[OPE-L:8227] Re: _dynamis_ and _energeia_ of commodity & surplus-value

From: Michael Eldred (artefact@t-online.de)
Date: Sun Dec 22 2002 - 08:42:59 EST

Cologne 22-Dec-2002

Re: [OPE-L:8224]

gerald_a_levy schrieb Sat, 21 Dec 2002 09:06:18 -0500:

> Re Michael E's [8221]:
> Previously, including in the following excerpt from [8217], you
> emphasized the importance of "know-how":
> >  Thus e.g. with the art of building, the starting-point governing the
> > transformation of stone and wood into a house lies in something else,
> > namely,  the builder, in whom resides the know-how of building.
> While a carpenter e.g. has "know-how", i.e. a skill,  I thought that
> your comments in this and other posts were headed in the direction
> of  the concept  of  'entrepreneurial ability' as a 'factor of production'.
> That  (mistaken?) perception led me to write:
> > The 'starting point'  of  commodities and value is in the exchange
> > relation between wage-laborers and capitalists, i.e. in the 'employment
> > contract'.  This is the starting point because without wage-labour,
> > capitalist production can not commence.
> What I wanted to emphasize was the specific class relation embedded
> in  the nature of commodities and value.

Yes, I agree, value in motion as capital involves essentially a class relation,
but the concept of value itself, derived from the phenomenon of commodity
exchange, doesn't. The latter is what Marx aptly calls "simple commodity
circulation" (MEW23:167), and it is conceptually prior to the movement of value
as capital. The conceptual step to capital as the movement of value M -- C -- M'
is Marx's interpretation of what Aristotle calls "chrematistics" in contrast to
_oikonomikae_ (household management). Therefore the footnote about Aristotle on
MEW23:167 in the chapter entitled "The Transformation of Money into Capital".
Without a concept of value, money cannot be conceptualized, and without a
concept of money, neither capital nor wage-labour can be conceptualized.

Re:  'entrepreneurial ability'
Once one gets away from the notion that abstract labour creates value, then even
the know-how of entrepreneurial ability (along with the know-how of technology)
becomes a factor in the augmentation of money as capital. I realize that this is
'heresy', but what interests me is not Weltanschauung (worldview) but

The entrepreneur is the one who sees an opportunity for gain and is able to
mobilize the economic resources to try it out. In Adam Smith's Wealth of
Nations, the entrepreneur is still called an "undertaker". The entrepreneur does
untertake a venture. If, as we have seen, value relations in capitalist society
are not only uncertain, but in their essence groundless, then the
entrepreneurial undertaker is necessarily a risk-taker in the serious and rough
game of money-making. A sign of this is that even wealthy, established
entrepreneurs, both small and large, can lose everything again if they misjudge
the market.

I wouldn't call entrepreneurial ability a 'factor of production' because the
specific _dynamis meta logou_, i.e. ability guided by insight, which the
entrepreneur exercises is the ability to see opportunities for profit and to
skilfully organize how these opportunities can be exploited. This goes beyond
"production". It is a leadership role which involves employing and controlling
employees, and getting hold of the necessary land, money-capital (investment
capital, venture capital), means of production for the venture.

There is a phenomenon which can be called human ingenuity. All of us have it to
some degree, say, when we improvise a do-it-yourself repair. The phenomenon is
that things reveal themselves to human being in their usefulness for something
or other. That is the being of practical things (_pragmata_) in the broadest
sense. A successful entrepreneur is often someone who sees a usefulness and also
has the skill to bring it to market, i.e.  to get the value of this new,
ingenious use-value acknowledged abstractly by others through the market.
Examples abound in capitalism, no matter whether one regards the invention of,
say, Tupperware or microwave ovens or standardized motel chains or the LP record
as a happy invention for humankind or not. The test lies in the marketplace,
where the value of an invention is either recognized or fails to gain
value-recognition in money.

> You replied:
> > I don't agree with this kind of argumentation, since it confuses causal
> > interrelations with a conceptual ordering required to think through the
> > phenomena. On the level of causal interrelations, one could just as well
> > say  that without commodity markets, capitalist production could not
> > commence, but  such causal interrelations and the kinds of causes they are
> > (e.g.  effective  cause, final cause, material cause, formal cause) are
> > all  intertwined  and depend  on each other. Capitalist society is an
> > interdependent whole with many causal  interrelations.
> I think this is a valid response.
> > In thinking through capitalism, Marx starts by first considering
> > first the exchange of the commodity products of labour in order to work
> > out the  first concept, value, which will be used to formulate the essence
> > of  capitalism.  The focus is first on the simple relations of commodity
> > exchange.   How the commodities are produced is bracketed to start
> > with. In particular, Marx  explicitly brackets wage-labour in considering
> > value (see the footnote on  wage-labour in Chapter 1 on MEW23:59
> > "The category of wages does not exist  at  all on this level of our
> > presentation.") I agree with Marx's way of  proceeding  here.
> I agree with this _although_  class relations _do_ form a part of the
> essence of capitalism.  Indeed,  the  'starting point' (commodity) leads
> one -- in due course -- to comprehend the specific nature of class
> exploitation under capitalism as part of the essence of capitalism.

I agree, but perhaps we disagree about wherein this "exploitation" consists.

> > Attention to what is prior and later in the order of thinking-through has
> > been  with philosophical thinking since Aristotle, who introduced the
> > distinction  _proteron_/_hysteron_ in his Metaphysics. Hegel and Marx
> > are just two thinkers  who respect this ordering of concepts. They are
> > both system thinkers.
> Essence is  revealed at various stages in the ordering of concepts.  If
> Marx e.g. develops a concept in Part Two rather than Part One
> of _Capital_  this does not mean that this concept does not concern
> the essence of capitalism.


> I wrote previously:
> > There is  uncertainty in _all_ phases of the circuit.
> You replied in part:
> > The uncertainties inherent in a power relation are of a different kind
> > than the uncertainties inherent in the abstract kind of (fleeting)
> > associating which  takes place on the market.
> Agreed.

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_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_ Dr Michael Eldred -_-_-

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