This is the video of a talk I gave at Utah Valley University in September. It was aimed at an audience of undergraduates, so it is very pedagogical and unfortunately a bit dry.
Text of the talk, which I did not exactly stick to, is after the break (for whatever reason the endnote links do not work).
The Social Individual: Collectivity and Individuality in Capitalism (and Marx)
Utah Valley State College
Draft for Presentation
The term “social individual” is not generally or immediately associated with Marx. It appears primarily in the Grundrisse as a new understanding of wealth and productive activity. As Marx writes:
In this transformation [the worker] is neither the direct human labour he himself performs, not the time during which he works, but rather the appropriation of his own general productive power, his understanding of nature and his mastery over it by virtue of his presence as a social body—it is in a word, the development of the social individual which appears as the great foundation-stone of production and of wealth.[i]
Although the term “social individual” is perhaps unique to this formulation, the general sentiment here is not: the general idea of the mutual constitutive nature of the individual and the collective, “an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all,” recurs throughout Marx’s writing, and if you add to it, species being, the mutually constitutive relation with nature, then we have the normative basis of Marx’s early critique. However, my intention here is not to turn this passage backwards, to Marx’s early writings, but forward, towards contemporary reflections on the problem of individuality, specifically the concept of transindividuality.
The term “transindividuality” has emerged from the work of Gilbert Simondon to describe precisely this mutual constitutive relation of individual and society, the way individuals can only be individuated in the midst of society. Individuation for Simondon is a process, a process that passes through multiple individuations, physical, psychic, and collective, in which each functions as the raw material, the preindividual conditions, of the next individuation. To briefly illustrate this, psychic individuation, the individuation that constitutes personality and subjectivity, is developed from the individuation of the species, the capacities, drives, and affects that make up humanity, everything from the capacity to language to the gestures that define our ambiguous biological inheritance. Individuation, the constitution of subjectivity and collectivity, is the process by which these capacities and potentials, these preindividual conditions, are stabilized and organized in definite habits, comportments, and idioms. Simondon’s concept offers a way out of longstanding binary in western political thought: a binary in which one either begins with the individual as an atomistic building block of society, constructing with contracts and interest, the formation of society, or, one begins with society, the totality, and understands individuals to be nothing other than its functional requirements.
It is possible to understand Marx as a transindividual thinker, and this has drawn many Marxist thinkers, such as Etienne Balibar, Paolo Virno, and Antonio Negri to the term. However, if this is the case then it is important to stress that in Marx’s thought, transindividuality, or transindividual individuation, functions not just as a social ontology, as a description of the way things are, or even as a normative standard, as an ideal in which everyone lives according to mutual assistance, but that it also functions as a critical concept, in which the process of individuation is examined. What is meant by critical can be illustrated with another passage from the Grundrisse.
Only in the eighteenth century, in 'civil society', do the various forms of social connectedness confront the individual as a mere means towards his private purposes, as external necessity. But the epoch which produces this standpoint, that of the isolated individual, is also precisely that of the hitherto most developed social (from this standpoint, general) relations. The human being is in the most literal sense a “political animal” not merely a gregarious animal, but an animal which can individuate itself only in the midst of society.
As much as marx criticizes the “robinsonades” of political economy, the idea of isolated autonomous individuals, as the basis of all of history, he does not simply oppose this idea as the true to the false, but situates it in history, as a product of history. It is not enough to simply denounce the philosophy of possessive individualism, but it must be shown how it emerges from history, how it is the product of the most developed relations.
One of Marx’s earliest texts, “On the Jewish Question,” already begins to foreground the critique of political economy as a critique of individuation. From this text onward it is possible to see this problem of transindividuality in Marx’s thought. While the text’s stated topic is the status of Jews in Prussia, it begins to lay a groundwork for a critique of civil society and the state based on their respective individuations. The connections of this early text with Hegel’s Philosophy of Right are immediately clear, both texts deal with the split between the state and civil society. However, as much Marx works from this basic distinction between civil society, understood as dominated by particular and egotistical interest, and the state, as the universal, a split between man and citizen, he changes the parameters of this problem. The parameters are changed by examining the limits of political emancipation, the extent to which the state can liberate society from the conflicts and hierarchies of civil society. Political emancipation, the emancipation of politics, of the state, from birth, rank, education, and occupation does not dispense with these divisions and hierarchies, but lets them continue to exist in a private manner; they are still the basis for exclusion, they have simply been privatized, left to society. This is in some sense a progressive step, especially compared to the feudal state, which gave official political status to such differences of birth and rank, but it has intrinsic limitations. These limitations manifest themselves not just in the partial nature of the solution, in which the state partially emancipates man, but in the split that the state manifests in collective life. As Marx writes,
Where the political state has attained its full development, man leads not only in thought, consciousness, but in reality, in life, a double existence—celestial and terrestrial. He lives in the political community, where he regards himself as a communal being, and in civil society where he acts simply as a private individual, treats other men as means, degrades himself to the role of a mere means, and becomes the plaything of alien powers. The political state, in relation to civil society, is just as spiritual as in heaven in relation to earth.[ii]
There is once again a split between particular and universal, reason and imagination, but each are constitutive of existence, or thought and life. However, Marx argues that this dual existence is not equal or harmonious. It is not, as it was with Hegel, a matter of the particular interest eventually recognizing the its limited grasp of social relations, the need for a perspective beyond that of the contingent intersections of individual self striving, but of the particular remaking the universal in its image.[iii] Marx subjects the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen of 1789” to a critical reading in which the individual of civil society, and the importance of private property, reveals itself to be the subtext underlining and undermining the ideals of the citizen. While Article Six of the declaration states: “Liberty is the power which man has to do everything which does not harm the rights of others,” Marx declares its implied content as, “…liberty as a right of man is not founded upon the relations between man and man, but rather upon the separation of man from man. It is the right of such separation. The right of the circumscribed individual, withdrawn into himself.” All of this culminates in security, which Marx argues “…is the supreme social concept of civil society, the concept of the police.” At the heart of the “Declaration” Marx finds an inversion: rather than individual life, the private life of the bourgeois citizen, functioning as a means to political life, life in common and relation with others, becomes a means to individual life. The subject of the declaration of rights is not humanity, or even the somewhat circumscribed figure of the citizen, but the property owner. As Marx writes,
The matter becomes still more incomprehensible when we observe that the political liberators reduce citizenship, the political community, to a mere means for preserving these so-called rights of man; and consequently, that the citizen is declared to be the servant of egoistic “man”…[iv]
Political liberation is thus hardly a liberation at all: all it does is create an idealized state, an image of citizens as so many beautiful souls, souls who are put to work for the particular interests of civil society.[v]
Marx contrasts this limited political emancipation with human emancipation, an emancipation that does not just declare the social difference of rank, birth, and occupation to be politically invalid, but actually overcomes those very distinctions. This requires the destruction of the abstract citizen, but more importantly when man “has recognized and organized his own powers as social powers so that he no longer separates this social power from himself as political power.”[vi] In a word, man must become “species-being” [Gattungswesen]. Species-Being here designates less a supposed essence, some definition of man as the being who makes his species his object, than a project, a project in which one directly lives one’s collective and individual powers, rather than externalize them into a state.[vii]
“On the Jewish Question” articulates the three basic components of Marx’s critical account of transindividuality. It is a critique of the bourgeois individual, the isolated subject of civil society, as is well known, but it is also a critique of the state, of the abstract universal. These are not two separate critiques for Marx, but are part and parcel of the same critique: it is because society is divided, fractured between competing and hierarchical social interests, that the state can emerge only as “illusory communal life.”[viii] It is also because of these very divisions that communal life can, at this stage, only ever be illusory, at best a kind of earthly heaven for beautiful souls, and a worse a universal which is nothing other than the cover for the interests of a particular class. Its terms are in some sense drawn from Hegel, but what it contests is precisely what Hegel takes for granted: the idea that one can pass easily from civil society, from an individuality constructed in terms of self-interested market relations, to the universality of the state, a universal which would be concrete, the recognition of the constitutive nature of social connections.[ix] The path from the particular interest in civil society to the universal of collective belonging is always broken for Marx: it can only be traversed by a transformation of the entire social order, by a revolution. This is because of the third term in this relation, the social dimension, which here, in this context, is ambiguously conceived as either civil society, or species being. In the first instance, civil society, this social dimension is one of division, a division between particular interests and an abstract and illusory universal, divided between individual and state. Overcoming this division, a division between the universal and the particular, entails transforming this social dimension, making species-being a collective and individual practice. It can only be overcome by addressing the way that it in terms of both thought and reality, the existing social order and the images and representations of that social order. As Marx’s thought develops, and the critique of the egoism of civil society becomes the critique of political economy, this attentiveness to the representation of collective life, economic and political, the way that social relations are thought as well as lived becomes central, underlying such familiar concepts as ideology and fetishism.
These terms, the critique of the reduction of social relations to individuals, and the constitution of illusory representations of collectivity continue through Marx’s thought. In the Economic Philosophical species-being, appears not as a task, as part of a genuine human liberation, but as a capacity unique to humans. Animals reproduce themselves as individuals and engage with a specific aspect of the natural world, but only humans engage with the universality of the species, It is this potential that is lost, alienated, by wage labor, by the engagement in on particular task: “Life itself appears only as a means to life.”[x] The picture that Marx paints in the Manuscripts is one in which alienation is a restriction to one specific mode of activity, to one job, and thus a loss of the universality and indeterminacy constitutive of human sociality. There is also a restriction at the level of consumption, private property does not just lead to the alienation of one’s activity into one particular activity, but also the alienation of the world into what can only be possessed. “Private property has mad us so stupid and one sided that an object is only ours once we have it.” Stupidity and one-sideness reflect the reduction of activity and the world to wage labor and private property, a reduction that underscores Marx understanding of species-being as a connection with all of mankind and all of nature. This connection can be transformed by history, as needs and potentials are redefined. The private individual, the individual with only her labor to sell and only her commodities to relate to the world, is not the zenith of freedom but the nadir of alienation, cut off from the species, from nature, and her own potential.[xi]
The critique of the isolated individual is given its most definitive, or at least most polemical formulation in the first volume of Capital. As Marx writes,
The sphere of circulation or commodity exchange, within whose boundaries the sale and purchase of labor-power goes on, is in fact a very Eden of the innate rights of man. It is the exclusive realm of Freedom, equality, and Bentham. Freedom, because both buyer and seller of a commodity, let us say of labor power, are determined by their own free will. They contract as free persons, who are equal before the law…The only force bringing them together, and putting them into relation with each other, is the selfishness, the gain and the private interest of each.
In this context it is not “civil society,” that is being critiqued, but the capitalist mode of production, or, more precisely, the sphere of circulation. It is in this sphere, the sphere of commodity exchange, where buyer and seller meet as isolated individuals that we get the free trade vulgaris’ conception of society.[xii] Where Hegel had identified civil society with one single idea and attitude towards social relations, that of isolated individuals pursuing their own social interest, Marx argues that capitalist mode of production has to be understood as divided between two different spheres, each with their corresponding idea, their corresponding individuation: there is the sphere of exchange and the hidden abode of production.
Initially, the difference between these two spheres is between a sphere of equality and a sphere of difference. In the sphere of exchange individuals confront individuals as equals, isolated and separate. In contrast to this the hidden abode of production, where capital is made and labor power is sold, is defined by a fundamental asymmetry. These asymmetries make up the bulk of Capital: the laborer must sell his labor power in order to live, there is the reserve army of the unemployed, not to mention the flexibility of capital, all of which make the selling of labor power the exception to the general equivalence of the exchange of commodities.[xiii] Marx’s passage illustrates this inequality graphically, the worker has “brought his own hide to the market and now has nothing to expect but--a hiding.”[xiv] Understood prosaically this “hiding” is the extraction of the maximum amount of labor, the maximum value, from the labor power once it is purchased. In the sphere of circulation capitalist and workers, meet as equals, as buyer and seller, but this very equality, that worker and capitalist are each entitled to the equal rights of commodity exchange, demands that they come into conflict. The capitalist, the buyer of labor power is motivated to get the most for his money, while the worker is trying to get the most for the commodity. The fundamental problem is that what the worker is selling is not a thing at all, but labor-power, time, and thus this conflict is not some kind of haggling or search for bargains in the sphere of circulation, but a conflict over labor within the hidden abode of production. “There is here therefore an antinomy, of right against right, both equally bearing the seal of the law of exchange. Between equal rights, force decides.”[xv]Force is the domain of class struggle, and all of its effects on the labor process, political, technological, and social. The transition from the sphere of circulation to the sphere of production is the transition from the domain of equality to the domain of asymmetries of force.
The difference between equality and force does not exhaust the difference between the sphere of circulation and the abode of production. They are also distinguished by their specific transindividual individuation. Marx follows Hegel in seeing civil society as the domain of individual self-interest, but increasingly introduces a historical dimension to this identification. Capitalism’s particular individuation has to understood in relation to the institutions of money, and the destruction of the practices of belonging that defined the older, pre-capitalist societies.[xvi] Money dissolves all of the old ties that would connect me to others, dissolving with it the qualities that connect individuals to individuals. As Marx argues in the Grundrisse, it is only in the modern age, in the age dominated by money, that we have anything like the isolated individual.
In the money relation, in the developed system of exchange (and this semblance seduces the democrats), the ties of personal dependence of distinction of blood, education, etc. are in fact exploded, ripped up (at least, personal ties appear as personal relations); and individual seem independent (this is an independence which is at bottom merely an illusion, and it is more correctly called indifference), free to collide with one another and to engage in exchange within this freedom; but they appear thus only for someone who abstracts from the conditions, the conditions of existence within which these individuals enter into contact (and these conditions, in turn, are independent of the individuals and, although created by society, appear as if they were natural conditions, not controllable by individuals). [xvii]
The isolated individual is a historical and not a natural condition.[xviii] Moreover, it has to be understood as social, despite all appearances to the contrary.[xix] Marx is somewhat ambiguous as to whether this a matter of a transformation of individuation itself, of new individuations no longer constrained by personal relations of dependence, or a transformation of how individuation appears, as a kind of false consciousness.[xx]This ambivalence as to the actual or imagined nature of individuality, even in its bourgeois form, relates to two fundamental problems. First, there is the problem of the specific institutions of capitalist society, the wage and the commodity, all of which relate individuals without relating individuals, bringing individuals in necessary contact with the labors and desires of others, but through objects and forms. As Marx writes of fetishism, “…the social character of men's labour appears to them as an objective character stamped upon the product of that labour.”[xxi] The mention of fetishism brings us to the second point, the ambiguity of “appearance” itself: to say that individuals appear isolated and disconnected in market relations is not necessarily to pose that this appearance is false, rather it must be judged in terms of its effects in how human beings act and interact. These two problems intersect around a certain fundamental tension: individuals of the market are and are not related, it is both an appearance of something which actual is, and a false appearance at the same time.
The individuation of the market is contrasted with the increased socialization of production. Capitalism does not just destroy the feudal relations of dependence and title, but it also destroys the isolated producer and farmer. As capitalism develops through large-scale industry and the division of labor, the hidden abode of production demands even more connection and relation. As Marx writes in the section on “co-operation”:
Whether the combined working day, in a given case, acquires this increased productivity because it heightens the mechanical force of labor, or extends its sphere of action over a greater space, or contracts the field of production relatively to the scale of production, or at the critical moment sets large masses of labor to work, or excited rivalry between individuals and raises their animal spirits, or impresses on the similar operations carried on by a number of men the stamp of continuity and many-sidedness, or performs different operations simultaneously, or economizes the means of production by use in common…whichever of these is the cause of the increase, the special productive power of the combined working day, is under all circumstances, the social productive power of labor, or the productive power of social labor. This power arises from cooperation itself. When the worker co-operates in a planned way with others, he strips off the fetters of his individuality, and develops the capabilities of this species [Gattungsvermögen].[xxii]
The reference to species being, or species capacities, sets up a different relationship between these capacities and labor than the one first proposed in the 1844 Manuscripts. It is no longer a matter of the alienation of these capacities, of being cut off from their potential, as existence is channeled into a specific kind of labor. Rather, it would be more accurate to say that in this case these capacities are exploited rather than alienated, made productive for capital. Marx’s fundamental point is that cooperation, the work of multiple individuals in the same space or at the same task, is always more than the sum total of its parts, than the work of different individuals.[xxiii] The individual of the sphere of circulation may be the isolated individual of freedom, equality, and Bentham, but the individual of production is a “social individual,” an individual whose capacities and abilities can only come into being with the necessary presence of others. The cooperation of these individuals constitutes a particular kind of surplus, a social surplus above and beyond the difference between necessary and surplus labor. Moreover, this surplus is obscured by the dominant representation of capital, by the images produced by the sphere of production, which present only isolated individuals contracting in their mutual interest. To the extent that this surplus appears at all, it appears as the power of capital, its miraculous capacity to produce surplus, what Marx refers to it as a “free gift to capital.”[xxiv] Thus, the sphere of circulation becomes a truly miraculous power, it generates the image of society made up of isolated individuals, and appropriates whatever exceeds this, by making it appear as capital itself.[xxv]
The question of appearance returns, only now it is not just a matter of the ambiguous appearance of individuality, but of the appearance of social relations, social relations that appear primarily as the quality of objects, as in commodity fetishism, or as the effect of capital itself. Between the sphere of circulation, which is made up of isolated individuals, and the sphere of production, which represents their cooperative relations as the power of capital, transindividuality, everything that exceeds the individual, cannot appear. This fetishism, of commodities and of capital itself, is precisely why the Hegelian passage from the particular to the universal is interrupted. There is no education of the particular, its eventual recognition of its connection with others in the state, instead there is a bifurcation of transindividual individuation. On the one side there is the isolated and competitive individual of the sphere of production, while on the other there is the cooperative social individual of the hidden abode of production. However, this second individual does not appear, does not see itself in institutions and structures, instead what is immediately visible is the fetishism of commodities, money, and the power of capital itself.[xxvi] Between the two, sociality, what Marx refers to as the social individual, cannot appear.
This defines capitalism in general, from the nineteenth century, however, what does this concept of transindividuality reveal about the current historical moment. Contemporary capitalism, what some could call real subsumption, is an increased exploitation of the transindividual and commodification of the preindividual. This division between production and consumption defines to some extent the paradox of social existence under contemporary capitalism: never have human beings been more social in their existence, but more individualized, privatized, in the apprehension of their existence. On the one hand, the simplest action from making a meal to writing an essay engages the labour of individuals around the world, materialized in commodities, habits, and machines, while on the other, there is a tendency to transform everything, every social relation, into something that can be purchased as a commodity. In the Grundrisse Marx offers perhaps the most succinct definition of the paradox of this relation of individual and collective in the early stages of capitalism. The materialization of collective intelligence in machines produces new effects of isolation—‘individualizing social actors in their separate automobiles and in front of separate video screens.’[xxvii] Transindividual relations, the cooperation of multiple minds, bodies, and machines produce individuated and isolated perceptions.
This paradox can be seen throughout contemporary political life and social life, a stranger gregarious isolation, people doing the same things, watching the same things, in utter isolation. There are fantasies that this common activity, common action, can itself become the basis for social change, the ideal of the twitter revolution or facebook revolution. Such fantasies overlook the fact that solidarity is necessary for revolution, for change. There is no shortage of nostalgia for some kind of community, for some connection, but these fantasies are often for some national or even racial unity. Framed in terms of transindividuality, they take particular conditions of individuation as the necessary conditions for any individuation: this language, these religious texts, these moral codes, are requirement for civilization, society in general. As much as we criticize capitalism for its current fragmentation, it is also important to remember one of Marx’s central celebrations of capitalism: capitalism rendered all that is wholly profane, destroying all motley feudal ties. Or, once again translated into a different philosophical vocabulary, capitalism exposes the artificial nature of transindividuality, the things that individuate me, my language, desires, and tastes, are the products of labor, of action. The task then is to produce a society that is neither the fragmenting of individuality or a totality against the individual, but one in which transindividuality is an active production, not an ossified tradition or an indifferent market.
[i] Karl Marx, Grundrisse pg. 705.
[ii] Karl Marx, “On the Jewish Question” pg. 35
[iii] Marx’s basic criticism of Hegel, at least at this stage, is that the passage from civil society, from particular interest, to universal interest, cannot take place so easily, is one of the central themes of the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Much of Marx’s criticism focuses on the “universal estate” and the corporation, the pivots between the particularity of civil society and the universality of the state. Marx argues that Hegel fails to see how much the particularity and self-interest will affect the supposed universality of the state, proposing that it will result not in the generalized bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is the universal estate caught up in its particular rules and the particular interest of its participations. “The corporations are the materialism of bureaucracy, and the bureaucracy is the spiritualism of the corporations.”[ Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right pg. 45]
[iv] Karl Marx, “On the Jewish Question” pg. 43
[v] Marx’s argument, which sees the rights of egotistical man behind every citizen is paradigmatic of the critique of politics from the standpoint of political economy. As Rancière argues, “In a word, Marx turns a political category into the concept of the untruth of politics.”[Jacques Rancière, Disagreement pg. 82.]
[vi] Karl Marx, “On the Jewish Question” pg. 46.
[vii] Antonio Negri, Insurgencies: Constituent Power and the Modern State pg. 223
[viii] Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology pg. 53.
[ix] Etienne Balibar, Violence et civilité pg. 172. Balibar agues that this interruption makes possible a reading of Marx’s entire corpus. As Balibar writes, One might go even further and assert that the nature of a great philosophy is not only to incomplete itself but to incomplete others, by introducing itself or by being introduced in their writing: thus from the “Manuscripts of 1843” up to Capital, Marx prodigiously incompleted Hegel’s Philosophy of Right.” [Etienne Balibar, The Infinite Contradiction pg. 146]
[x] Karl Marx, The Economic and Philosophic Manuscript of 1844 pg. 113.
[xi] Franck Fischbach has argued that what links Marx and Spinoza is a shared sense of alienation, alienation not as the loss of self, of one’s particular identity but of a loss of connection to nature. [Franck Fischbach, La production des hommes: Marx avec Spinoza pg. 14]
[xii] The way that the market, or the mundane acts of buying and selling, produces its own ideology of free and autonomous individuals meeting only through their self-interest, challenges the very idea of ideology, as a concept dependent on a division between base and superstructure. As Jameson writes, “…the ideology of the market is unfortunately not some supplementary ideational or representational luxury or embellishment that can be removed from the economic problem and then sent over to some cultural or superstructural morgue, to be dissected by specialists over there. It is somehow generated by the thing itself, as its objectively necessary afterimage; somehow both dimensions must be registered together, in their identity as well as their difference.” [Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism: Or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism pg. 260]
[xiii] Slavoj Zizek, The Sublime Object of Ideology pg. 22. As Zizek writes, relating this exception to Marx’s critique of Hegel, “This is also the logic of the Marxian critique of Hegel, of the Hegelian notion of society as a rational totality: as soon as we try to conceive the existing social order as a rational totality, we must include in it a paradoxical element which, without ceasing to be its internal constituent, functions as its symptom—subverts the very universal rational principle of this totality. For Marx, this ‘irrational’ element of the existing society was, of course, the proletariat, ‘the unreason of reason itself’ the point at which the Reason embodied in the existing social order encounters its own unreason.”
[xiv] Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I: A Critique of Political Economy pg. 280
[xv] Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I, pg. 344.
[xvi] Fredric Jameson, Representing Capital: A Reading of Volume One pg. 16
[xvii] Karl Marx, Grundrisse pg. 164
[xviii] Marx makes this distinction even in such early texts as The German Ideology. As Marx writes, “The difference between the individual as person and what is accidental to him is not a conceptual difference but a historical fact.” [Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology pg. 194]. This leads to the possibility of what Balibar refers to as the historical modes of individuation. [Louis Althusser and Etienne Balibar, Reading Capital pg. 283]
[xix] Karl Marx, Grundrisse pg. 156
[xx] Hervé Touboul has argued that there is tension in Marx’s thought between a sort of nominalism, in which the individual is primary, seen most clearly in The German Ideology in which “real individuals” are identified as the premise of all history, and an emphasis on social relations, in which individuals are merely bearers. [Hervé Touboul, Marx, Engels et la question de l’individu pg. 30]. While this tension can be seen in the extreme division of such interpretations as Michel Henry and Louis Althusser, it overlooks the transindividual dimension that I am attempting to bring out here.
[xxi] Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I, pg. 320.
[xxii] Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I, pg. 441
[xxiii] Fredric Jameson, Representing Capital pg. 54.
[xxiv] Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I, pg. 451.
[xxv] This idea of capital as a miraculous power has been given is most forceful albeit cryptic interpretation by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in Anti-Oedipus. As Deleuze and Guattari write, “…the forms of social production, like those of desiring production, involve an unengendered nonproductive attitude, an element of anti-production coupled with the process, a full body that functions as a socius. This socius may be the body of the earth, that of the tyrant, or capital. This is the body that Marx is referring to when he says that it is not the product of labor, but rather appears as its natural or divine presuppositions. In fact, it does not restrict itself merely to opposing productive forces in and of themselves. It falls back on [il se rabat sur] all production, constituting a surface over which the forces and agents of production are distributed, thereby appropriating for itself all surplus production and arrogating to itself both the whole and the parts of the process, which now seem to emanate from it as a quasi-cause.” [Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus pg. 10]
[xxvi] This idea of a society split between individuals who are isolated, cut off from relations, and an increasing massification of their powers, into something alien, can be traced back as far as The German Ideology. As Marx writes, “Thus two facts are here revealed. First the productive forces appear as a world for themselves, quite independent of and divorced from the individuals, alongside the individuals: the reason for this is that the individuals, whose forces they are, exist split up and in opposition to one another, whilst, on the other hand, these forces are only real forces in the intercourse and association of these individuals. Thus, on the one hand, we have a totality of productive forces, which have, as it were, taken on a material form and are for the individuals no longer the forces of the individuals but of private property, and hence of the individuals only insofar as they are owners of private property themselves. Never, in any earlier period, have the productive forces taken on a form so indifferent to the intercourse of individuals as individuals, because their intercourse itself was formerly a restricted one. On the other hand, standing over against these productive forces, we have the majority of the individuals from whom these forces have been wrested away, and who, robbed thus of all real life-content, have become abstract individuals, but who are, however, only by this fact put into a position to enter into relation with one another as individuals.” [Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology pg. 190]
[xxvii] Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire, Cambridge, Harvard, 2000, p322.
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