[KB] Burke & the Division of Labor

Edward C Appel edwardcappel at frontier.com
Thu Sep 15 16:53:46 EDT 2016


	One of Burke’s examples of the “unifying term” as deflector from gross inequality of sacrifice, privilege, rewards, and motivations was the WWII profiteer who would speak of how “we’re all in this conflict together.” The implicitly unifying identifier “we” in that context so strikingly illustrates the use of “ambiguity” in rhetorical appeal. It put executives at Ford and GM, and GIs being blown apart in Europe and the Pacific, on the same footing.. Up to a point, necessarily vague abstractions of a public-spirited cast legitimately serve to keep societies and polities from coming apart at the seams. Up to a point.

	What’s happened this political season is the result of a sharp fraying or tarring of that social fabric.  The success of both Sanders and Trump vouchsafes that disintegration. Forty years of globalization of USAmerican jobs and once-middle-class incomes, to the conspicuous advantage of wealthy owners and executives, who now manufacture more cheaply and sell world-wide, and obvious disadvantage to working class citizens, high school level or lower, has come home to roost. Trump has become the mouthpiece for these ignored and neglected Americans, their plight studiously finessed with the rhetoric of “re-education” for the new technologies, or assurances that “Americans can compete with anybody.” (True, of course, at one dollar an hour.) A wild man like Donald Trump could not likely survive in a less volatile economic situation. He is so cleverly exploiting this one: “I will be your voice!”

	On our private Burkean discussion list, I said long ago that Trump is functioning like a Rorschach Test. He’s the indistinct picture of rage onto which people can project a multitude of grievances. He’s a walking negative: Whatever it is we are doing now that’s taken away our American Dream, “Trump, thank heaven, isn’t that!” All those Clinton adds with Trump spouting invectives?---who are they really helping?


On Wed, 9/14/16, Edward C Appel <edwardcappel at frontier.com> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [KB] Burke & the Division of Labor
 To: "Carrol Cox" <cbcox at ilstu.edu>, "kb at kbjournal.org" <kb at kbjournal.org>
 Date: Wednesday, September 14, 2016, 2:09 PM
 "exceedingly interesting passage" indeed. The Ann
 Coulter types charge that liberals "hate" America.
 Count me in on that indictment, at least on alternate days.
 I despise a nation that allows the super rich to pay 0 to 10
 to 15 percent in taxes (all the while hiding half or more of
 their wealth in some overseas tax haven), while assessing
 ordinary middle-class earners at a much higher rate. Yet,
 we're constantly admonished to genuflect at that
 "unitary term," "American." How many
 times have we heard the Lmibaugh's attack
 "divisive" liberals, when we are all, each of us,
 only "Americans."
 is touting the "Buffet Rule" on her website, but I
 don't hear much about it in her
 wanted to restrict everybody's income to no more than
 $25,000 dollars during WWII. Sounds like something from
 another galaxy a million light years away.
     On Tuesday, September
 13, 2016 10:46 AM, Carrol Cox <cbcox at ilstu.edu>
  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
 probably be able to find the passage
 by flipping through looking for
 It is an exceedingly interesting passage.
 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
 There's a lot
 about division of labor in RM near the indexed portion
 "Dialectically, the Marxist analysis would
 apparently begin with a principle
 division where idealism begins
 with a principle of merger.  And, as regards
 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
 extreme specialization (division of labor) required by
 modern industry.
 German Ideology_ explicitly pictures man under communism,
 from job to job
 like a Jack-of-all-trades, as the mood strikes him
 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,
 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.
 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
 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>
     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
 the end of his response to Jameson, for example, Burke
 insists on
 starting with symbol-using rather
 than class struggle, but adds that the
 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
 animals (282-83).
 "Class" in the Marxist sense is one mode of
 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
 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
 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 &
     Form until my eyes failed me nearly 10 years ago. I
 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
         (Burke's) belief of
 the inevitability of the division of
 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
 critique of
 contemporary society. Again, if I remember correctly,
 in the Grammar
     did speculate on making a worker the _owner_ of his
 That had to be
     premised on the permanence of capitalist social
 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
         be persuaded (through a
 correct rhetoric) to grant wage
 workers such
         voluntarily. His use of
 the trope "the human barnyard" might
 point to the
 latter hope.
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