Lefebvre on Social Determinism.

A nice lengthy quote from Lefebvre on his Hegelian-Marxist conception of social determinism, which has interesting parallels with Adorno’s theories of the preponderance of the object, natural history etc:

The reality of a social object is comparable to that of material objects: a social object is a product of activity, abstract from one point of view, real and concrete from another, on which we are able to act for the very reason that it is objective and resistant but not a reality given to us in its natural state. A typical social object – the market – still exer- cises today a power over human beings exactly like that of the realities of the uncontrolled sector of  Nature. Within it are concealed the known and the unknown, appearance and reality. It may give rise to the application of a force or a specific method of action, which fashions it.  More generally, material objects intervene in human society: they are ‘goods’. They are a stimulus to social activity, to human needs and relations, but they also impose certain determinations on this activity. In particular, the scarcity of consumable objects has, right from the earliest times up until our own day (though we are now entering on the age of plenty), unleashed struggles and rivalries that have extended the natural struggle for life into the realm of the social. The objects or products of human activity do not lose this initial characteristic when they become the bearers of social relations, or when they give birth to specifically social objects such as the market. They continue to determine struggles and contradictions within man’s activity. From the general rivalry emerge the struggles of certain powerful groups: the social classes. Objects therefore determine the socio-economic Becoming and the social activity, inasmuch as they  are material objects in the first place and later, pro- perly speaking, social objects, such as commodities as a whole or the market. Political action corresponds  on the human plane, and so far as social relations are concerned, to practical action on Nature. It acts through social relations as well as on them; it intervenes in conflicts and makes use of the conflicting forces. At no time in history have there been absolute dividing-lines between epochs, civilizations or classes. The socio-economic movement has always been a complex one. This analysis too can be summed up in a formula: the social determinism is Nature in man. The social determinism in fact is what makes a specifically human activity possible; it conditions it, but it also limits it. The social determinism makes man’s freedom possible, yet it is also opposed to it. It originates in natural objectivity, which is extended into the objectivity of Fetishes and the specific objectivity of social relations. It originates also in natural deter-minations : the scarcity of goods, the natural struggle for life. Social realities and social objects appear as the consequence of spontaneous processes compar- able to those revealed by the sciences of Nature: as the statistical results of elementary phenomena. The social determinism is thus the inhuman within the human, the continuation into the human of natural conflicts and biological realities. It is man as yet unrealized: Nature in man. Dialectical Materialism 132-35

About HR

Deep in the adjunct crackhole.
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