Remembering the Audacity of Postone: Dead labor is the source of emancipation.

by Jehu

[Capital] is not simply an abstract vampire sitting on top of the concrete whereby one could simply get rid of it, like taking a headache pill. Within this imaginary, capital is considered extrinsic to the concrete, to production or labour. Capital, however, actually molds the concrete. It empties labour increasingly of its meaningfulness. At the same time it is an alienated form of human sociality, of human capacities. As such, it is generative of socially general forms of knowledge and power, even if it generates them historically in a form that oppresses the living. Yet, in many respects, precisely this becomes the source of future possibilities. That is, living (proletarian) labour is not the source of future historical possibilities. Rather, what has been constituted historically as capital is that source. Now, I know this sounds like I am turning everything on its head. I am saying that the category of living labour in Marx is not the source of emancipation. Rather, dead labour is. Maybe this sounds like a provocation, but it needs to be thought about. (emphasis added)

Interview with Postone