[OPE-L:3225] Re: Reply to Gil and Ajit: Simple Commodity Production/ "Contemporary society"

From: Ajit Sinha (ajitsinha@lbsnaa.ernet.in)
Date: Tue May 16 2000 - 08:02:52 EDT

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Paul Zarembka wrote:

> _Capital_, Vol. 2, Chp. 20, on "Simple Reproduction" (Progress, p.425):
> "there are here only two classes: the working-class disposing only of its
> labor-power, and the capitalist class, which has a monopoly of the social
> means of production and the money".
> Bearing on the same point, Luxemburg (_Acc. of Capital_, pp. 331-33) cites
> two other passages from Vol. 2, one from Vol. 3, and one from _Theories of
> Surplus Value_, in addition to the passage from Vol. 1 I already posted. I
> haven't made a exhaustive search for all citations.
> RE Gil:
> In other words, the theoretical space does not include simple commodity
> production (or any other form of production).


Paul, I think Fred's question about whether the commodity in chapter one is a
product of capital or a historical mode of production called simple commodity
production is essentially an obscuratist problem, and so is not of any great
interest in itself. If he is fighting the battle against the so-called
historical-logical interpretation, I don't much care about it, since my overall
reading of *Capital* suggests that it is a synchronic rather than diachronic
theorization. But such issues are settled by an overall reading of the book and not
a chapter or first few lines of it. If Fred and you think that you can settle the
issue by producing five two liners from Marx suggesting that "his" commodity was a
product of capital, then you can be rest assured that the hostorical-logical people
can also produce five two liners from Marx in support of their claim. So the issue
cannot be settled by quotations only.

I personally am not interested in this debate at all. My position is simply this
that the analysis of commodity relation in chapter one remains independent of the
concept of wage labor and capital. This is the objective fact of the chapter, Marx's
thinking has no longer anything to do with it. Now, the argument presented in
chapter can easily be interpreted as an analysis of commodity production in a
subsistence economy. Very much the way Sraffa has organized his book. A simple labor
theory of value is first established in a subsistence economy and then surplus
production is introduced to see what kind of specific contradictions it introduces
in the system. But that does not mean that anybody would claim that Sraffa's object
in PCMC is subsistence economy. All one is saying is that the analysis of commodity
in chapter one leaves various theoretical interpretations open. The problematic in
itself does not require any closer at this time. If you think that Marx is obliged
to theoretically close all the options by claiming that the commodities in chapter
one are the product of capital, then by no logic he could ask us to forget about
surplus production in the system. And once there is surplus product in the system,
then how could he avoid the transformation problem at the outset. The point is
important because Marx knew that Ricardo could not avoid the transformation problem
at the outset. He thought this was Ricardo's weakness. So he is trying to find some
way of avoiding it.

> RE Ajit's commentary on Fred:
> Buying and selling cannot be "independent" of the capital--wage labor
> relationship in the theoretical space of Marx (theoretical space is NOT
> identical with any existing society) for analyzing capitalist society.
> I will note that Ajit has said "I read a *book* or a series of books as an
> object that needs to be analyzed on its own, irrespective of what the
> author meant" (OPE-L 3175). Therefore he does not matter to him what Marx
> meant: Ajit will have his own reading. I don't completely get how to do
> that, without losing the audience.
> Paul Z.


It depends upon what kind of audience I have. If my audience is convinced that a
text must be understood through the subjectivity of its author, then may be I'll
loose my audience. But if I have people like Althusser or Foucault as my audience
then they probably be rather listening to me keenly. Cheers, ajit sinha

> *************************************************************************
> Paul Zarembka, on OS/2 and supporting RESEARCH IN POLITICAL ECONOMY at
> ********************** http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/PZarembka
> Gil Skillman <gskillman@mail.wesleyan.edu> said, on 05/14/00 at 04:03 PM:
> >Note that this passage doesn't quite say what you want it to, Paul. It
> >doesn't say that all production is capitalist production; it says rather
> >that capitalism is established in every nation and is in every branch of
> >industry. That would be true if putting-out and family firms operated in
> >branch along side them.
> On Mon, 15 May 2000, Ajit Sinha wrote
> > > "Contemporary society" IS a society with the capital--wage labor relation,
> > > not a society in which the buyer and seller "COULD exist independent of
> > > capital-labor production relation". Marx's passage is supportive of Fred
> > > rather than Ajit.
> > >
> > > Paul Z.
> >
> > ______________________
> >
> > Paul, who is denying that the "contemporary society" means capitalist society.
> > However, the simplest social form in which the labor product is presented, is
> > the relationship between a buyer and a seller. This relationship could exist
> > independent of capital-labor relation. Cheers, ajit sinha

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