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

From: Paul Bullock (paulbullock@EBMS-LTD.CO.UK)
Date: Thu Apr 15 2004 - 18:26:15 EDT

Dear  Jurriaan,

One difficulty of the exchange is that your mail to Gerry was wide in nature
( rather like this response to me). But I note  that we do indeed  agree on
much.  Essentially an antagonism towards formalism, concepts imposed upon/
or used outside any consideration of/ historical development.

Your comments upon the circuits of capital are much along the lines of my
own concerns, which of course raise the issue of what is 'materiality' in
Marx, a serious stumbling block for those who don't understand the concept
of value.

If you are to write on unproductive labour etc then do ensure that you refer
to Peter Howell,
'Once again on Productive and Unproductive Labour', Revolutionary Communist
No 3/4, second edition Sept 1979 ( although there is no practical change in
this article from the 1st ed of Nov.1975). Here the circuits are dealt with.
My own student like efforts of an even earlier period are  properly dealt
with in this article.

Best regards

Paul Bullock

----- Original Message -----
From: "OPE-L Administrator" <ope-admin@RICARDO.ECN.WFU.EDU>
Sent: Thursday, April 15, 2004 7:31 PM
Subject: [OPE-L] (OPE-L) [Jurriaan] Re: the economic cell-form and

> -------- Original Message --------
> Subject: Reply to Paul Bullock
> From: "Jur Bendien" <>
> Date: Thu, April 15, 2004 11:43 am
> To:
> 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
> scope
>  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.
> Jurriaan

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sat Apr 17 2004 - 00:00:01 EDT