6 Matching Annotations
  1. Oct 2018
    1. Traditional Marxism finds it impossible to imagine the self-abolition of the proletarian class because it treats labor as a category outside of history, rather than one produced by capitalism itself. By making labor into a category of capitalism, Postone does not mean to make the nonsensical claim that previous societies have never involved labor, but rather that these societies did not conceive of what we call labor as labor, as expressions of an undifferentiated productive capacity. This conception only arises with the general commodification of human activity, once work becomes something bought and sold on the open market. Peasants did not conceive of their work in the fields as fundamentally separate from work in the kitchen garden, from work fixing their domicile, taking care of children, or hunting game. Nor was the line between these activities and play or diversion so firmly drawn. Postone, therefore, attempts to denaturalize and estrange labor in much the same way that LeGuin denaturalizes prison in the passage described previously. Why is it that spending time with a child in one context might be something you do for fun, in another a familial obligation, and in yet another paid work? What would it mean to live in a society in which nothing people did took the form of labor, but merely appeared as a spectrum of voluntary activity, some of it pleasant, some of it tedious, but none of it a job?
    2. Schoolchildren are often given Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s phrase “suspension of disbelief” as a simple way to evaluate the success or failure of fantastic literature. Were you lulled into taking for granted the talking dragon and magical elves because of the otherwise “relatable” content? LeGuin should be thought of as doing something similar: effecting a communist suspension of disbelief, a suspension first and foremost of capitalist disbelief in the possibility of communism. To do this, she has to induce disbelief in the institutions of capitalism, to display them not as “how things are” but “how they’ve been made to be.”
    3. In capitalism, structures of technological advancement are the precondition of development, but in the Hainish universe, those civilizations that have the most powerful technologies use them sparingly, and organize everyday life in a manner that looks, from our perspective, to be highly traditional, based on handicraft, ritual, and religion. In such societies, scientists might spend their mornings building gates with hand tools and their afternoons working on machines for teleportation. The most highly technologically mediated societies, conversely, tend to encounter problems of resource depletion and pollution. Free development for each and all implies voluntary change, but this need not mean a constant technical transformation of the built environment and everyday life. In the Hainish universe, human society has moved in directions that can only be understood, from the standpoint of technological growth, as movement backwards or sideways, branching out in innumerable directions.
  2. Jul 2018
  3. May 2017
    1. proletarianise

      Proletarianization is the social process by which people move from being either the employer or self-employment to being employed as a wage laborer by an employer.

      Marx, Karl, and David McLellan. Karl Marx: selected writings. Oxford University Press, USA, 2000.

  4. Mar 2017