Re: [OPE-L] 3 crucial points?

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Tue Jan 30 2007 - 11:26:17 EST

I think this is very insightful indeed.
  Yes, the confronting of each other as commodity owners for the
purposes of exchange proves to be only semblance; once we consider
capital in its reproduction, in its constant uninterrrupted flow the
relationship proves actually to be an appropriation, not an exchange
between commodity owners. Marx is able to cast new light in chs 23-24
of Capital I on the relationship by considering it in the context of
the reproduction of capital as I tried to suggest in discussion with
Jurriaan a few months ago. That said, is this mere semblance or form
of a relationship between commodity owners still a necessary
condition for (a) the capital relationship or (b) for the
constitution of capital as a mode of production (two different


>it seems the Penguin translation is wrong here.
>A good explanation why the exchange between laborer
>and capitalist is only "formal" can be found in chapter 24,
>Penguin edition pp 729/30.  Here is the translation as I
>have it in my Annotations:
>  The exchange of equivalents, the original operation with which we
>  started, has now become turned round in such a way that only the mere
>  semblance of exchange remains.  This is owing to the fact, first,
>  that the capital which is exchanged for labor-power is itself but a
>  portion of the product of others' labor appropriated without an
>  equivalent; and, secondly, that this capital must not only be
>  replaced by its producer, but replaced together with an added
>  surplus.  The relation of exchange between capitalist and laborer
>  becomes a mere semblance appertaining to the process of circulation,
>  a mere form which is foreign to the content itself {730} only
>  mystifies it.  The ever repeated purchase and sale of labor-power is
>  now the mere form; what really takes place is this---the capitalist
>  first appropriates, without equivalent, a portion of the materialised
>  labor of others, and then exchanges a part of it for a greater
>  quantity of living labor.
>In "Resultate", Marx says similar things too, for instance he says
>that capitalist and laborer "sich scheinbar als *Warenbesitzer*
>gegenuebertreten" ("scheinbar" means that this is what it looks like,
>this is the form it takes, but this is not what is really the case).
>Maybe one could translate it as: they confront each other as commodity
>owners only in semblance.  Again the Penguin translation as "each
>confronts the other apparently on equal terms as the owner of a
>commodity" got the "apparently" wrong and added a phantasy "on equal
>terms" which cannot be found anywhere in the German (MEGA II/4.1,
>p. 64)

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