[KB] Burke & the Division of Labor

David Erland Isaksen daviderland at gmail.com
Tue Sep 13 00:46:11 EDT 2016

He does state though, as Cox mentioned, that there will always be some
division of labor. Even in a Communist utopia. That quote is from A
Rhetoric of Motives.

On Sep 13, 2016 3:17 AM, <wessr at oregonstate.edu> wrote:

> I don't think Burke ever "rejected" Marxism. Instead, I think he tended to
> see himself incorporating Marxism into his own system (Marxists would no
> doubt object to the incorporation but that is a different story).
> At the end of his response to Jameson, for example, Burke insists on
> starting with symbol-using rather than class struggle, but adds that the
> study of the symbol-using animal "can welcome the topic of class struggle
> as a notable contribution" (Critical Inquiry 5.2 [1978]: 416).
> An example would be the argument in Rhetoric of Motives that symbol-using
> animals are "classifying" animals before they are "class" animals (282-83).
> "Class" in the Marxist sense is one mode of classifying but not the only
> one. "Classifying" is prior.
> The things he took from Marx were things he thought could be applied to a
> critique of the current state of things. I don't think he limited Marx to a
> prediction about the future.
> That being said, he did see the Marxist narrative of history as a
> particularly good example of how an "ultimate" terminology works as
> persuasion (RM 189-97). The Marxist "ultimate" terminology turns a mere
> worker into the proletariat, an agent of history. He is not defending this
> narrative in this section, but he is using it as a model.
> Bob
> Quoting Carrol Cox <cbcox at ilstu.edu>:
> 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.
>> Carrol
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