Sunday, 7 August 2016

A Summer Chill (6)

Rather, it means that even if an individual stopped and chose to lay on their back in the grass and listen to the wind in the trees, they would not cease to have their needs met.  I would say, to be picky, that at this point there is no such thing as a worker, rather, the tighter formulation would be to say that "there is no longer any connection at all between the activity of an individual and her needs".
A note on the abolition of Labour

And all the secrets of our camp I'll show/Their force, their purposes; nay, I'll speak that/Which you will wonder at. Sortes Shakespearianae

From the ceaseless flow of their production, one of the more recent epistemological re-categorisations to be remarked upon is the Marxist repudiation of Marxism. Marxism as a categorical designation is now associated with the affirmation of the labour movement as pseudo-antagonist of the capitalist productive relation. It has since been retrospectively transformed, through successive 'returns' to Marx, into the ideological presentation of the values of 'the labour republic' as these appear from the standpoint of the critique of work. By ritualistic means, Marxism is found to misrepresent Marx. And as a correlate, those Marxists refusing their own Marxism now define themselves as communist on the basis of their critique of the subject formations developed around the wage relation within the parameters of the value form. An unanticipated consequence of this has been the truncation of the meaning of communism, the definition of which is practically reduced to the discursive framework established by the Marxist return to Marx as the basis for theoretical distinction between the critique of work on one side and labour essentialism on the other. In this framing, communism, as a social problematic, remains, in the words of Gregory Bateson, a single description model. Fatally, for critical consciousness, the question of communism is attenuated by the Marxists' perpetual readings of each other's readings of Marx. One area in which this process of attenuation, a veritable diminishment of theory's gene pool, has had radical effect is around the very question of the plausibility of the abolition of labour in relation to its ancestor, the labour republic.  In order to resolve the question of potentialising the post-labour problematic of productive activity, certain exegetically based adjustments of priority have become necessary to the general critique of alienation. As a consequence, in recent years, Marxists have become preoccupied with the interplay of the putative binary 'realms' of human existence which Marx has designated as the realm of necessity and the realm of freedom. In general, they have concluded that the automation of the realm of necessity functions as the material precondition for human society's self-separation from 'unnecessary' labour and its point of entry into the self-optimised realm of freedom. But the desire to potentialise the material of critique and discover within it a plausible exit to the contradictory binds of present conditions has only served to restrict the potential reach of its own critique. In acquiescing to the perceived objective requirement of presenting a plausible solution, absolute critique is progressively abandoned in favour of those piecemeal reforms, agreements and entanglements that are involved in positive representations of selected forces. The materially imposed strategy of subjectively carrying forward the potential for realisation of some fragment of the present also clinches the formal agreement by which every revolutionary pivots on the obligation to suspend absolute critique in order to defend some or other form of material wealth already achieved. The revolutionary is perpetually reconstituted into the mouthpiece of an equivalent to 'socialism in one country'. Even the most radical of revolutionary formulations, the concept of the 'the abolition of work', as this is now fixed to the expansion of productive forces, has itself become transformed into one of the names of domination. The concept of the abolition of labour has come to serve a similar purpose to that which the concept of the proletarian state did previously: the formulation of an attempt to regulate otherwise exterior forms of class struggle. In the continuum of hell, each successive social reformer beats the revolutionary to his left with the long spoon of plausibility, whilst denouncing him for the crime of betraying progress through excessive naïveté and impracticality. The difficulty of potentialising one factor of production and assigning to it a liberating function lies in the minimisation of its actual functioning within the apparatus of domination. The anti-Marxism Marxists have substituted the 'republic of labour' with the 'republic of machines' whilst retaining the maximally attenuated standpoint of a single description model. In the process, they have forgotten that there is a life-world of difference between an objective expulsion of labour and the subjective dismantling of the work apparatus by the workers themselves. As a consequence, the Marxists' repudiation of labour essentialism reproduces exactly the same theoretical procedures but directed to a slightly displaced object. Objective approval, the recuperative work of history, has always been a death sentence to consciousness, and Marxism, as a theoretical framework for achieving its own desire for positive approval, fails to acknowledge that this deep-seated tendency skews its obligation to critique. As an inappropriately expressed need for being found 'right' by the world as it is, Marxism voluntarily suspends the necessity of problematising all existing forces. For reason of its subservience to the ideology of realisation, it does not perceive how its ideal of 'fully automating' the realm of necessity does not actually form the basis of a critique of capitalism as such, but only functions epistemologically as a categorical adjustment to orthodox Marxism's validation of the labour process as source of liberated material wealth. As a result, the attenuated Marxist critique of capitalism now dangles from a single thread, and is derived wholly from its repudiation of the value system's constraints upon the expulsion of labour from the productive apparatus. The anti-Marxism Marxists have come to identify the abolition of work as an objective trait of both capitalism and communism without also recognising the problem that Camatte raised more than forty years ago: the material conditions for communism have been realised as the material conditions for the commodity-community's supersession of communism. If work, as the site of exploitation is objectively collapsing, and the institutions of domination remain unaffected, then social power must be extracted by some other process than the expansion of surplus value from the intermingling of commodity labour time and fixed capital. If social domination is realised through the imposition of 'unnecessary' labour time (the generalisation of a form of prison labour) rather than value producing labour, then value is no longer the most significant factor in the apparatus of domination. The supposed critique of labour has become too easy, and falls into line with an apologetic for automation where the mechanism of exploitation is obscured by the release of 'free time' and abolition of work. Anti-Marxism Marxists, being over-preoccupied with refuting the labourist categories of Marxism, are reluctant to engage the concept of exploitable free time and the categories of domination achieved through the naturalisation, or full environmentalisation, of automated command chains outside of the workplace. If the dominant order is not in real crisis (certainly, it generates perpetual sub-critical crises as a means of its renewal), then the disappearance of the value producing relation (the systemic collapse of living labour) can have had no decisive effect on its functioning. For this reason, we must surmise that the institutions of social reproduction have found a form of 'activity' to exploit as energy source which is more efficient than work. Given that work is a conscious relation between employer and employee, it seems likely that the new mechanism of exploitation must function unconsciously (or subliminally). It is also probable that, through its adherence to a 'realisation bind', communists (anti-Marxism Marxists) have become intuitively complicit with not bringing the modified order of exploitation into consciousness and are content to retain as their ultimate goal the objective 'abolition' of work rather than the subjective destruction of the productive apparatus. The idea of formalised, or productive, free time is a necessary subset of the process of automation. Free time within an automated environment is not free, but reproduces the exploitative patterns of free range agriculture: consisting of the freedom to stretch one's legs within a fixed field system and improve the quality of one's own meat. The emergence of the era of 'domestication' is constituted as the overcoming of value producing labour through the direct bio-technological exploitation of existence as this is embedded in world production. For this reason, the question of the abolition of work has already become old fashioned (as is evidenced by the late arrival of the Marxists), and as a consequence, the critique of the dark factory must be taken up in another register. 

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