Rhyd Wildermuth: The Birth Of Capitalism, Dead Labour, & Karl Marx The Animist



it seems to me that that marks because he was addressing various processes that were generating the conditions that were in today that even though he wasn't I would say I don't I don't think he was spiritual or religious in any if you went he's the word spiritual but he doesn't seem to have any sort of you know belief in some sort of spiritual or realm that is not very that does not perceive that cannot be perceived outside of just material conditions I guess he acknowledges certain things and you point this out and it's actually pretty interesting because like I said most of my understanding of Marx has been through a very through a lens of like we need to overthrow religion and we need to overthrow these these oppressive structures and you know I think of like Mao's China you know like let's get rid of all of the old ways or something like that or you know no religion of any kind but you tease out certain passages Marx wrote that have a really strong animus quality to them it's really really interesting i I think I think the one place where you know I could kind of go on about this for a long time and one day if I'd ever have the time and the resources for this I would love to just you know write out something about all of the alchemical references that Marx uses in endoscopy Tom mm-hmm but you know there are there are multiple places where he talks about the crystallization of value and the way that labor transmutes value you know both of those are direct references to alchemical language so that would that would mean and it would be surprising because of course in the in the 1800's you know almost all intellectuals were had a passing knowledge of of alchemy because a lot of the the scholars and philosophers from the the century before had themselves been Alchemist so even if you didn't believe alchemy was a thing even if you didn't there's any magic or any any real science to the whole thing you would have been familiar with the language so yeah you you can't immediately say that because Marx uses that language he had you know any sort of esoteric beliefs but but the point that the point where he gets shockingly animist is is when he talks about the organic composition of labour it's kind of a complicated concept but but actually you know I can find the quote while we're doing it I almost have it memorized but it's when he talks about dead labor and and and he for some reason you know and he doesn't he doesn't do this elsewhere but he talks about vampires and it was one of the places where it's like wait a minute what are you doing you're not you're not you're not as atheist as you're as you're letting everybody on see you make nobody else think but the I'm sorry I'm trying to find it circuit but basically he says um capital is dead labor that vampire life vampire like sucks the life of living labor and lives the more the more it sucks so in that passage he's talking about how he's talking about a primitive primitive accumulation which is the way that capital was gotten from slaves from colonial pillaging and conquest from enclosure and other just seizures of wealth that wealth is what became the capital that the capitalist class now and in the beginning of capital used to build factories to buy large spots of land in order to grow cotton to buy the slave to buy more slaves to pick that cotton to then send it to some mills that would comb it and then change it into clothing etc so he's talking about that that wealth that they started out with as being dead labor which is to say that that it came from living people who worked the lens who worked in the factories etc and created wealth that wealth is what's the the capitalist takes and then you know like vampires it continues living by sucking more off of living labor so I you know the the best thing is there a good way to look at this is let's look at all of the money that was gotten from slavery from the transatlantic slave trade etc oh you know that money didn't go away when when the slaves were freed the the people who had accumulated all of that wealth then needed to invest it somewhere else they they couldn't keep using slaves anymore so a lot of them opened up factories or they opened up banks so they bought lots of property etc and then they hired more people to work in those now they had to hire them they could have just forced people to do it any longer and then those people who were working for them increased the wealth of the of the rich person of the capitalist and so therefore made that original accumulation and that primitive accumulation of slave capital become bigger like and that's how it continues existing but you know he's when he talks about dead labor when he talks about the the way that capital is is composed organically yeah if you were to look at and at most animus traditions from South America from Africa you would see that you know this isn't a concept that's weird to them at all they're like no of course like he's he's talking about ancestors like he's talking about the way that that we continue to live the lives of our ancestors that that everything around us was built by the dead and and we are composed of the dead you know like we we eat dead things and and we continue to live and and then we will die and feedmore like hey you know like out of out of nowhere supposedly this this complete atheist who hates religion and all of that hits on a on a deeply animus concept and uses that to explain how the capitalists are constantly exploiting not just us in the present but continue to exploit our ancestors and the wealth that they got from those ancestors yeah it's yeah that's that's you know you you bring up something which is makes I think people who defend or yeah yeah defend capitalism I guess or believe it's sort of based on this sort of idea freedom of entrepreneurship and all these things like that capitalism is the best version of human nature right that this comes from our impulse to I don't know to to make something of ourselves whatever that means right and in what really blew my mind and you you go over this in your book and it it seems to be in direct reference to what Sylvia Federici brings up in her book Caliban and the witch and other writings she has written which is you know through the enclosures through the witch hunts that was that's the big part of it right it's the the sort of getting rid of those that stand in even just in the way they live and exist in the world stand in opposition to the new order that was emerging after feudalism was kind of seen to be not really relevant any longer and they were moving into a new new way of of doing things and all of these things had to be passed and this was all done through the state right you have powerful governments that were kind of imposing these new things on people and you know you mentioned the enclosures which literally is like to close off land that was once the Commons that the peasants basically would share and that was not available to them any longer or was really really restricted and this was happening all over Europe right and we can kind of see how that gave rise to you know the privatization of nature and and practically everything else in order for this system to even exist at all there had to be slavery there had to be the the enclosures the witch hunts like the level of violence that had to be thrown at people over hundreds of years to create the conditions required for capitalism to function at all it's like completely forgotten almost like it's not in it's not present in the awareness or consciousness of many people anymore




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