“In spite of the variety of his work, he knows that his labour, whatever its form, is but the activity of one and the same Robinson, and consequently, that it consists of nothing but different modes of human labour … All the relations between Robinson and the objects that form this wealth of his own creation, are here so simple and clear as to be intelligible without exertion, even to Mr. Sedley Taylor.
Let us now transport ourselves from Robinson’s island bathed in light to the European middle ages shrouded in darkness. Here, instead of the independent man, we find everyone dependent, serfs and lords, vassals and suzerains, laymen and clergy”
I dunno – just a throwaway comment, but… Marx was very much attuned to and knowledgeable about the slave trade and civil war when writing Capital, as I’ve often said in the lectures on Capital, and so I read his own Robinsonade in light of that knowledge.
Marx says something like: – “Let us leave Robinson on his Island, bathed in light… and then moves to the middle ages’. I think he would have been well aware of the last bit of the book where Robinson profits from slavery etc and wanted, like Tournier, to circumvent that denouement of the story. The argument I take from Spivak though is that Marx is saying, Look, even Robinson can understand labour time/value in production – to see the conditions of production is no big deal. Anything more than this is, well, not Marx, but others who have graphed on this whole thing about Robinson as embodiment of capitalist individualism etc
Perhaps it is a projection of Political Science, and certainly of those who love Robinsonades, that Robinson becomes the embodiment himself of a class category, or of social alienation (as Pawler sees it), but Marx does not sail out so far, or so I claim, following Spivak.
Whether it matters, hmmm. I think it does for the development that Marx sets up in the three snapshots he provides at this point in the text – Middle ages, Robinson, association of free individuals (not yet communist, perhaps socialist).
That Tournier leaves Robinson on the Island at the end, with Sunday because friday buggers off, is brave too.