Re: [OPE-L] Engels on ghosts (transformation of means of production into capital)

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Fri Oct 28 2005 - 01:50:08 EDT

MoP used up as use value, destroyed physically through their
consumption. Nothing mysterious here.
Yet their value lives after their material death; we
don't usually recognize how mysterious this is unless the usual
background conditions break down--labor turns up short, prices
drop sharply. When  value thus fails to transmigrate and live
outside its original physical form,  its ghostly presence
becomes a haunting presence in idle, though still useful,  means of production.
Means of production are not implements for workers to use but bodies
through which value is to pass. We live in a thoroughly
haunted world. If there is no other body (i.e. output commodity) in which
value can again live and augment itself, then the means of production
are not to be activated. We are then haunted by the possibility
that value will no longer enjoy a ghostly after-life! So in the grip of
superstition are modern subjects: We are not haunted by but
rather accustomed to ghostly presences.
No one has yet spoken of Derrida.

On Thu, 27 Oct 2005 21:05:07 -0400
  glevy@PRATT.EDU wrote:
> The following excerpt from Engels' _Anti-Duhring_ is noteworthy
> in relation to our discussion of "ghostly" substance in -capital_
> "For in capitalist society the MEANS OF PRODUCTION can only function
> when they have undergone a preliminary TRANSFORMATION INTO CAPITAL,
> into the means of exploiting human labour-power.  The necessity of
> this transformation into capital of the means of production and
> alone prevents the coming together of the material and personal levers
> of production; it alone forbids the means of production to function,
> the workers to work and live.  On the one hand, therefore, the
> capitalistic mode of production stands convicted of its own incapacity
> to further direct these productive forces.  On the other, these
> productive forces themselves, with increasing energy, press forward
> to the removal of the existing contradiction, to the abolition of their
> quality as capital, *to the practical recognition of their character
> as social productive forces*." (Part III Socialism, Ch. 2 Theoretical,
> CAPITALIZATION added, other emphasis in original, JL)
> This is part of the section that was later also published as the
> pamphlet "Socialism: Utopian and Scientific".
> Is he basically saying the same thing re 'ghosts' as Marx?
> In solidarity, Jerry

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