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

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Thu Apr 15 2004 - 10:39:31 EDT

Merchant capital can make a profit assuming simple commodity
production and differential labour values in different countries.


From: OPE-L [mailto:OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU] On Behalf Of Paul Bullock
Sent: 14 April 2004 22:45
Subject: Re: (OPE-L) Re: the economic cell-form and form-analysis

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 <mailto:ope-admin@RICARDO.ECN.WFU.EDU>

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

        -------- Original Message --------
        Subject: Re: (OPE-L) Re: the economic cell-form and
        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
        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
        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
        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
        as capital - this is explained more in my essay "Rescuing Marx
        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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