[KB] Burke & the Division of Labor

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Sat Sep 10 20:33:02 EDT 2016

It's been over 50 years since I did most of my intensive study of Burke,
though I continued frequently to browse in the Grammar & the ...Literary
Form until my eyes failed me nearly 10 years ago. I also read carefully his
exchange in CI with Jameson at the time of its publication.

If I remember correctly, the core of Burke's rejection of Marx was his
(Burke's) belief of the inevitability of the division of labor. If that is
so, his objection to Marx was grounded in his premise that "Marxism" was
essentially a recipe for a future society rather than a critique of
contemporary society. Again, if I remember correctly, Burke in the Grammar
did speculate on making a worker the _owner_ of his job. That had to be
premised on the permanence of capitalist social relations, combined with at
least a speculative belief that either (a) wage workers could achieve the
political and social power to seize possession of their jobs (permanent
tenure for all employees, public & private) _or_ (b) that capitalists could
be persuaded (through a correct rhetoric) to grant wage workers such tenure
voluntarily. His use of the trope "the human barnyard" might point to the
latter hope.


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