[OPE-L:2898] starting point and capital

From: Asfilho@aol.com
Date: Tue Apr 25 2000 - 06:10:34 EDT

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Gil says:
…in my reading of Marx, capital can indeed be "conceived, posited, or
defined" without wage labor. The latter, rather than an aspect of the
*definition* of capital, is a *consequence* of particular developments in
the social relations corresponding to the circuit of capital (developments
unspecified in Vol. I, but suggested in Vol. III and elsewhere) that
capitalists predominantly hire and subsume labor power *as a commodity*
rather than either a) lending value producers the wherewithal to finance
means of production, as in the circuit of usury capital, or b) purchasing
labor *services* as a commodity within labor processes run by producers
(i.e., no formal subsumption), as in the putting-out system.

My comment:
I think that this is primarily a methodological difference. In my view, Marx
derives capital in chapter 4 starting from circulation (M-C-M': the form of
appearance of capital, value that begets value). Then he analyses how this
can exist systematically, i.e., as the *social* form of production. His
answer is that capital cannot arise out of circulation *on a systematic
basis*. This argument does not deny that unequal exchange, 'profit upon
alienation', 'fleecing' of the consumers by commercial capital, exploitative
interest rates, etc are impossible: of course they are possible, and they
have existed for thousands of years. But they cannot be *generalised*, i.e.,
these forms of exploitation do not provide the basis for the existence of a
stable and self-sufficient *system* of production. Even though some people
can live out of this type of exploitation, it is a fallacy of aggregation to
presume that everyone can become rich by exploiting everyone else.

In sum, M-C-M' is the *form* of capital, which can potentially represent many
different forms of exploitation, opportunistic behaviour and so on. However,
the point about capital as the social mode of production (including the
separation of the workers from the means of production, wage labour as the
social form of labour and generalised commodity production) is this: Only in
this case can M-C-M' become systematic and provide the principle of social
organisation and of social production, rather than existing in the 'pores' of
(any type of) society.


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