Cruz Molina Anth 130X Spring 2012 Reading Response #2 If I had to categorize my relationship to the means of production in society

using Marxist terminology, I would identify myself presently as a semi-proletariat. There are a couple of reasons for this, mainly related to the fact that I am solely a student who attends college via federal grants and loans and that I do not work or attend school for a wage. Additionally, I do not attend school to make a profit from my education, nor do I currently engage in any type of commodity exchange where I own the means of production (and never have as a dominant mode of existence) so I do not consider myself a capitalist, even if in my life I have sporadically engaged in capitalistic exchange of buying or acquiring of something at a low price and selling it for a profit. Furthermore, aside from the fact that I do not attend school for a wage and do not seek to profit from my education, I fall within the sphere of semi-proletariat precisely because I acquire my subsistence and livelihood from the federal grants and loans given to me. This requires labor in the form of being able to maintain a certain grade point average and the necessary time and work that entails, but is not a set wage and the money acquired is primarily used to subsist. When further applying Marxist theory and contextualizing my categorization of semi-proletariat, the class identity fits even more comfortably once taking into consideration the progress linear narrative attached to historical materialism. Since Taussig and other Marxists believed that a process of proletarianization took place in societies newly introduced to capitalism, they saw the semi-proletariat as the peasant who was beginning to transition and rely on wage labor for sustenance and survival. Alternatively, one can view a student, such as myself, in a similar transitional situation because I rely on my lack of capital and access to the means of production to be eligible for federal grants and loans, yet I can primarily only use those funds for paying university fees and living expenses. What’s more, though I am not being paid a wage per se, I am still working to acquire the commodity of a bachelor’s degree, which I can then use on the market to fully become a proletariat working for a wage. Though I find my existence entangled within a capitalist economic system and sometimes operating within capitalist institutions, I haven’t necessarily become fully acculturated with capitalist values and beliefs. For example, though I am taking on debt to attend the university, I am not specifically going to college to turn a profit and make an investment for my degree. In fact, I’m going for the sake of learning about topics I’m interested in as well as the experience. Under capitalist values, this is counterintuitive viewed as foolish or shortsighted. Instead, those who attend universities with the hope of acquiring surplus value later on with their degree are looked upon favorably. While I interact with institutions that are heavily shaped and influenced by capitalist forces, participation does not necessarily mean adoption or acculturation to that way of thinking and being.

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