Saturday, 9 October 2010

Dependants Hired by the State

This is Rakesh Bhandari on the pioneering work of Jairus Banaji on waged labour, and seems to speak to the Browne review and the incipient privatisation of my own job: from hired dependant to confronting the despotism of capital (although the 'social factory' provides its own series of contexts for that despotism in forms of consumption). Perhaps this social position accounts for some of the modelling of capitalism as exteriority by such hired dependants? It might also account for the accelerationist faith in capital as the desire for subsumption ('in the destructive element immerse', to quote Conrad (fuller quote below). I've highlighted the last line as the resistance to this move - privatisation is sharpening contradictions on their terms.

Capital, for its part, fights to eliminate labour paid out of revenue to the extent that such activities interfere with capital using such opportunities for the valorisation of capital. It does this, for example, by closing down a public hospital or school paid for out of tax revenue or a public utility so that a capitalist can take its business. Of course, some of the workers paid out of expended revenue may also carry out operations that speed up (and may in fact be necessary for) the rotation of capital (for instance, building and repairing a public roads system out of tax money), but these activities are not themselves aimed at profit and thus the workers do not come under the terroristic discipline of profit as do workers in the banking and commerce sectors. Whenever they can, capitalists strive to replace dependents hired by the state with wage-labourers exploited by capital. Hence the mania for privatisation which has been a hallmark of capitalist development for the last twenty-five years, and has been more important for the growth of the capitalist system, through the vent provided for surplus-capital, than the reduction of the putative deductions from surplus-value by the commercial and banking capitalists in the bourgeois fraternity. Writing in 2006, Andrew Glyn underlined that privatisation has ‘reduced the contribution of government owned companies from 12% of UK GDP in 1979 to less than 2% today’. It goes without saying that the working class, composed of wage-labourers and hired dependents alike, should resist privatisation. The analytical distinction, in other words, is in the first place not a political distinction.
(From Historical Materialism 16 (2008): 71-99).

"'Yes! Very funny this terrible thing is. A man that is born falls into a dream like a man who falls into the sea. If he tries to climb out into the air as inexperienced people endeavour to do, he drowns - nicht wahr?... No! I tell you! The way is to the destructive element submit yourself, and with the exertions of your hands and feet in the water make the deep, deep sea keep you up. So if you ask me - how to be?' "His voice leaped up extraordinarily strong, as though away there in the dusk he had been inspired by some whisper of knowledge. 'I will tell you! For that, too, there is only one way.'

'And yet it is true it is true. In the destructive element immerse.'... He spoke in a subdued tone, without looking at me, one hand on each side of his face. 'That was the way. To follow the dream, and again to follow the dream- and so - ewig - usque ad finem....'


steve said...

Is the Conrad quote from 'Victory'?

Benjamin said...

from Lord Jim