Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Labor and Monopoly Capital, Chapter 10


Summary of Chapter 10: Further Effects of Management and Technology on the Distribution of Labor

This brief chapter discusses the changing composition of the industrial workforce due to management practices and mechanization. Braverman points out several times that this is not simply due to the effects of technological change and increased productivity, but also to the specific demands of the capitalist system, and the form this has taken since the Scientific-Technical revolution:

A necessary consequence of management and technology is a reduction in the demand for labor. The constant raising of the productivity of labor through the organiza­tional and technical means that have been described herein must, in itself, produce this tendency. The application of modern methods of management and machine technology, however, become practical only with the rapid increase in the scale of production. Thus the rapid increase in the productivity of labor tends to be counterbalanced by the growth in production. Chiefly as a conse­quence of this, employment in those industries concerned with the production of goods has not declined in absolute terms. (163)

That is, increased productivity [real subsumption] reduces the need for labor, but overall increased productivity [expansion, formal subsumption], keeps people employed by creating new industries. Also, creating a reserve army of laborers who have been put out of work [and deskilled], lowers the price of labor, and so puts a check on mechanization, since it has to compete with this lowered cost of labor.

Thus the very rapidity of mechanization, insofar as it makes available a supply of cheap labor by discharging workers from some industries or putting an end to the expansion of employment in others, acts as a check upon further mechanization.

The absolute numbers of workers in industry has grown, but as a percentage of the workforce they were fairly consistent through 19th century up until the 1920s, after which they have shrunk. But within the industrial workforce, the percentage of those involved in actual production has decreased, and indirect workers (administration, etc.; those involved in maintaining the “shadow replica of the entire process of production in paper form” (165)) has risen, since the late 19th century. Within this “residual category” of nonproductive workers, Braverman identifies two categories: technical: “engineers, technicians, and the clerical workers associated with production tasks,” (he later adds scientists of various sorts employed in industry), and commercial: “administrative, financial, marketing, and other such employment.” (166)

The point he is going for is that the actual technical personnel are a small group:

On balance, it is probably proper to say that the technical knowledge required to operate the various industries of the United States is concentrated in a grouping in the neighborhood of only 3 percent of the entire working population-although this percentage is higher in some industries and lower in others. (167)

He gives a history of the dramatic rise in the number and diversity of engineers in the US, since the early 19th century, with a rapid rise since the late 19th century

The enormous and continuous growth in demand for engineers has created a new mass occupation. On the one hand, this has, along with other new professions such as accounting, given a place to those thrust out of the old middle class by the relative decline of the petty entrepreneurial occupations in trade and other erstwhile arenas of small business. But on the other hand, having become a mass occupation engineering has begun to exhibit, even if faintly, some of the characteristics of other mass employments: rationalization and division of labor, simplification of duties, application of mechanization, a downward drift in relative pay, some unemployment, and some unionization.

Even design is now broken down into tasks and division of labor; he gives the example of the design of an AO Smith auto frame plant; engineers encounter increased routine and limited responsibilities, with less creativity and independence. Computer-aided design and engineering result in an increasing amount of knowledge and control over the design process being transferred from engineer to computer.

Apart from the labor-saving aspects of the technique, it alters the occupational composition in the same manner as does numerical control. Since such techniques are used in accord with the management-fa­vored division of labor, they replace engineers and draftsmen with data-entry clerks and machine operators, and further intensify the concentration of conceptual and design knowledge. Thus the very process which brought into being a mass engineering profession is being applied to that profession itself when it has grown to a large size, is occupied with duties which may be routinized, and when the advance of solid-state electronic technology makes it feasible to do so. (169)

He discusses the class of technicians, less educated and paid less than engineers, “the routine which can be passed to a lower-paid and slightly trained person goes to the technician.” But with the high supply of people with engineering degrees, an increasing number end up as technicians.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Post-Scarcity Anarchism, Chapter 4


Summary of Chapter 4: The Forms of Freedom

[As I am using a truncated pdf, this is the last chapter, "Listen, Marxist!" and the essays on May 1968, etc. having been cut off for some reason.]

In this short chapter, Bookchin discusses the political organization of a revolutionary society of the future. He summarizes the successes, failures, and lessons he finds in historical forms of revolutionary and egalitarian social organization, then ends with some thoughts on how to get “from here to there.”

However personalized, individuated or dadaesque may be the attack upon prevailing institutions, a liberatory revolution always poses the question of what social forms will replace existing ones. At one point or another, a revolutionary people must deal with how it will manage the land and the factories from which it acquires the means of life. It must deal with the manner in which it will arrive at decisions that affect the community as a whole. Thus if revolutionary thought is to be taken at all seriously, it must speak directly to the problems and forms of social management. (165)

The social organization of a society is important not least because it shapes how individuals, and relations between individuals, are formed:

Every personal relationship has a social dimension; every social relationship has a deeply personal side to it. Ordinarily, these two aspects and their relationship to each other are mystified and difficult to see clearly.

In reality, there exists no strictly “impersonal” political or social dimension; all the social institutions of the past and present depend on the relations between people in daily life.

Bourgeois society takes the mediation of human social relations to the extreme, by treating everyone as objects and interposing commodities as mediators (a la monetary exchange). B discusses the history of the link between mediation and hierarchy, back to the ancient establishment of chiefs and priests as mediators; the precapitalist mediation by men (e.g., councils, chiefs) is replaced in capitalism by mediation by things/commodities. B notes contemporary youth demands for tribalism and community; these are are sometimes depicted as temporally “regressive,” but they are fundamentally progressive, pointing to a renewed future community.

By contrast, the traditional revolutionary demand for council forms of organization (what Hannah Arendt describes as “the revolutionary heritage”) does not break completely with the terrain of hierarchical society. (167)

B reiterates his view that workers are not an inherently revolutionary class in the Marxist sense; instead, workers’ councils would simply reflect workers’ interests:

For the present, it suffices to say that most advocates of workers’ councils tend to conceive of people primarily as economic entities, either as workers or nonworkers. This conception leaves the onesidedness of the self completely intact. Man is viewed as a bifurcated being, the product of a social development that divides man from man and each man from himself. (168)

There is more to B’s idea of revolution than the transferal of economic decision-making from owners to workers: more than just having worker input on management, etc., we must “transform the work into a joyful activity, free time into a marvelous experience, and the workplace into a community” (168) to have actual liberation, and not just “perpetuate the limitations of the proletariat as a product of bourgeois social conditions.”

Council organizations, as advocated by Marxists, etc., are “forms of mediated relationships rather than face-to-face relationships” and so will recreate hierarchy and thus fail to be fully and truly revolutionary. He discusses various limitations of traditional workers’ council ideas; factory committees of course are/will be an important step, but just an initial, not the final, step.

He summarizes the history of earlier revolutionary attempts at reorganizing society; all were too short-lived or “distorted” to serve as models, with the exception of the Spanish Revolution.

Starting off with the Paris Commune of 1870, he states that it was really just a council/democracy with elected representatives; although it co-existed with more revolutionary popular clubs, neighborhood vigilance committees, and battalions of the national guard:

Had the Paris Commune (the Municipal Council) survived, it is extremely doubtful that it could have avoided conflict with these loosely formed street and militia formations. (170)

B argues the Commune was mostly not proletarian, but rather sans-culottes, lumpens and other groups; in a footnote he takes aim at what he identifies as the Situationist tendency to

describe any social stratum as “proletarian” (as the French Situationists do) simply because it has no control over the conditions of its life... This giddy approach to social analysis divests the industrial proletariat and the bourgeoisie of all the historically unique features which Marx believed he had discovered (a theoretical project that proved inadequate, although by no means false); it slithers away from the responsibilities of a serious critique of Marxism and the development of “laissez-faire” capitalism toward state capitalism, while pretending to retain continuity with the Marxian project. (171)

He moves on to discuss the Russian Soviets of 1905 and of 1917:

The Soviets of 1917 reveal all the limitations of “sovietism.” Though the Soviets were invaluable as local fighting organizations, their national congresses proved to be increasingly unrepresentative bodies. The congresses were organized along very hierarchical lines. Local Soviets in cities, towns and villages elected delegates to district and regional bodies; these elected delegates to the actual nationwide congresses. In larger cities, representation to the congresses was less indirect, but it was indirect nonetheless—from the voter in a large city to the municipal soviet and from the municipal soviet to the congress. In either case the congress was separated from the mass of voters by one or more representative levels. (173)

The soviet congresses met once every three months, which was far too long an interval; an executive committee was in permanent session, but still too unwieldy; it handed over responsibilities to the smaller Council of People’s Commissars, and the Bolsheviks used this hierarchy to seize and consolidate power.

The power of the local Soviets passed into the hands of the Executive Committee, the power of the Executive Committee passed into the hands of the Council of People’s Commissars, and finally, the power of the Council of People’s Commissars passed into the hands of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party. (174)

He argues that “that the Russian Soviets were incapable of providing the anatomy for a truly popular democracy is to be ascribed not only to their hierarchical structure, but also to their limited social roots;” by “limited social roots” he seems to argue that the peasants and other sectors were mostly uninvolved or withdrawn and inward looking: the power of the soviets was heavily working class and factory-centric.

Here we encounter a basic contradiction in class concepts of revolutionary power: proletarian socialism, precisely because it emphasizes that power must be based exclusively on the factory, creates the conditions for a centralized, hierarchical political structure. (174-5)

[This again is part of his argument for not taking the working class as the key revolutionary subject; while there coninues to be a distinct working class (tied to factories, etc., even if controlling them), their interests remain “particularistic” and thus fall short of the generalized revolution which he called for back in Chapter 1.]

However much its social position is strengthened by a system of “self-management,” the factory is not an autonomous social organism. The amount of social control the factory can exercise is fairly limited, for every factory is highly dependent for its operation and its very existence upon other factories and sources of raw materials. Ironically, the Soviets, by basing themselves primarily in the factory and isolating the factory from its local environment, shifted power from the community and the region to the nation, and eventually from the base of society to its summit. The soviet system consisted of an elaborate skein of mediated social relationships, knitted along nationwide class lines. (175)

He finds more hope in the anarcho-syndicalists in Spain during the civil war, because both workers and peasants were involved. The assemblies had power to revoke delegates to councils, and countermand council decisions: “Let there be no mistake about the effectiveness of this scheme of organization: it imparted to each member of the CNT a weighty sense of responsibility, a sense of direct, immediate and personal influence in the activities and policies of the union.” CNT control of Barcelona was a success, until it was put down by outside forces.

He dismisses several other abortive attempts, and summarizes:

The fact remains that council modes of organization are not immune to centralization, manipulation and perversion. These councils are still particularistic, one-sided, and mediated forms of social management. At best, they can be the stepping stones to a decentralized society—at worst, they can easily be integrated into hierarchical forms of social organization. (177)

He turns from mediated councils to unmediated forms: assembly and community.

The assembly probably formed the structural basis of early clan and tribal society until its functions were pre-empted by chiefs and councils. It appeared as the ecclesia in classical Athens; later, in a mixed and often perverted form, it reappeared in the medieval and Renaissance towns of Europe. Finally, as the “sections,” assemblies emerged as the insurgent bodies in Paris during the Great Revolution. The ecclesia and the Parisian sections warrant the closest study. Both developed in the most complex cities of their time and both assumed a highly sophisticated form, often welding individuals of different social origins into a remarkable, albeit temporary, community of interests. (177)

It does not minimize their limitations to say that they developed methods of functioning so successfully libertarian in character that even the most imaginative Utopias have failed to match in speculation what they achieved in practice. (177-8)

He discusses the Athenian ecclesia and its workings; making note of issues with patriarchism, slavery, etc.

Taken as a whole, this was a remarkable system of social management; run almost entirely by amateurs, the Athenian polis reduced the formulation and administration of public policy to a completely public affair. ... At its best, Athenian democracy greatly modified the more abusive and inhuman features of ancient society. (180)

B argues that slavery was different, and more humane, in ancient Greece, [than what we are accustomed to from the history of the US]:

On balance, the image of Athens as a slave economy which built its civilization and generous humanistic outlook on the backs of human chattels is false ... (181)

[My guess is that he wants to argue this, to show that the democracy of Athens was overall a humanizing experience; the responsibility and public-mindedness of the men partaking in it has been a point of his, so they should thus also be producing a more humane society, than that of the colonial/capitalist system that produced the much more dehumanizing modern form of slavery. There is a bit of a valid point here but it also opens up a much bigger can of worms, and really I think he is being far too dismissive. The interesting case of Diogenes being captured and sold into slavery (“sell me to the man who wants a master”), could be considered: the story plays up a role reversal between master and servant, but the idea that one person can buy and sell another is not questioned. In any case the tendency of Bookchin, like many other thinkers, to fetishize the limited democracy of ancient Athens has come under substantial and warranted critique.]

His next example is the Parisian sections of the French Revolution, called into existence as part of the state apparatus, then refusing to give back power:

After performing their electoral functions, the assemblies were required to disappear, but they remained on in defiance of the monarchy and constituted themselves into permanent municipal bodies. By degrees they turned into neighborhood assemblies of all “active” citizens, varying in form, scope and power from one district to another. (182)

This “active” vs “passive” citizens distinction was later abolished, and the sans-culottes invited to participate; according to Bookchin, this radicalized and energized the sections. The sections were not just fighting organizations but “genuine forms of self-management” (182-3); he details the responsibilities they took on.

It must be borne in mind that this complex of extremely important activities was undertaken not by professional bureaucrats but, for the most part, by ordinary shopkeepers and craftsmen. The bulk of the sectional responsibilities were discharged after working hours, during the free time of the section members. The popular assemblies of the sections usually met during the evenings in neighborhood churches. Assemblies were ordinarily open to all the adults of the neighborhood. (183)

This echoes his discussion in an earlier chapter about keeping the “doors of the revolution open.” Also important were the ad hoc and fluid, rather than rigidified, relationships between sections:

The Paris Commune of the Great Revolution never became an overbearing, ossified institution; it changed with almost every important political emergency, and its stability, form, and functions depended largely upon the wishes of the sections. (184)

Having relied on the sections to fasten their hold on the Convention, the Jacobins began to rely on the Convention to destroy the sections.

[Just as with the Bolsheviks, once again a hierarchical system (in this case the Convention over the sections) allows for a centralization and suppression of the true revolution]. B describes how the Jacobins limited the power of the sections and centralized power in their own hands; he needles Marx in a footnote for his “short-sightedness” in admiring the Jacobins in this regard.

The sections had been subverted by the very revolutionary leaders they had raised to power in the Convention. (185)

Having gone from critiques of the state and council forms of social organization, to the more hopeful examples of the Athenian ecclesia and Parisians sections, he concludes with a discussion of how to get “from here to there,” most notably the perils that need to be avoided.

The factors which undermined the assemblies of classical Athens and revolutionary Paris require very little discussion. In both cases the assembly mode of organization was broken up not only from without, but also from within—by the development of class antagonisms. There are no forms, however cleverly contrived, that can overcome the content of a given society. Lacking the material resources, the technology and the level of economic development to overcome class antagonisms as such, Athens and Paris could achieve an approximation of the forms of freedom only temporarily—and only to deal with the more serious threat of complete social decay.

[Whatever “social decay” is... anyway with the nod at “material resources,” he ties this to his overall post-scarcity argument.]

Both the ecclesia and the sections were undermined by the very conditions they were intended to check—property, class antagonisms and exploitation—but which they were incapable of eliminating. What is remarkable about them is that they worked at all, considering the enormous problems they faced and the formidable obstacles they had to overcome. (186)

He points out that Athens and Paris were large cities, not villages; this shows that these egalitarian forms were able to handle the complexity involved in running these urban centers (though he will contradict this at the end of the essay, with a call for the dissolution of large cities). Paris, like Athens, was run by amateurs, in this case working men who ran the assemblies after they had spent the day at labor:

There is no evidence that these assemblies and the committees they produced were inefficient or technically incompetent. On the contrary, they awakened a popular initiative, a resoluteness in action, and a sense of revolutionary purpose that no professional bureaucracy, however radical its pretensions, could ever hope to achieve.

Both added great cultural achievements to this:

The arena for these achievements was not the traditional state, structured around a bureaucratic apparatus, but a system of unmediated relations, a face-to-face democracy organized into public assemblies. (187)

Another issue in getting from “here” to “there” is our ability to imagine a more free society, to begin with:

The goal of dissolving propertied society, class rule, centralization, and the state is as old as the historical emergence of property, classes, and states. In the beginning, the rebels could look backward to clans, tribes, and federations; it was still a time when the past was closer at hand than the future. Then the past receded completely from man’s vision and memory, except perhaps as a lingering dream of the “golden age” or the “Garden of Eden.”

Thus the dream of liberation has come to be founded, not on memory but on imagination; it has become “speculative and theoretical, and like all strictly theoretical visions its content was permeated with the social material of the present.” He argues that this has resulted in the problems/absurdities of visions such as More’s Utopia, with its slaves, kings, etc., as well as the centralization and bureacratization of the Soviet Union as a once-revolutionary experiment.

In envisioning the complete dissolution of the existing society, we cannot get away from the question of power—be it power over our own lives, the “seizure of power,” or the dissolution of power. In going from the present to the future, from “here” to “there,” we must ask: what is power? Under what conditions is it dissolved? And what does its dissolution mean? How do the forms of freedom, the unmediated relations of social life, emerge from a statified society, a society in which the state of unfreedom is carried to the point of absurdity—to domination for its own sake? (188)

He emphasizes the historical lesson that almost all revolutions were spontaneous: “Whosoever calls himself a revolutionist and does not study these events on their own terms, thoroughly and without theoretical preconceptions, is a dilettante who is playing at revolution.”

Nearly all the great revolutions came from below, from the molecular movement of the “masses,” their progressive individuation and their explosion—an explosion which invariably took the authoritarian “revolutionists” completely by surprise. (189)

There can be no separation of the revolutionary process from the revolutionary goal. A society based on self-administration must be achieved by means of self-administration.

B articulates his concept of a revolutionary “self”:

This implies the forging of a self (yes, literally a forging in the revolutionary process) and a mode of administration which the self can possess.

... “selfhood” is not only a personal dimension but also a social one. The self that finds expression in the assembly and community is, literally, the assembly and community that has found self-expression—a complete congruence of form and content.

“If we define “power” as the power of man over man, power can only be destroyed by the very process in which man acquires power over his own life and in which he not only “discovers” himself but, more meaningfully, formulates his selfhood in all its social dimensions.

Again, this can only be achieved by “molecular” action from below, not imposed or “delivered” by the plans of a revolutionary vanguard:

Assembly and community must arise from within the revolutionary process itself; indeed, the revolutionary process must be the formation of assembly and community...

Assembly and community must be recognized as “modes of struggle” not “theoretical or programatic abstractions" (190):

they will be the arenas of demassification, for the very essence of the revolutionary process is people acting as individuals.

[a touch of the 1960s Marcuse-esque, etc. language of mass vs individual in the above]

Two problems will then need to be faced: 1) the competing power of the existing bourgeois state from which the assemblies are attempting to be free; and 2) the “incipient state” or “tendency to create mediated social forms” which must be fought within the revolutionary organizations [to avoid the failures of the councils and earlier discussed forms]

The specific gravity of society, in short, must be shifted to its base—the armed people in permanent assembly. (190-1)

Here he critiques what he sees as the inherently counter-revolutionary aspect of the “modern bourgeois city,” in terms Merrifield takes issue with in his own book:

As long as the arena of the assembly is the modern bourgeois city, the revolution is faced with a recalcitrant environment. The bourgeois city, by its very nature and structure, fosters centralization, massification and manipulation. Inorganic, gargantuan, and organized like a factory, the city tends to inhibit the development of an organic, rounded community. In its role as the universal solvent, the assembly must try to dissolve the city itself. (191)

As first the young, then the old, leave to found “nuclear ecological communities,” the modern city “begins to shrivel, to contract and to disappear”. The factory, another artificial “particularized” creation of class relations, dissolves into the community.

The dissolution of the factory into the community completes the dissolution of the last vestiges of propertied, of class, and, above all, of mediated society into the new polis. And now the real drama of human life can unfold, in all its beauty, harmony, creativity and joy.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Discourse in the Novel, Part 4

 Part 4: The Speaking Person in the Novel

B starts off by restating the inherently heteroglossic character of the novel, as a form of writing that, even when it does not actually contain heteroglossia, nevertheless acknowledges its “heteroglot environment, such that even “unitary and direct” language used by an author recognizes itself as contestable, necessary of being “championed” and “defended” in a polemical environment (332). Nevertheless one of the most important ways that the novel recognizes and engages with the “heteroglossia that surrounds it,” is the introduction of characters who give voice to different languages (in B’s definition of the term):

From this follows the decisive and distinctive importance of the novel as a genre: the human being in the novel is first, foremost and always a speaking human being; the novel requires speaking persons bringing with them their own unique ideological discourse, their own language. (332)

B then clarifies this importance with the explication of three “aspects:”

1) Heteroglossic discourse in the novel is not merely “transmitted or reproduced,” as it might be, for instance, in drama; it is instead “artistically represented... by means of (authorial) discourse” (332: emphasis in original). The significance of this is that it brings in all the complexity of reported speech, and exists in a more complicated, entangled and interacting relationship, (aka orchestration) with the author’s language, than presumably would be the case in [the ideal types of] contrasting genres such as drama or epic. Cf. also the argument made by the editors in the introduction that polyphony exists only in the interaction of centripetal and centrifugal forces, not simply in one or the other.

2) What is important about speaking characters is not their actual characters or fates, but the social languages they represent, the dialogicality they introduce into the novel.

3) Speaking characters in novels are always ideologues, and their words “ideologemes” (333); this is the same point made before, above and in the Dostoevsky book, about their independence from and equality with the narrator, and ability to in principle be authors or narrator/personalities of their own.

The activity of a character in a novel is always ideologically demarcated: he lives and acts in an ideological world of his own (and not in the unitary world of the epic), he has his own perception of the world that is incarnated in his action and in his discourse. (335)

What’s important, again, is not that these are individual characters but that they are socially representative; also, that their speech is represented by the author, because this act of representation itself qualifies and undermines the independence and authority of the author’s speech (which uncontested authority it would otherwise have in the ideal types of epic or poetry). This is actually a very interesting perspective on the problem of representation, in general, as something that is inherently double-voiced, and which problematizes, rather than privileges, the voice or author doing the representing; furthermore, from B’s point of view, this is also important because it shows the actually fluid and always contested nature of language (and of languages, in all the senses B uses this word). Thus, “the central problem for a stylistics of the novel may be formulated as the problem of artistically representing language, the problem of representing the image of a language” (336: emphasis in original). Even stylization and parody are “double-voiced and double-languaged phenomena” (337).

One of B’s major goals in this section is to discuss how this artistic representation of heteroglossic speech in the novel is both related to, and distinct from, the general [citationality] of language in “extra-artistic” everyday communication. The relationship to the speech of another is central to any act of enunciation/[articulation]:

The transmission and assessment of the speech of others, the discourse of another, is one of the most widespread and fundamental topics of human speech. In all areas of life and ideological activity, our speech is filled to overflowing with other people’s words, which are transmitted with highly varied degrees of accuracy and impartiality. The more intensive, differentiated, and highly developed the social life of a speaking collective, the greater is the importance attaching, among other possible subjects of talk, to another’s word, another’s utterance, since another’s word will be the subject of passionate communication, an object of interpretation, discussion, evaluation, rebuttal, support, further development, and so on. (337)

[In the above he is basically describing the “heteroglot context” previously referred to, in which any act of articulation/enunciation takes place; also, the increased complexity or “developed” nature of a society presumably underlies the relevance of the novel in modernity, as opposed to earlier, simpler forms of society for which epic was more appropriate.] [It seems to me this historical theory of his would not stand scrutiny, however, since epic and poetry probably never really had this separate and unquestionable rigidity that he assumes in the ideal type; cf. call and response, and the whole Albert Lord argument about the situated re-working of living, oral epics in context, in each retelling.]

He writes at length about the importance of metadiscourse in everyday life and speech, and the importance of making sense and interpreting what others are saying, and saying about us, and our words, as “living hermeneutics” (338); “...in the everyday speech of any person living in society, no less than half (on the average) of all the words uttered by him will be someone else’s words...” (339). He makes an interesting point about quotation marks:

... not all transmitted words belonging to someone else lend themselves, when fixed in writing, to enclosure in quotation marks. Their degree of otherness and purity in another’s word that in written speech would require quotation marks (as per the intention of the speaker himself, how he himself determines this degree of otherness) is required much less frequently in everyday speech. (339)

The point here is the distinction between the stylistic and artistic means by which speech is artistically represented in the novel, and the way the speech of others is reported/cited/echoed in everyday speech, quotation marks being one of the “special formal devices” used in written speech, to demarcate between the author or narrator’s speech, and that of others. In everyday speech, such clear boundaries are used less often, and the speech of others flows through our mouths, and becomes our own. B expresses this in a somewhat weird way as the “engaged transmission of practical information,” which he contrasts with “artistic representation.”

For this reason everyday speech is not concerned with forms of representation, but with means of transmission. (339: emphasis in original)

On the one hand, this recreates the poetics/rhetoric distinction which imho B was rightly castigating in an earlier part of the essay. B has a valid point to make, but it may not be best served by a reductive opposition between “representation” and “transmission.” The important point is that the stakes, and the means, of orchestration, indirect speech, and so on, in everyday conversation, and in the novel, are distinct, though related. In any event B does go on to complicate the distinction by recognizing that there are “certain aspects of representability” (340) involved in this “transmission,” but insists that “[t]his representation is always subordinated to the tasks of practical, engaged transmission and is wholly determined by these tasks” (341).

Expanding on the way others’ speech is transmitted in everyday speech, B distinguishes between the two school-taught modes of “reciting by heart” and “retelling in one’s own words” (341); in the first the voices of the speaker and that of the recited text are kept clear and distinct, but in the latter they are mixed, it is double-voiced. This is a crucial part of the assumed superiority of the latter in the modern disciplinary subject, and one of those aspects of pedagogy most imperilled, or seemingly so, by the rise of AI chatbots that can spew out plausible student essays. In any event B develops this distinction into a further one, between authoritative discourse and internally persuasive discourse (342). Here, the distinction relates to the role of these received or repeated texts in the development of the speaking subject’s ideology (or “idea system”). The recited text forms an exterior, authoritative discourse outside of the speaker, to be followed or obeyed; the retold, double-voiced text becomes internally persuasive, part of the speaker’s own belief system and sense of self.

The “authoritative word” stands outside the subject and demands recognition or submission; there is a distance established between it and the subject. The subject does not necessarily respond with submission (but can be either “sympathetic or hostile,” or take more complicated positions (343); the point is that this distance is established. B states that “the degree to which a word may be conjoined with authority” is what creates this distance; he notes the complexity of this, with the authoritative word on the one hand surrounding itself with a swirl of interpreting, evaluative discourses which nevertheless are like a cushion or protective layer; the authoritative word or discourse itself remains intact, unalterable; “... it demands, so to speak, not only quotation marks but... a special script, for instance.” [Specialized religious languages like Latin, Church Slavonic, etc. come to mind, but one could think also of the logical notation of certain branches of philosophy.] B emphasizes that that [entextualized, reified] word of authority allows no play:

no play with the context framing it, no play with its borders, no spontaneously creative stylizing variants on it. It enters our verbal consciousness as a compact and indivisible mass; one must either totally affirm it, or totally reject it.

[Here, in addition to the beautifully ultra-Volosinovian phrase “verbal consciousness,” is a direct link to Rappaport’s theory of the importance of the digital/binary in ritual.]

[Somewhere around here I had a brilliant paragraph which got deleted somehow, on the relevance of Bakhtin’s points about authoritative language to modern scientific and critical approaches. Above, I put Bakhtin’s terms authoritative discourse and internally persuasive discourse originally in italics (a special script), and other phrases in quotation marks; this marks their use or invocation as authoritative discourse, drawn from Bakhtin-as-authority, and placed in his voice, not my own. However, through further discussion, I start adopting the terms on my own, without demarcation, showing the shift from authoritative into internally persuasive discourse. However, there was a further, brilliant point to be made about play and scientific/critical discourse’s relation to authority, which I can’t quite remember.]

B continues emphasizing the difference between AD and IPD: AD cannot be represented, it can only be transmitted (because representation requires that play which AD disallows). Authoritative discourse in the novel appears as a thing, a “dead quotation” (344).

At this point B starts throwing out references to a key concept, zone of contact or contact zone; with no attempt to provide a definition. And here I have lost another brilliant paragraph in which I went online, found numerous sources using the term “zone of contact” very confidently and usually with no clear definition, but with a wide range of largely inconsistent meanings. Without recreating all that iirc the common usages were that the “zone of contact” is 1) the zone in which two speakers/characters interact in speech; 2) the zone of contact between two languages (in the sense of such speakers’ languages, or social languages in society); 3) the contact between an authoritative discourse and a speaker interacting with or challenging it; and 4) contact and mutual exchange/influence between two cultures or languages (in the usual sense of the word). My sense is that definitions 1 and 2 are the closest to what B seems to intend. His point is that authoritative discourse tries to keep itself distant from this zone of contact to protect itself, as it does not want to be played with or refracted; yet speakers respond to this with struggle:

... there is a struggle constantly being waged to overcome the official line with its tendency to distance itself from the zone of contact, a struggle against various kinds and degrees of authority. In this process discourse gets drawn into the contact zone, which results in semantic and emotionally expressive (intonational) changes: there is a weakening and degradation of the capacity to generate metaphors, and discourse becomes more reified, more concrete, more filled with everyday elements and so forth. (345)

B now switches to the obviously preferred term, internally persuasive discourse. Against the discussion of authoritative discourse with imagery of “thingness” and death, IPD is all about openness, creativity, and life. There is still a struggle involved, but this is not a struggle against death but within life, over what path the subject is to take in forming themself, in the midst of so many creative and competing discursive possibilities:

Internally persuasive discourseas opposed to one that is externally authoritativeis, as it is affirmed through assimilation, tightly interwoven with ‘one’s own word.’ In the everyday rounds of our consciousness, the internally persuasive word is half-ours and half-someone else’s. Its creativity and productiveness consist precisely in the fact that such a word awakens new and independent words, that it organizes masses of our words from within, and does not remain in an isolated and static condition. It is not so much interpreted by us as it is further, that is, freely, developed, applied to new material, new conditions; it enters into interanimating relationships with new contexts. More than that, it enters into an intense interaction, a struggle with other internally persuasive discourses. Our ideological development is just such an intense struggle within us for hegemony among various available verbal and ideological points of view, approaches, directions, and values. The semantic structure of an internally persuasive discourse is not finite, it is open, in each of the new contexts that dialogize it, this discourse is able to reveal ever new ways to mean. (345-6)

The term “zone of contact” reappears:

The internally persuasive word is either a contemporary word born in a zone of contact with unresolved contemporaneity, or else it is a word that has been reclaimed for contemporaneity... (346)

So here, the contact is with “unresolved contemporaneity,” the discursive present; the word that has been reclaimed from the past gains multiple contemporaneities and contexts, retaining those from the past and gaining new ones from the present. Along with such words in IPD is a conception of the listener: “Every discourse presupposes a special conception of the listener, of his apperceptive background and the degree of his responsiveness; it presupposes a specific distance.”

B of course wants to get back around to the role of speaking characters in the novel, as a form of heteroglossic representation, and the next step he makes is to formulate a theory of what could be called [proto-representation] in everyday thought and speech [he eventually names it “organic hybridization”]. There are all these ways in which we take on others’ speech [and styles, ways of thinking and acting, etc.] in our search to develop our own self out of these influences; we crassly mimic some, transmit others, come to reject others, etc. “A few changes in orientation and the internally persuasive word easily becomes an object of representation.” By taking these words/discourse which had come to be IP for us, and placing it in the mouths of imaginary speakers, or “images” (B suggests a preacher, a wise man, a leader, for ethical, philosophical, and sociopolitical discourse); while experimenting with this discourse, “we attempt to guess, to imagine how” such a person would talk, act, and so on; and this is the [proto-representation] of characters in our own minds and speaking.

This process—experimenting by turning persuasive discourse into speaking persons—becomes especially important in those cases where a struggle against such images has already began, where someone is striving to liberate himself from the influence of such an image and its discourse by means of objectification, or is striving to expose the limitations of both image and discourse. The importance of struggling with another‘s discourse, its influence in the history of an individual‘s coming to ideological consciousness, is enormous. One‘s own discourse and one‘s own voice, although born of another or dynamically stimulated by another, will sooner or later begin to liberate themselves from the authority of the other‘s discourse. (348)

B uses the concept of “experiment” throughout this discussion: “experimentally objectifying another's discourse” allows “liberation from this discourse by turning it into an object.” I also think we can see here Bakhtin’s more complex and nuanced concept dialogism or dialogicality, substituting for the three-part dialectic movement of more standardly Marxist approaches.

B returns to his favorite subject of all time, which is the importance of Dostoevsky. There are two ways in which D’s works show “the acute and intense interaction of another’s word” (349). First, in each of his characters’ languages there is “a profound and unresolved conflict with another’s word” on the levels of lived experience, of ethical life, and of ideology. Second, the novels in their entirety are never-resolved conversations between the author and the characters, in which the characters are not subordinated to the author, and the characters always remain “incomplete and unresolved,” in other words, alive and agentive.

He spends a few pages discussing “extra-artistic ideological communication,” the very Foucauldian subjects of [veridiction and interpellation] in confession, and legal, religious, and scientific discourses; he gives some recommendations for improved methods and approaches in philology and the study of rhetorical genres.

Returning to the novel, he states that there are two ways in which this dialogized discourse is present in the novel. First, it is present in the speech of characters, and in the inserted genres; second, it is “subordinated to the task of artistically representing the speaker and his discourse as the image of a language” (355). It is this second aspect which turns out to be essential to the difference between artistic and “extra-artistic” dialogism (and to the distinction mentioned above, between “representation” and “transmission”: extra-artistic dialogism is merely concerned with transmitting the content, or information of specific statements (“isolated utterances”); only artistic dialogism endeavors “to recognize and intensify images lying behind the isolated utterances of social language, a language that realizes itself in them, but is not exhausted by them...” (356). The novel, thus, moves beyond double-voicedness to double-languagedness, the interaction and confrontation of two social languages.

A social language, then, is a concrete socio-linguistic belief system that defines a distinct identity for itself within the boundaries of a language that is unitary only in the abstract.

A social language is a “potential dialect:”

Language, in its historical life, in its heteroglot development, is full of such potential dialects: they intersect one another in a multitude of ways; some fail to develop, some die off, but others blossom into authentic languages.

Key to the distinction between, and the importance of, these social languages is not simply their differention around identities, but around ideological beliefs:

The image of such a language in the novel is the image assumed by a set of social beliefs, the image of a social ideologeme that has fused with its own discourse, with its own language.

B now delineates three categories under which “devices in the novel for creating the image of a language” may be subsumed (358): hybridizations, the dialogized interrelation of languages, and pure dialogue. Hybridization is “the mixture of two social languages within the limits of a single utterance.” This is done intentionally in the novel, but unintentional or unconscious hybridization plays an important role in the evolution and historical change of languages, as indicated above in the discussion of the formation and dissolution of dialects, and the historicity of language change. He provides the compelling image of the utterance as the “crucible” in which these hybridizations (and thus, social languages and dialects themselves, over time) are forged. Novelistic hybridization differs from hybridization-in-the-wild [which he also calls “historical, organic hybrids”] not only on account of being intentional, but by involving two individualized (as opposed to “impersonal”) language consciousnesses, that is, the image of the language is individualized or [embodied] in the voice of the author and of the character. The importance of these individuals in intentional hybridization is because these are, not merely the mixing of two languages or styles, but “the collision between differing points of views on the world that are embedded in these forms” (360). Compared to organic hybrids, that are “mute and opaque,” intentional hybrids make use of “conscious contrasts and oppositions.” Nevertheless, organic hybrids have played important historical roles, as they are “pregnant with potential for new world views, with new ‘internal forms’ for perceiving the world in words.” Intentional hybrids go beyond organic hybrids by being internally dialogic, that is, the two points of view are “set against each other dialogically.”

He goes on to talk about the relationship between the representing and the represented languages; the language embodied in, reified in the novel itself (as the style of the author), versus that embodied or represented in the speech of the characters, etc. through hybridization. He draws a contrast between hybridization “in the strict sense” and “internally dialogized interilluminations of language systems taken as a whole” (the second of his three categories, above) (362). His first example of this is stylization, which has been covered at length in his Dostoevsky book; the second is variation, which

freely incorporates material from alien languages into contemporary topics, joins the stylized world with the world of contemporary consciousness, projects the stylized language into new scenarios, testing it on situations that would have been impossible for it on its own. (363)

The writing style of Philip Reeve in Mortal Engines comes to mind: a somewhat goofy mock-Dickensian style, set in a steampunk future, with numerous quirky and witty references to contemporary pop culture, the effect being to create a completely new and unique style, mood, and voice. (A truly epic book series, unfortunately travestied by a disgracefully bad film adaptation.)

The third style is parodic stylization, in which “the intentions of the representing discourse are at odds with the intentions of the represented discourse” (364). He notes that stylization and parody form two extremes, between which there are many “varied forms for languages to mutually illuminate each other.” He ends with some observations on dialogue and plot, and summarizes his views on the importance of the artistry involved in hybridization in the novel (when it is done right), which distinguishes it from organic hybridization, as well as from the incompetent mixings of hack writers.