[OPE-L:2144] negri and OPE-L?

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@sfu.ca)
Date: Fri Jan 14 2000 - 04:31:48 EST

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        One of my students passed on to me the following note from Tony Negri,
which I think will be of interest to many people on OPE-L. As you can see,
the questions he identifies as important are ones which were part of the
original (and occasionally renewed) focus of OPE-L ); so, it is interesting
to see them being taken up in this way. I wonder if there is any way in
which we can link up our discussions.
        It is also interesting that he seems to have shifted his position somewhat
on the subject of the book on wage-labour. I wonder if Massimo knows
anything about this-- or about the Posse project.

        in solidarity,

>> Rome
>> 7 December 1999
>> Subject: Preparation of number 3 of the journal Posse. A special issue on
>> "Marx Today, and 'Capital' Today" (final deadline for articles 14 July
>> 2000). This issue will have two sections.
>> The first will be devoted to "The books of 'Capital' that Marx did not
>> write - the book on the wage, and the book on the State".
>> The second will be devoted to: "The chapters of 'Capital' that, perhaps,
>> need to be rewritten: the chapter on value, and the chapter on
>> circulation".
>> The journal Posse is a quarterly review published by Castelvecchi, Rome.
>> All of our articles may be reprinted in sister reviews, with the aim of
>> building an international channel for communist discussion. This
>> Marx-oriented issue of Posse is only one aspect of a project of Marxist
>> readings, to which the journal will devote at least one issue per year.
>> Dear comrades,
>> My letter may come as something of a surprise to you. I am writing about a
>> project that may be of interest. The aim is to prepare a special issue of
>> the journal Posse devoted to the current state of Marxist discussion, and
>> to use Posse as the channel for future discussions on this theme.
>> I have been and am still a Marxist. The long course of my hermeneutic work
>> on Marx and my scientific work on struggles has taken many turns, and has
>> not yet come to an end. However I think I can claim that it has been
>> developed in the light of the teachings of Marx, and has, most
>> particularly, been directed towards communist revolution.
>> Here I am writing to comrades, none of whom went along with the orthodox
>> vulgate of Marx in the years when Stalinism was at its height... comrades
>> whom I know to be as impenitent in demanding their own freedom of
>> interpretation as they are loyal in their search for the ways of
>> constituting communism.
>> The intention of my letter is to propose a project of synthesis regarding
>> the present state of Marxist theory (Marx plus revolutionary project) in a
>> number of areas which seem to me to be central, and which I shall define
>> below. I am hoping that we can put together one (or more) issues of a kind
>> of annual publication of Marxist studies (entitled Marxiana).
>> Needless to say this proposal is not limited to the people who will have
>> received this letter. I hope that they will extend the invitation to people
>> that they can can count on, and with whom they can work, so as to bring in
>> people whom they know to be moving on this theoretical and political
>> terrain. (For instance it would be very interesting to have news about the
>> development of Marxist theory from both China and the countries of the
>> ex-Soviet empire.)
>> Having said that, let me move on to the basic arguments.
>> The first was posed by Rosdolsky. When he compared 'Capital' with Marx's
>> planned schema for the work, he was convinced that at least two books were
>> missing from the final work: the book on the wage, and the book on the
>> State. My hypothesis (although this was also the view of Mario Tronti and
>> of Italian workerism in general) is that the book on the wage might perhaps
>> be recognisable in what Marx wrote in his various written interventions on
>> working-class and insurrectional struggles of the second half of the
>> nineteenth century. In this view, Marx's real book on the wage consists of
>> his writings on "the class struggle in France". However, although they are
>> necessary preliminaries, these writings are not sufficient as a basis for a
>> theory of the wage relationship, of its regulation and of its subversion.
>> As regards the book on the State, my hypothesis is that Marx could not
>> write it until the national State and the (effective) concept of national
>> sovereignty had been definitively removed from the scene. Today, finally,
>> the conditions (the preconstitutive conditions for research) are finally
>> given, both to proceed on the terrain of a world market which excludes the
>> nation (and its ideological apparatus), and to propose an analysis of the
>> wage which excludes any capacity for breakage of the nation-State or of
>> super-national trading aggregates. The King (ie the market) is naked, for
>> all that Capital always manages to disguise itself.
>> Now, you may or may not be in agreement with this interpretation. However
>> agreement and disagreement are not innocent factors, when placed in
>> relationship to the political ends which each of us is pursuing. Here is
>> where we should be discussing. A debate on the business of Marxism
>> (Marxiana) nowadays has to be characterised by the broadest possible
>> pluralism.
>> There is another path, down which we should also be going: this path
>> assumes a rewriting of 'Capital' as one of the basic political tasks of
>> today. Often we talk of the "new" social composition of the proletarian
>> class. Often we stress the immaterial characteristics of living labour
>> today. Even more often we point to the new qualities of productive
>> cooperation in knowledge ("networked") and the way in which they are
>> extending ("the global nature of the market"). All these factors lead us
>> necessarily to a rewrite of Marx's chapter on value, and various chapters
>> in the book on circulation.
>> Why is this? Because, apart from the reasons already cited (the urgent need
>> to look at the biopolitical fabric of social production), the problem is
>> that which is created when the needs (and desires) for knowledge and
>> freedom (in other words the elementary expression of living labour) become
>> productive within thesocial process of communication. And here, perhaps, we
>> can "verify" Marxism (and reinvent it), by placing it in relation to the
>> new class composition - in other words, in relation to a (possible,
>> probable?) constituent proletariat.
>> In this area too, Posse is not only seeking contributions that follow the
>> outlines sketched above. We also want to debate this hypothesis, and its
>> preliminary and consequent conditions, until the point where the struggle
>> intervenes to show the correctness of one or other theoretical option.
>> With best regards,
>> Toni Negri,
>> c/o Castelvecchi Editoria,
>> via Giovanni Severano 33,
>> 00161 Roma,
>> Italy
>Centro Social Okupado y Autogestionado el Laboratorio
>Plaza de Cabestreros (Lavapiés - Madrid)

Michael A. Lebowitz
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
Office: Phone (604) 291-4669
        Fax (604) 291-5944
Home: Phone (604) 872-0494
        Fax (604) 872-0485
Lasqueti Island: (250) 333-8810

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