“Forget the Dialectic”

Heres a _rough_ version of the paper I gave at the Marxist Literary Group – Institute on Culture and Society 2010 in Antigonish at St. Francis Xavier University:

Forget The Dialectic

Too many

Movement philosophers,

not enough

moving philosophy.

The curse of





make a motion,

fake e-motion.

We need more





in the heat

of resistance.

–Ron Sakolsky, Swift Winds


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The Becoming-Necessary of the Capitalist Mode of Production

It all started with a bang.  “It was necessary to create the conditions for a swerve.”  But some bangs are bigger than others.  If we eat our desert first and forgo the tough-going beginning of Capital, we’ll find the becoming-necessary of capital in chapters 26+.  “Written in the annals of mankind of blood and fire” the so-called primitive accumulation provides the first stock to be thrown in the fire.  Once added, as the newly dispossessed become abstract labor and therefore fit into the equation like an element, the encounter begins to work like a chemical reaction and M-C-M’ begins.  But the original accumulation of forces was not enough to keep the process going on its own.  Like an arranged marriage, the encounter is forced until the betrothed learn to love one another.

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foucault and over-determination

foucault, student of althusser, is known by many independently of his teacher’s influence.  traces of althusser’s method can be found in foucault’s work – even the most ‘radical’ moves that one might not initially attribute to an althusserian influence.

one of the most (non)obvious examples is foucault’s almost obsessive research on the production of truth through the manufacturing of speaking subjects.  like althusser’s subjectivity without a subject, foucault similarly posits subjectivity as a process of bodies caught up in their own subjection.

althusser’s system of “over-determination” builds in a humility that doesn’t rely on a single determinate cause – borrowing from the strategies of freud’s dream interpretation used to carefully break the frustration of mis-recognition.  in contrast to the all-too-common notion that foucault was rabidly anti-psychoanalytic (quickly broken by even a small foray into his biography would find that he received psychology training), i would argue that foucault’s own concept of immanent causality borrows heavily from althusser, and thus also sharing a heritage in freudian dream interpretation.

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