Monday, 13 August 2007

Marx, Negri & Callinicos


Hardt and Negri's 'Multitude' - a Foucaultian appraisal of the phenomena of globalisation in reference to the emergence of a diverse 'multitude' contains an interesting comment on the nature of Marxist Labour Theory of Value, namely that:
"Marx adopts from the classical philosophers the Maxim that in Capitalist society the source of all value and wealth is labour" [1: pg 144]
Interestingly the point that Marx indeed "adopted" a labour theory of value - namely, rejected the implication that labour itself is the sole source of wealth is hardly touched upon by Negri - who instead choosing to build upon a conflated misconception of Marxist theory to make wider points on the nature of Abstract labour.

The point I raise here is of interest to the debates surrounding the opening line of the 'What We Stand For' column of the Socialist Workers Party's 'Socialist Worker, namely the statement that under capitalism "The Workers create all the wealth" [2].

While we may find it less strange to attribute statements of this kind to a theorist standing in the tradition Negri does - shunning Capital as a flawed work that:
Served to reduce critique to economic theory, to annihilate subjectivity in objectivity, to subject the subversive capacity of the proletariat to the reorganising and repressive intelligence of capitalist power' [3].
It may be considered a rather more curious statement for an avowedly Neo-Marxist organisation to make. Amusingly it is SWP theoretical big-wig Alex Callinicos that takes Negri to task most comprehensively for his contradictory 'reading' of Marx [3]. Callinicos notes that the primacy assumed by labour "as subjectivity, as source, as potential of all wealth" contradicts with Marx's Critique of the Gotha Program' namely the statement that:
Labour is not the source of all wealth. Nature is just as much the source of use values (and it is surely of such that material wealth consists) as labour, which itself is only the manifestation of a force of nature, human labour power
Jack Conrad of the CPGB has correctly analysed the Socialist Worker's 'What We Stand For' column in 'One-dimensional Marxism and proposition one' [2] and drawn wider conclusions about the Economistic divergence from Marxism it - in part - expresses. That Callinicos has made criticisms of this particular 'misreading' of Marx (albeit via the work of Negri) as "symptomatic of a deeper conceptual shift" is telling.


[1] Multitude - Negri / Hardt
[2] http://www.cpgb.org.uk/worker/605/nature.htm
[3] http://pubs.socialistreviewindex.org.uk/isj92/callinicos.htm

4 comments:

Gabriel said...

I like your blog and its political content, I hope you will find time to visit my weblog ‘An Unrepentant Communist’ at http://unrepentantcommunist.blogspot.com/

Best Wishes from Ireland

Gabriel in Listowel Co. Kerry

J.B said...

thanks for reading, I do like your blog - the 'great red jukebox' kept me entertained for sometime. A fair amount of substance as well.

Anonymous said...

I have got to say that the objectivist critique of Negri is plain living in the past. And that is based on the first member of the SWP in Manchester - COlin Barker. If you read your Historical Materialism, 14.2, 2006. Barkers' article "Capital and Revolutionary practice" substantially agrees with the autonomist viewpoint developed by Negri, Cleaver ("Reading Capital Politically") and others. In that, Capital MUST be read as an unfinished project/work and that the missing element is a more developed theory and practice of human subjectivity. Which Marx aluded too in some notes, but never got round to completing.

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