Thursday, December 6, 2007

Alternatives to capitalist/market version of (commodity) exchange

I think that The Mad Man stands alongside Marcel Mauss’ The Gift and Pierre Klossowski’s La monnaie vivante (Living Money, unfortunately still not published in English translation) as one of the great texts about alternatives to capitalist/market version of (commodity) exchange. trackback 7:31 AM
Graeber discusses Marcel Mauss’ theory of the gift as an alternative to orthodox economic assumptions about the centrality of markets and “exchange”, and Pierre Clastres’ arguments about societies that explicitly sought to avoid the formation of a State. 8:19 AM
Rancière probably wouldn’t like this assimilation, but I think that his theory of art fits well into the Kantian-Deleuzian genealogy of aesthetics that I have been trying to pursue. Kant’s aesthetics has to do with the singularizing limits and extremities of the mental faculties, with the points at which they break down or enter into discord with one another, or (as Deleuze reads Kant) find a harmony only through this discord. In other words, commonality and universality are precisely problems for “aesthetic judgment”; Kant takes commonality and universality for granted in the First and Second Critiques, but problematizes them in the Third. The problem of aesthetic judgment is the problem of communicating things (sensations) that are absolutely singular, and heterogeneous in relation to one another.
In a way, therefore, the problem of aesthetic judgment is the same as the problem of the commodity in Marx (how a universal equivalent can be found for things that in themselves are heterogeneous), and also as the problem of how to find a “common” or commonality or communism that is not just a reductive quantification via translation in terms of the universal equivalent (this is the side of the Marxist problematic that is highlighted in Hardt and Negri’s discussion of “the common”; following it out would seem to involve both thinking Marx and Kant together as Karatani does, and thinking about alternative currencies and trading systems, which Karatani approaces vis his interest in LETS networks, and which Keith Hart has done a lot to illuminate, referring to Mauss’ The Gift as well as to the Marxist tradition)...This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 5th, 2007 at 12:11 pm and is filed under Books, Theory. RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback
There is something I miss in Rancière, however, and that is a sense of political economy, as opposed to just politics. This absence may have something to do with Rancière’s rejection of his Althusserian Marxist past. He is certainly aware of the plutocratic aspects of today’s neoliberal network society. He doesn’t make the mistake of focusing all his ire on the State, while ignoring the pseudo-spontaneity of the Market and its financial instruments. But he never addresses, in the course of his account of democracy, the way in which economic organization, as well as political organization, needs to be addressed.
Here, again, is a place where I think that Marx remains necessary (and also, as I said in the previous post, Mauss — as expounded, for example, by Keith Hart). Exploitation cannot be reduced to domination, and the power of money cannot be reduced to the coercive power of the State or of other hierarchies. Aesthetics needs to be coupled with political economy, and not just with politics. So I still find a dimension lacking in Rancière — but he helps, as few contemporary thinkers do, in starting to get us there. This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 5th, 2007 at 4:42 pm and is filed under Books, Politics, Theory. RSS 2.0 feed. leave a response, or trackback 5:25 AM 5:33 AM

No comments:

Post a Comment