labor power, defined by Marx is, quite literally, the capacity to produce work: it is “the aggregate of those mental and physical capabilities existing in a human being.” under certain capitalism, labor power creates work that is “just work,” creates workers who are “just workers.” in other words, capitalism manages labor power by way of abstraction, by the removal of difference and discrepancy in order to produce a labor force. as such, labor power is extracted from the person to produce modern economic subjectivity [notions of subjectivity are nothing other than abstract equivalency; capital in the form of paper money does this very well]. of course, this extraction of labor power to produce capitalist subjects is part of a more general concern for abstraction and extraction, for general equivalences and removal. surplus labor is that which exceeds “necessary labor” (labor in excess of that which is necessary for subsistence).
the notions of labor power and surplus have a curious relationship, i think, to rhetoric, to words, to language itself. we want our words to do something, we want our language to be efficacious, we want our music to produce feelings in us that are moving. abstraction and extraction revise what rhetoric make possible. is language transformed into that which must be written, standardized by way of abstraction, removing the difference of the spoken, of the accent? like paper money produces abstraction by equivocation, the reduction of excess, of phonic substance, makes the universal of language. but this abstraction necessarily is raced, gendered, classed, etc.
of marronage, Lockley states that "The Spanish first had to find the maroon communities, and since palenqueswere usually secreted away in remote and inaccessible areas this was not easy” and that the maroons existed in the “hidden recesses, where the runaways conceal themselves from the usual searches of the English.”
how does secreting into the swamp as a mode of escape 1) anticipate Adrian Piper’s desire to “withdraw into the external world” in her Untitled Performance at Max’s Kansas City by its philosophic inverse (that is, i want to argue that marronage is a philosophy that theorizes the life of movement; i want to argue that marronage cannot be reducible to states of injury, duress or redress, though existing in the outskirts, in communes bears an intense, intimate relation to that sorta marginalization).
secretion denotes a giving out, a leak; it is the separation and releasing of a substance. to say that the maroons were “secreted” compels us to consider the relationship between secret knowledge and release. here, though, the secretion is a movement inward, a separation no less effective, but one that moves in some other such direction. whereas Piper wanted to withdraw into the external, the maroon wants to secrete into an internal: they both have a philosophy of movement that cuts against normative renderings of movement and stillness, direction and location. Piper pulls back into the outside and maroons give out into the inside …
and 2) how can secreting into recesses, how can the being secreted into the swamp, shore up against the capitalist project Marx critiques? that is, how is the marronage movement also the refusal of extraction and its remainder? the arts of maroons include statues, cloths, calabash, figurines and because there was at one time no paper money creating the abstract equivalence, no one was a “specialist” in the area of creating art-objects: everyone created his or her own art to give to others, to exchange as gifts of love and sex, to share with friends while gossiping on stoops of huts. also, several maroon communities along the Suriname River refuse “nuclear family” of the puritanic variety: children are independent, they go between houses, the mother is not the primary care-giver: children are reared by mother, father, aunts, uncles, friends. parents live in separate houses. all of this social life that is possible that is generally thought impossible. how is the carving of statue, the sharing and refusal of “nuclear family” a mode of commons [and because of my phone’s autocomplete feature] commons-sense? it was not until the introduction of paper money that certain people wanted to specialize in art, evacuating the objects of some of their sentiment and power.