Contra Anonymous Marxian’s Absurd “Response”

I want to thank my good friend Gabe for alerting me of this 29 minutes ago… sorry it took more than 5 minutes to write.

When we talk about Marxism in the context Bataille was writing of, it should be very clear he is in no way solely talking about the economic analysis of the system of capitalism Marx put forward over his many years. What Bataille is necessarily putting forward is a critique of politics that predicate themselves off Marxian political-economic analysis. In other words, the advocating for the sublation of the present state of things, SOMETHING MARX CALLS FOR, is a call to action. What anonymous marxian is doing here is abstracting Marxism from its political history and isolating it. Ridiculously reductionist. Marx himself called for material action, how can one deny this (guess the Theses were never written, nor was Free Trade?

The next argument is pitifully absurd. The coding of flows of people (workers, immigrants, etc.) is not a coding that is sometimes stratifying but always stratifying. This is to say, whether man employs himself to sell his labor does not matter, for what Bataille means by thing is not fully elaborated in the one quote where he does a quick equivocation between products, commodities, and things. Things are ontological. They are objects that have been “coded” by the socius (the social; abstract your mind from but also dive into a Deleuzo-Guattarian understanding of what I’m saying [i.e., take this however you want, I’m saying both]) to be useful. This is why sacrifice is not the destruction of an object, but of its relations of utility. In this way, it is because individuals are coded as useful, whether or not they are being employed does not matter. On a more phenomenological level, anything is a thing for Bataille if it exists as a subject or object (see Eroticism for more detail on this). Again, this anonymous Marxian, whoever they are, loves being reductionist and not actually going through Bataille’s theories (surprise).

“This next part may seem illogical,” anonymous marxian says… oh… it sure is.

Bataille’s critique of Marx is not in any way necessarily founded on an understanding of Marx’s social ontology… Nowhere does he explicitly bring up Marx’s social ontology and its essential contents anonymous marxian lines out. Next he brings up how services are not commodities and thus post-industrial “capitalism” (what we supposedly have now according to anonymous marxian) doesn’t affirm Marx’s social ontology. But, and I’m going to quote my friend Jack here, “a commodity can also be a service.” Jack further explains: “Marx says this in the Outlines of the Critique of Political Economy contained in the Collected Works of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels: Volume 28 (International Publishers: New York, 1986) p. 81 when referring to commodities.” Here is what Marx says, “When a product (or activity) becomes exchange-value, it is not only transformed into a particular quantitative ratio, a numerical ratio-namely into a number which expresses what quantity other commodities is equivalent to it…”

Jack continues, “An activity cannot have a weight to it, but it can only be produced by another activity; such an activity being labor. Marx explains this in ch.3 p. 12 of Wage Labor and Capital.” Here is what Marx says there:

But within the limits of these fluctuations the price of labour-power will be determined by the cost of production, by the labour-time necessary for production of this commodity: labour-power. What, then, is the cost of production of labour-power? It is the cost required for the maintenance of the labourer as a labourer, and for his education and training as a labourer. Therefore, the shorter the time required for training up to a particular sort of work, the smaller is the cost of production of the worker, the lower is the price of his labour-power, his wages. In those branches of industry in which hardly any period of apprenticeship is necessary and the mere bodily existence of the worker is sufficient, the cost of his production is limited almost exclusively to the commodities necessary for keeping him in working condition.

Jack finishes, “therefore … a commodity can be a service.” Labor can be a service… and a commodity… surprise!

Lastly, anonymous marxian says, “Another reason man is not a commodity is because ‘a commodity is any object outside of us,’” man is not outside of himself.

In response to this, two things:

  1. You are assuming a theory of the subject.
  2. Did you forget the theory of alienation…



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Evan Jack

How sweet terror is, not a single line, or a ray of morning sunlight fails to contain the sweetness of anguish. - Georges Bataille