Thursday, December 02, 2004

The Reproduction of Resistance Against Capital

" ... even a fully postmodernised First World will not lack young people whose temperament and values are genuinely left ones and embrace visions of radical social change repressed by the norms of business society. The dynamics of such commitment are derived not from the reading of the 'Marxist classics', but rather from the objective experience of a social reality and the way in which one isolated cause or issue, one specific form of injustice, cannot be fulfilled without drawing the entire web of interrelated social levels together into a totality, which then demands the invention of a politics of social transformation.... Whether the word Marxism disappears or not, therefore, in the erasure of the tapes of some new Dark Age, the thing itself will inevitably reappear."

Fredric Jameson, Late Marxism, 1990.

Jameson's reference to the possibility of a 'fully postmodernised First World' and the suggestion that Marxism could be on the verge of disappearance marks out this passage as, very much, a product of its time. In 1990 Western Academia was still struggling to emerge from the stanglehold (sickness/mental derrangement?) of Postmodernism and the future, indeed, looked black - a 'new Dark Age', for some, was a dangerously real possibility [actually, is 'real possibility' a non-sensical oxymoron? If so, I am of course just being ironic and postmoderny in order to be clever etc]. However, rather than Marxism, it is Postmodernism today, as far as I can see, which seems to be fast disappearing - surviving in anything other than a feeble form only in the darker corners of Western Academia (certain US universities spring to mind), oh.. and in Sociology Departments. Despite this certain datedness to the passage quoted above, I think the passage is still important. Jameson is right that the generation of resistance to, and rebellion against, capital is implicit within the workings of the capitalist system itself. It wasn't Marx who invented working class rebellion and the struggle against capital isn't created or realised by knowledge of socialist theory. This theory has to work on something already present and inherent in human experience of life in class-divided society. For as long as it exists, capitalism will constantly reproduce its own enemies. It will inevitably reproduce the possibility of its own destruction and the possibility of the realisation of socialism. Capitalism can never win a final victory.

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