Wednesday, 2 December 2009

"We are our own worst enemies"

High time then for some John Mowitt:

Marx himself, wily Moor that he was, provides important if unwitting insight
when in elaborating the related distinction between productive and
unproductive labor he writes: “A schoolmaster who instructs others is not a
productive worker. But a schoolmaster who works for wages in an institution
along with others, using his own labor to increase the mon ey of the entrepreneur who owns the knowledge-mongering institution, is a productive worker.”
And then the “phrase that pays”: “But for the most part, work of this sort has scarcely reached the stage of being subsumed even formally under capital and belongs essentially to a transitional stage” (Capital 1044). As a reiteration of a parallel he earlier draws between professors and masters within the context of guild production (1029), the later formulation invites one to consider both whether with the advent of the global society of control, school teaching in fact remains lost in transition somewhere between the pre-formal, the formal and the real subsumption of labor, but also to what extent and with what significance does education factor, and factor decisively in Marx’s thinking about the becoming real, of formal subsumption. As both matters may be further agitated in the ensuing discussion I’ll not develop them further except to assert, in the interest of effecting a transition of my own, that from where I sit the transition is over.

The university is a “knowledge-mongering institution” and school teaching is now productive labor, which is precisely why syndicalism has asserted itself with urgency, if not success, in every corner of the educational field, but also, more ominously why the drumbeat of “deliverables” has become tortuously loud.

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