The concept of the Left and the Right

A moderated panel
Platypus Review 68
July 4th, 2014
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Chris Cutrone|Nikos Malliaris|Samir Gandesha
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We are the 99%!

— Occupy Wall Street
(September 2011)
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The Left must define itself on the level of ideas, conceding that in many instances it will find itself in the minority.

— Leszek Kolakowski
“The concept of the Left”
(November 1958)
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The distinction of the Left and the Right was never clear. But following the failure of the Old Left, the relevance of these categories has increasingly ceased to be self-evident. In its place there has been a recurring declaration of the “end of ideology”; by 1960s intellectuals like Daniel Bell, 1980s postmodernists, and 1990s post-Left anarchism.

Yet in spite of the recurring death of ideology, the terms “Left” and “Right” seem to persist, albeit in a spectral manner. With the politics that attended the uprisings of 2011 — from the Arab Spring to Occupy — there seemed a sense that the left ideology has simultaneously become irrelevant and inescapable. While the call for democracy by the “99%” has its roots in the historical demands of the Left, these movements were notable to the extent that they were not led by left organizations. To many who participated in these movements, left politics seemed “purely ideological” and not a viable avenue to advance discontents. Now that this moment has passed there is a sense that the Right has prevailed, and even a sense of resignation, a sense that the Left was not really expected to be competitive.

This ambiance seems in contrast to the past. At the height of the New Left’s struggle to overcome the Old Left, the Polish Marxist Leszek Kolakowski declared that the concept of the Left “remained unclear.” In contrast to the ambivalence of the present, the act of clarifying the ambiguity of the Left seemed to have political stakes. The Left, he declared, could not be asserted by sociological divisions in society, but only by defining itself ever more precisely at the level of ideas. He was aware that the ideas generated by the Left, such as “freedom” and “equality,” could readily be appropriated by the Right, but they would only do so if they failed to be ruthlessly clarified. For Kolakowski the Old Communist Left had ceased to be Left and had become the Right precisely on the basis of its ideological inertia.

What does it mean today when the challenges to the status quo are no longer clearly identifiable as originating from the Left? While it seems implausible that Left ideology has been transcended because people still explain social currents in terms of Left and Right, there is a sense in the present that to end exploitation will demand a measure of realpolitik — a better tactical response — rather than ideological clarification. One has the uneasy feeling that existence of the Left and the right only persist by virtue of the fact the concept of the Left has somehow become settled, static, and trapped in history. But wouldn’t this be antithetical to any concept of the Left?

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Preliminary remarks

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Chris Cutrone:
 “The Concept of the Left” was published in English translation in 1968. Actually, the essay dates from the late fifties, and it was a response to the crackdown that came with the Khrushchev revelations. Most famously, there was an uprising in Hungary in 1956 after Khrushchev’s revelations about Stalin, but in fact there were attempts at liberalization in other parts of Eastern Europe, including Poland. Kolakowski participated in that, but also suffered the consequences of the reaction against it, and that’s what prompted him to write the essay. Much later, Kolakowski became a very virulent anti-Marxist. But in the late fifties, he’s still writing within the tradition of Marxism and drawing from the history of its controversies, specifically the revisionist dispute and the split with the Second International into the Third International.

Kolakowski wrote that the Left needs to be defined at the level of ideas rather than at the level of sociological groups. In other words, Left and Right don’t correspond to “workers” and “capitalists.” Rather, the Left is defined by its vision of the future, its utopianism, whereas the Right is defined by the absence of that, by opportunism. Very succinctly, Kolakowski said, “The Right doesn’t need ideas, it only needs tactics.” So what is the status of the ideas that would define the Left?

He says that the Left is characterized by an obscure and mysterious consciousness of history. The Left is concerned with the opening and furthering of possibilities, whereas the Right is about the foreclosure of those possibilities. The consciousness of those possibilities would be the ideology of the Left. Kolakowski’s use of the term “utopia,” when he says the Left is defined by utopia, is a rather peculiar and eccentric use of the term. It’s not a definite image of the future; it’s rather a sense of possibility — a consciousness of change. This might involve certain images of the future, but it’s not defined, for Kolakowski, by those images of the future. Left and Right are relative; there’s a spectrum that goes from a sense of possibility for change and ranges off to the Right with a foreclosure of those possibilities, which is what justifies opportunism and politics of pure tactics.

Another useful category that Kolakowski introduced is “crime.” He says politics cannot be fully extricated from crime, but the Left should be willing to call crime “crime,” whereas the Right needs to pretend that crimes are exigent necessities. In other words, the Left is concerned with distinguishing between true necessities and failures to meet those necessities, which is what political crime amounts to. So Kolakowski says that the Left cannot avoid committing crimes, but it can avoid failure to recognize them as crimes. In this respect, crimes would be compromises that foreclose possibilities — political failure is a crime. This is important, again, because the context in which he was writing was Stalinism, and Khrushchev’s revelation of Stalin’s crimes. In other words, Khrushchev’s concern was, “Okay, Stalin is dead and there’s been a struggle for power in his wake. How are we going to make sense of the past twenty or thirty years of history. What were the crimes that were committed?” The crimes that were committed in this respect were crimes against the revolution — crimes against freedom, crimes against the possibility of opening further possibilities for change. In this respect, the Left is concerned with freedom, and the Right is concerned with the disenchantment of freedom — the foreclosing of possibilities for freedom. Whereas the Left must believe in freedom, the Right does not. Hannah Arendt in the 1960s in On Revolution points out how remarkable it was that the language of freedom had dropped out of the Left already at that point.

Today, one of the reasons why Platypus says, “The Left is dead! Long live the Left!” is that the concept of freedom, and therefore the concept of the Left itself, has given way rather to concerns with social justice. Social justice can’t be about freedom because justice is about restoring the status quo ante, not advancing further possibilities. While we might say there can be no freedom without justice, we can say that there can be justice without freedom. When the avowed Left concerns itself not with freedom but with justice, it ceases to be a Left. That’s because pursuing a politics of justice would stand on different justifications than pursuing a politics of freedom — in the name of justice, crimes against freedom can be committed. Continue reading

Response to Peter Frase on identity politics

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Jacobin
has published a short reflection by Peter Frase on identity politics, with the humorous title
“Stay Classy.” Unfortunately, the title is probably the best thing about it. The rest of it is a bit slapdash, haphazardly whipped together. Especially the bit on “racecraft,” which seems both tacked on and untrue to  Barbara and Karen Fields’ argument in their book of the same name. Generally I think Frase is the brains of the bunch over at Jacobin, and still recommend his “Four Futures” essay to anyone interested in the journal. But this piece — as well as his earlier article on the 2011 protests in Wisconsin, “An Imagined Community,” in which he claimed “all politics are identity politics” — I find far weaker.

Anyway, I read this article when it appeared on  Frase’s blog. Here’s what I wrote there, with a few slight alterations:

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The emphasis on “identity” is misleading.

Marx stressed the significance of the proletariat as the “universal class” of bourgeois society because of its decisive position within the capitalist mode of production. Not because workers are the most downtrodden or marginalized members of society, but because they are uniquely placed to overturn the present social order. Immiseration notwithstanding, lumpenproletarians (the so-called “lazy lazzaroni” of  the “classes dangereuses“), the unemployable reserve army of labor, and those still involved in peasant labor have it far worse than those who manage to find waged or salaried jobs under capitalism. So if oppression doesn’t index political potential, what does? What makes the working class so special?

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Once again, it’s not that the working class is inherently radical or progressive. History has shown again and again that workers are susceptible to the influence of reactionary ideologies, and quite often act in ways that seem to go against their best interest. Proletarian parties and political movements have repeatedly erred in assuming that the laboring masses would eventually come around to socialism, only to see their expectations dashed at the final moment. All the same, the proletariat remains the sole hope that capitalism might someday be overcome. If workers aren’t natural-born revolutionaries, though — if they don’t automatically organize around socialist principles — what could possibly justify this continued belief?

Though it risks sounding redundant, we would do well to remind ourselves that the fundamental structuring principle of the capitalist social formation is capital. Capital is a social relationship in which a given magnitude of value, itself comprised of finished products embodying dead labor, must augment itself through the process of production, by coming into contact with living labor that valorizes it further. It is thus necessarily mediated at every level by wage-labor, on which its fructification relies. For this reason, it is dependent on a class of laborers — a social group determined by its relation to the means of production. Continue reading

Krugman on Piketty: From one celebrity neo-Keynesian to another

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Paul Krugman writes in today’s New York Times on the buzz around Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Believe the hype, he advises, but the French economist is certainly no Marxist. The celebrated columnist documents some of the more extreme reactions the book has elicited from Republicans and right-wingers, which he calls “the Piketty panic”:

[C]onservatives are terrified…James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute warns in National Review that Mr. Piketty’s work must be refuted, because otherwise it “will spread among the clerisy and reshape the political economic landscape on which all future policy battles will be waged”…it has been amazing to watch conservatives, one after another, denounce Mr. Piketty as a Marxist. Even Mr. Pethokoukis, who is more sophisticated than the rest, calls Capital a work of “soft Marxism,” which only makes sense if the mere mention of unequal wealth makes you a Marxist.

It is to Krugman’s credit that he can see through the hysterical right-wing denunciations of Piketty as a “Marxist” or “collectivist,” however. That’s something that can’t really be said for the book’s various “Marxian” admirers. Many on the Left tend to believe the Right’s paranoid rhetoric about fairly anodyne liberalism: if conservatives decry Keynesianism or political correctness as “Marxist” (i.e., economic  or cultural), then it must be!

Yeah, not really. Continue reading

The metropolis, money, and abstraction

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What follows is an extract, some preliminary research, from an essay I’m working on with Sammy Medina. It’s in very rough form, and over-footnoted. Much of it will have to be cut. But I still felt like I had to go through everything step by step to make sure that each stage of the argument holds up. Once that’s done I’m hoping I’ll find shortcuts for how to say it with greater brevity.

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The modern metropolis, both in its historical origins and present-day existence, is the site of capitalist accumulation par excellence. As the German sociologist Georg Simmel put it in his celebrated 1903 essay, “The Metropolis and Mental Life,” “[t]he metropolis has always been the seat of the money economy.”1 Money played a vital role, after all, in shifting the political center of gravity away from the countryside toward the city. Despite the numerous titles and privileges enjoyed by clergymen and noblemen, the townsmen had one mighty weapon in their struggle against feudalism: money.2 By removing the primacy of land tenure (i.e., the manorial system of fiefs and hereditary estates), it eroded the basis of traditional bonds of dependence. “Long before the ramparts of the old baronial castles were breached by the new artillery, they had already been undermined by money,” wrote Friedrich Engels in 1884. “In fact, gunpowder could be described as an executor of the judgment rendered by money.”3

With the increased availability of minted coins in Europe — starting in the twelfth century with the discovery of silver deposits in Thuringia,4 but especially following the influx of precious metals from the New World after 14935 — commodity circulation took place on an expanded scale.6 For merchants and moneylenders living in the cities, the pervasiveness of pecuniary transactions allowed them to leverage their position at the crucible of exchange against the landed aristocracy in the surrounding territories.7 The feudal lords relied on the towns both for their finished wares as well as the occasional loan, and thus fell prey to price gouging and crippling debt. Hard currency thereby helped bring about the decline of feudalism alongside the rise of the revolutionary bourgeoisie.

Cities today invariably reflect this influence. Not simply owing to their past function as the breeding-ground of modern capitalism, but because of their ongoing inundation by the money form of capital as well. Practically every facet of urban life is organized according to synchronized rhythms of exchange.8 Here money acts as a sort of perpetuum mobile, facilitating the circulation of commodities throughout the city and its environs.9 At the same time, however, it accelerates the tempo of daily interactions, since “a change in monetary circumstances brings about a change in the pace of life,” as Simmel observed.10 Whether a town was from the outset a center of trade or a seedbed of industry,11 money eventually permeates its entire infrastructure. Replacing medieval relations rooted in so-called “natural economy,”12 it soon becomes integral to the comings and goings of the whole populace.13

The move away from economies based on barter and the gift, where precise equivalence of exchange is either impossible or besides the point, toward economies based on money and credit acquires an almost world-historical significance in this light.14 Indeed, it is difficult to exaggerate the unique character of a money economy. Continue reading

Marx and Wertkritik

Elmar Flatschart
Alan Milchman
Jamie Merchant

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Originally published in the Platypus Review. On Saturday, April 6, 2013, the Platypus Affiliated Society hosted a panel, “Marx and Wertkritik,” at its Fifth Annual International Convention, held at the School of the Art Institute Chicago. The panel featured Elmar Flatschart of the German theoretical journal EXIT!, Alan Milchman of Internationalist Perspective, and Jamie Merchant of Permanent Crisis. It was moderated by Gregor Baszak, of Platypus. What follows is an edited transcript of their discussion. A full recording of the event can be found online. 

Event Description

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Perhaps one of the most influential developments in Marxist thought coming from Germany in the last decades has been the emergence of value critique. Building on Marx’s later economic works, value critics stress the importance of abolishing value (the abstract side of the commodity), pointing out problems in traditional Marxism’s emphasis on the “dictatorship of the proletariat”. The German value-critical journal Krisis has famously attacked what they believed was a social democratic fetishization of labor in their 1999 Manifesto Against Labor. Such notions have drawn criticism from more “orthodox” Marxists who miss the role of the political in value critique and the possibility of immanent transformation through engaging the realities of capitalist societies.

Did the later Marx abandon his political convictions that he expressed in the Manifesto? What about his later political writings, such as his “Critique of the Gotha Program,” in which he outlines the different phases of early communism? Is Marxism a scientific project, as claims from value critics seem to indicate? Was Marx trying to develop of a “science of value” in his later works? What can value critique teach us after the defeat of the Left in 20th century? Did traditional Marxism necessarily lead to the defeat of the Left?
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Elmar Flatschart: Value critique, or, following the theorem developed by Roswitha Scholz, a critique of value-diremption [Wertabspaltungskritik], seeks to understand and critique the fundamental mechanisms that govern modern society. This critique is not as interested in the political Marx of class struggle and the workers’ movement, but more in the philosophical aspects of his work that focus on the abstract and fetishized character of modern domination. This approach tries to keep the abstract critical theory of society strictly separate from the contradictory practical attempts to overcome capitalism. Marxism shouldn’t be understood as an identity-giving, wholesome position, which history proved to be erroneous, but should be reduced to a theoretical core that can help us to understand society, via a negative critique, even if it does not necessarily provide us with a way out. The call for the abolition of labor does not have immediate ramifications for Marxist politics.

There is no new program or a master plan for emancipation that can be developed out of the abolition of value. Rather, it can be seen as a condition of emancipation from value and the abstract system of oppression it represents. How emancipation will be achieved is a more complex story. We know what will not work: much of what the Old Left proposed as Marxist politics. A lot of that should be abandoned because, essentially, abstract domination cannot be abolished through the imposition of some other kind of direct, personal domination. If we are to critique the abstractions of the economic forms, we similarly have to target the political form itself. While Marx and Engels suggested as much by their formulation of the state eventually “withering away,” I think we need to be a lot more radical. Emancipation ultimately has to mean the abolishment of the political as well. This is contradictory in the present political situation, but we should not try to postpone this task until after the revolution. We should see the constraints and the fetishizations immanent to the political form as something we want to get rid of now. Continue reading

Fragments

by Reid Kane Kotlas 

Untitled.
Image: Georges Braques,
Bottles and Fish (1909)

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Originally posted on Reid Kane’s tumblog.

To have a system and to have none

Contrary to Hegel, who sought to consummate in theory the system that emerged as humanity rendered itself the necessary product of history, Marx is thought to have definitively indicted this system, or at least what it became. Marx’s critique is understood as a ‘systemic’ critique, a critique not of the actions of individuals or groups but of the whole social structure within which individuals and groups are bound to adopt the social roles that give them actuality. Marx offered no alternative system however, and that alternative which was eventually offered in his name ended in calamity.

Yet Marx did not offer such a critique. Rather, he recognized that the system had already become self-critical, and that this criticism was now advancing in the form of the struggles of the proletariat. It was with this struggle that Marx identified his criticism, a criticism which is nothing if not a critical participation in the political struggle, and thus a struggle to transform the ‘system’ on its own basis. “By raising the representative system from its political form to the universal form and by bringing out the true significance underlying this system, the critic at the same time compels this party to go beyond its own confines, for its victory is at the same time its defeat.” Continue reading

Three models of “resistance” — Notes

Notes


[1] “[The] political beginnings [of ‘resistance’] in the West are conservative; this helps to explain some of the politics of resistance.  It’s Edmund Burke, the British conservative, who actually counsels resistance against the radical change of the French Revolution in 1790.  About 75 years later, the same call was taken up by Mathew Arnold, who essentially argues for culture as a means of resistance against the tides of anarchic progress…Marx and Engels, when they [were] writing the Communist Manifesto, actually single out resistance in the form of reactionary socialism as a major stumbling block to any sort of revolution…Resistance has this sort of conservative cast in the 18th and 19th centuries.”  Albert, Michael; Cutrone, Chris; Duncombe, Stephen; and Holmes, Brian. “The 3 Rs: Reform, Revolution, and ‘Resistance’: The Problematic Forms of ‘Anti-capitalism’ Today.”  Platypus Review.  (No. 4.  April, 2008).

[2]Upping the Anti Editorial Board.  With Eyes Wide Open: Notes on Crisis and Resistance Today.”  Upping the Anti.  (No. 10.  May, 2010).

[3] Postone, Moishe.  Time, Labor, and Social Domination: A Reinterpretation of Marx’s Critical Theory.  (Cambridge University Press.  New York, NY: 1993).  Pgs.

[4] Burke, Edmund.  Selected Works, Volume 2: Reflections on the Revolution in France.  (Liberty Fund.  Indianapolis, IN: 1999).  Pg 180.

[5] Paul, Alexander.  The History of Reform: A Record of the Struggle for the Representation of the People in Parliament.  (George Routledge & Sons.  New York, NY: 1884).  Pg. 138.

[6] Wolfe, Ross.  “Reflections of Resistance, Reform, and Revolution.”  Upping the Anti,  (No. 14.  November, 2012).

[7] Derrida, Jacques.  “Resistances.”  Translated by Peggy Kamuf, Pascale-Anne Brault, and Michael Naas.  Resistances of Psychoanalysis.  (Stanford University Press.  Stanford, CA: 1998).  Pg. 2.

[8] Ibid., pg. 16.

[9] Ibid., pg. 17.

[10] Dilthey, Wilhelm.  “The Origin of Our Belief in the Reality of the External World and Its Justification.”  Translated by Maximilian Aue.  Selected Works, Vol. 2: Understanding the Human World.  (Princeton University Press.  Princeton, NJ: 2010).  Pg. 19.

[11] “Fichte’s system is the culmination of subjective idealism.  This means simply that it completes the attempt to explain the world through the I, and to derive the nexus of all sensations and intuitions, of all that is given and exists, from the spontaneous, productive subject.  The essence of this system consists in raising all givenness, all beings, into something active, or more precisely, into the active I.  This givenness or reality is not sought for ‘out there’ in the world.  For Fichte there is no ‘out there.’  Rather the ‘out there’ exists only for consciousness itself.”  Dilthey, Wilhelm.  Hermeneutics and Its History.  Translated by Theodore Nordenhaug.  Hermeneutics and the Study of History.  (Princeton University Press.  Princeton, NJ: 1996).  Pg. 100.

[12] “The not-self is posited in the self…but all such counterpositing presupposes the identity of the self, in which something is posited and then something set in opposition thereto.”  Fichte, J.G.  The Science of Knowledge.  Translated by Peter Heath and John Lachs.  (Cambridge University Press.  New York, NY: 1982).  Pg. 106.

[13] Dilthey, “The Origin of Our Belief in the Reality of the External World and Its Justification.”  Pg. 23.

[14] Ibid., pgs. 49-50.

[15] “As is the case with many other opinions of this great author [i.e., Schopenhauer], this opinion constitutes a development of propositions set forth by his teacher Johann Gottlieb Fichte, although he does not refer to him on this occasion, and rarely mentions his name at all without piling abuse on it.”  Ibid., pg. 12.

[16] “We know that multiplicity in general is necessarily conditioned by time and space and is thinkable only through them; in this respect, we call them the principium individuationis.”  Schopenhauer, Arthur.  The World as Will and Representation, Volume 1.  Translated by Christopher Janaway, Judith Norman, and Alistair Welchman.  (Cambridge University Press.  New York, NY: 2010).  Pg. 152.

[17] Dilthey, Wilhelm.  Selected Works, Volume 3: The Formation of the Historical World in the Human Sciences.  Translated by Rudolf A. Makkreel and John Scanlon.  (Princeton University Press.  Princeton, NJ: 2002).  Pg. 55.

[18] Dilthey, “The Origin of Our Belief in the Reality of the External World and Its Justification.”  Pg. 42.

[19] “This activity then becomes the ego’s highest function; decisions as to when it is more expedient to control one’s passions and bow before reality, and when it is more expedient to side with them and to take arms against the external world — such decisions make up the whole essence of worldly wisdom.”  Sigmund Freud, The Question of Lay Analysis: Conversations with an Impartial Person.  Translated by James Strachey.  (W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.  New York, NY: 1978).  Pgs. 23-24.

Compare with Dilthey: “A volition first produces an impulse to move, which, in the course of the imagined motion, is accompanied by barely noticeable feelings of pleasure: then the experience of resistance arises.  Does the impulse simply disappear in it? Does it vanish by turning into a mere sensory state? No, it persists, supplemented by the consciousness that the will is being restrained.”  Dilthey, “The Origin of Our Belief in the Reality of the External World and Its Justification.”  Pg. 20.

[20] Dilthey, The Formation of the Historical World in the Human Sciences.  Pg. 185.  My italics.

[21] Dilthey, “The Origin of Our Belief in the Reality of the External World and Its Justification.”  Pg. 14.

[22] Schmidt, Konrad.  “Final Goal and Movement.”  Pgs. 210-211.

[23] Bernstein, Eduard.  Selected Writings, 1900-1921.  Translated by Manfred B. Steger.  (Cambridge University Press.  New York, NY: 1996).  Pg. 64.

[24] Luxemburg, Rosa.  Reform or Revolution? Translated by Integer.  (Haymarket Books.  Chicago, IL: 2008).  Pg. 46.

[25] Lenin, Vladimir.  “A Protest by Russian Social Democrats.”  Translated by.  Collected Works, Volume 4: 1898-1899.  (Progress Publishers.  Moscow, USSR: 1977).  Pg. 178.

[26] Lenin, Vladimir.  “Fear of the Collapse of the Old and the Fight for the New.”  Translated by Yuri Sdobnikov.  Collected Works, Volume 26: September 1917-February 1918.  (Progress Publishers.  Moscow, USSR: 1972).  Pg. 401.

[27] “The crude confrontation of subject and object in naïve realism is of course historically necessitated and cannot be dismissed by an act of will.  But at the same time it is a product of false abstraction, already a piece of reification.  Once this is seen through, then a consciousness objectified to itself, and precisely as such directed outward, virtually striking outward, could no longer be dragged along without self-reflection.”  Adorno, Theodor.  “On Subject and Object.”  Critical Models.  Pg. 249.

[28] Clearly, the differences between these two conflicting orders of reality — the natural and the historical — must not to be ontologized by erecting some kind of permanent boundary between them, thereby succumbing to a form of metaphysical dualism.  An underlying material foundation unites both nature and history.  Depending on the way that one approaches this unity, however, diverging pictures can result.  The paradigmatic example of this was given by Theodor Adorno’s student Alfred Schmidt in contrasting Marx’s concept of nature against that of his influential predecessor, Ludwig Feuerbach.  “What Feuerbach described as the unity of man and nature,” Schmidt explained in his 1954 study on The Concept of Nature in Marx, “related only to the romantically transfigured fact that man arose out of nature, and not to man’s socio-historically mediated unity with nature in industry.”  In this sense, at least, Feuerbach remained a materialist in the eighteenth century mold:  “Nature as a whole was for Feuerbach an unhistorical, homogeneous substratum, while the essence of the Marxist critique was a dissolution of this homogeneity into a dialectic of Subject and Object.  Nature was for Marx both an element of human practice and the totality of everything that exists.”  Schmidt, Alfred.  The Concept of Nature in Karl Marx.  Translated by Ben Fowkes.  (New Left Books.  London, England: 1971).  Pg. 27.

To be sure, Dilthey distinguishes the historical world from the natural world at several points in presenting his philosophical system: “[N]ature is a constituent of history only insofar as it has an effect and in how it can be affected.  The proper domain of history is, to be sure, also external; yet the tones that form a musical composition, the canvas on which we paint, the courtroom in which a verdict is pronounced, merely have their material in nature.  Every operation of the human sciences dealing with such external states of affairs has to do merely with the sense and meaning they receive through the activity of spirit and how it serves the understanding that grasps this meaning and sense in themThe difference between the human and natural sciences is not just about the stance of the subject toward the object; it is not merely about a kind of attitude, a method.  Rather, the procedure of understanding is grounded in the realization that the external reality that constitutes its objects is totally different from the objects of the natural sciences.  Spirit has objectified itself in the former, purposes have been embodied in them, values have been actualized in them, and understanding grasps this spiritual content that has been formed between them.”  Dilthey, The Formation of the Historical World in the Human Sciences.  Pgs. 140-141.  Still, the distinction between these two objective forms of external reality is posterior to their common experience as resistant to an individual’s will.

Despite their anthropological predispositions, Feuerbach and Dilthey each fell into the same fundamental error by conceiving nature as merely the baseline condition of human activity.  They failed to take into account the extent to which nature was itself conditioned by human activity.  “Labor is, first of all, a process between man and nature,” Marx wrote in Capital, “a process by which man, through his own actions, mediates, regulates, and controls the metabolism between himself and nature.”  In labor, especially industrial labor, man “sets in motion the natural forces which belong to his own body, his arms, legs, head, and hands, in order to appropriate the materials of nature in a form adapted to his own needs.  Through this movement he…develops the potentialities slumbering within nature, and subjects the play of its forces to his own sovereign power.” Marx, Karl.  Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Volume 1.  Translated by Ben Fowkes.  (Penguin Books.  New York, NY: 1882).  Pg. 283.

[29] Marx, Karl and Engels, Friedrich.  Manifesto of the Communist Party.  Pg. .

[30] Lukács, Georg.  “Class Consciousness.”  Translated by Rodney Livingstone.  History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics.  (MIT Press.  Cambridge, MA: 1971).  Pg. 70.

[31] Marx, Capital, Volume 1.  Pg.  165.

[32] Marx, Karl.  Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts.  Translated by.  (Progress Publishers.  Moscow, USSR: 19).  Pg. 274.

[33] Marx, Karl and Engels, Friedrich.  The German Ideology.  ‘Pg. 47.

[34] “Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat.”  Translated by Rodney Livingstone.  History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics.  (MIT Press.  Cambridge, MA: 1971).  Pg. 185.

[35] Engels, Friedrich.  Socialism: Utopian and Scientific.  Translated by Edward Aveling.  Collected Works, Volume 24: 1874-1883.  (International Publishers.  New York, NY: 1989).  Pgs. 323-324.

[36] Freud, Sigmund.  Introductory Lectures to Psychoanalysis.  Translated by James Strachey.  (W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.  New York, NY: 1989).  Pg. 364.

[37] “From what part of the mind does an unconscious resistance…arise? The beginner in psychoanalysis will… answer: it is, of course the resistance of the unconscious.  An ambiguous and unserviceable answer!… Resistance can only be a manifestation of the ego, which originally put the repression into force and now wishes to maintain it.”  Freud, Sigmund.  New Introductory Lectures to Psychoanalysis.  Translated by James Strachey.  (W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.  New York, NY: 1989).  Pg. 86.

“We must above all get rid of the mistaken notion that what we are dealing with in our struggle against resistances is resistance on the part of the unconscious.  The unconscious — that is to say, the ‘repressed’ — offers no resistance whatever to the efforts of the treatment.”  Freud, Sigmund.  Beyond the Pleasure Principle.  Translated by James Strachey.  (W.W. Norton & Co.  New York, NY: 1961).  Pg. 13.

[38] Very little has been written concerning the historical conjuncture of reification, repetition, and resistance that takes place under the conditions of capitalist social life, much less in the moment of profound crisis within international Marxism (1914-1923).  Of the few authors who have touched on the issue, Postone has perhaps gone the furthest toward understanding their interconnection, albeit within a far more general purview.  He calls attention to the homology that exists between individual and social manifestations of this tendency to compulsively repeat.  “One could draw a parallel between [the Marxian] understanding of the capitalist social formation’s history and Freud’s notion of individual history, where the past does not appear as such, but rather in a veiled, internalized form that dominates the present,” Postone astutely notes.  “The task of psychoanalysis is to unveil the past in such a way that its appropriation becomes possible.  The necessary moment of a compulsively repetitive present can thereby be overcome, which allows the individual to move into the future.”  Postone, Time, Labor, and Social Domination.  Pg. 377.

[39] Lukács, Georg.  “Class Consciousness.”  Pgs. 76-77.

[40] Reich, Wilhelm.  “Ideology as a Material Force.”  Translated by Vincent R. Carfagno.  The Mass Psychology of Fascism.  (Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux.  New York, NY: 1980).  Pg. 31.

[41] Adorno, Theodor.  “Sociology and Psychology.”  Translated by Irving N. Wohlfarth.  New Left Review.  Pg. 78.

[42] Any attempt to apply diagnostic categories acquired from the analysis of single subjects to larger groups — in moving from individual to mass psychology — obviously runs the risk of careless interpolation.  There is a danger of lapsing into mysticism, thus repeating Jung’s misguided inquiries into the so-called “collective unconscious” (and various speculations concerning its contents).  Yet as Adorno correctly pointed out, the applicability of theories pertaining to particular, individual subjects to a more universal, social subject is vouchsafed by the specific historical milieu out of which they both commonly emerged.  Inasmuch as psychoanalysis takes the individual patient as its point of departure, it already presumes a context in which persons come to be individuated — lifted out of self-enclosed, organic communities rooted in tradition.  In a word, the entire discipline takes for granted the existence of society.  More specifically, it takes for granted the society of exchange, wherein structures such as the family still play a powerful role in psychological development but consciousness is principally organized around the individual: “The social moment is…the origin [of] the individual with whom psychoanalysis concerns.  [This] itself is an abstraction vis-à-vis the social context in which individuals find themselves…through the dominant form of exchange between individual contracting parties.”  Adorno, Theodor.  Introduction to Sociology.  Translated by Edmund Jephcott.  (Stanford University Press.  Stanford, CA: 2002).  Pg. 112.

Of course, this recognition cannot by itself suffice to justify this procedure.  At the very least, it does not eliminate the need to exercise a certain delicacy when handling psychoanalytic concepts in a sociological key.  Nevertheless, it explains the partial legitimacy and the overwhelming suggestive power of notions like Jung’s “collective unconscious” or Durkheim’s “collective consciousness.” Ibid., pg. 113.  The real problem with such forula was not so much their illegitimacy, according to Freud, as it was their superfluity.  Repressed material belongs not only to the individual; its content belongs more broadly to humanity as a species.  Freud indicated as much in his final published work: “The term ‘repressed’ is here used not in its technical sense.  Here I mean something past, vanished and overcome in the life of a people, which I venture to treat as equivalent to repressed material in the mental life of the individual.  It is not easy to translate the concepts of individual psychology into mass psychology, [but]…not…much is to be gained by introducing the concept of a ‘collective’ unconscious the content of the unconscious is collective anyhow, a general possession of mankind.”  Freud, Sigmund.  Moses and Monotheism.  Translated by Katherine Jones.  (Hogarth Press.  New York, NY: 1939).  Pg. 208.  Thanks are due to Bruno Bosteels, who alerted me to this passage from Freud’s writings in his excellent Marx and Freud in Latin America.  (Verso Books.  New York, NY: 2011).  Pg. 88.

[43] Marx, Karl.  The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.  Translated by Terrell Carver.  Later Political Writings.  (Cambridge University Press.  New York, NY: 1996).  Pg. 32.

[44] “[World history] presents the development of spirit’s consciousness of its freedom and of the actualization produced by such consciousness.”  Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich.  Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, Volume 1: Manuscripts of the Introduction and The Lectures of 1822-1823.  Translated by Robert F. Brown and Peter C. Hodgson.  (Oxford University Press.  Pg. 118. 

[45] Nietzsche, Friedrich.  Untimely Meditations.  Translated by R.J. Hollingdale.  (Cambridge University Press.  New York, NY: 1997).  Pg. 61.

[46] Freud, Sigmund.  The Psychopathology of Everyday Life.  Translated by James Strachey.  (W.W. Norton & Company.  New York, NY: 1966).  Pgs. 62-63.

[47] Freud, Sigmund.  “Remembering, Repeating, and Working-Through.”  Translated by Joan Riviere.  Pg. 150.

[48] Freud, Sigmund.  Beyond the Pleasure Principle.  Translated by James Strachey.  (W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.  New York, NY: 1978).  Pg. 12.

[49] Freud, “Remembering, Repeating, and Working-Through.”  Pg. 151.

[50] Cutrone, Chris.  “Adorno and Freud: The Relation of Freudian Psychoanalysis to Marxist Critical Social Theory.”  Platypus Review.  (No. 24: June 2010).  Pg. 4.

[51] Marx, Karl.  Collected Works, Volume 34: Economic Manuscripts, 1861-1864.  (International Publishers.  New York, NY: 1994).  Pg. 397.

[52] Marx, Karl.  Capital, Volume 1.  Pg. 711.

[53] “The circuit of capital, when this is taken not as an isolated act but as a periodic process, is called its turnover.  The duration of this turnover is given by the sum of its production time and its circulation time.  This period of time forms the capital’s turnover time.  It thus measures the interval between one cyclical period of the total capital value and the next; the periodicity in the capital’s life-process, or, if you like, the time required for the renewal and repetition of the valorization and production process of the same capital value.”  Marx, Karl.  Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Volume 2.  Translated by David Fernbach.  (Penguin Books.  New York, NY: 1992).  Pgs. 235-236.

[54] Maksakovskii, Pavel.  The Capitalist Cycle: An Essay on the Marxist Theory of Cycle.   Translated by Richard B. Day.  (Haymarket Books.  Chicago, IL: 2009).  Pg. 103.

[55] “Variable capital…loses its character of a value advanced out of the capitalist’s funds only when we view the process of capitalist production in the flow of its constant renewal.  But that process must have had a beginning of some kind.  From our present standpoint it therefore seems likely that the capitalist, once upon a time, became possessed of money by some form of primitive accumulation [ursprüngliche Akkumulation] that took place independently of the unpaid labor of other people, and that this was therefore how he was able to frequent the market as a buyer of labor-power.  However this may be, the mere continuity of the process of capitalist production, or simple reproduction, brings about other remarkable transformations which seize hold of not only the variable, but the total capital.”  Marx, Capital, Volume 1.  Pg. 714.

[56] Postone, Moishe.  Time, Labor, and Social Domination.  Pgs. 298-306.

[57] Marx, Capital, Volume 1.  Pg. 727.

[58] Jameson, Fredric.  Representing Capital: A Reading of Volume One.  Pg. 106.

[59] Lukács, Georg.  “Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat.”  Translated by Rodney Livingstone.  History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics.  (MIT Press.  Cambridge, MA: 1971).  Pg. 83.

[60] Marx, Karl.  Grundrisse.  Pg. 701.

[61] Rubin, Isaak.  “The Reification of Production Relations among People and the Personification of Things.”  Translated by Milos Samardzija and Fredy Perlman.  Essays on Marx’s Theory of Value.  (Black Rose Books.  New York, NY: 1990).  Pg. 24.

[62] Postone, Time, Labor, and Social Domination.  Pg. 377.

[63] Korsch, Karl.  “Marxism and Philosophy.”  Translated by Fred Halliday.  (Monthly Review Press.  2009).  Pgs. 53-54.

[64] Cutrone, Chris.  “Book Review: Karl Korsch.  Marxism and Philosophy.”  Platypus Review.  No. 15: .  Pg. 3.

[65] Korsch, “Marxism and Philosophy.”  Pg. 88.

[66] Lukács, Georg.  “What is Orthodox Marxism?” Translated by Rodney Livingstone.  History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics.  (MIT Press.  Cambridge, MA: 1971).  Pg. 19.

[67] Lukács, “Class Consciousness.”  Pg. 52.

[68] Ibid., pg. 59.

[69] Lukács, Georg.  “Towards a Methodology of the Problem of Organization.” Translated by Rodney Livingstone.  History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics.  (MIT Press.  Cambridge, MA: 1971).  Pg. 304.

[70] Jacoby, Russell.  Social Amnesia: A Critique of Contemporary Psychology from Adler to Laing.  (Transaction Publishers.  New Brunswick, NJ: 1996).  Pg. 4.

[71] Adorno, Theodor and Horkheimer, Max.  Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments.  Translated by Edmund Jephcott.  (Stanford University Press.  Stanford, CA: 2002).  Pg. 191.

[72] Lukács, Georg.  “Legality and Illegality.” Translated by Rodney Livingstone.  History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics.  (MIT Press.  Cambridge, MA: 1971).  Pg. 168.

[73] Marx, Karl.  “Theses on Feuerbach.”  Translated by.  Collected Works, Volume 5: 1845-1847.  Pg. 4.  My italics.

[74] Lukács, Georg.  Tailism and the Dialectic.  Translated by Esther Leslie.  (Verso Books.  New York, NY: 2003).  Pg. 81.

[75] Lukács, Georg.  “Intellectual Workers and the Problem of Intellectual Leadership.”  Translated by Rodney Livingstone.  Tactics and Ethics: Political Essays, 1919-1929.  (Harper & Rowe Publishers.  New York, NY: 1972).  Pg. 17.

[76] Reich, “Ideology as a Material Force.”  Pg. 6.

[77] “The social situation is only the external condition that has an influence on the ideological process in the individual.  The instinctual drives through which the various social influences gain exclusive control over the emotions of an individual are now to be investigated.”  Reich, Wilhelm.  “The Authoritarian Ideology.” Translated by Vincent R. Carfagno.  The Mass Psychology of Fascism.  (Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux.  New York, NY: 1980).  Pgs. 64-65.

[78] Reich, Wilhelm.  “A Practical Course in Marxist Sociology.”  Translated by Mary Boyd Higgins.  People in Trouble.  Pg. 36.

[79] Freud, Sigmund.  The Question of Lay Analysis: Conversations with an Impartial Person.  Translated by James Strachey.  (W.W. Norton & Co.  New York, NY: 1969).  Pg. 53.

[80] Reich, Wilhelm.  “The Emotional Plague.”  Translated by Mary Boyd Higgins.  Character Analysis.  (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.  New York, NY: 1990).  Pg. 511.

[81] Reich, Wilhelm.  “An Abortive Biological Revolution.”  Translated by Mary Boyd Higgins.  The Function of the Orgasm: Discovery of the Orgone, Volume 1.  (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.  New York, NY: 1973).  Pg. 238.

“The Four Cs”: Commodity, Currency (Money), Capital, Corporation — A popular lexicon regarding some commonly confused terms, along with some further scholarly notes

The Parisian Arcades

The “Four Cs”: Commodities, Currency (Money), Capital, and Corporations

POSITIVE DEFINITIONS

First we can state briefly what these objects concretely are, so that we can then spell out exactly what they are not.

Commodity A commodity is any product that is produced for sale on the market, i.e. for the sake of exchange.  Like any other product (non-commodities included), it has a certain utility, or “use-value.”  Products, regardless of their salability, tend to be useful in some way or another, to satisfy a certain need.  Use-values are of a qualitative nature.  That is to say, they are useful because they possess certain utile qualities.

Unlike other products, however, commodities also possess a certain value, or “exchange-value.”  As soon as a product becomes available for exchange on the market, it is thereby converted into a commodity.  Exchange-values are of a quantitative nature.  That is to say, they are valuable because they possess a certain quantity of value.

(It must be noted, however, that if a commodity loses its use-value, i.e. becomes broken or useless, it simultaneously loses any exchange-value it might have had).

How is this quantity of exchange-value determined? What is the basis for the following equation: 20 yards of linen = 1 coat? In terms of their material qualities, the two are totally incommensurable.  A coat may be made of linen, but a single coat does not require 20 yards of linen to produce.  Nevertheless, their quantitative equality presupposes an underlying qualitative identity of substance.  The question thus becomes: What exactly is this substance?

The substantial basis for the equality of two dissimilar items or use-values is the amount of labor-power expended upon them, measured in homogeneous units of time (days, hours, minutes, etc.).  This alone determines the magnitude of value that a commodity possesses.

Commodities are not unique to capitalism.  They preexist the crystallization of the capitalist social formation.  However, in precapitalist societies, the majority of goods that are produced are not commodities.  In other words, most products are intended for immediate use or consumption, either by their producer himself or his next-of-kin.  Society’s general mode of production is only properly called “capitalist” when the majority of its products are commodities.

One final point about the commodity-form should be made before passing on to money.  This concerns the extent to which one’s labor (or more specifically, one’s labor-time) can itself be sold as a commodity on the market.  An employer purchases a certain duration of a person’s labor-time in exchange for the services rendered or products produced.  In return, the employee is typically compensated by hourly wages or an annual salary.

Though wage-labor existed in the margins of precapitalist society, the reproduction of the capitalist mode of production requires that there exists a large displaced population of persons whose only commodity available for sale is their labor.  Thus, under capitalism, wage-labor or salaries becomes generalized as the societal norm.

Currency/Money Money is a certain commodity that is set aside to serve as a universal measurement of value.  It is the universal equivalent of qualitatively dissimilar commodities.  Money therefore serves as a quantitative medium of exchange.

In another sense, money (as such) is the circulation of commodities.  That is to say, it provides the means by which the exact quantity of one commodity is traded for an exact equivalent quantity of money, which is then used to purchase a given quantity of another.  Money acts as an intermediary in place of direct barter.

This operation can be illustrated by a simple formula, using these symbols:

C = Commodity.

M = Money.

C → M → C.

One commodity is sold for its value in money, which is then used to purchase an equivalent value in another commodity.  This allows for a more equitable exchange of value between commodities than took place in simple barter, which tended to involve uneven transactions.

Capital Capital is self-valorizing value.  In other words, it is value that becomes more value, or money (which is but an expression of value) that magically transforms itself into more money.  The principle of capitalization is that you start the day with a certain amount of money, and by the end of the day you have more money.

As Marx put it, this process is almost “theological.”  In capital, value becomes at once the subject and object of its own activity, ceaselessly augmenting its own magnitude.  The analogy Marx uses is the differentiation of God the Father from God the Son in the triune theology of traditional Christianity; they are both made from the same substance, and are equally old, yet one begets the other.

The ultimate expression of capital in all its forms is the following:

M → Mº.

(º = “prime.”  Money “prime” signifies the increment of value over and above the amount of value originally advanced.  Once thrown back into the circuit of production and circulation, however, this augmented money or value obtained as a result of capitalization becomes the starting value of the new formula).

Species of Capital

1. Interest-bearing (usurers’) capital M → Mº.  This is the basic formula of money lending or usury.

A certain amount of money is advanced as a loan, in return for a greater amount of money to be received later, the magnitude of which is determined by a contractually agreed-upon interest rate.

2. Commercial (merchants’) capital M → C → Mº.  In its most simple form, this just involves the purchase of a commodity for a certain amount of money and its resale for a greater amount of money.

This can be accomplished in any number of ways.  First, a merchant can simply find a chump who is willing to either sell a commodity for less than its value, or a chump who is willing to buy a commodity for greater than its value.

A more calculated approach might involve the purchase of a commodity in a locale where it is abundant (where it is not as highly valued), and then transport it for sale in a locale where the commodity is scarce (where it is more highly valued).  The difference between the money originally paid and the money received at the end of this cycle is the surplus value.

3. Industrial capital M → C → Mº.  Formally, this circuit is identical with that of merchants’ capital.  The crucial difference consists in the nature of the commodity purchased.  In the movement of industrial capital, the commodity bought is always the labor-time of another person.

Thus, the formula for industrial capital may perhaps be more properly described as M → C(L) → Mº.

Obviously, in this formula the following symbolism is used:

L = Labor.

The labor-time expended by the worker imparts greater value onto the articles under production, thus augmenting the original value of the commodities involved.

Two methods can be used to extract surplus-value in this process:

1. Absolute surplus-value — The capitalist extends the length of the working day, so that the worker invests an amount of labor-time into production greater than the value he receives in wages.  Once the commodities produced in this process are sold in circulation on the market, the surplus-value gained thereby is “realized.”

2. Relative surplus-value — The capitalist reduces the amount of time required to impart a certain amount of value into production below the average of the social aggregate.  This is accomplished by either revolutionizing the social organization of the division of labor or by overhauling the technical means of production.  As a result, the capitalist is able to sell the commodities produced at a level lower than the social average while still realizing the same amount of surplus-value.

Of course, once these new methods of heightened productivity are generalized throughout society, the advantage gained vanishes.  This necessitates a constant revolutionization of the technologies and organization used in production, and an accelerating pace of modernization.  This gives rise to what Moishe Postone has called the “treadmill effect” of capitalism.

4. Finance capital Mx → M → C → Mº → Mºx.  In this formula:

x = x/100, where x ≤ 100.

Finance capital operates by having investors contribute a percentage of the overall money used to supervalue the value originally inserted into the circuit.  Typically, finance is invested into industry, where again the commodity purchased is labor.  Thus, the formula in this instance would appear as Mx → M → C(L) → Mº → Mºx.

Corporation A corporation is an association of capitalists who jointly share ownership of a single enterprise.  This is achieved by making shares of the company’s ownership available for purchase by the public.  Historically, this is connected to the rise of the join-stock exchange in the middle of the nineteenth century.  While corporations tend to be much larger and more visible than smaller private businesses, both operate according to the logic of capital.

NEGATIVE DEFINITIONS

Now that we have indicated what these terms are, we can safely say what they are not, in order to clear up some common misconceptions surrounding them. 

Commodity A commodity is not identical to any other good, article, or product.  Unlike these other products, commodities are not produced for immediate use or consumption by their producer.  Rather, commodities are produced in order to be sold or exchanged, either for money or for other commodities.

Furthermore, commodities are not unique to capitalist society.  Obviously, there existed precapitalist systems of barter, commerce, and exchange.  The point is that throughout most of history the majority of products were not intended to serve as commodities.  They were for the most part produced to serve the most immediate needs of the producer, or alienated without recompense into the possession of one’s feudal lord.  By contrast, capitalism only comes into existence when the majority of products produced by society are commodities.

Currency/Money The value of money is neither imaginary nor arbitrary.  Money is simply the universal equivalent form of exchange, used as a measurement of the value of goods, or commodities.  This is something of which the Alternative Currency working group should take note.

There are quite real and concrete historical reasons for the development of the money-form of value.  Precious metals came to serve as this medium of exchange because of their practical divisibility, and because of their relative scarcity (and thus also their value, given the difficulty of their location/extraction).  It is true that these metals come to be increasingly substituted by paper money representing their value, and even more abstract forms of credit, but this does nothing to diminish the validity or reality of money as an expression of value.

Capital/Capitalism Capitalism does not necessarily entail the existence of a free market.  The libertarian notion that has become fashionable in recent years is that only under the economic conditions of laissez-faire, or government non-intervention, can capitalism flourish and exist in a “pure” form.  They cite Bernard Mandeville or a diluted, oversimplified version of Adam Smith as evidence of this proposition.

Some leftish moderates, accepting this facile rightist notion of what capitalism is, naïvely believe that administrative reform, government oversight, more expansive welfare/social programs, and bureaucratic regulations would help counter the volatility and rampant inequality inherent in capitalism.  They believe that the perpetual crisis at the core of capitalism can be “curbed,” “corrected,” or even “controlled” by such Keynesian, neo-Fordist measures.

In reality, however, state-interventionist capitalism is just as capitalist as free market capitalism.  The fundamental principle underlying capitalism in all its different configurations is perhaps elusively straightforward: capital itself.

Corporation A corporation is not simply any form of capitalist big business.  In fact, in terms of private property, a corporation is actually less tied to the interests of a single individual than non-corporate businesses.  Because the existence of a corporation qua corporation involves an enterprise “going public,” i.e. selling shares of its ownership, it actually reflects (in terms of sheer magnitude) a larger proportion of the public interest than a smaller private enterprise.

Of course, the public character of the corporate enterprise and big agribusiness (the Monsantos of the world) shouldn’t fool us as to their capitalist nature.  A corporation is beholden only to the interest of its shareholders, and not to the public at large.  They have one obligation alone — to turn a profit for those who own a portion of their stock.  And corporations have been known to be exceptionally ruthless in this pursuit.

The only point that I am trying to make by this is to note the irrevocably capitalist character of both big corporations as well as small businesses.  Both operate according to the logic of capital: the supervaluation of value.  In other words, big corporations and small businesses have the same goal at the end of the day.  They seek to turn money into more money. Continue reading