Re: (OPE-L) Re: the economic cell-form and form-analysis

From: Paul Bullock (paulbullock@EBMS-LTD.CO.UK)
Date: Wed Apr 14 2004 - 17:45:18 EDT

Dear Jurriaan,

in your discussion with Jerry  you referred to a short comment I had made on a previous occassion.  I should like to add a little below.

Best regards

Paul Bullock

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: OPE-L Administrator 
  Sent: Sunday, April 11, 2004 3:02 AM
  Subject: [OPE-L] (OPE-L) Re: the economic cell-form and form-analysis

  -------- Original Message --------
  Subject: Re: (OPE-L) Re: the economic cell-form and form-analysis
  From: Jurriaan Bendien <>
  Date: Sat, April 10, 2004 10:58 am

  Hi Jerry,


  Paul Bullock for his part writes: "The  'cell form'  is necessary for
  the existence of capitalism, but in the form of a  product it is not
  itself sufficient to transform into capital, what is necessary for this
  is that labour power itself  be forced to take on the commodity form as
  well." But actually Marx's own text shows very explicitly that for Marx
  at least, this is not true. The transformation of the commodity into
  capital requires only the existence of money and the ability to trade in
  it, so that more money is obtained from the trade. The transformation of
  capital into capitalism, does not necessarily require that labour-power
  becomes a tradeable commodity either, because it requires only that the
  surplus-product of that labour-power can be appropriated and traded (i.e. the double
  appropriation involved in capitalist accumulation can occur, that is,
  the appropriation of use-value and the appropriation of exchange-value
  as capital - this is explained more in my essay "Rescuing Marx from
  Marxist self-activity"). 

  What you say here is true in the sense that buying in order to sell dearer  is indeed the source of genuine merchants capital. It takes place in circulation. BUT  it is impossible  by circulation alone to account for the formation  of surplus value.
  Merchant capital can only have its  origin in  shoving itself in between the seller and the buyer. Merchant capital (and
  interest bearing capital) are in fact derivative forms, although they appear historically before the modern standard form of capital. Here the dialectical logic is demonstrated perfectly by Marx. Something is taking place in the background, and it is this historically evolving background - the use of labour power as a commodity - that Marx studies from Chapter 6 of Vol 1 onwards of course. The sentence you take from me starts with capitalism, by which I took myself to mean the era of the capitalist mode of production. Certainly the middle ages handed down merchants and userer's capital, but this could not become capitalism as such. It remained, as Marx noted ' capital quand meme'. The 'idyllic proceedings' of primitive accumulation were necessary for this to take place. Now, since I expressed by self carelessly by saying 'capital'  in my third line rather than 'modern capital', I understand your concern, but on the other hand the point I was making was that  specific social conditions are necessary for capitalism to develop, much as you have emphasised the deadly affect of  concepts used by 'the Marxists' without historical understanding. The 'cell form' has itself to develop, it is not a static idea.

  Paul Bullock

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