Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thoughts from Raoul Vaneigem on the Spectacular-Commodity System

"Haven't you ever felt like flinging your pay check into the face of the pay clerk? In that case, you have realized that:

  1. The wage system reduces the individual to a bookkeeper's digit. From the capitalist point of view, a wage slave is not a man but an index of the overheads of production and a certain degree of purchasing power in terms of consumption.
  2. The wage system is as much the keystone of global exploitation as alienate labor and commodity production are the keys to the spectacle-commodity system. To improve it would be to improve the exploitation of the proletariat by the bourgeois-bureaucratic class. One can, therefore, only do away with it entirely.
  3. Wage slavery requires that we sacrifice over eight hours of our days for eight hours of work: in return we receive a sum of money which covers only a fraction of the work done. The rest is retained by the employer for his own benefit. In its turn our wage has to be exchanged for polluted, junk products, household goods sold at ten times their real value, alienating gadgets (the car that enables us to get to work and consume, pollute, destroy the countryside, and save some empty time and kill ourselves. Not to mention the dues owing to the State, to experts, and to the trade union racketeers...
  4. Anyone who believes that wage demands can endanger private or State capitalism is mistaken: employers award to their workers only that increase which the unions need if they are to give evidence of their continuing usefulness: and the unions demand of the employers (who can, in any case put up prices) only sums that pose no threat to a system of which they are the greatest beneficiaries but one.
So you see, you have had a bellyful of living most of your life as a function of money and of being reduced to obedience to the dictates of economics, of merely existing and not having the leisure to live life to the full. Already, consciously or otherwise, you are fighting for a reallocation of useful goods which will no longer have anything to do with the pursuit of profits and which will, instead, answer people's real needs."

"Contributions to The Revolutionary Struggle," Raoul Vanegiem

1 comment:

troutsky said...

"Life to the full" stands in direct contrast to "The American Dream". The dream is about how many things you can own ("he who dies with the most toys is the winner") and how many others you can lord it over, a full life is about social health. Only by emancipating ourselves from wage slavery can we begin to have healthy relationships with other people and with property. A "full life" also implies lots of liesure time to enjoy creativly, which is the enemy of capitalism.