Capricorn Shiva is the author of several obscure Marxian pamphlets from the early 1970s. In them Shiva espouses a pronounced substantialist interpretation of abstract labour that he links to New Age conceptions of Wellness.
Little is known is about Capricorn Shiva outside of his time in LA in the late 60s and early 70s. Some claim he was born as Robert Hughes in the 1940s and raised in Boise Idaho. Others claim that his name was William Gunderson and that he was raised in St Paul.
Like many of his age Shiva is thought to have made his way to California sometime in the 60s. Several references in his published pamphlets refer to his time in the Brothers of Transcendental Experience, who are thought to be some sort of acid cult.
The first reliable information about Shiva is from his time in The Source Family. This is where he was given the name Capricorn Shiva by Father Yod. Shiva also became interested in wellness from his time as a chef at the health food restaurant The Source Family ran. It is thought that one of the recipes Shiva invented was the basis for the plate of mashed yeast Woody Allen’s character orders at the end of Annie Hall.
Shiva came into contact with Marxism when several of Herbert Marcuse’s students dined at The Source. In Marxism: The Road to Revolutionary Wellness Shiva describes the experience of first reading Marx as similar to his first shot of LSwheatgrass. (an lsd and wheatgrass concoction Shiva was particularly fond of). For the next few months Shiva engaged in what can only be called a cursory reading of Capital. Shiva describes it as ‘tripping out’ and ‘being balls deep in the sages beard.’
Shortly afterwards Shiva published the several pamphlets he is known for including: Marxism as The Road To Wellness, Empowering The Proletariat and Abstract Labour, Concrete Labour and Holistic Labour. The arguments in these pamphlets are crude and highly repetitive and are based on Shiva’s obtuse substantialist reading of abstract labour. Anticipating some contemporary debates Shiva argues that abstract labour consists in expended muscle mass. This leads him to argue that instead of dead labour capital consists in what Shiva terms an ‘alienated Adonis like Godhead.’ In Shiva’s view this ‘alienated muscle mass must be restored to beef up the bodies of those who have created it.’ This leads him to argue that: (a) communism consists in a form of wholistic labour in which people labour for each other while reaching the peak of physical fitness (b) capitalism can only be overcome by proletarians substituting the creation of abstract labour for his guided fitness regimes, which in his view will take the proletariat to the peak of physical fitness and sap capital of its ‘muscle mass’ causing it to collapse.
Shiva is said to have been so convinced by his own pamphlets he left The Source Family to open a fitness school somewhere on the Mexican border. He has not been heard from since.