The Sublime Perversion of Capital: Marxist Theory and the Politics of History in Modern Japan
Primitive Accumulation, or the Logic of Origin
Marx’s analysis of primitive accumulation has been frequently revisited in contemporary theoretical writing. This illogical or irrational moment of the historical presuppositions for capital’s development is a general problem of power, the problem of how an order is generated and maintained. The order appears as a perfect circle, a closed circuit with no outside, but it must have begun somewhere and somehow. Schmitt’s discussion of the formation of the modern order of nation-states, the enclosure of territory, the maintenance of their borders, and the acts that sustain this order itself can be effectively cross-read with Marx’s discussion in terms of the problem of the origin. By focusing on the moment of primitive accumulation not as a force of destruction or elimination of difference but as an even greater violence of creation—the creation of the owner of labor power and formation of systematic differences—we can also understand how this paradoxical circuit of creation and destruction sustains the contemporary order. I attempt here to read this process of enclosure as a corollary to the historico-theoretical question of the emergence of the owner of labor power.