[OPE-L:3161] RE: Simple Commodity Production

From: Michael Williams (mike.williams@dmu.ac.uk)
Date: Fri May 12 2000 - 18:10:21 EDT

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[Duncan's message came direct from him to me - so in case it didn't go to
the list, I will forward it.]
In response to:

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Duncan K. Foley [mailto:foleyd@cepa.newschool.edu]
> Sent: Friday, May 12, 2000 10:56 PM
> To: mike.williams@dmu.ac.uk
> Subject: Re: [OPE-L:3132] RE: RE: Simple Commodity Production

Duncan writes:
> There's no question of the ancient world being a "commodity mode of
> production", since the commodity form, although well-developed,
> was not the
> main form of organization of social production, nor the chief mechanism of
> exploitation.


> But that didn't seem to stop the emergence of a commodity
> "system" with money, exchange value, prices, and so forth, exactly the
> categories Marx talks about in the first part of Capital.

Well, I guess this might just be a terminological difference. I would
restrict the concept 'system' to what you have referred to above as a 'mode
of production'.

> I don't think there's any question that the ancient commodity producers
> produced "with a view to selling on the market". You can find
> Athenian pots
> and coins all over the Mediterranean and Europe, for example.

In this case, fine. My formulation just left open the possibility of cases
in which, for exanple, only contingent surpluses were available for trade.
> It seems to me that Marx realized that money and the commodity were the
> medium in which capitalism could develop, so that he could not analyze
> capitalism without first establishing these categories.

I agree

> They pre-exist
> capitalist categories both historically and logically.

'Logically'? Fine.

'Historically'? Well, up to a point. As I intimated before, the Commodity in
developed capitalism is a different beast than the commodities of
pre-capitalist formations. To me this is just part of the proposition that
the dynamics of the reproduction of the capitlaist system are categorically
different from those of pre-capitalsit systems.


"What is matter? - Never mind. What is mind? - No matter."

Dr Michael Williams
Economics and Social Sciences
De Montfort University
Milton Keynes

tel: +1908 834876
[Home: +1703 768641]
fax: 0870 133 1147

mike.williams@dmu.ac.uk <mailto:mike.williams@dmu.ac.uk>
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