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the official "does my chosen occupation make me proletarian?" thread

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yoda's walking stick
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Jun 29 2011 22:17
the official "does my chosen occupation make me proletarian?" thread

I'm a journalist.

Not that it matters for my class determination, but I write for the shittiest freebie paper ever. No seriously, I do.

yoda's walking stick
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Jun 29 2011 23:02

By my reading of Capital, I would be. I contribute value to a commodity (the finished newspaper), and am paid an hourly wage that presumably represents a proportionally lesser amount of value. I have no control of the means of production (in this case: the office building, the computers, the printing press, etc.)

yoda's walking stick
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Jun 29 2011 23:02

dp

Angelus Novus
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Jun 29 2011 23:56

My late teacher, comrade, and friend Marty Glaberman would often poke fun at this kind of thing.

Quote:
That's tricky too. In the 40's everyone went into the factories. I remember a guy named Greenberg, who was a very fine musician and who ended up in a factory. He went into a factory because that was what he was supposed to do and he was a goddamn waste. Now what the hell was he going to do in a factory? Nothing. Particularly with the party line. As a person interested in music he could make a contribution to society. Not to the revolution directly, but to the revolution indirectly.

and this:

Quote:
In brief one cannot talk, and one should not think, in terms of some fixed, absolute definition that can take care of everybody in the world. (You either are or are not a member of the working class and that's it. Tough, you didn't make it, kid.)

But seriously, who cares? In the strict Marxian sense of relation to the means of production, a hefty chunk of the population in so-called "developed" countries are proletarian. So what? Differences of income, dialect, cultural taste, etc. exist nonetheless, but honestly I think that's almost exclusively some fucked up characteristic of a group of little islands in Northwest Europe where such indicators are regarded as more constitutive of class then whether or not one has the choice of working for general equivalent or starving.

RedHughs
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Jun 30 2011 05:34

I'd agree with the spirit of AN's point.

Another way to approach the "problem" is to distinguish the "working class" and the "proletariat (or the "class in itself" versus the "class for itself").

In these terms, the "working class" is the "happy", atomized, integrated workers who identify with their position under capitalism. The proletariat is the collective of those who have nothing to loose from the end of capitalism and know it. The working class is exists now. The proletariat only comes into existence in fits and starts, and it revolts essentially to abolish all classes. The working class has a tendency to become the proletariat but just a tendency; a significant number of non-workers certainly will join and a significant number of workers will not join.

In this process of transformation, workerism, the ideology extolling the capitalist working class, is counter-revolutionary. Note how, in the US, every bourgeois politician portrays reactionary garbage as "the will of the hard working people of America" while calling anything left of Reagan "a product of the liberal media elite". What's the most "working class" electoral party in America? The "Tea Party" (that is a lie but it's the lie the Tea Party loudly spout). Anyway, left wing workerism is poisonous as well.

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jura
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Jun 30 2011 06:51
Angelus Novus wrote:
My late teacher, comrade, and friend Marty Glaberman

WTF? *ENVY!!!*

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waslax
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Jun 30 2011 07:22
yoda's walking stick wrote:
By my reading of Capital, I would be. I contribute value to a commodity (the finished newspaper), and am paid an hourly wage that presumably represents a proportionally lesser amount of value. I have no control of the means of production (in this case: the office building, the computers, the printing press, etc.)

Just to be a pest: and what is the value of the commodity you contribute to the production of? Wait, didn't you say it's a feebie paper? Oh, so the value is zero, then, I guess. No, of course there is some (minimal) value to it; just that revenue is obtained from advertisers rather than consumers of it. In any case, being paid a wage and having no control over your means of production is sufficient for class determination.

Next question: is it really a commodity if it is given away for free?

yoda's walking stick
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Jun 30 2011 09:44

Well the ads certainly aren't given away for free. Businesses wouldn't buy the ads if a significant number of people didn't pick up and read the paper. People wouldn't pick up and read the paper if it wasn't for the editorial content, bad as it is. That's where I come in.

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Chilli Sauce
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Jun 30 2011 13:18
RedHughs wrote:

Another way to approach the "problem" is to distinguish the "working class" and the "proletariat (or the "class in itself" versus the "class for itself").

In these terms, the "working class" is the "happy", atomized, integrated workers who identify with their position under capitalism. The proletariat is the collective of those who have nothing to loose from the end of capitalism and know it. The working class is exists now. The proletariat only comes into existence in fits and starts, and it revolts essentially to abolish all classes. The working class has a tendency to become the proletariat but just a tendency; a significant number of non-workers certainly will join and a significant number of workers will not join.

I find this really interesting. Is this how Marx approached the question or have his ideas on this kind of been developed further by others?

Also, when you say non-workers (or maybe more precisely non-members of the working class) that is presumably not a reference to the bourgeoisie? Instead peasants, petit-bourgeoisie, etc?

Baronarchist
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Jun 30 2011 13:21

On a seperate note, I've always though socialists and anarchists should try to attain positions of power in companies...

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Tojiah
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Jun 30 2011 17:37
Baronarchist wrote:
On a seperate note, I've always though socialists and anarchists should try to attain positions of power in companies...

So they would have interests diverging from those of the working class?

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Khawaga
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Jun 30 2011 17:45

assistant jailer of the mind. beat that.

Steve_j
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Jun 30 2011 18:03

Do people actually chose an occupation? Fuck i was coerced into mine.
Anyway i work in as a technician of sorts, in the service sector, ie im of the slave class, you proletarian have got it good.

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RedEd
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Jun 30 2011 20:28
waslax wrote:
Next question: is it really a commodity if it is given away for free?

That's the trick. People think they are getting a commodity for free, but actually when they pick up a copy of Metro they are not getting a commodity, they are being turned into a commodity (audience for advertisers) that the producers of the paper have already sold. Sneaky capitalism.

(p.s. I've no idea if that makes any sense)

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Khawaga
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Jun 30 2011 21:05

well, it is by reading the free mag that they produce the audience commodity, which has already been realized by the the purchasers of the audience commodity.

RedHughs
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Jul 1 2011 05:10

Chilli Sauce,

I believe the terms "class in itself" and "class for itself" are more or less taken from Marx. The concept is highlighted by Gilles Dauve in Eclipse And Re-emergence Of The Communist Movement.

Eclipse And Re-emergence wrote:
If one identifies proletarian with factory worker (or even worse: with manual labourer), or with the poor, then one cannot see what is subversive in the proletarian condition. The proletariat is the negation of this society. It is not the collection of the poor, but of those who are desperate, those who have no reserves (les sans-réserves in French, or senza riserve in Italian), 5 who have nothing to lose but their chains; those who are nothing, have nothing, and cannot liberate themselves without destroying the whole social order. The proletariat is the dissolution of present society, because this society deprives it of nearly all its positive aspects.

.....Also....

Chill wrote:
Also, when you say non-workers (or maybe more precisely non-members of the working class) that is presumably not a reference to the bourgeoisie? Instead peasants, petit-bourgeoisie, etc?

I'd suppose the chances of those high enough in bourgeois ranks to be actively defending this society will vanishingly small but a random bird watcher living on a trust fund, I don't make any predictions.

meli
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Jul 2 2011 20:49

i think the division between the middle and working class here is just stiupid. another form of 'divide and rule' both are fu*ed by capitalism in diferent ways, its the super ritch capitalists we should be thinking of, not crindgeing at the middle class... tell me if im being rediculous..

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Croy
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Jul 4 2011 20:21

your not being ridiculous at all. To be honest Im finding this thread a bit tedious

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Chilli Sauce
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Jul 5 2011 07:04

I don't even like the "term middle-class" and much prefer "middle-income". However, I do think that managers have 'crossed the class divide' and while they aren't capitalists, should be viewed as proxies for capital and certainly shouldn't be involved in revolutionary organisations.