200 Jahre Karl Marx: Philip Banse im Gespräch mit Stephan Lessenich

200 Jahre Karl Marx: Philip Banse im Gespräch mit Stephan Lessenich
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    Mr. Lessenich, Marx had a beard. Was he a hipster?
    Well, his beard probably wasn't trimmed enough for that. He probably would have had
    to cut it back and also tend it properly.
    so now, externally maybe, so, sort of, but he wouldn't
    really fit in with today's hipster image But he definitely was a man-about-town.
    So he not only formulated a great theory, he also left traces in life
    and in his surroundings.
    Absolutely. I think that's half the story, if you want to understand Marx.
    First of all his impulse, yes, and his motivation is naturally
    Of course ... the critique of political economy, i.e. what he
    found, not only with Hegel but also with the entire
    bourgeois economy of the time, he of course took as a provocation.
    and basically it's essential to understand his work as a critical
    approach to the existing knowledge and the ideologies surrounding it.
    You once wrote or said:
    "Anyone who wishes to understand the dynamics and contradictions of contemporary society
    has to read Marx and Capital." Why?
    As the simplest answer I'd say, because Marx poses the systemic question is asking the system question and not
    primarily in normative terms, that he says capitalism is a
    morally untenable system, because it produces so much social upheaval,
    but instead because he posed the systemic question in analytical terms. He really
    worked out the systemic elements of the capitalistic mode of production and
    mode of socialisation, and he showed that
    basically, today one would say one way or another all actors in this system
    are also driven and compelled, dominated.
    A capitalist is someone who, in bourgeois economic one would say responds
    to market signals, and Marx would say in the process of accumulation is ceaselessly forced to
    notch up his performance economically 29 00:02:23,180 --> 00:02:26,440 to see to it that he makes a profit, to be able to
    reinvest in the next period. He really sketched these systemic pressures
    in unsurpassed fashion, and they still play a central role today
    in diagnosing the present.
    We'll speak about digitalisation once more shortly,
    but before once more about such really fundamental problems of industrial societies:
    Distributive inequality between poor and rich, distributive inequality between North and South
    where prosperity and income are concerned. Can one explain these issues with Marx?
    Where can one sketch out solutions?
    Marx was, after all no inequality researcher 39 00:03:01,040 --> 00:03:03,800 in the modern sociological sense. In modern sociology one has
    strata, different income groups and then tweaks
    these categories. And he was actually a theorist of exploitation,
    and that means more than just inequality. He said there are two classes and they
    stand in a relationship of domination,
    the one exploiting the other. They have nothing to offer on the market
    but their labour power, and the others purchase this labour power, thereby
    purchasing a valuable product that they acquire individually and
    then can further exploit. And it's here that a number of points tend to get lost
    in modern inequality research. The aspect of domination.
    Marx also created a sociology of domination in capitalist
    society. Capital as a social relationship governs
    society and in the society and specific classes or class actors
    rule over others. So I think...
    This is true today as well?
    It's true today as well.
    But what if lots of people perhaps
    become unemployed in the future? Is an unconditional basic income
    capitalism's reaction? First we had Bismarck's reforms,
    then we had Social Democracy, then during the Cold War we
    made the systems a bit more social and
    adapted to capitalism. So is an unconditional basic income
    capitalism's next reaction to preserve itself in this form
    within the framework of digitalisation?
    First off, capitalism has always succeeded,
    if it were now an actor, or under
    capitalistic relations it was always the case that even in the case of radical
    technological innovation,
    human labour power was still required. During these shifts it was always thought 68 00:04:41,190 --> 00:04:46,320 "Well, this now will ultimately make human labour power superfluous" for the
    capitalist dynamics that somehow process this within their own logic. But it has never turned out like that.
    What sort of a society is it that arises through digitalisation,
    how, for instance, do we alter ourselves how do we define our individual „I",
    if perhaps work doesn't disappear, but lessens?
    Well, I think we'd live in a divided society
    as we in fact always have. Industrial society was
    also a divided society and not just between labour and
    capital, but also on the labour side. persistent gender-specific
    division of labour, industrial labour being male and everything else outside of the
    market and industrial sectors tendentially female. And I think we will
    see a new form of division.
    What will change fundamentally?
    Well, the connection between labour and - this is happening already today 82 00:05:38,220 --> 00:05:43,290 exploitation of labour in one firm. A business spatially affixed to
    a specific location. One goes somewhere, works there, and then
    goes back home. That is the classic notion of industrial labour.
    That of course has also changed greatly by now, even without digitalisation
    through service labour. The boundaries between
    work and life have become increasingly fluid, and that was true before the era of
    emails or other chat programmes. But of course
    that will get more intense. So I think the dissolution of labour,
    the decentralisation of labour, will increase and that also means the
    socialising effect of labour, what one had in firms in the past,
    which to Marx as well was a major socializing factor.
    So the working class socialises its common fate,
    which also takes place in a specific location. That will be gone, and
    thus all who seek to organise labour, unions are seeing this today already,
    are also in a difficult position,
    having to think „How, under such radically decentralised and despatialised
    forms of exploitation of labour, still present and organise
    work as something collective?"
    Stephan Lessenich, thank you for your time!
    Thank you!
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