Rupturing the Dialectic: The Struggle Against Work, Financial Crisis and Beyond
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In a period in which capital has been on the offensive for many years, using debt and financial crises as rationales for wielding austerity to hammer down wages and social services and terrorism as an excuse for attacking civil liberties, it is important to realize that the origins of this long period of crisis lay in the struggles of people to free their lives from the endless subordination to work within a society organized as a gigantic social factory. In both the self-proclaimed capitalist West and socialist East the manag-ers of that subordination, whether in private enterprise or the state, repeatedly found their plans undermined by people who refused to play by their rules and who elaborated activities and social relationships that escaped their control. The refusal of their rules meant crisis for the managers; the elaboration of other ways of being—whether charac-terized as the crafting of civil society or as autonomous self-valorization—meant crisis for and freedom from society-as-work-machine. As always, the capitalist response has involved instrumentalization and repression; basically its managers have sought to har-ness what they could and eliminate what they could not. For a long time instrumentali-zation was most obvious in the West and repression was most obvious in the East, yet both were always at play everywhere, and everywhere those responses were resisted and often escaped. It was that resistance and those escapes that led to the unleashing of the monetary weapons of financialization and their current employment to convert crisis-for-capital into crisis-for-us. It is in past and present resistance and escapes that we must discover both our weaknesses and our strengths in order to overcome capital’s current offensive and to elaborate new worlds. It is the overall thesis of this paper that Marx’s labor theory of value still provides vital aid in helping us understand these historical developments.
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