chapter  9
13 Pages

Rethinking labor

Surplus, class, and justice
ByFaruk Eray Düzenli

The author discusses Stephen A. Resnick and Richard D. Wolff's conceptualization of labor and its theoretical and ethical implications. Discursively privileging one of the definitions Marx advances, Resnick and Wolff construe labor as the performer of surplus. With this articulation, they elaborate their inimitable concept of "class": an economic process—one that is overdetermined by all the other, non-class economic as well as cultural, natural, and political processes—that is defined as the performance, appropriation, and distribution of surplus labor. Resnick and Wolff's surplus labor approach has inspired numerous contributions to a Marxian theory of class justice and ethics. They call for an alternative economic system, one with decentralized, communist enterprises in which workplace democracy prevails, as each worker participates in every decision. The conclusion that workers should take control over their work lives is what makes Resnick and Wolff's project unique, appealing, and pertinent for our times.