Re: [OPE-L] Capital in General

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Fri Oct 14 2005 - 00:02:48 EDT

At 11:37 PM -0400 10/13/05, michael a. lebowitz wrote:
>Andrew wrote:
>>Michael, as you know surplus value is initially defined as M'-M [ch.4,
>>vol. 1]. Prior to this it has been shown that money is the 'appearance
>>form' [not just 'form' but '*appearance* form'] of value. After the
>>initial definition we do indeed find that M'-M is the 'appearance form'
>>of surplus labour. So I guess I'd want to say that surplus value is,
>>from the outset, understood to have both visible and invisible aspects
>>rather than to counter pose an 'invisible' surplus value to a 'visible'
>>set of 'outer' categories (profit, interest, rent).
>>Would you agree?
>         I'm not certain about the significance 
>you attribute to 'appearance form' vs form. Yes, 
>capitalist exploitation must take the form of 
>money. Are you suggesting that this undercuts 
>the distinction between the inner structure of 
>capital and the surface phenomena that for Marx 
>are related as the invisible to the visible? 
>Recall, eg., the quotes from Vol III:
>>Surplus-value and the rate of surplus-value 
>>are… the invisible essence to be investigated, 
>>whereas the rate of profit and hence the form 
>>of surplus-value as profit are visible surface 
>>phenomena (Marx, 1981b: 134).
>>Profit is ‘the form of appearance of 
>>surplus-value, and the latter can be sifted out 
>>from the former only by analysis’ (Marx, 1981b: 
>>139).  Profit is ‘a transformed form of surplus 
>>value, a form in which its origin and the 
>>secret of its existence are veiled and 

Hilferding, Althusser,(OPE-L'er?) Bruce Roberts 
have all argued that surplus value only exists in 
its effects, in its appearance forms. They have 
all accepted Andrew B's point that a hard and 
fast distinction between invisible essence and 
visible appearance cannot be drawn.  This may 
seem nonsensical or counter-intuitive (and I 
don't mean for the Nietzschean reason that 
everything is appearance, that a multi-layered 
ontology is a myth; I mean it may seem 
nonsensical to reject the idea the distinction 
can be clearly drawn because obviously  an 
appearance has to be of something essential 
already existing, and thus derivative in some 
way...simply put essences have to be temporally 
and logically prior to their respective 
appearances); I have tried to weaken this common 
sensical reaction, voiced here by Michael L, 
through analogies with measurement and collapse 
in quantum mechanics. I won't burden the list 
again with my thoughts on this.  But for my own 
reasons I am sympathetic to Andrew's point. Not 
that he will be happy with that!

As a ps to this I think Rick Wolff long ago 
argued that there are interesting similarities 
between the Austro Marxists and the 
Althusserians. But on this seeming convergence 
between Hilferding and Althusser about causes 
only existing in their effects I don't think 
there has been been much comment. And pps of 
course there are important differences between 
Austro Marxism and Althusserianism. Max Adler's 
idea of a social a priori, accepted and developed 
by Lucien Goldmann as transindividuality, would 
probably be too empty of ideological class 
conflict to be acceptable to Althusser.

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