Heinrich's Intro to Capital

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kingzog
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Mar 16 2013 23:26

So I've been reading Heinrich's intro lately and I noticed that there is a lot of "correcting" of the translations of Marx.

For instance, on the section on Chapter 3 under 7.1 Cost Price, Profit, and the Rate o f Profit—
Categories and Everyday Mystifications, he quotes Marx...

quote from vol III in Heinrich's intro:

Quote:
"In surplus-value, the relationship between capital and labour is laid bare. In the relationship between capital and profit, i.e. between capital and surplus-value as it appears on the one hand as an excess over the cost price of commodity realized in the circulation process and on the other hand as an excess determined more precisely by its relationship to the total capital, capital appears as a relationship to itself, a relationship in which it is distinguished, as an original sum of value, from another new value that it posits. It is in consciousness that capital generates this new value in the course of its movement through the production and circulation processes. But how this happens is now mystified, and seems to derive from hidden qualities that are inherent in capital itself. (Capital, 3:139, last two sentences in corrected translation)"

I've noticed this note numerous times in other quotations, but I never bothered to look up the differences between the 'corrected translations' and the Penguin versions' until now. The corrections are done by Heinrich himself, right?

Let's take a look at the original last two sentences from the Penguin version of vol III:

Quote:
"It appears to consciousness as if capital creates this new value in the course of it's movement through the production and circulation processes. But how this happens is now mystified, and appears to derive from hidden qualities that are inherent to capital itself." (Penguin edition of vol III.)

Now let's look at the correction again:

Quote:
"It is in consciousness that capital generates this new value in the course of its movement through the production and circulation processes. But how this happens is now mystified, and seems to derive from hidden qualities that are inherent in capital itself. (Heinrich's correction.)

Is the significance of this change in that Heinrich translates Marx to mean in fact, 'in consciousness, capital generates, etc...'rather than it is only '...an appearance that in consciousnesses capital generates new value in the course of...?" Or am I missing something?

I wish Heinrich would have explained his reasoning for changing that sentence. What are people's thoughts on this and the "corrections" in general? Also, this makes me wonder if I should go back and compare all the "corrections" with the original translations.

Angelus Novus
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Mar 17 2013 02:11

The original: "Daß es diesen Neuwert während seiner Bewegung durch den Produktionsprozeß und den Zirkulationsprozeß erzeugt, dies ist im Bewusstsein. Aber wie dies geschieht, das ist nun mystifiziert und scheint von ihm selbst zukommenden, verborgenen Qualitäten herzustammen."

Heinrich is saying that Marx is saying that capital is perceived to generate new value in the course of its movement through the production and circulation process. However, how this happens is obscured by the category of profit as a phenomenal manifestation of surplus-value.

"In consciousness" is simply a more literal translation of "im Bewusstsein". Drives home a bit more the point that it is not capital itself that generates surplus-value; this is a mystification reproduced in consciousness. But it is a mystification suggested by the actual surface categories like profit.

kingzog
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Mar 17 2013 03:17

Okay, interesting. that's what I thought Marx was saying initially. By changing "it appears to" to "it is in" it threw me off. But, if that is a more precise translation of the actual German and it still fits within the context of the passage, then I guess it doesn't make much difference which translation you go with.

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Felix Frost
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Mar 17 2013 16:28

I have to say that I think a lot of these "new and improved" translations just make the text harder to read. In this case, I think the Penguin text is very clear, but the new translation is hard to understand: It appears to be saying that Capital does generate value, just that it does it "in consciousness"...

Angelus Novus
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Mar 17 2013 18:55
Felix Frost wrote:
It appears to be saying that Capital does generate value, just that it does it "in consciousness"...

Well, it does, that's kind of the point. The surface categories necessarily generate a specific spontaneous mental reflection of the process, because only analysis yields an insight into the existence of surplus-value. Whereas the other translation soft peddles the mystification angle a bit. But the amalgamation of the material components of the production process with their social forms isn't an act of deception, it's how things "really" are prior to investigating the esoteric relationship of exploitation behind those surface categories.

But to each their own. Some folks, like Hans Ehrbar and Chris Arthur, have pointed out how problematic the official translations are.

I would say the official translations are a bit like Harvey's Introduction: sacrificing precision for the sake of some perceived "easy" readability. So Harvey makes a bit of a hash of some key concepts for the sake of a kind of populist, avuncular style.

It's interesting feedback, though. Most folks have told me how much they like the translation, this is the first time I've heard somebody take issue with it.

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Felix Frost
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Mar 17 2013 21:32

Yeah, but isn't the point that value is not something that is generated in peoples counciousness - by capital or otherwise - but it is a real social relationship?

I don't think you should underestimate the value of easy readability either, although I can see how someone like Chris Arthur would find this concept alien...

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jura
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Mar 17 2013 21:44

Perhaps the problem is that

Marx wrote:
"It is in consciousness that capital generates this new value"

sounds, at least to my non-native ears, as capable of being interpreted in two very different ways.

a) "It is in consciousness [where this important thing takes place:] that capital generates this new value"

b) "It is in [the] consciousness [of the agent of the capitalist production] that capital generates this new value [, alright, but at the same time - mystification etc...]"

Of course, b) is the correct meaning. The passage basically says that while agents of capitalist production know that capital is self-valorizing value or, in simpler terms, money which begets money (and in this they are absolutely correct and would be incapable to act as agents of capitalist production, or capitalists at least, without knowing this much), but what they don't know is how this self-valorization comes about – may well ascribe it to the physical properties of capital as, e.g., means of production.

The German original does not have this ambiguity. I'm not sure if the new translation is unambigous (apparenty it isn't if people take issue with it). I don't know if there'll ever be a good English translation. Funny, the translations into Slavic languages that I've seen and work with are mostly OK and rarely need corrections.

Angelus Novus
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Mar 17 2013 22:08
Felix Frost wrote:
Yeah, but isn't the point that value is not something that is generated in peoples counciousness - by capital or otherwise - but it is a real social relationship?

Sure, but in that specific passage, the point is that even though spontaneous consciousness is capable of grasping capital as self-valorizing value, the true nature of profit as ultimately rooted in surplus-value, and hence in a relationship of exploitation (and not something that capital generates), is obscured.

Quote:
I don't think you should underestimate the value of easy readability either

Sure, I think readability is a good thing, but this is also the first time anyone has pointed out something that they regard as a problematic ambiguity. I'm kind of surprised, because I didn't even perceive that passage as giving rise to any ambiguous interpretation. To avoid precisely that kind of thing, we decided it would be good to have a monolingual English speaker read the whole manuscript through (Chris Wright, who used to post on this forum, I don't know if he still lurks).

Angelus Novus
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Mar 17 2013 22:17
jura wrote:
Funny, the translations into Slavic languages that I've seen and work with are mostly OK and rarely need corrections.

FWIW, the Spanish edition is closer to our translation:

Que el capital engendra este valor nuevo durante su movimiento a través del proceso de la producción y del proceso de la circulación, es algo que se halla en la conciencia.

"is something which is found in consciousness."

kingzog
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Mar 18 2013 00:13

yeah, I didn't have an issue until I compared the 'correction' to the original.

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Khawaga
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Mar 19 2013 22:59
Angelus Novus wrote:
It's interesting feedback, though. Most folks have told me how much they like the translation, this is the first time I've heard somebody take issue with it.

One undergrad I talked to today who just read Heinrich's book said that "he should get a medal or something for making Marx so understandable." And obv. that includes the translation.

Dave B
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Mar 20 2013 00:30

What is this shit?

From the ‘original’;

Quote:
“One is conscious that capital generates this new value by its movement in the processes of production and circulation.”

Or in other words ‘everybody’, or the workers anyway, understand (is ‘conscious’ ) that in capitalism (or the processes of production and circulation) that the rich (capital-real material stuff) get richer (with the generation of new value- more material stuff).


Quote:
But the way in which this occurs is cloaked in mystery and appears to originate from hidden qualities inherent in capital itself.’

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch02.htm

OK

But;

Quote:
It is in consciousness that capital generates this new value in the course of its movement through the production and circulation processes. But how this happens is now mystified, and seems to derive from hidden qualities that are inherent in capital itself.

Uhhh???????????

What kind of existentialist idealist crap is this that ‘new value’ is consciousness?

Angelus Novus
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Mar 20 2013 01:01
Dave B wrote:
What is this shit?

Can you please at least read threads before you start spraying SPGB-thought all over them?

As already pointed out, "im Bewusstsein" is the phrase Marx uses in the original German (that's the language Marx wrote Capital in, FYI). And, to state it a second time, the Spanish translation actually remains faithful to the German original on this point.

Angelus Novus
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Mar 20 2013 01:02
Khawaga wrote:
One undergrad I talked to today who just read Heinrich's book said that "he should get a medal or something for making Marx so understandable." And obv. that includes the translation.

That's very encouraging! Thank you for posting that!

kingzog
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Mar 20 2013 18:05

Angelus Novus wrote:

Quote:
Khawaga wrote:
One undergrad I talked to today who just read Heinrich's book said that "he should get a medal or something for making Marx so understandable." And obv. that includes the translation.
That's very encouraging! Thank you for posting that!

In that case, maybe I should become an undergraduate too so I can understand it.

kingzog
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Mar 20 2013 18:03

I think Heinrich's intro makes his own monetary theory of value understandable- relatively speaking that is. This is commendable because most other value-form theorists are very hard to understand without understanding Hegelian dialectics (Chris Arthur and Moishe Postone are examples of this).

Whether or not Heinrich's theory renders Marx's theory understandable, however, is another issue imo.

Angelus Novus
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Mar 20 2013 18:11
kingzog wrote:
I think Heinrich's intro makes his own monetary theory of value understandable- relatively speaking that is. [...]
Whether or not Heinrich's theory renders Marx's theory understandable, however, is another issue imo.

Ah, ok, now I understand your "I can't understand the quotations" pose.

Since Heinrich uses quotations from Marx to ground his explication of Marx's value theory, it behooves you to claim you don't understand the quotations, otherwise you'd have to concede that the monetary theory of value is Marx's theory of value.

The Cockshott school of falsification. Well, not quite. Cockshott just ignores the quotations from Marx that contradict his Ricardianism. You've chosen the novel approach of saying you don't understand them.

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Khawaga
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Mar 20 2013 19:13
Quote:
In that case, maybe I should become an undergraduate too so I can understand it

Ffs, it was not a comment directed at you.

Dave B
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Mar 21 2013 01:23

There are now four translations.

The original 1894 Kerr edition;

Quote:
It is dimly recognized, that capital generates this new value by its movement in the processes of production and circulation. But the way in which this is done is surrounded by mystery, and thus surplus-value seems to be due to hidden qualities inherent in capital itself.

http://www.econlib.org/library/YPDBooks/Marx/mrxCpC2.html#Part I, Chapter 2

The other ‘common’ one;

Quote:
One is conscious that capital generates this new value by its movement in the processes of production and circulation. But the way in which this occurs is cloaked in mystery and appears to originate from hidden qualities inherent in capital itself.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch02.htm

and the alleged Penguin one, not read it;

Quote:
"It appears to consciousness as if capital creates this new value in the course of it's movement through the production and circulation processes. But how this happens is now mystified, and appears to derive from hidden qualities that are inherent to capital itself." (Penguin edition of vol III.)

All compatible.

And then the ‘Heinrich's correction’.

Quote:
"It is in consciousness that capital generates this new value in the course of its movement through the production and circulation processes. But how this happens is now mystified, and seems to derive from hidden qualities that are inherent in capital itself. (Heinrich's correction.)

How might you interpret that?

That capital generates this new value in consciousness?

And that value and surplus value is all just reduced to the ‘mystification’ of ‘social relationships’, or something.

It is bad enough as it is without muddying the waters more.

It is all relevant of course as some considered that surplus value was spontaneously created from nothing out of one of the ingredients of production eg fixed capital or for others land etc.

Marx’s alternative was it was ‘spontaneously created from nothing’ from the other ingredient of production; labour power as a commodity.

It has absolutely nothing to do with the SPGB position; in fact the SPGB position is/was the same as Heinrich's.

Angelus Novus
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Mar 21 2013 09:29

For the last time:

Quote:
Que el capital engendra este valor nuevo durante su movimiento a través del proceso de la producción y del proceso de la circulación, es algo que se halla en la conciencia.

Quote:
Daß es diesen Neuwert während seiner Bewegung durch den Produktionsprozeß und den Zirkulationsprozeß erzeugt, dies ist im Bewusstsein.

Now please, go find another thread to indulge your graphomania.

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georgestapleton
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Mar 21 2013 15:11

Yeah this seems really weird. Either the translation is accurate or not. The implication of the translation doesn't matter for its accuracy. The only thing that matters is its fidelity to the original.

So either "dies ist im Bewusstsein" translates as "It is in consciousness" or it doesn't.

I don't speak German so I have no idea.

But nobody has said that it is an inaccurate translation, just that they don't like it, which seems totally and utterly beside the point.

Angelus Novus
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Mar 21 2013 15:52
georgestapleton wrote:
Yeah this seems really weird. Either the translation is accurate or not. The implication of the translation doesn't matter for its accuracy. The only thing that matters is its fidelity to the original.

So either "dies ist im Bewusstsein" translates as "It is in consciousness" or it doesn't.

I don't speak German so I have no idea.

But nobody has said that it is an inaccurate translation, just that they don't like it, which seems totally and utterly beside the point.

In everyday usage, it's meant to convey something that people are aware of, but subjectively, along the lines of "in the eyes of."

So I'd say both the Heinrich translation and the Penguin translation best convey this, because the point is that an objective mystification is being mentally processed in a coherent way.

The Spanish translation more strongly conveys this ("something which is found in consciousness"), whereas the Penguin one suggest more of a false impression. The Heinrich one splits the difference with the appropriate ambiguity.

kingzog
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Mar 21 2013 22:22

I'd say its more about Heinrich appealing to Marx's authority than 'grounding' his own unique theory in Marx's own unique theory, Novus.

Spikymike
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Feb 25 2015 14:49

I'm afraid I lost track of, and interest in, this long thread some time back so apologies if I've missed earlier relevant criticism of Heinrich's approach to Marxist crisis theory but I found this short critical text following on a brief commentary of the book pretty convincing, but then I'm no Heinrich, Kliman or Sander so others might be less impressed:
http://internationalist-perspective.org/IP/ip-archive/IP_60.pdf ( see article 'A Debate on Crisis Theory' pages 50-62)