feudal) estate is that the worker can do what he likes with his money.” First, let us note that the German text does not have a sentence. It simply begins, “Advantage, that … .” Like the shift from third person to first and second person that shortly precedes it, this stylistic shift mimes more spontaneous speech, blunt and succinct. The shift in spoken style foregrounds the conclusion and separates it from the entire preceding text.
The second problem with the translation is in the coordinated construction of the two prepositional phrases, “both over payment in kind and over the way of life prescribed purely by the (feudal) estate.” These phrases are grammatically ambiguous in the text. They can be understood to modify ‘advantage’ or ‘the verb phrase ‘do what he wants.” In the grammatical pun, they modify both. In the original, the preposition is ‘gegen,’ which can, as it is translated here, modify ‘advantage.’ In this first sense, the entire construction asserts the subjective superiority of wages to natural produce in the sense we just discussed.
But ‘gegen’ much more commonly means ‘against.’ In this sense, it modifies “what he wants.” The lost half of the construction’s sense says, ‘he can do what he wants both against payment in kind and against the way of life prescribed purely by the (feudal) estate.’ In this second sense, the construction describes the political and social goals of a bourgeois democratic revolution that overthrows the feudal oppression and exploitation of the peasants. In combination, these senses express both the subjective possibility of freedom inherent in wages and the most tangible objective possibility for their use.
The last misleading feature of the translation is the transposition of the prepositional phrases. The less flexible word order of English and the choice to make the phrases depend on ‘advantage’ has moved them toward the front of the construction, so they immediately follow ‘advantage.’ But in the original they are the last constituent of the sentence. The actual word order is that in my second translation, “he can do what he wants both against payment in kind and against the way of life prescribed purely by the (feudal) estate.” Once again, Marx calls on his collaborators to reflect on their knowledge of their life in patriarchal relations and compare it to their life in bourgeois relations.
The first sense of the pun, calls to mind that peasants, and to a lesser extent artisans, produce their own goods, but for another, and they produce only particular goods with limited uses. In the second, they produce goods for another, but receive wages which can be used for a variety of ends. With perhaps a little caution, we can see the revolutionary chiasmus ordering these processes again. It does so clearly in the first half of the pun. Production to give becomes production to receive. The feudal relationship of exploitation undergoes a fundamental reversal. Less obviously, in the second, labor receives money, only to pass the money out of the process of production and consumption altogether, the revolutionary reversal of bourgeois relations. Subjective reflection on the wage relationship in the process of production coincides with democratic political activity.
The translation captures only the reading less obvious to us today who have never known feudal relations. But this relationship self-sufficiency in conflict with feudal service is subordinate to the second, and only establishes its precondition. The translators’ choice has inadvertently concealed an obvious and straightforward reading. By reducing the integrated, dual meaning into a single sense, the translation obscures the single most complex rhetorical structure in the script. Deployed at this point, the pun serves as a second device to make this conclusion as striking and as salient as possible.
Like the shift to direct address, the pun foregrounds the conclusion by engaging the direct participation of the listeners. The coda rings out on a clear assertion that the immediate political goal of the revolutionary German workers’ movement is to prepare for and see through the democratic, anti-feudal revolution. After all the lengthy exposition of wages, wage labor and the internal logic of capitalism, the final words of the lecture put the workers at the service of another class and say nothing of socialism.
Marx leaves the connection between the two, other than its subjective accessibility, open, and invites participation in the discussion that in all likelihood formed the next part of the event, and that in all certainty went on after the lecture was formally closed. During this discussion there surely came the point at which one of the Association's activist would propose, "Let's pass the hat!"
This proposal for action addressed to the needs of the peasants and targetted against the rights of the aristocracy comes as no surprise. If it should seem implausible today, we need only look at two other documents drafted by Marx and Engels around this time. From the 9th of December 1847 to the end of the month, at the same time Marx was preparing the script for his lecture, the two were working on the Manifesto of the Communist Party.
‘Chapter II closes with tentative suggestions for ten measures to be taken in the advanced industrial countries once a revolution has given the proletariat political power. They primarily address those institutional foundations of capitalism which the proletariat should put under state ownership.
‘Chapter IV suggests with extreme brevity how the communists in a number of countries should relate to other forces in the event of a national democratic revolution. For Germany, Marx and Engels state categorically, “they fight with the bourgeoisie whenever it acts in a revolutionary way, against the absolute monarchy, the feudal squirearchy, and the petty bourgeoisie.” There we have in a more explicit, but equally concise nutshell, the revolutionary strategy of the German branches of the League of Communists in 1847. Because those who suffer most directly from the ‘squirearchy’ and who form the overwhelming majority of the populace are the peasants, the political task is to use the resources of the proletariat to mobilize the peasants against their lords.
If we jump forward three months to the third week of March, 1848, ‘The Demands of the Communist Party in Germany demonstrate clearly the strategic importance Marx and Engels attached to the quick, hard fall of feudalism in the countryside. In contrast to the Manifesto, the Demands represent a detailed, specific political program. The seventeen demands reiterate the ten points of the Manifesto, although the demands are for the most part moderated in their scope and rigor. The Demands, obviously, add a number of points particular to the state of social development in German, which indicate that it did not number among the ‘advanced’ societies. Most pertinent to the political program encapsulated in the coda of ‘Wages,’ are these four demands:
6. All feudal obligations, dues, corvées, tithes etc., which have hitherto weighed upon the rural population, shall be abolished without compensation.
7. Princely and other feudal estates, together with mines, pits, and so forth, shall become the property of the state. The estates shall be cultivated on a large scale and with the most up-to-date scientific devices in the interests of the whole of society.
8. Mortgages on peasant lands shall be declared the property of the state. Interest on such mortgages shall be paid by the peasants to the state.
9. In localities where the tenant system is developed, the land rent or the quit-rent shall be paid to the state as a tax.
The measures specified in Nos. 6, 7, 8 and 9 are to be adopted in order to reduce the communal and other burdens hitherto imposed upon the peasants and small tenant farmers without curtailing the means available for defraying state expenses and without imperiling production.
I quote these measures in their entirety because not one measure proposed in the Demands addresses the liberation of the workers directly and immediately in the way these measures advance the cause of the peasants.
I doubt that in December of 1847 anyone in the German communist circles of Brussels anticipated that in a mere matter of weeks they would be returning home to join the revolutionary movement. When they did, they were furnished with copies of the Manifesto and of the Demands to take with them, distribute, discuss and organize around. In ‘Wages,’ Marx primes them for this task. He takes the opportunity in an extended analysis of the wage relation to broach a decisive strategic question for the activities of the members and associates of the Association and encourages its discussion among his comrades.
Now that we can answer the question “what is ‘Marx’ in this interpretation,” the answer may seem pretty banal. Marx writes and speaks as a propagandist and organizer. He appeals to his listeners as a recruiter and fundraiser. The constitutive functions central to an analysis like Goffman’s are diffracted through a fundamentally different array of social and institutional relationships.
As an ‘author, Marx does not write as an autonomous creator. The goals his talk pursues are determined by the explicit articles of agreement of the League of Communists and by his commitment to adhere to those principles.
Marx certainly does animate the script in the ways Goffman discusses. But what I have called his rhetorical texturing of the talk, his governing pragmatic concern to move his listeners, can be seen as an animation of a higher order. Marx elaborates his analysis of wages and his rhetorical framing of the text to render the principles of the League tangible and moving. He animates the dry text of the Statutes through a complex compositional process as well as his performance.
Marx as author and animator has an analogous relationship to his public. He articulates and appeals to the experience of the men in his little public. Without them his talk has neither material nor purpose. Beyond the conventional animation of a text so signal seriousness and to elicit alignment and even something like collusion, he animates the event itself. The outcome hopes to go beyond a momentary social bonding. He animates the script to attain a commitment to collective political activity.
This enlarged obligation to the authority of the League and to the input of his coparticipants mean Marx cannot warrant the text in Goffman’s sense. He cannot warrant only the text, and he cannot warrant it through his putative authority. Yes, he is a lawyer, a scholar, and apparently an able public speaker. But the depth of the goals, the outcome itself, the active response of the group assembled for the lecture all interact to provide the warrant for the text. And far more than the text, it is the worth of the League and the Association that Marx and his collaborators warrant.
Let me close the interpretation of ‘Wages’ with a last bit of interpretation that ties together the very opening of the notes for the lecture and the closing passage. At the beginning of this interpretation I identified the first point of the outline as a typically Hegelian definition of a category through contradiction. From this contradiction the logic of the exposition of wages would flow. But the logic is merely a secondary characteristic of that opening. That display of learned logic is subordinated to the rhetorical, that is practical textural principle.
Marx employs the Hegelian figure of contradiction and negation to frame his analysis of the wage-relation in capitalism in the bleakest, most chilling terms. By the end of the lecture it has become clear that Marx in fact approaches his listeners as men whose daily lives are still largely lived in a feudal context and whose perception of and reactions to the encroachments of capitalism are even more thoroughly intertwined with the feudal ideology, especially Christianity. For these men struggling with the incommensurability of their upbringing and ideas with the new terms under which they are put to work, Marx projects a future of burgeoning desolation.
This barren expanse of incessant, senseless activity provides the backdrop for the brief, dramatic evocation of a satisfying future built from social desire and the material resources of wages that appears as a surprise, a relief and a promise. In this light and as this light, the odd use of impersonal terms to address his listeners in the passage on worker’s associations makes more sense. The conclusion addresses the artisan-proletarians as men living in two worlds, in their work and in their minds, the old world of feudalism and the new world of capitalism, already envisaged as an old world itself.
Addressing them directly through the seemingly oblique phrase ‘the workers’ presupposes their consciousness of themselves as men of the old world, as ‘the artisans, at the most general, but not very general at that, and as ‘tailors,’ ‘bakes,’ or ‘coopers’ at the most concrete. When Marx identifies the activities of ‘the workers’ he challenges his listeners to think of themselves as ‘workers,’ to see themselves fully in terms of the new-wage relationship. Although Marx uses the plural ‘workers,’ we might better imagine him addressing his audience as individuals, urging them to think of themselves as members of a much larger, steadily growing collectivity. When Marx holds up ‘the workers to their consideration, he offers them a choice and challenges them to a decision.
Imagine as his gaze sweeps the room. On the phrase ‘the workers,’ his gaze pauses and he fixes it on a single worker. Perhaps a man who has participated increasingly in Association activities, but has not yet joined. Whom Marx'comrades in the League have identified to him as a man warming to the cause, but still on the fence about political and industrial self-organization. About paying dues. “You there, Andreas, in the second row, with the beard and the pipe! What do you want? To live in nostalgia for a life that held perhaps a little material security and comfort, but never a potential for anything more? Or to embrace the stringent freedom, the voice in your future offered by your wages? Artisan or worker? Which will it be?”
What that freedom will be, beyond democratic and collective, remains open. That openness corresponds to the chiasmus as the diagram of revolutionary transformation. In small and large revolutions, the subjective and objective, the change of mind and the change of society, the chiasmus has served as the figure of the process. We see the order that goes in, we see the overthrown order that follows, but we cannot see the transformation itself. As Marx cannot make men change their minds, cannot tell them to change their minds, cannot tell them how to change their minds. He can only strive to create a situation where a decision becomes possible and to move them in so deeply that a decision becomes necessary. How to spend your money doesn’t sound like much a problem in an affluent, retail saturated society. But in the right light, it goes to the heart, and to the heart of the matter.
When you get down to it, Roger and I have never seen eye-to-eye in our exchanges. In a real sense, we cannot. For the sake of discussion, it is all good and well to agree to disagree. But it helps to point out that this disagreement concerns more than specific readings or interpretations. Those differences emerge from a difference in the concepts, more presupposed than explicit, inherent to those interpretations. Roger’s reading of Marx projects much the same categories into his readings as a Goffman does into his observations. The roles, goals and outcomes considered necessary to and possible for a discourse are those of the individual producing a structured account of a field of knowledge for the education and entertainment of his readers or listeners.
These categories cannot capture the texture of any communist discourse, not just that of Marx personally. An interpretation that takes theory as the substance of its object and theory as the substance of its interpretation may after all succeed on its own terms. But those terms and those interpretations remain tangential, at best, to the texture of communist writing and speaking. Of communist living. That question, however, is too broad to contemplate discussing here.
With regard to the topic of texture in the narrowest sense, the difference lies between two views of language. We can take language as a semantic instrument of reference, whose internal contradictions generates a problematic of meaning. Or we can explore language as a component of social life, as a vehicle of pragmatic functions, of which semantic reference and its inherent problems are but one among many, all of them manifest in the audible and legible texture of speaking and writing. I choose the model of language as a practical activity not because I think it yields better interpretations, but because I think it is consistent with a materialist view of society like that practiced by Marx.
“The realisation that art has always been bourgeois is finally of scant interest…”
- Samuel Beckett, Three Dialogues with Georges Duthuit
Here’s a way to read Beckett: by making destitution metaphysical, Beckett goes as far as he can in rejecting art’s relation to production while remaining within the form of art. Beckett’s tramps are utterly unproductive, but because this non-production is not real, but allegorical, his protagonists’ travails can reflect back on the lives of Beckett’s audience. In this sense Beckett’s poverty is the mirror image of Proust’s wealth: the one minimalist, the other expansionist, both make a social position into an aesthetic and philosophical experience. It could be said of Beckett what Walter Benjamin said of Proust:
This disillusioned, merciless deglamorizer of the ego, of love, or morals – for this is how Proust liked to view himself – turns his whole limitless art into a veil for this one most vital mystery of his class: the economic aspect. -
The Image of Proust
- Praxis Blog
...no animal is able to restrict his needs to the same unbelievable degree and to reduce the conditions of his life to the absolute minimum. In a word, there is no animal with the same talent for 'Irishing' himself. Such a reduction to a bare physical minimum is not at issue when we are discussing the value of labour-power.
- Marx, Capital
First, some background. Beckett always disapproved of productions of his plays that "mixed" the races (or the genders in ways not specifically described), because he felt that power relations between the races and genders were not a part of the artistic material he was trying to present, and so he wanted to leave them out entirely, as he felt they would inevitably draw attention in performance from his central concerns. He was happy, however, to see all-black productions of his plays - or all-female productions of single-sex scripts like Waiting for Godot. I suppose it's easy for Cambridge types to pooh-pooh Beckett's worries on this score - like Stephen Colbert, they probably "can't tell" when someone's black. But since Beckett's death, mixed-race productions of his plays have appeared elsewhere - and unsurprisingly have been largely interpreted as meditations on race and colonialism.
- The Hub Review
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Here is third part of my contribution to the discussion of ‘Wages’ .
For a lecture to be a lecture, Goffman claimed that the lecturer must unite in his person the functions of author, animator and warrant for the text. In this last section of our interpretation, we will be asking just what it means to be the ‘author’ of the scripted portion of this discussion of wages with wage-earners. We also need to consider just what Marx stands as the warrant for, and how he does so. We have seen that Marx has shaped the discussion to persuade the workers taking part in it that they have the social possibility and the personal qualifications to transform their lives. To grasp the possibility he poses them in its specifics we must look at how it follows from Marx’ political activism at the time of the lecture and the ways it is directly expressed in the script for his talk. How does Marx connect the issues of consciousness, organizing and finances we have already explored to the notion of revolution and how does he include his listeners in this connection?
We have twice mentioned the point in the discussion of workers’ associations where Marx touts the pleasures of revolutionary activity. In the course of the talk, Marx connects workers and revolution in two distinct ways. In the lengthy critique of bourgeois economics, he talks about the objective process in which immersion in wage-relations revolutionizes workers social relations and life activities by removing them from the feudal, patriarchal relations of production.
In the discussion of the factors that cause wages to vary, Marx argues that the wage-labor relationship has two central implications. Because the capitalist commands the means of production, he commands the worker. This command entails for the workers a cycle of employment, rising wages, falling wages, and no wages in unemployment. In the discussion of bourgeois proposals to ameliorate the effects of this cycle, Marx argues that any amelioration that takes the cycle as given, only perpetuates the cycle and reinforces the power of the capitalists and of capital. Thus, from the perspective of the worker, amelioration of the symptoms of the system must lie outside the system.
Marx draws his conclusions about this self-perpetuating power of command in terms that imply a revolutionary response. In interpreting savings banks as a ‘machine of despotism,’ he concludes his first argument, “The workers themselves thus give into the hands of their enemies the weapons to preserve the existing organisation of society which subjugates them.” His first critical conclusion about the Malthusian supposition that capital must grow before wages uses the same language. If capital must first grow before conditions improve, then the worker must , “depress his position in relation to the bourgeois class more and more, to increase as much as possible the power of his opponent, capital. That is, he can only be in a passable position provided he creates and reinforces the power which is hostile to him, his own opposite.” This translation does not fully capture the violence of the relationship, since ‘hostile’ translates ‘feindselig,’ literally ‘enemy spirited,’and ‘opposite’ translates ‘Gegensatz’ which in context may be translated as ‘antagonism’ or ‘antithesis.’
Marx presents the factual shortcomings, logical contradictions and class perspectives of bourgeois economic as expressions of the real insufficiencies, injustices and oppressions of the bourgeois economy from the perspective of workers. These two perspectives are incommensurable in theory, and violently conflictual in practice. The wage-relationship is inherently antagonistic and combative. In the passage on workers’ associations in which Marx valorized the consciousness, activism and self-sacrifice of his collaborators in the lecture, he elevates this diction of conflict to the highest level.
The goal of worker’s associations is ultimately not the regulation of wages, “but the overthrow of the entire old society with its class contradictions,” where ‘contradiction’ translates the same ‘Gegensatz’ that referred to the enemy-class. The workers laugh at bourgeois economic authorities precisely because their language of monetary calculation is so utterly inappropriate to “this civil war” and its “fallen, injured, and financial sacrifices.” Marx underscores this analysis by repeating in a generalizing, sentential paraphrase, “He who wants to beat his adversary will not discuss with him the costs of the war.”
The passage closes with a dexterous rhetorical antithesis, or Gegensatz in German, in praise of the fearless autonomy of the workers who count their paltry wages, and “reckon in this minimum a little of the costs of war against the bourgeoisie,’ and who by judicious application of this minimal pittance to “their revolutionary activity … even make the maximum of their enjoyment of life.” When ‘revolution’ makes reappears, it refers to the subjective revolution made by the workers in themselves and by themselves in recognizing and avowing the necessity of social revolution.
We could, of course, conclude that promoting revolutionary consciousness and activity simply represents another perspective on the transformation of the lecture into an event embodying the worth of the democratic relations within the Workers’ Association and attesting to its qualities and the qualities of its members and friends. But if we include Marx' membership in the Brussels branch of the international League of Communists, we can hear the more specific and tangible organizational and programmatic messages he shares with his collaborators in the Association.
Marx and Engels has participated in founding the German Workers’ Association in August 1847, just four months before Marx delivered his talk on wages. Only two or three weeks before that, they had also participated in the founding of the local group and the regional organization of the League of Communists. The League had reconnected and reorganized the scattered, surviving circles of the League of the Just, a socialist organization of artisan-proletarians. This older League had views inspired by the French Revolution and correspondingly couched its aspirations in terms of universal reason and universal brotherhood.
When the League reconstituted itself as the League of Communists, it had gone thorough discussion of its political and organization principles and had opted for the new class-struggle perspective espoused by Marx and Engels. We can safely surmise that in accordance with those principles the League of Communists in Brussels took the initiative in establishing the Workers’ Association. The Association would appeal to workers who had already become active and conscious to a degree, without the requiring the level of theoretical sophistication, commitment or militancy expected from members of the League. The activities of the Association would promote the development of class-consciousness, socialist politics and revolutionary strategy through education and through worker activism around immediate goals.
In the protracted discussion of wages up to the section on workers’ associations, Marx explicates the socialist argument that the wage-relation must be abolished, not ameliorated. In the final two sections, he advances the communist conclusion that the abolition of wages will arrive through revolutionary struggle. When Marx, present as the guiding intellectual of the League, closes his talk with an invocation of the revolutionary strategy, he is, in the organizational context of the Association appealing to his listeners to support or even join the League.
As Marx describes the state of workers’ consciousness and organizations and as he reflexively describes the immediate small-scale realization of those aspirations in the lecture hall, he also appeals with urgency to the workers present: You have created the kind of organizations needed to bring down “the entire old society;” You have seen through the worthless arguments advanced against your cause; You understand that vehemence of the struggle; You have the means and the persuasion to fund this struggle; You can taste the satisfactions of revolutionary activity.” Marx is asking for money and recruits.
Since Marx begins the final discussion of the positive side of belonging to the wage-earners with the note, “Before we conclude … ,“ it would seem that this appeal for men and money sounded like the conclusion. So let’s put off the final reading of that section to consider two additional, specific and concrete messages Marx conveys in his appeal. The League of the Just had adopted revolutionary politics before Marx and Engels became involved in its development. The League made this move under the influence of Wilhelm Weitling, a self-educated worker militant, widely known among German working class activists. While Weitling advanced socialist and revolutionary views, he had two strategic differences with Marx and Engels.
Weitling proposed, in effect, an oppression-based theory of revolutionary agency. He believed that the poorest of the poor, the notorious raggedy-ass proletariat, were the core of the revolutionary forces. He also believed that they would revolt spontaneously, without prior preparation, in response to an insurgent action by a small, conspiratorial group of militants. Marx and Engels, by contrast advocated education and mass activism as the foundation for revolutionary uprising. During 1846-47 through their writings and their correspondence Marx and Engels argued against Weitling’s ideas and propagated their own principles of revolutionary socialist activism. In 1846 Weitling moved to Brussels, so these views confronted each other face to face. The confrontation climaxed in a blow out between Weitling and Marx. Weitling then emigrated to America, and the movement building strategy prevailed in the reorientation and reformation of the League of the Just.
The League of Communists solidified Marx influence on its strategies when it invited him to attend its Second Congress in London in late November and early December of 1847, after the League was established in Brussels, but before Marx composed and delivered the talk on wages. At this congress, the League revised and definitively adopted its ‘Statutes . Most of the statues deal define organizational structures and their relationships, but the first and the next to the last bear directly on the meaning of Marx’ lecture.
The initial section of the statutes states the revolutionary goal of the League and requires of its members, “A way of life and activity which corresponds to this aim‘ as well as “Revolutionary energy and zeal in propaganda. “ The last section of the statutes, “League Funds,”deals with finances. These statutes oblige national sections and individual members to pay dues to cover the costs of correspondence, administration, the printing and distribution of propaganda, and the dispatch of emissaries on League business. The section is, in fact, the longest one in the statutes. The League was very concerned with money.
Since the Congress ended on Dec. 9, Marx must have begun the draft for the lecture very shortly after his return to Brussels. In accord with the statutes Marx exerts energy and zeal by immediately preparing a sterling piece of propaganda. He urges a circle of class-conscious worker activists, a number of whom would have had the opportunity to meet and discuss with Weitling, to reject Weitling’s strategy and adhere to the newly adopted standards of the League.
In direct contrast to Weitling, Marx argues that the best-paid workers should allocate disposable income to the formation of political and industrial associations. Dues-paying members are the heart of the League's strategy. If for a moment, we skip to the conclusion, the claim “the worker can do what he likes with his money” not merely encapsulates the decision for self-organization, socialism and revolution, it advocates a specific, organizational strategy for pursuing those ends. The talk directly advocates this new strategy of the League and familiarizes the listeners with this position.
To return to the structural possibilities of the text again, despite formal division between the apparent conclusion after the discussion of workers’ associations and the putative coda on the positive side of wages, these two passages form a coherent topical unit. The theme is the overthrow of the old society. We will need to reflect a little on the character of the ‘old society.’ The statement that concludes the coda on the revolutionary overthrow of the old society through the workers use of their wages conjoins the subjective and objective sides of revolution in a singularly complex pun that the linked English translation fails to capture. The complex conjunction of these elements condenses the program that Marx and Engels will in a matter of months write for the members of the League returning to Germany to participate in the revolutionary movement of 1848.
The last paragraph on workers associations and the coda on the positive side of wages bound together in another chiasmus. What the translation calls “the overthrow of the entire old society” is in German the Sturz, the fall of that society, the fast, hard fall. The paragraph closes with the objective ‘revolutionary activity of the workers’ through their wages in their organization. We move through the steps of the process to the summary of the whole.
The first paragraph of the coda resumes the topic of the proletariat ‘revolutionizing’ “the old society” and “itself.” The revolutionary process is then specified in a series of indexically mediated subjective ‘falls.’ The first two falls are explicit, “everything patriarchal falls away” and “halo of sanctity is entirely fallen” (which the translation turns ‘fallen’into ‘gone.) In the next paragraph, the ‘higher forms of labor’ have ‘lost their old sanctity.’ Since ‘sanctity’ is effectively synonymous with ‘halo,’ ‘lost’ is chained with ‘fall.’ The final step reverses the perspective of ‘lost,’ the workers “first became free of their subjection to a given relationship.” Now we have proceeded from the whole to the steps. The apparent conclusion ended at the peak of the revolution. The coda returns to the details of the process. This return prepares the ground for the very specific, tightly constrained conclusion.
How does the 'old society' figure in this process? Exactly how have the workers ‘lost’ patriarchal relations and entered ‘freedom’? Marx defined patriarchal relations briefly in the last piece of complete text in his discussion on the lower limit of wages, “The peasant still has free time and can earn something on the side.” Because the peasant is bound to the ground he lives on, he can, outside the time required for his manual services, provide his own subsistence. He owns the means of production, aside from the soil, from which, however, he cannot be alienated. This self-subsistence furnished the material basis for the feudal class struggle over the time spent in services and the amount of payments in kind. The surplus that belongs to the peasant exists as particular use-values. He struggles to eat more and drink more of that which he has produced. The collective struggle of the peasants secures for each individual the right to consume the produce of his own labor.
The factory worker cannot provide for his own subsistence. He cannot consume the produce of his own labor because that particular commodity could not meet his subsistence needs, even if it were his own property and not that of the capitalist. But in contrast to the produce of the peasant, wages as money are the universal equivalent of all other values. Their equivalents extend beyond the narrow range of subsistence produce, and, just as factory workers labor collectively, their money can be pooled. When the workers pooled their money for collective struggle against “the entire old society” in Germany in 1847, their struggle included the struggle against the feudal relations of exploitation as well as against capitalist exploitation. This double struggle comprises the strategic point of the coda’s conclusion.
The translation of the decisive final sentence in the coda, unfortunately captures only half the meaning of a profoundly conceived, but awkwardly executed pun, and thus obscures its political sense. The sentence says in full, “The advantage both over payment in kind and over the way of life prescribed purely by the (feudal) estate is that the worker can do what he likes with his money.” First, let us note that the German text does not have a sentence. It simply begins, “Advantage, that … .” Like the shift from third person to second person that shortly precedes it, this stylistic shift in the script mimes more spontaneous speech, blunt and succinct. The shift in spoken style foregrounds the conclusion, differentiates and separates it from the entire preceding text.
The second problem with the translation is in the coordinated construction of the two prepositional phrases, "both over payment in kind and over the way of life prescribed purely by the (feudal) estate.” These phrases are grammatically ambiguous in the text. The preposition is ‘gegen,’ which can, as it is translated here, be used in construction with ‘advantage.’ In this first sense, the entire construction asserts the subjective superiority of wages to natural produce in the sense we just discussed.
But ‘gegen’ much more commonly means ‘against.’ In this sense, it modifies “do what he wants.” The lost half of the construction’s sense says, ‘he can do what he wants both against payment in kind and against the way of life prescribed purely by the (feudal) estate.’ In this second sense, the construction describes the political and social goals of a democratic revolution that throws down the oppression and exploitation of the peasants. In combination, these senses express both the subjective possibility of freedom inherent in wages and the most tangible objective possibility for their use.
The last misleading feature of the translation is the transposition of the prepositional phrases. The less flexible word order of English and the choice to make the phrases depend on ‘advantage’ has moved them toward the front of the construction to immediately follow ‘advantage.’ But in the original they are the last constituent of the sentence. The actual word order is that in my second translation, “he can do what he wants both against payment in kind and against the way of life prescribed purely by the (feudal) estate.” The translation has chosen the less obvious, less intuitive reading, which is only an echo of the second, and an awkward injected one, and this choice has inadvertently concealed the more obvious and straightforward reading.
This choice has also obscured the single most complex rhetorical structure in the work, a second device constructed to make this conclusion as striking and as salient as possible. The coda rings out on a clear assertion that the immediate political goal of the revolutionary German workers’ movement is to prepare for and see through the democratic, anti-feudal revolution. After all the lengthy exposition of wages, wage labor and the internal logic of capitalism, the final words of the lecture put the workers at the service of another class and say nothing of socialism.
This conclusion comes as no surprise. If it should implausible, we need only look at two other documents drafted by Marx and Engels around this time. The two were working on the Manifesto of the Communist Party from the 9th of December 1847 to the end of the month at the same time Marx was preparing the script for his lecture.
Sunday, March 07, 2010
This step in the interpretation moves from the ‘lecture’ as a textual genre to the ‘lecture’ as a type of event. Before we proceed, I just want to apologize for the academic style of presentation here. Most discussants at this site share an interest in Marx and a training in the interpretation of texts. But my disciplinary background and theoretical commitments are farther afield than most. My interest was/is in talk rather than writing and my predilection is for theories based on observation that drawing limited generalizations and, as a matter of principle, articulate a minimal theoretical apparatus. So I don’t always feel like I can just name names, and I have to recapitulate some concepts.
The case in point, Erving Goffman, whose name does not come into the discussions here, typifies the take on language in social life I was schooled in. In Forms of Talk he discusses ‘lectures.’ He distinguishes a number of obvious and not so obvious features that make lectures what they are. Among the obvious are the requirement for a single speaker and listeners, for a text, as well as for a tenor of seriousness and an overt goal of imparting understanding of a topic, rather than making an emotional impact. These factors interact to create an event that engrosses the listeners in the subject matter. This engrossment comprises the special quality of the event. This quality depends heavily on the speaker. The need to achieve this quality makes the speaker responsible for producing a text, performing the text as a script and personally standing in for the text’s value by believing in it and holding its position. Success in this conjunction of functions likewise manifests the lecturer’s intellectual authority.
The participation of the listeners occurs most significantly in the qualitative outcome. The presence of listeners does first require an organized effort to recruit them. Their incentive to participate is access to information, but even more so to the presence of an authority. Their participation in authority and information generates the lecture’s particular emotional and social outcome. The skillfully crafted text and accomplished delivery that can engross them create a sense that the text exists ‘just for them. The intelligence and craft of the text and the performance establish that people like the listeners are the kind of people who have what it takes to appreciate a serious and authoritative lecture. Reflexively, the successful lecture demonstrates and validates the seriousness of lectures on the whole. It does the same for the possibility of perceiving, reporting and speaking to an audience about the structure of the world. It warrants too the motives and organizations that arranged the event.
While Goffman observed the contemporary American academic lecture, I think these properties hold good for the 19th-century too. But in Marx’ lecture these constitutive factors do not operate in the straightforward way Goffman describes. We could consider them to be the normative standards for the bourgeois lecture, just as the ideas of the economists were for the economy. Just as the lecture-text overturned those standards logically, the lecture-performance will overturn the bourgeois norms of informed authority. And just as the text displaced logic from its bourgeois grounds to proletarian grounds, the performance displaces the qualitative outcomes of engrossment, unique access and validation of the right of the event from the ground of bourgeois institutions and values to the work in progress of the workers.
The lecture on wages was presented under the auspices of the German Workers’ Association in Brussels. The Association was founded in August of 1847, with the participation of Marx and Engels, some four months before Marx delivered his lecture. The Association originated in workers’ aspiration to education and self-improvement. The lecture series that included ‘Wages’ shows that education promoting class-consciousness was one of the missions of the Association. In the audience for the lecture we would have found workers who were class-conscious and active in the workplace and in politics. Some would have been members of the Association and contributing to support its activities. Some would have come from the curious periphery of the Association seeking more information.
We can easily recognize how Marx and his text meet the audience’s criteria for a ‘lecture.’ In Marx we have a Ph.D., a philosopher and lawyer. He handily qualifies as a Respektsperson, as his German audience would say. We can imagine the Association, in recruiting the audience for the lecture, posting and distributing handbills advertising the speaker Dr. Karl Marx, a title more exceptional then than today. Three newspaper reports from Vienna, included in the supplementary materials in vol. 5 of the MEW, do refer to Marx with this title. At the very least, Marx was known to his brothers in the Association, who would have formed the core of the audience. in talking up the lecture among their co-workers, they could give first-hand praise of his erudition and eloquence. Marx himself attests the seriousness, the intellectual authority and the informational value of the event.
Once the delivery of the text had begun, it too would evince the seriousness, authority and informativeness of the event. The citations, the detail, the logic. As the delivery cumulates this volume and complexity of information, its sheer length signifies these qualities in an age that seems to have prized loquacity as an expression of a speaker’s invention and authority. By their attendance, workers aware of the demands the lecture would make on them demonstrated considerable confidence in their intellectual abilities. They could appreciate the effort Marx had made on their behalf. The careful listener would recognize that Marx had contributed to the analysis of capitalism substantial elements above and beyond the content of his bourgeois sources. In that sense, the text literally existed ‘just for them’ and provided access to information and authority even the bourgeois experts did not possess. In the new-found, confusing and upsetting world of dependence on wage-labor for their sustenance, the workers could indeed find assurance through the lecture-text and the lecture-event that their world had an order and could be understood and that the Association contributed vitally to attaining that sense of certainty, order and understanding.
These expectations and Marx’ ability to engross his audience, however, only serve Marx as a resource for transmuting the lecture. In parallel with the lecture-text’s overthrow of bourgeois economic logic, the lecture-performance overthrows the bourgeois lecture-event. Marx employs the means through which lecturers routinely establish their relationship to the text and to their audience to transform the presumptive relationship between him and his listeners. The transformed event allows the participants a foretaste of communist society. The relationship among them is overthrown in two steps, just as bourgeois economic logic was. First, Marx’ comments on the logic of bourgeois economists and their theories establish a counter-authority. Then Marx moves outside this logic altogether to posit a new mode of life-activity.
The transformation begins by realigning the participants’ relationship to the text. In Goffman’s model of lectures, the lecturer establishes his relationship with his audience through his signaling of his own alignment to the text. Marx expands this device to create an alignment he shares with his audience. Certain familiar physical and vocal means we can only conjecture about, the raised eyebrow, the imitation of a different style of speaking, even conviction and passion. Other standard devises for generating alignment-to-text are more legible. Most conspicuously, Marx uses the standard devices of sarcasm and irony. He also employs less common classical rhetorical techniques.
We can see on the surface when Marx shifts from the description and analysis of bourgeois economists to outright mockery of their moral posture, “This is the sense of the upright philanthropists who rail against the celebration of the Sabbath. “ He hammers on the misconception and moral charade of the theories, “To reveal the utter stupidity, baseness and hypocrisy of this doctrine ... .” He conflates the limited conceptual powers of the economists with the inconsistencies of their texts, “this trite contradiction.” But Marx is not simply maligning the bourgeois economists with his invective. The sarcasm and ironies target the economists’ near total ignorance of workers’ lives and the consequences of their economic logic for workers.
The discussion of the bourgeois proposal to improve wages through education, one of the more elaborate passages in its rhetorical shape, illustrates this logical, materialist basis for Marx’ derision:
Another suggestion, very popular with the bourgeoisie, is education, especially comprehensive industrial education.
[a] We shall not draw attention to the trite contradiction which lies in the fact that modern industry replaces compound labour more and more with simple labour which requires no education;
we shall not draw attention to the fact that it throws more and more children from the age of seven upwards behind the machine and turns them into a source of income not only for the bourgeois class but for their own proletarian parents; the factory system frustrates the school laws, example Prussia;
nor shall we draw attention to the fact that the education of the mind, if the worker had such an education, has no direct effect at all on his wages, that education is altogether dependent on the conditions of life, and that by moral education the bourgeois understands indoctrination with bourgeois principles, and that, finally, the bourgeois class neither has the means, nor if it had them would it use them, to offer the people a real education.
We confine ourselves to stressing a purely economic viewpoint.
Marx deploys the figure of the paralepsis, or ‘passing over.’ In this figure, by pretending not to mention a point, the speaker does introduce it. Marx’ first point is purely conceptual, on an inherent trait in the capitalist development of the forces of production. His second point moves into fact. Capitalism seeks child labor and in fact undermines existing public education. The third point, equally concrete, but more general, argues that workers do not have access to the education they would need, that the bourgeoisie provides an entirely different education, and that the bourgeoisie has an inherent incentive to provide no education at all.
Marx 'passes over' these concepts and facts, because they are too obvious to need mention. With regard to his sources, Marx ostensibly avoids the discussion of these facts, because it would obviously embarrass, even discredit, the authorities who inexplicably or duplicitously overlooked them. With regard to his audience, he declines to mention them out of respect for struggling workers to whom these issues are so familiar that it would insult their intelligence to mention them. That he does actually mention them works toward reconstituting the lecture in interconnected ways. Marx thoroughly disqualifies the conventional authorities. He manifests his own superior intellectual and moral authority. He demonstrates that he understands the experience and thoughts of his audience. Accordingly, the vector of access to information is reversed. Marx derives his authority from his access to the knowledge possessed by the workers. Marx does not provide the workers with to bourgeois science, he validates their own knowledge as an adequate basis for the criticism of that science.
The sentence that closes the ‘passing over’ returns us to the ground of bourgeois economics. It laconically summarizes the economists’ ignorance of human fact, “We confine ourselves to stressing a purely economic viewpoint.” Its irony underlines the wholesale inadequacy of bourgeois economic thought. This conclusion also suggests a more subtle, philosophical critique. In bourgeois economic thought, the worker figures only a category inferred solely from the already truncated, merely market-based categories of economics. For this thought, the worker is a speculative category in the strict Hegelian sense. The rhetorical inclusion of workers’ as foundational for the lecture implicitly endorses the materialist method over Hegelian speculation. The real rejection of that idealism, however, resides in the inclusion of the workers in the logic of the argument, and even more so in their inclusion in the order that constitutes the event. The fundamental flaw of bourgeois economics is the exclusion of workers in the concrete and of their needs.
Leaving behind the bourgeois proposal to ameliorate wages poverty, we find ourselves again at the passage to the proletarian viewpoint and the fulcrum on which the preceding logic is overthrown. On the level of the event, we can anticipate that Marx now intends to move beyond the overthrow of logic to the overthrow of the social order in the event. Just as Marx has noted the absence of workers from bourgeois economic logic and rewritten that logic through their inclusion, he now needs to incorporate workers into the fabric of the lecture-event and reorder that event.
As we listen to the remarks on workers’ associations, we can now hear that they do more than just describe the current methods and state of workers’ self-organization. What they describe on the large-scale, they also reflexively describe on the immediate small-scale. When Marx claims that worker’s associations are more than just organizations for the improvement of wages, that they are a means of unifying the class, he is describing the political topic and practical purpose, however modest, of this lecture-event. When he says, that “From this viewpoint, the workers laugh at the smart bourgeois schoolmasters ..,” he invokes the laughter that has accompanied his lecture and reiterates his audience’s superiority to the small-fry experts who would try to teach them social arithmetic. The workers’ project begins with the happy rejection of bourgeois theories.
He makes the point again yet more strongly, “that workers are so far from stingy is proven to even the economist … .” As a consequence of his emphatic, reiterated ridicule of the economists’ total ignorance of flesh-and-blood workers, he can now take for granted the complete contempt which his audience feels for the most dim-witted discussants of the question, the economists. Workers’ activity is a fact so obvious, even an economist can now understand it. And the workers can’t miss it, not just because they do it themselves, but because they are doing it at the very moment in which Marx speaks the words.
When he says, “the best-paid factory workers form the most coalitions” Marx cites the very artisan-proletarians who provided the core constituency of the politically flavored Association and of complementary industrial activity. When he invokes their willingness to scrimp up contributions to maintain their organizations, he points to the sacrifice that has made this evening possible, from printing the flyers to renting the hall. When he says the workers pay this price because of the extraordinary pleasure they draw from this activity, he pays tribute to the consciousness and motivation that have made activists and militants of the members of his audience.
The reflexive reference to the lecture-event itself now fully engages in the workers’ point of view. Marx still maintains the objectifying language of bourgeois economics, but the seemingly odd use of the third person in referring to the immediate context already generalizes the most important features of the event to bring out the seriousness their modest scale might otherwise disguise. Marx has made the workers hosting him and listening to him an explicit objective element of the event. Through the discussion of the self-organized workers’ activity he and his host/listeners are engaged in, he has brought us to the threshold of the conclusion and the remarkable breakthrough that the event makes here to workers’ essential, subjective contribution.
As Marx embarks on the positive side of the wage-relationship, he takes the second, more consequential step in transforming the event from a conventional lecture into a distinctly proletarian talk. With a simple shift in pronouns he removes the last of the barrier of bourgeois authority between him and his audience as well as the barrier between the normative lecture-event and the workers full subjective participation.
Decisively, Marx replaces the asymmetric roles of bourgeois authority with a collectivity, “I do not need to explain to you in detail how without these production relations neither the means of production — the material means for the emancipation of the proletariat and the foundation of a new society — would have been created... .” With ‘I’ and ‘you’ Marx moves from talking to his audience to talking with them. Once again, the figure of ‘passing over’ indicates their reciprocal access to the indispensible knowledge and experience held by the others. ‘You’ addresses the audience members with respect, and, through its’ grammatical ambiguity between singular and plural ‘you,’ Marx addresses these men as a group and as individuals. More than ever, the value of wages as a means to self-organization is self-evident to these men whose effort and donations have made the lecture possible.
The shift to inclusive membership in the group intensifies in the second point of the section when Marx concedes the negative effects of the wage, “that I become for sale through and through.” This time ‘I’ goes a step further. Beyond simply including Marx as an equal participant in the group, it merges Marx, the individual audience members and the group in their collective experience as labor-machines in the labor-market. With this ‘I’ Marx speaks for himself and for the workers in the audience. He shows how well he knows their minds, so well that he can speak for them, but with their voice and not in their place. He acknowledges how important his access to their experience is for what he has to say. They all share this “I”. This viewpoint of simultaneously individual and collective subjective self-perception and self-awareness of wages frames the three points that follow.
The first statement of the positive consequences of wages, “everything patriarchal falls away,” depicts the process metaphorically. Where does the ‘fall’ occur really? In the consciousness of the worker, as a result of his self-awareness of wages. What falls away? The worker’s experience and understanding of his former relationships in the process of production as he has moved from old-style apprenticeship and journeyman training to the new relations of factory work. What makes the ‘fall’ possible? The transparency and simplicity of the wage relationship that makes its nature unmistakable as well as its odious materialism, in the moral sense, that makes it easy to envision dumping it. Marx calls on the workers to sort through their old ideas in light of their new situation.
In the second point, the ‘fall’ continues. In counterpoint, “halo" narrows the focus to specifically religious conceptions, while the scope is generalized beyond the process of production and circulation to "all" relations, which are now equally transparent and odious. Marx specifies this generalization with reference to other occupations not formerly considered ‘work.’ Within this transformation of the ideological professions, Marx' own experience renders the workers’ experience intelligible for him, as the reduction of the law to an effectively waged-relationship has subjected him to wages as a lawyer. This experience of the labor-market in law also qualifies Marx objectively for membership in the Association.
The following metaphor of the ‘regiment’ turns these callings of ideological authority into mercenaries on the other side of the class war. As enemies they deserve no credence. As wage-workers in the ideological factory they have no more claim to intellectual authority than any other workers. As Marx has demonstrated many times throughout his talk, a factory worker has more to say about wage-labor and better reason to say it than does any bourgeois buffoon. Marx calls the workers to intellectual self-reliance and creativity.
I assume that brackets around the first point 3) strike it from the text. The second point 3) that replaced it deduces from the featurelessness of the wage-relationship the freedom of the worker to shape his future. If workers can see through wage and can see more clearly than bought-and-paid for intellectual authorities then they have the potential for ideological and material freedom to shape the future.
In these points Marx validates in sum the choice made by everyone present, him and his audience as one effective collective, to put their hearts, minds and money into the organization of the Association and into the organizations they have yet even to imagine. What they have experienced in the course of the evening, the transformation of a mere lecture into a moment of equality and self-determination, of democracy and freedom delivers just a faint harbinger of the future they can create for themselves through the proceeds of their labor.
More than in the literal meaning of any of its parts, the meaning of‘Wages’ is located in Marx’ work as an orator. In the most fundamental difference from the kind of lecturing Goffman discussed, Marx aims to move emotionally more than to persuade rationally. In this mode, he adheres to the practice of classical rhetoric, rather than to the Enlightenment premises of rational public discussion or to its diluted contemporary academic versions.
He disavows fundamentally the standing of intellectual authority and divests himself of it. He does not treat information as property of an authority, who can regulate access to it and distribute it in the measure he sees fit. In this talk, information emerges as a collectively created insight arising from reciprocal contributions. Information-talk does not confer a distinctive subjective status on an audience that enjoys access to authority and information. It endows what once appeared to be an ‘audience’ with the status of authority, working class authority.
The outcome of the lecture-event does not ratify or validate the tradition of events of that type. Nor does it confirm the orderliness and reportability of the world. Instead, this talk articulates a world of disorder and a world of disorderly accounts. At the same time, it reveals a world that has never been reported, a world that holds possibilities aborning that cannot yet be reported. This talk overturns the social foundations of the ‘lecture.’
Marx’ talk on wages does still straightforwardly share a few of the features of the lecture suggested by Goffman. It does engross its listeners, whom we can no longer call an audience, with its theme. It does makes them feel that the text and the event exist just for them. But their participation is not aural and informational. They are that theme and what they are doing right then and there is that event. They are not engrossed in listening to artfully delivered information.
As they listen, these worker militants are engrossed in creating an event and a world of a new kind. And, to put that same conclusion more concretely, the talk validates the motives and the standing of the group that organized the event, the Deutscher Arbeiterverein. ‘Wages’ and what the group does through their chosen speaker is the Verein. The Verein is the work of creating a new world and reporting that world to those for whom it holds promise. The collaboration of this group of men embodies, as the very words are spoken, the possibility in the claim that “The worker can do whatever he likes with his money.”
Now that we have looked at the lecture-text and the lecture-event, one question remains to be answered. That question sounds quintessentially post-modern. “What do we mean by ‘Marx’ in this interpretation? Analytically, we will begin with the unity of author, animator and warrant of the text supposed by Goffman. Historically, we will begin with Marx’ political activism at time he wrote ‘Wages.’ We will see how his role as speaker meshes with that activism to create a role distinct from that of the ‘lecturer and how this mesh gives his talk and its conclusion a very specific and practical sense.
Friday, March 05, 2010
Thursday, March 04, 2010
In part 3 of her lecture here, Silvia Federici talks about - among other things - the mechanisation of the body in mechanical philosophers and the development of anatomy in the 17th-18th century as a feature of the counter-revolution that was the establishment of capitalism.
These PUAs seem to be an expression of a contemporary mechanisation of the "personality" and the mechnical approach evo-psych takes to the mind which accompanies this stage of capitalism emphasising the discretionary consumption of the majority in the core, fuelling the development of practises of advertising and marketing, and the speculative activity of rentiers and owners of capital, fuelling the development of practises of market manipulation.