Re: [OPE-L] Capital in General

From: Cyrus Bina (binac@MORRIS.UMN.EDU)
Date: Mon Oct 10 2005 - 15:57:05 EDT

Thank you, Michael H.;

I was just about to check several hundred emails which normally
accumulates during my departures every weekend, and came to notice
Jerry's interpretation of Marx and competition. I was about to jot down
a few paragraphs to him but I soon came across your articulate response;
you're not only a mind-reader but also a fast-drawer! Thanks for your
succinct and focused response.

At the moment, I am working on a Marxian piece on oil that also deals
with competition and methodology.  I'll send it on to Jerry for possible
posting after it's done. Let me take this opportunity and thank Jerry
for causing clarification on such pertinent issues.


Michael Heinrich wrote:

> 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".
> Cheers,
> Michael
> 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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