From the July-August 2017 issue of News & Letters
COOPERATIVE FORM OF LABOR VS. ABSTRACT LABOR
It’s interesting to read Dunayevskaya’s 1951 preparatory work of what would become seven years later Marxism and Freedom (“The Cooperative Form of Labor vs. Abstract Labor and Despotic Plan,” May-June N&L). Dunayevskaya was following Marx’s steps, in how he was trying to recreate a dialectic in which there is no separation between subject and object. The phrase “Management over social labor which in manufacture was ‘purely subjective’ is now ‘purely objective’” speaks precisely to the relationship between such elements: Machinery is not merely “objective,” but carries within a human (subjective) relationship, which in capitalism has become objectified—therefore “purely objective.” The understanding of this subjective/objective relationship is crucial for the development of a full-blown dialectic of freedom.
Dunayevskaya’s analysis of cooperative labor focuses on production, which only comprises 15% of today’s U.S. workforce (not so in China). Yet it still blows away the illusions about the “sharing economy.” Companies like Uber say they enable drivers and riders to share cooperatively, but the company itself manipulates drivers into working longer than they intend, nudges them toward areas where they will make less money, and cares not whether they make a living wage as long as the company is extracting profit. There’s no true sharing under these despotic, alienated conditions.
MARX VS. TRUMP-PUTIN
The Syrian revolutionary cited by Emmett (“Marx’s Marxism vs. Trump-Putin Barbarism,” March-April N&L) aptly says, “After all this slaughter, we ask, do the Syrian people not belong to the human community?” However, Emmett’s conclusion isn’t clear as to exactly what Marx’s “power of abstraction” has to do with this immanently diverse, revolutionary human subject. Marx began Capital with the power of abstraction in its particular capitalist incarnation: the commodity-form of the product of labor—capitalist reality and its logical unfolding at its purest. The commodity-form shapes capitalist social life. It leads to totally inhuman results, the domination of things, commodities and capital, over the humans who create them. What has to come to the fore is not alone confronting external necessity but the internal necessity of the Idea of freedom and its movement.
I agree with much of Gerry Emmett’s essay, but am concerned that there is a lot about culture, but not very much about social class and that there is a lot about Trump-Putin, but not enough about Marx. We are confronting alarming levels of intolerance. It is at the very point where someone is excluded from the revolution that the counter-revolution from within the revolution begins. If we neglect to place these dimensions explicitly within the struggle to end class relations, then we rob them of their revolutionary content. Marx favored a society of freely associated human beings, but was very specific that we arrive there as “freely associated labor.” It is in the labor process that we confront the question of freedom and necessity. This is where we need to focus to uproot capitalism in all of its forms.
Bay Area, Calif.
VOICES FROM BEHIND BARS
In response to your article, “No police during mental health crises,” I would like to say mental health in jail is very much an oxymoron. For some time I have suffered from an illness called schizoaffective disorder, and psychosis played a major role in why I was incarcerated. In my time in the California Department of Corrections and “rehabilitation” (CDCr), I have received no help, and am only watched to see if I take my medication. I do see a therapist once every two months, but these visits seem to annoy him, and I am quickly shuffled out the door and sent on my way. The CDCr is doing no part in actually helping those with mental health issues. I am very concerned about my release, and feel I will likely end up in the same situation I was in before being locked up—homeless and unable to get proper care. On another note, I appreciate the paper and look forward to reading more in the future.
I took some time to concentrate my efforts toward starting a youth/youth offender program here within the prison where I’m currently serving my life sentence. In this process N&L has been crucial concerning my awareness of current events. I have not had the time to read pretty much anything else. Needless to say I have come to look forward to receiving my paper and disseminating it accordingly. This program (True Start) is very important to me. At the age of 16 approximately 25 years ago, I entered into the adult prison system as a youth offender. Alone I had to foster an identity based on the personalities within my surrounding. I’m looking for assistance and guidance to get this program up and running.
Jamal Lewis #26238/000977290b
East Jersey State Prison, Lock Bag ‘R’,
Rahway, NJ 07065
Thanks for providing a platform for so many of the oppressed. After the war in the Middle East, the military prison population increased exponentially and many remain unaware. We are constantly confronted with biased investigations, disproportionate legal representation, false clemency and parole hopes, and a lengthy equally flawed appellate process. This process contributes to veteran homelessness, veteran unemployment, and ultimately mass incarceration. If we all continue to fight and support each other, change will come. Power in numbers. We have so many options to incarceration but the Army has developed a $95 million facility that must be filled.
Dr. Dwayne M. Williams Sr.
CPT, U.S. Army
Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
Here at SCI Frackville they cover up for their prison guards. Hopefully this will shine some light on the corruption here and uncover the suppression of truth, including all surprises, cunning dissembling and unfairness with which I have been treated. I do not feel safe here at SCI Frackville. My life is in great danger. I filed numerous Prison Rape Elimination Act complaints and grievances asking to put separations on prison guards who sexually harassed me and retaliated against me for reporting their behavior. But the jail failed to take action to keep me safe and placed me in harm’s way. I’m scared for my life.
Wooz Shavaryea Taylor
TO OUR READERS:
Can you donate $5 for a prisoner who cannot pay for a subscription to N&L? It will be shared with many others. A donation of $8 pays for a subscription plus the Pelican Bay Hunger Strikers pamphlet to be sent to a prisoner. Prisoners are eligible to continue their free subscriptions when they first get released, a time when the system tries to make them forget the struggle.