[OPE-L] Grundrisse. Help

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Sun Jul 23 2006 - 07:39:10 EDT

David Yaffe asked:

How does the term valorisation vaguely help? How would a person  reading
Capital for the first time understand that concept without explanation?
Please address the problem raised - is not 'reproduction and expansion' of
capital etc far more helpful in understanding what Marx was talking about?
Why was Engels satisfied with this translation?


I don't mind if you translate it as "reproduction and expansion", insofar as
it is clear from the context what's intended anyway (presumably that was
Engels's judgement), but technically my answer would be as follows:

(1) the reproduction and increase in the value of a capital asset, in Marx's
theory, does not necessarily involve production directly, whereas
"Verwertung" refers specifically to the process whereby a sum of capital
gains in value through its application in the production process, with the
aid of living, value-forming labour.

(2) The corollary of this particular gain in capital value, is a net
addition to wealth, rather than an accumulation of capital which occurs
merely through a redistribution of existing wealth.

(3) The concept of "Verwertung" thus refers specifically to *production
capital* that yields new surplus-value, which is the objective foundation
for the expanded reproduction of total social capital. But production
capital is only one form of capital.

(4) The concept of "Verwertung" implies a "reproduction of capital"
exclusively, and only insofar, as an "expansion of capital" occurs, i.e. the
fact that capital is "valorised" means precisely that a capital value is
replaced through production in such a way that its value is larger than at
the outset. So "Verwertung" at best refers *only* to expanded reproduction,
even so it refers to only *one specific facet* of expanded reproduction,
namely the augmentation of capital value within the direct production
process, prior to exchange.

(5) "Entwertung" (devalorisation) which is the opposite of  "Verwertung" is
really just as important, it implies a loss of capital value specifically
due to the lack of application of labour, or an insufficient productivity of
labour. But it is not accurate to express that opposite as "the failure to
reproduce and expand", because we are talking specifically about a
*negative* reproduction, i.e. a loss of capital value.

(6) Marx uses the Verwertung/Entwertung polarity both at the micro and macro
levels - i.e. capital enters the sphere of production, if it can valorise
itself there, and exits from that sphere if it cannot, and once it is tied
up in that sphere it seeks the highest yields. The possibility of
valorisation depends specifically on the exploitability of labour, the
question is, how can labour be organised so that capital value increases in
value, rather than reduces in value, how big is the yield from the
employment of labour.

I agree, the term "valorisation" does not sound like good English (and it
seems to refer to "valor"), nevertheless valorisation of capital in Marx's
theory is not the same as:

- (self-)expansion of capital
- reproduction of capital
- realisation of capital
- creation of surplus value
- accumulation of capital

In some fundamentalist Marxist theories, such as Paul Mattick's, these
concepts are unfortunately badly confused, suggesting that a closer
specification of what they mean could be helpful for a better analysis.
Since Mattick could read German fluently, I suppose you could also partly
blame Marx for vagueness, but actually with regard to Verwertung Marx is
pretty clear throughout.



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