[OPE-L:4707] Re: Re: SV and the F of D

From: Rakesh Narpat Bhandari (rakeshb@Stanford.EDU)
Date: Fri Dec 15 2000 - 13:46:07 EST

>Gil writes:
>>  >  But the sense of the argument above is
>>  >plain:  dare to suggest that even a portion of Marx's argument is logically
>>  >suspect, and you are engaged in the sort of thinking that leads to the
>>  >Holocaust.
>>  >Gil Skillman
>Then I'm very much afraid that Rakesh simply seems to confirm
>what Gil has said (see below). Note especially Rakesh's reference
>to 'manifestly spurious'. I wish it was manifest, I really do. But it
>certainly isn't to me at least. If it was I wouldn't have been wasting
>my time trying to work out what Marx was on about for so many
>years (and, presumably, Marx wouldn't have wasted so much of his
>time and energy writing Capital)
>The basic congruity of Marx's 'vision' of Capital with my experience
>of the same does not entail the 'manifest spuriousness' of critical
>commentary on Marx's arguments.

Andrew B,
I am not saying that any critical commentary on marx is manifestly 
spurious. I am saying that Gil's specific criticism is groundless.

Here's the crux of Gil's argument ( OPE4687)

>Imagine an exchange economy of A's and B's in which the A's are all small
>commodity producers--thus non-capitalists-- and the B's are all merchant
>capitalists.  Each merchant capitalist buys commodities from some producers
>(M-C)  and sells them to others at a profit (C-M', completing the circuit
>of capital).  If this is done by the merchant capitalists as a class we
>have surplus value in the sense you attribute to Marx:  M-C-M', with M'
>greater than M, as an aggregate category descriptive of the entire class.
>Of course, for the class of small commodity producers taken as a whole, we
>have an aggregate circuit C-M-C', with the value content of C' less than
>that of C, *but this is utterly irrelevant from the standpoint of Marx's
>definition, as you have specified it.*  All we need to know is that M' > M
>in the circuit of *capital*.

Why for example after half a decade of making  his argument argument 
does Gil not note that Marx explicitly recognizes such a possibility 
on the very pages he is so fond of quoting: "The form M-C-M', buying 
in order to sell dearer, is at its purest in genuine merchants' 
capital. But the whole of this movement takes place within the sphere 
of circulation. Since however it is impossible, by circulation alone 
to explain the transformation of money into capital, and the 
formation of surplus value, merchants' capital appears to be an 
impossibility, as long as equivalents are exchanged; it appears 
therefore, that it can only be derived from the two fold advantage 
gained, over both the selling and the buying producers, by the 
merchant who parasatically inserts himself between them. It is this 
sense that Franklin says 'war is robbery, commerce is cheating.' If 
the valorization of merchants' capital is not to be explained merely 
by frauds practiced upon the producers of commodities, a long series 
of intermediate steps would be necessary, which are as yet entirely 
absent, since here our only assumption is the circulation of 
commodities and its simple elements." Capital I, p. 266-67

So Marx thinks merchant or commercial capital has in a fully 
developed capitalist society a different and stronger basis than 
robbery or fraud,  a basis that can only be understood if we are 
generous enough to follow Marx's analysis all the way through to see 
how merchant or commercial profit (as well as interest) is now 
derived from the surplus value which is thrown off from the  modern 
primary circuit of industrial capital in which wage workers are 
exploited though having sold their labor power at value. Marx asks 
for our patience (which Gil, enemy that he is, is unwilling to give 
Marx) so that he can explain the new place commercial or merchant 
capital, though antediluvian, has in a system of generalized 
commodity production. But instead of patiently following Marx's 
argument through, Gil wants to write it off as illogical in ch 5 on 
the basis that he did not consider a possibility which he himself 
highlighted?! It is basic to Marx's method that the forms of capital 
which are historically primary are not analytically primary in the 
theorization of a modern capitalist society. Gi;ls reading of Marx is 
terribly ungenerous to say the least; it is ungenerous just in the 
way bourgeois economics. And in this case the so called critique 
leads to incomprehension of the logical ordering and thus import of 
Marx's theory which has provided the greatest weapon in the war 
against the socialism of fools. Again, I did not say and imply that 
Gil was an anti semite; I said that he was removing the conceptual 
arsenal and theoretical understanding of bourgeois society needed to 
best combat it.


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