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Dominique Meeùs
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Kristin Ross, Communal Luxury, 2015

Kristin Ross, Communal Luxury : The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune, Verso, Londres et New York, 2015, viii + 148 pages, ISBN : 978-1-78168-839-7.
Publié en même temps en français.

Dans ce livre, oh ! merveille, les notes sont à leur place… en de bas de page.

Colonial repression were particularly condemned. Tolain, a member of the International and a jewelry worker, regularly addressed the question or Algeria: “The French have brought to this country not civilization but misery and servitude.” Another speaker: “Africa will flourish only when it administers itself.”47

Tolain and Paulet, cited in Alain Dalotel et al., Aux origines de la Commune (Paris: Maspero, 1980), p. 253.

In the years immediately following the demise of the Commune, Marx was primarily engaged in two tasks: preparing what some now count as the definitive edition of Capital — the French edition, the only one he personally supervised into publication — and continuing his study of Chernyshevsky, including his Essays on Communal Ownership of Land, and Russian communal forms. Raya Dunayevskaya points out that one of the principal changes Marx made in the French edition of Capital was an expansion and strengthening of the section on commodity fetishism to emphasize not just the exchange of commodities but also the dual nature inherent in labor.28 What Marx saw enacted in the Commune’s working existence was the actual dissolution of commodity fetishism and the establishment instead of its opposite: social relations as “freely associated labor”. Better than any theorist could have, the creative activity of the Communards disclosed the fetishism of commodities inherent in the very form of the product of labor as commodity — including, especially, labor itself as commodity. What the Communards had made manifest was the opposite of reification in the form of their own “freely associated labor.” Work, of course, remained under the Commune. But it had disappeared in the sense of being forced or constrained wage labor under an asymmetrical contract. Productive labor no longer carried the meaning of salaried labor exchanged against capital. It had taken on the larger meaning of an activity useful to the needs of society as a whole. Or, as Marx put it, “With labor emancipated, every man becomes a working man, and productive labor ceases to be a class attribute.”29

P. 79-80.
See Raya Dunayevskaya, Philosophy and Revolution (New York: Columbia University Press, 1973), p. 80-94.
Marx, The Civil War in France, p. 61. This description of the nature of work under the Commune is based on Daniel Bensaid, “Politiques de Marx”, in Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Inventer l’inconnu: Textes et correspondance autour de la Commune (Paris: La Fabrique, 2008), p. 43.

Je ne vois pas l’intérêt de mentionner au passage que « certains » considèrent comme « définitive » l’édition française du Capital, « the only one he personally supervised into publication ». Ceux qui défendent cette thèse (pas seulement des Français chauvins) méprisent le soin que Marx a apporté au même moment à la deuxième édition allemande (dont il a bien sûr supervisé tout autant la publication) et, dans les années qui ont suivi, à la troisième. Chez certains esprits forts aussi, il est de bon ton de mépriser Engels. On peut discuter la part qui revient à Marx et à Engels dans les Livre II et Livre III. Mais le Livre I est bien de Marx et ceux qui méprisent les troisième et quatrième éditions allemandes devraient prouver en quoi Engels aurait trahi Marx en préparant la troisième. Or ces éditions, elles « définitives », présentent en plusieurs points une réelle supériorité réelle par rapport à la traduction française, en particulier sur le fétichisme de la marchandise dont Ross parle ici : www.d-meeus.be/marxisme/classiques/Capital-Icompare2A-4bref.html.

After seeing in the actions of the Communards what freely associated labor might actually look like, Marx was better able to theorize its opposite, the commodity form. But Dunayevskaya takes her argument one step further. The strengthening of his theory was at one and the same time Marx’s break with the very concept of theory. This break, she argues, had its initial beginnings at an earlier moment, when Marx, very late in the various drafts and revisions that went into the writing of Capital, made the decision to include in Volume One the chapter on the working day. What is important about that decision was that Marx was introducing directly into theory the workers’ struggle for shortening the working day. He was in effect (and very materially) saying that in order to understand what is taking place in the market you have to leave the market behind and enter the factory — it is there that relations between men get reified and turned into things. “When does my day begin and when does it end?” — with this question the subject is about neither economics nor philosophy precisely, but about human beings and their daily life, their path. And what is at stake is “history and its process.” The Commune made it all the more clear that the masses shape history and in so doing reshape not just actuality but theory itself. By following the process of actual material struggle, Marx discovers a new world in cognition. His discussions are no longer with Smith and Ricardo, with theorists, be they bourgeois or socialist. His shift from the history of theory to the history of the class struggles at the point of production becomes the theory. He thus moves away from a concept of theory as a debate between theorists, and away from the idea that it is that history that matters, to a concept of theory as the history of production relations.

P. 80-81.

Il est vrai qu’avec la journée de travail, on entre dans la lutte de classes, tout en approfondissant la vision de ce que sont la valeur de la force de travail et les termes du contrat de vente de la force de travail. Pour ne pas s’éloigner trop de la Commune, on dit que Marx aurait décidé « très tardivement » d’introduire ce chapitre où il « entre dans l’usine ». Je demande à voir. En outre, le lien entre ce chapitre publié en 1867 et la Commune de 1871 me semble tiré par les cheveux. (Mais peut-être Dunayevskaya donne-t-elle la clef dans son livre de 1973.)

[…] it is worth remarking that Marx gave to the struggle for the working day the same name that he would later give to the 1871 insurrection in Paris: he called both a “civil war.” The struggle to shorten the working day, he wrote, was a “protracted and more or less concealed civil war between the capitalist class and the working class.”30

P. 81.
Karl Marx, Capital, vol. I (London: Penguin Books, 1976), p. 412-413. [En français, Capital I 1983, p. 335.]

Yet absent from most of the effort to explore the ecological sensibility of a Reclus or a Morris in anything more than a token bow to the role played in the development of that sensibility by political experience and the culture of the Commune.

P. 139.

Tant Morris que Reclus insistent (p. 141) sur la collectivisation de la terre. Kropotkin est plus réaliste :

For Kropotkin […] expropriation of both agricultural land and industrial property must occur simultaneously: “All is interdependent in a civilized society; it is impossible to alter any one thing without altering the whole.”42

P. 141.
Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread and Other Writings (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 50.
Acheté au Groene Waterman à Anvers le vendredi 24 mai 2019.