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Simon on Why There Cannot Be a Proletarian Morality

2018-07-07

I only reckon there can’t be a proletarian morality, that is a moral truth attached to some kind of objective section of society. I do think that there is Moral Truth, and that capitalism suppresses it – and not a postmodernist! – but, following Badiou, this Truth, while eternally true, cannot be positively represented within knowledge representation except as to point to the very limits of knowledge / representation. This is, moral Truth disrupts our existing state of knowledge, for a mass assembly like a Soviet posits within its very process the generic equality of all humans within it, who draw out various concrete and specific versions of the eternal Truth of generic equality in whatever political strategy is being discussed within that soviet. So I definitely do think there exists moral Truth – I just don’t think it can be attached to any a-priori subject located within the field of capitalism’s categories (such as labour, not even ‘labour-power’ – which I think refers not to capacity to labour, but to the most generic capacity to act that all humans have, and thus has no positive content in itself. It is capitalism itself which splits this generic capacity into the delimited category of ‘labour’) So if there is a human essence, it is simply that all humans speak and therefore are equal in terms of their participation in the collective symbolic (sum total of language). Equal not in any positive sense however - equal capacity to speak, equal position within language, equal personal positions or opinions – it is purely a *generic *equality, that is pure simple identity: The essence of humans is that they speak, and as speaking beings are exactly identical to each other in this completely generic capacity. As such moral *truth *can only be something that is produced on the basis of this, and doesn’t pre-exist it as some kind of essence within humans. As speaking beings we are generically identical to each other, and thus equal (the same). When this is posited explicitly, in mass assembly which challenges the existing state, we can thus *produce *various knowledges / strategies of how to be faithful to this generic equality revealed in mass assembly, but we cannot represent this truth directly –> its truth is not in language, but in the way mass assembly (equality of speaking beings directly activated in collective deliberation upon politics, or the infinity of possible situations) disrupts our knowledge / representation of moral truth. Communism in this sense could be seen as this raised to the level of constitutive principle: as a constant process of mass assembly (direct democracy) constantly disrupting and debating every fixed state of affairs (representation, language, sum total of the knowledges that make up society). “collectively managing our alienation”, as I think the accelerationists put it..

Let me know what you think! I guess this badiouian idea of morality overcomes the one-sidedness of Aristotle (virtue ethics, immanence of morality) and Plato / Kant (moral universality, as an ideal we constantly strive to reach but cannot directly grasp / represent). It also resurrections the idea of moral Truth, while fully accepted the post-structuralist critique of attempting to directly identify Truth (or the ultimate ground of all knowledge / concepts) with knowledge itself (language). Hence the post-structuralist critique of a ‘proletarian morality’ stands, while moral universality (truth) is still defended!