Notes on re-reading Postone VI: Abstract Time.

I don’t get abstract time. Isn’t time as such abstract? Postone only uses the term to describe the way that time mediates activity in capitalism. Yet without spending too much time to mull it over it seems to me that this choice of words is indicative of what I view as a problem through out the book thus far–his treatment of domination in terms of an abstract bad externalization.  This seems to (1)  lead to an account of domination that relies on the figure of mediation without an account of the intrinsic social dynamic embodied in Marx’s account of production, circulation, subsumption etc. (2) equate any type of abstraction with this type of bad abstraction. (somehow monastic and Chinese ways of measuring time are not abstract) As a result abstract time reflects Postone’s account of abstract labour and abstract social domination as bad abstract externalization:

In other words, as a result of general social mediation, labor time expenditure is transformed into a temporal norm that not only is abstracted from. but also stands above and determines, individual action. Just as labor is transformed from an action of individuals to the alienated general principle of of the totality under which the individuals are subsumed. 214

This means that time is likewise lacks an account of inversion and social embodiment as can be drawn out of Marx’s statement that:


“We should not say that one man’s hour is worth another man’s hour, but rather that one man during an hour is worth just as much as another man during an hour. Time is everything, man is nothing: he is at the most time’s carcass.”



About HR

Deep in the adjunct crackhole.
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1 Response to Notes on re-reading Postone VI: Abstract Time.

  1. Pingback: Critical Notes on Moishe Postone « communism

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