[OPE-L:3056] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: re:starting points

From: Ajit Sinha (ajitsinha@lbsnaa.ernet.in)
Date: Tue May 09 2000 - 05:05:49 EDT

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Fred B. Moseley wrote:

> Ajit:
> > The problem is not that whether Marx's "commodity" in chapter one is a
> product of
> > capitalist production or not. The relevant theoretical point is that
> the concept
> > of "capital" and "wage labor" are not part of the arguments in chapter
> one--the
> > analysis is conducted independent of these concepts.
> Fred:
> I agree that the concepts of capital and wage-labor are not introduced in
> Chapter 1 and are not part of the arguments in Chapter 1. Capital and
> wage-labor are later defined in terms of commodities and
> money. Therefore, in order to avoid circular reasoning, commodities and
> money are defined prior to capital and wage-labor. But this does not mean
> capitalist production is not the object of Marx's analysis from the very
> beginning, nor that the commodity in Chapter 1 is analyzed is not the
> "elementary form" of this concrete historical totality of capitalist
> production. Yes, the commodity comes before capital and wage-labor in the
> sequence of categories. But as the passage Nicky quoted from the
> Grundrisse said, the sequence of categories is determined by "their
> relation to one another in MODERN BOURGEOIS SOCIETY."


Fred, I think the problem is simply this, as David has correctly pointed out.
The problematic of the 1st chapter is allocation of social labor, which is
regulated by the "law of value". Here the concept of value has meaning only
within the context of the problematic of allocation of labor regulated by the
market. To declare this theoretical problematic the "'elementary form' of this
concrete historical totality of capitalist production" amounts to identifying
the core of capitalism with market and market relations. Thus abolition of
market becomes the slogan for socialist movement (commodity fetishism has
nothing to do with surplus value production). As you agree, the categories of
wage labor and capital do not appear in the analysis here. Thus the problematic
of value in the first chapter of CAPITAL has nothing to do with capitalist
exploitation. One has to look at the theoretical context for understanding the
concept of value. In Ricardo, the concept of value takes shape within the
context of distribution of income, and not in the context of allocation of
labor. Now, if you look at the nature of Marx's transformation problem, it is
essentially the context of exploitation of labor in capitalism (similar to the
distribution problem), that's why the equality of the two aggregates are so
crucial to Marx's project. Now the problem with the transformation problem
reveals a serious theoretical problem with Marx's approach (a point David may
not agree with). There is a contradiction between a problematic of allocation
independent of exploitation and a problematic of exploitation. In my paper of
RESEARCH IN POLITICAL ECONOMY 1996 I have taken pains to reveal the shift in the
problematic of CAPITAL after part one, and have shown that Marx's attempt to
bridge the two problematics through his concept of labor-power as a commodity
did not succeed. Because, within the problematic of exploitation he could not
maintain the concept of labor-power as a commodity. In other words,
capital-labor relation could not be maintained as commodity exchange relation.
The transformation problem also reveals the same contradiction, in my opinion. I
don't think many Hegelian Marxists read beyond the commodity fetishism section,
and i think they have generally very little idea of the nature of the
transformation problem.

> Fred:
> The passage that you quote from Chapter 6 simply says that the production
> of commodities can take place in other modes of production besides
> capitalism, whereas wage-labor is unique to capitalism. No one would deny
> this. But this does not contradict the interpretation (supported by much
> textual evidence) that the commodity Marx is analyzing in Chapter 1 is a
> product of specifically capitalist production.

Well the assumption is that there is no separation of means of production from
the laborer. The two classes of capitalists and wage laborers do not exist yet.
If the commodity was a product of wage laborers then Marx could not arrive at
the conclusion that equal values (or labor-times) would exchange in the market.
The transformation problem could not be avoided at the outset.
Cheers, ajit sinha

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