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张在新

John Zaixin Zhang

 
 
 

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The Capitalist System  

2009-04-18 00:41:43|  分类: +短篇小说第二课 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Edwards, Richard C, Michael Reich, and Thomas E. Weisskopf, eds. The Capitalist System: A Radical Analysis of American Society. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1972.

Marx, Karl. “Alienated Labor.” Edwards, Reich, and Weisskopf, 106-10.

[Excerpted from Marx, Karl. Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts]

107-8

       “The worker is related to the product of his labor as to an alien object. For it is clear on this presupposition that the more the worker expends himself in work the more powerful becomes the world of objects which he creates in face of himself, the poorer he becomes in his inner life, and the less he belongs to himself. It is just the same as in religion. The more of himself man attributes to God the less he has left in himself. The worker puts his life into the object, and his life then belongs no longer to himself but to the object. The greater his activity, therefore, the less he possesses. What is embodied in the product of his labor is no longer his own. The greater this product is, therefore, the more he is diminished. The alienation of the worker in his product means not only that his labor becomes an object, assumes an external existence, but that it exists independently, outside himself, and alien to him, and that it stands opposed to him as an autonomous power. The life which he has given to the object sets itself against him as an alien and hostile force.”

 

Fromm, Erich. “The Alienated Consumer.” Edwards, Reich, and Weisskopf 265-9.

267

       “The act of consumption should be a concrete human act, in which our senses, bodily needs, our aesthetic taste—that is to say, in which we as concrete, sensing, feeling, judging human beings—are involved; the act of consumption should be a meaningful, human, productive experience. In our culture, there is little of that. Consuming is essentially the satisfaction of artificially stimulated phantasies, a phantasy performance alienated from our concrete, real selves.”

207-8

       “Our way of consumption necessarily results in the fact that we are never satisfied, since it is not our real concrete person which consumes a real or concrete thing. We thus develop an ever-increasing need for more things, for more consumption. It is true that as long as the living standard of the population is below a dignified level of subsistence, there is natural need for more consumption. It is also true that there is a legitimate need for more consumption as man develops culturally and has more refined needs for better food, objects of artistic pleasure, books, etc. But our craving for consumption has lost all connection with the real needs of man. Originally, the idea of consuming more and better things was meant to give man a happier, more satisfied life. Consumption was a means to an end, that of happiness. It now has become an aim in itself. The constant increase of needs forces us to an ever-increasing effort, it makes us dependent on these needs and on the people and institutions by whose help we attain them.”

268

       “The alienated attitude toward consumption not only exists in our acquisition and consumption of commodities, but it determines far beyond this the employment of leisure time. What are we to expect? If a man works without genuine relatedness to what he is doing, if he buys and consumes commodities in an abstractified and alienated way, how can he make use of his leisure time in an active and meaningful way? He always remains the passive and alienated consumer. He ‘consumes’ ball games, moving pictures, newspapers and magazines, books, lectures, natural scenery, social gatherings, in the same alienated and abstractified way in which he consumes the commodities he has bought. He does not participate actively, he wants to ‘take in’ all there is to be had, and to have as much as possible of pleasure, culture and what not. Actually, he is not free to enjoy ‘his’ leisure; his leisure-time consumption is determined by industry, as are the commodities he buys; his taste is manipulated, he wants to see and to hear what he is conditioned to want to see and to hear; entertainment is an industry like any other, the customer is made to buy fun as he is made to buy dresses and shoes. The value of the fun is determined by hits success on the market, not by anything which could be measured in human terms.”

 

Mitchell, Juliet. “The Situation of Women.” Edwards, Reich, and Weisskopf 326-37.

[Excerpted from “Women: The Longest Revolution.” New Left Review 40 (1966)].

Production

327

       “Once woman was accorded the menial tasks involved in maintenance whilst man undertook conquest and creation, she became an aspect of the things preserved: private property and children. All socialist writers on the subject… link the confirmation and continuation of woman’s oppression after the establishment of her physical inferiority for hard manual work with the advent of private property. But woman’s physical weakness has never prevented her from performing work as such (quite apart from bringing up children)—only specific types of work, in specific societies. In Primitive, Ancient, Oriental, Medieval and Capitalist societies, the volume of work performed by women has always been considerable (it has usually been much more than this). It is only its form that is in question. Domestic labour, even today, is enormous if quantified in terms of productive labour. In any case women’s physique has never permanently or even predominantly relegated them to menial domestic chores. In many peasant societies, women have worked in the fields as much as, or more than men.”

 

Physique and Coercion

327

       “Man not only has the strength to assert himself against nature, but also against his fellows. Social coercion has interplayed with the straightforward division of labour, based on biological capacity, to a much greater extent than generally admitted. Of course, it may not be actualized as direct aggression. In primitive societies women’s physical unsuitability for the hunt is evident. In agricultural societies where women’s inferiority is socially instituted they are given the arduous task of tilling and cultivation. For this coercion is necessary. In developed civilizations and more complex societies woman’s physical deficiencies again become relevant. Women are no use either for war or in the construction of cities. But with early industrialization coercion once more becomes important. As Marx wrote: ‘Insofar as machinery dispenses with muscular power, it becomes a means of employing labourers of slight muscular strength, and those whose bodily development is incomplete, but whose limbs are all the more supple. The labour of women and children was, therefore, the first thing sought for by capitalists who used machinery.’” [Karl Marx, Capital I, 394]

327-8    

“René Dumont points out that in many zones of tropical Africa today men are often idle, while women are forced to work all day. This exploitation has no ‘natural’ source whatever. Women may perform their ‘heavy’ duties in contemporary African peasant societies not for fear of physical reprisal by their men, but because these duties are ‘customary’ and built onto the role structures of the society. A further point is that coercion implies a different relationship from coercer to coerced than exploitation does. It is political rather than economic…. For far from woman’s physical weakness removing her from productive work, her social weakness has in these cases evidently made her the major slave of it.”

 

Reproduction

328

       “Women’s absence from the critical sector of production historically, of course, has been caused not just by their physical weakness in a context of coercion—but also by their role in reproduction. Maternity necessitates periodic withdrawals from work, but this is not a decisive phenomenon. It is rather women’s role in reproduction which has become, in capitalist society at least, the spiritual ‘complement’ of men’s role in production. Bearing children, bringing them up, and maintaining the home—these form the core of woman’s natural vocation, in this ideology. This belief has attained great force because of the seeming universality of the family as a human institution. There is little doubt that Marxist analyses have underplayed the fundamental problems posed here.”

329

       “Reproduction, it has been stressed, is a seemingly constant atemporal phenomenon—part of biology rather than history. In fact this is an illusion. What is true is that the ‘mode of reproduction’ does not vary with the ‘mode of production’; it can remain effectively the same through a number of different modes of production. For it has been defined till now, by its uncontrollable, natural character. To this extent, it has been an unmodified biological fact. As long as reproduction remained a natural phenomenon, of course, women were effectively doomed to social exploitation. In any sense, they were not masters of a large part of their lives. They had no choice as to whether or how often they gave birth to children (apart from repeated abortion), their existence as essentially subject to biological processes outside their control.”

 

Reproduction and Production

329-30

       At present, reproduction in our society is often a kind of sad mimicry of production. Work in a capitalist society is an alienation of labour in the making of a social product which is confiscated by capital. But it can still sometimes be a real act of creation, purposive and responsible, even in conditions of the worst exploitation. Maternity is often a caricature of this. The biological product—the child—is treated as if it were a solid product. Parenthood becomes a kind of substitute for work, an activity in which the child is seen as an object created by the mother, in the same way as a commodity is created by a worker. Naturally, the child does not literally escape, but the mother’s alienation can be much worse than that of the worker whose product is appropriated by the boss. No human being can create another human being. A person’s biological origin is an abstraction. The child as an autonomous person inevitably threatens the activity which claims to create it continually merely as a possession of the parent. Possessions are felt as extensions of the self. The child as a passion is supremely this. Anything the child does is therefore a threat to the mother herself who has renounced her autonomy through this misconception of her reproductive role. There are few more precarious ventures on which to base a life.”

330

       “Furthermore even if the woman has emotional control over her child, legally and economically both she and it are subject to the father. The social cult of maternity is matched by the real socioeconomic powerlessness of the mother. The psychological and practical benefits men receive from this are obvious….”

       “Unlike her nonproductive status, her capacity for maternity is a definition of woman. But it is only a physiological definition. So long as it is allowed to remain a substitute for action and creativity, and the home an area of relaxation for men, women will remain confined to the species, to her universal and natural condition….”

 

Goldberg, Marilyn Power. “The Economic Exploitation of Women.” Edwards, Reich, and Weisskopf 341-8.

Socialization to be Secondary

342

       “Women are taught from the time they are children to play a serving role, to be docile and submissive, get what they want by being coy instead of aggressive. They are socialized to expect that they will spend their lives as housewives and mothers—for toys they are given the tools of their trade: dolls, tea sets, frilly dresses, and so on. They are never encouraged to think in terms of a career, unless it be one which is an extension of the serving, subordinate role in the family, such as nursing or being a secretary. As they grow they learn that it is unfeminine and therefore abhorrent to be self-assertive or to compete with men. Thus most women mature with the understanding that their primary role is that of housewife and mother and that, while they may per chance work, their contribution will be merely supplemental and temporary; they will not have a career. This is true despite the fact that most women who work are essential to support themselves and their families.”

342-3

       “These attitudes which women have learned about themselves and their work made them a convenient, cheap marginal labor force for capitalism. Because they consider their economic contribution supplementary even when it is necessary to maintain a decent standard of living for their families, they are more willing than men to accept low pay and poor working conditions. Because they have been socialized to be docile and accept subordinate positions, they are far less likely than men to organize or create trouble for the employer. As they feel responsible to continue their role as housewives and mothers while working (and there are no facilities to relieve them of this burden), they are forced to accept a very low economic position and, even if skilled, to be exploited as a cheap labor force. They are bound to search for work near their homes and very often for only part of the day or the year. Thus, they are in a poor bargaining position vis-à-vis their employers. This situation is further exacerbated by the tendency of many women to work until their children are born, drop out of the work force for ten, fifteen, even twenty years, then return to work after their children are grown. Thus they never acquire seniority or qualify for retirement and other benefits—employers, who are reluctant to promote women to prestigious or high paying jobs, have an excuse not to do so. Besides these considerations of the detrimental effects the traditional roles of women have on their economic position, there is also plain discrimination on the part of employers, who are reluctant to hire women to positions of importance or where they will have authority over male workers and who, given the opportunity, prefer to promote men and to lay off women.”

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