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    Andrea Lorenzo Capussela, The Liberal Conception of ‘Freedom’ is Incapable of Addressing the Problems of Contemporary Capitalism + The Radical Republican Structure of Marx's Critique of Capitalist Society

    Johnathan R. Razorback
    Johnathan R. Razorback
    Admin


    Messages : 11948
    Date d'inscription : 12/08/2013
    Localisation : France

    Andrea Lorenzo Capussela, The Liberal Conception of ‘Freedom’ is Incapable of Addressing the Problems of Contemporary Capitalism + The Radical Republican Structure of Marx's Critique of Capitalist Society Empty Andrea Lorenzo Capussela, The Liberal Conception of ‘Freedom’ is Incapable of Addressing the Problems of Contemporary Capitalism + The Radical Republican Structure of Marx's Critique of Capitalist Society

    Message par Johnathan R. Razorback Mer 23 Déc - 9:39



    In a forthcoming book, Branko Milanović identifies four ‘troublesome features’ in ‘meritocratic liberal capitalism’.1 These are the rising share of capital income in total income, which undermines meritocracy; the very high concentration of capital income, which runs counter to the objective of a ‘property-owning’ democracy; the rising association of high capital and labour incomes in the same people or families, which exacerbates inequality and hinders attempts to curb it; and the polarisation of society, shown by the declining share and purchasing power of the middle classes, which destabilises democracy and threatens to turn it into a plutocracy or a populist regime.

    My remarks concern the perspective from which to look at these traits of contemporary capitalism, and I move from the assumption that the obverse of both economic inequality and inequality of opportunity, which are cause or effect of those four problems, is often some form of private domination. An example, fairly extreme but frequent, is the relationship between workers on zero-hour or similar contracts and their employers, who have the discretion to decide how much they will work and earn.

    In its simplest form, liberal theory – equal rights for all citizens, which guarantee their freedom, which is in turn conceived as absence of interference – has no obvious answer to those problems. For if freedom is non-interference, then it is compatible with both inequality and private domination, at least within certain bounds, as neither directly interferes with people’s individual choices. Indeed, accepting precarious employment is a choice. And as liberals cannot say that Milanović’s four ‘troublesome features’ pose a fundamental challenge to their idea of a good society, their answer is a Ptolemaic one: sets of diverse, if potentially effective remedies such as redistribution, poverty relief, active labour market policies, civic education, and policing fake-news.

    Yet I suppose that behind much contemporary discontent is not just stagnating real incomes and high and rising inequality, but also resentment at the obverse of the latter, domination. And I equally presume that the absence of a credible and powerful liberal answer to these phenomena is one reason why demagogues and populists succeed. For instance, proponents of ‘illiberal democracy’ argue that as liberalism no longer works, or lacks solutions to the problems of today, we can find better ideas elsewhere. They tend to look for them outside of the field of the Enlightenment, but this critique, however unarticulated, poses a challenge that warrants reflection.

    Political theories may well be superstructure. But as liberalism is hegemonic it has concrete effects on what we think possible and desirable, and therefore on what we do (here I have also Rodrik’s writings on the political economy of ideas in mind). My premise is that the intrinsic bias of liberalism against public action in pursuit of goals, such as curbing inequality, which neither command unanimity nor directly advance a fundamental value, such as political liberty, does constrain our ability to protect our democracies from those threats. If so, it may be useful to sniff the air that flows outside of the house of liberalism.

    For the liberal conception of freedom is not the only conceivable one. Another notion, equally negative, is the republican or neo-roman one, which views freedom as non-domination. If I depend on someone else’s arbitrary will, or am subject to their enormous and unchecked power, I am not free, irrespective of how that power is exercised. Hence the paradox of the ‘free slave’, frequent in republican literature: liberal theory implies that the slave who has a kind master is free, as she suffers no interference in her choices; republicans object that this depends entirely on the master’s benevolence, which can be revoked at will and may have to be cultivated: domination and unfreedom remain, therefore, and typically lead to self-censorship and a slavish mentality.

    So the state should not merely ensure that nobody interferes in my choices, as liberals assert, but rather guarantee to me a sphere within which I am my own master. The idea is well expressed by Pettit’s ‘eyeball test’: I am free if I can look others in the eye without reason for fear or favour. People in precarious employment would hardly pass the test, for example: in this domain of their life they are unfree. Those who pass the test in most domains of their life can walk tall in society, conversely, and a good society is one in which all can hold their head high.

    The republican conception of freedom is not necessarily more demanding than the liberal one, as it all depends on how many domains of social life we want to include into that sphere of freedom, and how wide we want it to be. What matters is the change in perspective, because the republican approach dissolves the liberal bias against public action and joins freedom and democracy together, for the state and its laws must not be dominating ones. While in liberal theory freedom and democracy are separate values, in fact, republican freedom directly requires democracy and has demanding institutional implications for it: for laws not to be dominating, for instance, the usual constitutional checks and balances may have to be buttressed by a ‘contestatory citizenry’.

    Once the republican perspective is taken, the discussion shifts from the question of whether measures to reduce inequality and private domination interfere excessively in one’s private choices onto the question of whether they enhance citizens’ sphere of freedom. The questioning imposed by liberalism is a valuable counterpoise to the aspiration to expand that sphere, of course, to assess whether the chosen remedy entails unreasonable interference in citizens’ choices: but the change in perspective is important.

    Populists are often accused of attacking pluralism and the checks-and-balances system, for instance. The charge is well founded, of course, but also underwhelming. For pluralism and the checks-and-balances system are both compatible with inequality and private domination, and are chiefly instrumental values, if cardinal ones, serving substantive ones such as freedom and equality. Only by viewing freedom as non-domination, and by moving from the institutional theory that flows from it, can one respond powerfully to the populists’ challenge also on this critical front.

    ‘Capitalism won’, Milanović’s synopsis argues, chiefly because it ‘agreed more profoundly with human nature which values ability to make autonomous economic decisions and cares about private property’. As liberalism is content with safeguarding those human inclinations from external interference it has no counterpoise to them. Republicans emphasise the equally profound human aspiration not to be dominated, which can come into tension with them and thus open up a dialectic, within which public debate might find ways to improve our democracies.

    A chronological remark, to conclude. The liberal conception of freedom, which now reigns supreme, is fairly recent. The classical notion of freedom as non-domination was first challenged by Hobbes, in the Leviathan, but still informed Madison’s and Jefferson’s thinking, for instance, and Montesquieu’s. Yet it was liberal theory that accompanied the demise of the ancien régime. At that juncture, coupling its universalism (equal rights) with the classical notion of freedom would have produced truly radical change – in employment relationships, for example. By conceiving of freedom as non-interference the bourgeoisie opened up societies, admirably, but avoided going too far. Now, a century and a half after 1848, we can say that that model has served its purpose, as the police no longer beats and silences us, but has run its course, as it has too little to say on the problems of advanced capitalist democracies. So we may perhaps return to the republican notion of freedom, and combine it with liberal universalism.
    -Andrea Lorenzo Capussela, "The Liberal Conception of ‘Freedom’ is Incapable of Addressing the Problems of Contemporary Capitalism", 15 November 2018: https://www.globalpolicyjournal.com/blog/15/11/2018/liberal-conception-freedom-incapable-addressing-problems-contemporary-capitalism

    https://www.academia.edu/36588469/The_Radical_Republican_Structure_of_Marxs_Critique_of_Capitalist_Society

    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13698230.2011.617119



    _________________
    « La question n’est pas de constater que les gens vivent plus ou moins pauvrement, mais toujours d’une manière qui leur échappe. » -Guy Debord, Critique de la séparation (1961).

    « Rien de grand ne s’est jamais accompli dans le monde sans passion. » -Hegel, La Raison dans l'Histoire.

    « Mais parfois le plus clair regard aime aussi l’ombre. » -Friedrich Hölderlin, "Pain et Vin".

    Johnathan R. Razorback
    Johnathan R. Razorback
    Admin


    Messages : 11948
    Date d'inscription : 12/08/2013
    Localisation : France

    Andrea Lorenzo Capussela, The Liberal Conception of ‘Freedom’ is Incapable of Addressing the Problems of Contemporary Capitalism + The Radical Republican Structure of Marx's Critique of Capitalist Society Empty Re: Andrea Lorenzo Capussela, The Liberal Conception of ‘Freedom’ is Incapable of Addressing the Problems of Contemporary Capitalism + The Radical Republican Structure of Marx's Critique of Capitalist Society

    Message par Johnathan R. Razorback Jeu 24 Déc - 19:24

    "Dans un livre à paraître, Branko Milanović identifie quatre "caractéristiques gênantes" du "capitalisme libéral méritocratique". Il s'agit de la part croissante des revenus du capital dans le revenu total, qui sape la méritocratie ; de la très forte concentration des revenus du capital, qui va à l'encontre de l'objectif d'une démocratie "de propriétaires" ; de la concentration croissante de revenus élevés du capital et du travail au sein des mêmes personnes ou familles, qui exacerbe les inégalités et entrave les tentatives de les réduire ; et de la polarisation de la société, démontrée par la baisse de la part et du pouvoir d'achat des classes moyennes, qui déstabilise la démocratie et menace de la transformer en une ploutocratie ou en régime populiste.

    Mes remarques concernent la perspective à partir de laquelle il convient d'examiner ces traits du capitalisme contemporain, et je pars de l'hypothèse que la condition de possibilité de l'inégalité économique et de l'inégalité des chances, qui sont la cause ou l'effet de ces quatre problèmes, est souvent une forme de domination privée. Un exemple, assez extrême mais fréquent, est la relation entre les travailleurs sous contrat "zéro heure" ou similaire, et leurs employeurs, qui ont le pouvoir discrétionnaire de décider combien ils vont travailler et gagner.

    Dans sa forme la plus simple, la théorie libérale -l'égalité des droits pour tous les citoyens, qui garantit leur liberté, elle-même conçue comme l'absence d'ingérence- n'a pas de réponse évidente à ces problèmes. Car si la liberté est une non-ingérence, alors elle est compatible avec l'inégalité et la domination privée, au moins dans certaines limites, car aucune des deux n'interfère directement avec les choix individuels des gens. En effet, accepter un emploi précaire est un choix. [...] Les libéraux ne peuvent pas dire que les quatre "caractéristiques gênantes" de Milanović posent un défi fondamental à leur idée d'une bonne société [...]

    Pourtant, je présume que derrière une grande partie du mécontentement contemporain, il n'y a pas seulement la stagnation des revenus réels et des inégalités élevées et croissantes, mais aussi le ressentiment à l'égard de l'avers de ces dernières, la domination [sociale]. Et je présume également que l'absence d'une réponse libérale crédible et puissante à ces phénomènes est une des raisons du succès des démagogues et des populistes. Par exemple, les partisans formes anti-libérales de démocratie affirment que, comme le libéralisme ne fonctionne plus, ou qu'il manque de solutions aux problèmes actuels, nous pouvons trouver de meilleures idées ailleurs. Ils ont tendance à les chercher en dehors du domaine héritée de la philosophie des Lumières, mais cette critique, aussi peu formulée soit-elle, pose un défi qui mérite réflexion. [...]

    Car la conception libérale de la liberté n'est pas la seule concevable. Une autre notion, tout aussi négative, est celle républicaine ou néo-romaine, qui considère la liberté comme la non-domination. Si je dépends de la volonté arbitraire de quelqu'un d'autre, ou si je suis soumis à son énorme pouvoir incontrôlé, je ne suis pas libre, quelle que soit la façon dont ce pouvoir est exercé. D'où le paradoxe de l'"esclave libre", fréquent dans la littérature républicaine : la théorie libérale implique que l'esclave qui a un maître aimable est libre, car elle ne souffre d'aucune interférence dans ses choix ; les républicains objectent que cela dépend entièrement de la bienveillance du maître, qui peut être révoquée à volonté et doit être cultivée : la domination et la non-liberté demeurent donc et conduisent généralement à l'autocensure et à une mentalité d'esclave.

    L'État ne doit donc pas seulement veiller à ce que personne n'intervienne dans mes choix, comme l'affirment les libéraux, mais plutôt me garantir une sphère dans laquelle je suis mon propre maître. L'idée est bien exprimée par le "test du globe oculaire" de Pettit : Je suis libre si je peux regarder les autres dans les yeux sans être animé par la peur ou la flagornerie. Les personnes ayant un emploi précaire ne réussiraient guère le test, par exemple : dans ce domaine de leur vie, elles ne sont pas libres. Ceux qui réussissent le test dans la plupart des domaines de leur vie peuvent marcher la tête haute dans la société, à l'inverse, et une bonne société est une société dans laquelle tous les individus peuvent garder la tête haute.

    La conception républicaine de la liberté n'est pas nécessairement plus exigeante que la conception libérale, car tout dépend du nombre de domaines de la vie sociale que nous incluons dans cette sphère de liberté, et de l'étendue que nous voulons lui donner. Ce qui importe, c'est le changement de perspective, car l'approche républicaine dissout le préjugé libéral contre l'action publique et réunit la liberté et la démocratie, car l'État et ses lois ne doivent pas davantage être à l'origine d'une domination. Si, dans la théorie libérale, la liberté et la démocratie sont des valeurs distinctes, en fait, la liberté républicaine exige directement la démocratie et a des implications institutionnelles exigeantes pour elle : pour que les lois ne soient pas vecteurs de domination, par exemple, les contrôles et équilibres constitutionnels habituels peuvent devoir être renforcés par une "citoyenneté contestataire".

    [...]
    Les populistes sont souvent accusés d'attaquer le pluralisme et le système constitutionnel des freins et contrepouvoirs. L'accusation est fondée, bien sûr, mais elle est également en deçà des enjeux. Car le pluralisme et le système de freins et contre-pouvoirs sont tous deux compatibles avec l'inégalité et la domination privée, et sont des valeurs principalement instrumentales, voire cardinales, au service de valeurs de fond telles que la liberté et l'égalité. Ce n'est qu'en considérant la liberté comme une non-domination et en s'éloignant de la théorie institutionnelle qui en découle que l'on peut répondre avec force au défi des populistes, également sur ce front critique.

    Le synopsis de Milanović affirme que "le capitalisme a gagné", principalement parce qu'il est "en accord plus profond avec la nature humaine qui valorise la capacité à prendre des décisions économiques autonomes et se soucie de la propriété privée". Comme le libéralisme se contente de protéger ces inclinations humaines contre la coercition extérieure, il ne peut faire contrepoids aux formes de domination non-violentes. Les républicains soulignent l'aspiration tout aussi profonde de l'homme à ne pas être dominé, ce qui peut entrer en tension avec les rapports sociaux même non-violents et ouvrir ainsi une dialectique, au sein de laquelle le débat public pourrait trouver des moyens d'améliorer nos démocraties.

    Une remarque chronologique, pour conclure. La conception libérale de la liberté, qui règne aujourd'hui en maître, est assez récente. La notion classique de liberté comme non-domination a d'abord été remise en cause par Hobbes, dans le Léviathan, mais elle a encore nourri la pensée de Madison et de Jefferson, par exemple, et celle de Montesquieu. Pourtant, c'est la théorie libérale qui a accompagné la disparition de l'ancien régime. À ce moment-là, le fait d'associer son universalisme (égalité des droits) à la notion classique de liberté aurait produit un changement véritablement radical - dans les relations de travail, par exemple. En concevant la liberté comme une non-agression, la bourgeoisie a fait progresser les sociétés, admirablement, mais en évitant d'aller trop loin. Aujourd'hui, un siècle et demi après 1848, nous pouvons dire que ce modèle a fait son temps, [...] car il n'a pas assez à dire sur les problèmes des démocraties capitalistes avancées. Nous pouvons donc peut-être revenir à la notion républicaine de liberté, et la combiner avec l'universalisme moderne."
    -Andrea Lorenzo Capussela, "The Liberal Conception of ‘Freedom’ is Incapable of Addressing the Problems of Contemporary Capitalism", 15 November 2018: https://www.globalpolicyjournal.com/blog/15/11/2018/liberal-conception-freedom-incapable-addressing-problems-contemporary-capitalism




    _________________
    « La question n’est pas de constater que les gens vivent plus ou moins pauvrement, mais toujours d’une manière qui leur échappe. » -Guy Debord, Critique de la séparation (1961).

    « Rien de grand ne s’est jamais accompli dans le monde sans passion. » -Hegel, La Raison dans l'Histoire.

    « Mais parfois le plus clair regard aime aussi l’ombre. » -Friedrich Hölderlin, "Pain et Vin".

    Johnathan R. Razorback
    Johnathan R. Razorback
    Admin


    Messages : 11948
    Date d'inscription : 12/08/2013
    Localisation : France

    Andrea Lorenzo Capussela, The Liberal Conception of ‘Freedom’ is Incapable of Addressing the Problems of Contemporary Capitalism + The Radical Republican Structure of Marx's Critique of Capitalist Society Empty Re: Andrea Lorenzo Capussela, The Liberal Conception of ‘Freedom’ is Incapable of Addressing the Problems of Contemporary Capitalism + The Radical Republican Structure of Marx's Critique of Capitalist Society

    Message par Johnathan R. Razorback Jeu 19 Aoû - 13:48

    "I argue inthis paper that we should consider Marx’s ideas as an expression of a radical tendency within the tradition of republicanism and that reading his ideas in this way enables usto approach his critique of capitalist society in a new and more compelling way. What Ithink has been concealed from view is a more radical republican thesis that remainsencased within the republican tradition — a radical republican thesis that, whenexplored, sheds fresh light on the ideas of Marx in particular and his critique of capitalist society.My suggestion here is that Marx’s ideas can be understood as an extension andexpression of ideas that began to emerge during the Renaissance that sought to re-establish popular self-government, a concern with the common good as a supremepolitical goal, and ideas of social solidarity and civic democracy. Even more, I wantto suggest that Marx’s critique of capitalist society is an elaboration of the radicalrepublican ideas that began with thinkers who addressed the problems of wealthand power in conjunction with popular forms of politics such as those of NiccolòMachiavelli and continues on through the radical ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseauand on to the radical republicanism of early nineteenth-century North Americanand European thought. My thesis is that Marx’s critique of capitalist society hasdeep roots in a republican structure of thought — a structure of thought that hesought to extend, deepen and radicalize in the sense that he brought its basic principlesto bear on the dynamics of capitalist society. To this end, I want to emphasize theinherently democratic and republican character of Marx’s thought and to understandhis critique of political economy as embedded in a robust political tradition of thought,that of radical republicanism — radical because it sought the transformation of theeconomic power relations of capitalist society according to common, public anddemocratic ends.Marx was, by all accounts, a critic of the liberal-republicanism of his time, which hesaw as failing to extend into the concrete, material dynamics of social power.

    But his critique of capitalist society develops as a more radical expression of the basic ideas of republicanism, of non-mastery, non-servitude, cultivation of a common good and theperfection of the individual via an enhanced form of social freedom. His radicalism isto extend these social-philosophical ideas into a more expanded form of critique of theform of production and value that defines capitalist society as a whole. Marx alsoengages in a critique of bourgeois republicanism: the thesis of a polity that grantsrights to private persons to possess private property over that which is rightly within the domain of the res publica. Marx’s radicalism therefore extends this logicof the common good, social justice and social freedom that is rooted in republicanideas." (p.392)

    "What Marx has in view is a form of social life that will allow for the flourishing of the individual just as it has in view a concept of the individual whocultivates the flourishing of the common, social wealth to which he belongs. As I see it,the radical republican paradigm of thought is one that can provide for us a fresh and vibrant means of synthesizing the descriptive and normative dimensions of Marxian theory. It can also demonstrate that Marx’s critique of capitalist society is deeply tied to political ideas that were meant to shape the agency of working people into apolitical force rather than relying on the scientific laws of capitalist developmentand its mechanistic production of political revolution and social change." (p.393)

    "Republicanism also emphasizes the central idea of civic virtue, one where membersof any polity are to take part in public life and public concerns but for the purpose of self-government. This is contrasted to the problem of corruption which is where indi- viduals benefit at the expense of others or of society as a whole. Republican government is therefore one where freedom is seen as maintained only in a free state, or only in a polity that is self-governing and not under the control or subordination of any individual or group. It sees the res publica, or common good, as the very objecttoward which civic life should oriented and directed. It therefore combines a theory of power with a theory of freedom as well as a theory of the individual and thebroader political context within which it is embedded. Although this is a broad andexpansive view of republicanism as a general theory, I think we can discern a moreradical interpretation of these ideas, one where the ideas about dependence, domina-tion, self-government and the common good can be aimed at the economic power of elites and a more thorough penetration of democracy beyond the polity and into theother spheres of society, namely the economy itself.

    Radical republicanism denotes a form of social freedom where individuals enjoy freedom by being part of a society that is organized around the common good of itsmembers. Domination is seen not only in terms of one’s capacity to interfere inyour choices, but more deeply as a structural form where individuals and/or groupspossess sufficient social power to extract benefits for themselves and at the expense not only of those from whom benefits are being extracted, but also, ex hypothesi, from the community as a whole. The radical republican thesis about the nature of social domination is therefore different than the liberal ideas formalized by neo-republican thinkers. The radical republican idea of domination is one that is based not simply on interfering with your choices, although it can and often does include this, but rather ismuch richer insofar as it contains the phenomenon of extractive power that is thecapacity for one agent to derive surplus benefits from another agent. The more extrac-tive power one agent has over another, the more extractive domination it possessesover others, whether an individual, a group, or the society as a whole." (pp.394-395)

    "Machiavelli, for instance, makes it clear that the nature of the power that the wealthy (grandi) possess is that they have the capacity to essentially take what they want for their ownbenefit at the expense of other, specifically, the people as a whole (popolo). The conceptMachiavelli employs is usurpare, a word that he uses to denote a kind of power relationthat extracts benefit from one agent for the benefit of the agent employing that power. Machiavelli, for instance, notably remarks on the ways that economic inequality between different classes within society frustrate the ends of republican governmentwhich is the maintenance of the good of the community. His indictment of wealth scorrupting influence is well-known but serves as a basic entrée into the radical repub-lican framework." (p.395)

    "A radical republican vision of democratic life is one that sees human social life as essentially cooperative and inter-dependent, and that people must be able to frame laws and rules over all domains of society and make them accountable to as well as oriented toward the common benefit of society. From its roots in classical Greek thought and republican Roman thought that emphasized the idea of social and political life as ordered for common needs, theradical republican idea re-emerges in the eighteenth century in the work of Rousseau. Rousseau emphasizes the notion that the origins of inequality comes from the corrup-tion of this mutual cooperation, as soon as one man perceived that it was useful for asingle individual to have provisions for two, equality disappeared, property came intoexistence, labor became necessary.

    Inequality is not simply an interpersonal difference in wealth or skill ; it is also a cor-ruption of the cooperative powers of social life. In the Social Contract, this becomes the central concern for a new, just political association, one where each gives up hisnarrow, particular interests in order to expand his interests as a member of this inter-dependent community. The general will is therefore an expression not of some com-munal voice of the demos, but rather an expression of what is in the interest for thesociety as a whole — a society seen as an association and not an aggregation of individuals. The radical republican idea is therefore more than a one-sided emphasis on socialgoods, it is — and this is an salient idea — an emphasis on an expanded notion of theindividual as a social self, as a person who operates within a social nexus and that the flourishing of the common goods of that nexus are also goods for the particularmembers of that association." (pp.395-396)

    "Radical republicans contrast the interdependent nature of social life to the dependence of mastery and servitude. They see mere labor independence as illusory and a defective form of freedom. Rather, it is the fulfillment of our interdependence with others that they are after, and this captures the basis of Marx’s critique of capitalist society. Marx takes up these basic ideas and he uses them as struts for his broader critique of capitalist society and to construct an argument for an alternative to capitalist institutions and forms of life." (p.396)

    "Human being as social being entails the thesis that society is not only processual butalso relational. Members of the society relate to one another as socially interdependent beings, and this further means that the products of this cooperative interdependenceare also social. These ideas emerge from his critical studies of Hegel, but Hegel’s ideas were themselves attempts to philosophize the idea of a modern social republic built onthe premise of the common interest and mutual interdependence.

    But even more, members do not relate as atoms to one another and then form structures at will ; we are essentially relational beings and this means that the historical nature of any society is a function of the shapes of social relations of that society at that time. Again, in the 1844 Manuscripts Marx makes it clear that the social is a structure of relations that promotes a common life via interdependent relations of activity: social organs are constituted in the form of society ; for example, activity in direct association with others has become an organ for the manifestation of life and amode of appropriation of human life.

    The concept of the individual and the concept of society are now to be seen as dialectically sublated. This does not imply an absorption of the individual into the community, nor does it involve the Hobbesian construction of society from individual voluntarism. Marx emphasizes that society — the word he consistently uses is not community (Gemeinschaft) but Geselleschaft which means association — must be seen as possessing its own ontological properties. What this means is that Marx sees the relation between the individual and society as one of mutual cooperation and reciprocity. As he argues in the Grundrisse: The more deeply we go back into history, the more does the individual, and hence also the producing individual, appear as belonging to a greater whole.

    The greater whole to which Marx refers is not a moral whole, a moral community of common values and traditions, but rather an interdependent nexus of social relations where each members dependence on the other is reciprocal and mutual and the cooperative activities of all members with others enriches and expands the development and freedom of the individual. The problem of exploitation is therefore an extension of this theory of extractive power that Machiavelli and Rousseau examine. But it is also seen in the light of common interests and ends, from the point of view of interdependence, not independence as a theory of freedom as some have mistakenly assumed. Indeed, since societies produce with in a cooperative nexus and, assuch, are constituted by this structure of relations. The precise nature of the shape of these relations determines the ways that individuals will relate to one another and what kind of common life they will have together as well as what kind of individual life they will have for themselves.

    The thesis of human relatedness is one that is core to Marx’s broader theory about the aims of socialist society and the defects of capitalism. A crucial aspect of this argument, one that I think is the essential thesis that grounds Marx’s critical theory of capitalism but also his implicit normative basis for a socialist society, is that private control over what is essentially social constitutes a defect in our own sociality. And this defect in our sociality is one that is also a defect in our own personhood — our social relations actively and ontologically constitute us." (pp.398-399)

    "This "fully constituted society" is therefore one where the relations between individuals become oriented toward the mutual benefit of all. The enrichment of the common purposes of the community now becomes the basis for the individual’s life as well but only because now the cultural development of the person is seen by each as functionally dependent on the flourishing of that common wealth. Marx makes this more explicit as a historical process in the Grundrisse :

    Relations of personal dependence (entirely spontaneous at the outset) are the first social forms, in which human productive capacity develops only to a slight extentand at isolated points. Personal independence founded on objective [sachlicher] dependence is the second great form, in which a system of general social metabolism, of universal relations, of all-round needs and universal capacities is formed for the first time. Free individuality, based on the universal development of individuals and on their subordination of their communal, social productivity as their social wealth, is the third stage.

    Marx ’s idea of this third stage of social development is an interesting one from the point of view of the republican structure of thought. As I have been arguing here, the radical republican structure of thought is constituted by a concern with the domination of members of the community, and the power that they have over one another. But it is also concerned with the common good of that community as well. These two ideas are in fact two sides of the same conception of what a political community is: since domination of one person over another entails a distortion of the nexus of social relations that constitutes our common life together, our res publica, if you will, then it must be seen that this domination has an impact on the common purposes and ends of that society. Common good and individual good are therefore not collapsed into one but are functionally related to one other. Distorted relations of dependence —as opposed to mutual interdependence— will produce alienation at the level of the individual, but also superfluous social wealth at the level of the commons. Development of the individual in tandem with the development of social wealth (that is, the enhancement and democratization of the social product) constitutes what Marx sees as overcoming the narrow horizon of bourgeois right when after the productive forces have also increased with the all-round development of the individual, and all the springs of cooperative wealth flow more abundantly." (p.400)

    "Marx now sees that bourgeois property must be regarded as a defective expression of what human social life possesses in potentia but is not realized because of the structure of social relations that constitute it. [...] Marx’s dialectic between individual and society entails seeing the individual as deriving his own existence from the social-relational nexus of society as a whole. The crude distinction between the two is not only an analytic fiction, it is also the concrete expression of bourgeois property." (pp.400-401)

    "This is why Marx can argue that the overcoming of private property — by which he means bourgeois property or the capacity to own, to control and to subordinate social relations and social wealth toward private ends and purposes — is so essential for the development of the free society and the free individual. [...] This idea of private property as the appropriation of human life means the accumulation of the activities of individuals extracted by capitalists. To make anything requires the labor power of another that is extracted via the ownership of capital. To not be able to appropriate what is the fruit of your own laboris therefore a state of alienation." (p.401)

    "Domination therefore takes on a wider scope of meaning than in the neo-republican idea of "freedom as non-domination". Indeed, as Machiavelli had maintained, domination need not be merely inter-personal ; the grandi have the capacity to dominate the community as a whole and bend it to their will, take from it what they desire. Marx, too, sees the power that private property over collective productive resources and social wealth (that is, capital) as granting them an enlarged capacity to dominate not only the lives of workers at the individual level, but also the direction of the community as a whole. [...] The power of the capitalist extends over the inter-personal sphere of domination and into a structural mode where the shapes and forms of cooperative activity are generated and oriented by his will, his purposes. Private property over the means of production therefore constitutes a kind of corruption of the potential common bene fits that cooperative activity can perform. The republican view of capitalism that Marx expresses here is one where private, particular interests shape and control investment decisions that affect the society as a whole." (p.402)

    "Another of Marx’s central theses is that the relationship of capitalist and worker is an analogue to the relation between dominus and servus, of oppressor and oppressed. Beneath the veneer of the wage contract oreven an improved power of consumption for workers, there persists this essentialrelation of mastery and servitude:

    The Roman slave was held by chains; the wage-laborer is bound to his owner by invisible threads. The appearance of independence is maintained by a constantchange in the person of the individual employer, and by the legal fiction of a contract. [Capital, vol. 1 (New York: Vintage, 1977), p. 719]" (p.403)

    "What is central now is an idea of freedom that entails self-governing not only in a narrow political sense, but in a fully social sense. This entails a notion of freedom in which society can direct its productive forces according to the ends and needs that they as a collective decide. This is itself a form of radical republicanism: a freedom from being determined by another, a freedom from the choices of the owners of capital, of the elites, and a freedom to direct the collective powers of society toward common ends and purposes."

    "In contrast to the liberal-republican theory of freedom from domination as interference with your choices, we are now presented with a more radical understanding of republicanism: one where the freedom of any agent is functionally dependent on the structural relation of the interdependencies that constitute the society as a whole. The common good is therefore not an abstract moral ideal, buta concrete aim of the arrangement of our social relations and the aims and purposes of our common lives together." (p.408)
    -Michael J. Thompson, "The Radical Republican Structure of Marx’s Critique of Capitalist Society", Critique, 2019, Vol. 47, No. 3, 391: https://www.academia.edu/36588469/The_Radical_Republican_Structure_of_Marxs_Critique_of_Capitalist_Society




    _________________
    « La question n’est pas de constater que les gens vivent plus ou moins pauvrement, mais toujours d’une manière qui leur échappe. » -Guy Debord, Critique de la séparation (1961).

    « Rien de grand ne s’est jamais accompli dans le monde sans passion. » -Hegel, La Raison dans l'Histoire.

    « Mais parfois le plus clair regard aime aussi l’ombre. » -Friedrich Hölderlin, "Pain et Vin".


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