Re: [OPE-L] Grundrisse. Help

From: Fred Moseley (fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU)
Date: Fri Aug 04 2006 - 10:39:10 EDT

On Tue, 1 Aug 2006, Rakesh Bhandari wrote:

> The important point is that Marx can only discover the internal
> relations between
> industrial profit, commercial profit, interest and rent and the
> hidden relations between
> the two main departments through a study of the reproduction
> of total capital.
> Until he has assimilated and reworked Quesnay his theory cannot lay bare all
> these internal 'hidden' connections as they are effected by and
> through the reproduction of total
> capital.
> That is, Marx has no real theory of the laws of motion and no unified
> theory of capital as such until his reckoning with the Physiocrats.

Marx did not derive his theory of the "laws of motion" of capitalism from
Quesnay.  What Marx got from Quesnay was a framework for his critique of
"Smith's dogma".   Marx's analysis of the reproduction schemes is static,
as is Quesnay's.  What specific aspects of the "laws of motion" do you
think Marx got from Quesnay?

> Grossman has Marx floundering as a theoretician until that reckoning.

Marx was not "floundering in the Grundrisse" as a theoretician.  To the
contrary, Marx was very prolifically and creatively developing his theory
of surplus-value (determined by surplus labor), which the most important
economic theory of all time.  He also discovered the distinction between
constant capital and variable capital, and also the all-important
conclusion that technological change tends to increase the ratio of C to
V, and thus cause the rate of profit to fall.  Dussel emphasizes the
"brilliant discoveries" of the Grundrisse.

It is true that the Grundrisse is very rough and exploratory, but the
basic theory of surplus-value is developed at great length, and by the end
of the Grundrisse, Marx had a clear idea (as evidenced by various letters
and outlines) of the overall logical structure of his "book on capital".
The book on capital would be divided into two main parts:  capital in
general and competition.  The first part on capital in general would be
subdivided into three main sections (as the Grundrisse is):  the
production process (the production of surplus-value), the circulation
process, and capital and profit.  Marx was less clear at the time about
the contents of the second part on competition, but he emphasized that it
mainly had to do with the distribution of surplus-value.  Marx became more
clear about the second part on competition while working on the Manuscript
of 1861-63, in which he developed his theory of the distribution of
surplus-value, or the individual parts into which the total surplus-value
is developed.  This remained the basic structure of the book on Capital
for the rest of Marx's life.

Marx's second draft of Volume 1 in the Manuscript of 1861-63 (published in
recent decades for the first time) is much clearer and better organized
than in the Grundrisse, but its much better shape is due to the clarity
Marx achieved about his theory of the production of surplus-value in the
Grundrisse.  And the theory of surplus-value presented in the of
Manuscript 1861-63 is essentially the same as that developed in the

There are no '"important theoretical breaks" after the Grundrisse in this


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