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a hopeful thought

May 9, 2013

A bit abstract perhaps, but I think Jehu (@ReThePeople) offers an interesting analysis of ideas presented in chapter 1 of André Gorz’s Critique of Economic Reason dealing with the nature of labour and its evolution throughout history, concluding that wage labour itself is incompatible with liberty and social emancipation, which itself suggests that true freedom means, and can only be realized through, liberation from the structural and personal forms of dependence that characterize wage-labour under capitalism, i.e., the end of wage labour itself.

As @ReThePeople puts it on Twitter, “This public sphere — that of markets, the state, and democracy — is not and can never be the realm of freedom” because “what we call the public sphere in society is actually the realm of slavery, of labor, the realm of pressing bodily needs and dependence.” But, due to the historical progression of capitalism, a society in which the majority, rather than a minority, is emancipated from labour has been made possible thanks to the socialization of labour and technological advancements that capitalism itself has historically brought about.

The logic of capitalism, however, in combination with the private nature of capital and directly social nature of labour, fights against the very things that’d serve to help reduce, and possibly even eliminate, both crises (those caused by overproduction and those caused by the tendency of the rate of profit to fall) and unemployment, not to mention benefit the working class as a whole: things like minimizing hours of labour, maximizing hours of leisure, supplying workers with more freedom and autonomy in the workplace, and ultimately, even an end to wage labour itself.

At present, capitalism, in its fundamental drive to increase the mass of profits created through commodity production, thrives off of the exact opposite: maximizing hours of labour, minimizing hours of leisure, and workplace coercion, not to mention the ‘creative destruction’ of superfluous capital. But if people like Jehu are correct (“Wage Labor, Capitalism and Communism“), the material foundation for a future society in which the majority, rather than a minority, can and will be emancipated from labour has already been laid—one in which the very notion of work itself will become freer and more self-developing.

I find it a hopeful thought, at any rate.

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