Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Colletti sez #accelerate

"In the Manuscripts of 1844, Marx links the absolute Notion or Logos of Hegel's Science of Logic [...] together with 'value' as it is produced in a commodity-producing society. The relationship in Hegel between the Notion and sense-reality is the same as the relation between the 'value' and 'use-value' of commodities. The 'Logic', Marx says, 'is the money of the mind, the speculative thought-value of man and of nature, their essence indifferent to any real determinate character and thus unreal; thought which is alienated and abstract and ignores real nature and man'.

"For Tönnies and Lukács it is not the hypostasis of the speculative Notion which is the reflection of (and also one aspect of) that process of hypostatization or substantification of the abstract found in the production of 'value' and capital; rather, it is the scientific concept (and the reification presumably linked to it) which are the cause and the birthplace of capitalist reification. Reification, in other words, is engendered by science. And since there is an absolute homogeneity and solidarity of nature between science and capitalism - to the point that science itself appears as an institution of the bourgeois world, destined to be swept away with it - what also gets swept away is that other cornerstone of Marx's entire analysis (upon which rests his whole appraisal of capitalism as a progressive historical phenomenon). That is, his thesis of the necessary contradiction between modern productive forces and the private mode of appropriation, or between the development of science and industry on the one hand, as the premisses and condition for the social emancipation of man, and the capitalist involucrum within which this development takes place.

"Capitalist reification, in short, is the reification engendered by science itself. It is a fact, Lukács says, that 'capitalist society is predisposed to harmonize with scientific method'. This predisposition finds expression already in Galileo's call for '"scientific exactitude"', which presupposes 'that the elements remain "constant"', i.e. that solidification of the world from which the 'so-called facts that are idolized' arise. In other words, 'the "pure" facts of the natural sciences', facts which exist in 'an environment where (their) laws can be inspected without outside interference', are always to be considered in relation to the recognition that 'capitalism tends to produce a social structure that in great measure encourages such views' and that 'it is in the nature of capitalism to process phenomena in this way'.

"In appearance, the argument focuses on capital; in reality, it is the 'intellect' which is being accused. The 'fetishistic forms of objectivity' - even before surplus value, profit, income, and interest - are represented by 'the determinants of reflection' of the intellect, - just that intellect which is referred to by Lukács as the 'reified mind'. And since the origin of estrangement is found to reside primarily in the distinction between subject and object - and only secondarily in the separation between capital and labour - the overcoming of estrangement is entrusted to a process in which 'the duality of subject and object (the duality of thought and being is only a special case of this), is transcended, i.e. where subject and object coincide, where they are identical'. In fact, the zenith of fetishism is . . . materialism, i.e., 'the dogmatic acceptance of merely given reality - divorced from the subject'.

"Just as for Sartre-Roquentin, the scandal of alienation is that a natural world should exist. And since this is the enslavement from which we must free ourselves (one thinks of Hegel on ancient scepticism here), the enslavement imposed on us by the things and the 'facts' (le cosi e i 'fatti'), human emancipation comes again to coincide with that sceptical destruction of the intellect and of natural objectivity - which can be attained, as is well-known, by merely understanding (guided by Bergson perhaps) that 'what we are wont to call "facts" consists of processes', and that 'the facts are nothing but the parts, the aspects of the total process that have been broken off, artificially isolated and ossified'. Understanding, in short, that facts are only the 'highest fetish in both theory and practice (of) the reified thought of the bourgeoisie'. Liberation, in other words, lies in the apprehension of the 'total process, which is uncontaminated by any trace of reification and which allows the process-like essence to prevail in all its purity', and 'represents the authentic, higher reality'.

"Bergsonian spiritualism, as one can see, is hot upon our Marxist's heels. And since every position has its logic, Lukács, who goes into a factory not with Capital but with Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience, finds that the supreme affront to Man on the assembly line is that it has eliminated . . . durée. The factory 'reduces space and time to a common denominator', 'degrades time to the dimension of space'. 'Thus time sheds its qualitative, variable, flowing nature; it freezes into an exactly delimited, quantifiable continuum filled with quantifiable "things"'; 'time is transformed into abstract, exactly measurable, physical space' in an environment in which la durée vécue no longer exists.

"The evil of the factory is thus that it is above all an objective system, a system of machines in which the overall process is regarded objectively - as something in itself and for itself - and is analysed into its constituent parts, and in which the problem of performing each partial process and then linking them all together is settled through a technical use of mechanics, chemistry, etc. This then is the evil: mechanization, i.e. that the system of machines presents itself as a totally objective organism of production, which the worker finds before him as a pre-existing material condition of production. The evil, in other words, is not the capitalist use of machines, but the very fact of using machines at all. The problem is not that the physical sciences, incorporated into the productive process, appear as powers of capital over labour, but that the system of machines has everywhere as its basis the conscious application of the sciences and therefore also the 'mathematization' or 'quantification' of nature. Like Marx's bête noire, Dr Ure, Lukács is unable at times to distinguish between what is true for any and all use of machinery on a large scale, and what characterizes its use under capital." - Lucio Colletti, Marxism and Hegel

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