Re: [OPE-L] Ch. 7 as starting point for reading Capital???

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Wed Jun 20 2007 - 15:55:53 EDT

Michael H wrote:

>Other recommendations of Marx about reading "Capital" I do not know.
>But it would be extremely strange if he had recommended to skip
>chapter 1 after he had spent so much time of reworking  the material
>of this chapter.
How do people describe the commodity with which Marx begins? How are
commodities differentiated from gifts and sacred or inalienable
objects? Marx did not have the anthropological knowledge to make such
clarifying distinctions, I do not think, though one finds them many
introductory books to social anthropology.

  And taking Partha Dasgupta's summary of Arrow's distinctions...Does
Marx's vast accumulation of commodities include services, dated
and/or contingent commodities (e.g. the replacement home I buy with a
monthly insurance premium), is it implicitly a private good whose use
is rivalrous and excludable? Are commodities distinguished from
whatever can take the commodity form--organs or reputation for

Shouldn't have Marx begun with the question of what cannot or is not
supposed to take the commodity form under a fully developed
capitalist mode of production, the question of what cannot be
exchanged on the account of its sacredness--the human person herself?
Why not begin with the contradictions or antinomies of liberalism?

Marx's beginning is too crude and blunt in light of modern
distinctions (gift, inalienable object, commodity) and actual
diversification in the types of commodities. Or at least the kind of
commodity he is analyzing needs to be specified for modern students.


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