Heinrich's Intro to Capital

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Malcy
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Apr 13 2012 03:40
Heinrich's Intro to Capital

Thought people might be interested in this:

Heinrich intro to Capital

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Khawaga
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Apr 13 2012 03:52

Angelus Novus has been pimpin' that book. I've got my copy on pre-order. Can't wait to get my hands on it.

Angelus Novus
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Apr 13 2012 19:45

Yes. it's really the best introduction to Capital.

Angelus Novus
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Apr 13 2012 19:54

P.P.S. Heinrich's _The Science of Value_ is also forthcoming from the Historical Materialism book series. Fantastic book emphasizing Marx's break with classical political economy, and the remnants of the classical discourse in Marx's mature theory.

Hektor Rotweiler
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Apr 13 2012 20:08

Any idea on when the The Science of Value is forthcoming? Can't wait.

Angelus Novus
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Apr 13 2012 22:41

Hektor,

I assume next year at the earliest.

Malcy
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Apr 13 2012 20:29

sorry, didn't realise mate!

Angelus Novus
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Apr 13 2012 22:42

Anybody involved with a print publication who is interested in writing a review of the Capital introduction, or who is in a position to assign somebody for review, please send me a message.

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Railyon
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Apr 14 2012 01:52
Angelus Novus wrote:
Yes. it's really the best introduction to Capital.

Though apparently Heinrich is not uncontroversial; Gegenstandpunkt have written on his readings of Capital in "Wie man „Das Kapital“ nicht schon wieder neu lesen sollte" (http://neoprene.blogsport.de/images/HeinrichKritikausGSP208.pdf).

Have yet to read any Heinrich but maybe you can enlighten me a bit. Then again I think a lot of Capital interpretations are one giant pissing contest, blah blah you read that wrong and blah blah Marx said this...

Angelus Novus
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Apr 14 2012 02:13
Railyon wrote:
Though apparently Heinrich is not uncontroversial; Gegenstandpunkt have written on his readings of Capital in "Wie man „Das Kapital“ nicht schon wieder neu lesen sollte" (http://neoprene.blogsport.de/images/HeinrichKritikausGSP208.pdf).

I wouldn't make GSP the barometer of how "controversial" something is. They pretty much don't give their seal of approval to any theorist outside of their own group. Ask them for recommendations on any topic, and they'll recommend GSP literature. Sometimes they write good stuff, but their range of acceptable literature is...aaah...limited.

If you point out that this is a bit strange, their supporters will accuse you of changing the topic and not addressing the matter at hand. wink

That said, I thought that review of Heinrich was rather weak, even when it came out. The intent seems to basically try to pin an overly "objectivist" reading of Marx on Heinrich. That's not surprising for GSP; they don't have much use for Marx interpretations that make use of concepts like "fetishism".

For GSP there aren't systemic imperatives or fetishized perceptions of reality; merely opposing subjective wills, and rational subjective actors who hold ideas that they (perhaps mistakenly) believe to be in their interests.

Anyway, the Heinrich introduction has pretty much established itself as a "standard". I'd say read it and make up your own mind.

I'm talking about the book that has the German title Kritik der politischen Ökonomie. Eine Einführung, BTW. That's the one that's coming out soon in English. The other book mentioned, Wie das marxsche Kapital lesen isn't really an introduction to Capital as a whole, it's a detailed, passage-by-passage commentary on the first few chapters of Vol. I.

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Khawaga
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Apr 14 2012 02:30
Angelus wrote:
The other book mentioned, Wie das marxsche Kapital lesen isn't really an introduction to Capital as a whole, it's a detailed, passage-by-passage commentary on the first few chapters of Vol. I.

Who wrote that? And I guess no translation forthcoming soon? (I should really brush up on my German... annoying not being able to read longer, complicated texts.)

Angelus Novus
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Apr 14 2012 03:01
Khawaga wrote:
Who wrote that?

Heinrich. He's looking to write a subsequent volume, since the first one only covers Chapters 1 and 2. IIRC, the plan is to expand it to incorporate further chapters of Vol. I, but not the entirety of Vol. I.

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Railyon
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Apr 14 2012 11:05
Angelus Novus wrote:
I wouldn't make GSP the barometer of how "controversial" something is. They pretty much don't give their seal of approval to any theorist outside of their own group.

As much as I like some of their stuff, that's exactly the impression they left on me (which also goes for a lot of other groups who claim to be the sole true heir of marxist interpretation).

I'll give the book (Einführung) a read, would you recommend it to someone who has read vol 1 and 2?

Angelus Novus
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Apr 14 2012 13:25
Railyon wrote:
I'll give the book (Einführung) a read, would you recommend it to someone who has read vol 1 and 2?

Why not? I read it after already having read Vol. I. It definitely enriched and clarified my understanding.

meinberg
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Apr 14 2012 17:12
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Anyway, the Heinrich introduction has pretty much established itself as a "standard". I'd say read it and make up your own mind.

yes, but not because it is so good, but because it is cheap, short, ubiquitous in left bookstores and written in good prose.

that said it is a good read with a lot of content for such a small book, but there are some (political) problems with it, f.e.:

- it is not clear that the mistakes he identifies in capital (Marx was wrong with the tendency of falling profit rate and with the money commodity) are really mistakes. (i would say theyy are not)

- for him capitalism is something that can work an does so. for heinrich f.e. the current crisis of capitalism is not a real crisis.

- class anatagonism isn't really mentioned in the introduction

two good critical reviews (in german) of his capital introduction are:

http://www.wildcat-www.de/wildcat/75/w75_heinrich01.htm

http://www.wildcat-www.de/wildcat/75/w75_heinrich02.htm

klaus u
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Apr 14 2012 17:43
Railyon wrote:
Angelus Novus wrote:
I wouldn't make GSP the barometer of how "controversial" something is. They pretty much don't give their seal of approval to any theorist outside of their own group.

As much as I like some of their stuff, that's exactly the impression they left on me (which also goes for a lot of other groups who claim to be the sole true heir of marxist interpretation).

It's not a question of being the true heir of marx. The GS criticize Marx if they think that he was wrong, e.g. the Communist Manifesto. http://www.ruthlesscriticism.com/CommunistManifesto.htm . Maybe the GS Interpretation of Marx is wrong - so what? The arguments have to be right, no matter who wrote them first.

And that political tendencies suggest books and authers that they agree with, that's a logical consequence. Should they say: "This book / auther is wrong but go ahead, and read it, we recommend it?" That's silly.

Angelus Novus
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Apr 14 2012 18:03
meinberg wrote:
- it is not clear that the mistakes he identifies in capital (Marx was wrong with the tendency of falling profit rate and with the money commodity) are really mistakes. (i would say theyy are not)

The money commodity issue I think is a constant source of contention in Marxological circles, but the formulas about the falling rate of profit are rather convincing, IMHO. Also, people never seem to notice that the very next chapter in Capital is about factors that counteract the supposed tendency of the falling rate of profit.

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for him capitalism is something that can work an does so. for heinrich f.e. the current crisis of capitalism is not a real crisis.

This pseudo-argument is made so often by Heinrich's critics it's become tiresome. Heinrich constantly stresses that capitalism is a system that is always prone to crisis. What he rejects is the notion that such crises lead to the system's automatic collapse. He has stressed this time and time again, so I can only conclude that there's something cynical about the constant attempts to attribute to him positions he doesn't hold.

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class anatagonism isn't really mentioned in the introduction

Heinrich stresses that class antagonism exists in all societies. What distinguishes capitalism as a mode of production is not the existence of class antagonism, but rather the social form that this antagonism assumes. That strikes me as such an uncontroversial point, I really don't understand the problem that people have with it.

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Railyon
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Apr 14 2012 19:18
klaus u wrote:
And that political tendencies suggest books and authers that they agree with, that's a logical consequence. Should they say: "This book / auther is wrong but go ahead, and read it, we recommend it?" That's silly.

Yes of course, but I'm more concerned with silly in-fighting over (to me) relatively minor theoretical points. It certainly has its place but I feel like punching a hole in the wall when I see it done in a way that makes it seem like dancing around the holy cow of marxist theory.

That said I find myself agreeing with them more often than not so it doesn't have much to do with them per se.

meinberg
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Apr 14 2012 20:08

i tried to write a satisfying answer but my english is to bad. so just a short answer..

Angelus Novus wrote:
This pseudo-argument is made so often by Heinrich's critics it's become tiresome. Heinrich constantly stresses that capitalism is a system that is always prone to crisis. What he rejects is the notion that such crises lead to the system's automatic collapse. He has stressed this time and time again, so I can only conclude that there's something cynical about the constant attempts to attribute to him positions he doesn't hold.

in this point i may be wrong. the last time i read something from heinrich to the current crisis he was saying its just a normal cyclical crisis, business as usual. now i read an interview (http://www.oekonomiekritik.de/524ak%20Interview.rtf) in which he seems to say that the current crisis is more than that. but it is pretty weak nonetheless. imo he tends to play down the current fundamental crisis of the system to isolate himself from the position that capitalism can automatically collapse (which i don't hold btw)

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Heinrich stresses that class antagonism exists in all societies. What distinguishes capitalism as a mode of production is not the existence of class antagonism, but rather the social form that this antagonism assumes. That strikes me as such an uncontroversial point, I really don't understand the problem that people have with it.

now my english really leaves me. when i said he doesn't really cover class antagonism, i meant that he doesn't see the specific form of antagonism in the capitalist mode of production, the antagonism between work and capital. he ignores the use value side of capital (gebrauchswertseite), the struggle in the production process to get the workers to produce value. because of that he sees abstract work only in exchange etc...

capital as heinrich presents it is so only attempt to criticize capitalism and bourgeois economics but not a contribution to revolutionary theory.

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Vaga
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Apr 14 2012 20:38
Railyon wrote:
klaus u wrote:
And that political tendencies suggest books and authers that they agree with, that's a logical consequence. Should they say: "This book / auther is wrong but go ahead, and read it, we recommend it?" That's silly.

Yes of course, but I'm more concerned with silly in-fighting over (to me) relatively minor theoretical points. It certainly has its place but I feel like punching a hole in the wall when I see it done in a way that makes it seem like dancing around the holy cow of marxist theory.

That said I find myself agreeing with them more often than not so it doesn't have much to do with them per se.

I cannot contribute to the real topic of this thread either, as I have NOT read Marx. But some comments made me think that a new thread to discuss the "dancing around the holy cow of marxist theory" might be interesting.

Dogmatism, religious fundamentalism and Marxism?

RC
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Apr 17 2012 14:57

Angelus has made an important contribution by translating Heinrich's book, which will be helpful to any English speaking reader of Capital. Heinrich is particularly good on the first part of Capital; he understands that Marx's critique begins with value and not just with the second part when he gets to surplus value.

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[GSP] don't have much use for Marx interpretations that make use of concepts like "fetishism".

Its not a problem with the concept, but the use that's made of it. Yes, in capitalism human relations are reified – but that's still very abstract. Its not wrong to say that people use others as means to an end – but so what? To be the instrument of the pleasure of a beautful woman is not a bad thing. Its also the basis for the division of labor that people use each other for their needs. More interesting to ask: What is the content of the reified relations? People use each other for exploitation – ie, I have what you need, so to get it, you have to do what I want you to do.

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For GSP there aren't systemic imperatives or fetishized perceptions of reality; merely opposing subjective wills, and rational subjective actors who hold ideas that they (perhaps mistakenly) believe to be in their interests.

This is a false opposition between systemic imperatives and wills. The system is nothing other than the domination of the interest of the capitalists. Heinrich empties the content of interests. This leads him to see, not unlike some Anglophone Marxists (ie Andrew Kliman) to speak of workers and capitalists as both victims of the systemic imperatives.

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This pseudo-argument is made so often by Heinrich's critics it's become tiresome. Heinrich constantly stresses that capitalism is a system that is always prone to crisis. What he rejects is the notion that such crises lead to the system's automatic collapse.

This is a wrong debate for Marxists to enter into, but one they never tire of: one side says the falling rate of profit leads to capitalism's doom, the other side says: no, it can cope with its crises. Its really much better to show that the system's prerequisites always contradict people's needs.

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ocelot
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Apr 17 2012 15:51
RC wrote:
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For GSP there aren't systemic imperatives or fetishized perceptions of reality; merely opposing subjective wills, and rational subjective actors who hold ideas that they (perhaps mistakenly) believe to be in their interests.

This is a false opposition between systemic imperatives and wills. The system is nothing other than the domination of the interest of the capitalists. Heinrich empties the content of interests.

Wait. So Capital as such does not exist? There are no systemic imperatives other than the sum of the interests of the individual capitalists? Sounds like fallacy of composition to me. Not to mention the wierdest reading of Marx I've ever heard of. Is this really the GSP position?

Angelus Novus
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Apr 17 2012 16:18
RC wrote:
This is a false opposition between systemic imperatives and wills. The system is nothing other than the domination of the interest of the capitalists.

This assumes that all capitalists have a common interest. But Marx already points out that while an individual capitalist has an interest in the exploitation of his own workers, he also has an interest in having the other capitalist's workers as a market for his goods.

The common interests of capitalists is in the safeguarding of their "right" to property by force of the state, but beyond that?

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This leads him to see, not unlike some Anglophone Marxists (ie Andrew Kliman) to speak of workers and capitalists as both victims of the systemic imperatives.

"Victim" sounds a bit moralistic, but capitalists are certainly subordinated to systemic imperatives. But pointing that out does not mean that they have an interest in ending the system the way workers do.

RC
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Apr 17 2012 23:04
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This assumes that all capitalists have a common interest.

Yep, their common interest is profit.

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But Marx already points out that while an individual capitalist has an interest in the exploitation of his own workers, he also has an interest in having the other capitalist's workers as a market for his goods … capitalists are certainly subordinated to systemic imperatives

The fact that capitalists are in competition doesn't contradict their common interest. Capitalists always present themselves as subject to imperatives: “we regret [fill in whatever nasty thing, ie layoffs, wage cuts, etc] but we have no other choice [ie, we can't be criticized for it] because we are subject to the imperatives of competition.” One capitalist creates the constraint of the others because they have the same interest in profit; one gets the market share and sets the benchmark for the rest. But the profit motive is not created by competition. Its the other way around. They all want profit, so the question for them is: how? This can only be done against the others. The competition of capitalists is the consequence of their interest in succeeding against the others. For them, competition is not a constraint; it is their agreement to fight for profit that makes them compete.

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ocelot
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Apr 18 2012 08:40

So Zeitgeist are right? Capitalism is really just a conspiracy of wicked greedy bastards? Yipes.

yourmum
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Apr 18 2012 09:57

what did you think, capitalism was a birthday present from jesus? i thought marxists were clear about capitalism being the system that the bourgeoisie installed in their revolution by wanting private property over the means of production? a conspiracy on the other hand is done IN SECRET and that is of course not the case with the bourgeois revolution. anyways Rc wasnt even talking about that, he/she simply mentioned that capitalists want to make profit. do you doubt that? wtf is this bullshit about capitalists wanting workers as a market? seriously lacks evidence! i have yet to meet capitalists giving their money to workers so they can buy the goods from them. thats fucking bullshit, this exists only as a theory of some economists (keynes), certainly not as an interest of the capitalists.

Angelus Novus
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Apr 19 2012 09:47
yourmum wrote:
i thought marxists were clear about capitalism being the system that the bourgeoisie installed in their revolution by wanting private property over the means of production?

I think you're portraying the existence of capitalism too much like something that was just formally enacted one day by decree.

Not that force wasn't a constitutive element of the emergence of capitalism; Marx showed it was in the chapter on "the so-called primitive accumulation". However, it was really a long-term process.

Ellen Meiksins Wood has argued convincingly that there isn't any real causal relationship between the emergence of capitalism and the so-called "bourgeois revolutions". Often the former predates the latter by a few centuries. At best, the bourgeois revolutions merely removed some final remnants of the old estates-based order and formalized some liberal and democratic principles.

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wtf is this bullshit about capitalists wanting workers as a market? seriously lacks evidence! i have yet to meet capitalists giving their money to workers so they can buy the goods from them.

The capitalist wants the workers of other capitalists as a market, not his own. Or do you seriously doubt that Wal-Mart exists to sell shoddy goods to working class people?

yourmum
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Apr 19 2012 11:56

no they want to sell commodities, they dont give a fuck if its a worker or capitalist who buys it, actually usually they dont even know the difference. ever seen a sign in front of walmart: "no capitalists allowed in here"! guess not!

"At best, the bourgeois revolutions merely removed some final remnants of the old estates-based order and formalized some liberal and democratic principles."

really trivial, thats why it needed a bloody revolution in the first place. i anticipate to see some people in the future... "communism been around a long time in capitalism (free software development and other cooperatives) , the communist revolution merely removed some final remnants of the old private property-based order and formalized the stateless society.

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Khawaga
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Apr 19 2012 14:37
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no they want to sell commodities, they dont give a fuck if its a worker or capitalist who buys it, actually usually they dont even know the difference. ever seen a sign in front of walmart: "no capitalists allowed in here"! guess not!

So why the heck has there been an extension of consumer credit in the first place (e.g. Walmart credit cards etc.)? The majority of consumers of the means of subsistence will be workers because they are the majority. If you sell industrial goods, that's a whole different thing. Capitalists might not sit down and say "I want other capitalists workers to be consumers", but that's how they must view workers regardless.

yourmum
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Apr 19 2012 16:19
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no they want to sell commodities

why wouldnt the capitalist want his own workers to buy his own products? why wouldnt they want capitalists to buy their products? this majority argument as a tactic of selling goods is something very different then what has been said before: capitalists dont want anyone as their market, they want workers of other capitalists as their market. prove this! where i work you even get a discount called "mitarbeiterabatt" (like work-member discount) on the house products. and there was even said before they have an interest in workers being able to buy their goods. no they dont! they have an interest in making profit and if it takes workers to buy them they cope with that. but that does not make them interested in the ability of workers to buy something per se. on the other hand there are economists who say this is the problem of capitalism, that capitalists cant sell because the buyers lack money. but this has nothing to do with the capitalists real interests, this is a theory of a system-problem. and last point about credit: why do you give a credit? because you make profit with it, thats why. the use value of a credit is having the money right now when u could only have it later, thats a credit. and if your not able to have it later your not getting the credit. not to say u dont know this but maybe you did not remember in this context.

and if your going to downvote me then at least make an argument or your just wasting energy. if the downvotes come from the people posting above then i take no offense.

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Khawaga
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Apr 19 2012 17:32
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why wouldnt the capitalist want his own workers to buy his own products?

Of course they would, but for larger businesses their own employees wouldn't be enough. Hence, they want other capitalists's workers to be their markets.

Quote:
the use value of a credit is having the money right now when u could only have it later, thats a credit. and if your not able to have it later your not getting the credit. not to say u dont know this but maybe you did not remember in this context.

sure, but it also enables workers to realize the surplus-value of different circuits of capital. You seem to view credit from only the point of view of those who extend credit, but you also need to see it from a systemic standpoint.