[OPE-L:7458] Re: Re: Formal subsumption and putting-out

From: Gil Skillman (gskillman@mail.wesleyan.edu)
Date: Wed Jul 24 2002 - 13:55:05 EDT

Paul writes

>does not the formal/actual subsumption parallel his later use of
>the distinction between manufacture and modern industry. I take the
>distinction between these to be the mature form of the concept that
>is prefigured in the Grundrisse

Actually, no: in Marx's representation, the formal/real subsumption 
distinction *doesn't* parallel his later distinction between manufacture 
and modern industry.  The reason is that, for Marx, real subsumption is 
necessary for the production of *relative* surplus value, and manufacture 
and modern industry are stages in the production of relative surplus 
value.  The only changes in the production process that Marx associates 
with merely formal subsumption are those associated with an increase in the 
intensity, continuity, and length of the working day, and correspondingly 
an increase in (only) the scale of production under the command of the 

So it looks as if Marx makes this three-level distinction:

No subsumption:  Usury capital, merchant's capital up to the level of 
putting-out arrangements (no direct capitalist oversight, workers still own 
some of their own means of production); productive of surplus value.

Formal subsumption:  industrial capital based on direct oversight of 
production process (workers don't own means of production, but capitalist 
merely takes over previous methods of production without altering 
them).  Leads to creation of *absolute* surplus value.

Real subsumption (presupposing formal subsumption): Industrial capital that 
has seized control of the methods as well as the process of production, 
resulting in creation of *relative* surplus value. Stages:  cooperation, 
manufacture, modern large-scale industry.

I'm not suggesting that this is the only way to analyze the progression of 
the circuit of capital.  But it appears to be the way that Marx has done 
it.  Again, this is based on my reading of the Economic Manuscript of 
1861-63 and the Resultate; I'm not claiming this reading as definitive.


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