Holloway “Doing against Labour”- We’re going further in-against-&-beyond!


Thanks for all your participation and encouragement while we explored John Holloway’s book in the 1st part of 2019. We continue that journey through the rest of this year, getting to grips with some of the big themes & concepts underlying the material we looked at.
To refresh and consolidate the thinking we already explored in that short book of Holloway’s – In, Against, and Beyond Capitalism – in this padkos mailing we explore John’s contention that ‘the revolt of doing against labour’ is at the heart of a genuinely imminent and liberatory prospect beyond capitalism. Over the coming months we’ll look at the themes of nature, politics & the state (September); of dignity (October); and of hope & creativity (November). For those three topics, we’ll get together to discuss the readings.
So before we get to those ‘palaver’ discussions, it’s vital to unpack one of the pivotal foundations of Holloway’s thinking of a politics ‘in-against-beyond capitalism’, namely ‘’the revolt of doing against labour’. We’ll do that by looking at his discussion of those ideas in an earlier seminal book called Crack Capitalism (2010). We’ve attached extracts from that text as your padkos reading. Introducing the 1st set of discussions earlier this year, we noted that, in Crack Capitalism, John says:
“The world is full of misfittings, of people who say ‘we do not fit in, and we shall not fit in.’ We [can see] … the enormous cohesive force of capital: how, through the state, through our own practices, above all through money, it draws us back in to its logic, finds a way of slotting our rebellions into the implacable jigsaw of the system. And yet, there they are, everywhere, these pieces that simply do not fit in. Over and over again, logic tells us that our rebellions are useless, that we must submit, and yet there they are, all over the place, these insanities that push towards a different world, these dignities that will not wait until after the revolution….[T]here is not only a logic of capital but an anti-logic of humanity, of refusal, of movement in-against-and-beyond capital” (Holloway, 2010, 72).
These refusals and rebellions are cracks in the capitalist system – and it is in them that hope for overthrowing that system lies. Given the urgency to stop the hurt and injustice reproduced by the current system, as well as the failures and weaknesses of much orthodox 20th century leftisms, it is vital that we hear and dance to/with the ‘new melodies’ of contemporary struggle all around us in these cracks.
For Holloway, “the central axis of these new melodies of struggle is the revolt of doing against labour”. And so it is vital that we properly understand what he means by ‘doing’, by ‘labour’ and by the relation between them – a relation that is ‘in, against, beyond’!
We constantly refuse to be mere robots without dignity in this system and our ‘doing’, our non-alienated productive and creative activity – or our ‘power to do’ – overflows and exceeds. In these refusals, cracks and excesses are our freedom. So, not just making capitalism, but stopping capitalism, are both in our hands!
Note that on September 5th, we’ll gather at CLP to discuss John Holloway’s thinking about nature, politics and the state. Details, as well as your reading material for that palaver discussion, will follow next week. In addition to discussing the Holloway material, we will also be showing a documentary: “Skipping School to Stop Climate Change – Greta Thunberg and the Student Protests” (34 mins).