Clarke on Fetishism and the problem of labour today

From the CSE Labour Debate:

“The problem of labour today is not a problem of a lack of consciousness or the lack of a desire to change the world. The problem is how to change a world which is, to a greater degree than ever before, driven by anonymous forces, dominated by the movement of money as the alienated form through which alone ‘the relations connecting the labour of one individual with that of the rest appear’. This is a problem that confronts the millions of people without work and without any hope of work; that confronts those driven to work for wages that do not even cover their subsistence in conditions that threaten their health and life; that confronts those who may be wellpaid but whose work is increasingly insecure and subject to the ever-greater intensification of labour. It is a problem that is being posed within the labour movement which, for all its faults, is the only collective expression of the interests and aspirations of labour, in hundreds of different ways, at every level and in every part of the world. In this situation progressive intellectuals have a responsibility to supplement the intellectual resources of the labour movement, to help to broaden its understanding and its horizons, to analyse the movements of capital, to contribute to the critique of the modern forms of vulgar economy, to find and learn from new ways of organising and new forms of struggle so that the labour movement can begin to reverse the setbacks and defeats of the last twenty years. It is only when the subordination of labour to the production and appropriation of surplus value has been abolished that the potential to minimise the burden of labour that has been created by the capitalist development of the forces of production can be realised. It is only when the labourers have recovered their free time from capital that they will be transformed into a different subject, free to discover the creative powers of their labour, which in all previous societies has been the privilege of a few, whose own freedom rested on the forcible appropriation of the products of the labour of others.”


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