Fred Moseley (fmoseley@laneta.apc.org)
Mon, 20 Nov 1995 15:04:58 -0800

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Hello everybody. I am glad that I finally have a good email connection in
and I can participate in this discussion, which I think has great potential.

As I understand it, at the current stage of the discussion, we are supposed
to pose
the main questions we have about Part 1 of Volume 1. My main question is
Part 1 refers to capitalism or to a pre-capitalist "simple commodity
This question is related to the issue which has been discussed on the network of
the historical specificity of abstract labor, but is not exactly the same
issue, and at
least has not yet been explicitly discussed, so far as I know.

The traditional interpretation (Engels, Sweezy, Meek, Mandel) is that Part 1
to simple commodity production and that, in general, Marx's sequence of
in CAPITAL follows an historical order. Aside from Part 1, this
interpretation has
always had difficulty explaining how the rest of CAPITAL follows an
historical sequence.

A few older scholars have dissented from this traditional interpretation
(Rubin, Korsch, Rosdolsky, Mattick Sr.) and argued instead that CAPITAL is
about capitalism from the very beginning. A growing number of younger
scholars have adopted and developed this alternative interpretation (Janarus
Banaji, Tony Smith, Chris Arthur, Martha Campbell). These writers generally
emphasize that Marx's logical method followed something like Hegel's
concept of TOTALITY. In other words, Marx assumed from the very beginning
of CAPITAL the TOTALITY of capitalism. His logical method was to pick one
aspect of this TOTALITY as the starting point of his analysis of capitalism.
He picked the most abstract, universal aspect of capitalism, the fact that
its products are commodities. From this abstract starting point, Marx
derived the other, more concrete aspects of capitalism
(we will of course see more about this as we proceed). In this way, the
sequence of Marx's categories follows a logical order, rather than an
historical order.

I also accept this alternative interpretation - that Part 1 analyzes the
most abstract aspect of capitalism.

What do other people think about this issue?

Fred Moseley