For more than half of a century, Enrique Dussel has been writing on history, ethics, philosophy, and theology. As Linda Alcoff quips, it is not unreasonable to speak of Dussel as the Hegel of Coyoacán—he is a systematic, self-reflective, and critical thinker who has corresponded with many of the world’s leading philosophers and ethicists. His work has been especially pivotal in the fields of decolonial studies, philosophy of liberation, ethics, and Marxian studies. Though many of the European thinkers Dussel references and interprets are ‘flipped on their heads’ and ‘used against themselves,’ Karl Marx stands as a notable exception. In the 1980s, Dussel published a multi-volume interpretive study of Marx. Dussel’s volumes offered an original normative reading of Marx that stood in stark contrast to many contemporary European renditions of Marx. Indeed, one common European reading of Marx—which exists both contemporaneously and when Dussel was publishing his works on Marx—contends that Marx’s mature critique of capital is a scientific rather than a normative critique.
As such, this paper argues that Dussel’s material principle and centering of living labor, both of which resist dichotomization of the factual and the normative, should be hallmark commitments within Marxism and the many contemporary Latinx discourses on religious studies, philosophy, and political theory. In doing as much, this paper claims that Dussel’s material principle is a response to the naturalistic fallacy, declares that Dussel’s reading of Marx—a reading that centers living labor and demonstrates the possibility of freedom beyond and outside of capitalism—transcends factual/normative distinctions, and culminates with the argument that sublating factual/normative distinctions should be a shared commitment of Marxism and Latinx thought.
Dussel and the Naturalistic Fallacy
In criticizing the standard history of philosophy and modernity, Dussel’s complex Ethics of Liberation, centers the victims of a totalizing, Eurocentric, capitalist, and colonialist project—victims who then go forth to provide the ground for a ‘material ethics.’ As such, Dussel offers a ‘post-anti-foundationalist’ and universal footing for ethical norms that are rooted in an unqualified affirmation of ‘life’ as the foundation of liberation. However, as this paper highlights, many have argued that if one bases an ethics in materiality and derives normative claims from that materiality, then one is making their normative commitments suspect to the naturalistic fallacy, a logical fallacy that propounds one cannot derive normative values from factual or descriptive statements. As such, this section analyzes the naturalistic fallacy and goes on to show how Dussel’s ‘material principle’ in Ethics does not succumb to the naturalistic fallacy but rather sublates previous debates regarding the naturalistic fallacy.
Of course, there are many arguments often subsumed within the category of the naturalistic fallacy and many analytical philosophers have written extensively on the topic. Peter Singer suggests that the naturalistic fallacy involves “defining values in terms of facts.” Daniel Dennett proposes that the fallacy consist of deriving ought from is. And G.E. Moore, who coined the term ‘naturalistic fallacy,’ propounded that good is an “object of thought;” that is, good is not an objective feature of the world, but a “simple, indefinable, unanalyzable object of thought” that is not given but intuited and inferred. Or, as Dussel himself mentions, “[David] Hume attempted… to distinguish between the descriptive “is” and the prescriptive “ought.””  Meanwhile, others have suggested that a description and explanation of the world cannot lead to a justification of the world. Nonetheless, any of these renditions of the naturalistic fallacy makes for an uneasy reading of Dussel. If Dussel’s Ethics begins with a factual description of how billions cannot reproduce their lives and subsequentially universally prescribes “the obligation to produce, reproduce, and develop the concrete human life of each ethical subject in community,” then how can Dussel’s ethics, beginning in life and materiality, go on to prescribe what people ought to do?  Does Dussel’s normative system succumb to the naturalistic fallacy?
As one might expect, Dussel anticipated readers to associate his ethical system with naturalistic presuppositions. Hence, early on in Ethics, Dussel examines “the empirical studies of the biology of the brain” that allow him to develop his material ethics “without falling into reductionism or into ethical naturalism or Darwinism.” Though many of the ethicists who use the latest developments in biology or chemistry to legitimize their claims should be viewed with suspicion, Dussel’s mentioning of cerebral functions is far from an opportunistic attempt to be scientific and empirical. Rather, Dussel makes use of cerebral studies to show how the brain categorizes data through an evaluative system. Otherwise put, innate to human biology is an evaluative function in the brain that orders criterion according to their capacity to assist in “the reproduction and development of the life of the human organic subject.” Whether supporters of the naturalistic fallacy like it or not, the human brain categorizes data on the basis of value—and it is this very point that Dussel uses to ground his universally material ethics. In other words, life is never observed pre-normatively; upon the recognition of certain facts, those facts are categorized in a normative and evaluative manner. Such categorization, for Dussel and the neuroscientists he cites, attests to a convergence between factual and normative, explanation and justification. Such studies of the brain immediately complicate easy delineations between what is factual and what is normative.
However, in order to respond to charges of the naturalistic fallacy, Dussel goes beyond biological inquiry. Dussel continually underscores, as Alcoff mentions, that “the sphere of the natural is not separable from the sphere of value.” By way of illustration and example, Dussel mentions poison. The cerebral evaluative system recognizes that the consumption of poison would result in death and therefore categorizes poison as unvaluable; one ought not to drink poison. The factual categorization of a substance as poisonous is also a normative categorization that one ought not to consume poison. The human subject can infer what ought to be done because they are situated in an evaluative system that prioritizes life and survival. There is no further normative criteria or process that needs to be engaged—poison threatens survival and therefore, in a normative framework, should not be consumed. Whereas those who see merits in the naturalistic fallacy suggest that the natural is separable from the sphere of value, Dussel and his example of poison discards such a binary framework.
Furthermore, this is not to say that the naturalistic fallacy is completely unmerited, but it is to say that the fallacy needs nuancing. The naturalistic fallacy rightly states that an a priori and uncritical passage from a material judgment of facts to a normative judgment would be reductionistic; however, Dussel’s ethics does not go from ‘is’ to ‘ought,’ or ‘explanation’ to ‘prescription,’ in an a priori logically abstract order. Dussel does not offer a deduction of normative judgements from descriptive statements, or he would succumb to the naturalistic fallacy; instead, Dussel proposes a dialectical-material grounding of normative judgements. Dussel agrees with Hume’s articulation of the naturalist fallacy in Treatise of Human Nature, where the fallacy exists in an abstract and formal sphere. Hence, Dussel clarifies that he is not moving from fact to value abstractly, but materially. Therefore, Dussel shows that there is not only a hastily made dichotomy between the factual and the normative that exists at the core of the naturalistic fallacy and signals for further expounding about the nature and tenets of the fallacy, but that he is not abstractly and formally passing from factual to normative but using a dialectical-material method.
Furthermore, Dussel stresses that what are constituted as factual and normative are often social constructions mediated through a pre-existent economy of norms. ‘Is’ and ‘ought’ are within a particular material culture that is always already inundated with normative orientations. In other words, Dussel refuses to concede that the processes in which certain phenomena come be named either factual or normative are somehow processes that are autonomous from a culture laden with pre-existing norms impacting the determinations of what is factual and what is normative.
Additionally, to materialize his ethics, Dussel maintains no abstract concept of life, but insist that his idea of life prioritizes the obvious and the apparent: ecological devastation, the poverty and starvation of billions, war, and continual degradation of cultures and traditions that are not European in form. Dussel’s appeal to life is no abstract appeal that situates the essence of life behind every given appearance of life. Rather, Dussel centers life, both descriptively and normatively, as a concept that is before everyone’s gaze, making ethical demands of all. From this light, Ethics can be seen as a sustained criticism of demarcating between factual and normative statements. The continual and obvious systematic onslaught on the primacy of life is not simply an explanation of the state of the world, but a demand that the onslaught needs to stop, a demand that we stop consuming poison. In any given descriptive and factual statement of the world—such as, billions at the periphery of capital are suffering in material poverty—there is, implicitly, the normative command to stop such suffering. Dussel’s material ethics is making the implicit, explicit. Ethical normativity, grounded in a dialectical, non-abstract, and material posture, is making explicit what has always been implicit in descriptions of facts.
As aforementioned, Dussel goes through much trouble to show his readers that his ethical principles are not logical categories that are abstractedly constructed, but are ethical categories founded in a material understanding of human life—human life as threatened, vulnerable, and worthy of protection. The precariousness of human life—in the least abstract, most material sense possible—demands and obligates others to protect and preserve life. Of course, obligations are not, as Dussel mentions, “identical to the necessity of physical laws or animal instincts,” but attest to humanity’s self-responsibility to preserve and cherish life. The possibility of persevering in life, for Dussel, is an imperative. Consider the following example:
“2a. John, who is a responsible human living subject, is eating.
2b. To live, it is necessary to eat.
2c. If John ceases to eat, he would die.
3a. As self-responsible for his life, he ought not to stop eating, or he would be guilty of suicide.
3b. John ought to continue eating.”
The shift from the factual statement in 2c to the normative claim in 3a is a dialectical transition between the natural need to eat and the imperative ‘one ought to eat not to die.’ John, in this example, is situated in a concrete, historical horizon, not an abstract logically formal horizon. 3a is not cognitively deduced from 2c, but materially birthed from the need to preserve human life. Importantly, Dussel’s argument does not just pertain to individuals such as ‘John,’ but to collectives, too. In fact, Dussel states as much, “the human being is a living being… and the human being is a collective being by origin… [who] by their vulnerability to death and to extinction… maintain an instinctive desire to remain alive.” Dussel’s grounding is fundamentacio dialectica; it shows how the ‘ought’ has always been implicit in the ‘is.’
I must make one tangential but crucial note, Dussel’s androcentrism is on display in his inability to think about reproductive justice outside of his material principle of ‘life—’ feminist and queer readings of Dussel should rightly criticize how Dussel’s otherwise helpful material principle and affirmation of life can mimic conservative and reactionary anti-abortion rallying cries, such as the cry of the fetus’ ‘right to life.’
Nevertheless, to factually state the eclectic requirements humans need to live is to implicitly acknowledge what is normatively demanded humans be given; indeed, this is precisely Dussel’s material principle. And his material principle lies at the heart of Ethics—a work that sublates both naturalistic shortcomings and hard differentiations between facts and normative claims. Indeed, Dussel’s development of living labor is an example of his larger refusal to delineate between factual and normative statements.
Dussel, Marx, and Living Labor
Unlike Dussel, some scholars argue that Marx’s mature economic works (Capital Vol. I-III, Grundrisse, etc.) are not making normative ethical judgments, but an immanent critique and description of capital—an immanent critique and description that takes bourgeois political economists on their own terms and displays how by their own definitions and aims, capitalism is a contradiction; an immanent critique that juxtaposes the proposed ends and ideals put forth by bourgeois economists and illustrates how those ends and ideals cannot be realized within a capitalist political economy. However, this section argues that Marx, like Dussel, does not make a hard delineation between factual and normative claims; hence, Marx’s critique of capitalism is both an immanent critique of capitalism that perceptively recognizes the contradictions inherent to capitalist political economy and a normative judgment that calls for a valuing of life over the valuing of capital accumulation.
As Michael Barber notes, Marx, like Dussel, conceived of “his work as ‘scientific,’ not in a naturalist, empiricist sense, but according to German idealism’s notion of Wissenschaft, which moves beyond phenomena to seek out at a different level the underlying essence, that is, the mutual connections—and thus thinks from the phenomena back to the essence.” As such, Dussel uses Marx’s scientific analysis of capitalism to make the case that capitalism’s essence violates his material principle—a principle that human life has dignity and that there is an obligation to produce, reproduce, and develop the life of each human in community. Crucially, Dussel’s material principle is not a ‘physical principle.’ The principle suggests that human life in all of its facets—emotional, religious, economic, political, religious, and intellectual—need to be produced, reproduced, and developed. Such a principle, for Dussel and Marx alike, is impossible to realize under a capitalist mode of production.
Dussel’s work on Marx, as Mills rightly notes, “argues that humanist and ethical concerns of the young Marx are sustained throughout Marx’s life and that some of the central themes of the ethics of liberation… are implicitly already contained in Marx’s work.” Dussel does not see a rupture between the young Marx (who speaks of alienation, life activity, and species being) and the older, mature Marx (who writes systematic critiques of capitalist political economy). Of course, Marx’s thought developed and his basis for thinking about alienation, sublated from a singular, subjective, and humanist notion of alienation to a more objective and historical materialist basis for thinking about alienation. Dussel posits that the normative and humanistic impulses in the early Marx are accentuated and supplement by the later Marx—Marx did not jettison his critical-ethical posture but nuanced and developed it.
To put it otherwise, Dussel sees no distinction between factual and normative claims at play in Marx’s work. Those familiar with scholarship on Marx know that insisting Marx’s mature writings are imbued with a normative drive is not uncontroversial. Of course, Dussel is not maintaining that Marx was a moralizer who theorized various ethical actions or offered moral advice for everyday life—no honest reader of Marx would ever suggest as much. Instead, Dussel simply recognized Marx’s inheritance of the Hegelian notion of sittlichkeit or ethical life/order. Capital can be read as Marx showing how modernity’s sittlichkeit is not conducive to the realization of freedom and human happiness—this, unsurprisingly, owing to capital’s property relations, measure of value as socially necessary labor time, laws of motion, and more. Hence, one can, in a Dusselian fashion, situate Marx’s mature writings on political economy as both a factual immanent critique of capital’s laws of motion and a normative theory that suggest the possibility of organizing our lives around metrics other than the accumulation of surplus value. In other words, Marx’s mature writings immanently critique how capitalist political economy makes freedom impossible. As such, noting that Marx is critiquing modernity’s sittlichkeit helpfully contextualizes Dussel’s reading of Marx; however, to fully comprehend what is at stake in Dussel’s reading of Marx and to understand Marx’s mature writings as a critique of modernity’s sittlichkeit, we must turn to the concept of living labor.
Living labor is the primary regulative term and concept Dussel uses to read Marx and to show how capitalism violates Dussel’s material principle. Living labor can simultaneously be described and factually situated within a capitalist political economy and make normative demands. According to Dussel, Marx’s critique of capital “was centered on the concrete modes by which capitalism institutionally negates human life” and the notion of living labor illustrates how capitalism negates human life. Marx situates this paradigm in terms of alienation and objectification of the worker. On one hand, Marx’s dialectical analysis of labor observes how the laborer sells their labor power as a commodity to a capitalist who then dictates the laboring process—a moment in which the laborer becomes alienated from enjoying either the fruits of their labor (the commodity) or the profits their labor created. However, on the other hand, Marx also speaks of living labor—a labor that illustrates a different non-alienating function. As opposed to the labor that is deadened into its commodity form, living labor exists at the exterior of capitalism, it is labor that is fundamentally creative and exists apart from the wage-form.
For Dussel, living labor exists at the exteriority of capitalism. Living labor can be seen in Latin American indigenous communities—communities who often labor in a manner that knows little of alienation, commodification, and/or wage. Whereas the commodification of labor power and the process in which ‘capacity to labor’ is formally subsumed within capitalism via waged labor is alienating and exploitative, living labor bespeaks of a positive moment, a moment in which life is not negated, but affirmed. Indeed, living labor is epitomized by the self-determination of peoples who, in absence of capital’s abstract logics, are dedicated towards the affirmation and enjoyment of life together. Though dialectically related, living labor and objectified, formally subsumed labor power are qualitatively different. Or, as Dussel himself puts it, “‘living labor’, as human labor, actualization of subjectivity, as person, and as manifestation of his [sic] dignity, is placed as such outside, beyond, transcending or, as we have named it in other works in the exteriority of capital.” Living labor is capital’s Other.
Dussel’s close reading of Marx’s Manuscripts of 1861-63 leads Dussel to see that living labor, as a positive exteriority to capital, is the place from where Marx launches his immanent critique of capital. Again, living labor (“as the creating and subsumable exteriority”) is not to be equated with labor power (living labor subsumed and consumed by capital), labor (as an abstract and transhistorical category of action in which raw materials are transformed into use values), productive labor (labor that creates surplus-value), or waged labor (labor power sold in exchange for wages). Living labor is the creative source of capital—“value, commodity, money, etc., are modes of ‘living labor,’ objectified, materialized, ‘dead,’ but ‘living labor’ anyway, although past.” Otherwise put, what is capital but a brutal history of the accumulation of living labor?
Importantly, one’s living labor does not cease to exist when one’s labor power is sold as a commodity to a capitalist. In fact, in a classically dialectical movement, even when dignified living labor becomes objectified and materialized labor, it retains its autonomy “before, during, and after” its labor power is subsumed within capital. Though one sells their labor power as a commodity to a capitalist and is formally subsumed within capitalist wage relations and begins to engage in a process of productive labor, their living labor maintains its autonomy and acts as a stand point of critique against alienation and exploitation. Or, as Marx put it, living labor is “an objectivity which is not separated from his or her person, but rather solely an objectivity which coincides with his or her immediate corporeality [Leiblichkeit]… nonobjectified labor…, labor as subjectivity [Subjektivität]… Since it is supposed to exist for only a fixed period, as something which is alive [lebendig], it can exist only as a living subject.” Hence, at the center of Marx’s critique of capitalist political economy is a critical-ethical posture—a posture that sees the creative and dignified nature of living labor being obscured in a process of formal subsumption. And, for Marx, formal subsumption “is alienation itself, the most concrete negation of all, and one that is not merely ideological in character.”
To be clear, when the worker’s personhood, their living labor, is treated as a means towards to the end of capital accumulation, Dussel and Marx see this as a material normative moment par excellence. Living labor no longer is an expression of the worker’s agency, but under the domination of a capitalist. The process of the formal subsumption of labor power is simultaneously critiqued by Marx (i.e., labor power is not freely and contractually sold to a capitalist, but coercively sold; capitalist political economy cannot account for the creation of surplus-value; equality and fraternity are foreign to the process of capital accumulation; as capital accumulates, so too does misery, brutalization, and poverty) and situated as a critical ethical moment made from the exterior position of living labor. As such, the moment living labor and its creative capacities are negated and obscured by the process of accumulation, Dussel’s material principle—a principle that regards the production and development of human life as primary—is violated. Dussel shows that Marx revealed how capitalist relations “diminish the capacity of capitalist societies to meet human needs.” And capitalism’s inability to meet human needs is both a fact of life and a demand to go beyond capitalism to an egalitarian mode of production that has internal to itself the possibility of valuing life over capital accumulation.
To restate what has been said thus far: Dussel and Marx alike make no delineation between factual and normative claims or immanent critique and critical ethics; living labor is not the same as labor power, capacity to labor, abstract labor, or waged labor; living labor can both be factual described as a moment within the process of capital accumulation and normatively situated as a moment that affirms human life; capitalist political economy is inimical to Dussel’s material principle of ethics. Thus, Marx’s critique of political economy can be usefully incorporated into Dussel’s project because it illustrates how modernity’s sittlichkeit makes impossible the affirmation of life and the realization of freedom.
Against Capital’s Logic of Death in Latin America
As stated in this paper’s thesis, Dussel’s reading of Marx critiques contemporary trajectories that hold factual and normative statements are mutually exclusive. Through an exposition of Dussel’s material principle and Dussel’s reading of Marx, it has been shown that one can view certain material facts, such as the contradictory essence of capital, as also a normative claim that denounces the laws of motion internal to capital. By pointing to instances in Latin America in which the ceaseless affirmation of life over capitalist value is demanded, this final section argues that Dussel’s material principle, centering of living labor, and refusal to dichotomize the factual and the normative should be a key pillars and commitments within Marxist and Latinx thought.
With that being said, I want to begin with an insightful quote from farmers in Chiapas that illustrates how the attempt to jettison the normative from the factual is a logic (1) operative in many attempts to oppress people in Latin America and (2) foreign to those at the periphery of capitalism:
“For years and years, we harvested the death of our people in the fields of Chiapas; our children died because of a force that was unknown to us; our men and women walked in the long night of ignorance which laid a shadow over our steps. Our communities walked without truth or understanding. Our steps moved forward without having a clear destination, we simply lived and died without more.”
Mayan workers in Chiapas, such as the ones quoted here, are deprived of labor in their own milpas (cornfields), disconnected from their means of subsistence, and subsequentially forced into the production processes of the large agro-export corporate production. During this process the Mayans’ living labor is negated. Yet, many in the Global North still manage to imagine the process as a value-neutral and inevitable outgrowth of capitalism. Indeed, these workers are subject to logics and rationalities foreign to their own. While the consulting firms and financial corporations in the Global North attempt to rationalize these processes within a value-neutral and non-normative logic—a logic unknown to the Mayans in Chiapas—it is the Dusselian task to understand these processes as explicitly normative.
Indeed, the fact that Mayans are formally subsumed within capital’s abstract logic, then at the will of the capitalist’s ‘voracious appetite for surplus-labor,’ and finally laboring in gulag-like settings, is neither a mere factual statement about labor conditions, as some Marxists might imagine, nor a value-free process of economic growth, as some neoliberal economists might insist, but a demand that such laboring conditions be fought against. The fact that Mayans in Chiapas are deprived of the right to self-determination and the material conditions to actualize their living labor is not value-neutral, but rich with normative demands to organize life in another manner.
Analogously, the large portions of Capital that are made up of stories of workers and of Marx’s conclusions from pouring over inspectors’ reports on workers’ conditions in the mills is not just Marx’s necessary critique of capital’s law of motions, but the suggestion that life should be organized against such concrete exploitation. Capitalism is a distinct form of social relations. And Marx’s histories of original accumulation, the expropriation of the people from the land, the genesis of the capitalist farmer, the impact of industrial capitalism on labor, the expansion of capitalism via colonization, the enclosure of the commons, the violence of legislation against the expropriated, and the taking of gold via slavery and encomiendas in Latin America all normatively suggest that society should be organized in such a way that affirms the principle of life.
Furthermore, in order to better demonstrate why a commitment to not dichotomize the factual from the normative is crucial for Latinx and Marxist thought, let us dissect how Ivan Petrella incisively presents the economic logic Larry Summers. Petrella illustrates the supposedly value-neutral logic that Summers uses to justify the dumping of toxic of waste on the poorest part of globe, such as Africa and South America. In a memo written while he was the World Bank’s Chief Economist, Summers states:
“…the measurements of the cost of health impairing pollution depends on the foregone earnings from increased morbidity and mortality. From this point of view a given amount of health impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest wages. I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.”
This inflexible economic logic, which assumes those who produce the most value are most worthy of care, imagines itself as exempt from normative commitments. Or, as Petrella states, “[Summers’] reasoning is simple. If one were to place toxic waste in a rich country it would lead to the illness and death of wealthy people with high life-expectancy… In economic terms, the lives of the wealthy are far more important to the working of the global economy than the lives of the poor.” Though Summers’ attempts to present this dumping of toxic waste as an ‘impeccable’ economic logic that is freed from normative commitments, Summers’ normative drive, characterized by his protection of value-producing people in the Global North, is readily apparent.
As harmful chemicals, which are largely used and consumed by those in the Global North, are dumped into the slums of Latin America and consequently poisoning the lungs of children and others, Dussel’s material principle is violated tout court. Thus, Summers’ strategy is at once inimical to the affirmation and reproduction of life, which Dussel demands, and a prerogative for Marxist and Latinx thinkers alike to fuse the factual and the normative in all facets of their writing, teaching, and organizing. In sum, it should be a crucial task of both Marxism and Latinx thought to be steadfast in denouncing capital’s logic and its apologists, like Summers, who imagine that the accumulation of capital is value-neutral.
Throughout Ethics, Dussel makes explicit that his epistemology, material principle, and reading of Marx begins in the oppressed Subject. Each human subject needs to have their life reproduced through food, housing, and care; indeed, Dussel’s Ethics articulates a normative order which would make possible to flourishing of all. The face of the poor and oppressed Other, to draw on Dussel’s Levinasian heritage, interpellate and make normative claims upon all—and Marx’s Capital is a helpful “factual tool” for discovering how capitalism makes impossible the liberation of the oppressed. Dussel’s Latin America, which Europe has often used to symbolize non-being, is now the foundation for a truly liberatory ethics that makes explicit its normative commitments and its material epistemology.
As it is apparent by now, Dussel’s work on Marx disrupts many popular and conventional trends in philosophy and Marxian studies. By emphasizing such disruptions, this paper argued that Dussel’s material principle and centering of living labor, both of which resist dichotomization of the factual and the normative, should be hallmark commitments within Marxism and the many Latinx discourses on religious studies, philosophy, and political theory. To do as much, this paper claimed that Dussel’s material principle was a response to the naturalistic fallacy, then declared that Dussel’s reading of Marx— a reading that centers living labor and demonstrates the possibility of freedom beyond and outside of capitalism—transcends factual/normative distinctions, and culminated with the argument that sublating factual/normative distinctions should be a foundational commitment of both Marxists and Latinx thought. The fact that capitalism is poisonous and unable to provide what humans require to live—physically, aesthetically, emotionally, and spiritually—is a fact that intrinsic to it contains the normative demand to stop consuming capital’s poison.