Thursday, 8 December 2011

In people all over the world...we find ourselves.

I picked up this lovely little second-hand pamphlet online called The Revolutionary Pleasure of Thinking for Yourself while looking for Situationist journals. It was printed in 2003 in the US and the introduction states that the essay therein was originally published in The Spectacle in 1975.

There is one paragraph that gives an excellent example for helping explain Marxist abstraction, alienation or even the Debordian spectacle. Here it is:

Suppose that you want a cup of coffee from the vending machine at work. First, there is the cup of coffee itself: that involves the workers on the coffee plantation, the ones on the sugar plantation and in the refineries, the ones in the paper mill, and so on. Then you have the workers who made the different parts of the vending machine and the ones who assembled it. Then the ones who extracted the iron ore and bauxite, smelted the steel, and work for the electricity utility which supplies power to the machine. Then all the workers who transported the coffee, cups and machine. Then the clerks, typists, and communication workers who coordinated the production of all things necessary for the others ones to survive. That gives you a direct material relationship to several million people, in fact, to the immense majority of the world's population. They produce your life, and you help produce theirs. In this light, all artificial group identities and special group interests fade into insignificance. Imagine the potential enrichment of your life that at present is locked up in the frustrated creativity of these millions of workers, held back by obsolete and exhausting methods of production, strangled by lack of control over their own productivity, warped by the insane rationale of capital-accumulation which pits one against all and makes life a mad scramble for economic survival. Here we begin to discover a real social identity - in people all over the world who are fighting to win control over their own lives, we find ourselves.

AK Press and Distribution

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