Re: [OPE-L] 3 crucial points?

From: Howard Engelskirchen (howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM)
Date: Tue Jan 30 2007 - 18:16:39 EST

Hi Hans,

Thanks for the reference!  I looked back through Ch 23 and 24.  I am always
amazed at how Marx worked with his manuscripts.  Invariably after
laboriously working through and learning some point in the manuscripts one
returns to Capital I and finds the point had already been made there quite
clearly and had just never been noticed.  Compare, for example, the last
paragraph of the chapter on Simple Reproduction and the very first
introductory paragraphs (still part of the outline) of the 'Results'.

Without doubt the point you make is correct -- the exchange between labor
and capital in circulation is form; the relation in production itself is
content.  Marx uses the concept of 'form' differently.  'Form determination'
can show how the form of a thing just is its content (content has received
form into itself, in the wording of his doctoral dissertation), but here
there is a divorce between the two that mystifies and the derivation must be

But we still need to deal with the 'becomes':  'wird formell' = *becomes*
formal.  There I think the reference to the immediately preceding sentence
of the passage clarifies the meaning.  The process of production in any form
requires joining the direct producer to the means of production.  The only
content the relation between capital and labor can have is as joined in the
process of production.  The relation between capital and labor in
circulation is formal as compared to that.  But where an independent
individual produces as part of the social division of labor, then there is
an immediate unity between the direct producer and the conditions of
production. Capitalist production destroys production on this basis and
therefore the relation between labor and its conditions first manifested in
exchange *becomes* formal.  That is, where an individual produces
independently, the relation between labor and its conditions is not formal.

Rakesh, it seems to me considerations of that sort answer your two
questions.  Of course the exchange between capital and labor in circulation
is essential to the capital relationship and to the capitalist mode of
production.  We could only say that it wasn't by ignoring precisely the
social form of capitalist production and treating it as immediately the
labor process in general.


----- Original Message -----
From: "ehrbar" <ehrbar@LISTS.ECON.UTAH.EDU>
Sent: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 8:53 AM
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] 3 crucial points?

> Howard,
> 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)
> Hans.

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