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

From: Riccardo Bellofiore (
Date: Tue May 13 2008 - 09:43:28 EDT

Notes towards self-criticism ...

One thing was of course too quick: the 
appellative Ricardian is reasonable for those 
approaches who does NOT construct their argument 
after market outcomes, but only after the 
harvest, giving for granted the actualization of 
value, or holding to some gravitational argument 
defining socially necessary labour time only in 
production. Hence, the usual dichotomy 
substantialit or circulationist views of value

But the real self-criticism is that, after having 
criticized the generic use of labour, living 
labour etc., I did it myself - quod erat 
demonstrandum. This will happen again and again. 
In fact, capital has to incorporate workers, 
hence their labour power, then 'exploiting' it 
(i.e., using it). But, as Marx would say, once 
this is clear, one could use the term labour for 

The point is that in my view especially the 
Grundrisse were instrumental in allowing some 
Marxists (take workerism: Tronti, Negri etc.) to 
talk of living labour in a very muddled way, so 
that it became a kind of mystical catehory. Which 
is a pity: because Tronti's distinction between 
labour power and class struggle alluded to 
something important, and Negri's reading of 
Marxian crisis gtheory in the Grundrisse is far 
from banal.


ps: I know that somebody will ask clarifications, 
but for these I have to ask to be patient, and 
wait for the paper ...

At 15:23 +0200 13-05-2008, Riccardo Bellofiore wrote:
>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
>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
ope mailing list

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