The rhetorical virtuosity of “The Working Day” chapter in Marx's Das Kapital consists in its staging of two distinct registers of political vocality. On the one hand, the transparent subject of a future scene is given form as that voice which arises to confront capital in its own terms. But in the footnotes that accompany the chapter, Marx quotes the reportage of various humanitarian agencies and the testimony of workers (not The Worker) in a manner that materializes the irreducible particularity of individuals and their historically situated speaking. In this essay, I read “The Working Day” chapter in terms of the tension between dialect and dialectic that it stages without analyzing. In the operations of the text, I argue, there is an aporia that has been remarkably overlooked but that already indicates the difficult path that the pursuit of universalist political projects have had and continue to have to confront.

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