Heinrich's Intro to Capital

Submitted by Malcy on April 13, 2012

Thought people might be interested in this:

Heinrich intro to Capital

Dave B

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Gabriel Deville's 1883 Intro to Capital tanslated into English by Robert Rives La Monte is now online at;

http://www.marxists.org/archive/deville/1883/peoples-marx/index.htm

there is a typo error of "1893" that will hopefully be corrected soon.

Engels commentated on it thus in 1884

Deville’s [5] summary of Capital is good so far as the theoretical part is concerned but the descriptive part was done too cursorily and is almost unintelligible for anyone who does not know the original.

The book as a whole moreover is too bulky for a summary. Still I believe that if worked over a good thing could be made of it; and a summary of Capital is always useful in a country where it is difficult even to obtain the book.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1884/letters/84_03_06.htm

I suspect the opening part of Devilles summary covering the first chapters of das capital may be the most valuable part of the book.

Railyon

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Having a look at chapter 1, and it seems Deville either did not adequately grasp what Marx was trying to say or it's diluted to the point that it's inaccurate.

For example his analysis of the commodity is a bit shallow. He says:

Destined by him who manufactures it to satisfy the needs or the convenience of others, any object whatsoever is turned over by the producer to him to whom it is useful, to the one who wishes to use it, in exchange for another object, and by that act it becomes a commodity.

That's not quite the social reality of the commodity in simple commodity circulation, let alone capitalism. By this definition two communes exchanging stuff would exchange commodities. In that regard it's quite shallow because the commodity as a socially specific medium of exchange rests upon concrete labor assuming the form of abstract labor as its social-general form, meaning that there is no direct social control of the distribution of labor across branches of production but that this social reproduction occurs by producing use-values for others that need to be alienated from oneself in order to acquire one's own means of subsistence through commodity exchange, and it is by this social practice that value comes into being as an objectified social relation manifest in the commodity as the contradiction between use-value and value (and failing to grasp this is exactly the reason so many wannabe-marxists dismiss the 'labor' theory of value).

Then again there are a few paragraphs where he seems to know what he's talking about, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt but still, people would do much better by reading Rubin's Essays. He's still the king of value theory, and his book is nearly 90 years old.

Sorry if that doesn't quite make that much sense after all since it goes a lot deeper than that (for example it is not yet adequately explained what the contradiction is all about) but my english marxist lingo is pretty poor, I'd do better if I wrote in German and were sober...

Zeronowhere

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Railyon

That's not quite the social reality of the commodity in simple commodity circulation, let alone capitalism.

It's not entirely clear how your explanation contradicts what is quoted, care to clarify somewhat?

Railyon

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Zeronowhere

Railyon

That's not quite the social reality of the commodity in simple commodity circulation, let alone capitalism.

It's not entirely clear how your explanation contradicts what is quoted, care to clarify somewhat?

Well, when Marx examined the commodity in chapter 1 he did so with a specific social background in mind, at least that's how I perceived it; he implicitly assumes a simple commodity circulation in which products of labor generally assume the form of commodities.

Now Deville doesn't seem to make this assumption and thus his characterization of what makes a commodity seems a bit superficial to me. Commodity production has existed for a long time, but for most of its history as a niche filler (Heinrich himself used the example of the Ancient Greek and cheap vases for the masses). When we take a commodity as a non-general form of exchange existing besides a predominant mode (like feudalism or ancient slavery), Deville's description is trivial because it also abstracts from a specific context (and by the way, Marx didn't characterize the commodity like Deville did, he started right away with use value), but there's more strings attached when one considers simple commodity circulation. His first sentence is:

The commodity, that is to say, an object that, instead of being consumed by the producer, is destined to be exchanged, to be sold, is the elementary form of the wealth of societies in which the capitalist mode of production reigns.

which does put it into perspective a bit but this explanation is still taking the cart-before-the-horse approach IMO. Being 'destined to be exchanged' is part of the commodity's nature, but that's in my opinion still over-simplified. I guess my main point of critique is that there is no explanation given of why products of labor generally (must) assume the commodity form in simple commodity circulation and its more concrete forms.

My explanation is not meant to contradict his, just attempting to show that his account lacks a certain depth and thus I'd prefer other introductions.

Maybe I'm being overly sensitive to certain 'trigger words' so if you think that's the case here, dismiss my criticism.

Dave B

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Deville is describing the 20 yards of linen—2 louis—1 coat ie from the beginning of Das Capital as ‘simple commodity production’; he just calls it the simple or ordinary circulation of commodities.

Here, as he clearly describes it I think, the simple commodity producer takes his product, a commodity eg linen, literally to market to sell in order to buy what he requires to consume.

Or in other words something;

‘destined to serve as a use-value, as a useful thing’

Or in other words he sells his Linen, obtains gold, and uses it to purchase a coat to consume.

And goes home, literally, satisfied.

He sells his own 'privately produced' product in order buy what he needs.

So it is, if you like C-M-C.

It is well covered in fact in contemporary 19th century literature including Gaskell, George Elliot and Thomas Hardy.

[Just as incidentally a worker like me takes his labour power to market to sell for gold in order to buy consumables to recharge his labour power.]

Neither are capitalists.

The capitalist goes to market with money to buy in order to sell later for more money than he originally turned up market with.

Or in other words generally;

M-C-M

Or in fact;

M-C-M`

M` being an incremental increase and greater than M, more money.

Thus the original (merchant) capitalist merely buys commodities cheap and sells dear, according to its own mechanisms.

The ‘modern’ capitalist proper ‘discovers’ in the commodity labour power, its magical potential self expanding property of it being able to generate, overall, more value in terms of commodities than what it ‘costs’.

And thus, as I interpret it, the merchant capitalists (commerce?) operating within a ‘framework’ of ‘simple commodity production” or ‘circulation’ transfers the learned and successful propensity to accumulate money (capital), by that mechanism, to the newly acquired revolutionary opportunity and mechanism , from their perspective, to buy a ‘new’ commodity labour power ‘cheap’ in order to sell what results from it ‘dear’, or for them, more.

Without obviously troubling themselves too much about exactly how it works.

Actually when I first read Capital, despite the fact that the M-C-M and C-M-C is much bandied about; I thought it was trivial and in a way as an ‘ordinary concatenation’, as Deville puts it .

But from a philosophical and logical perspective it is more subtle than I appreciated at the time.

But simple nevertheless, as all good ideas and ‘predicates’ are.

Anyway from Deville;

The Simple Circulation of Commodities, and the Circulation of Money as Capital.

The circulation of commodities is the starting-point of capital. It appears only when the production of commodities and commerce have already attained a certain degree of development. The modern history of capital dates from the creation, in the 16th century, of a worldwide commerce and a world-wide market.

We have seen that the simplest form of the circulation of commodities is (20 yards of linen—2 louis—1 coat) or (commodity-money-commodity), the transformation of the commodity into money, and the re-transformation of the money into a commodity, or selling in order to buy.

But, by the side of this form, we find another altogether distinct from it (money-commodity-money), the transformation of money into a commodity, and the re-transformation of the commodity into money, or buying in order to sell. Every sum of money that goes through this circuit becomes capital.

It is well to remark here that this movement, buying to sell, is distinct from the ordinary form of the circulation of commodities only from the point of view of the person who conducts this movement, beginning and ending in money, i.e., the capitalist. In fact it is composed of two phases of the ordinary circulation, a purchase and a sale, separated from the phases that, usually, precede and follow them, and considered as constituting a complete operation. The first act or phase, the purchase, is a sale from the point of view of the person from whom the capitalist buys; the second phase, the sale, is a purchase from the point of view of the person to whom the capitalist sells. There is there nothing but the ordinary concatenation of the usual phases of circulation. Buying to sell, considered as a finished operation, differentiated from ordinary circulation, exists only from the point of view of the capitalist.

In each of these two circuits—(commodity-money-commodity) and (money-commodity-money) the same two material elements, commodity and money, confront each other. But, while the first circuit, the simple circulation of commodities, begins with a sale and ends with a purchase, the second, the circulation of money as capital, begins with a purchase and ends with a sale.

In the first form the money is in the end transformed into a commodity destined to serve as a use-value, as a useful thing. From the time of the purchase it moves always away from its starting-Point. It is spent once and for all. In the second, the money that the buyer throws into circulation, he means in the end to withdraw by acting as a seller. This money returning, as it does, to its starting-point, is, when it is in the first place thrown into circulation, simply advanced.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/deville/1883/peoples-marx/ch04.htm

Actually the simple commodity producer is quite capable of accumulating money (but perhaps not to be used as self expanding capital) by merely producing and taking to market more than what he requires.

And thus he returns from the market with his consumables and a little bit of money but not necessarily ‘working’ capital.

Thus Silas Marner acquires his little hoard of gold.

But only to look at he never used it to employ or exploit people or lend at interest.

S. Artesian

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Marx is not, in chapter 1 (or any other chapter) describing simple commodity production. He is exploring the commodity as the vehicle, the mechanism, for capitalist wealth, that is to say capital accumulation, that is to say the accumulation of the means of production as values for the purposes of the further accumulation of value.

Whatever my other criticism's of Heinrich may be, in this aspect of Capital, Heinrich is absolutely clear and precise... and accurate.

The whole point, and I mean the whole point is that the "private produced" commodity is not privately produced, but is the result of a specific social organization of labor. It is privately owned, but socially produced.

Railyon

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

S. Artesian

Marx is not, in chapter 1 (or any other chapter) describing simple commodity production.

Well, the essential relations described in chapter 1 would also work in simple commodity production, so I'm actually not sure it makes such a big difference. Value, commodity fetishism, alienation, all there. I think a point could be made that if one puts chapter 1 in the context of simple commodity production, the idea of market socialism or any such shenanigans also falls apart quite quickly (you'd be astonished to hear that some proponents of market socialism actually think of value as springing forth from capital, and not the other way around).

I think the important point though is that even if chapter 1 was about SCP, it's not because it existed historically but because of the level of abstraction he works on, a theoretical supposition as an important moment in capitalist reproduction from whence he starts to map out his broader categories like surplus value.

I'm not quite sure what the importance would be though. SCP is nonsense and will always be.

Dave B

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Railyon

........... but still, people would do much better by reading Rubin's Essays. He's still the king of value theory, and his book is nearly 90 years old.

...

I. I. Rubin's Essays on Marx's Theory of Value Chapter Eight BASIC CHARACTERISTICS OF MARX'S THEORY OF VALUE

For the time being we are concerned only with one basic type of production relation among people in a commodity economy, namely the relation among people as commodity producers who are separate and formally independent from each other. We know only that the cloth is produced by the commodity producers and is taken to the market to be exchanged or sold to other commodity producers. We are dealing with a society of commodity producers, with a so-called "simple commodity economy" as opposed to a more complex capitalist economy.

In conditions of a simple commodity economy the average prices of products are proportional to their labor value. In other words, value represents that average level around which market prices fluctuate and with which the prices would coincide if social labor were proportionally distributed among the various branches of production. Thus a state of equilibrium would be established among the branches of production.

The exchange of two different commodities according to their values corresponds to the state of equilibrium among two given branches of production. In this equilibrium, all transfer of labor from one branch to another comes to an end. But if this happens, then it is obvious that the exchange of two commodities according to their values equalizes the advantages for the commodity producers in both branches of production, and removes the motives for transfer from one branch to another. In the simple commodity economy, such an equalization of conditions of production in the various branches means that a determined quantity of labor used up by commodity producers in different spheres of the national economy furnishes each with a product of equal value. The value of commodities is directly proportional to the quantity of labor necessary for their production.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/rubin/value/ch08a.htm

However, S. Frank does not ask what the content of the production expenditure is for the simple commodity producer, if it is not the labor spent on the production. For the simple commodity producer, the difference in the conditions of production in two different branches appear as different conditions for the engagement of labor in them. In a simple commodity economy, the exchange of 10 hours of labor in one branch of production, for example shoemaking, for the product of 8 hours of labor in another branch, for example clothing production, necessarily leads (if the shoemaker and clothesmaker are equally qualified) to different advantages of production in the two branches, and to the transfer of labor from shoemaking to clothing production.

Assuming complete mobility of labor in the commodity economy, every more or less significant difference in the advantage of production generates a tendency for the transfer of labor from the less advantageous branch of production to the more advantageous. This tendency remains until the less advantageous branch is confronted by a direct threat of economic collapse and finds it impossible to continue production because of unfavorable conditions for the sale of its products on the market.

In conditions of simple commodity production, equal advantage of production in different branches presupposes an exchange of commodities which is proportional to the quantities of labor expended on their production.

this whole chain of phenomena, which was not adequately examined by Marx's critics and was elucidated by Marx's theory of value, refers equally to a simple commodity economy and to a capitalist economy. But the quantitative side of value also interested Marx, if it was related to the function of value as regulator of the distribution of labor. The quantitative proportions in which things exchange are expressions of the law of proportional distribution of social labor. Labor value and price of production are different manifestations of the same law of distribution of labor in conditions of simple commodity production and in the capitalist society. [9] The equilibrium and the allocation of labor are the basis of value and its changes both in the simple commodity economy and in the capitalist economy. This is the meaning of Marx's theory of "labor" value

.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/rubin/value/ch11.htm

However, Marx's analytical path was just the opposite. In the theory of value, when he explains the value of commodities produced by qualified labor, Marx analyzes the relations among people as commodity producers, or the simple commodity economy;

http://www.marxists.org/archive/rubin/value/ch15.htm

Khawaga

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

simple = abstract; thus anything with the qualifier simple (such as commodity production) should be understood as a logical abstraction, not an actually existing economy (which would be qualified with 'complex', i.e. concrete).

Dave B

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This was also the case under simple commodity production, where we already find the guild policy, the separate policies of the different guilds, their mutual jealousies, their individual strivings for special advantages and a position superior to all the others.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/kautsky/1924/labour/ch03_a.htm

, combined to transform the whole of production more and more into commodity production, and simple commodity production into capitalist production. The scattered small businesses of the peasants and handicraftsmen were henceforth gradually destroyed and supplanted by large scale capitalist concerns.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/kautsky/1903/economic/ch19.htm

Engels transhistorical theory of the law of value preface to volume III

This makes clear, of course, why in the beginning of his first book Marx proceeds from simple commodity production (the ‘private labour’ of individual producers where the economic category of the wages or value that the labourer gets for a given labour time as yet, has no existence) as the historical premise, ultimately to arrive from this basis to capital — why he proceeds from the simple commodity (produced by the private labour of individual producers) instead of a logically and historically secondary form — from an already capitalistically modified commodity. To be sure, Fireman positively fails to see this.

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

That production for exchange and simple commodity production are evolving into capitalism is another phenomenon con firmed by millions and millions of daily economic observations in every village, in every trade, and in every handicraft.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1914/may/14.htm

But Marx’s assumption is only a theoretical premise in order to simplify investigation. In reality, capitalist production is not the sole and completely dominant form of production, as everyone knows, and as Marx himself stresses in Capital. In reality, there are in all capitalist countries, even in those with the most developed large-scale industry, numerous artisan and peasant enterprises which are engaged in simple commodity production. In reality, alongside the old capitalist countries there are still those even in Europe where peasant and artisan production is still strongly predominant, like Russia, the Balkans, Scandinavia and Spain. And finally, there are huge continents besides capitalist Europe and North America, where capitalist production has only scattered roots, and apart from that the people of these continents have all sorts of economic systems, from the primitive Communist to the feudal, peasantry and artisan.

Not only do all these social and productive forms co-exist, and co-exist locally with capitalism, but there is a lively intercourse of a specific kind. Capitalist production as proper mass production depends on consumers from peasant and artisan strata in the old countries, and consumers from all countries; but for technical reasons, it cannot exist without the products of these strata and countries. So there must develop right from the start an exchange relationship between capitalist production and the non-capitalist milieu, where capital not only finds the possibility of realizing surplus value in hard cash for further capitalization, but also receives various commodities to extend production, and finally wins new proletarianized labour forces by disintegrating the non-capitalist forms of production.

This is only the bare economic content of the relationship. Its concrete design in reality forms the historic process of the development of capitalism on the world stage in all its colourful and moving variety.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1915/anti-critique/ch01.htm

So far we have been presupposing simple commodity production and simple commodity exchange, and labour-power as a commodity does not yet exist for us.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/kautsky/1903/economic/ch01.htm

these were the preliminary conditions which, after the fifteenth century in Western Europe, combined to transform the whole of production more and more into commodity production, and simple commodity production into capitalist production. The scattered small businesses of the peasants and handicraftsmen were henceforth gradually destroyed and supplanted by large scale capitalist concerns.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/kautsky/1903/economic/ch19.htm

But if we find already under simple commodity production a whole series of wares, which ‘must pass through a series of economic factors, before reaching consumption’, then it is plainly erroneous to make this property the distinguishing feature of the next stage, the ‘political economy’, which Bücher himself once called ‘capitalist economy’. But indeed which other distinguishing feature can one devise in order to distinguish it from simple commodity production if, like Bücher, one refers for the characterization of the different modes of production, not to the totality of the process of production, but only to a small aspect of it, namely the circulation of the finished products?

The social role of the worker in the production process, his social claim to the means of production and products, appear unimportant in Bücher’s characterization of the different modes of production. He is only interested in this question: how do the finished products reach the hands of the consumers? It is characteristic that the contemporary bourgeois theory of economic development, like the bourgeois theory of value, the marginal utility theory [Grenznutzentheorie], avoids dealing with the process of production and by ‘economy’ understands only the circulation of finished goods.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/kautsky/1912/03/cap-ancient.html

On the other hand, the same conditions which give rise to the basic condition of capitalist production, the existence of a class of wage-workers, facilitate the transition of all commodity production to capitalist commodity production. As capitalist production develops, it has a disintegrating, resolvent effect on all older forms of production, which, designed mostly to meet the direct needs of the producer, transform only the excess produced into commodities. …………….. But, secondly, wherever it takes root capitalist production destroys all forms of commodity production which are based either on the self-employment of the producers, or merely on the sale of the excess product as commodities. Capitalist production first makes the production of commodities general and then, by degrees, transforms all commodity production into capitalist commodity production

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1885-c2/ch01.htm

7 Monopolization of the means of production by the capitalist class

The mere existence of a commodity economy does not alone suffice to constitute capitalism. A commodity economy can exist although there are no capitalists; for instance, the economy in which the only producers are independent artisans. They produce for the market, they sell their products; thus these products are undoubtedly commodities, and the whole production is commodity production.

Nevertheless, this is not capitalist production; it is nothing more than simple commodity production. In order that a simple commodity economy can be transformed into capitalist production, it is necessary, on the one hand, that the means of production (tools, machinery, buildings, land, etc.) should become the private property of a comparatively limited class of wealthy capitalists; and, on the other, that there should ensue the ruin of most of the independent artisans and peasants and their conversion into wage workers

We have already seen that a simple commodity economy contains within itself the germs that will lead to the impoverishment of some and the enrichment of others. This is what has actually occurred. In all countries alike, most of the independent artisans and small masters have been ruined. The poorest were forced in the end to sell their tools; from 'masters' they became 'men' whose sole possession was a pair of hands. Those on the other hand who were richer, grew more wealthy still; they rebuilt their workshops on a more extensive scale, installed new machinery, began to employ more workpeople, became factory owners.

Little by little there passed into the hands of these wealthy persons all that was necessary for production: factory buildings, machinery, raw materials, warehouses and shops, dwelling houses, workshops, mines, railways, steamships, the land - in a word, all the means of production. All these means of production became the exclusive property of the capitalist class; they became, as the phrase runs, a 'monopoly' of the capitalist class.

THE SMALL GROUP OF THE WEALTHY OWNS EVERYTHING; THE HUGE MASSES OF THE POOR OWN NOTHING BUT THE HANDS WITH WHICH THEY WORK. THIS MONOPOLY OF THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION BY THE CAPITALIST CLASS IS THE SECOND LEADING CHARACTERISTIC OF THE CAPITALIST SYSTEM.

WE SEE, THEN, THAT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE CAPITALIST ECONOMY AND THE SIMPLE COMMODITY ECONOMY CONSISTS IN THIS, THAT IN THE CAPITALIST ECONOMY LABOUR POWER ITSELF BECOMES A COMMODITY. THUS, THE THIRD CHARACTERISTIC OF THE CAPITALIST SYSTEM IS THE EXISTENCE OF WAGE LABOUR.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/bukharin/works/1920/abc/01.htm

In simple commodity-economy price fluctuates around value as its centre. If too much of a given commodity is produced the price falls, a redistribution of labour power takes place in this production. If a small amount is produced the opposite takes place. Prices rise, labour power pours in and thus another redistribution of joint labour time takes place. In capitalist society the mechanism of fluctuation is more complex. Here prices fluctuate around the "cost of production", and not directly around value. The social interdependence of the different fractional parts of the socially divided labour, the objective connection between the subjectively independent commodity producers is fixed behind their back.

In simple commodity economy value is a "law of movement" directly apparent in prices. In capitalist society fluctuations of prices occur around "production prices", and from this point of view the law of value is converted into the law of the prices of production, which appears as the historical development of the law of value and can only be understood on the basis of the latter.

Marx showed that, as a result of this, prices in those sections of industry with a high composition of capital diverge above, and those with a low composition, below the value, and that prices do not fluctuate directly around value but around so-called production prices (the costs of production plus the average profit). Thus the law is here much more complex than in simple commodity economy. The superficial and directly empirical fact of the market price is explained by the prices of production, the latter by the average profit and the average profit by the organic composition of capital, which, in its turn, is explained by the whole sum of surplus value and the whole sum of capital.14)

http://www.marxists.org/archive/bukharin/works/1933/teaching/3.htm

The process of the production of capital is clearly nothing other than the process of capitalist production; in other words, of the production of commodities under conditions of capitalist production, not under conditions of simple commodity production. The production of capital is, therefore, a production of capitalistically produced commodities.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/bukharin/works/1924/impacck/ch03.htm

blah blah is mountains more

Although simple commodity circulation/economy/production was generally taken to mean artisan peasant production etc etc

It can be taken to mean, as a set, all non capitalist commodity production which did have diverse forms.

Ranging from the surplus labour and product of serf/slave labour to commodities produced to be sold by primitive communist societies.

Artisans like linen weavers and tailors just being a subset.

Angelus Novus

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Quoting Engels and Kautsky to prove the existence of the concept of simple commodity production in the work of Marx.

Dave, you're almost a parody of an Orthodox Marxist. If I didn't know any better, I'd think you were self-consciously trolling us, but no, that's really how you do!

S. Artesian

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

We've been around this block a hundred times simply because Dave B. hasn't yet figured out how to cross the street.

Marx says:

The wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails, presents itself as "an immense accumulation of commodities," its unit being a single commodity. Our investigation must therefore being with the analysis of the commodity.

See? "capitalist mode of production" "an immense accumulation of commodities"? In this made up, non-existing world of 'simple commodity production' there is NO ACCUMULATION OF COMMODITIES AS CAPITAL. Get it? Marx analyzes the commodity not simple commodity production, because A) no such society organized around "simple" commodity production exists, or can exist since commodity production is production for exchange and b) because in the analysis of the commodities facets of existence, the facets of value, we will find the 'secret' to capitalist ACCUMULATION, and......the intrinsic limits to that accumulation.

It does not matter what Engels said, what Kautsky said, what Rubin said, what Rosa, Bukharin, Preobrazhensky said. Al that mattesr is what Marx said and what he demonstrated. He quite clearly draws the distinction between simple reproduction and expanded reproduction, but that is already based on capitalist ACCUMULATION.

Or as Casey Stengel said to the 1962 New York Mets....."Does anybody here know how to play this game?"

Dave B

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

There is no accumulation of capital in the first three chapters of capital where;

Wages is a category that, as yet, has no existence at the present stage of our investigation

.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch01.htm

It begins with or 'proceeds from' an analysis of;

“simple circulation, C-M-C,”

The general formula of simple commodity circulation/production/economy.

Or in other words

Linen [C] –Money[M] – Linen [C]

And goes to capitalism in chapter IV to ;

M-C-M'

Which ;

………is therefore in reality the general formula of capital as it appears prima facie within the sphere of circulation.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch04.htm

What we are being asked to believe is that the entire Marxist community from the late 19th century to the first halve of the twentieth fundamentally misunderstood the meaning of Das Capita, [with the possible exception of Stalin].

Only to have our eyes opened in the 1970’s by some bourgeois German professors.

And for those that believe simple commodity production never existed at all.

That those Marxists associated historically and geographically with backward economic systems in eastern Europe, like Rosa and Lenin for instance, observed ‘millions an millions of times’ an economic system ‘co-existing’ with capitalism that never was.

That in itself would be something worthy of analysis you would think.

Who are these German professors anyway; I really don’t know.

Some of them wouldn’t be ex Stasi state capitalist nomenclatura by any chance would they?

Dave B

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Linen [C] –Money[M] –coat [C]

Railyon

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Khawaga

simple = abstract; thus anything with the qualifier simple (such as commodity production) should be understood as a logical abstraction, not an actually existing economy (which would be qualified with 'complex', i.e. concrete).

Yeah, I'd agree with that (so I'm not even sure what the relevance of an actually existing SCP would have to chapter 1's level of abstraction beyond an implication that SCP would lead to capitalism)

I think a distinction can be made between simple commodity production and simple commodity circulation, however; the latter makes no underlying statement as to how these commodities get produced, just that the commodity is the historically specific social mediator of production and distribution (very loosely spoken).

Edit: It seems there are two schools of thought represented here - the 'historical' and the 'logical' reading I remember them being called, that's quite interesting insofar as there is apparently quite a bit of hostility between them. Is that still the case outside the libcom microcosm?

Re Stalin and value; when he said the Law of Value still operated in the USSR, did he actually not know what value was all about or did he make the mistake of thinking value is compatible with socialism (since value is not the same as simple 'labor remuneration')? I think that's actually an interesting question but one that would make tankies flip tables because it implies flaws in their grand leader's thinking.

Noa Rodman

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Marx speaks of petty mode of production in the first volume, ch 32:

... The private property of the labourer in his means of production is the foundation of petty industry, whether agricultural, manufacturing, or both; petty industry, again, is an essential condition for the development of social production and of the free individuality of the labourer himself. Of course, this petty mode of production exists also under slavery, serfdom, and other states of dependence. But it flourishes, it lets loose its whole energy, it attains its adequate classical form, only where the labourer is the private owner of his own means of labour set in action by himself: the peasant of the land which he cultivates, the artisan of the tool which he handles as a virtuoso. ...

So I reckon simple means small, or petty...

S. Artesian

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Marx talks of simple circulation; it is most definitely a demonstration, as Khawaga has correctly identified, an abstraction based on the nature of the commodity. It is most definitely not a definition, evaluation, positing of an historical epoch, a mode of production.

Petty industry existed; commodity production existed prior to capitalism; but the mode of production was not determined by commodity production.

We may reckon "petty production" means any thing we want it to mean... but that's not what Marx said, he said "petty industry." And more than that, in those conditions where petty industry does exist, it, by its very existence as petty industry, does not dominate, does not organize, the mode of production. Marx points this out exactly in the paragraph Noa produces to satisfy his own "reckoning":

Of course, this petty mode of production exists also under slavery, serfdom, and other states of dependence. But it flourishes, it lets loose its whole energy, it attains its adequate classical form, only where the labourer is the private owner of his own means of labour set in action by himself: the peasant of the land which he cultivates, the artisan of the tool which he handles as a virtuoso. ...

At its best, it flourishes. But where does it dominate social production? Pre-conquest Mexico, you think? I don't. The Incas? Nope. Feudal France, Germany, Poland.... wait those are "states of dependence" . England? Not hardly. Where do the petty producers dominate the economy; dominate the society as an organized force? Where is this utopian of petty commodity producers? The Amana colonies in Iowa?

The city-states of Renaissance Italy? Catalonia? Egypt, pre-Ottoman? Egypt, Ottoman? Egypt under Muhammad 'Ali?

I just love Dave B.'s appeal to authority--- "are we to believe that the entire Marxist community from the late 19th century to the first half of the 20th misunderstood Capital?" And then, Dave B. cites Lenin, the guy who famously wrote in his notebooks that none of the Marxists have understood Marx. You cannot make this stuff up.

Well, as history made painfully clear to the most casual observer, indeed the overwhelming portion of that"Marxist community"-- most of whom subscribed to the "simple commodity production" theory or variations that claim capitalism developed "organically" from simple commodity production; who argued that value as the determining principle and law of pre-capitalist production-- did not in fact understand Marx.

This is not a battle of professors, where Dave B.'s instructors with their Ph.Ds; JDs, whateverDs are in combat with "German professors" and their whateverDs. It is in fact the conflict between the "historicist" interpretation of Capital-- one that, because it holds that the laws of capital somehow function detached from the class relations that define capital, inevitably lead to "misapprehension" of labor, the labor process, and the conflict between the labor process and the valorization process-- and the "logical" critique of capitalism which Marx presents as the immanent critique in Capital

Khawaga

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

So I reckon simple means small, or petty...

Not at all. What Artesian said above. But in any case, Marx was pretty deliberate with the terms he chose. Simple and complex are Hegelian code words, just like how substance is an Aristotelean code word (meaning: Marx is never referring to actual matter, such as blood, sweat and tears when he writes 'the substance of labour'; he is dealing in metaphysics). So whenever the category simple is introduced Marx is signaling that he is dealing with an abstraction. Marx is very deliberate when he refers to petty production. I am pretty sure he would have connected the two if they were synonymous; remember that Marx almost always refer back to earlier parts of the text to remind the reader what he is dealing with so why not link petty production to where he refers to simple circulation or production?

If I remember correctly, in the part where Marx refers to petty production he is also arguing that a someone becomes a capitalist only when s/he advances money as capital over a certain quantitative threshold, so petty in this context could just mean that petty capitalists are too small to actually be capitalists. Still, I think S. Artesian's argument that

in those conditions where petty industry does exist, it, by its very existence as petty industry, does not dominate, does not organize, the mode of production.

is the 'correct' understanding of petty.

Khawaga

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Dave B

Who are these German professors anyway; I really don’t know.

Some of them wouldn’t be ex Stasi state capitalist nomenclatura by any chance would they?

Logical fallacy, but pretty funny. And in any case, the "german professor' I read is Karl Marx. You know, do an actual close reading of him (e.g. realizing that the value form is pretty important in the first chapter) rather than relying on 2nd International dogma.

S. Artesian

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

You know, do an actual close reading of him (e.g. realizing that the value form is pretty important in the first chapter) rather than relying on 2nd International dogma.

Word. Or as my good friend and comrade says: Read Capital. Then read it again. And then? Read it again.

S. Artesian

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Not to pull this thread into another direction, but this might be worth starting another thread:\

From Rosa's Anti-Critique:

Capitalist production as proper mass production depends on consumers from peasant and artisan strata in the old countries, and consumers from all countries;

This, IMO, is so concise, condensed, and wrong-headed that it stands as its own critique [immanent critique of the Anti-Critique?]. Indeed, it shows that Rosa locates the conflict, the contradiction in capital not in the the organization of labor as wage-labor, but in the separation between production and consumption.

I've always that Rosa's analysis really is the first [at least the first I read] stab at disproportionality theory, and that disproportionality theory is nothing but underconsumption theory all dressed up in its left robes...

The best exposition of "disproportionality theory" that I've read is Maksakovsky's The Capitalist Cycle which is so good, I mean so good, you almost overlook the fact that what he is arguing is really underconsumptionism.

sabot

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

S. Artesian

Word. Or as my good friend and comrade says: Read Capital. Then read it again. And then? Read it again.

Not trying to derail the convo but I was thinking about taking on the great adventure that is Marx's Capital again. I've read the 3 volumes before, but felt little actually sank in and just wanted to finish it. So I wanted to read it again but do it right this time. Lately, I've been banging out the Grundrisse and was thinking about afterwards starting Hegel's Science of Logic (as recommended by the Grundrisse intro). Then move on to Capital while simutameously reading Cleaver's Reading Capital Politically/Heinrich's intro to Capital and following along with the D. Harvey lectures. Or is this all complete overkill? Any quick suggestions?

Khawaga

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Seems a bit overkill. Grundrisse is a lot of "fun" to read, though I'd just start over on Capital Vol. 1 again and go from there. Read the Grundrisse afterwards.

Angelus Novus

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

sabot

and was thinking about afterwards starting Hegel's Science of Logic

Definitely overkill.

I mean, there's nothing wrong with reading Hegel if you're interested in Hegel, but it is emphatically not a prerequisite to reading Capital.

The notion that you have to read Hegel (and keep in mind, we're talking about a major philosopher who published works on everything from epistemology to legal theory to aesthetics, so the very term "reading Hegel" is kind of lacking in content) before reading Capital is a bad legacy of 1970s Marxism, based upon a passage in Lenin's Notebooks.

Honestly, if you follow this specious logic to its conclusion, you'll never get around to reading Capital, because before reading Hegel, you'll have to read Kant, but to really understand Kant, you should probably read the Rationalist philosophers (Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz), but then you should also read the empiricists like Hume that the Rationalists were responding to, and pretty soon you end up all the way back with the Pre-Socratics.

I mean, as an aspect of a good general humanities education, there's nothing wrong with aspiring to reading all that stuff, but if you're pursuing it just because you think it's obligatory to understanding Capital, you probably won't enjoy it.

P.S. agree with Khawaga on the Grundrisse. It's a preliminary notebook, never published in Marx's lifetime. Enjoyable to dip into, sheds light on some interesting aspects, but flawed in essential respects -- for example, no distinction between labor and labor-power -- and has been inflated by fanatics into some kind of "key" to understanding Capital.

S. Artesian

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Agree with previous comments on Grundrisse, although I think in general, Marx's Economic Manuscripts 1857-1864 are his most lyrical, incisive, even "poetic" presentations of the critique of capital.

Personally, I suggest reading A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy if somebody wants an "intro" to Capital. But it all boils down to reading Capital, then reading it again.

Re Hegel-- I recommend everybody and anybody read Marx, all of Marx before attempting the Science of Logic. Otherwise.....you might be reduced to tears. I know I sure was.

Railyon

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

S. Artesian

Re Hegel-- I recommend everybody and anybody read Marx, all of Marx before attempting the Science of Logic. Otherwise.....you might be reduced to tears. I know I sure was.

Question. Is there anything we could take from Hegel's Logic that is not covered by Marx already (assuming one has concerned themselves with 'Marx's method' and all that a bit)?

Reading Dieter Wolf (who wrote a massively awesome book on value theory and the dialectic contradiction contained therein and thinks that contrary to the materialist dialectic employed in Capital, Hegel's dialectic is mystifying and irrational) got me interested in Hegel but when I see people pounding out stuff about the absolute spirit I'm having doubts about whether it would be any good. Kinda like looking for a needle in a haystack, massive amounts of words with little actual content.

S. Artesian

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Railyon--

All I can say is that I didn't read any Hegel, including the Phenomenology until I had read Capital, Grundrisse, A Contribution..., and think I'm better off for it. I didn't read Science of Logic until years after rereading Marx. And SOL [not to be confused with that other SOL, "shit out of luck"] brought me to tears, literally.

Do I think there's "value" to reading Hegel, after reading Marx? Yes. But the "value" is only "realized" through the critique of capitalism, so whereas I recommend unreservedly rereading Marx, I make no such recommendation re Hegel. Sorry to provide such an ambiguous answer, although maybe that's appropriate.

andy g

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

have always found Lenin's "as a consequence of the neglect of Hegel" remark thoroughly objectionable. mostly because it would imply I could never understand Marx!!!

Ditto to comments on there being no substitute for reading Marx when trying to understand him (doh!). Others I know have found Harvey's companion to Capital vol 1 helpful as they have the lectures on which the book is based.

No royal route to science though.... ;)

S. Artesian

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Well, there is no substitute for reading Marx.... as reading, or listening to, Harvey proves. Or as reading Lenin proves. Or as reading Rosa Luxemburg proves. Or as reading Lukacs proves. Or as reading Engels proves.

Certainly you can read introductions, explanations, etc etc from any number of sources, but how is one ever going to apprehend Marx's "immanent critique" without reading the immanent critique?

sabot

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Thanks S. Artesian and others. I'll hold off on the grundrisse for now and just start from the beginning again of Capital and go from there. Although I'll still follow along with the Harvey lectures and possibly Reading Capital Politically.

Angelus Novus

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

sabot

Although I'll still follow along with the Harvey lectures and possibly Reading Capital Politically.

For accompanying literature, I'd recommend the book in the thread title over both Harvey and Cleaver, FWIW.

S. Artesian

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Agree, Heinrich is the better choice.

Khawaga

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Thirded. Heinrich is by far the best companion to Capital compared to Haevey, Cleaver and Fine.

sabot

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hmm...sounds like I'm going to have to locate a copy of Heinrch's book for myself.

Noa Rodman

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

S. Artesian

It is most definitely not a definition, evaluation, positing of an historical epoch, a mode of production.

It is a mode of production, as Marx continues:

This mode of production presupposes parcelling of the soil and scattering of the other means of production. As it excludes the concentration of these means of production, so also it excludes cooperation, division of labour within each separate process of production, the control over, and the productive application of the forces of Nature by society, and the free development of the social productive powers. It is compatible only with a system of production, and a society, moving within narrow and more or less primitive bounds.

It is present in all historical epochs, but its classical form is just prior to capitalism.

The capitalist mode of appropriation, the result of the capitalist mode of production, produces capitalist private property. This is the first negation of individual private property, as founded on the labour of the proprietor. But capitalist production begets, with the inexorability of a law of Nature, its own negation. It is the negation of negation. This does not re-establish private property for the producer, but gives him individual property based on the acquisition of the capitalist era: i.e., on cooperation and the possession in common of the land and of the means of production.

The transformation of scattered private property, arising from individual labour, into capitalist private property is, naturally, a process, incomparably more protracted, violent, and difficult, than the transformation of capitalistic private property, already practically resting on socialized production, into socialized property.

S. Artesian

Petty industry existed; commodity production existed prior to capitalism; but the mode of production was not determined by commodity production.
We may reckon "petty production" means any thing we want it to mean... but that's not what Marx said, he said "petty industry." And more than that, in those conditions where petty industry does exist, it, by its very existence as petty industry, does not dominate, does not organize, the mode of production. Marx points this out exactly in the paragraph Noa produces to satisfy his own "reckoning":

Of course, this petty mode of production exists also under slavery, serfdom, and other states of dependence. But it flourishes, it lets loose its whole energy, it attains its adequate classical form, only where the labourer is the private owner of his own means of labour set in action by himself: the peasant of the land which he cultivates, the artisan of the tool which he handles as a virtuoso. ...

At its best, it flourishes. But where does it dominate social production? Pre-conquest Mexico, you think? I don't. The Incas? Nope. Feudal France, Germany, Poland.... wait those are "states of dependence" . England? Not hardly. Where do the petty producers dominate the economy; dominate the society as an organized force? Where is this utopian of petty commodity producers?

I reckon in England:
ch. 27

In England, serfdom had practically disappeared in the last part of the 14th century. The immense majority of the population [1] consisted then, and to a still larger extent, in the 15th century, of free peasant proprietors, whatever was the feudal title under which their right of property was hidden. In the larger seignorial domains, the old bailiff, himself a serf, was displaced by the free farmer. The wage labourers of agriculture consisted partly of peasants, who utilised their leisure time by working on the large estates, partly of an independent special class of wage labourers, relatively and absolutely few in numbers. The latter also were practically at the same time peasant farmers, since, besides their wages, they had allotted to them arable land to the extent of 4 or more acres, together with their cottages. Besides they, with the rest of the peasants, enjoyed the usufruct of the common land, which gave pasture to their cattle, furnished them with timber, fire-wood, turf, &...

Even in the last decade of the 17th century, the yeomanry, the class of independent peasants, were more numerous than the class of farmers. They had formed the backbone of Cromwell’s strength, and, even according to the confession of Macaulay, stood in favourable contrast to the drunken squires and to their servants, the country clergy, who had to marry their masters’ cast-off mistresses. About 1750, the yeomanry had disappeared,

S. Artesian

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

1. Except in the 14th, 15th, centuries, the English peasant is not a "simple commodity producer," as the peasantry, particularly with its access to commons is not producing for markets but for subsistence. Surpluses may have been brought to market; however subsistence was not dependent upon the need to exchange all product.

2. The yeomanry in the 17the century are, by that time, commodity producers; organized by and for the production for exchange. They are not peasants.

We should note conflate the yeomanry, as a class, with the Levellers who do represent a "left wing," and are committed to this "democracy" of small producers.

ocelot

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noa Rodman

S. Artesian

It is most definitely not a definition, evaluation, positing of an historical epoch, a mode of production.

It is a mode of production, as Marx continues:

This mode of production presupposes parcelling of the soil and scattering of the other means of production. As it excludes the concentration of these means of production, so also it excludes cooperation, division of labour within each separate process of production, the control over, and the productive application of the forces of Nature by society, and the free development of the social productive powers. It is compatible only with a system of production, and a society, moving within narrow and more or less primitive bounds.

It is present in all historical epochs, but its classical form is just prior to capitalism.

Yes Marx uses the phrase "mode of production" here, but what is meant by it?

To recap, the orthodox theory of history runs roughly like this:

1. The law of value is a trans-historical law which has existed since the pyramids (and will continue to exist under socialism)

2. History progresses in single line through a sucession of stages, or historical epochs - primitive communism -> ancient slavery -> .feudalism -> capitalism (-> socialism).

3. The transition from each stage up until capitalism has been governed by the development of the forces of production, manifesting itself in the progressive growth of the commerce and commodity production of the urban centres (commercialisation model)

4. Each historical epoch is defined by its characteristic "mode of production", which in turn is defined by its characteristic form of exploitatation - chattel slavery produces the ancient slave mode of production, which defines that epoch of history; wage work defines the capitalist mode of production and hence capitalism as a historical epoch. There is a strict one-to-one relationship between form of labour exploitation, mode of production, the totality of social relations and historical epoch.

In relation to 1, that is dismissed not only by the "value form" theorists, but also by a close reading of Marx (which those of us who got there by this latter method, long before we'd heard of German value form theory, can attest to).

In relation to 2, that's slightly out of scope (the classical locus of its contestation is around the "what was the USSR?" question - see the Marcel van der Linden book), but is usually entangled with 1 & 3.

3. Is of course challenged by the Political Marxism tendency - Brenner, Wood, Teschke, Gerstenberger, etc.

4. Is challenged by Banaji - at least the one-to-one mapping of form of exploitation to mode of production - as totality of the social relations of a given historical epoch.

So the use that Marx is making of the term "mode of production" in v1 ch. 32, as quoted above, bears some looking at. I would argue that there are two possible uses for the term. The first, most common one (that S. Artesian is using, afaics, when he refers in sequence to "a historical epoch, a mode of production") is the identification of it with the totality of the social relations of production of a given historical society. The second possible use, I contend, is the more prosaic one of a type of production carried out according to a particular set of relations of production, irrespective of the overall totality of social relations. imo, this second, particular case is the only one that makes sense in the overall reading of passages like "Of course, this petty mode of production exists also under slavery, serfdom, and other states of dependence" - although, of course, you could argue that it is ambiguous what Marx means by "states of dependence" - given whether or not Marx is "orthodox" in asserting a one-to-one relationship between forms of exploitation and (epochal) modes of production, or whether he is more like Banaji.

In any case, the idea of a "petty industry" mode of production, that can coexist with "forms of dependence" that occurred under ancient slave "modes of production", and feudalism, is already in conflict with the unlinear "orthodox" theory of history. Unless you are positing the idea of "Russian doll" styles of "modes of production within modes of production", which is sorta conceeding the point.

Dave B

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Karl starts with an analysis of a ‘type’ of circulation C-M-C, simple commodity circulation, and ‘proceeds ’ in chapter four to a ‘contrary’ and distinct type of circulation peculiar to capitalism, M-C-M, or specifically, upon further elaboration, to M-C-M';

The circuit C-M-C starts with one commodity, and finishes with another, which falls out of circulation and into consumption.

Consumption, the satisfaction of wants, in one word, use-value, is its end and aim. The circuit M-C-M, on the contrary, commences with money and ends with money. Its leading motive, and the goal that attracts it, is therefore mere exchange-value.

And on the other hand;

M-C-M' is therefore in reality the ……… formula of capital as it appears prima facie within the sphere of circulation

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch04.htm

So what is this C-M-C actually about?

Short of using cartoons, pop up picture books, toy dolls and hand puppets.

A commodity appears from ‘somewhere’.

It is taken to market to be sold at its value, for money, in order that the money can be used to buy something of equal value for it to be consumed.

Or for;

Consumption, the satisfaction of wants…..’

In this process if all commodities are exchanged at their value, which is the working assumption of the first chapters of volume one, there is no possibility with this alone, for the augmentation of value, money capital and concentration of wealth (much).

You don’t get to be ‘richer’ and accumulate wealth by ‘just’ selling what you own at its value (and what you don’t need for yourself) to order to exchange it through the medium of money for something you are going to consume.

Like on Ebay.

Or in other words, by following the general formula C(a)-M-C(b); where everything exchanges at its value, and the last C(b), as the end of the circuit, is for consumption.

On its own buying ordinary commodities like coats and wine with money M in order to consume them is not capitalism, otherwise I would be a capitalist.

What isn’t explained, initially, is the ‘diverse social modes of production’ that produce the C(a) in the first place, and for that matter C(b), that are to circulate and exchange at their values; according to C-M-C.

What could be the social modes of production of C(a), and C(b) in simple circulation that doesn’t break the logical Greek and ‘commensurate’ Aristotelian construction of the idea of “Values” on page 4.

It could perhaps be;

Neolithic stone axes mined in Great Langdale, Cumbria, a popular commodity at the time, they turned up all over the place.

Pre Romano-British bronze age tin mined in Cornwall .

Modern ‘primitive’ communists, and good old proper ‘anarcho-syndicalists’, like the American Shakers (recent archaeological evidence of their rubbish tips showed that they traded) and the current very modern ‘primitive’ subsistence communists like the Polynesian Islanders, the Anutans, who produce and trade the luxury commodity shark fins for soup ( to pay for the education of their children on the mainland – ‘wanting’ for little else).

Subsistance farmers who deliberately produce more of something than they needed, to buy stuff that they can’t realistically produce for themselves. As opposed to some accidental surplus (although that can be important).

‘Idle’ time production. In most geographical regions subsistence farming can be highly seasonal and thus the quiet times can be utilised in cottage ‘artisan’ industry, manufacturing, in order to pass the time of day ‘usefully’ in the cold winter months etc. They might discover they are good at it and become full time tailors and linen weavers. Exchanging their linen for the kinds of things they had previously produced for themselves, badly.

As capitalism ‘has not invented surplus-labour’ nor the commodities in which it is embodied; commodities that are taken to market for C-M-C could be surplus value and surplus labour themselves. Eg from the non capitalist feudal lords. The Feudal Lord’s in fact could theoretically accumulate wealth for themselves; but spendthrifts like they were they sold there ill gotten gains on consumable feudal bling and wild parties for their ‘retainers’ [Adam Smith] .

[Although some of aristocratic supporters of Cromwell learnt and appreciated that ‘political’ and capitalist economic trick of ‘accumulation’ before their more conservative peers.]

The different priest-class accumulators of surplus labour spent it on pyramids [there is something from Karl on that somewhere] and church’s and other monuments etc, as each according to their wants, in their own variation on conspicuous consumption.

The commodity C(a) in fact could even be the surplus product belonging to a capitalist; but a capitalist won’t last long exchanging all his surplus product at it’s value to buy consumables.

Then he would be a ‘bad’ capitalist.

A Capitalist or rich exploiter may even actually sell his C(a) for money to buy ‘labour power’ to serve at the diner table, clean his toilet and the modern variation, on ‘Adam Smith’s’ non productive labour eg pyramids, churches; and Calvin’s [theologian of expanding productive labour] catholic indulgences etc.

But non of the above C-M-C involves the innovation of using money to make more money by buying labour power to produce a use value to be sold for more than it cost. Or;

M-C-M'

Circulation simple, or capitalist, is a phenomena, consequence or effect.

All scientist start with an investigation of effects to understand the causes that produce them.

They work back first then forwards.

Actually what C-M-C represents is the ideal model that Proudhon was striving to go back to and where it all started, from in his own analysis of capitalism or for him the degeneration of C-M-C.

I could do the ‘states of dependence’ and patriarchal society thing and have done before, but I am bored now.

ocelot

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Dave B

What could be the social modes of production of C(a), and C(b) in simple circulation that doesn’t break the logical Greek and ‘commensurate’ Aristotelian construction of the idea of “Values” on page 4.

It could perhaps be;

Neolithic stone axes mined in Great Langdale, Cumbria, a popular commodity at the time, they turned up all over the place.

LOL.

Yeah, I heard they listed stone axe futures and options on the Neolitihic stock exchange. :roll:

The archeological evidence of manufactured goods travelling over long distances in pre-historic times, gives no information as to the particular historical set of social relations that governed their production and circulation. The use of the imprecise term "trade" by bourgeois archeologists to cover this circulation in no way implies that these items were commodities or that their circulation was carried out through exchange. Unless you evacuate from these terms any specific or analytical meaning, but to do so would also eradicate their utility in demonstrating Engels' (ridiculous) contention that the law of value has been in operation throughout human history. The "archeological evidence" that people in the prehistoric era manufactured goods for exchange and that they were exchanged for other manufactures, in a C-M-C way, in proportion to the socially necessary labour time required for the production of each, is non-existent. To even consider it is to both a) project bourgeois social categories, concepts, practices and values back through human history, as eternal categories (thus making capitalism itself eternal); and b) to basically piss on Marx's project of examining the social relations of different eras in their historical specificity.

Dave B

As capitalism ‘has not invented surplus-labour’ nor the commodities in which it is embodied; commodities that are taken to market for C-M-C could be surplus value and surplus labour themselves. Eg from the non capitalist feudal lords.

The distinction between surplus labour and surplus value is fairly central to Marxian value theory. Its fine for someone to choose to ignore that, but not if you're claiming that is a valid reading of Marx, cos it ain't.

Dave B

The different priest-class accumulators of surplus labour spent it on pyramids [there is something from Karl on that somewhere] and church’s and other monuments etc, as each according to their wants, in their own variation on conspicuous consumption.

Really? Did they hide those acumulated surplus labour notes under their mattress before they went out on a shopping spree and "spent" them on a new cathedral? Srsly...

And I could go on and on. Dreck.

Noa Rodman

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Kautsky in The Agrarian Question

Under simple commodity-production, the surplus-product takes the form of commodities and receives a value. This cannot yet be termed surplus-value since although human labour-power produces values, at this stage of development it does not yet have a value itself, not being a
commodity.

Nooooooooo!

Dave B

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Surplus labour is the expended (past) labour time embodied or ‘objectified’ in the surplus product and the amount or quantity of that surplus labour is the surplus value.

So much so that he often uses the two interchangeably especially in volume III, eg

As a law based on the fact that under given conditions the appropriated mass of surplus-labour, hence of surplus-value, increases……

……..or total mass, of the surplus-labour (surplus-value, profit) appropriated by it……

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch13.htm

Surplus labour is sort of qualitative and surplus value the quantitative expression so it’s a bit like saying ‘time’ and ‘hours’; nuanced difference that is not worth dwelling on, in most cases.

Actually he also used all three, surplus product, surplus product and surplus value interchangeably in one sentence, occasionally.

I ‘collected’ them I think in file somewhere.

Detailed evidence of exactly how and why stone axes and flint as raw material or finished product was moving around Europe etc isn’t clear.

The evidence on Cornish tin trading is much more extensive and begins with written historical records itself. Cornwall was the sort Saudi Arabia of its day, tin being the most important material of its time, from the bronze age.

When it hasn’t been melted down and mixed up again etc it can be traced in ancient artefacts from the isotope ratios in the tin and trace elements etc.

I know an archaeologist who did a Phd on it , a Trot, who didn’t seem to have a problem about bronze age commodity production.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mining_in_Cornwall_and_Devon

Cathedrals were built over long periods of time employing wage labour, ‘one’ of the first examples of it, presumably from ‘surplus value’ generated from church enterprises consisting of non private, collective of exploiters.

Kautsky somewhere compared Bolshevik state capitalism to the economic organisation of the medieval church.

There are early references to wage labour in construction of temples of Herod the Great, in Josephus I seem to remember.

On page four Karl starts from a logical ‘Aristotelian’ commensurable and thus;

an a-historical analysis of the commodity.

He returns to Aristotle on value etc much later, as a kind of intellectual joke referenced back to the beginning.

I got it at the time anyway.

But on the logic of commensurability, it is a piece of piss for scientist familiar with the first law of dynamics, and thinking like Karl does is like sucking eggs for us.

If you so happen to be familiar with the language of 19th century philosophical intellectualism enough to not chuck the thing in the bin after 10 pages.

Incidentally the other transcriber of Deville’s better take on it , also a scientist and a productive wage labour worker, was born into classic simple commodity production family in the Punjab.

Her Uncles are still at, under more stressed circumstances for Indian peasant farmers.

She understood it as it stood without having ever read a word Marx.

S. Artesian

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Dave B: As capitalism ‘has not invented surplus-labour’ nor the commodities in which it is embodied; commodities that are taken to market for C-M-C could be surplus value and surplus labour themselves.

That's the whole point, the point that Dave B. does not understand. Of course capitalism did not "invent" surplus labour. Surplus labour, the ability to produce more, and produce more socially, than is needed for individual subsistence, is the "species" characteristic of human labor.

The species characteristic however is mediated, meaning it exists, is expressed only in its social manifestation as the appropriation of the surplus labor.

What distinguishes capitalism is that mediation, which is value. What capitalism does invent, or rather, organizes, is surplus labor as surplus value. Surplus labor, or surplus product, is not always, historically or in the future, surplus value. That surplus value is the unique determinant, "contribution," of capitalism.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Jesus, this thread is massive.

I'm just wondering if there's version of Heinrich's Intro Capital is available as free .pdf ?

Tian

9 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I have a PDF copy of dubious provenance, complete and relatively clean. A quick google will grant you what you seek.

Chilli Sauce

9 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Thanks Tien. The only places I can find it for download online seem to come back with a dead link. I might try a torrent search, but do you remember where you found it?

Angelus Novus

9 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I realize books are often unaffordable for most people living outside of North America or Western Europe, and that ultimately the distribution of online PDFs is probably inevitable, but I really wish that people would stop to reflect for a moment that Monthly Review Press is not a corporate conglomerate.

Tian

9 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

snip

Joseph Kay

9 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I've been wondering if there's some kind of psuedo-communist publishing model along the lines of crowdsource funding - do work (translation, subbing etc) - publish freely online/print on demand hard copy. As long as the expenses of the project can be reasonably anticipated (and itemised, i guess), it should be viable.

Tian

9 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Rather than universally free to download, the pay what you can afford/ what it is worth to you model seems more appropriate - though this might be 'nothing' in many cases. Then another prompt at the end of the book/article/whatever for donations/ tips.

The topic of a new thread, probably.

Joseph Kay

9 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

New thread here.

S. Artesian

9 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Angelus Novus

I realize books are often unaffordable for most people living outside of North America or Western Europe, and that ultimately the distribution of online PDFs is probably inevitable, but I really wish that people would stop to reflect for a moment that Monthly Review Press is not a corporate conglomerate.

Not to mention, there are libraries, you know, where you can borrow the book and read it, supporting thus the author and a public institution.

And who would have thunk-- many libraries know provide electronic books for reading on your computer.

petey

9 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

still haven't gotten very far into the book :(
fucking books, there are so many of them.

sabot

9 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I just finished reading Heinrich’s book. Have to agree on some of ocelot’s earlier comments on vol. 2., and although I really liked how the book was concise, I felt it could have explain things in more detail at times. Other than that though, it’s a great book. The book really helped me grasp some concepts that I was previously struggle with in my early readings of Capital. Also agree with others on the latter chapters of the book (fetishism, Capital and the State). I may bring up q’s about the book later (I just don’t have time at the moment). Anyways, I’d like to thank Khawaga, and others who encouraged me to read this.

Oh, any update on whether The Science of Value will be released?

On the PDF thing, even though I bought the book, I really wouldn’t mind PDF of this for my tablet.

44

9 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Has anyone read Paul Cockshott's critique of Heinrich?

http://spiritofcontradiction.eu/paul-cockshott/2013/02/15/new-age-marxism

I haven't finished Heinrich's intro yet, so I just skimmed this, but it seems Cockshott is basically defining abstract labour as a mental abstraction--as the ability to think of heterogeneous concrete labours as applications of 'human labour in general'--and then criticising Heinrich's exposition from that definition, even though Heinrich's point is that it's not a mental abstraction but a real abstration (which, even though I'm having trouble with the concept of a real abstraction, makes a lot more sense in terms of the law of value operating "behind the backs of the producers", since it doesn't have to take place in people's minds).

I'm also suspicious of Cockshott's insistence on the precapitalist existence of abstract labour, value, and so on, which allows him to project their existence forward into his vision of a "new socialism".

Angelus Novus

9 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I briefly tried to engage Cockshott on an email discussion list, and it's pretty clear he thinks that Marx's value theory is the same as Adam Smith's. When I pointed out that Marx himself stated that his discovery of the twofold nature of commodity-producing labor was what distinguished him from classical political economy, Cockshott replied that "the German's" arrogance caused him to not recognize the achievement of "the Scotsman."

Uh, yeah. What do you say to somebody like that?

Dave B

9 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Abstract labour is as Ricardo explained it ‘toil and trouble’ of which there are many different concrete kinds.

The authors of Genesis 3;19 understood what abstract or generalised labour was even if modern ‘Marxist intellectuals’ don’t.

“By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food”

In fact for real workers in capitalism it is ‘concrete labour’, not ‘abstract labour’, that is the ‘subjective’, ‘meaningless’, ‘alienating’ and arbitrary thing of the air; as one kind of concrete work is much the same as another.

You clock in, do as you are told, and clock out, and so called ‘abstract labour’ is the only real thing, un-free time.

Even a modern multi tasking flexible worker in a factory today might be doing a different type of concrete labour one day to another, or from hour to hour.

What one person might find difficult another finds easy.

And that one type of concrete labour is more troublesome than another for an individual is subjective according to say your physique, skill or intellect etc etc.

So in that sense ‘toil and trouble’, abstract labour, is the objective universal irreducible reality that matters to them.

You need to be a self justifying elitist intellectual with its own vainglorious and self aggrandising attachment to the importance of its own special ‘concrete labour’, to be fixated with it.

They don’t want to be told, or think, that their own concrete labour is the same as everybody else’s, abstract

In fact it is the workers; being constantly hired and fired, and living in a community of others engaging in mutually understood universal abstract ‘toil and trouble’ that can educate intellectuals stuck in their own narrow blinkered horizons of their own special ivory tower concrete labour, about the universal ‘social’ meaning of abstract labour.

Scientists don’t have a problem with real abstractions (which become scientific objects); once it moves beyond observation of relationships and cataloguing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platonic_realism

RC

9 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

44 writes:

I'm having trouble with the concept of a real abstraction

A real abstraction is a strange thing. A theoretical abstraction is a normal activity of the mind: you grasp a thing that has many different qualities. In science, you figure out how the qualities are connected and the logical unity. If an abstraction is carried out in reality, one quality is separated from the unity of the thing and asserted against all the other qualities. For example: the wage laborer is an abstraction; he or she is a human being with a lot of qualities, but the only one that counts is their ability to work. He or she is defined as a person who is reduced to their capacity to work, as someone separated from any other means. Their interests and needs don't count. In abstract labor, which takes the form of producing commodities, all other qualities of the labor -- that it makes use values, etc -- are abstracted from, and the only quality of labor that counts is the negative side: it is mere toil, drudgery. In theory, to say that labor only has this quality would only be a mistake. But in real life, it is quite harsh. Its only possible with force. As Hegel said “to make abstractions hold in reality is to destroy reality.”

Cockshott wants to measure everything because he thinks that’s what science does; he isn’t interested in qualities.

ocelot

9 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Cockshott confuses abstract labour (historically specific) with social labour (not)

But Marx has another explanation for what abstract labour is, based on the division of labour.

So far as they are values, the coat and the linen are things of a like substance, objective expressions of essentially identical labour. But tailoring and weaving are, qualitatively, different kinds of labour. There are, however, states of society in which one and the same man does tailoring and weaving alternately, in which case these two forms of labour are mere modifications of the labour of the same individual, and no special and fixed functions of different persons, just as the coat which our tailor makes one day, and the trousers which he makes another day, imply only a variation in the labour of one and the same individual. Moreover, we see at a glance that, in our capitalist society, a given portion of human labour is, in accordance with the varying demand, at one time supplied in the form of tailoring, at another in the form of weaving. This change may possibly not take place without friction, but take place it must

.(Capital Vol 1, page 12 of the Marxist Internet Archive pdf file)

In this formulation – which Heinrich ignores – labour is abstract as part of the pool of human labour available to society. Workers can change occupation, either from day to day, or at different points in their life time. Insofar as they can potentially move from one activity to another their ability to work is abstract. This is most obvious with an unemployed person. They have an abstract ability to work in a variety of different jobs, until they get a job, this abstract ability to work does not take a concrete form.

Go back to the quote from Marx’s letter to Kugelmann where he says “It is self-evident that this necessity of the distribution of social labour in specific proportions is certainly not abolished by the specific form of social production; it can only change its form of manifestation.” What is the social labour that is being distributed?

Clearly it is abstract labour. It is only after social labour has been distributed into different activities that it takes on a concrete form.

So abstract labour is the abstract expenditure of human physiological effort and society has only a certain amount of this effort available to it which can be expended in different concrete forms.

This concept is indeed ‘naturalistic’ and ‘a-historical’.

One of the spirit guys tells me that Heinrich has agreed to respond to Cockshott's piece. Someone get the popcorn... :twisted:

Khawaga

9 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Doesn't seem like he gets labour power either.

S. Artesian

9 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Cockshott's a Ricardian. He believes the law of value is operative at all times; and will be operative with socialism.

kingzog

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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:

"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:

"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:

"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

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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.

Felix Frost

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Felix Frost

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.

Felix Frost

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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...

jura

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Perhaps the problem is that

Marx

"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

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Felix Frost

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.

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

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

jura

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

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

Khawaga

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Angelus Novus

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

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

What is this shit?

From the ‘original’;

“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).

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;

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

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Dave B

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

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Khawaga

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

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Angelus Novus wrote:

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

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

kingzog

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.

Khawaga

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

There are now four translations.

The original 1894 Kerr edition;

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;

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;

"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’.

"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

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

For the last time:

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.

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.

georgestapleton

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

georgestapleton

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

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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

1 year 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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)
Edit:Now via https://internationalistperspective.org under issues.