[KB] Burke & the Division of Labor

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Tue Sep 13 10:45:18 EDT 2016

Thanks for this. That is precisely the passage I vaguely had in mind, but
remembered it from the Grammar rather than the Rhetoric. (I have only
peripheral vision, so I can't check the texts themselves. If I could see I'd
probably be able to find the passage by flipping through looking for

It is an exceedingly interesting passage.


-----Original Message-----
From: KB [mailto:kb-bounces at kbjournal.org] On Behalf Of Jim Moore
Sent: Tuesday, September 13, 2016 12:14 AM
To: kb at kbjournal.org
Subject: Re: [KB] Burke & the Division of Labor

There's a lot about division of labor in RM near the indexed portion "man 

under communism."

"Dialectically, the Marxist analysis would apparently begin with a principle

division where idealism begins with a principle of merger.  And, as regards

purposes of rhetoric, it admonishes us to look for its 'mystification' at

point where the social divisiveness caused by property and the division of 

labor is obscured by unitary terms (as with terms whereby a state, designed

to protect a certain structure of ownership, is made to seem equally 

representative of both propertied and propertyless classes).  Indeed, we

find the stress upon private property as a rhetorical motive so convincing,

that we question whether communism is possible under the conditions

of extreme specialization (division of labor) required by modern industry.

_The German Ideology_ explicitly pictures man under communism, shifting

from job to job like a Jack-of-all-trades, as the mood strikes him (hunting

the morning, fishing in the afternoon, rearing cattle in the evening, and

criticizing after dinner, "without ever becoming hunter, fisherman shepherd

or critic").  Given the highly specialized nature of modern technology,

requires of its operators an almost Puritanic severity of application, if so

dilettantelike a way of life as Marx describes is the sign of a true

society, then every step in the evolution of Soviet Russian industry would 

seem likely to take it farther from a world free of the cleavage that arises

with the division of labor (and with the separation of property that goes 

with it, and the disparate states of consciousness that go with that)."

A Rhetoric of Motives p. 108-109



From: KB <kb-bounces at kbjournal.org> on behalf of David Erland Isaksen
<daviderland at gmail.com>
Sent: September 12, 2016 9:46:11 PM
To: wessr at oregonstate.edu
Cc: kb at kbjournal.org
Subject: Re: [KB] Burke & the Division of Labor 

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.
	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
		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
		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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