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

From: OPE-L Administrator (ope-admin@ricardo.ecn.wfu.edu)
Date: Thu Apr 15 2004 - 14:31:35 EDT

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Reply to Paul Bullock
From: "Jur Bendien" <bendien88@lycos.com>
Date: Thu, April 15, 2004 11:43 am
To: Glevy@pratt.edu

Hi Paul B.,

I don't think there is any disagreement between us here apart from,
perhaps, some subtlety or ideosyncrasy. True, it is impossible by
circulation alone to account for the formation  of surplus value. There
are at least two reasons for that: circulation presupposes production,
including the work involved in facilitating circulation; and, a
surplus-value is itself a financial claim to a surplus-product and
pressupposes that surplus-product which must be produced in a way that
it can be appropriated via the financial claim. If somebody has a sum of
money in excess of what he requires for own consumption etc. then is
already presupposes a specific pattern of (private) appropriation of the
social product.

However, merchant capital can not only have its  origin as intermediary
between the seller and the buyer; it can also originate through the
producer transforming himself into a merchant. For example,
hypothetically a peasant involved in subsistence farming has a surplus,
which he trades for money. Then he discovers that what he can buy with
the money is (more than equal) to what he can produce for subsistence,
and so, he decides to become a trader, using an initial capital and his
produce as a means to obtain more money from trade. This case is of
course slightly different from the abstinence theory of the origin of
capital which Marx criticises.

Methodologically, I would say that history suggests we should not think
schematically about the ways different forms of capital can develop out
of each other, or how they could mutate, and also, that Marx may not
have exhaustively described the possible circuits there are. Apart from
M-M', M-C-M', and M'-C-P-C'-M' there may in fact be other circuits. One
could think for example of a service circuit of the type M-P-M' or
C-P-C'-M, and also, we must not exclude the possibility of multilateral
exchanges which link circuits and/or contain circuits within circuits,
and involve a multiple of buyers confronting a multiple of sellers, as
may be the case in a complex countertrade deal. In the case of the
virtual company, we have successive circuits of the M-C-P-C'-M' type
where M' is not reconverted into M since the company just moves on to
the next project and the question of (re-)investment remains for another
company. Particularly in a digitalised world, the possibility for the
 of trading transactions is enormously enlarged (cf. Peter Druckers'
observations on this topic), and, once a historical materialist
acknowledges (1) the human ability for advanced communication as
anthropologically constitutive of his species-nature, and (2) theorises
the relations of communication as social relations, a further
development of the theory of exchange becomes possible. But this is more
an area which Prof. Perelman has been working in (intellectual property
rights and so on) and in which I cannot claim to be an expert. The
problem really for the development of capitalism in the sphere of
communication is, as I have argued, that information and communication
are intrinsically rather "unstable" commodities in the sense that a
stable mode of private appropriation often cannot be secured or
guaranteed. But on this topic, like I said, Prof. Perelman is more
knowledgeable than I am. Implicitly the failure of the "new economy"
proves the validity of the Marxian concept
of what a commodity is, i.e. that Marx theorised the basic relations
required for a commodity to be a commodity were adequate.

Certainly, the 'cell form' has itself to develop, it is not a static
idea. In which case, I have to think of Marx's metaphor about the
architect and the bees...

Thank you sincerely for your comment. I am to refer to your article on
productive labour when I write up my piece on the topic.


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