Like ‘reification’, ‘dialectic’ and ‘totality’ before it, subsumption has become one of those terms that is fetishised. Describing something as ‘subsumed’ is often treated as so theoretically sound that no account is necessary of what this process of subsumption is or if and how it relates to the categories Marx uses in the 1861-63 Manuscripts and The Results of the Immediate Process of Production. Moreover, the concept is also deployed in terms of periodisations of social development that fail to address the sort of social complexities that exist within capitalist society that Banaji’s work covers. Andres Saenz De Sicilia, who is currently working on a Ph.D. on subsumption at CREMP Kingston, provides a pointed criticism of these two trends and more in the following guest post.
Time and Subsumption, is an excellent paper about ‘the concept of subsumption, and its problematic status within Marx’s thought’. It explores ‘subsumption through an analysis of its temporal dimensions, and in doing so depart[s] from readings of the concept which conceive of it as a primarily historical category – that is, one that could be used to periodise different phases in the development of the capital relation’. Finally, ‘it challenge[s] this view by first briefly reconstructing Marx’s arguments about subsumption, then giving an outline and critique of this historical reading of the concept, then lastly … propos[ing] an alternative notion of the relation of subsumption to historical development through the idea of a synthesis of disjunctive times’.
Read it TIME AND SUBSUMPTION – Andres