Sunday, February 15, 2015

Inflection Points - Points de Capiton

How, then, can we define the Marxian symptom? Marx 'invented the symptom' (Lacan) by means of detecting a certain fissure, an asymmetry, a certain "pathological" imbalance which belies the universalism of the bourgeois 'rights and duties'. This imbalance, far from announcing the "imperfect realization" of these universal principles - that is, an insufficiency to be abolished by further development - functions as their constitutive moment: the 'symptom' is, strictly speaking, a particular element which subverts its own universal foundation, a species subverting its own genus. In this sense, we can say that the elementary Marxian procedure of 'criticism of ideology' is already 'symptomatic': it consists in detecting a point of breakdown heterogenous to a given ideological field and at the same time necessary for that field to achieve its closure, its accomplished form.

This procedure thus implies a certain logic of exception: every ideological Universal - for example freedom, equality - is 'false' in so far as it necessarily includes a specific case which breaks its unity, lays open its falsity. Freedom, for example: a universal notion comprising a number of species (freedom of speech and press, freedom of consciousness, freedom of commerce, political freedom, and so on) but also, by means of a structural necessity, a specific freedom (that of the worker to sell freely his own labour on the market) which subverts the universal notion. That is to say, freedom is the very opposite of effective freedom: by selling his labour 'freely', the worker loses his freedom - the real content of this free act of sale is the workers enslavement to capital. The crucial point is, of course, that it is precisely this paradoxical freedom, the form of its opposite, which closes the circle of 'bourgeois freedoms'.

The same can also be shown for fair, equivalent exchange, this ideal of the market. When, in pre-capitalist society, the production of commodities has not yet attained universal character - that is, when it is still so-called 'natural production' which predominates - the proprietors of the means of production are still themselves producers (as a rule, at least): it is artisan production: the proprietors themselves work and sell their products on the market. At this stage of development there is no exploitation (in principle at least - that is, if we do not consider the exploitation of apprentices, and so on): the exchange on the market is equivalent, every commodity is paid its full value. But as soon as production for the market prevails in the economic edifice of a given society, this generalization is necessarily accompanied by the appearance of a new, paradoxical type of commodity: the labour force, the workers who are not proprietors of the means of production and who are consequently obliged to sell on the market their own labour instead of the products of their labour.

With this new commodity, the equivalent exchange becomes its own negation - the very form of exploitation, of appropriation of the surplus value. The crucial point not to be missed here is that this negation is strictly internal to equivalent exchange, not its simple violation: the labour force is not 'exploited' in the sense that its full value is not renumerated; in principle at least, the exchange between labour and capital is wholly equivalent and equitable. The catch is that the labour force is a peculiar commodity, the use of which - labour itself - produces a certain surplus over the value of the labour force itself which is appropriated by the capitalist.
- Slavoj Zizek, "The Sublime Object of Ideology"

45 comments:

Gert said...

Hi Farmer,

You and Zizek (not for the first time either)?

A critic of Neoliberalism and a Socialist (of sorts)?

Hmmm...

-FJ said...

I'm a big Zizek fan. He's the first communist I'd ever consider it a privilege associating myself with.

-FJ said...

ps - I'm no fan of Neoliberalism myself. I fancy myself a "classical" liberal.

Gert said...

Classical as in Laissez Faire? Libertarian?

Zizek doesn't see himself as a Communist though. Is your assertion perhaps similar to the usual conflation of terms ('Left = Commumism'), more designed to smear than to elucidate?

I'm not a Communist but feel we may not be too far from when it will come to pass but not in a Sovjet way.

-FJ said...

as in Laissez Faire (un-juiced by government except in time of war)

He most certainly does view himself a Communist.

...but I'm also an "Absolute Marxist". ;)

-FJ said...

Perhaps this is more "confessional".

-FJ said...

Zizek's so far to the Left, that he touches me, on the Right.

-FJ said...

I find his critique of capitalism "spot on"... only I have a romantic notion that "petite bourgeois" capitalism still has something to offer. Social "distance".

-FJ said...

...like this.

Gert said...

Is "petite bourgeois" capitalism not the free market without capital and labour as a commodity?

Tinker, tailor, candlestick maker...

-FJ said...

Yes, it's much closer to what Zizek describes in this piece as "natural" production. Lots of market inefficiencies and barriers not "removed" by governments (facilitation of interstate commerce).

-FJ said...

A mostly de-corporatized society, with no liability protections for "immortals" and requirements that if formed, all workers "share" ownership and that dividends are actually paid to investors (You shouldn't make any money from the "sale" of shares, so much as from the continued ownership of them).

Gert said...

"(You shouldn't make any money from the "sale" of shares, so much as from the continued ownership of them)."

That requires quite a bit of regulation (I can't see how a status quo on that could otherwise be maintained).

I didn't think you'd be in favour of that?

I think we're going to see 'cycles': Capitalist industrial society is very young, no reason to believe it will last forever.

Thersites said...

I'm for "regulation" of the limit setting boundaries. But once the limits are set, don't ask me for my approval to be constantly fiddling with them to gain "niche" advantages.

Thersites said...

btw - Want to know the difference between "freedom" and "liberty"? Freedom knows no "limit". Liberty is "freedom" within them. I believe that regulations should benefit "people", not legal constructs and governmental entities.

Gert said...

Assuming I understand you well (I think I do on this point), no contest.

Talking about 'Freedom', I don't understand your positive attitude to FreedomNow (blog). That top article is so full of holes I wouldn't know where to begin refuting it. I knew FN quite well from the days I knew Eitan Divinsky ('Hear O'Israel' blog) and he always struck me as an ex-liberal RINO, repeating RINO talking points like a demented parrot. An original thought in FN's brain is about as frequent as a neutrino interacting with a particular chlorine isotope.

If if we're in a religious war arguments for the interment of all US Muslims shouls start being made now. Do you advocate that?

-FJ said...

Did you watch 60 Minutes last Sunday and their rebroadcast of "The Shame Of Srebrenica?" THAT is what will happen in the USA if we begin to get into a tit-for-tat with the Muslims.

I'm with Zizek on this one. A little "distance" from our neighbors goes a long way. I'm for maintaining that distance. But if we can't do that (neoliberalism), then I'm for Open Carry laws.

-FJ said...

In other words, internment camps would not protect them from us.

-FJ said...

As for my admiration of FN's work, I stand by my previous statements. It's not nearly so "derivative" as you make it out.

So how's your feud with Beakerkin going? Mine has become a policy of avoidance.

Gert said...

So how's your feud with Beakerkin going? Mine has become a policy of avoidance.

Oh, ended years ago. I thought you knew that. In the end I (somewhat desperately) threatened to plaster his real name all over the Net. For not doing so, he would stop talking about me and I would stop talking about him. Worked a treat. A bit of 'distance', I suppose. ;-) He was once going to 'set the FBI on me' (erm, for 'cyber crime')! Huh? I'm in the Evening Land, friend! Don't overestimate the magical powers of the FBI...

Really enjoyed that Zizek lecture BTW. He's better when he's got a script, freewheeling he rambles a lot. And that stuff isn't so easy to communicate anyway.

Gert said...

He might turn me into a 'New Communist', I'll have you to blame...

Have you got a link to that "The Shame Of Srebrenica?", Can't get 60 minutes here. American Empire doesn't reach that far yet...

-FJ said...

Try here. There's also a Norwegian documentary on the topic on Youtube if you search "Shame of Srebrenica".

Glad you liked the Zizek. I also enjoyed his two "Pervert's Guide" movies... and I do search out his lectures on Youtube and at the European Graduate School all the time. He's turned me into a "believing Lacanian". I've got three new Zizek books on my coffee table and three in the "done" pile... so if you ever want to discuss his theories, you know where to find me.

And I must have gotten the same "deal" from beakerkin. Distance.

-FJ said...

PS - ANd when Zizek starts to bore you, you can always turn and do the Perverted dance. ;)

Thersites said...

...and IMO, "theory" doesn't get much better than this.

Gert said...

I downloaded another three vids yesterday and no boredom surfacing at all. 'Boring' can't applied to him, I think.

Will have to buy the books.

Gert said...

I'm not wanting to discuss FN's top post here in any great detail. I'd do it there but I'm banned due to l'affaire Beaky.

This, for example, high up, already strikes me as so infantile as to put me off reading the whole thing (I persevered nonetheless):

"So if al-Zawahiri and al-Baghdadi are not Muslim, what religion do they belong to? It’s not just wishful thinking, Obama is really just a compulsive propagandist."

So if Amy Duggan Archer-Gilligan and David Berkowitz are not Americans, what Nation do they belong to?

What does the fact that these two serial killers are Americans say about America? The answer is of course a big NOTHING.

FN falls into the trap of shoehorning people into little boxes, in old 'Me/Other' style.

Re. Obama's propagandism, that's pot and kettle at best: how many millions does the GOP spend on negative attack ads. File under: 'Libtards and Repugniks'.

It all smacks of the mediocrity and parrotry I'm so used to from him (from my 'Eitan days'). As Zizek put it, 'why be happy if you can be intesting?'

Question: are we (acc. you) in a religious war with Islam? If so, who is 'we'?

Gert said...

Ooops: 'interesting' of course.

-FJ said...

I think the obvious difference in your example is that Berkowitz, et al, didn't "sign their kills" in the name of "America." Al Bagdhadi, et al, kill "in the name of" Islam. Whether this "motive" is true or false, is another thing entirely.

And I don't believe that "we" are in a religious war with Islam. I think that "some reactionary members of Islam" are in a war against the "modernism" of liberal-capitalism's "globalism" AND government who "sustain" these exploitative policies (ie The 'Arab Spring' started in the self-immolation of a man who was prevented from selling goods without a license from the government).

-FJ said...

I think that this paper sort of hints as to "why".

-FJ said...

Hmmm link didn't load... try this:

http://dukespace.lib.duke.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/10161/2546/Kuran_The_Absence_of.pdf?sequence=1

-FJ said...

It's a "policy" that I'd like to see my country "consider", with minor alterations, of course.

-FJ said...

More on the man and economic circumstances surrounding the 'Arab Spring'.

-FJ said...

How do you spell "Eric Garner"?

-FJ said...

You could "join" the thread above and challenge FN directly.

Gert said...

I'm of Belgian extraction. I don't identify with it any longer (having lived abroad for so long now). Assume a small band of Belgian terrorists carries out an ideologically motivated attack (or series of attacks) on the City (or such). Make no mistake about it: no matter what the motives were ('Belgianness' or 'Belgiosity'), a backlash against the tiny Belgian minority would immediately ensue. I would not feel 'safe' (whether I denounced the atacks or not would matter very little).

This is what the left warned against, prophetically but with clarity, post-9/11 (and is the origin of the 'Left Betrayal' myth peddled by the right worldwide).

That the Islamists do things in the name of Islam is not in dispute by me. That ISIS is a death cult in the name of Allah isn't either. But FN falls into the trap of equivocating Islam and terrorism. Or at the very least he sails very close to that wind. I think I'll join that thread but need to read it first (I have tresholds of idiocy I won't argue with).

Re. the 'Che vuoi?' lecture I started watching for 30 mins (I promised myself for time allocation) then couldn't turn it off. The use of (often 'bad') cinematography is pure genius.

Gert said...

Eric Garner?

The CBS doc was good. No point in reminding a European of that debacle though.

Gert said...

That Klemen Sakonja guy as the Pope ('spread the love'):

http://youtu.be/LrPlF5wZ77Y?list=RD80X0pbCV_t4

-FJ said...

Eric Garner was choked by police in NYC for selling "onesies" out of a pack of cigarettes... and the city cops were clamping down so as to collect their outrageous tobacco taxes ($1.60 inside the city).

-FJ said...

Lord Gaga... very cool. I will "spread the love"... ;)

Thersites said...

Hmmm, the "link" you gave me started with another vid. The pope one was here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoJsKV6-e9M&index=3&list=RD80X0pbCV_t4

...but I'll still spread the love. ;)

The Absolute Marxist said...

Here AND Here. ;)

The Absolute Marxist said...

As for your contention that Islam has little to do with their actions, I disagree. I believe that they are seeking the "authenticity" of the original Islamic religious experience... jihad. Call it "Islamic Dasein".

The Absolute Marxist said...

It represents their own personal "ego ideal".

Gert said...

It's very difficult to explain some of the things they are doing that way: see the destruction of cultural heritage (non-Islamic), currently going on in Mosul. See also Taleban.

Sorry for linking to the wrong vid.

Speedy G said...

The jouissance of destruction isn't, IMO, very hard to explain at all. I'd love to go into a "China Shop" and "have at" the crystal.

Islam gives them "permission" to be destructive... guilt/ consequence free.