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Bother, I sent this to Michael instead of the list. Double
bother since it's a bit snotty, but anyway, for the record...
On Tue, 9 May 2000, Michael Williams wrote:
> I think two or three issues may be unhelpfully being conflated in this
> 1. Did Marx start Capital with a pre-capitalist mode of production called
> 'simple commodity production'?
> 2. Did Marx allow that there could be commodity production and exchange in
> pre-capitalist modes of production?
> 3. With respect to this second, there is a question as to whether such
> pre-capitalist commodities were in all essential respects the same as the
> Commodity that is the 'cell-form' for conceptualising capitalism.
Granted, these are separate issues. My answers: No, Yes, Not
quite sure what is meant.
> > "The exchange of commodities at their values, or approximately
> > at their values, thus requires a much lower stage than their
> > exchange at their prices of production, which requires a
> > definite stage of capitalist development....
> I beg to differ, what Marx is 'stating clearly' is that
> commodity exchange at value occurs at a much lower stage *of
> capitalist development* than commodity exchange at prices of
Intellectually dishonest, I'd say, given's Marx's reference to
"ancient society" in his next breath.
> What is more, it is quite unclear from the quote whether
> Marx has in mind here stages of *historical* or stages of
> *conceptual* development of capitalism
Overheated Hegelianism. Marx is talking about history
here: read him.
> > "For prices at which commodities are exchanged to approximately
> > correspond to values, nothing more is necessary than 1) for the
> > exchange of the various commodities to cease being purely
> > accidental or only occasional....
> And how we interpret this quote depends on how we read 'to
> cease being purely accidental or only occasional'. Imo a
> discourse of systems is revealing here. This condition is
> met when such exchanges have become 'systemic'. And that, as
> I see it, is a period stretching from the ealriest
> development *of capitalism* and onwards.
I submit it's clear from the context that Marx considered the
"not purely accidental" condition to be satisfied in various
pre-capitalist formations, for instance commodity production
under Roman slavery. Again, just read him without an idee fixe.
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