Re: [OPE-L] Capital in General

From: Michael Heinrich (m.heinrich@PROKLA.DE)
Date: Sun Oct 09 2005 - 21:19:17 EDT

Hi Jerry,

Marx used the term "Capital in general" between 1857 and 1863. This
notion appeared in "Grundrisse" (1857/58),  in "A Contribution to the
Critique of Political Economy" (1859), in "Economic Manuscripts of
1861-63 and in  several letters written. In this period this term
obviously had an important meaning for Marx. In manuscripts and letters
written after 1863 there is not one place, where you can find this term,
it vanished completely. As we know, Marx was very precise with his
terms. So when a term, which was very important for some years
completely vanishes, we should at least realize this and ask, what does
this mean. Of course it is possible that Marx just changed the term (as
he did with "Arbeitsvermögen" and "Arbeitskraft" in the mid sixties),
but if we assume this, we should support this by some arguments. What
are your arguments for the assumption that "general nature of capital"
is the same as "Capital in General"?

The two terms sound a little bit similar because of  the word "general",
but I suppose this is not your main reason. Probably your main reason is
the hint to "competition", which is excluded. What Marx excludes from
his presentation in "Capital" is the "competition on the world market"
respectivly (in Hannos quotation) the "actual movement of competition",
what is also related to the world market as the first sentence makes
clear. In both passages Marx didn't exclude  a n y  competition from his
presentation, but the "actual competition", which takes place on the
world market. And indeed, some competition is also included in the
presentation of  the "general  nature of  capital" given in "Capital":
the competition related to the emergence of an average rate of  profit.
In "Grundrisse" where Marx introduced the notion of  "Capital in
General" for the first time, a n y  competition was excluded from this,
because  the presentation of  "Capital in General"  should  abstract
from all individual capital. So the competition excluded from
presentation in "Capital" is not the same competition excluded from
"Capital in General". Therefore only the hint to the exclusion of
competition is too less to support the assumption that "general nature
of  capital" means the same als "Capital in General".


Jerry Levy schrieb:

>Hi Hanno,
>The passage >>>
>"In our description of how production relations are converted into entities
>and rendered independent in relation to the agents of production, we leave
>aside the manner in which the interrelations, due to the world-market, its
>conjunctures, movements of market-prices, periods of credit, industrial and
>commercial cycles, alternations of prosperity and crisis, appear to them as
>overwhelming natural laws that irresistibly enforce their will over them,
>and confront them as blind necessity. We leave this aside because the actual
>movement of competition belongs beyond our scope, and we need present only
>the inner organisation of the capitalist mode of production, in its ideal
>average, as it were." <<<
>is _very_ consistent with the passage I called your attention to:
>>>>"The phenomena under investigation in this chapter assume for their
>full development the credit system and competition on the world market, the
>latter being the very basis and living atmosphere of the capitalist mode of
>production.  These concrete forms of capitalist production, however,
>can be comprehensively depicted only after the general nature of capital
>is understood; it is therefore outside the scope of this work to present
>them -- they belong to a possible continuation."  <<< (Penguin ed., Vol. 3,
>Ch. 6, Section 2, p.  205).
>Note that in both passages he explicitly and unambiguously states that
>the study  of *competition* lies beyond the scope of _Capital_.
>Additional references to a "possible continuation" on competition
>appear in Vol 3, Ch. 10, about 8 paragraphs before the end of
>the chapter (p. 298 in Penguin ed.) and Ch . 18, about 9 paragraphs
>before the end of the chapter (in a para. that begins (3); p. 426 in
>Penguin ed.).
>Given the above, there is every reason to believe that the scope of
>_Capital_ was limited,  like the _Grundrisse_, to the general nature
>of capital (capital in general).
>In solidarity, Jerry

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