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  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?