working-class subjectivity

Bradley Mayer concrete at netcom.com
Fri Feb 9 21:11:11 MST 1996


Sorry to barge in on this thread, but I couldn't he*lp but notice a 
certain  sliiiiiide in the disursive signifier, as they say....

In a thread with Hugh Rodwell, Brian Alexander says:

>This
>leads, in fact, to an explicit formulation of revolutionary subjectivity:
>"Forces of production and social relations - two different sides of the
>development of the social individual - appear to capital as mere means,
>and are merely means for it to produce on its limited foundation.  In
>fact, however, they are the material conditions to blow this foundation
>sky-high." (706)  This is of course consciousness - but it leaves method
>fully open as a question, not confining us to certain modes of party or
>state.  

Now, the thread generally concerns working class subjectivity, and 
Rodwell and Alexander in particular seem to have agreed ( I present this 
without the usual snippets of proof) that working class subjectivity or 
consciousness cannot exist outside the logic of capital, since the 
workers as wage laborers are entirely subordinate to capital, are the 
creature of capital (because wage labor as variable capital is a 
component part of capital, etc.). But in the quote above the question of 
*revolutionary consciousness* is raised, but in an manner that confounds 
this with the original question of working class subjectivity.

>Here my reading opposes your Leninism, Hugh, because I don't find
>a necessary constitution of the party in the GR at all.

Marx surely understood this distinction, but it's because he never got 
around to an exegesis of their necessary relationship in the development 
of the socialist revolution that we need to delve into "Soviet 
biographism", i.e. and in actuality the train of Marxist thought after 
Marx. For example, it was Kautsky (the old, "orthodox" Kautsky) that 
developed the concept of the necessary relationship between the 
spontaneous consciousness of the working class and that of the 
revolutionaries, which Lenin adopted in _What Is To Be Done?_. The 
question cannot be safely contained within a purely "Soviet" Leninist 
context as if it were some unfortunate contaminant contained within a 
lead casing.  To confuse revolutionary with working class consciousness - 
the former as understood on the basis of Alexanders' reference to Marx in 
the Grundrisse, the latter as a consciousness that *can ever only exist 
under capitalism*, hence not a revolutionary subjectivity - is not only 
to theoretically occult the issue of their relation, but is to (therefore) 
also abdicate responsibility for ones' own consciousness as a revolutionary
subject within capitalism, to relate oneself in less than a serious manner.

			-Brad Mayer




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