Hegel-Marx: The "Other" Logic of Unproductive Labor
Issue #66, February 2004
Marx's relation to Hegel especially in terms of his utilization of an essentially Hegelian dialectic to further his theory of materialism remains the subject of much contention and complication. Indeed it has been most properly argued that Marx, at least the Marx of The Grundrisse, and Capital, became possible only after Marx himself was able to engage in a correct "reading" of the materiality present within Hegel's philosophical oeuvre Phenomenology of Spirit. Certainly such readings of both Hegel and Marx are crucial to our understanding of the connections that exist between these two philosophers, if only to gauge, as Louis Althusser once remarked, "the distance separating Marx from Hegel". Clearly this "distance" between Marx and Hegel derives to some extent from Marx's critical rejection of the mystification he identified as part of the Hegelian dialectic in his much acclaimed historical treatise The German Ideology. Much as Marx's polemics seem to be opposed to Hegel's, any contemplation of the relationship between these thinkers remains incomplete without also considering Marx's debts to Hegel. In a chapter of his book entitled just this, "Marx's Relation to Hegel," Althusser concedes this point when he quotes Marx acknowledging himself as pupil to Hegel. It is my contention that to understand the implications of Marx's relation to Hegel, in fact to assess the impact of Marxism itself in any credible way, it is necessary to evaluate precisely the ways in which Marx does utilize certain dialectical maneuvers (essential concepts) peculiar to Hegel.
I propose that the particular necessity of the "determinate negation" of the "self" and its "other" in Hegel's logic for "self-consciousness" also fulfills a necessary function in Marx's elaboration of labor as either "productive" or "unproductive." Specifically, both Hegel (with respect to "self-consciousness" in Phenomenology) and Marx (with respect to "productive and unproductive labor" in Theories of Surplus Value) construct this notion of an "other" to "consciousness" or an "other" to "productive" labor as the case may be, reflecting these categories simultaneously in their positions of likeness and difference to this "other" entity and finally compelling them to an intrinsic recognition of themselves. In Hegel's reasoning for instance, "determinate negation" of the self is predicated on the "otherness" of the "self" where this negation is not merely an empty "nothingness" but a "nothing" with a content that lies in its essential difference or "otherness," to the self, and through which the self is able to determine itself. The connection between "productive" and "unproductive" labor in Marx is also predicated on such a recognition by way of an essential "otherness." The former exists and is able to recognize itself in and for itself only as the determinate negation of the latter. To the extent that the "revolutionary theoretical scope" (Althusser) of Marxism calls for the unequivocal solidarity of workers against the hegemony of bourgeois capitalism, the ability of labor to recognize itself only in terms of its own "otherness" — where such difference arises not from class distinctions but from within the category of labor itself as divided against itself — seriously jeopardizes the scope of this social revolution. In order to better understand the consequences that ensue from the othering of productive labor to unproductive labor in Marx, it is important to take a closer look at the question of the "other," and the way in which the imperative of possessing an "other" figures prominently in both Hegel's realization of self-consciousness and Marx's assessment of the value of labor to capital.
It is evident even from Hegel's "Preface" to the Phenomenology of Spirit that the relative existence of an "other" is crucial to the movement through which Hegel develops his dialectic, not only of "self-consciousness," but also of "truth." For Hegel recognition comes only by way of what he terms as "the labor of the negative" in which the subject is able to recognize itself in truth by a double movement that lets it mediate itself in terms of its sameness with an other and yet constitute itself by its very difference from this other, a negative of itself. This process of coming into self-hood or self-sameness, and hence into an awareness of the "True" in the presence of an "otherness", is here outlined by Hegel and lays the groundwork for his subsequent assertion of self-consciousness as "the motionless tautology of: "I am I," whence self-consciousness returns to unite with itself by negating its reflection in what is for it very definitely an other. Initially therefore in his "Preface" Hegel clarifies the function of this type of "othering" that is not merely a reflection of the self in an "other," but one which permits this recognition to happen only after the negation of the "other" in relation to the self has been accomplished. Central to Hegel's process of arriving at the "True" is the duality he ascribes to the function of the "other" that while being clearly situated outside of the self, also transcends this boundary and is found within the self as well. Hence Hegel's use of the hyphen in the expression "its self-othering with itself" that suggests this form of an "other" that simultaneously lies outside and within the self where on the one hand the hyphen connotates the separation of the "other" from the primary "self" — itself "othering" with itself — and on the other hand denotes the occurrence of this "other" as contained within the "self" all along, its self-othering with itself. As a result of this form of an "other" that is not quite same enough, and yet not entirely different, the "self" according to Hegel is able upon encountering its "other" to negotiate the apparent contradiction between the "self-restoring sameness" or the "reflection of otherness within itself" that the other represents for it, and in so doing become the "True."
In addition to the double valence given the "other" in Hegel's phenomenological determinations, the role of the Hegelian "other" in reflecting a certain negativity in itself also stresses the violence that is required to happen against the other being so that what Hegel characterizes as "pure self-recognition in absolute otherness" can eventually unfold. The process through which the other is identified in relation to the self on account of its negativity that in turn stimulates the self towards its own determinate existence in the world as an independent being is in Hegelian terminology known as the process of "determinate negation." It is in his Preface to the Phenomenology that Hegel again provides a preliminary sketch of the logic through which determinate negation takes place. Here he outlines the "movement" of the self such that the self reacts to an other only to establish its own "immanent content" and therefore its determinate existence in the world. What this self-reflexive movement does is to reaffirm the position of the other-being once again in terms of both its essential separateness from the self and its ability to mirror the self "back into itself" on the basis of their self-sameness. Here it is immaterial really whether or not the "other" of the "being" resides apart from it as another distinct entity, or evolves from within it as a projection of its otherness, a process of "becoming other than itself." Rather, it is the manner in which the self engages with the other — once this other has been brought to the fore — that exposes the inevitable undermining of violence intended towards it in the "moment" of the self "simplifying itself into something determinate."
As Hegel subsequently shows, for him this affirmation of the self is made possible only once the self contends with the "negativity" that resides in the other. Accordingly determinate negation of the self can happen only as a double movement that perceives the negativity of the other, and then determines itself in turn by negating this negativity of the other. Completing his initial explanation of the way in which determinate negation operates, Hegel thus stresses the movement by which the "negativity" of the other becomes essential to determining the very "existence" of the self. "In the former movement," asserts Hegel in reference to the two movements that the self undertakes in order to determine itself, "negativity is the differentiating and positing of existence; in this return into self, it is the becoming of the determinate simplicity". Although at this juncture, "negativity" is undoubtedly equated with the presence of the other and confirmed as the very mode through which the self, "differentiating" itself from the other, is able to "posit" its "existence;" the negative itself, as that content on the basis of which the other is evaluated with respect to the self, does not immediately imply the subordination of the other to the self as the self progresses towards self-identity.
The role of the "negative" as it illuminates the differential status of the other in Hegel's thought is in fact much more complex, and is ambiguously invoked by Hegel to confirm the very necessity of the other for the advent of "self-consciousness," even while it has to be necessarily consumed by the self in order for this self to be conscious of itself most fully. This ambiguity with which Hegel characterizes the negativity of the other therefore allows him to confirm the presence of the negative as not merely a nothingness in contrast to the self, but as a nothingness that also contains in it a positive albeit altered content of the other. In the process of the self's determining itself through the other, the negative is thereby established by Hegel as that negation of the self that permits the play of determinate negation while also preserving a positive content in the other. Unwilling to concede the negation of the other as the moment of its obliteration in a void, Hegel insists upon a "positive" remainder for it. Hence Hegel simultaneously validates the other as bearing a "positive" content while also functioning as the negative reflection of the self that in effect doubly jeopardizes the position of the other as such. With respect to the self, the other can be identified as an other solely in terms of its difference from the self, as a negation of the self, as that something that the self is not, what ever else the other may be. After the self is able to realize its negation as constituted in the other, the existence of this other is only valuable to the self as long as the self is able to suppress the other and turn inward and contemplate the determinateness of its own existence. In so doing the self, as per Hegel's schema, is free to consume the other in itself by acknowledging the other's newly known positive content and thereby grant the other a not so autonomous position of importance only in so far as this other has facilitated the determination of the self by virtue of its negativity. Yet again Hegel clarifies this secondary status accorded the other as it makes possible the determinate realization of the self. Hegel explains the other as an "alien power" that enables the movement of the self inward, towards itself, but only after its otherness has been consumed by the self, "within itself."
Indeed in Hegel's Phenomenology the method by which the other is constantly evoked in a position of negation or difference and is then subsequently suppressed in order to attain self-recognition is made most explicit in his dialectic on "self-consciousness." It is only when consciousness, having undergone the process of determinate negation and mediated itself through an other object, returns into itself that it becomes aware of itself as self-consciousness, as I am I. Invariably this tautologogical movement through which consciousness knows self-consciousness is actuated by the necessary "supersession" of the other. In many respects this negotiation that happens with otherness for consciousness to arrive at self-consciousness reveals the manner in which the other is merely an object used and discarded or consumed by consciousness. Upon coming into being, self-consciousness knows "otherness" simply as the "difference [that] is not" and "immediately supersedes" it by turning from the other into itself. To that end, "since what it [self-consciousness] distinguishes from itself is only itself as itself," the other is negated and is identified by self-consciousness as a being that is completely for it. This finally allows self-consciousness to "exhibit itself as the movement in which this antithesis is removed, and the identity of itself with itself becomes explicit for it". In this kernel of Hegelian logic is present the very violence with which self-consciousness enables the "removal" of the "antithesis" or negativity that the other represents for it in order to verify "itself as itself."
Consequently it is self-consciousness as Desire that compels the ultimate destruction of the other and ascertains its own truth. Confronted with the "nothingness" of the other, self-consciousness that is now also "Desire" (to verify itself in an other) seeks an other-being that is, as "other enough for it to be able to verify itself (the unity of the 'I am I) in it, to make itself true in an essence (an in-itself, a truth) that would have enough being, enough existence, to verify self-consciousness, that is, an essence whose own being, truth, in-itself, essence, did not consist in being a disappearing essence" (cf. Warminski). However as Warminski shows, it is impossible for self-consciousness as desire to find an other that is other enough for self-consciousness. Self-consciousness can never apprehend the positive content of the other, but instead can only focus on its negativity, on the nothingness that for it is the other. Unable to verify itself in an other that is not a "disappearing other," self-consciousness as desire can only then destroy or negate the nothingness of the other-being. And in this destruction it is able to know itself as a "true certainty." Explaining this necessary annihilation of the other, Hegel implements the dialectic of self-consciousness as desire. In its moment of truth, self-consciousness as desire to confirm itself (in-itself) has no other option but to "destroy the independent object" that comes before it in the form of an other. At this moment the other is sublated totally in the service of the self.
This move to destroy the other in the process of coming to recognize the self finally plays out most graphically in the episode on "Lordship and Bondage" in the Phenomenology. Self-consciousness according to Hegel can come to recognize itself, both in and for itself, when it is "faced with another self-consciousness". In this face-off, of course, the negation of the nothingness of the other cannot be as immediate because the other here exists both as an independent, essential being, and also as another self-consciousness itself. The struggle that follows in Hegel where each self-consciousness strives for recognition from the other is ultimately transformed into a confrontation between two self-conscious individuals that "prove themselves and each other through a life-and-death struggle". Eventually this results in the formation of an independent consciousness and its other, a dependent consciousness "whose essential nature is to live or to be for another". The relation between this independent self-consciousness and dependent self-consciousness is that of the Lord and Bondsman. Although in Hegel, the Lord is shown to be in the position of "power" such that he has power over the other the bondsman, his is a power that is made incapable of attaining freedom, reliant as it is on the bondsman's dependent consciousness to know his own truth as a "being-for-self". By this logic, the bondsman knows pure being-for-self, alienated as he is from his own work, and living constantly by the fear of death that emanates from the Lord towards him, and in whose independent consciousness the bondsman sees his "essential reality". The cost for being an other in this struggle between the Lord and the Bondsman again seems calculated by an economy of loss. The Lord as the independent consciousness rules over his other, the bondsman, and enjoys the fruits of his labor, but in so far as he is himself an other to the bondsman, he suffers the loss of ever realizing his own freedom. Similarly the bondsman appears to attain determinate being, his "self-will" by taking the Lord as his other, but his freedom is always condition to his servitude by virtue of which he has to always remain the self-sacrificing other, the dependent consciousness to the Lord's. From this play it is evident that the position of loss typically of its own essence in Hegel's thinking always falls to the lot of the other. In the very process of othering itself, in the context of the determinate negation of the self, or self-consciousness, or indeed as the otherness between Lord and Bondsman, the other for all purposes remains completely subservient to the self. Repeatedly as Hegel shows the other has to relinquish its own being in order to establish the truth of the self. Yet it is this very need of the self to destroy its other and hence determine its own existence, that in Hegel's dialectic also permanently preserves the necessity of the other in coming to self-recognition.
In his definition of "productive" and "unproductive labor," Marx also relies on a tacit notion of otherness that is distinctly Hegelian — at least in the sense that the other category of unproductive labor is directly identified as the negative of productive labor, negated in turn by productive labor, and yet always urgently required to be present in this state of negation and otherness so as to validate the essential being of production within capitalism. Curiously the similarity of the position of the other in both Hegel and Marx arises also from those moments in their writings at which both thinkers fail to reflect the other from within a logic of negation and determination. At these instances, the other becomes an incoherent tool of logic that is then no longer capable of confirming the existence of any particular being. With respect to Hegel the other most significantly discombobulates in Hegel's characterization of the non-western. As Tejaswini Niranjana notes, "both Hegel's Aesthetics and his Philosophy of History have for their cornerstones an "othering" of the non-West, especially India and China, and a denial of subjectivity and agency to the people of these continents" (see Siting Translation). In his construction of otherness for the non-west, the other ceases to function in its negative capacity through which it makes possible the determinate existence of the self. Instead in these moments, the other in Hegel is reduced to a form so degenerate and weak that it is no longer able to be constituted as other, the negative that also holds within it a positive content, to the western self. Almost in contrast to his work in the Phenomenology, it appears that the Hegel of the Philosophy of History is no longer able to sustain the logic of the other as a constitutive element of the determinate negation of the self when it comes to analyzing the historical otherness of the non-west. In this context the other can seemingly be comprehended only as the unintelligibility of a "dreaming condition," one which can never participate in the attaining of "self" or to the coming to "consciousness" of it.
Such a moment of disarticulation with respect to the other is in fact repeated in Marx's efforts at constituting the definitive elements of "productive" and "unproductive" labor. Marx's logic for these two categories as we will later see are undeniably Hegelian. What is most striking in this aberrant moment in which Marx loses sight of the functionality of unproductive labor as the other of productive labor — especially in the way that the former is doubly negated to affirm the latter — is the similarity between Marx's illogic here and that of Hegel's in accounting for the otherness of the non-west. In a notable footnote in "Notebook III" of The Grundrisse (specifically in the chapter entitled "The Chapter on Capital") Marx seeks to distinguish "productive" labor from "unproductive labor. "What is productive labor and what is not," asks Marx and then continues in answer, "a point very much disputed back and forth since Adam Smith made this distinction, has to emerge from the dissection of the various aspects of capital itself. Productive labor is only that which produces capital". Thus far Marx's definition of productive labor is very much in keeping with the economical logic he later uses to explicitly define productivity as an other of unproductivity in Theories of Surplus Value. As per this equation productive labor produces capital for the capitalist masters that purchase or employ this form of labor. The incentive that the definition of productive labor given here provides for the capitalists is the ability of this labor to reproduce a surplus-value in products which ultimately translates into profit or capital. Having supplied an adequate definition of productive labor, Marx then turns to distinguishing it from its counterpart — unproductive labor.
Confronted with the dilemma of the piano maker and the piano player, Marx's as yet intact reasoning starts to unravel. Again Marx identifies the question concerning unproductive labor and then proceeds to answer it: "The piano maker reproduces capital; the pianist only exchanges his labor for revenue". Again initially Marx attempts to delineate unproductivity as an economic factor. The pianist for him is at this instant unproductive because he only gains in revenue, which is but only the direct exchange of the use-value invested in his labor for payment. In attempting to extend the logic by which the pianist remains unproductive, where he is unable to produce a product with both use and exchange value, the economic basis of Marx's thinking is interrupted. He attempts to resolve the logic of unproductive labor in the identification of the "madman who produces delusions". Here, Marx suffers from a slippage similar to Hegel who similarly fails to think the other in the context of the non-west. Faced with the possibility of unproductive labor actually producing "something" (music and a musical ear in the case of the pianist), Marx is unable to expand his economic theory to explain the productiveness of these products. Even on an elementary level, the "delusions" of a "madman" certainly do not reflect the use-value invested in the music that the unproductive pianist by definition is required to produce. The dialectic of Hegelian otherness that Marx employs to construct the economy of productive and unproductive labor as other to each other, where the latter in its negativity determines the former, no longer holds for Marx when unproductive labor produces a positive content of its own that exceeds its negative being. In final analysis then Hegel's recourse to a "state of a dreaming condition" to explain the otherness of the Hindoo, and Marx's equating of the "something" that the unproductive pianist produces to the "delusions" of a "madman," exposes both Hegel and Marx's inability to think the other through the logic of determinate negation at all times. At these moments the position of the other in Hegel and in Marx is disrupted and the other made vulnerable to being reduced and explained as an absurdity, a dreamer, or a madman.
Let us now turn to Theories of Surplus Value and Marx's explication therein of the status of productive and unproductive labors within a capitalist economy. Only by first reviewing Marx's definitions of these two forms of labor, and then examining the ways in which Marx relates one labor to the other, will the Hegelian otherness that forms the constitutive basis of Marx's construction of productive and unproductive labor become apparent. Very fundamentally Marx defines productive labor by its capacity to generate capital in the form of a surplus-value. For Marx productive labor is that form of labor that is able to replace in excess the cost invested in its hire by capitalists. Productive labor by this account then is directly responsible for generating a profit in terms of the surplus value it produces. Marx himself clarifies the status of the "productive worker" as a profit producing agent. For Marx, productive labor becomes literally "productive" by its ability to transform itself into capital such that the cost of maintaining this labor is recompensed at the same time that a profit beyond this expenditure is also produced. In order to fully comprehend the means by which productive labor is actually converted into capital however, it is important to recognize the values it infuses into the commodities which are the direct products of this labor.
In Theories of Surplus Value, Marx posits the commodity as that which mediates between productive labor power and capital. In producing a commodity through labor, the productive worker infuses this commodity with more value than his labor is worth. Consequently, the commodity goes on the market containing a certain amount of use value invested in it by the labor that goes into its manufacture, and an additional exchange value that stimulates the influx of capital for capitalist merchants who finally trade in this commodity. Thus, "commodities ... become capital through being directly exchanged for labor power, and exchanged only in order to be replaced by more labor than they themselves contain". In Marx's thinking, then, productive workers manifest their productivity in commodities. By way of commodities, productive workers reveal their special capacity to invest their products with an exchange value that surpasses the use value that they also infuse into it. From the perspective of capitalist production, productive labor becomes ultimately defined in terms of both its use and exchange value as represented in a commodity. For Marx, the use value of productive labor reflected in the making of a commodity appears to be a "self-evident premise". And, in so far as this labor contributes to the manufacture of a commodity that can be translated into capital, this labor on the basis of its usefulness, its "concrete character" is already deigned to be productive. However, as Marx shows, the productive nature of this labor is never completely realized without actually also acknowledging its "abstract" component. Within a capitalist economy productive labor therefore appears to gain currency by virtue of both its inherent use value and the projected exchange value it lends to its commodity products. Productive labor as such exhibits itself by "its actual use value, in the usefulness of this particular concrete labor — that is spinning labor, weaving labor, and so on", and is coveted by capitalists for its ability to masquerade as that abstract labor that guarantees an exchange value that will transcend the worth of the labor itself.
In defining productive labor as that labor which consolidates use value and exchange value in itself, Marx in Theories of Surplus Value limits the terms of his discussion economically to that of commodity manufacture and profit analysis. It is only subsequently when Marx attempts to define and delimit the nature of unproductive labor, especially in relation to productive labor, that he introduces a dialectic of otherness into his labor theory. Of course on a very obvious level, the prefix "un" of unproductive labor already fixes it in a position negative to that of productive labor. If only nominally, un-productive labor at once suggests the existence of a labor power that is defined not so much by its connection to commodity production and capitalist markets as much as a negative category, an other that exists to confirm the worth of productivity. In fact, as per Marx's definitions, unproductive labor seems primarily and specifically to delineate all that is negative to productive labor. In this sense unproductive labor exists forcefully outside the category of productive labor and in a position of difference to it. Just as productive labor is identified by its positive ability to produce capital in the form of profits, unproductive labor is defined negatively as that which consumes profit. In this very act of consumption of that which productive labor yields, unproductive labor becomes an immediate negative of productivity. Certainly Marx emphasizes the negative with respect to unproductive labor when he discusses not that which it represents by itself, but that "against" which, negative to which, it is to be recognized. Marx writes: "Thereby what is unproductive labor is absolutely defined. It is labor which is not exchanged against capital, but directly against revenue, that is, against wages or profit". The "revenue" that unproductive labor earns for itself is also explained in terms of its negative impact on that which productive labor produces, namely surplus value. Hence the revenue expended on unproductive workers directly reduces the total surplus created by productive workers and makes unproductive workers burdensome to a capitalist economy. Comparing the two forms of labor, Marx elaborates on how productive labor positively reinforces capital while unproductive labor diminishes it: "In one case the labor is transformed into capital and produces a profit for the capitalist; in the other case it is an expenditure, one of the articles in which revenue is consumed". By these respective acts of production and consumption of profit, productive and unproductive labor occupy in a Marxist capitalist framework positions of apparent conflict. All that productive labor produces unproductive labor seeks to consume. All that is the positive result of productive work is negatively reduced by unproductive work. Designated as that labor that "consumes more than [it] produces", unproductive labor is characterized by all that which productive labor is not. In this sense unproductive labor occupies the position of an other, a category of labor in difference that can be known primarily by its negative content, which is to say its precise negation of all that defines productive labor.
This form of otherness based on pure negativity which Marx at first uses to distinguish unproductive labor from productive labor, however, does not completely reflect the dialectic of otherness Hegel follows in Phenomenology. The other in Hegel is peculiar because in addition to being what the self is not, it is also found within the self. In the process of determinate negation, the self starts out by recognizing itself as the other before realizing its negation by the other and determining its own existence by a return into itself. This return into itself by the self involves a necessary obliteration of the independent existence of the other so that the other ends up existing only for the self as a means for it to determine itself. Thus, the other in Hegel functions both as the negation of the self, and as an integral component of the self, essential to the self's ability to recognize itself. So far in Marx's analysis of unproductive labor, this type of labor has been classified chiefly by its negative content. What Marx owes Hegel in his construction of unproductive labor as "other" to productive labor becomes apparent only subsequently when he reveals the ambiguity with which the negativity of unproductive labor operates to confirm the existence of productive labor. Seemingly unproductive labor by its very opposition to productive labor would be detrimental to the production of capital and therefore need to be eliminated from within a capitalist economy. This, however, appears not to the case for Marx's logic on labor, which instead conceives of unproductive labor as a necessary evil, a Hegelian other, that must exist to facilitate capitalist production. Just as the self requires the presence of the other to determine itself, it seems that unproductive labor needs to exist in order for productive labor to verify its economical worth.
Fundamentally, Marx's analysis of labor becomes implicated within a Hegelian logic of otherness as the result of the value system he uses to further distinguish one form of labor from another. For Marx, productive labor is valued within capitalism specifically for its ability to produce commodities with both use and exchange values. Productive workers invest in their products the usefulness of their own labor so that the product is able to project its own use value, and in addition can be exchanged for a greater value on the market. This exchange value in turn yields profit for capitalists. Consequently productive labor is recognized as that which combines within both use and exchange values. Although Marx generally characterizes unproductive labor as the negative of productive labor, he nevertheless also concedes values to unproductivity. Accordingly unproductive labor in Marx's analysis also projects in itself a certain degree of use value. Even when an unproductive worker produces no commodity, Marx agrees that his labor is vested with a certain use value, if only a "mere use value". In its capacity to produce such a "mere use value," the negativity of unproductive labor with respect to productive labor becomes ambiguous. No longer is unproductive labor thought of by its opposition to productive labor. Instead, even as this opposition holds, unproductive labor is adjudged on the basis of a value, namely use value, that can be found within productive labor as well. Unproductive labor is now other to productive labor not only due to its apparent difference from it, but also because of a sameness that makes each recognize the other as a form of labor. Here otherness as it relates both productive and unproductive labors to each other thus transcends fixed boundaries; even while asserting the negativity of the one to the other, acknowledges the presence of each within the other. This process of othering where the other that is unproductive labor is shown to exist separately from productive labor and yet in unity with it is what Marx adopts from Hegel.
Within the capitalist economy, Marx's analysis insists upon the coexistence of both categories of productive and unproductive labor in much the same way that Hegel's processing of the determinate negation requires the self to be determined against and by an other. For Marx unproductive labor in its position of otherness to productive labor has to be subsumed in order for productive labor to validate itself. Productive workers working to generate capital for the capitalists have to work unproductively for themselves, and at the same time realize how the unproductive work they engage in, for example household chore, depends on their ability to work productively, say in factories. Here, the dialectic of labor has to follow in order to recognize itself (determinate negation); the productive worker is able to realize the value of his productivity only when he witnesses the manner in which it allows him to sustain his unproductive labor at home. This worker knows that working at home and working at the factory are both forms of labor, but has to negate the former in order to ascertain the (social) value attached to the latter while the work he does for himself is not socially rewarded. Hence productive labor determines itself against its other, unproductive labor. In so doing however what is also tacitly acknowledged here is the need for the category of unproductive labor to be maintained in its position of otherness so as to enable the continual determination of labor that is productive. Hence Marx's stress on the fact that the productive worker must also need to "repeat" his unproductive work a "second," and may be even a third "time" should not go unnoticed. By virtue of the fact that his unproductive work carries for him a certain use value, it also becomes integral to his recognition of himself as a productive worker, one who is able to consolidate both use and exchange values in his labor outside.
Undoubtedly what ultimately emerges from this movement of negation and determination through which Marx constructs his theory of labor in Theories of Surplus Value is the presence of a Hegelian tendency in Marx, a Hegel-Marx really that urgently demands a reassessment of Marx. It appears that Marx was not only able to read Hegel well, but also utilize Hegel's dialectic of the self and its other quite precisely in his own thinking on labor. Indeed it is significant that for Marx as for Hegel, the logic of otherness whether in the context of labor or self-consciousness has to inevitably be represented in terms of a conflict between individuals. In Hegel's reasoning this conflict between two individual psyches appears in the form of the dialectic of "Lordship and Bondage" where one self-consciousness enslaves another to attain individual recognition. Similarly Marx also reaffirms the importance of labor in terms of individuality in The German Ideology when he states that "Labor is here again the chief thing, power over individuals". By this token, a theory of labor that is based on the otherness of one form of labor to another must indeed become a theory on the relations of "power" that exists between individuals. In Theories of Surplus Value, the conflict that Marx's division of labor as productive and unproductive initiates becomes apparent from Marx's own repeated references to unproductive laborers as the "do nothings" and "parasites" of society. This internal conflict amongst the proletarians in turn complicates the simplicity of Marx's call for a revolution that would necessarily unite laborers en masse against bourgeois capitalists. If as Dipesh Chakrabarty argues in his book Rethinking Working-Class History "that a hegemonic bourgeois culture is an indispensable aspect of the social framework within which Marx locates his idea of working class consciousness", then a schism within the "working class consciousness" itself would with out a doubt impact the manner in which it opposes and interacts with a bourgeois hegemony. Certainly the split within Marx of labor into its productive and unproductive aspects, especially as they are related to each other by a distinctly Hegelian and I will say mystified otherness, calls into question the material possibilities of Marx's vision for a classless society.
There is much thinking left to be done here in terms of exactly what it means to view Marx's discussion of labor as contaminated by the presence of Hegel. This Marx who closely follows every link in Hegel's dialectic of self and other to arrive at his conception of labor relations obviously does less than "invert" Hegel's dialectic, or execute a "critical extraction, a 'demystification' of the dialectic" in the sense implied by Althusser. At least in the case of labor Marx fails to follow his own injunction to turn right side up Hegel's dialectic and present the "rational kernel within the mystical shell". Of course when it comes to discovering the "something" that is produced by what Marx insists is "unproductive" labor, Marx himself falls back on a tantalizing and mystical allusion to the "madman with delusions." Surely it is not enough to explain labor, particularly one with a use value, as nothing more than madness. Yet the other explanation Marx gives, Marx's other logic as regards unproductivity is equally unsatisfactory for its reliance on Hegel. Althusser's assertions — Marx is "distant" from Hegel, Marx "transforms" Hegel and thus is a "revolutionary" — seem suspect in light of Marx's reliance on Hegel to promote an other logic to thinking in terms of labor, such that the otherness inherent in the category of labor remains mystical to the end.
Mrinalini Chakravorty studies critical theory at the University of California at Irvine where she is currently writing her doctoral dissertation, entitled "Mapping Migration: Postnationality and Twentieth Century Anglophone Literature", that focuses on the confluences of history, law, and literature over the status of "new" commonwealth or postcolonial migrancy in post-World War II Britain.