Heinrich's Intro to Capital

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RC
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Aug 1 2012 03:06

How not to do another New Reading of Marx’s Capital

Michael Heinrich’s commentary on Capital attempts to show how “exploitation and class domination ... function,” but focuses on what the verb conveys: capitalism’s “functioning.” This seems like a slight shift, but it’s a big mistake. His critique of capitalism focuses less on why this system of exploitation needs to be abolished than on how capitalist relations remain durable despite their “destructive potential.” His answer: everyone – capitalists as well as wage laborers, exploiters as well as exploited – is caught up in the “system” and keeps it going. A strange conclusions for a critique of capitalism! This gives us an occasion to dispute Heinrich’s new reading of Capital and at the same time clarify Marx’s arguments against capital, abstract labor, the fetish character of money relations, and the state.

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Railyon
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Aug 1 2012 09:27

Wait, that's a wholly different book though - ain't it?

I came across that criticism before and the response was that it did not apply to his Intro to Capital. Or are you of a different opinion, that Heinrich cannot keep away his "new reading" from an intro?

I've read neither books, interested in the intro but I'm currently reading Vol 3 on my own. Is Heinrich really such a polarizing figure?

S. Artesian
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Aug 1 2012 23:37

Highly recommend the last part of Heinrich's chapter 2 on "The Secret of the Fetishism of Commodities and Money". Great analysis, and in the process, blows away the Kautsky/Engels "historical" reading of Capital as the story of the law of value dominating all production.

Of course, one can get the same, and even more explicit refutation from reading the Grundrisse but it's nice to know that somebody out there in this century, with a publishing house behind him, agrees with... those of us who have fought this battle here several times.

petey
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Aug 2 2012 02:10
RC wrote:
His critique of capitalism focuses less on why this system of exploitation needs to be abolished than on how capitalist relations remain durable despite their “destructive potential.”

good, that sounds exactly like what i want to read.
why this system needs to be abolished is a thing i can figure out by walking our my front door in the morning and going to work. why so many people buy into it is a thing i'm having trouble figuring out.

andy g
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Aug 9 2012 12:08

wooohoooo!!!!!!!!!!!! amazon have despatched my copy!!!!!!!!!!!!

better get tranquiliser gun ready to ensure partner and kids given me peace to read it!

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ocelot
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Aug 14 2012 13:23

After all that... The one week I'm offline (thanks to crap wifi at St Imier) amazon try and finally debit the CC I used over 6 months ago for the initial pre-order, rather than the current one (which they have on record). Order automatically cancelled 3 days later. Grrrr.

edit: oh great. And now amazon are out of stock, so I can't order it again. kill.kill.kill.

Angelus Novus
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Aug 14 2012 14:24

I find Amazon's distribution mechanisms completely mysterious.

At the Amazon.com American site, they had one of those "18 in stock -- more on the way messages" on Sunday, which was reduced to 8 copies on Monday.

As much as I'd like to think they sold 10 copies overnight, there was nothing to indicate that, since the sales rank of the book didn't seem to move considerably (the first two weeks of its release, it would change chart position considerably by the hour).

I'm wondering if Amazon's warehouses/distribution centers are not exclusive to Amazon, but are rather used as inventory by other booksellers as well.

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the button
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Aug 14 2012 15:28
ocelot wrote:
After all that... The one week I'm offline (thanks to crap wifi at St Imier) amazon try and finally debit the CC I used over 6 months ago for the initial pre-order, rather than the current one (which they have on record). Order automatically cancelled 3 days later. Grrrr.

edit: oh great. And now amazon are out of stock, so I can't order it again. kill.kill.kill.

If it's any consolation, I ordered mine on a now-expired credit card too. Midway through chapter 3 now.
smile

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ocelot
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Aug 14 2012 16:59

Goddam NoSQL...

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jura
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Aug 14 2012 17:17

Just-in-time my ass!

andy g
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Aug 14 2012 19:05

ocelot

if you get desperate for a value form fix I will stick mine in the post to you when i've finished. will probably get their before amazon deign to take your order....

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ocelot
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Aug 15 2012 09:49

Thanks Andy. But I've put my next gamble on bookdepository, see if that horse comes in first.

andy g
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Aug 15 2012 09:52

here's hoping - they've been good for me in the past....

Angelus Novus
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Aug 15 2012 10:39

BTW, part of my summer reading is the Spanish translation of the book, so I'm basically reading it along with you all.

andy g
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Aug 15 2012 14:38

angelus - i notice that the bibliography refers to a further book by Heinrich, The Science of Value as "forthcoming" from Brill Academic Publishers. Is this an English translation, do you know? The first footnote refers to an analysis of the first two chapters of Capital vol I published in 2008 and a further volume dealing with chapters 3 - 7 as forthcoming this year. Can't see anything by Heinrich dated 2008 and the bibliography though - are either of these 2 in English?

Angelus Novus
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Aug 15 2012 15:14
andy g wrote:
angelus - i notice that the bibliography refers to a further book by Heinrich, The Science of Value as "forthcoming" from Brill Academic Publishers. Is this an English translation, do you know?

Yep, I'm working on it as I type this (or rather, I'm taking a break from working on it as I type this!)

"Science of Value" is really good. Much of the issues touched upon in the Capital introduction, like the monetary theory of value, are given a more extensive treatment.

I should also add, on a personal note, it's kind of stoked my interest a bit in the philosophy of science that some of our own more analytically-inclined Libcommers are experts in.

Quote:
The first footnote refers to an analysis of the first two chapters of Capital vol I published in 2008 and a further volume dealing with chapters 3 - 7 as forthcoming this year. Can't see anything by Heinrich dated 2008 and the bibliography though - are either of these 2 in English?

The first one is Wie das Marxsche Kapital lesen? (How to Read Marx's Capital) which is a detailed, line-by-line commentary on the first two chapters of Vol. I, which I've started translating, but have since shifted focus to the Science of Value, since the latter has a confirmed publisher (Brill/HM). I would love it if a publisher could be found for "Wie das", but I guess it has a potentially limited audience, although personally, I think it's very helpful.

The volume dealing with chapters 3-7, Wie das Marxsche Kapital lesen? Band 2, isn't even out in German yet; it's coming out out in the fall, the publisher already has a promotional page for it.

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jura
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Aug 15 2012 15:19

That's great news about vol. 2 of "Wie das...", Angelus. Preordering...

andy g
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Aug 15 2012 16:05

thanks angelus - now stop slacking and get back to it!!!!!!

Angelus Novus
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Aug 16 2012 15:09

The incoherent scatterbrains at Principia Dialectica are about to reach a verdict:

"Apparently a character called Heinrich has written a book about Marx’s 3 volumes , but the result is not good. More on that in a few days…"

Anyone want to place any bets on how long their response will be? I'm guessing one sentence to three paragraphs at the most. I can already predict the essential reservations: 1) Heinrich "denies" the imminent end of capitalism, 2) Heinrich "thinks value is created in exchange". Also, his last name is not Kurz or Postone. laugh out loud

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Joseph Kay
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Aug 16 2012 15:25

He's a dinosaur, surely?

Angelus Novus
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Aug 16 2012 15:36

And he mentions class. And exploitation too. Of course, it's kind of hard to write an introduction to Capital without doing so, but still...

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Railyon
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Aug 16 2012 15:50
Angelus Novus wrote:
I can already predict the essential reservations: 1) Heinrich "denies" the imminent end of capitalism, 2) Heinrich "thinks value is created in exchange". Also, his last name is not Kurz or Postone. laugh out loud

Isn't 1) kinda similar to the GSP critique of his Neu Lesen?

Anyway, what's with the Principia guys, heard them slagged off quite a bit but I can't fathom what the problem is?

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jura
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Aug 16 2012 16:10

For the "Principia guys", the new reading of Marx starts and ends with Postone, Kurz and Jappe, with all the contradictions and fallacies that entails. For example, they seem to think – in a classic marxism-mysticism way – that value really valorizes itself automatically, that capital really is like the expression "4 = 5", and presumably also that rent grows out of land next to cabbage.

Hektor Rotweiler
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Aug 16 2012 19:45
Quote:
Anyone want to place any bets on how long their response will be? I'm guessing one sentence to three paragraphs at the most. I can already predict the essential reservations: 1) Heinrich "denies" the imminent end of capitalism, 2) Heinrich "thinks value is created in exchange". Also, his last name is not Kurz or Postone.

Let's not forget: we discount Heinrich's exegesis of Marx because of the 'Traditional Marxist' political orientation we erroneously ascribe to him.

My bets on two paragraph's consisting in incoherent assertions backed up by a few random quotes or jargon. Such as: 'Heinrich's scientific interpretation of the theory of value does not grasp the importance of Postone's re-interpretation of Marx's self-reflexive critical theory. He ends up on the side of positivism. Marx was not a scientist or a positivist. What we need to focus on instead of the meanderings of trot dinosaurs dressed in value form cardigans are the dialectics of self-reflexive critical theory.'

Angelus Novus
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Aug 16 2012 21:07
Railyon wrote:
Isn't 1) kinda similar to the GSP critique of his Neu Lesen?

Nah. Whatever else you can say about the GSP, they're not collapse-mongers. Quite the opposite; I think they caught a lot of flak for their analysis of the financial crisis precisely because they regard it as being set in motion by dynamics in the financial sector, and not by any underlying profitability crisis in the "real" sector.

Quote:
Anyway, what's with the Principia guys, heard them slagged off quite a bit but I can't fathom what the problem is?

Basically what Jura said. I don't even think they're even very aware of the thinkers that they do claim to like; otherwise they'd be aware of the inconsistencies in their own position.

I think in a typical ex-Situationist manner, they just like that stuff at the level of sloganeering, i.e. "against work", "critique of enlightenment", "critique of value." Robert Kurz was already a feuilletoniste, but they reduce him further to the level of graffiti spray-painted on a wall.

Hektor Rotweiler wrote:

Let's not forget: we discount Heinrich's exegesis of Marx because of the 'Traditional Marxist' political orientation we erroneously ascribe to him.'

Yeah, that's basically the extent of their "critique" of Chris Arthur too; didn't they say he had a "Trotskyist theory of value" or something like that?(!)

The irony is that on the two points where they differ most fundamentally with Heinrich -- their substantialist conception of value, and their insistence on the "law" of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall -- they're basically defending traditional Marxist orthodoxy. The sad thing is they don't even realize that. I'm not sure they've even read the thinkers they push, let alone the ones they attack.

S. Artesian
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Aug 17 2012 01:23

Nice one, Angelus. Even I, supporter of the FROP tendency, recognize that it needs a bit more elaboration to qualify as a law. Know what else I like? That Heinrich devotes maybe a single chapter to Vol. 2. Cracked me up. Mind you, I think he misses a crucial point in Vol 2, but all in all, I think a chapter is about right.

Angelus Novus
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Aug 20 2012 15:57

Hektor wins the bet! Two paragraphs. You got a couple of beers on me when you make it to Berlin.

For added comical effect, it's a reference to the Science of Value, not even the Introduction to Capital.

Since PD are hit-and-miss with publishing my comments, here's what I submitted. Dunno if they'll publish it:

Quote:
LOL, over on Libcom we were speculating on how short and third-hand PD’s “critique” of Heinrich would be. I put my money on 1 sentence to three paragraphs, with some vague reference to something somebody in Nürnberg said. Hektor Rottweiler guessed two paragraphs at the most.

Hektor wins! Two paragraphs, consisting of two full sentences (and some sentence fragments).

P.S. Bonus points for comical sub-Stalinist inaccuracy: you announced a “critique” of Heinrich’s Introduction to Capital, but instead we get a mere reference to The Science of Value.

I kind of feel sorry for the Nuremberg crew that you guys are their English language franchise. At least over here they try to be somewhat serious in their argumentation.

Hektor Rotweiler
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Aug 20 2012 21:22

Ha! that 'review' or 'critique' or 'gibberish' was even less coherent than i imagined. I'm not sure what the logic is behind the post but it seems to be something like this: the fact that the translator of Kurtz mentions Heinrich had 'polemics with Kurtz in the 90's' is considered sufficient grounds to dismiss '[The Science of value].

Question is if they find out Kurtz had polemics with Postone-- will their collective mind explode?

Angelus Novus
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Aug 20 2012 22:27

There's also some biographical inaccuracy: a professor is not the same thing as a university instructor (having a Ph.D does not confer professor status; you have to write a habilitation treatise. Professors in Germany are actually sworn civil servants).

And AFAIK "political economy" is not a subject taught at any University or Polytechnic.

FWIW in my experience Sean Delaney is the somewhat fair-minded guy at PD, who's more open to German value theory in general. Michel Prigent -- some ex-Situ -- is the guy who posts all this vituperative anti-Heinrich stuff. I wonder if the vitriol against Heinrich has the same motivation as the vitriol against Chris Arthur or Werner Bonefeld: that there are schools of value-form theory which are pro- class struggle.

They claim they're publishing both parts of Kurz's "The Substance of Capital" for the next print issue of PD (though we're talking at least 100 or so pages of material, so I don't know if they're for real on that. Maybe Principia Dialectica 3 will be a digest!). If they publish Part 2, Kurz clearly distances himself from Postone's anti-substantialist conception of abstract labor. Maybe the cognitive dissonance thus provoked will inspire them to a less sectarian engagement with this stuff.

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Aug 20 2012 23:59
Angelus Novus wrote:
And AFAIK "political economy" is not a subject taught at any University or Polytechnic.

I think a very few Volkswirtschaftslehre courses still go under that name, but it's become really uncommon. I remember one of my VWL books making a footnote reference to someone teaching it somewhere but I don't quite remember where that was, sorry...

Should come to no surprise that the VWL crew dislike attaching any outright political label to themselves though, but I like the sound of it...