Le séminaire du centre Walras-Pareto
This paper is part of a project to overcome the society/nature split in European political philosophy by developing a new model of the local dynamic or ‘cell structure’ that joins human beings to other beings, a model to rival Smith’s individual going to the market and Marx on work as a metabolic exchange with nature. The first part of this project developed a critique of Hegel’s construction of his concept of civil society with regard to nature, and proposed in its place a concept of ‘socio-natural ropes’. The aim of the current paper is to develop this concept beyond the twin dichotomies of system-environment and the psychological versus the social. A socio-natural rope is a mechanism that allows a subject to reflexively locate itself in relation to other subjects and beings that might otherwise remain invisible. For instance, what are the infrastructures that permit a subject’s continued existence as a consumer of packaged food? How and when might that infrastructure come to light for a subject apart from instances of breakdown (Heidegger’s garage) or a bill to be paid (price as signal)? How do we perceive our own local imbrication within natural processes? In dialogue with John Bellamy Foster, this paper will identify resources in Smith and Marx for developing the concept of socio-natural ropes, focusing in particular on the perception of the experience of work, and on the limits of Smith and Marx’s conceptions of social antagonism.