Re: [OPE-L] Capital in General

From: Michael Heinrich (m.heinrich@PROKLA.DE)
Date: Sun Oct 16 2005 - 21:17:38 EDT

michael a. lebowitz wrote:

>  Meanwhile, a brief response to Michael H:
>         Michael, I don't deny that the lack of mention of capital in
> general in Capital is interesting; however, as Rob Lucas points out
> in Marx Myths, there are very few mentions of communism (which I see
> as permeating CAPITAL) there too.

With "Capital in General" it is not the same as with communism. "Capital
in General" was extensively used in the drafts preparing "Capital" and
in letters, explaining the project to friends and then it was dropped.

> There are other possible answers
> besides the one you offer (that Marx found it necessary to abandon
> the concept)-- among them that, unlike the Grundrisse and the 1861-3
> mss, Capital was intended for publication. You'll agree, I hope, that
> the question is not the term but, rather, whether his argument
> changed.

I agree, and I tried to show, that it was the argument, that had
changed, and that this was the reason for changing the term.

> If it had, though, would Marx have continued to talk about
> profit, rate of profit, price and price of production as FORMS? I
> noted with interest that you made no comment at all about those
> quotations from Volume III that I provided in my last note. Is his
> repeated distinction between invisible essence and form just a
> metaphor? (I think Howard has challenged you well on this.)

I think it is rather obvious, that Marx continued to talk about profit,
price etc. as form, but I am not sure, if we mean by form the same.
There is a difference of social form and form of appearance, which do
you mean?
I think, the Marxian categories express both. For example commodity: it
is a social form of the labour product, in some societies labour
products have the form of commodities, in others not. Commodities have a
form of appearance: the social relations of the producers of the
commodities appear as objective attributes of  the commodities themself.
Forms of appearances play an important role not only in volume three,
connected to price and profit, but also in volume I and II. I don't
know, if I understood you correctly, but if you want to say, volume III
deals in first line with forms of appearances, then I disagree, volume
III deals with categories coming closer to the "surface", but surface
and forms of appearance is not the same.

About interest: It is a category belonging to the inner structure of
capital (therefore Marx inclued interest from his first plans in
"Grundrisse" in the chapter on "Capital in General"), but it has also a
certain form of appearance: capital seems to give birth to money without
any mediation.

Marx distinctions between invisible essence and form of appearance or
between the inner kernel and the surface are metaphors. By saying this,
I don't want to decrease the importance of these distinctions, they are
fundamental and the metaphors are in some respect necessary. What I
wanted to point out was, that such metaphors are not identical with a
theoretical framework. After recognizing these distinctions, we have to
ask, in which conceptual framework they are used. And here I see a
significant change between "Grundrisse" and "Capital". The insight in
the structure of  capitalism, which is expressed in the distinctions you
mentioned, Marx got during the 1850ies. His first theoretical framwork
to catch this insight was the distinction between "capital in general"
and "competition". In "Capital" he dropped this framework, but not the
insight about the distinctions. He just changed the framework

In solidarity

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