david teh on 17 Sep 2000 23:27:00 -0000

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Re: <nettime> draft article on WTO

Quoting Craig Brozefsky <craig@red-bean.com>:

> Nothing can be done "all at once", especially since 
it is not just corporations that would need to be 
removed, but the system which exploits the worker to 
extract profit from the surplus value the laborers 
produce, capitalist appropriation of social production.
> Global production is already socialized, so there is 
no need to re-socialize it.
> I can understand how one would expect mayhem if 
corporations, which presently manage the socialized 
production process, were to vanish. However, there is 
nothing in the corporation itself which has a monopoly 
on the ability to manage these processes.  

don't want to be a pedant, but your language is 
revealing: i, like you, don't believe there is any 
universal law that says we NEED corporations to manage 
these processes.  but au contraire, corporations in the 
so-called global economy DO have a monopoly on them, 
especially if you're willing to grant that 'government' 
in the west has become largely subordinated to the will 
of corporations.

Removing the present management of these production 
process without a suitable replacement would indeed be 

> >  . . . enough for us to talk about its total 
removal with a straight face.
> Why not?  I am presently reliant upon alot of things 
which I can imagine doing away with, so what is it 
about corporations that makes them a permenant 
fixture?  They are relatively new legal entities. What 
is it in a corporation that other organizations cannot 

this is a very difficult thing to answer, but i think 
it deserves the attention of today's 
thinking/activist/academic/intellectual types. off the 
top of my head, i would say that the thing they offer 
that other org's can't is precisely what we (activists) 
presume we need to do away with: profit. 

i'm not necessarily saying that the profit motive is a 
good attribute for any soci0-economic apparatus to 
have - BUT, once we acknowledge that the corporation 
has a limited history, the next chapter back might be 
on its motive - profit itself, which has a considerably 
longer history.  uprooting this will prove doubly 
difficult, some would say nigh-on impossible, others 
(tho not me) would say offensive to the notion of human 

despite sharing your conviction - that we have taken a 
bogus path by letting this motive trump all others in 
our private and communal lives - i can't confidently 
say that it (profit) is an alien virtue implanted in 
society by past accumulation-of-capital / alienation of 
labour / perversion of incidental power. i think that 
is one of the things marxism failed to prove. 

i think we have to be realistic or pragmatic about what 
we expect from revolution or reform. what we do with 
surplus CAN be altered to make for a better 
distribution of our resources. "profit" is just one of 
the guises in which surplus appears (perhaps the one 
that is least human-friendly). but not only can i not 
conceive of a world without profit (and perhaps that's 
my Big Problem), but i'm not sure i find it a plausible 
prospect at all. the profit motive is just too deeply 
embedded in our consciousness, our social structures, 
our language, our libido, etc -  there's no way forward 
if you try to disqualify it. why not figure out how 
better to employ it and its 'fruits'?

after all, is it not likely that if accumulation was 
banished, destruction of surplus (by expenditure, 
conspicuous or otherwise) would figure alongside re-
distribution as an option? 

further, i'm not prepared to accept that all the great 
feats of modern 'progress' (however nastily debunked 
they may be by the hip euro-left) would've occurred 
without some (perhaps collateral) impetus from profit-
driven enterprise.  obviously free enterprise is a very 
sharp double edged sword, but it would be naive to 
think of the spread of major technologies (however 
unequally OWNED they may still be) - such as 
telecommunications, combustion engines - to places like 
africa and asia, as things that would've just cropped 
up in those places eventually. colonialism, that great 
bastard child of western history, fallen angel 
excommunicado and universally disavowed, had some 
positive effects for lots of different peoples, as well 
as its better-documented disastrous ones. 

> This is not a philosophical argument.  If it was a 
philosophical argument than perhaps we could talk about 
capital as a permenant fixture, because it's only in 
philosophy that it is. 
i don't get this . . .

You tell me that I should be political and except a 
purely ideological notion that capital is permanant, 
why is that?  
a) i'm not saying capital is 'permanent'; b) but even 
if i was, how would that be any more ideological than 
saying it isn't?  all sounds like dogmatic dialectical 
bullshit to me. are these a system of necessary polar 
opposites of which one must be true and the other a 
false consciousness? come on.  is it any 
less "ideological" to say that labour is the neglected 
origin of capital?

The last two decades seem to have been about forgetting 
the origin of capital, the contigencies of it's 
existence, and it's dynamism thru history.
> > hey, i'm no apologist for bourgeois rights 
discourses - i spend much of
> my
> > academic energy undermining them.
> Is not academic discourse itself a bourgeois 
no, not entirely. for many it no doubt still is, and 
for many of these it is nonetheless rewarding and 
useful.  but i tend to think of academic discourse as a 
way of learning, and a mode of 'work', one that offers 
a peculiar and unique flexibility to those willing to 
stick to their guns.  it's more a case of filtering out 
bogus and blindly inherited bourgeois 
ideas/ideals/language for me, i think.  and i'd add 
that education has a pre-bourgeois past.  perhaps you'd 
say proto-bourgeois, tho, i don't know....


david teh


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