By Jean-Marie Vincent
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Extra resources for Abstract Labour: A Critique
Individuality at the outset of the capitalist era, not yet saturated with the effects of the division of labour or penetrated by market-determined values, took on the aspect of a norm - a standard of reference for judging the immediate, contemporary world. Even in works written after History and Class Consciousness, Luk:ics returned insistently to the theme of this earlier individuality which had partially escaped the destructive tendencies of capitalism. It would thus be no exaggeration to say that the Luk:icsian perception of the crisis of individuality bore a retrospective stamp; in particular, there was a nostalgia for bygone days, in largely transfigured form- the 'ancient community', for example, in which people could be identified by their actions.
7 In this sector of social life, nothing, in fact, can happen without fairly significant movements in the relations of power between groups and in the flows of symbolic exchange around the circularities of reproduction. This means that class struggle is constantly born and reborn in automatic social mechanisms, both carrying them and repelling their dynamic. The social life-world is thus not simply confronted with the cancerous proliferation of systemic processes; it is also directly implicated in the regulated redeployments and transformations of these same processes.
3 However, it emerges upon further examination that this historical dialectic which aspires to supersede the antinomies of soul and life, life and art, living and doing (le faire), remains in singularly close correspondence to what one could call the classical conception of action and labour, because it is borne by the individual who realises himself by projecting himself into the objective world. It could, of course, he argued that in History and Class Consciousness and in later writings, Luklics refers to the class struggle and to a collective actor which is the proletariat, but upon closer examination, it will be recognised that the proletariat of History and Class Consciousness - the class which is supposed to become the identical subject-object of History - is constructed according to a model of individual consciousness.
Abstract Labour: A Critique by Jean-Marie Vincent