Bonefeld’s synthetic presuppositions.

I’ve been reading up and re-reading Bonefeld to try to anticipate what sort of problems and questions he will have with my reading of Marx and Adorno. In doing so, I came to realize the importance that the idea of presupposition has in his work. Roughly, I would argue that presupposition: (1) provides the grounds for how he synthesizes the autonomist and value theory strands of his works (2) serves as the critical access of his negative reading of Marx both of which lead to the importance and focus of primitive accumulation qua social constitution in his work.

Social constitution and primitive accumulation are the focus of several essays by Bonefeld. The most recent, ‘Primitive Accumulation and Capitalist Accumulation : Notes on Social Constitution and Expropriation’, offers a good overview of his thoughts on this idea. In relation to the two points I outline above, Bonefeld argues that primitive accumulation: (1) stands as the theoretical and historical presupposition of Marx’s theory of value. On one hand this demonstrates the influence of Backhaus (and Reichelt) on Bonefeld’s work. As Bonefeld notes in this essay and elsewhere Backhaus stresses that Marx criticizes political economists for failing to account for the socio-historical presuppositions that render capitalism a socially specific form of production. Whilst Backhaus’ work shows how Marx accounts for these presuppositions in his presentation of the value-form, Bonefeld supplements this account by showing how primitive accumulation creates these conditions. In doing so, he also aligns value-theory with the influence of autonomism by arguing that primitive accumulation is responsible for the historically specific social conditions that presuppose value: the separation of workers from their means of production. Both of these points support (2) Bonefeld’s penchant to focus on the negative aspect of Marx’s critique. Although he points out that Marx has both a negative and positive aspect to this critique, Bonefeld focuses on the former rather than the latter. This means that he avoids an account of the process of valorisation and reproduction to focus on accounting for these presuppositions and in using them as a basis for his account of misery.


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