Re: [OPE-L] 'primitive' or 'original', etc.

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Mon Sep 11 2006 - 12:30:25 EDT

Ajit, thanks for the interesting reply.

>--- Rakesh Bhandari <bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU> wrote:
>>  Again did Marx abandon the 6 book plan? If so, why?
>>  If not how much
>>  of it did he finish? Only a section of the first
>>  book? Three or of
>>  the six books? I wished this debate could have
>>  continued; Oakley
>>  provides a great service in laying out the possible
>>  positions.
>>  The assimilation of  the Physiocratic theory may
>>  well have made him
>>  overturn everything and abandon for theoretical
>>  reasons the six book
>>  plan.
>Mike L and I had a long debate on this question on
>pen-l way back in 1991-92 (if my memory serves me
>right). I think Lapides' book on Marx's Wage Theory--a
>book I was quite critical of in my review in
>RRPE--makes some good points against the 6 book plan

1991? May have been a secret DARPA emailing list for Marxists backed
by the US Department of Defense.
You have disclosed a lot about you and Michael.

>  Now I'm not interested in Marxological debate
>on this question. But I think a more interesting
>question from theoretical perspective would be to to
>ask: what is surplus? From a purely objective
>scientific point of view, there cannot be any surplus
>as every effect must have a sufficient cause.

In a closed system there can't be surplus, seemingly here a synonym
for novelty?

Also it's been said to me that one could argue that since effects
result from causes+the passage of time, effects do exceed their
manifest causes!

>'surplus' is essentially a concept that can come into
>being only from some subject's point of view. From a
>purely technical point of view, the output over and
>above the minimum requirements of production must be
>declared surplus (Sraffa's position)

and then there is Ian's position.

>but for Marx
>whatever happens to be over and above the physical
>(C+V) is surplus--this is a point of view of all the
>propertied class taken together. If we call the
>propertied class as the capitalist class, then Marx's
>surplus is defined from the capitalist point of view
>and since the surplus is the central concept of
>CAPITAL, one could, to some extent, agree with Mike
>that CAPITAL is written from the 'capitalist point of
>view' (I have not seen the 2nd edition and don't know
>if there has been any substantial changes).

If Capital is from the capitalist point of view, why have capitalists
historically been alienated from it?!

How is it that from the capitalist point of view the surplus appears
as the compulsion of unpaid socially necessary labour hours?

Of course the argument could be that workers have been alienated from
many parts of Marx's Capital as well because it is not from the
workers' point of view.

It also could be that Capital is not written from the perspective of
the already revolutionary worker but the worker qua wage labourer or
as the interpellated individual owner of the pseudo commodity labour
power? For this reason Capital, the self proclaimed scientific work,
could be said to be written from within ideology!

Michael however may be writing from the former point of view?
Michael, please clarify.

>  However, I
>don't think CAPITAL could be written from any other
>point of view. Now, to write a book of the same nature
>as CAPITAL from the wage-labor point of view, one will
>first of all need to ask: what will be the 'surplus'
>from the wage-labor's point of view?

Surplus will appear partially as the compulsion and appropriation of
unpaid labour time, not just as a net product. The surplus will have
two aspects--a temporal and thingly aspect.

I don't know whether Capital is written from a prejudiced class point
of view as much as it is written with a focus on the temporal aspects
of the reproduction process via social labour as organized through
general commodity relations.

Of course the appropriating  class will want to occlude just that
focus, and workers (and more so propagandists) may not be immediately
interested in all aspects of the analysis.


>Note: Marx follows Quesnay closely in defining
>'productive labor' as productive of 'surplus', this is
>not the case with Smith. The point that something
>fundamental might have changed in Marx's mind after
>reading Quesnay should be looked at seriously. Cheers,
>ajit sinha
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