Re: [OPE-L] capital in general as a real existence

From: Hanno Pahl (hanno.pahl@UNI-BIELEFELD.DE)
Date: Tue Jan 18 2005 - 17:25:14 EST

Hi Jerry,


thanks for Your remarks. I'm not quite sure about the relationship between the world market and the capital-in-general, but right now and concerning the next steps of my work I might see clear enough.


By the way: What concerns the world market as 'point of reference' to grasp unity-in-diversity there was a huge and somewhat strange discussion in West-Germany in the 1970th, vanished until the mid 1980th. This is/was known as the debate about the 'modification of the law of value on the world market'. I have no idea whether there was a similar discussion in the Anglo-American context. (It seems that there was a similar discussion already in the 1960th in the GDR.)


Marx has caused some trouble by adding some confusing remarks into the second German edition of the first volume of Capital (MEW23). While it seemed clear that at least since the Grundrisse (to leave aside the earlier mentions of the world market in the Communist Manifesto or the German Ideology) Marx regarded the world market as a conclusion or as the level to which the categories of value-theory belong, in these supplementary added notions (MEW23, p.584) Marx draws a confusing distinction between national economies and the world-market. Far too early - regarding the level of abstraction - Marx added some remarks about the relationship between these two spheres. Starting with the different average intensities of work in different countries (and the diversity between national wage levels) Marx assumes 'uneven international values'. He claims that in each country a national specific abstract labour is constituted (concerning the quantitative level!) and that these national abstract labours build - on the international level - a step ladder which's scale or unity he names 'universal labour'. 


In those 1970th debate a controversy appeared along these distinction: Some argued that the national economies are the points of reference concerning the realisation of the law of value (because when Marx discussed the formation of a general rate of profit in Volume 3 he refers to national economies), while others urged on the world market as the 'layer' for the formation of a general rate of profit. I think the main problem with this Marxian conceptualization is that all the categories of the value-theory get doubled and that You than have again a problem of the relationship between parts and a whole.     


Best wishes,




  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM 
  Sent: Tuesday, January 18, 2005 3:09 PM
  Subject: Re: [OPE-L] capital in general as a real existence

  > If we first leave the content completely aside: the logical structure 
  > reminds me of that passage from the first edition of capital, Vol.1, 
  > where - within the context of the value-form analysis - Marx 
  > describes the money form as follows:
  > "It is as if, besides lions, tigers, hares, and all other real animals, ... 
  > also the animal existed, the individual incarnation of the whole 
  > animal kingdom".

  Hi Hanno, 

  That is a decent analogy, I believe.  In the animal kingdom and the
  kingdom of capital, there is simple unity ("the animal"; "capital-in
  general" taking the money-form) and diversity ("lions, tigers ....";  
  capital that takes specific forms within individual branches of 
  production).  Both are "real" -- just as human society consists of unique 
  individuals and collectivities (groups, classes, nationalities etc.).  _But_ 
  what is missing in the mere contrast between simple unity and diversity 
  is a dialectical grasp of  *unity-in-diversity*.  This unity-in-diversity is 
  also real and constitutes an essential moment in the comprehension 
  of the real nature of the subject.   Within the context of Marx's thought, 
  the level of abstraction for grasping (reconstructing in thought)  
  unity-in-diversity is *not* that of capital-in-general but rather is the 
  *world market*:

  "the world market the conclusion, in which production is posited as a
  totality together with all its moments, but within which, all contradictions
  come into play.  The world market, then, again, forms the presupposition
  of the whole as well as its substratum.  Crises are then the general
  intimation which points beyond the presupposition, and the urge which
  drives towards the adoption of a new historic form." (_Grundrisse_, 
  Penguin ed., pp. 227-28)

  The road, though, to "the conclusion" is not a direct one from _Capital_.
  On the contrary,  at the close of _Capital_ "the question to be 
  answered next is: 'What makes a class?'" (Volume 3, Penguin ed., 
  p. 1025).  Only after grasping the subjects of  landed property, wage-
  labour, the state, and foreign trade can one begin the presentational 
  reconstruction in thought of the 'conclusion'.

  In solidarity, Jerry

  PS: the post that Rakesh re-sent was from a thread on "totality" from
  February, 2002.   See

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