[OPE-L:3156] Re: Re: RE: RE: Simple Commodity Production

From: Duncan K. Foley (foleyd@cepa.newschool.edu)
Date: Fri May 12 2000 - 14:33:12 EDT

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Yes, in the sense that there was commodity production and money before
capitalism, for example in ancient Greece and Rome. I'm not arguing that we
should view these societies as having a "simple commodity mode of
production", since commodity production was not the primary organization of
economic life, nor the central source of economic surplus.

I hope all goes well with you, and that our paths cross soon.

All the best,

>On Thu, 11 May 2000, Michael Williams wrote:
>> Duncan continues:
>> >
>> > For my part, count me out of Fred's "growing consensus". I think Marx
>> > properly saw the commodity and money as historically prior to the full
>> > development of capitalist social relations of production.
>> And it seems to me that this statement begs all the tricky issues at stake
>> here.
>> 1. Of course fully-featured 'capitalism' did not leap onto the world stage
>> from nothing. Inter alia, embryonic forms of money and commodity developed
>> along with much else, including various forms of markets.
>> 2. Further, we do not need the authority of Marx to accept the historical
>> commonplace that various forms of commodities and of money existed even
>> prior to capitalist pre-history. But my take is that none of these phenomena
>> constituted anything like a commodity *system* in which it is meaningful to
>> talk of such things as, for example 'abstract labour'.
>> 3. If we then take the next step (that I know that many will not wish to
>> take) that postulates that adequate characterisation of social categories
>> involves locating them in their systemic interconnections, then capitalist
>> commodities and money will be taken as categorically different from
>> pre-capitalist commodities and money. More pragmatically a pre-capitalist
>> commodity, for example, may share with a capitalist commodity *some*
>> characterisitcs, for example that it is sold on a market. It may even
>> as if they are both *produced with a view* to being sold on a market, though
>> I would submit that 'produced with a view too' would have a significantly
>> different resonance in each case.
>> 4. Back to the thread: My understanding of the first part of Capital is that
>> the theoretical object is not some notional or historical simple commodity
>> producing system, but indeed a capitalist system in which the question of
>> capital and labour markets have been temporarily bracketed to allow the
>> development of a conceptualisation of commodity, value and the beginnings of
>> a conceptualisation of money.
>> Michael
>I of course agree with Michael here. Clearly, Marx " saw the commodity
>and money as historically prior to the full development of capitalist
>social relations of production." But this is a separate question from
>the precise specification of the commodity in Chapter 1.
>Duncan, are you arguing that the commodity in Chapter 1 is product of
>a historically prior simple commodity production?

Duncan K. Foley
Leo Model Professor
Department of Economics
Graduate Faculty
New School University
65 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10003
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e-mail: foleyd@cepa.newschool.edu
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webpage: http://cepa.newschool.edu/~foleyd

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