Re: [OPE-L] What is most important in Marx's theory?

From: Pen-L Fred Moseley (fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU)
Date: Sat Mar 10 2007 - 10:58:40 EST

Quoting Jerry Levy <Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM>:

>> The title of the book is Capital.  Capital is defined as "money that
>> makes more money" i.e. M . (M + dM).  This is the main phenomenon to be
>> explained in Marx's theory, which he highlights and emphasizes in
>> Chapter 4 of Volume 1.
> Hi Fred:
> Capital is not "defined" as  "money that makes more money".  Capital
> represents a set of  specific SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS,  some of which
> are expressed quantitatively.

"The value originally advanced, therefore, not only remains intact
while in circulation, but increases its MAGNITUDE, adds to itself a
surplus-value, or is valorised.  And this movement converts it into
CAPITAL."  (C.I. 252; emphasis added)

> What Marx is trying to do in posing what seems to be a puzzle --
> what is the source of dM? -- is to explain how this dM is an expression
> of  SURPLUS VALUE.    Surplus value represents a SOCIAL
> RELATION: class exploitation is QUALITATIVE but the character
> of  the COMMODITY-FORM  means that this QUALITATIVE relation
> comes to be expressed QUANTITATIVELY.   Thus,  value and
> surplus value have BOTH  qualitative and quantitative dimensions.  It
> is a a VERY serious mistake, imo, to think that the quantitative is the
> "most important dimension" of Marx's theory because it mystifies and
> obscures the central importance of the qualitative social relations which
> he seeks to explain.

I don’t think that we disagree too much on this issue (maybe you do).
The difference is more a matter of emphasis.  I certainly agree that
Marx’s theory of surplus-value proves the exploitation of workers.  But
I emphasize that a quantitative theory is necessary in order to do this.

My original comment to which you responded was a response to Howard,
who it seemed to be was trying to interpret capital in general entirely
in qualitiative terms, without recognizing its quantitative dimension
(the determination of the total surplus-value prior to its division
into individual parts).  I think this is a mistake.

>> I am not saying that other questions are not important.  I am just
>> saying that the production is the most important feature of capitalism,
>> and therefore the most important question in Marx's theory of
>> capitalism.
> I  strongly disagree with this formulation as well.

Sorry, I misspoke.  What I meant to say is that “the production OF
SURPLUS-VALUE is the most important feature of capitalism” (consistent
with my preceding paragraphs), not just production per se.

I also emphasize that circulation is a necessary and important part of
capitalism.  Marx’s analytical framework is the circulation of money
capital, which begins in the sphere of circulation, with the advance of
money capital (M) to purchase means of production and labor-power.
This is one of the reasons that I argue that this initial money capital
in the sphere of circulation is taken as given in Marx’s theory.


This message was sent using IMP, the Internet Messaging Program.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sat Mar 31 2007 - 01:00:12 EDT