M-TH: Struggle against exploitation as learned and drive
Charles Brown CharlesB at CNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us 
Tue Sep 8 14:39:51 MDT 1998 

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>>> Andrew Wayne Austin writes:
Charles Brown wrote:

> Some material interests, like hunger do not have to be learned. They are
> instinctive to the individual.

First, hunger is a drive, not an instinct. An instinct is a complex set of
behaviors that do not have to be learned. A spider building a web is an
example of an instinct. Unlike spiders, human beings must learn to build
their webs, so to speak. 

Charles: OK . Do humans have any instincts
at all ,left ? All of our complex sets of behaviors
have significant learning ?  We have no
pure instincts left.

But even if we were to consider hunger as an
instinct, it is not an analog to class struggle since both workers and
capitalists hunger. 

Charles: The reasoning here would
be as follows: If a capitalist were robbed
of the fruits of his labor, he would fight
to get them too. But, of course, capitalists
are not, by definition ,robbed of the
fruits of their labor.

Unlike hunger, however, the interests of the
capitalist in exploiting labor-power and the interests of the worker in
resisting this exploitation, are mutually exclusive (although they can be
rationalized to be mutually beneficial).

See what I say about your first analogy.
That is it is not a good analogy.
Also, it gets confused because you

All humans have hunger and
capitalists are humans (supposedly),
so capitalists have hunger.

But it is not true that all classes
are exploited. So, no analogy can
be set up between hunger and
struggle for the fruits of one's labor.

> What I am saying is that an individual who is exploited, i.e. labors and
> then has the fruits of that labor taken does not have to learn to
> dislike it. 

If the circumstances under which people labor are bad enough then I think
some people realize this. But I don't think this is properly described as
an instinct. I think it is experiential, that is learned from experience,
that the given conditions are beneficial to one's oppressor and contrary
to one's well-being. On the other hand, I think that a majority of workers
today are grateful that there are entrepreneurs who have the good skill to
create jobs. I do not believe that more than tiny minority of workers
understand that the fruits of their labor is appropriated by the
capitalist. I think they believe the wage is fair. 

Again, all human complex behavior has a 
significant learning component, i.e.
experiential. Some of it
is entirely learned or experiential.
But different HISTORICAL epochs
have different experiences. So,
for something under the ancient
slave mode to be the same thing-
class struggle - as in the capitalist
mode there must be something else
common besides EXPERIENCE, because
by definiton the experiences are different.
What is common is the "drive" to 
own and consume the fruits of one's
own labor.

As to workers not understanding 
that they are exploited, that's
the "shell game" I was referring too.
The exploitation is not open and
obvious, so the drive doesn't kick

Again the class awareness is not
instinctive or a drive. That is learned
and combines with the individual
displeasure at being ripped off. 

> It's like avoiding being murdered, or better, tortured. Individuals
> don't have to learn to dislike being murdered or tortured, but they
> would have to learn that they are murdered or tortured because they are
> part of a certain social group. 

This is a good analogy. But I would submit to you that dislike for torture
is not an instinctual response but rather is reflexive. I want to be
precise in our terms. (we have to note that some people get off on pain.)

Charles: OK drive , reflex. Of course, there
are in born and learned reflexes too.

Getting off on pain is learned, in my 
opinion. It is certainly true that humans
are characterized by an enormous 
capacity to repress or reverse
inborn reflexes and instincts. This
is our unique characteristic. You know,
we can fly and swim under water, 
beyond our instincts and natural
abilities or inclinations. Durkheim
wrote on suicide, for example.

> Would you elaborate what you mean in your last sentence ? 

My last sentence was a statement against the theory that history and
culture reflect some intrinsic aspect of human biology. The range of human
variation, within and across populations, is far too narrow to account for
the wide range of historical and cultural variability. Therefore class
struggle is a social and historical event and state of affairs, not to be
explained by appeals to biologisms like instinct.

Charles: OK the range of human BIOLOGICAL
variation is far too narrow...etc. But
if class struggle is the SAME thing in different
historical and social contexts, then we are not
explaining a VARIABILITY but an INvariability.
We wouldn't use the same scientific
term to describe it if it did not have a core
commonality across historical modes.

Well, now we are back to the original point in

The problem is why is class struggle in
particular TRANS historical and TRANS
social ? Logically, if a trait is not unique to
one historical mode or social order, then
how do you explain it historically or
socially ? That's what it means for something
to be historical or social: When the historical
mode or social mode changes, the "something"
would have to change too. 
To be transhistorical means that it
remains the same , in some sense, 
despite historical
change. See what I am saying ?


Charles Brown

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