Re: [OPE-L] Grundrisse. Help

From: Howard Engelskirchen (howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM)
Date: Sat Aug 12 2006 - 12:30:37 EDT

Hi Fred,

Thanks very much for your reply.  Perhaps you have not caught my meaning.  I
expressed myself in a way that suggested to you I ignored the "differentia
specifica" of capitalist production.  That was not my intent.

If you had said analytical 'frame', I would have had no problem.  But
'framework' suggests to me the structural constituents of a thing.  For
example in the "chief failings of classical political economy" footnote
toward the end of section 4 of the first chapter Marx refers to what is
translated as the 'real internal framework of bourgeois production', the
"innern Zusammenhang".

There is nothing in chapter 4 that tells us anything about this.  From
Chapter 4 we learn that value is value in process and the active factor in
the process, but we have no idea what makes it active.  Thus we are left in
Chapter 5 with the fundamental aporia posed in our study of the capitalist
mode of production:  it is impossible for capital to be produced by
circulation and impossible for it to be produced apart from circulation; it
must have its origin both in circulation and not in circulation.

What makes this possible?  It is a particular configuration of the way in
which the laborer is joined to the conditions of production.  This occurs
only through the mediation of the sale of labor power for money as a
commodity, as the use value of capital.  And this in turn occurs only
because of the structural fact of the separation of the worker from the
conditions of production, the double freedom of the worker, which has for
consequence the disposition of capital over labor and its product.

What I was suggesting is that if we want to talk of an analytical framework
we want to talk of fundamental structural components, the causal structure
that accounts for capital.  In this respect we want to talk about what it is
that specifically differentiates capital from other modes of production, but
in a way that shows capital as one form of such modes.  That is, the
analytical structure that we identify must not be the one that poses the
problem to be explained, delta M, but the one that explains it.  Just as
with any antagonistic form of production, this must be a form in which the
surplus product is pumped out of the direct producer.  But I quite agree
with you we cannot stop at a level of generality applicable to all modes of
production; the specific difference that makes capital what it distinctly is
as a historical form of production must be shown.

In sum, what I suggested had nothing to do with the production of
commodities by means of commodities.  It does have to do with the production
of social relations by means of social relations.  And in that respect it is
important that delta M is not the end of the story.  It is essential to
understanding the analytical framework of capitalism that delta M becomes
new capital.  Thus "capitalist production is the production and reproduction
of the specifically capitalist relations of production" and "The product of
capitalist production is not only surplus value; it is also capital"
(Results of the Immediate Process of Production, part III), and that on an
ever increasing scale.  Thus from this perspective it would not be wrong to
present the decisive analytical circuit as means of production and labor
capacity, which have a given value, being joined in the process of
production to produce new value and surplus value which is then realized in
money used to purchase means of production and labor capacity on an ever
increasing scale, all under conditions (1) where labor's product is
appropriated by capital without exchange and (2) labor's access to the
conditions of production is mediated by the circulation of money and



----- Original Message -----
From: "Fred Moseley" <fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU>
Sent: Saturday, August 05, 2006 9:46 AM
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Grundrisse. Help

> On Fri, 4 Aug 2006, Howard Engelskirchen wrote:
> > Fred, I have a question, perhaps a quibble, about your
> > statement that the money circuit provides the general analytical
> > 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
> > process of production is joined to the conditions of labor.  This is the
> > causal structure that must be explained.  Doing so requires
> > living labor as the use value of capital, that is as a source of value,
> > the money circuit is presupposed.  Also, this underlying causal
> > must be reproduced, and it is reproduced through the money circuit, for
> > sure.  Still, it seems that the underlying analytical framework, and the
> > consistent with Marx's study of other modes of production, is the way in
> > which the subjective and objective conditions of production are joined
> > the process of production.
> Hi Howard,
> My (quick) answer to your question is an emphatic NO!
> And this is not just a "quibble".
> This is a fundamental issue of the nature of Marx's logical method.
> The basic analytical framework of Marx's theory is not in term of physical
> quantities.  The main point of Marx's theory is to explain dM, not the
> quantity of surplus goods.  dM is the most important feature of capitalism
> (its "overriding determining purpose"), and is the main phenomenon that
> Marx's theory is intended to explain.  The concepts in Marx's theory are
> historically specific (exchange-value, abstract labor, money, capital,
> etc.) which apply specifically to the capitalist mode of production.  They
> are not universal concepts (e.g. use-value) that apply to all modes of
> production, like inputs and outputs and net products.  The production of a
> surplus product is not unique to capitalism.  All class societies have a
> surplus product.  What distinguishes capitalism is that the surplus
> product takes the historically specific form of surplus money (dM), and
> that is what Marx's theory is intended to explain.
> Marx posed the main question of his theory in Chapter 4 of Volume 1 - the
> "general formula for capital", which is of course in terms of M and dM,
> not in terms of physical quantities ("all use-values are extinguished").
> Chapter 4 is not just an interesting way to characterize capitalism, along
> with other interesting ways.  Chapter 4 describes the essence of
> capitalism ("making money"), and provides the (abbreviated) analytical
> framework for Marx's explanation of this essence.
> The analytical framework that you suggest is not Marx's framework, but
> Sraffa's framework - the "production of commodities by means of
> commodities" (which really should be the production of commodities by
> means of use-values, since the inputs are assumed to enter production as
> mere physical quantities, without prices, rather than as commodities, with
> already existing prices).
> I would by happy to discuss further when you return from your trip.
> Comradely,
> Fred

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Thu Aug 31 2006 - 00:00:03 EDT