[OPE-L:8276] Re: totality

From: Michael Eldred (artefact@t-online.de)
Date: Sat Jan 04 2003 - 07:33:25 EST

Cologne 04-Jan-2003

Re: [OPE-L:8272]

Christopher Arthur schrieb  Fri, 3 Jan 2003 18:10:06 +0000:

> Re 8229 from Michael
> "The movement of value as capital is the movement of capitalist society itself
> in its production, circulation, distribution and consumption. Through value as
> a social relation, capitalist society itself is able to be a certain kind of
> totality with an "inner connection" ("innerer Zusammenhang") which mobilizes
> all beings, both humans and things. I call this structure of essence the
> Gewinnst (roughly: the win), a concept not to be found in Marx."

A better translation of Gewinnst is perhaps 'the gathering of gain' (which still
requires explication).

> This is in effect a PS to my note on essence.
> If by structure of essence you are implicitly referring to Hegel then this
> could only be a totality in the weak sense of a relational totality.

I am not thinking of Hegel here (I am not at home in his Logik), but of the
various moments or folds of a phenomenon that have to be brought to light in
elucidating a complex phenomenon in order to say what it is. This results in
definitions of the structural ontological moments of the  phenomenon in question.

> It
> could not be the subject of the verb "mobilises"; only an Hegelian Idea can
> "mobilise all beings"
> This notion of totality also relates to the false antithesis you have
> continually posed between a  basic starting point and anarchy of many
> starting points. You need to remember Hegel taught us we do not need a
> starting point (except expositionally of course) when we have a totality
> that posits its own presuppositions. I think Nicky pointed this out
> earlier. Thus we can take the manifold of commodities, or value, or the
> class relation, or many other 'Starting points' but crucial is to show how
> the system posits these presuppositions in its own movement.

We have probably gotten entangled in the polysemy of 'starting point' (_archae_).

I agree that the starting point for a presentation or thinking-through is not
unique. A systematic presentation depends on the attempt to 'pass through' the
phenomena concerned. In Marx's presentation, the concept of value, once
established, is the "inner connection" which allows all the various phenomena
associated with a capitalist economy to be linked together in a coherent way such
that something resembling a unified capitalist economy becomes visible in a
coherent way -- precisely as the manyfold movement of value (reified principally
as money). Marx himself refers to capital as an "automatic subject" and to the
capitalist as the mere "character mask" of an economic category which keeps value
in motion to signify that in capitalism, social relations had 'gotten out of
(human) hand'.

I would say, however, that capitalism is (in its essence) first and foremost an
historical way in which the (social) world opens up in which beings as a whole
show themselves (put on the 'face') as opportunities for gain and human beings see
and are motivated by the prospect of gain. As a mode of historical truth
(disclosure), capitalism is totalizing in the sense that all beings and, in
particular, all human beings (tend to) appear under the sign of the prospect of
gain. The 'historically natural' face of beings is that of offering an opportunity
for gain. All that _is_ is gathered into the movement of the striving for gain --
das Gewinnst, the gathering of gain.

If the concept of value can be understood as the 'face' or 'look' which beings
offer of themselves as being worth something, or being valuable (abstractly in
money), then the concept of capitalism -- whose essence I propose could be called
the 'gathering of gain' -- consists in beings as a whole offering the 'look' or
'face' (_idea_, _eidos_, 'form') of an opportunity for gain, gain being a movement
(_kinaesis_) which mobilizes all beings. Marx's formulation, by way of contrast,
is "Verwertung des Werts", the movement of capital as the "valorization of value".

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