- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Let's talk about ontology

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on June 26, 1999 at 11:54:19:

In Reply to: Radical Ontological Category errors. posted by Red Deathy on June 25, 1999 at 19:20:03:

: : Did I say blame? Did I say others should pass judgement upon you for being born, or yourself - no.

: But are you to blame for what you *do*? Being born black is what you are, being born Rich is what you do- difference.

SDF: Uh, , actually, RD, being born is not really your own effort. It's what your mother does to you -- she pushes you out of the womb. The matter at hand is that, since Gee thinks the born-rich deserve their privileges, he appears to be blaming the born-poor for what they are. Something you didn't do, being born, is a choice that is to be ascribed to you, not your mother. The consequences of that choice are all yours, since you are a "sovereign individual" in Gee's theology.

As long as we're talking ontology, it's time to ponder Marx's ontology... last I remember, Marx's ontology was proclaimed by his hagiographers to be an ontology of "becoming," that as people make and remake the world through their labor, the world is constantly becoming something new. Similarly, the bourgeoisie are becoming bourgeois, and the working class are becoming working class, through the process of the extraction of surplus labor. Contrast this with the static ontology of the "sovereign individual," fixated on the status of property-holding, which ignores the analysis of its own modes of becoming, whether they be birth, education, upbringing, socialization, the investment of surplus labor, what have you.

This ontology thing segues well into my question about Paul Willis' LEARNING TO LABOUR. Have you read it? What did you think about it? It's a matter of what counts as BECOMING working-class.


: : Its a chosen obligation, there being a difference between what you choose (agree) to be obliged to do and what you have not chosen (ie been forced to against your will).

: Is it: sign on the Condom machine "My daddy says they don't work."
: You choose to take the money, you have to accept the cosnquences.

SDF: RD I'm only interrupting here because your reply appears to be a non sequitur, otherwise I'd let you and Gee babble for all eternity. The question to ask is, "what in hell is a chosen obligation?" Either something is an obligation or it's not, in which case it's a matter of choice. Things that are chosen are not obligations, they're options, and obligations are not chosen, they're mandatory. To wit: either mommies can choose to abandon their babies in dumpsters, or they're obligated, by society, to keep such babies.

Follow Ups:

The Debating Room Post a Followup