The Real Movement

Communism is free time and nothing else!

Tag: class struggle

Chris Cutrone’s Pessimism and the Prospects of Social Emancipation

Chris Cutrone thinks the idea of socialism has been “disenchanted” and this disenchantment is linked to a jarring lack of class consciousness among the working class and the class struggle between capitalist and workers:

“The difference between Marx’s time and ours is not in the essential problem of society, its self-contradictory form of value between wages and capital, but rather in the social and political conflicts, which no longer take the form primarily, as in Marx’s time, of the “class struggle” between workers and capitalists. “Class” has become a passive, objective category, rather than an active, subjective one, as it had been in Marx’s day and in the time of historical Marxism. What Marxists once meant by “class consciousness” is no more.”

rosa-luxemburg-older-rlsIn place of the class struggle of the workers against the capitalists, conflicts of culture, ethnicity and religion replace the struggle over capitalism. Socialism has been replaced with competing notions of social justice that borrow from ancient values; and cultural affinities seem to matter more than socioeconomic interests. Capitalism still determines social relations, but it is no longer recognized. What matter is not one’s class position in society, but “whether one lives in a ‘red or blue state,’ or what one’s ‘race, gender, and sexuality’ are”.

Cutrone’s essay is extremely pessimistic, but is it wrong?

Read the rest of this entry »

Marxian Hipsters, Old Skool Marxists and the Abstract and Fetishized Notions of Social Emancipation

worksource-oregon-job-fairThe hipsters of value critique can often be heard describing present society as one founded on an abstract and fetishized mode of social domination. Most of the rest of us have no idea what the fuck any of that means, but we know it sounds pretty impressive. If pressed to explain what this bullshit even means, the value critique hipster might refer to Adorno or some other theoretical heavy, as does the writer of this blog post, “The All-Penetrating Ether of Society: Adorno, Exchange, and Abstract Social Domination”:

“[A]ccording to Adorno, unlike the ‘idealist’ ‘subjective and ‘reflexive’ prognosis of reification, which centres on the undialectical appearance of the thing, and criticism that seeks to dynamize these things, the trouble is with the social ‘conditions’ that structure human interaction.

In Adorno’s view the later is theorized by Marx’s analysis of the fetish character of the commodity, which Adorno reads as a social category that expresses the objective social form of existing social relations.

“the fetish-character of commodities is not chalked up to subjective-mistaken consciousness, but objectively deduced out of the social a priori, the process of exchange.”

Ah!”, I nod in what appears to signal agreement, mostly because I don’t want to expose my complete inability to understand a single damn word the blogger wrote, “Yes, we must objectively deduce something that requires eight semesters of Hegelian philosophy out of something else that requires mastery of Capital, volumes 1, 2 and 3. Uh … by the way, would you like fries with your order?”

Read the rest of this entry »

Platypus Question No. 10: The utopian character of “the politics of work”

In their final question, Platypus asks what effect the decline of the workers’ movement over past century has had on attempts to come to grips with the politics of work, overwork and unemployment.

“10. A century ago, these questions were consciously taken up by a politically constituted workers movement in which socialists and Marxists participated. Today, discussions of this topic risk becoming utopian in the a-political sense. How, if at all, has the decline of workers movements and the death of the Left circumscribed our ability to engage the politics of work in the present?”

The problem with this question is that it assumes what has to be demonstrated: that a politically constituted workers movement taking up discussions of the politics of work was not itself utopian.

Read the rest of this entry »

Platypus Question No. 9: The paradox of Left politics

In question 9, the Platypus group asks about the role of political organization in relation to labor issues.

“9. What role, if any, do you assign to political organization, such as an actual or potential political party, in working to progressively transform contemporary relations of work and unemployment? What should be the relationship between any such organization and the working class?”.

I think it is important to state, following the premises of historical materialism, as outlined by Marx and Engels, that there is no social organization that can give the working class control over work and unemployment. As many writers note, labor itself is premised on the fragmentation of the conditions of labor. This fragmentation cannot be overcome through any political organization nor by the establishment of a working class political party. One of the most important defects of the Left’s approach to labor and to overwork and unemployment is the idea these can be addressed by political measures and political organization.

Read the rest of this entry »