After the Revolution of Capital

Presentation Notes

April 2015, Jacques Wajnsztejn

Translated by: : Corentin Debailleul & Alastair Davidson

Original title: Après la révolution du capital


All the versions of this article: [ελληνικά] [English] [français] [italiano]


The slightly provoca­tive title, indi­cates the his­tor­ical moment from which we begin: the defeat of the last global rev­o­lu­tionary assault of the 1960-1970s. This assault marked the extreme limit of a clas­sist and pro­le­tarian pol­i­tics, espe­cially in the example of the Italian ‘Hot Autumn’ (1969)1. Nonetheless, this last assault already com­prised an under­standing of the need for a rev­o­lu­tion on a human basis2, for a cri­tique of work and for the super­s­es­sion of classes, as was notice­able in May 68 France and 1977 Italy3.

The defeat did not result in a counter-rev­o­lu­tion as there had been no gen­uine rev­o­lu­tion. Rather, a double move­ment ensued: the restruc­turing of cor­po­ra­tions and the ‘lib­er­a­tion’ of social and inter-indi­vidual prac­tices as if, all of a sudden, all bar­riers to the devel­op­ment of the society of cap­ital were swept away. The strait­jacket of the old bour­geois society was thrown off, even though society had already lost its bour­geois char­acter after the two World Wars, Fordism, and the real dom­i­na­tion of cap­ital, con­ser­va­tive ideas remained obsta­cles for the rev­o­lu­tion..

What was pre­sented as a ‘recu­per­a­tion’ by the 68 move­ment actu­ally was cap­ital’s last leap for­ward through class struggle that still was expressed in the law of value, the cen­trality of labour and in strug­gles around them (cf. LIP4 and other strug­gles about workers’ self-man­age­ment, skilled workers’ revolts, or the resis­tance of the last steel­workers and miners).

The change occurred in the late 1980s when the dynamics of cap­ital ceased to rely on a dialectic of class rela­tions. If classes still exist, they only do under the form of soci­o­log­ical cat­e­gories or as frac­tions without any pos­si­bility of class recom­po­si­tion (the orig­inal hypoth­esis of the Italian workers’ autonomy is obso­lete).

The 1970s crisis reminds us all that con­flicts between cap­ital and labour were located within a cap­i­talist social rela­tion, defined by the mutual depen­dence between the two poles of the social rela­tion, what­ever the tem­po­rary bal­ance of power. The dynamic of cap­ital no longer results from this antag­o­nistic con­flict, but from the dom­i­nance taken by both dead labour (mainly machines) over living labour (the labour force) and from the inte­gra­tion of techno-science into the pro­duc­tion pro­cess. The pro­duc­tive worker tends to become less and less the pro­ducer of value but rather an obstacle or a limit to this pro­cess in what we call the ‘inessen­tial­i­sa­tion of the labour force’. The increased pre­cari­sa­tion of the labour force cannot be under­stood as a reform of the indus­trial labour army as the­o­rised by Marx, i.e. as a phe­nomenon of pure pro­le­tari­sa­tion because the labour force is ‘too numerous’. The transfer of labour force from centre to periphery, in emerging coun­tries, does not belie this anal­ysis. First, if we take the example of China, for a few mil­lions of new jobs, how many tens of mil­lions of peas­ants cram into the periph­eries of the metropolis? Second, if we take Korea and India, there indus­tries are grad­u­ally replaced by high tech com­pa­nies and very modern facil­i­ties where the same sub­sti­tu­tion pro­cess cap­ital/labour is taking place.

This ten­dency explains, at least in rich coun­tries, why the idea of a guar­an­teed income is slowly gaining momentum, for the ide­ology of work per­sists, not as value but as dis­ci­pline. Hence, it becomes impos­sible to claim any worker iden­tity, since this relies on the idea of an essen­tial par­tic­i­pa­tion of this class in the trans­for­ma­tion of the world. In the true sense, we see the col­lapse of a whole world with its values, those of the workers’ com­mu­nity. Traces of this com­mu­nity can be found in fac­tory strug­gles (2009), such as that of Continental, where the workers occu­pied the fac­tory, although with no inten­tion to run it in a dif­ferent way (the 1970s cycle of strug­gles was over). Struggles taking place at the end of the affir­ma­tion of a worker iden­tity have ceased to chal­lenge the con­di­tion of the worker within the fac­tory. This affects the repro­duc­tion of the wage rela­tion as a whole. Paradoxically, this gen­eral crisis of the wage rela­tion does not allow for a frontal assault by wage earners. In recent strug­gles, even though they some­times used vio­lent forms, employees did not oppose the wage system but sought only to trade their exclu­sion from the pro­duc­tion pro­cess through actions that broke with large unions’ strate­gies (boss seques­tra­tions, threats to pro­duc­tion facil­i­ties). Against the nihilism of cap­ital, which dis­misses employees when profits rise, employees cur­rently answer with resis­tance – at best – and with some kind of right to with­drawal. Those prac­tices are cer­tainly not rad­ical in the sense of a direct and imme­diate sub­ver­sion of the rela­tions of dom­i­na­tion. That would require com­bining rad­i­calism as form (the use of ille­gality, including vio­lence) with rad­i­calism as con­tent (the cri­tique of work and wage); that is, giving pos­i­tive con­tent to revolt. Yet they are rad­ical in what they express neg­a­tively: they are the defen­sive counter-fire of the employees against their inessen­tial­i­sa­tion in the cur­rent restruc­turing. The nihilism of neo-modern cap­i­talism is no longer opposed by the per­spec­tive of some sort of socialism (what pos­i­tive con­tent could they find there anyway?) but by the end of all affir­ma­tion of the worker iden­tity and its pro­gramme.

We are in the grotesque sit­u­a­tion where rulers keep on wishing to extend the legal retire­ment age while CEOs keep on dis­missing their old workers! The con­tra­dic­tion in the inessen­tial­i­sa­tion of labour in a society dom­i­nated by the social imag­i­nary of work is simply neglected, to avoid acknowl­edging the wage system crisis. The focus is then on the broad equi­libria to be re-estab­lished or main­tained (bud­getary rigour, debt con­straints, active/inac­tive ratio, etc. ).

But this col­lapse also affects what some call the ‘real economy’, which ben­e­fits not a ‘casino economy’ but a total­i­sa­tion of cap­ital, which allows power strate­gies that pro­mote cap­ital flows over the globe par­tic­u­larly where the sit­u­a­tion is favourable. This repli­cates Fernand Braudel, for whom cap­i­talism was not a system but a pro­cess of mas­tering the path and tem­po­rality of money.

Capital pushes back its own limits (the limit is capital itself)

By:

— The social­i­sa­tion of prop­erty (cor­po­ra­tions), pro­duc­tion and knowl­edge (recent sig­nif­i­cance of the General Intellect);

— The social­i­sa­tion of income (a large share of employees’ income is indi­rect) and prices (increas­ingly arti­fi­cial or admin­is­tered as we have shown in Crise financière et cap­ital fictif (L’Harmattan. 2009).

These two first points are the result of an ongoing pro­cess, which started at the tran­si­tion from the formal to the real dom­i­na­tion of cap­ital – even though this peri­odi­s­a­tion does not fully sat­isfy us.

— The encom­passing of the con­tra­dic­tion between the devel­op­ment of pro­duc­tive forces and the nar­row­ness of pro­duc­tion rela­tions did not lead to a ‘deca­dence’ of cap­i­talism through the lim­i­ta­tion of the growth of pro­duc­tive forces, but on the con­trary, to a head­long rush in tech­no­log­ical inno­va­tion. Contrary to what the Marxist the­o­rists of ‘deca­dence’ believed – obsessed by the con­tra­dic­tion between growth of the pro­duc­tive forces and the limits of pro­duc­tion rela­tions –, cap­i­talism does not hinder the pro­duc­tive forces, but encour­ages them. Initially, in the name of Progress, nowa­days in the name of power, cap­i­talism rushes into the dynamics of end­less inno­va­tion. Capital has a thirst for wealth, hence its dif­fi­culty in holding the vessel on the ide­o­log­ical and repro­duc­tive course of ‘sus­tain­able devel­op­ment’ (see the shale gas issue).

— ‘Fictivisation’ makes obso­lete the tra­di­tional divi­sion between the dif­ferent forms of cap­ital (finan­cial, com­mer­cial, indus­trial) and makes obso­lete the idea of a pro­gres­sion of those forms towards com­ple­tion under the indus­trial form, typ­ical of both cap­i­talism and… com­mu­nism. This devel­op­ment of fic­ti­tious cap­ital is no longer tem­po­rary, as Marx thought in his time, and is cer­tainly no ‘unnat­ural’ drift of cap­ital, as is claimed by all the dis­ci­ples of a moral­i­sa­tion of cap­i­talism, who indis­crim­i­nately denounce the casino economy, spec­u­la­tive finance, or traders’ risk appetite. It has become a struc­tural com­po­nent of cap­ital in what we might call its pro­gress towards totality. With the exten­sion of fic­ti­tious cap­ital, total cap­ital tends to-pre­sup­pose itself, leaving out any val­ori­sa­tion through labour5. It also tends to eman­ci­pate itself from the immod­erate growth of fixed cap­ital (accu­mu­la­tion). This growth devalues through the accel­er­ated obso­les­cence of machines, and is a factor that inhibits the move­ment of flu­idity required by its overall dynamics, which is now char­ac­terised by strate­gies for seizing wealth by a power through the cir­cu­la­tion of value.

— This is a new dimen­sion of val­ori­sa­tion in a pro­cess of ‘glob­al­i­sa­tion’ that per­forms – besides the fusion of all the func­tions of money – a net­working of space and a ter­ri­to­ri­al­i­sa­tion in three levels:

The top level of the net­work (I) con­trols and directs the totality. It includes the dom­i­nant states (those taking part in major Summits) and a few emerging powers, such as China, cen­tral banks and finan­cial insti­tu­tions, multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions and wider infor­ma­tional spheres (IT, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, media, cul­ture). At this level of power, value is only com­pre­hended as rep­re­sen­ta­tion6. It is also the level of con­trol of wealth and har­nessing of finan­cial flows. Here, cap­ital dom­i­nates value, allowing it to develop fic­tivi­sa­tion and to repro­duce itself on this basis. It is repro­duc­tion that can be char­ac­terised as ‘con­tracted’ in the sense that while the ends remain dynamic, they are con­ju­gated with a static vision of world resources.

The second level (II) is where mate­rial pro­duc­tion and the cap­ital/labour rela­tion still dom­i­nate, even though value tends to be more and more autonomous of what used to be called pro­duc­tive labour, sup­posed to pro­duce value. This sector still pro­duces wealth but also con­sti­tutes a hin­drance to global dynamics, like agri­cul­ture during the first indus­trial rev­o­lu­tion. Either because immo­bilised cap­ital has become a burden too heavy to carry regarding the expected earn­ings and the adap­ta­tion to the quan­ti­ta­tive and qual­i­ta­tive vari­a­tions of demand; or because the mul­ti­tude of SMEs that com­pose it are losing their own dynamics, they are reduced to an out­sourcing role for huge net­works knit by transna­tional cor­po­ra­tions, whose main goals are alto­gether dif­ferent. It is also in this sector that job fluc­tu­a­tions count within a com­pe­ti­tion made fierce by glob­al­i­sa­tion but also by a new mode of organ­i­sa­tion that increas­ingly exports prob­lems from centre to periphery, according to a spider web scheme. The parent com­pany and some of its branches, which work in level I, exter­nalise their prob­lems to the next web cir­cles in level II, and, in the extreme, to level III (black economy, off­shore fac­to­ries). Each circle tends to tighten up con­di­tions in the next circle in order to ensure a leeway for the less favourable sit­u­a­tions to come. The link between the dif­ferent levels is quite clear in the ‘finan­cial’ crisis, where on the one hand level I banks bailed out by dom­i­nant forces and on the other hand, unem­ploy­ment hit level II with new off­shorings or per­ma­nent clo­sures.

The bottom level (III) con­tains the pro­ducers from the periphery and dom­i­nated states, which suffer global prices for their expor­ta­tions, as well as ren­tier states, which take advan­tage of the increasing scarcity of nat­ural resources. Level III is the one that suf­fers a plun­dering of its nat­ural resources, which fuels the pos­si­bility for fic­tivi­sa­tion in level I not only thanks to low pro­duc­tion costs (‘under­valued’ according to Marxist meta­physi­cians) but also by feeding cap­ital flows in finan­cial mar­kets. The old dis­tinc­tion between the ‘right’ cap­i­talist profit and the ‘wrong’ pre-cap­i­talist rent no longer holds, as for a long time old forms of rents – such as the oil rent – have been sources of huge cap­ital trans­fers, now relayed through mafias in dif­ferent republics of former USSR. They right­fully stand alongside other forms of rent in level I, and in par­tic­ular within the ‘global oligopoly’ that con­trols cog­ni­tive cap­ital and major inno­va­tions. These last three points do not really con­sti­tute a second phase or a com­ple­tion of the real dom­i­na­tion of cap­ital, but rather a new step in the total­i­sa­tion pro­cess of cap­ital, made pos­sible by the rup­ture that the rev­o­lu­tion of cap­ital has rep­re­sented.

Contradictions have not disappeared, they are transposed to the overall reproduction level

In the ‘Fragment on Machines’ Marx hypoth­e­sised a super­s­es­sion of the law of value thanks to the devel­op­ment of a General Intellect. This hypoth­esis has become reality… without any eman­ci­pating per­spec­tive for the workers. The old socialist pro­gram of a tran­si­tion phase to com­mu­nism was even­tu­ally made real by cap­ital. Capital now dom­i­nates value, which becomes evanes­cent7 once this cap­ital itself can deter­mine what is value and what is not. Value becomes rep­re­sen­ta­tion and is not mea­sur­able by some sub­stance (decreasing work time or poten­tially obso­lete machine) that con­stantly looses value while pro­duced wealth nev­er­the­less increases. We stumble here onto the foun­da­tion of polit­ical economy and its cri­tique: the con­fu­sion between wealth and value. According to the logic of the law of value, value has to decrease when wealth increases… but cur­rent ‘value cre­ation’ shows that value can increase without any wealth increase. The cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion of society thrives on that basis. Tendentially, any activity becomes the object of val­ori­sa­tion. However, these trans­for­ma­tions cannot be inter­preted as some pre­con­ceived plan, organ­ised by an almighty cap­i­talist class, and nei­ther as an uncon­scious pro­cess without sub­ject nor reflex­ivity, pure demon­stra­tion of a cap­ital that has become auto­matic. If we some­times have the feeling that dom­i­na­tion is exerted through objec­tivised pro­cesses – unrecog­nised as such (it is obvious in the rela­tion to work) – dom­i­na­tion pro­cesses keep on taking direct forms, as can be seen in the rem­nants of the nation-state refo­cusing on regalian func­tions. This is why the state seems to rigidify, to be nothing but a Ministry of the Interior in charge of secu­rity, to the point that many today forget the state’s rede­ploy­ment as a net­work.

The con­fu­sion comes from the ‘rev­o­lu­tion of cap­ital’ that gives the illu­sion of a cap­ital losing interest in its overall repro­duc­tion by seem­ingly focussing on short term man­age­ment objec­tives in place of a long term strategy of repro­duc­tion. Capitalised society appar­ently has no great pro­ject, does not form a ‘system’. However, ‘sus­tain­able devel­op­ment’ shows that that is not the case.

That is why we prefer to use the notions of ‘non-sys­temic dom­i­na­tion’, ‘cap­ital’ and ‘cap­i­talised society’ rather than ‘cap­i­talist system’.

The net­work-state in the rev­o­lu­tion of cap­ital serves as an infras­truc­ture for cap­ital and no longer as a super­struc­ture for the ben­efit of the ruling class. The state is no longer the state of the ruling class, in charge of obscuring and con­taining ‘the social ques­tion’, as the night-watchman state. Nor can it work any longer as its cap­i­talist wel­fare form, as a medi­a­tion of medi­a­tions by forging a class com­pro­mise, or as a super­me­di­a­tion in the nation-state/repub­lican ide­ology.

By syn­the­sising and rep­re­senting the recip­rocal depen­dency between the two classes of the cap­i­talist social rela­tion, it has realised Marx’ pre­dic­tion about the polit­ical with­ering away of the state and the tran­si­tion to the simple ‘admin­is­tra­tion of things’, without the eman­ci­pating aspects. Unlike the orig­inal nation-state, which used to take polit­ical deci­sions, the net­work-state reduces pol­i­tics to man­age­ment and con­tents itself with media impacts and effi­cient con­trol over social rela­tions by per­me­ating them down to the last detail. With the end of classes as antag­o­nistic sub­jects, the state does not have to rep­re­sent forces; it does not even have to rep­re­sent the gen­eral interest, as it mate­ri­alises that interest directly in face of what now appear only as par­tic­ular inter­ests to which the state con­cedes par­tic­ular rights. Hence the feeling that there is an explo­sion of rules and laws to con­trol, secure and manage, while large insti­tu­tions related to the nation-state are fading away8 or becoming inde­pen­dent, while the uni­ver­sality of Law and Rights is declining. Contrary to ‘rights from’, which sup­pos­edly founded civil society’s autonomy from the demo­cratic state, rights are nowa­days ‘rights to’ that we can ‘shoot’ at a state whose pre­rog­a­tives are total, as laws per­vade every nook and cranny of what used to be ‘pri­vate lives’. The PACS9, for example – all the con­cocted mea­sures for the future homo­sexual mar­riage and the con­se­quent adop­tion would do as well as exam­ples –, illus­trates this tem­po­rary crys­talli­sa­tion of a sexual-finan­cial inter­me­diary between the old insti­tu­tion of democra­tised bour­geois mar­riage and the pure sexual com­bi­na­tion of clas­si­fied ads and of cybersex. Hence the poten­tial­i­ties of cap­i­talised society become the social needs of indi­vid­uals. We face a car­i­ca­ture of the old civil society now lim­ited to the col­li­sion of pri­vate inter­ests with one another. Corporatisms make their return – this is not only a jour­nal­istic-soci­o­log­ical catch­phrase –, even though they take new forms and go beyond the scope of work­places. Today, anyone can organise their own little demon­stra­tion, block an highway toll booth, assault their pre­fec­ture or their McDonald’s, go on hunger strike, and then be received by the author­i­ties. All of this is sat­u­rated by a dis­course on ‘social issues’ by the media and the state together, the latter often speaking through mem­bers of what is still called ‘civil society’. The state advo­cates ‘cit­izen con­fer­ences’ or for ‘con­sul­ta­tion and involve­ment of cit­i­zens’ in order to give them back the floor. ‘Citizens’ move­ments’ are estab­lished and will estab­lish them­selves as the new medi­a­tors solving ‘soci­etal prob­lems’ while they actu­ally are nothing more than inter­me­di­aries. The ‘cit­i­zenist’ aims to become a pow­erful medi­ator and cit­i­zens’ move­ments seek to give a ‘new meaning to social issues’. Their moral aspect should allow them to over­come the scat­tering of par­tic­ular inter­ests and to prac­tice pol­i­tics dif­fer­ently. There is an inter­ac­tion between the state and cit­i­zenists with the goal of ensuring a repro­duc­tion and man­age­ment of social rela­tions made dif­fi­cult by the glob­al­i­sa­tion of cap­ital. Capitalised society needs to pro­duce its own chal­lengers in order to locate its missing anchors.

The crisis of traditional mediations and the fading institution[10]

First, a crisis of labour, which becomes ‘in excess’, even though it is not the end of labour but a broad­ening of employ­a­bility, unem­ploy­ment and pre­carity… The labour con­straint per­sists at least in its ability to remain the pre­req­ui­site to access rights and, of course, for an income. But labour has lost some of its intrinsic value in favour of an extrinsic value (as the source of sur­vival and socia­bility). Labour is no longer what workers do (con­crete labour), but has become abstract labour, the foun­da­tion of a social rela­tion of dom­i­na­tion that is more than exploita­tion (the ‘pro­duc­tive labour’ issue is out­dated).

Second, a crisis of the wel­fare state and its ‘social democ­racy’. Paradoxically, the state refo­cuses on regalian func­tions without returning to its pre­vious form, the night-watchman state. Hence it is not ‘police every­where, jus­tice nowhere’ as claimed by modern left­ists, but the state is nonethe­less every­where, mul­ti­faceted. Indeed, its social­i­sa­tion func­tions have become per­va­sive, where once they worked through cen­tralised inter­ven­tion, nowa­days they work through net­works of pro­tec­tion and con­trol, in liaison with mul­tiple co-working organ­i­sa­tions and forces ‘in the field’ (secu­rity staff in munic­ipal trans­port com­pa­nies, neigh­bour­hood trouble-shooters, sports organ­iser, etc.).

Finally, the last ele­ment, because they were pil­lars of the old state form, large insti­tu­tions are col­lapsing. Those insti­tu­tions follow a double move­ment. On the one hand, they tend to become autonomous of the cen­tral power in order to keep on existing while state authority seems to weaken. The best example of this can be found in Italy during the so-called ‘Years of Lead’ and the con­se­quent ‘mani pulite’11. On the other hand, the exec­u­tive power tends to absorb this inde­pen­dence, by directly inte­grating the insti­tu­tion into exec­u­tive power (e.g. in France and Italy, the rela­tions between polit­ical power and Justice). Implementing inter­na­tional – and par­tic­u­larly European – rules of sub­sidiarity of powers com­pletes the job in the sense that national insti­tu­tions – already in crisis on their own ter­ri­tory – have to take a back seat to inter­na­tional insti­tu­tions and transna­tional agree­ments (see e.g. the Bologna Directives for a new kind of school and teaching or Schengen agree­ment for police forces).

An anthropological revolution

The rev­o­lu­tion of cap­ital is not only a restruc­turing and glob­al­ising of the rela­tion to an ‘external nature’ (what do-gooders call the economy), but also a rev­o­lu­tion of an ‘inner nature’. Capitalised society tends to sup­press all the human fig­ures that were nec­es­sary for cap­i­talism’s pro­gress towards matu­rity: the risk-taking entrepreneur, the civil ser­vant in search of rational and imper­sonal organ­i­sa­tion, the good worker, the sta­bil­ising couple and family, pro­fes­sional training, and so on. They all give way to arti­fi­cial life pro­cesses (vir­tu­al­i­sa­tion), which are but the twins of the afore­men­tioned fic­tivi­sa­tion pro­cess. Capitalised society has incor­po­rated the tech­ni­cian system, just as cap­ital had incor­po­rated techno-science, ren­dering point­less any attempt at reap­pro­pri­a­tion on these bases. Capitalised society is the ten­dency for cap­ital to become an envi­ron­ment, a cul­ture, a specific form of society, a sym­biosis between the state under its net­work form, the broader power net­works (large cor­po­ra­tions, ICT and cul­ture) and sociality net­works. Individuals’ sub­jec­tivity now tends to become inwardly deter­mined. Needs are being pro­duced – this could not be antic­i­pated by the young Marx in his eman­ci­pating vision and his idea of poten­tially unlim­ited needs, which became the ide­ology of the ‘con­sumer society’. Capitalised society is unable to think its needs out­side of any techno-sci­en­tific activity, and seems to have no goal but its own accel­er­ated repro­duc­tion. On this basis, it only tries to solve self-cre­ated prob­lems, never ques­tioning the sense nor the end of its devel­op­ment. The emerging social imag­i­nary seems to lack con­sis­tence when it calls for a total mobil­i­sa­tion of all human resources in the name of increas­ingly murky pur­poses. What workers used to per­ceive as a dis­ci­pline at work and for work, even through exploita­tion, appears more and more as harass­ment at work and pure dom­i­na­tion.

We are wit­nessing a col­lapse of the imag­i­nary, which is dis­guised, case by case, as a cli­mate, finan­cial, energy, eco­log­ical, or social crisis. That opens up the field for new social meaning and new col­lec­tive action. However, ‘remaking society’ is a deceit. Individual/com­mu­nity ten­sion has to solve the aporia of an age-old oppo­si­tion between indi­vidual and society and the impasse of the oppo­si­tion between on the one hand the abstract uni­ver­sality of the Enlightenment and French Revolution, and on the other hand the cur­rent devel­op­ment of par­tic­u­larisms and cul­tural rel­a­tivism pre­sented as con­crete uni­ver­sals.

Notes

1 – The Hot Autumn (autunno caldo in Italian) of 1969–1970 was a mas­sive series of strikes in the fac­to­ries and indus­trial cen­ters of Northern Italy [trans­lator’s note, from wikipedia].

2 – As opposed to the theory of rev­o­lu­tion relying on the sole working class [trans­lator’s note].

3 – See J. Guigou et J. Wajnsztejn, Mai 68 et le mai ram­pant italien. L’Harmattan. 2008.

4 – LIP is a French watch and clock com­pany whose tur­moil became emblem­atic of the con­flicts between workers and man­age­ment in France. The LIP fac­tory, based in Besançon in eastern France, was having finan­cial prob­lems in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and man­age­ment decided to try to close it. However, after strikes and a highly pub­li­cized fac­tory occu­pa­tion in 1973, LIP became worker-man­aged. All the fired employees were rehired by March 1974, but the firm was liq­ui­dated again in the spring of 1976. This led to a new struggle, called “the social con­flict of the 1970s” by the daily news­paper Libération. Confédération Française Démocra­tique du Travail (CFDT) union leader Charles Piaget led the strike. The Unified Socialist Party (PSU), which included former Radical Pierre Mendès-France, was then in favor of auto­ges­tion (workers’ self-man­age­ment) [trans­lator’s note, from wikipedia].

5 – See La valeur sans le tra­vail. Vol. 2 of Temps cri­tiques’ anthology. L’Harmattan, 1999.

6 – See the new cor­po­rate and media catch­phrase ‘value cre­ation’.

7 – See L’évanes­cence de la valeur, L’Harmattan, 2004.

8 – The move­ment in defence of par­tic­u­lar­i­ties only espouse the move­ment of cap­ital by trans­posing it from the eco­nomic sphere to its own sector, the man­age­ment of sub­jec­tivity. Therein lies the source of a gen­eral trend towards con­trac­tu­al­i­sa­tion of social rela­tions. If we con­sider the law on sexual harass­ment, we realise that we are not essen­tially dealing with spe­cial pro­tec­tive mea­sures for women, but with the enact­ment of a rule that must end ‘nat­u­rally’ unequal human rela­tions to fit with the legal and eco­nomic law of pri­vate prop­erty, in this case applied to our own bodies. For fur­ther devel­op­ments on the issue, see J. Wajnsztejn: Capitalisme et nou­velles morales de l’intérêt et du goût, L’Harmattan, 2002. Or more recently, by the same author: Rapports à la nature, sexe, genre et cap­i­tal­isme, Acratie, 2013.

9 – In France, a civil sol­i­darity pact (French: pacte civil de sol­i­darité), com­monly known as a PACS (pro­nounced: [paks]), is a con­trac­tual form of civil union between two adults for organ­ising their joint life. It brings rights and respon­si­bil­i­ties, but less so than mar­riage. The PACS was voted by the French Parliament in November 1999, largely to offer some legal status to same sex cou­ples [trans­lator’s note, from wikipedia].

10 – See J. Guigou: « L’insti­tu­tion résorbée », Temps cri­tiques n° 12, avail­able at http://temps­cri­tiques.free.fr, article n° 103.

11 – The Years of Lead were a polit­ical phe­nomenon related to the Cold War that was char­ac­ter­ized by left- and right-wing ter­rorism and the strategy of ten­sion, begin­ning in Italy and later spreading to the rest of Europe.

Mani pulite [clean hands] was a nation­wide Italian judi­cial inves­ti­ga­tion into polit­ical cor­rup­tion held in the 1990s. Mani pulite led to the demise of the so-called First Republic, resulting in the dis­ap­pear­ance of many par­ties. Some politi­cians and industry leaders com­mitted sui­cide after their crimes were exposed. In some accounts, as many as 5000 people have been cited as sus­pects. At one point more than half of the mem­bers of the Italian Parliament were under indict­ment. More than 400 city and town coun­cils were dis­solved because of cor­rup­tion charges. The esti­mated value of bribes paid annu­ally in the 1980s by Italian and for­eign com­pa­nies bid­ding for large gov­ern­ment con­tracts in Italy reached 4 bil­lion dol­lars [trans­lator’s note, from wikipedia].