Re: [OPE-L] Grundrisse. Help

From: Fred Moseley (fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU)
Date: Fri Aug 04 2006 - 10:29:07 EDT

On Thu, 3 Aug 2006, Rakesh Bhandari wrote:

> To see this we can't reduce Marx's debt to Quesnay to the
> reproduction schema only. This is what Fred has done, I think.
> The debt to Quesnay is present in the architectonic of of the three
> volumes of Capital as a whole.
> The first volume studies the production of the net product; the
> analysis of the net product depends on distinction between constant
> and variable capital, and the second
> volume focuses on the interdependence between the two productive departments
> of
> means of production and wage goods as realized in exchange; the third
> volume then studies the process of reproduction as a whole, including
> both the limits to that process of reproduction (FROP) and
> the integration of the new elements-- the credit mechanism, the other
> forms of capital (commercial
> and banking) and  landed property.
> Marx moves successfully from an abstracted study of the production of
> the net product  to a theory of the reproduction of capital as a
> whole. The third volume is dynamic and concrete, and the
> dis-simulating surface appearances  of capitalist society (e.g. the
> trinity formula) are indeed theoretically explained.

Rakesh, I disagree rather thoroughly with your interpretation of the
overall logic of the three volumes of Capital.  Quesnay's circular flow is
not the overall logical method for the three volumes of Capital.  The
circular flow is the third form of the circuit of capital discussed by
Marx in Chapter 3 of Volume 2 - the circuit of COMMODITY capital:
C'-M'-C...P...C'.  (please see the end of Chapter 3 and the beginning
of Chapter 20)  As I have argued before, Marx used this form of the
circuit of commodity capital for the specific purpose of criticizing
"Smith dogma".

I argue that the general analytical framework of Marx's theory of value
and surplus-value is instead the circuit of MONEY capital:
M-C...P...C'-M', which is abbreviated in Chapter 4 of Volume 1 as the "general formula
for capital":  M-C-M', where M' = M+ dM.  This is the main question
that Marx's theory is intended to explain, and this is the framework for
analysis of this all-important question:  how does the initial M become
M+dM?  The valorization of capital begins with M, i.e. with a quantity of
money capital advanced to purchase means of production and labor-power.
It does not begin with C', which is the RESULT of capitalist production,
and which therefore ALREADY CONTAINS SURPLUS-VALUE.  The point of Marx's
theory is rather to explain the determination of surplus-value, not take
it as given, as already existing.

Volume 1 is mainly about the production of surplus-value (dM), or the
determination of the total surplus-value produced in the economy as a
whole.  Volume 2 is mainly about the turnover time of the circuits of
money capital, including the different rates of turnover of fixed and
circulating capital, and the reproduction of the total social capital,
especially constant (i.e. the critique of Smith's dogma)  Volume 3 is
mainly about the distribution of surplus-value, or the division of the
total surplus-value (or total dM) into individual parts:  equal rates of
profit, commercial profit, interest, and rent.

I think you are making way too much of  Quesnay's influence on Marx.

I don't think that Marx abandoned the logical structure of the six book
plan; he just never got beyond the first book.  Although I agree that he
incorporated into Capital some abstract elements of what was originally
planned for later books (e.g. wages in Volume 1, rent in Volume 3, and the
credit system in Volume 3).  But he said in all these cases that much more
on these topics would be discussed in later books.


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