Theorizing Deliverance from the Labor- and Commodity-Centered Society

Tuesday, 01 July 2008 12:18 By Andr Gorz, Mouvements | name.

Theorizing Deliverance from the Labor- and Commodity-Centered Society
Born Gerhard Hirsch in Vienna to a Jewish father and a Catholic mother, French philosopher AndrÃ

Editor's note: After spending a literal month of Sundays with this text by André Gorz, I have been haunted by his prescience, inhabited by his ideas and charmed by his engaged humanism. Those unfamiliar with the life and thinking of this committed journalist and philosopher will find an excellent précis of his life and work in Chris Turner's obituary for The Guardian and excerpts from the deeply moving "Letter to D. A Love Story" he wrote to his wife Dorine before their joint suicide in 2007 at the "TimesonLine." ljt.

IDEA FACTORY - Philosopher André Gorz returns, in one of the last texts to appear before his death, to the dynamic of financial capitalism and the reasons why we may see guaranteed social income as an opportunity to exit capitalism.

    Is the universal allocation of a guaranteed social income (RSG [in French]) compatible with capitalism? If so, is the RSG objective to consolidate capitalist society, even save it? If not, can it undermine the bases of this society or smooth the transition from an economic system based on commercial value towards a fundamentally different system? I continue to encounter these questions since the end of the 1970s. I was convinced from the outset that the global system based on commodity production could not perpetuate itself indefinitely. Since the end of Fordism and the beginning of the information revolution, the system has been working with growing effectiveness towards the destruction of the foundations of its survival. "Les Chemins du Paradis" ["The Roads to Paradise," a 1983 work by Gorz] - a paradise in which, according to Leontief's prediction, people were going to die of hunger because commodity production will employ hardly any workers and will distribute hardly any more capital - was already subtitled, "The Agony of Capital" [1].

    My point of departure was actually the fact that the microelectronic revolution allows production of growing quantities of commodities with decreasing volume of work, in such a way that sooner or later the system will have to run up against its internal limits [2]. This capitalism that automates itself to death will have to look for a way to survive itself through distribution of purchasing power that does not correspond to the value of a job. Unconditionally distributed purchasing power will, however, not be able to take the normal form of money. It will not be able to be a transfer payment, deducted from taxes on consumption and primary incomes. It is effectively impossible to increase fiscal deductions on consumption and income when production, even though growing in volume, distributes less and less money to fewer and fewer people. Consequently the RSG will have to come in the form of a different currency, of a "consumption currency," as Jacques Duboin called it. He proposed that all commercial production be automatically accompanied by the issuance of its "monetary equivalent," that is, the quantity of consumption currency allowing the purchase of the merchandise produced. The currency issued in this manner could only be used one time: it would be revoked as each purchase was made.

    One immediately sees the problem: how does one establish the monetary equivalent of a product at the moment of its production, especially when this automated, computerized production requires very little labor? Its exchange value, its price, cannot be determined by the market, since the consumption currency must be issued just before or at the moment of the commodity's presentation on the market. So that the quantity of currency issued correspond to the sale price, it is necessary that prices be fixed ex ante, by a "citizen contract" between consumers, entrepreneurs and the government [3]. In other words, it is necessary that prices be political prices and that the system of prices be the reflection of a political choice, of a social choice concerning the model of consumption and the priorities that the society means to endow itself with.

    Stillborn Capitalism

    I shall not range over all the difficulties this model presents in a post-Fordist economy where the big factors of production have exploded, externalized in hundreds of subcontracting companies of the primary, secondary ... even fifth level, calling on microenterprises of hundreds of "self-entrepreneurs," individuals often working in a network. The distributivist model undoubtedly has the great merit of breaking with the market, of bringing to the forefront the anachronistic character of the value form, that is to say, the money form, the merchandise form, consequently the form of capitalism; but it conserves all its appearances and, above all, the principal foundation: the capitalist division of labor, the division between consumers and producers, the social relations: sellers and buyers. This is a form of "stillborn capitalism," the objective of which cannot be the valorisation* of capital, but, which, by formally preserving the commodity form of wealth produced and the need for money to access it, preserves an essential aspect of capitalist relationships of domination.

    Those relationships remain to the extent that the allocation of an individual income is an obstacle to the development of cooperative networks of autoproduction, to the appropriation by self-organized collectives of means of production removed from capitalist division of labor and utilizable to satisfy a growing share of everyone's needs and desires. The idea that, after its extinction, capital must be able to preserve its system of domination by maintaining goods in their commodity form and their availability in the form of sales; that idea has been making its way underground for decades. It considers the consumption of merchandise as labor that deserves to be remunerated, since it maintains the "mercantile order," an order in which individuals produce themselves to be as the dominant powers want them to be. "[In that order] the merchandise buys its consumers so that, through the activity of consumption, they make themselves what society needs them to be [4]."

    The means on which capitalism has based its domination - money, the market, the salarial relationship, the social division of labor - survive it like empty forms. It's no longer the enhancement of value, but rather the power to dominate that becomes the objective of production.

    Tobin Tax

    A Delphi organized in San Francisco in 1995 by the Gorbachev Foundation, showed how much the great decision-makers worry about assuring their control over the "working masses" through consumption. The assembly of the five hundred globally-most-famous people in politics and business proposed to "show the way towards a new civilization." Their point of departure was the following projection: 20 percent of the potentially active population should suffice "to produce all the goods and all the high-value-added services that globalized society will have the means to indulge in." The "superfluous" 80 percent "can be kept quiet if they can eat enough to satisfy their hunger and stultify themselves with entertainments." [5]. For their consumption of food and entertainment, a sort of "basic income" could be assured for them. Moreover, a "modest remuneration" could incite them to "offer voluntary non-profit services" or to "participate in sports activities." On the subject of these social incomes, the assembly limited itself to indicating that "the pressure of global competition will prohibit the expectation that company heads should participate in the financing of social measures."

    One may interpret the proposal of a Tobin tax striking foreign exchange market transactions and - why not? - speculative transactions in general, as an attempt to bend the refusal by "company heads" to allow their profits to be taxed. But what holds for fiscal deductions holds also for the Tobin tax: they will not durably bring in the anticipated financial resources unless they do not restrain speculative transactions on financial markets; or, more precisely, unless the contraction of the global volume of profits realized from the production of goods continues to be offset by the gigantic speculative revenues that the financial industry draws from market operations, most particularly from the engorgement of ever-more-enormous financial bubbles that allow real money to be borrowed against Himalayan mountains of fictitious capital and even against mortgages and other debt instruments.

    The Financial Industry

    For the last fifteen years, the financial industry has become a major component of global capitalism, indispensable to its operation. The ideologues of the left who profess to see it as a parasitic activity, phagocytozing the real economy, are ignorant of the reality of the facts. Since the beginning of the 1980s, financial transactions have yielded more money, overall, than capital invested in the production of goods, whether material or non-material; the purchase and sale of fictive capital on the stock markets and exchanges yields more than the productive development of real capital. More than half the profits realized by the great American firms come from financial operations. The 500 firms of the Standard and Poor's Index own $643 billion of liquidity that find profitable employment only in the financial industry. This apparent prosperity of the great firms does not in any way contradict the contraction of the overall mass of profits that productive capital yields. It only means that a minority of firms, thanks to their dominant position, phagocytoze the value produced by the totality of companies, notably through the use of sub-contractors, through reciprocal accords, and through monopoly rents.

    The consulting firm McKinsey has estimated the total of excess capital looking for profitable placement at 80,000 billion dollars. Only the financial industry, by ever more ingenious and risky artifices, allows that capital to find those placements. The gains that it procures are undoubtedly fictive and virtual money, but the banking system allows them to be recycled and to retroact on the real economy. The fictive money can serve as a gauge and a basis for obtaining loans financed in the last resort thanks to the central bank's issuance of real money.

    Thus, the engorgement of speculative bubbles transforms itself into a machine of monetary creation. So the neo-Keynesians suggest that the solution to the problems of financing could consist in the taxation of the real revenues that the financial industry succeeds in drawing from the fictitious growth of fictive capital. Why, they ask, should this fictive increase allow the issuance of real money solely for the holders of fictitious capital? Why not resort to the monetary creation ex-nihilo to which the financial industry, in a disguised manner, in fact, resorts, to create purchasing power for social ends and to finance infrastructure, research, and the production of "human capital?" "(Isn't) the distinction between the real economy and the engorgement of speculative bubbles obsolete when the recycling of fictitious capital gains engenders the production of real goods without a real basis in salary incomes and ordinary profits?" Undoubtedly. Only one has to wonder how long the purchasing power that came from the speculative bubble and "without any basis in the real economy, will be able to give rise to the production of commodities and to employment under a capitalist form of factors of production, labor forces, raw materials, etc. that capitalism is incapable of using according to its own criteria," that is, in a profitable way, in a way that replicates and grows capital. (Here I summarize the analyses of Robert Kurz [6])

    The Crisis

    The whole speculative bubble inevitably ends up bursting by threatening the banking system with failure and the real economy with series of bankruptcies - unless an even bigger bubble can be blown up in time. The stock market bubble of the 1990s was relayed in time by the enormous Internet bubble, and after the bursting of that one in 2000, by the real estate bubble - "the biggest speculative bubble of all time," according to The Economist - which increased "the value" of real estate in developed countries by 20,000 to 80,000 billion dollars. The real estate bubble is barely beginning to deflate and already a new stock market bubble bigger than the last one is inflating. How long can capitalism feed itself on bubbles? The necessity in which it finds itself of reverting to this type of expedient reveals its growing inability to replicate. The crisis of the fundamental categories of political economy ("labor," "value," "surplus value," "capital") is a symptom of this crisis. An unconditional base income founded on monetary creation ex nihilo would not offer a way out of this crisis [7]. It would demand an economic system of the Soviet type, based on planning of production and consumption in physical quantities and on a political system and political control over prices.

    I'm not suggesting the conclusion that we must give up demanding an RSG. It is possible that - following a serious social crisis - demand be at least partially and temporarily satisfied. But that success, apart from its immediate utility in everyday life, will only take on its full meaning if it brings to light the fact that each person's right to life cannot and must not any longer depend on the sale of oneself as a member of the labor force and that the general pauperization that has accompanied unprecedented gains in productivity over the last twenty years is due solely to capitalism's inability to take advantage of the new productive forces without making wealth creation go through the needle's eye of capital valorisation, through the eye of value.

    Launching the Break

    The RSG must be understood as an opportunity and as a means of opening paths for deliverance from a society of labor and commodity, as the means to develop those practices that remove sectors of production and consumption from the extrinsic determinations that the value form imposes on them and that "make people sense that materially as well as psychically, human existence can be assured by means other that that of monetary assessment." [8]

    It is consequently not a question of pursuing the illusory goal of a reorganization of capitalism that, by its dynamic, will occasion its transformation, or even its extinction through the demand for an RSG. On the contrary, it's about conceiving of this demand as a way of confronting capitalism there where it believes itself invulnerable, but is, in reality, becoming vulnerable: on the level of production.

    Michel Opielka formulated the necessity of such a confrontation the most incisively in 1986: "The RSG," he wrote, "will remain captive to capitalist logic" unless it is connected "to people's right to control the disposition of their own factors of production;" unless it eliminates their dependence vis-à-vis an employer, vis-à-vis the social relationships of an industrialist system and vis-à-vis government providence. The RSG must open the way to an appropriation of labor [9]. Which - I shall come back to this - supposes that the means of work are no longer means to domination and cease spreading that domination over the whole social field by the social division of labor they impose.

    In short, the RSG remains immanent to capitalism, but we must nonetheless demand it in a perspective that transcends the system. Robert Kurz reflects on these questions as follows: "The struggle for the gratifications that remain within the limits of the system: for salary, for welfare benefits and against dismantling the welfare state in the name of competitiveness ... remains an essential moment for the movement of emancipation. But unlike what was still the case in the traditional movement, it's no longer possible to move without a break in continuity from demands from inside the system to demands that (supposedly) transcend it. The content of a struggle for emancipation can be only categorical criticism of the modern system of commodities production's forms of social cohesion.... The historic objective may no longer be the regulation of the system by a national workers' government, but a global society beyond abstract labor and money, beyond the market and the State. [...] The required task is a categorical break, that is, the passage from a struggle for conditions of life on these bases to a struggle for their suppression. We must be able to bear the tension between these two moments [10].

    Human Capital

    This tension is the strongest, the most unbearable, there where professional practice already bears within itself the possibility and the demand for this categorical break, but is at the same time constrained to make a practice located beyond relations of value pass through the needle's eye of valorisation; where, in other words, we are forced to "promote" ourselves, that is to commoditize and sell ourselves to live, even though our activity brings us to oppose the constraints of self-promotion experienced as a mutilation. I am thinking here, as you may imagine, of the personal involvement the so-called "knowledge society" demands from workers in the immaterial realm, notably from those who know by experience that knowledge has no measurable monetary value, that its vocation is to be universally accessible and shared, that free software for which that is the case, is more useful and enriching for everyone because it responds to the principle of the continuous sharing of each person's discovery and opens an anti-economy of gratuity and gift in which the flowering of everyone's ability is both the objective and the result of productive cooperation.

    At first sight, there's no obvious connection between the "knowledge economy" and the demand for an RSG. Yet, during the 1990s, the opinion - which I came to share - spread that this demand has particularly solid justifications as soon as the different forms of knowledge and wisdom - including ordinary day-to-day culture, linguistic and communications - competencies become a decisive productive force; and when productivity and its growth depend on "general intellect," the development of which demands more time than the immediately productive labor that alone is remunerated: I maintained that "the universal benefit is the best adapted to a development that makes 'the general level of knowledge the main productive force [11]' and reduces the immediate work time to very little compared to the time that the production, reproduction, and enlarged reproduction of the labor force's constitutive abilities and competencies demand in the so-called immaterial economy. For every hour, or week, or year of immediate labor, how many weeks or years are required at the level of society for initial training, ongoing training, the training of trainers, etc.? And then training itself is a small thing compared to the activities and conditions on which the development of the integration, analytical, synthetic and imaginative capabilities that are an integral part of the post-Fordist workforce depend [12]." An unconditional RSG should, I thought, make possible the unlimited development of individuals - not remunerate it, as Antonio Negri's adherents demand - and so prevent its economic exploitation and subsumption.

    This demand seemed justified to me in that "individuals' full development" not only creates wealth but "is wealth once wealth has been stripped of its limited bourgeois form" [13]. Marx, for whom "free time" was an index of wealth, since it was time "for leisure and superior activities" could not predict that "free time" would be colonized by leisure industries and that the productivist frenzy would find its corollary in consumption frenzy, including consumption of commodified leisure. But it hardly matters. What's important is that the time individuals spend "working" on their "full development" is not work time for the simple reason that "self-development work" is not work in the economic sense: it does not produce "value" in the economic sense, that it does not produce anything salable, nothing that is designed to be exchanged for something else. Full self-development and wholly developed individuals are not commodities. However, to the extent that the development of their abilities increases individuals' productivity as workers, the time they are allowed for their development "may be considered from the perspective of the immediate production process as fixed capital production, the fixed capital 'being being man himself'" [14]. In other words, everything happens as though the reduction of work time were an investment in the formation of fixed human capital.

    The Appropriation of Labor

    Consequently, it is not at all absurd to desire payment for time freed of work (or, in other words a reduction of work time with no loss of salary), but payment is not the same thing as remuneration. The latter would mean that individuals remain in the service of capital, that capital has the right to control and determine how their time outside of work is used, to appropriate that time by demanding that it be made profitable for businesses. The unconditional payment for freed time, on the contrary, means that individuals' increased productivity is the by-product, the indirect consequence of their free development of their increased autonomy; and that this time should in principle be able to be subtracted from capital's stranglehold, be able to be appropriated by individuals to become the time in which they perform an activity that is their own, create their own work processes and produce according to their own needs and desires [15]. Payment in this case may become the means that allows the conditions to be created in which wealth production emancipates itself from valorisation, makes the "development of all human powers its absolute objective" and places production in the service of individuals' fulfillment instead of putting individuals in the service of production.

    According to Jean-Marie Vincent's formula, we have to free ourselves from production and not only in production. The obliteration of valorisation and the obliteration of work are a single and same thing. Such are the perspectives that may be gained from a rereading of "Grundrisse." Antonio Negri was one of the first to read them in this sense [16]. But it's not certain that he and his allies follow that path. They believe that, by virtue of the fact they produce fixed human capital, the "extra-work" activities through which individuals develop their abilities are value-creating capital-productive labors. Man himself, his life, the totality of his abilities are fixed capital and his entire lifetime may be considered a time of fixed-capital-producing labor which is freely made available to society and to the businesses that harness and valorize it in the production process. The "labor" of development, of self-production that individuals accomplish during their supposedly free time is, in fact, unpaid overtime and this overtime has become the conclusive source of goodwill. It gives the right to remuneration.

    This interpretation raises questions that will lead us back to the heart of the problem. First of all, the "work" of human development is absolutely value-creating to the extent that the abilities it bestows on individuals make them operational and productive in a specific business, consequently similar to the means of production companies buy, similar from the production perspective, to machines. That's the narrow, primary conception of human fixed capital, trained for and by businesses for their specific needs. That form of human capital is no longer dominant. In the dominant form, what is essential is autonomy, polyvalence, thus a totality of abilities that exceed businesses' immediate needs. The development of those abilities consequently neither may nor should result from the proficiency of specific businesses. To the extent it is indispensable for a so-called knowledge economy, it is - on the same score as the educational system - infrastructure, etc. in the general interest and must be the object of public financing. It belongs to the system's "incidental operating expenses." Capitalism seeks to divest itself of the incidental operating expenses in question by assigning them as far as possible to individuals, who, commanded to finance the self-development of their own polyvalence and their own autonomy themselves find themselves caught between two contradictory imperatives: they must be worth more than a human machine, but it's precisely as such, as more than simple human commodities, that they have to be able to sell themselves.

    We can use this contradiction as a support for an exit strategy from capitalism. Human fixed capital is not - like ordinary fixed capital - "objectified" dead labor, served or carried out by living labor. It is, on the contrary, of the same nature as living labor. The result of the activity and the experience peculiar to a social individual, human fixed capital not only belongs to that individual; it is that individual himself, the fruit of his ability to produce himself. It flows from there that no more than developed individuals needed a capitalist business to produce themselves, do they need a capitalist business to put "their capital," that is, their abilities, to work productively. They may, in principle, emancipate themselves from capital, withdraw from capitalism to themselves produce material and immaterial goods for their own communal use by withdrawing them from their valorisation, that is their money form, their commoditized form. This possibility of deduction and consequently of appropriation of labor - which is also rejection and abolition of work - opens a breach in the system by which, in principle, a deliverance from the society of work and commodities may be set in motion - a deliverance that free software notably prefigures.

    Autovalorisation?

    All this has been more or less explicitly said by Yann Moulier-Boutang, specifically in the review Multitudes. But the notion of autovalorisation, in my opinion, opposes a significant obstacle to the perspective of an eventual exit from an economy based on valorisation. The term "value" normally means "to confer a monetary value," a commercial value. The "process of valorisation" designates the use of capital - specifically money capital - to make money and consequently make the value of the capital grow. Consequently, autovalorisation normally understood means the various ways of conferring a monetary value on oneself or treating oneself as capital that one would undertake to increase. That, moreover, is the way American neo-liberalism understands it. "The person is a company," Pierre Lévy concludes [17]. Now it is obviously impossible to ascribe a value to the capital that one is without putting it to work producing commodities, or - which amounts to the same thing - producing services that can be sold, and sold with a profit to the extent they contain a surplus value as the fruit of surplus work. Autovalorisation in the proper sense of valorizing oneself oneself is consequently an impossibility; for no one may have an exchange value for himself; no one can convert his capacities, abilities, etc. into money without renting or selling them in the form of services-commodities to solvent clients; no one can pay himself.

    Autovalorisation is nothing other than the sale of oneself, the commoditization of oneself, the self-alienation and self-exploitation described in the abundant literature, largely German and American, that reprises the theme of the "company of the self," of the "Ich, AG," of the "I, Inc.," etc., of what I have called the self-entrepreneur. Human fixed capital cannot exist outside the world of commodities in which its owner inserts himself as the producer of a commodity that is himself. One may obviously give " autovalorisation" and "value" a different meaning than that of these terms in political economy: the meaning of "deciding for ourselves the nature of value and of values and their forms." It's that meaning that was current in Italy, notably with Negri. But then we must specify that we are leaving economic terrain and placing ourselves on anti-economic terrain, instead of sliding from one meaning to the other and fostering a confusion conducive to verbal solutions. In the absence of this clarification, "cognitive capitalism" remains inside the limits of a pursuit of the valorisation of value.

    High Tech Autoproduction

    We'll never get beyond these limits either in practice or in theory as long as we situate ourselves on the terrain of commodity production, buying and selling relationships, as long as we confuse wealth production with value production, as long as the same people are divided against themselves as consumers and as producers, as buyers of commodities and sellers of labor, as long as the former do not see the possibility and don't have a vital interest in progressively withdrawing their consumption and their labor from the commodities form, from the value form; of withdrawing themselves from capitalism to take power over the determination of their needs and their life. Reconstituting the unity of consumers and producers today responds to the vital interest and a vital need of Northern as well as Southern populations. "To a vital need" to the extent that they cannot satisfy their basic needs by the purchase of commodities on the market. "To a vital interest" to the extent that a growing range of desirable and necessary products cease to be produced because their production is insufficiently profitable for capital or - which amounts to the same thing - because the need for these products, however urgent it may be, does not correspond to adequate purchasing power within the population. Autoproduction outside of the market, i.e. the unification of the subject of consumption and the subject of production, alone offers a way out to escape this determination by capital of the contents of our needs and the mode of their satisfaction.

    We must not conceive of this reunification at the individual and private level only, as Alvin Toffler did with respect to "prosumers," who cover a growing part of their needs with "do it yourself" [18]. Prosumption (a contraction of production and consumption) may actually spread to entire populations, be coordinated at a planetary level by the interconnection of communal high-tech autoproduction workshops, self-organized into networks of cooperation, mutual assistance, permanent diffusion of innovations and ideas. The totality of products necessary to an "attractive life" may, according to Frithjof Bergmann (who counts thirty-eight of these products) be made locally in neighborhood workshops or mobile workshops with a broadly inferior expenditure of labor and very superior productivity to those of industrial production. And that doesn't even take into account the economies that disintermediation, relocalization, and the extreme simplification of management lead to [19]. The main productive force put to work in high-tech autoproduction is universally available, freely accessible, and hard-wearing: it's human inventiveness continually made available to all in the form of free software.

    Capitalist companies' underutilization of computers' productive potential has been frequently noted by computer specialists. The range of manufactures computers' peripheral equipment could achieve unceasingly continues to lengthen. A new giant step has been passed with the development of "fabbers" or "digital fabricators," which, transportable in a station wagon or little truck, can manufacture any three dimensional object in a minimal amount of time, at minimal cost.

    In an article published in Open Source Jahrbuch 2005, Stefen Merten and Stefan Meretz, cofounders of Oekonux, describe the fabber as a machine that neither predetermines nor limits the ends to which it may be used; a machine that - unlike robots - does not limit itself to automating and copying a defined labor process. Any process can be programmed into the same machine which prefigures a society in which "human energy and creativity are no longer required except to produce informational goods" which will put the manufacturing process into motion. Fabbers "abolish all limitation on the flowering of human faculties" [20].

    F. Bergmann presents the distribution of fabbers and of "hightech self-provision" as a declaration of war against multinationals, as "the birth of an entirely new economy in which we step by step advance towards the manufacturing of our own products: our own refrigerators, televisions, cell phones and laptops. Instead of enticing big companies to establish themselves in our town or our region, we tell them: 'We don't need you! Everyone knows you destroy more jobs than you create. We're going to manufacture our own products in our neighborhood workshops. You won't be able to blackmail us any more by threatening to relocate to Brazil.'" [21]

    In reality, the development of autonomous sectors of non-commercial auto-production may, as F. Bergmann suggests, take the form of a peaceful promenade, advancing "step by step." It should be carried along by a transnational social movement, coordinating its strategic priorities and giving itself the objective of abolishing commoditized labor and of emancipating wealth production from value relations. By simplifying the problem, F. Bergmann seems most anxious to refute conservative objections according to which, auto-production, by reducing the amount of monetary income the population will need, will allow companies to reduce salaries and make employment outrageously unstable. F. Bergmann is right to support the opposite hypothesis: the less we need to earn money, the less inclined we will be to accept poorly paid and degrading jobs. To the extent that the development of sectors outside the relations of capital shows and heralds by its dynamic that another life is possible beyond capitalism, the struggle against capitalism may harden, radicalize itself, abandon all restraint without fear of putting the economy in danger. F. Bergmann's "We don't need you!" thrown in the face of a globalized management resonates like a cry of liberation: the liberation of fighting spirit, of imagination, of desire.

    Notes:

    [1] André GORZ, "Les chemins du paradis," Galilée, 1983.

    [2] Ibid., p. 70 sq.

    [3] See the details in M.-L. DUBOIN, "Pour qui pousse le blé," ["for Whom the Wheat Grows"] René Passet's preface, about to appear.

    [4] A. GORZ, "Les chemins du paradis," op. cit., p. 83.

    [5] H. P. Martin, H. Schumann, "Die Globalisierungfalle," Rowohlt, 1996.

    [6] R. Kurz, "Das Weltkapital," Tiamat, pp. 232-240.

    [7] On the crisis of categories in political economy, see Antonella Corsani in C. Azais, A. Corsani, P. Dieuaide (dir.), "Vers un capitalisme cognitif," L'Harmattan, 2001, p. 182 sq. and Carlo Vercelone (dir.) "Sommes-nous sortis du capitalisme industriel?," La Dispute, 2003, p. 75.

    [8] S. Meretz, correspondence.

    [9] M. Opielka, G. Stalb, "Das garantierte Grundeinkommen ist unabdingbar, aber es genügt nicht" in "Das garantierte Grundeinkommen," Fischer, 1986.

    [10] R. Kurz, "Das Weltkapital," op. cit., p. 471-472

    [11] K. Marx, "Grundrisse," ["Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy"] p. 594 in the facsimile of the original edition, Dietz, Berlin, 1953.

    [12] A. Gorz, "Misëres du présent, richesse du possible, Galilée," ["Destitutions of the Present, Wealth of the Possible"] 1997, p. 144.

    [13] K. Marx, "Grundrisse," op. cit., p. 387.

    [14] Ibid. p.387.

    [15] Ibid. p. 596.

    [16] See A. Negri, "Marx au-delà de Marx," ["Marx Beyond Marx"] Christian Bourgeois, 1979, especially Lessons 7 and 8. The appropriation of (over)work and the necessity of disengaging wealth from its value form are at the center of Moishe Postone's magisterial work, "Time, Labor and Social Domination, a reinterpretation of Marx's Critical Theory," Cambridge University Press, 1996. See notably p. 28 and p. 363 the commentary on a passage from Grundriss, p. 596 which I refer to here.

    [17] P. Levy, "World Philosophy," Odile Jacob, 2000.

    [18] A. Toffler, "The Third Wave", ["La troisième vague, Denoël, 1980']. A. Toffler foresaw that autoproduction, facilitated by the distribution of the household computer would tend to make production for the market, as well as the market itself, waste away and "dynamite our economic system at the same time our scale of values." Cooperatives and groups of cooperatives "will give an unprecedented impulsion to non-monetary exchanges."

    [19] F. Bergmann, "New Work, New Culture," presently available only in German: "Neue Arbeit, Neue Kultur," Arbor Verlag, 2004.

    [20] S. Merten and S. Meretz, "Freie Software und Freie Gesellschaft," http://www.opentheory.org.

    [21] F. Bergmann, op. cit. p. 272. On the extension of the computer's productive potential, its potential impact on the economy and the creation of local production units organized into networks, see pages 242-271. On the strategic priorities in the development of non-commoditized autoproduction networks in the heart of a commodity society, see notably N. Trenkle, "Die globale Gesamtfabrik," Krisis 15 and R. Kurz, "Antiökonomie und Antipolitik" in Krisis 19.

    *Translators' insertion: From: Wikipedia: The valorisation of capital is a concept created by Karl Marx in his critique of political economy. The German original term is "Verwertung" (specifically Kapitalverwertung) but this is difficult to translate, and often wrongly rendered as "realisation of capital", "creation of surplus-value" or "self-expansion of capital" or "increase in value." In modern translations of Marx's economic writings, the term valorisation (as in French) is preferred because it is recognized that it denotes a highly specific economic concept. It refers both to the process whereby a capital value is conferred or bestowed on something, and to the increase in the value of a capital asset.

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    Translation: Truthout French language editor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in collaboration with James Cohen of "Mouvements," where the original of this article appeared and which has provided permission for this translation.

Last modified on Monday, 21 July 2008 21:00