The Third International after Lenin

Friday, February 10, 2012

Subjective sociology erases Marxist concept of proletariat

Academic spitballing/tenure-drilling has come up with a new piece of sociological jargon to erase the concept of the proletariat [i.e. productive human labor]: the precariat.
Richard Seymour of Lenin's Tomb posted this anti-precarian piece
We are all precarious: on the 'precariat' and its misuses
"In this article, I will argue that it is mistaken to treat the precariat as a class.  Attempts to make it into a class are theoretically incoherent, and the facts of precarious labour and social precarity are misunderstood if boxed into an 'emerging class' thesis.  This is important because class analyses underpin political strategies.  In the case of the concept's chief populariser, Standing, the analysis is bound up with a particular set of political articulations and strategic orientations that are more 'Big Society' than 'Critique of the Gotha Programme'.  I will argue that precarity exerts effects right up the chain of class strata, throughout the working class and into sections of the middle class, especially the petty bourgeoisie.  The appellation 'precariat' thus works as a kind of populist interpellation, a claim I will explain in more detail in the conclusion.  This interpellation, this 'naming', operates on a real antagonism.  It is one that emerges between the 'power bloc' and the rest, particularly in the age of austerity.  The precarity built into financialized accumulation was always pushed downward as far as possible.  But it is affecting ever wider layers of people, such that only the capitalist class and a few sections of the middle class seem to be protected from it, their security purchased through our precarity.  We should embrace the concept of the 'precariat' in this sense, and use it to help found a new, radical majoritarian politics with a distinctly anticapitalist core."

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