Re: [OPE-L] 3 crucial points?

From: Francisco Paolo Cipolla (cipolla@UFPR.BR)
Date: Sat Feb 03 2007 - 19:57:46 EST

Rakesh, you say:
 "It seems that the surface appearances are built in defense mechanism."

I think this way of putting things is manicheistic. I think fetichism and
mistification is the very language of nature and in particular of social
relations in the sense that phenomena do not reveal their inner
mechanisms. The green of plants is not a defense mechanism against
reavealing what photosynthsis is. Nonethesess, it appears to us that
leaves are green because they are plants. It is similar with commodity
fetichism. Products seem to possess value bacause x of commodity A values
Y of commodity B and not because they are the result of a certain quantity
of human labor. Wage seems to be the payment for labor because we receive
such and such an amount per hour, per day or per month. Wages seem to be
the advancement of a wage fund provided by the capitalist when in fact
they are nothing but previously appropriated labor or surplus labor
according to whether we think in terms of simple reproduction or
accumulation. These appearances are reflected in the human mind as false
consciousness about what capitalist relations are. In so far as they act
as a veil which impedes workers from understanding exploitation they in
fact serve as the ideological oil of reproduction. If exploitation and the
law of appropriation were immediate revealed, as phenomena, then
capitalist reproduction would be much more difficult maybe even impossible
since workeers would rebel with much more strenght and determination.
Ideologies such as nationlism, etc. are defined at a much more concrete
level of analysis, that of history. They are fundamental to the
understanding of how workers are coopted, deceived, etc. But still we
could say that at the basis of all that pyramid of ideology there lies the
inability of the workers to understand their class position. It is only on
the basis of that basic inability that other layers of ideology can be
laid. I must confess though that I am not a researcher on this topic nor a
reader of philosophy (although one should read more of course) and maybe
mistaking along the way.


 Hi Paolo,
> Is appearance or ideology a necessary part of the reproduction, and
> can circulation and  exchange generate all the appearance or ideology
> which is necessary for reproduction? I find your post quite
> provocative.
> It seems that the surface appearances are built in defense mechanism.
> And not only in terms of dis-simulating exploitation and more
> generally the basis of society in social production. Since also on
> the surface of things the contraction of credit seems to be the cause
> rather than consequence of downturns, blame is often wrongly focused
> on the creditor, so the neo Proudhonian program of the abolition of
> interest, euthanasia of the rentier (which culminated in the
> Judeocide) is grounded in surface appearances of circulation.
> Yet It seems to me that at different times seemingly extra capitalist
> ideologies such as nationalism, racism, holism of the Othmar Spann
> type have played an important role in stabilization, and these
> ideologies have been inculcated in what are sometimes called the
> ideological state apparatus rather than simply read off the surface
> relations of commodity exchange and circulation. Gramsci?
> Rakesh
>>The formal exchange between capital and labor is still buying and selling
>>of labor power. If wages appear as the payment for labor, under the law
>> of
>>appropriation wages mistify not only surplus labor but also the fact that
>>the very wage is previous labor appropriated by the capitalist, exactly
>>the way you argued in your message. We do not have independent agents
>>confronting each other in the market but substantively labor reproducing
>>herself by her own labor, what you called wage slavery. I think this
>>formal exchange is a constituint of the capitalist mode of production
>>precisely because it creates the illusion that the labor force gets paid
>>for their total labor and, moreover, due to the appearance that it is the
>>capitalist the one who provides the wage fund independently of labor.
>>Exploitation and mistification of exploitation; appropriation and
>>mistification of appropriation are a unit because content and form are a
>>unit. This is one of the things that keeps capitalist going: the ideology
>>that springs from form, from appearance. The capitalist mode of
>> production
>>seems to be the only one in which appearance is part of its mechanism of
>>>  Howard wrote:
>>>   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
>>>>  traced.
>>>>  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.
>>>  Marx is saying that at first the capitalist exchanges money (amassed
>>> in
>>>  some
>>>  sordid way) for labor power but  that under repeated exchanges the
>>>  relation becomes
>>>  one of appropriation as the initial capital has been consumed and the
>>  > capitalist
>>>  "exchanges" only what he has already appropriated or taken without
>>>  equivalent from
>>>  labor power. That is,  under quantitative pressure as per dialectics
>>>  the relation is now only formally one of exchange and substantively
>>> one of
>>>  appropriation
>>>  or more precisely wage slavery, i.e. the opposite of an exchange
>>>  relationship.
>>>  I don't think any other economic theory builds dialectical materialism
>>>  into its very structure.
>>>  But if exchange is only a semblance or has only formal existence, then
>>> in
>>>  what way
>>>  could it possibly be a necessary constituent of the capital relation
>>> or
>>>  the capitalist mode of production?
>>>  Rakesh
>>>>  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.
>>>>  Howard
>>>>  ----- 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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