RE: [OPE] A conference on the Grundrisse at the University of Bergamo, July 2008

From: Riccardo Bellofiore (
Date: Tue May 13 2008 - 09:23:43 EDT

I don't know Chris's, but you know my answer: 
capital's self-valorisation depends on the 
extraction of living labour from labour power, 
relative to which workers are a mere human 
appendage. But living labour is *their* activity, 
as form-determined by capital: and the extension 
and intensity is a result of class struggle. Most 
of Marxian economists construct their arguments 
after production has ended, including the 
Sraffians (after the harvest, sometimes after 
market outcomes): but this makes the Marxian 
labour theory of value redundant, and reduces it 
to Ricardo. It cancels the typical uncertainties 
(in labour process, in the actualisation of value 
etc.) of capitalism. Hence, capital valorizes 
itself only as long as it 'incorporates' living 
labour in it, and start to work as if by love 
possessed. But this is always problematical 
(hence, the 'negative'). This is the meaning of 
capital making 'labour' an 'internal other'. The 
Grundrisse are very interesting because of the 
stress throughout on the dialectics 
dead/objectified labour versus living 
labour/labour in becoming: and this is paralleled 
by the definition of abstract labour as the 
living labour of the wage workers. A liability, 
though, is that the Grundrisse, as most Marxisms, 
speak of 'labour' referring to too many things: 
objectified labour, living labour, labour power, 
the living bearer of the latter, etc. This 
ambiguity will disappear in the most mature 
works. If this is right, the real ground of the 
connection between labour and value through money 
is through the referring back of the new value to 
living labour as expressed in money. But this 
requires a different (or, say, a more developed) 
theory of money than what we find not only in the 
Grundrisse but also in Capital.


At 13:46 +0100 13-05-2008, GERALD LEVY wrote:
>  > As to your question about the topics at the
>>  conference, a 'book of abstracts' may help.
>Hi Riccardo:
>In case others on the list didn't notice, you included those
>abstracts in an *attachment* to your post.
>There will certainly be a lot to talk about at the conference!
>The papers cover a broad array of subjects related to the
>_Grundrisse_ and some of the papers look to be quite controversial:
>e.g. the paper by Geert and Peter Thomas on the TRPF
>and the paper by Chris on abstract labour  [What exactly is the
>"negative labour theory of value" anyway?].
>In solidarity, Jerry
>ope mailing list

Riccardo Bellofiore
Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche
"Hyman P. Minsky"
UniversitÓ di Bergamo
Via dei Caniana 2
I-24127 Bergamo, Italy
direct	  +39-035-2052545
fax:	  +39 035 2052549
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