Proletarianization for all! Shopping as civil war.

panorama battleSpeaking at the 4th General Assembly of the Chamber of Merchants and Craftsmen In November 2014, Tayyip Erdoğan said:

“For us, tradesmen and artisans are not merely the people who do business, buy and sell. In our civilization, tradesmen and artisans are soldiers when needed; they are martyrs who fall while defending the homeland, veterans and heroes,” … “They are the police who maintain security, judges and arbitrators who maintain justice”

I am teaching the death knell section of Capital this week. Local events have brought home very much the reactionary role of those petty traders that align with capital in a reactionary way. Here with Presidential approval, they claim the streets for a miserable cut-price commerce and little else (think shopping malls and security guards too). Alongside their marginal gains, they provide Capital with an obsolete but fascist patrol (as *in the *UK *too), always backed by violence, in uniform or not – a last ditch defence of marginal privileges that must be overcome. Shopping is not just civil war because the capitalists pass on our discounts as wage cuts to other workers, but also because smoothing the streets facilitates the enforced sale of commodified junk made by others so you can make commodified junk (and surplus) for capital – a double trick. The petty trader is a block, and a bloc, on the wrong side of the process. Speaking of the collective worker, paid and unpaid, the proletarianisation of all is socialised labour alongside the centralisation of capital in the hands of a few magnates, Marx adds a footnote to the Manifesto as he notes how this process of centralisation also turns the mass of the people into a class with interests diametrically opposed to capital – the contradictions expressed in crisis, and this low-level petty civil war is a crisis – the contradictions…

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So, you know, there a bits of Capital where Marx thought it was worth explaining a wider context for things he had written before, and I think there is something to be said for rethinking the terms used then in the terms used now because, uncanny repetitions, there is something in the way we are still all drawn into the proletarianisation game (even if Bernard Stiegler too often wants to point out Marx was wrong, it is interesting to see how much of what he said can help make sense of new circumstances).


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