The following is part two of a series that explores various current economic aspects in a way that illustrates the possibility for new alternatives rather than mapping out detailed new plans.
A binary opposition is the subsumption of reality between contradictions. The world is defined by two terms set against each other which excludes other perspectives. There is also the appearance of these two terms in a direct relationship with each other. This appearance reinforces the exclusion. It is important to realize that these two terms are perspectives on reality and these perspectives can not contain all of reality. There is always a surplus of reality. Therefore, instead of a binary opposition there needs to be a parallax. A parallax originally comes from astronomy, where a change in the perspective on a heavenly body looks like a change in the heavenly body itself. A parallax can be a more accurate way to understand contradictions. It can be applied toward the various contradictions that emerge in economics and other areas. The use of the parallax can also further the understanding of the political and the economic.
There is a contradiction between use value and exchange value. Use value is unique to each act of production, while exchange value is formed from the relationships between products. The measurement of value is quite different between use value and exchange value. Use value exists in itself before the human experience of it. This is because of its unique characteristic when the product is created. On the other hand, exchange value exists for itself after the human experience. The human experience places products in relationships with each other through trade. Human experience in this sense is a social experience where elements are compared and contrasted. When the two separate perspectives on value are not seen as a parallax, there is the appearance of a subsumption of use value in itself under exchange value for itself. Exchange value obscures the various unique use values in order for the products to communicate with each other in trade. This subsumption ignores the fact that use value and exchange value exist side by side as two ways to define value in reality. They are parallel and equal in that these two forms of value try to explain reality.
There is also a contradiction between the political and the economic. The political is concerned primarily with the goal of freedom. This freedom is assisted by equality under the law. The economic is concerned primarily with the goal of equality. This equality is assisted by a freedom to use the means of production to achieve economic goals and fulfill needs. Individuals are equal as legal subjects in a social group. They can express their unique nature through freedom in the political sphere. Using the freedom of individual action and initiative, a group can establish an equality of economic conditions. This economic equality of the collective supports the political freedom of individuals. The political is a specific method of organization of reality, and so is the economic. Political freedom and economic equality are in a direct relationship with each other. However, this specific perspective must be understood as one perspective among many. If it is not understood as such, there will be a subsumption of political freedom and economic equality under economic freedom and political equality. Economic freedom can perpetuate political inequality through the law. Political equality can deny the unique nature of individuals and will demand absolute conformity to the collective. Political freedom and economic equality will reinforce each other in a positive way. But economic freedom and political equality will move in opposite directions and disrupt the social reality. Economic freedom in itself will result in exploitation through a hierarchy, while political equality in itself will exert power over individuals through a hierarchy.
In regards to the economic reality, there is a contradiction between individual labor and collective consumption. Individual labor creates use value through production. Collective consumption occurs through exchange. A single human worker engages in the act of labor, but consumption will always happen after products are placed in multiple relationships that also involves multiple people. Under capitalism, this specific perspective on the economy is transformed in order to execute a system of exploitation. Capitalism is a subsumption of individual labor and collective consumption under collective labor and individual consumption. Collective labor is the denial of workers as unique individuals. Workers are treated as interchangeable parts of an economic machine. Individual consumption is the appearance that buying a product is an act of individual freedom that ignores how products are the same to other people. Choices are channeled into a limited set of products that looks infinite. In other words, capitalism makes workers conform to the obedience of the workplace while freedom is redefined as consumer freedom. The subsumption enacted by capitalism sets workers against consumers. The recognition that individual labor and collective consumption are two valid but separate perspectives on the economic reality can avoid the subsumption of capitalism.
In regards to the political reality, there is a contradiction between the national identity and the other. The national identity is an internal unity. People are homogeneous under this identity, and everyone appears to be the same. This unity allows specific political actions to occur that will perpetuate the overall political system. The other is an external marginalization. Those humans who are outside of the national identity are not defined as unified. Their disunified appearance makes them subservient to various definitions imposed by the national identity. The national identity creates its own definitions and terms, while the other is defined by those in power within the national identity. The other is never able to be autonomous. In most cases, the national identity has a collective form while the other is seen as purely disparate individuals. The subsumption of individuals and collectives under the national identity and the other is the inability to view individuals and collectives as parallel perspectives on the political reality. The subsumption under the national identity and the other allows the national identity to control the other. Therefore, the marginalization of the other can continue unabated.
A binary opposition is a relationship between two terms that attempts to restrict all of reality. Reality is supposedly completely defined by this binary opposition. On the other hand, a parallax is the acknowledgment that various perspectives can exist side by side. Each perspective is a structuring of reality that will never completely contain reality. For a parallax, there will always be a surplus of reality and many other attempts to structure reality alongside each other. Each perspective gives humans the opportunity to understand reality. But a binary opposition will only structure reality one way and demand that this structure be accepted as absolute truth. It will even appear as absolute truth. The advantage of a parallax view is its ability to be used to analyze the political and the economic in a new way. This analysis can open up elements that would be normally excluded by the binary opposition. These uncovered elements will then in turn contribute to various projects of economic justice by revealing that alternatives can be created. The use of the parallax can be the foundation for these alternatives.