Re: [OPE-L] Reply to Rakesh

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Sat Oct 07 2006 - 11:09:48 EDT


You are obviously misinterpreting the quote from the Critique of the
Gotha Program simply because you are not exploring Marx's analysis of
the appearance of the advancing of variable capital (once Marx lays
out systematically the reproduction of capital wage labor is divulged
as the cause and consequence of the whole process) . You don't
comment on Marx's analysis of the enslavement of the proletarian
class as a whole--appearances to the contrary (and appearances only
often to the contrary for even the appearance does not hold in the
case of child labor, and things are not as cheery for the working
class as a whole today as you seem to think). In Part VII of KI Marx
is not making an analogy or an as if statement. He is quite clear
that the working class as a whole is enslaved by (is in economic
bondage to) the capitalist class.

It seems that you are doubting that Marx's working out the
reproduction of capital allowed him to work out the actual relation
of the working class to the capitalist class.  Perhaps Part VII of KI
is already contained in the Grundrisse? I'll double check. But we
should be clear about what Marx is saying is about the relation
between reproduction and wage labor there. And determine what is in
fact new here. Including even in relation to chs 4-6 of KI.

>There is no evidence I know of that Marx ever decided
>that the six-book plan was faulty, but in presenting his findings he
>obviously did change the storyline, and he progressed not much beyond the
>intended books on "capital in general" and landed property (though the
>theory of landed property would presumably include more than simply ground

So you saying that Marx completed part of the first  book on capital
and part of the book on landed property?  Why were those parts that
Marx completed? What motivated him to attack those problems and leave
the others? Why skip over the second book to the third? And what is
the difference between foreign trade and the world market? Or wasn't
the sixth book mainly supposed to be about general crises?


>A few comments - Obviously there is a relationship between Marx's theory of
>wage labour and his theory of the reproduction of capital, I don't think
>Makoto Itoh would deny that. Marx already makes this explicit in Cap. Vol. 1
>when he talks about simple reproduction. The idea is already made explicit
>in the Grundrisse, and the foundational distinction between labor and labor
>power was clearly presented by Marx in 1859 (though the exact difference
>from Ricardo's theory is, as Ian Steedman suggests, may not be as great as
>one might think).
>Whether or not variable capital is advanced or not may depend on the length
>of the production period, the nature of output and credit conditions, but
>normally it is not advanced, and as aggregate net result it is not advanced.
>The basic claim Marx makes is that the distribution of products, incomes and
>assets is determined by the property relations governing production.
>Consequently distributional issues cannot be understood at all, without
>references to the social relations of production.
>The wage relation I think is not equal to de facto slavery, since the worker
>has at least some autonomous control over his choice of employer, his
>working conditions, his private life and his consumption, i.e. he is a
>legally free contracting subject, even although also subject to economic
>coercion, and trapped in a relation of economic dependence or subservience
>which Marx tries to explain.
>I think what the book on wage labour would most likely have contained is a
>study of the evolution of various modalities of the wages system, labour
>markets, state regulation and labour law, working conditions, competition,
>trade unions etc. from the point of view of the worker both as (1) producer
>(seller of labor power, creating surplus value), (2) as citizen
>participating in public life, and (3) as consumer with personal and social
>needs (as buyer of consumer items sold for profit). But this obviously
>presupposes some kind of analysis of the rule of bourgeois law, and of the
>political state.
>With obvious moral indignation Marx says in his critique of Lasalle's "iron
>law of wages" that "It was made clear that the wage worker has permission to
>work for his own subsistence-that is, to live, only insofar as he works for
>a certain time gratis for the capitalist (and hence also for the latter's
>co-consumers of surplus value); that the whole capitalist system of
>production turns on the increase of this gratis labor by extending the
>working day, or by developing the productivity-that is, increasing the
>intensity of labor power, etc.; that, consequently, the system of wage labor
>is a system of slavery, and indeed of a slavery which becomes more severe in
>proportion as the social productive forces of labor develop, whether the
>worker receives better or worse payment." (Critique of the Gotha Program).
>What Marx does not say in making this analogy, is that the worker IS really
>a slave, it is rather "as if" the worker is a slave, or as good as, given
>the compulsion to work for a living under the authority of the capitalist.
>If he was a slave, the emancipatory project would be one of abolishing
>slavery. Marx's political program is rather specifically the abolition of
>wage-slavery, the abolition of the wages system. This was much more radical
>than Lasalle, obviously. Needless to say though, if you abolish the
>capitalist wages system, you would need to devise an just alternative
>allocation system which is not despotic, including an enforcable legal
>system which explains why people are entitled to incomes, products and
>assets, and an allocation procedure which is practical and efficient. And
>basically the experience of Soviet and Chinese communism is that workers
>still prefer free wage labor, in the previously defined sense, to the
>precise extent that it increases their autonomy. Marx could hardly conceive
>of masses of wage workers who can own houses, save substantial funds and
>travel to foreign lands for a holiday.
>Marx specifically distinguished between the theory of international trade
>and the theory of the world market, the first should I think be understood
>before the second. There is no evidence I know of that Marx ever decided
>that the six-book plan was faulty, but in presenting his findings he
>obviously did change the storyline, and he progressed not much beyond the
>intended books on "capital in general" and landed property (though the
>theory of landed property would presumably include more than simply ground
>I doubt however whether this development (the lack of books 5 and 6, and the
>introduction of book 4) had anything specifically to do with the concept of
>"capital reproduction" however. I basically agree with Itoh/Rosdolsky/Mandel
>that "The function of the reproduction schemes is to show that capitalist
>production can continuously exist, by satisfying the basic material
>conditions of reproduction common to all societies, rather than revealing
>the inner contradictions of capitalism" (Itoh, p. 183). "Unlike Quesnay and
>Leontief however, Marx sees in the schemes not merely the material
>conditions of reproduction, but also the necessary social relations of
>labour-time embodied in the products under the price-form as the social
>content of the law of value in a capitalist economy" (ibid. p. 179).
>Thus, the construction of a theory of crises from the reproduction schemes
>is unlikely to succeed.
>In the Grundrisse, Marx insisted that "The exact development of the concept
>of capital is necessary, since it is the fundamental concept of modern
>economics, just as capital itself, whose abstract, reflected image is its
>concept, is the foundation of bourgeois society. The sharp formulation of
>the basic presuppositions of the relation must bring out all the
>contradictions of bourgeois production, as well as the boundary where it
>drives beyond itself." (Grundrisse, Nicolaus edition,  p. 331).
>That is what he set out to do, be it in a way that could be popularly
>Book 6 on the world market is referred to in Cap. 3 together with the credit
>system as subjects which "do not come within the scope of this work and
>belong to its eventual continuation" (Cap. 3, International
>Publishers/Progress edition, p. 110). They could be presented only "after
>the the general nature of capital is understood".
>Parts of the analysis of the credit system are however included in Cap. 3,
>as are currency exchange rates and balance of trade.
>There exists I think another 1854/55 manuscript by Marx on the exchange rate
>and crises, though not sure whether this was published in English.
>I do not regard Das Kapital as "a theory of the reproduction of the whole of
>capitalist society" as you claim, since (by Marx's own testimony) it was a
>theory of the capitalist mode of production, viewed as the unity of
>production and circulation of commodities, and NOT the whole of bourgeois
>society. I regard this also as a mistake made by Kozo Uno, who
>reconstructs/deconstructs a "theory of a purely capitalist society" without
>a theory of the state, of civil society, and of the sphere of consumption.
>What's missing from Marx's Cap. 3 manuscripts is I think a more thorough
>analysis of the capital turnover, share capital (joint-stock companies and
>stock market), credit and capital finance generally, the modalities of
>capitalist competition, the formation of social classes and their incomes,
>the definition of gross product, monetary theory, price formation, and
>crises. Marx relied on Engels to put the manuscripts in some kind of order,
>but beyond plugging a few gaps, Engels left things pretty much as Marx wrote
>So do we have a "torso"? Yes and no - we have a fairly complete exposition
>of what Marx & Engels thought defined the capitalist mode of production, but
>not a complete theory of distribution, of social classes, of foreign trade
>and the world market, of wage labour and so on. More particularly, we do not
>have a theory of bourgeois society as a whole. Many so-called Marxists act
>as though Marx had the total theory of everything, but I do not share their
>I told you about strawberry fields,
>You know the place where nothing is real.
>Well here's another place you can go,
>Where everything flows.
>Looking through the bent backed tulips,
>To see how the other half live.
>Looking through a glass onion.

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