“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Sunday, April 8, 2012

More on OOO and Commodity Fetishism

Okay, I'm going to keep up my Marxist critique of this Marxist critique of OOO this way: the accusation that talking about hammers is fetishism is based on a kind of Romanticism, though I hesitate to use that term. Let's call it a narrative of authenticity. Some things are more real than others, namely (in this case) praxis, which has to do with humans.

What happened to the Lacanian Marxist view that humans and humanism are part of the problem, not the solution? Why this anthropocentric, eighteenth-century view of an intrinsic humanity (praxis) that is distorted by capital? Isn't that what Marx was combating, in the very place of his critique of fetishism?

So again, theologians, I accuse you of being the fetishists here. You attribute some special godlike power to human agency and you see the problem as the distortion of this power by capital. This is, on Marxism's own terms, just regression to Enlightenment philosophy, that is, capitalist ideology.


John B-R said...

I have a question: given all that is true for OOO, there is still human agency, among a multitude of agencies, and we (humans, plants, animals, West Virginia mountaintops, many different objects on earth and in space near the earth) are affected by it. Even if it doesn't act alone. And it is - can be - I don't know if the word is distorted, but it is affected - by capital.

Let me give a specific example. And I would like to know how a person who accepts all you say in this post might approach this kind of agency effectively but without privileging its human components.

I was pointed to this earlier today by a New APPS post by Jon Cogburn. I quote from a website to which Cgburn has linked.It concerns ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council):

"ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line. Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to approve “model” bills. They have their own corporate governing board which meets jointly with the legislative board. (ALEC says that corporations do not vote on the board.) They fund almost all of ALEC's operations. Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills. ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a “unique,” “unparalleled” and “unmatched” organization. It might be right. It is as if a state legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had pushed the people out the door."

Ted Bagley said...

'In capitalism, it is as if there is this abstract thing called THE commodity, which undermines and overmines (to use our lingo) actual humans, hammers and houses.'

John B-R said...

I guess what I'm asking, Tim, Ted, is this: is OOO a "first philosophy" with or ithout a "second philosophy", so to speak? Is it a "difference that makes a difference"?