[OPE-L:650] Re: Order of enquiry and critique

Paul Zarembka (ECOPAULZ@ubvms.cc.buffalo.edu)
Mon, 4 Dec 1995 21:06:21 -0800

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On Mon, 4 Dec 1995 akliman@acl.nyit.edu wrote:

> My question was about whether Althusser thought relations of commodity
> production, value production, relations in which labor has a dual character
> of being both abstract as well as concrete--whether these relations are
> characteristically (if not exclusively) capitalistic, or whether they are
> present in other modes of production.

If you mean mode of production as distinct from a concrete social
formation (e.g.. the U.S.), then the answer is that they are specific to
the capitalist mode of production.

> Paul also writes that some people, evidently Althusser and perhaps himself
> included, think that Part I of _Capital_ is inadequate partly because it
> was drawn from the _Contribution_ and Marx did include Part I in "1867" but
> "hadn't really polished it off."
> Response: It was not only in 1867 that Marx included Part I, but also in
> the 2d German ed. of 1872 and the French 1872-75 ed. And a lot of polishing
> took place, not to mention a significant expansion of the discussion of
> commodity fetishism, as well as significant changes to it, during that time.
> Raya Dunayevskaya has argued that this is related to the Paris Commune of
> 1871--i.e., that the changes to the discussion of fetishism reflect Marx's
> experience with "free and associated labor" during the Commune (whether this
> was conscious on Marx's part or not). The discussion is complex and not
> easy to summarize; see Raya Dunayevskaya, _Marxism and Freedom_, esp. Ch. 5.
> But I can mention a couple of things here: (1) there was no separate section
> on fetishism in the 1867 ed., much less in the _Contribution_; (2) in 1872,
> Marx says that commodity fetishism clearly arises "from the [commodity]
> form itself"--that was new, so perhaps not "clear" to Marx himself in 1867.

Andrew, these observationss of yours are interesting and I hadn't recognized
them before.

> Moreover, Ch. 1 of _Capital_ is in my mind very different from Ch. of of the
> _Contribution_. One key difference is that Marx (in _Capital_) spends pages
> developing the distinction between value and exchange-value. That distinction
> is not even present (explicitly) in the former work, which basically used
> one term, exchange-value, to cover both concepts, with "value" being used as
> a synonym for "exchange-value." I.I. Rubin called attention to this as
> Dunayevskaya did later (apparently independently); I have recently written a
> paper discussing the development of this distinction.

Again, this looks interesting.

> In sum, I think the later editions of _Capital that Marx wrote, especially,
> reflect a good deal of polishing, as well as conceptual development. In any
> case, this is something for readers, including "the workers," to decide for
> themselves in my view.

I don't know where you stand but are you a "Hegelian" Marxist (of some
sort). If not, Andrew, do you find Hegelianism in Part I (any edition
you care to choose) and more so there than elsewhere in Capital?

> The last issue Paul addresses concerns the passage in the section on the
> fetish of the commodity (p. 169 of the Vintage and Penguin editions), in which
> Marx says that the categories of bourgeois economics are both "absurd" and
> "socially valid." Jerry also addresses this. Note that one paragraph
> ...

I'm afraid I'll have to pass on the long comments which follow. I have
other commitments I need to respond to. Sorry.

Paul Z.