Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Short Note on Rancière and Class

I've argued previously that class is an important category in the work of Jacques Rancière. Rarely, however, do we find such a direct reference to class as in this short piece in the Guardian, discussing the revival of Marxism:
[The author is talking about class with Owen Jones, author of Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class...] "If I had written it four years earlier it would have been dismissed as a 1960s concept of class," says Jones. "But class is back in our reality because the economic crisis affects people in different ways and because the Coalition mantra that 'We're all in this together' is offensive and ludicrous." [...]
This chimes with something Rancière told me. The professor argued that "one thing about Marxist thought that remains solid is class struggle. The disappearance of our factories, that's to say de-industrialisation of our countries and the outsourcing of industrial work to the countries where labour is less expensive and more docile, what else is this other than an act in the class struggle by the ruling bourgeoisie?"
Things even get a bit stranger when he discusses the "gravediggers" of capitalism, a figure that Rancière often criticizes (he treats it as a synecdoche for "historical necessity," which he dismisses below):
After all, I suggest to Rancière, the bourgeoisie has failed to produce its own gravediggers. Rancière refuses to be downbeat: "The bourgeoisie has learned to make the exploited pay for its crisis and to use them to disarm its adversaries. But we must not reverse the idea of historical necessity and conclude that the current situation is eternal. The gravediggers are still here, in the form of workers in precarious conditions like the over-exploited workers of factories in the far east. And today's popular movements – Greece or elsewhere – also indicate that there's a new will not to let our governments and our bankers inflict their crisis on the people."

No comments: