Re: [OPE] capitalism as a * * * system

From: howard engelskirchen <>
Date: Wed May 25 2011 - 20:00:27 EDT

The second point was too hastily done. The free worker gives you the possibility of selling labor as a commodity and thus the division between necessary and surplus labor. The reproduction of capital requires the appropriation of the surplus product as value by non-producers rather than control of the surplus by associated workers. Non-producers must be free to appropriate surplus value from laboring producers.


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: howard engelskirchen
  To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list
  Sent: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 7:43 PM
  Subject: Re: [OPE] capitalism as a * * * system

  Hi all,

  Michael, I think your point is wrong. Capital, at least in Marx's sense, is value that increases itself. But there is no value, again in Marx's sense, without 2. Recall the analysis of section 3 of Chapter 1 of Capital. You cannot have a single producer and have value. This shows the importance of not conflating juridical forms with the underlying relations of economic life. Even were the state to own everything -- and Stalin himself claimed there were two separate sectors that had to exchange commodities with each other, state factories and state farms (as well as foreign trade which produced commodities for export) -- but even were the state to hold everything in a single juridical form, we would still have to determine whether in economic reality there were separate producers producing independently for exchange. And of course in the ussr and eastern europe there were. Overcoming the separation that characterizes value is no small thing. You don't decree it away.

  As for the freedom to exploit labor Paula, yes -- Marx is clear in his discussion of the buying and selling of labor power that without the free worker, you don't have capitalism.


    ----- Original Message -----
    From: Michael Webber
    To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list
    Sent: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 7:17 PM
    Subject: Re: [OPE] capitalism as a * * * system

    well, paula, it seems that capital didn't always appear as many capitals. if we accept that stalinist ussr and eastern europe were state capitalist, then they had single capitals. [of course, there were different states...] so your question could be posed: what did state capitalism fail? i'd venture the view that many-capitals capitalism was technically more dynamic and became able to out-compete single-capital capitalism.

    On 26 May 2011 08:58, Paula <> wrote:

      Howard wrote:
      "actually Marx is pretty clear that the concept of 'capital in general' does
      not extend to any consideration of competition".

      We should also point out that, even at this level of abstraction, capital
      has certain freedoms - crucially, the freedom to exploit labor. This freedom
      is also not absolute, it has limits that are biological, cultural,
      political, etc. Nevertheless it's real and important.

      The really interesting and difficult question is whether the freedom to
      compete (also real and important, though limited) is already contained in
      germ within this more abstract concept of 'capital in general'. Or, to ask
      the question in a different form, why does capital always appear as 'many
      capitals', even in the era of imperialism, when monopolistic tendencies and
      state regulation are at their most developed?


      ope mailing list

    Michael Webber
    Professorial Fellow
    Department of Resource Management and Geography
    The University of Melbourne

    Mail address: 221 Bouverie Street, Carlton, VIC 3010

    Phone: 0402 421 283


    ope mailing list


  ope mailing list

ope mailing list
Received on Wed May 25 20:00:18 2011

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue May 31 2011 - 00:00:02 EDT