In a somewhat related connection, others might be interested in tracking down Postone’s Time, Labor, and Social Domination: A Reinterpretation of Marx’s Critical Theory for an alternative perspective on these issues. This work was first suggested to me by N.Pepperell of Rough Theory, and is well worth a glance. One, among the numerious themes dealt with in this text, is the issue of Marxist criticism aiming not simply at distrubition, but at production as well. As Postone understands it, one of the central problems of traditional Marxism was the view that overturning capitalism entailed overturning a certain order of distribution, while leaving the mode of production intact. Postone contends that classical Marxists have tended to dehistoricize production, thereby failing to see how contemporary modes of production are historically contingent and therefore can be otherwise.
Put crudely as time does not permit me to elaborate at the moment, we are not simply “alienated” in a particular system of distribution, but are “alienated” by the very form of capitalist production. How does all this relate? When I hear calls to give up enjoyment such as they are issuing from Jodi Dean or Zizek, I hear the thesis that somehow social change should consist in rendering our living conditions even more intolerable than they currently are. Why is this a form of social transformation that anyone should desire?
To put it in crude and less than trendy-jargonistic terms, if social transformation does not lead to better work and living conditions, better, more equitable, more just, more satisfying, and more meaningful ways of relating to one another, more freedom to pursue our desires and cultivate ourselves, why should these forms of social transformation be desired at all?
I only have two objections to Antigram’s post. First, he doesn’t list Spinoza among the demystifiers of value at the end, when discussing Nietzsche, Freud, and Marx; and second I have to sign up for a Google account to post on his blog. Posted by larvalsubjects under Zizek , Uncategorized  Comments
larvalsubjects Says: May 11th, 2007 at 9:40 pm Joseph, perhaps you could say a bit more about this: To illustrate that the will-to-power, or the libidinal drive, is the origin of valuation is not the same as materialism, or else the word has no meaning.