Re: [OPE-L] Grundrisse. Help

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Mon Aug 07 2006 - 17:37:42 EDT

> Rakesh, where did Marx analyse crisis and world market in Capital in a way
> that
> could be characterized as systematic?
Hi Paulo,
thanks for the response. Please do remember that I downloaded
on this list Grossman's argument that Marx's systematic theory of the world
market and trade could easily be pieced together from his writings. So
far, there has been no systematic counter-argument.

Michael Heinrich dismissed it but without substantial reason.

> Where is the analysis of world market if there is no analysis of
> competition on
> a worldy scale?

Well does this imply that there is some analysis of competition, though
not worldly competition? If so, this suggests that Marx broke with six
book plan since competition has now been theorized within what was originally
conceived as an independent book on capital.

But the above said,I do think this is the major problem to the extent
that Marx creates a pure self enclosed capitalist mode of production
to study there is a real problem of bridging from that theory to
actual world market competition in which nation states play a role.

Yet what Marx presented was a complete and self enclosed study not
of capitalist society or actual world capitalism but an idealized capitalist
mode of production. With any theory based on counterfactuals there is
a problem of approximation to real observable phenomena.

I am defending not the exhaustiveness of Marx's theory but its completion
vis a vis its actual aim, i.e. a complete and self enclosed theory of an
idealized capitalist mode of production. This theory is not a torso, and
there are no missing books. but of course there is much more to be said.
Including for example elaboration within the theory, in particular of the
mechanism. But the basics are there at this level of theory.

The references to crisis on part V (Interest bearing
> Capital)
> assume crisis as being part of the regular economic cycle but in no way
> show
> how crisis are produced, except for the over accumulation thesis which by
> the
> way appears "an passant" in the section on the FROP.

Marx only presents a sketch of the credit mechanism in its operation in
a pure capitalist mode of production.

To jugde by the way
> Marx
> treated rent (for instance) I can only imagine what he could have done
> with
> crisis had he the time to develop the subject into a separate book.

But again that there is a comprehensive analysis of sepcifically
capitalist rent
embedded in the book on Capital that Marx did write indicates that he did
indeed break with six book plan.


> Paulo
> Rakesh Bhandari wrote:
>> >I would like to make a few general comments to try to put my recent
>> >messages in a clearer context.
>> >
>> >There are two questions which I think we have blurred in our recent
>> >discussion:  one is Marx's six book plan, and the other is the logical
>> >structure of Marx's theory of capital (the first of the six books).
>> >I am more interested in the latter question, and Rakesh may be more
>> >interested in the former question.  My comments here have to do with
>> >the latter.
>> Well, Fred, this is an excellent and clear message, so let me just
>> put forward one
>> more question because I don't  think these two questions can be
>> separated.
>> In the six book plan what did Marx think the first book on capital
>> would be about
>> and how do the three volumes of Capital relate to that?
>> Or to put it another way:
>> why did topics that belonged to other books in the six book plan (wage
>> labour, competition, crises,  and even the world market)
>> become part of the book on capital that Marx did write?
>> Or the same question in yet another form: why were these topics that
>> were
>> initially considered outside the book on capital become part of it?
>> I don't understand your answer to this crucial question.
>> The point here is that Marx never did write the first book on capital
>> in the six
>> book plan because he wrote an entirely different book on capital the
>> three volumes
>> of which are in fact a self- enclosed totality because they analyze
>> wage labour, landed property, competition, crisis and the world market
>> to the extent those moments or elements belong
>> in a theory of the reproduction process of an idealized or pure
>> capitalism.
>> Oakley has Marx including these other topics in compromised form in
>> order to ensure
>> the self enclosed nature of the three volumes; I think they (for
>> example rent, credit,
>> share capital, etc.) are systematically and narrowly
>> introduced  to show their basic place and  function in the
>> reproduction process as a whole.
>> What Oakley takes to be compromise I take to be rigor and discipline
>> and beauty in theory construction.
>> Marx's Capital is most certainly not an exhaustive history of capital
>> or landed property
>> or trade because it is a work of theory, that is a complete and self
>> enclosed theory of
>> its idealized object.
>> Yours, Rakesh
>> >
>> >I argue that the overall logical structure of Marx's theory of capital
>> is
>> >the following:
>> >
>> >I.  Capital in General
>> >
>> >      1.  Production of surplus-value            (Volume 1 of Capital)
>> >                 absolute surplus-value
>> >                 relative surplus-value
>> >                 accumulation
>> >
>> >      2.  Circulation of capital                 (Volume 2)
>> >                 circuits of capital
>> >                 turnover of capital
>> >                 reproduction of the social capital
>> >
>> >      3.  Capital and profit                     (Parts 1 and 3 of Vol.
>> 3)
>> >                 cost price and profit
>> >                 the falling rate of profit
>> >
>> >II.  Competition, or the distribution of surplus-value
>> >
>> >      1.  Average profit                         (Part 2 of Volume 3)
>> >
>> >      2.  Commercial profit                      (Part 4 of Volume 3)
>> >
>> >      3.  Interest                               (Part 5 of Volume 3)
>> >
>> >      4.  Rent                                   (Part 6 of Volume 3)
>> >
>> >      5.  Revenue and its sources                (Part 7 of Volume 3)
>> >
>> >
>> >Marx was pretty clear about this overall logical structure of his
>> theory
>> >of capital by the end of the Grundrisse.  He was most clear about the
>> >level of abstraction of capital in general.  The Grundrisse itself is
>> >divided into these three sections of capital in general.  He was less
>> >clear at that time about the level of abstraction of competition,
>> because
>> >almost all of the Grundrisse is at the level of abstraction of capital
>> in
>> >general.  But he did discuss the equalization of profit rates several
>> >times briefly in the Grundrisse, and he always emphasized that this
>> >subject belongs to the level of abstraction of competition.
>> >
>> >Then Marx developed his theory of the distribution of surplus-value in
>> the
>> >Manuscript of 1861-63, and therefore expanded greatly his understanding
>> of
>> >the individual forms of surplus-value at the level of abstraction of
>> >competition.
>> >
>> >This structure remained essentially the same in all the later drafts of
>> >Capital.  The only changes in this overall logical structure over the
>> >years were the following:
>> >
>> >1.  "Reproduction" was added as a third part to the second section of
>> >capital in general on the "circulation of capital" after the Manuscript
>> of
>> >1861-63, in which Marx developed for the first time his reproduction
>> >schemes, in order to criticize "Smith's dogma", drawing on the
>> "circular
>> >flow" work of Q uesnay and other Physiocrats (there is no discussion of
>> >the reproduction schemes in the Grundrisse).
>> >
>> >2.  Interest was moved from the level of abstraction of capital in
>> general
>> >to the level of abstraction of competition.  The reason for this change
>> >was that, in the Grundrisse, Marx was thinking about interest in a
>> >qualitative way, as an "illusionary form of appearance" of
>> surplus-value,
>> >similar to profit, and in this qualitative sense interest could be
>> >considered at the level of abstraction of capital in general.  However,
>> in
>> >his work in the Manuscript of 1861-63, Marx began to also consider
>> >interest as a quantity, as one part of the total surplus-value, along
>> with
>> >other individual parts (industrial profit, commercial profit, and
>> rent).
>> >And in this quantitative sense, interest belongs to the distribution of
>> >surplus-value at the level of abstraction of competition.  As a result,
>> in
>> >the Manuscript of 1864-65 (the final draft of Volume 3), interest was
>> >relocated to the level of abstraction of competition, along with the
>> other
>> >individual forms of surplus-value.
>> >
>> >These two were the extent of the changes in the overall logical
>> structure
>> >of Marx's theory of capital after the Grundrisse.  I don't think these
>> >minor changes qualify as "an important theoretical break, as Rakesh
>> >suggests.  The basic distinction between the level of abstraction of
>> >capital in general (the production of surplus-value) and the level of
>> >abstraction of competition (the distribution of surplus-value) remained
>> >the same throughout.  And the theories of the production of
>> surplus-value
>> >and the distribution of surplus-value remained essentially the same
>> >throughout.
>> >
>> >The other significant change in Marx's plans for his theory of capital
>> was
>> >not a change of logical structure, but was rather a change in the plans
>> >for the publication of the different parts of his theory.  Marx
>> originally
>> >planned one book on capital in general and one book on competition.
>> >However, after Marx's prolific development of the theory of the
>> >distribution of surplus-value in the Manuscript of 1861-63, he decided
>> >toward the end of this manuscript (in a new important plan of January
>> >1863) to bring these aspects of competition into his first book
>> >(eventually into the third volume of Capital), in order to publish
>> these
>> >important parts of his theory sooner rather than later, i.e. rather
>> than
>> >waiting for a later book on competition which Marx no doubt realized by
>> >this time in his life that he would probably never publish.
>> >
>> >I think that Quesnay's influence on Marx was significant, but it was
>> >limited to the inclusion of the reproduction schemes into Section 2 of
>> >capital in general (i.e. into Volume 2 of Capital) for the purpose of
>> >criticizing Smith's dogma.  Quesnay's influence did not cause an
>> >"important theoretical break" in the logical structure of Marx's theory
>> of
>> >capital, which remained throughout in terms of these two basic levels
>> of
>> >abstraction.
>> >
>> >As for the six book plan, I said before that I don't think Marx
>> abandoned
>> >this plan.  The first book just kept expanding and expanding, and he
>> never
>> >got around to the other books.  I agree that some abstract elements
>> that
>> >were originally planned for later books were incorporated into Capital
>> >(e.g. wages in Volume 1, rent in Volume 3, and the credit system in
>> Volume
>> >3).  But Marx said in all these cases that much more on these topics
>> would
>> >be discussed in later books.  Surely there is much more than is in
>> Capital
>> >that needs to be said about labor (as Mike L. argues), and about landed
>> >property, and especially about the state and "world market and crises".
>> >In any case, I can't see how Quesnay would influence this decision, one
>> >way or the other.
>> >
>> >Rakesh, I look forward to your replies and to further discussion.
>> >
>> >Comradely,
>> >Fred

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