Re: [OPE-L] Grundrisse. Help

From: Howard Engelskirchen (howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM)
Date: Fri Aug 04 2006 - 15:40:06 EDT

Hi Fred and Rakesh,

I have a couple of comments and a question for Fred.

The first comment is in regards to Rakesh's question "But what is the nature
of the ideal type?  Weberian or not?", etc.

I think Marx is not working in terms of ideal types or paradigms but in
terms of what contemporary science would call a real definition of a natural
or social kind.  In social science his work is exemplary in this respect.
Water is a kind and H2O is the real definition of it.  This definition,
embedded in chemical and physical theory, picks out for us the causal
properties or mechanisms that account for what water is and how it tends to
behave.  I think this is what Marx gives us in Capital; he attempts to
fashion what we would now call a real definition of capital.  This tells us
what the causal structures are that are common to the individual instances
of capital.  These tell us what capital is, how we can expect it to behave,
and also how it tends to persist as what it is.

For this reason, when Rakesh says that Marx gives us a complete object of
study and Fred says he did not realize a complete theory of his object, it
may be you are talking about different things.  The object to which Rakesh
refers may be the causal structure that gives us a real definition.  I think
Marx did give us a complete theory of the object in this sense -- he
identified the simple determinations of capital.  But Marx did not give us a
complete theory of how this is worked out as a rich totality of multiple
determinations, and this may be the object to which Fred refers.  A
scientist might identify the genetic and other properties essential to the
definition of a particular species of mammal and still be surprised by
unexpected behaviors an individiual manifests say in response to new
environmental challenges.

So in this sense, Fred, I have a question, perhaps a quibble, about your
statement that the money circuit provides the general analytical framework
for Marx's theory of value and surplus value.  You say also that volume I is
mainly about the production of surplus value.  Wouldn't the analytical
framework in this sense be the one that showed how a surplus product is
pumped out of the direct producers?  This is what differentiates capital
from other forms of social production.  In this respect the analytical
framework seems better expressed as the form in which living labor in the
process of production is joined to the conditions of labor.  This is the
causal structure that must be explained.  Doing so requires understanding
living labor as the use value of capital, that is as a source of value, so
the money circuit is presupposed.  Also, this underlying causal structure
must be reproduced, and it is reproduced through the money circuit, for
sure.  Still, it seems that the underlying analytical framework, and the one
consistent with Marx's study of other modes of production, is the way in
which the subjective and objective conditions of production are joined in
the process of production.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Fred Moseley" <fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU>
Sent: Friday, August 04, 2006 10:29 AM
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Grundrisse. Help

> 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
> > 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.
> Comradely,
> Fred

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