[OPE-L:1221] Re: formal subsumption and the totality

Massimo De Angelis (M.DeAngelis@uel.ac.uk)
Mon, 26 Feb 1996 07:02:31 -0800

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Friends, I am Massimo De Angelis and just recently joined the list. I
work and live in London, I have done work on value, commodity-fetishism,
class reading of bourgeoise economics, unemployment and
globalization. As it was announced, I belong to the perspective of
"open Marxism", although the term is perhaps too open and vague.
More preciselly, I subscribe to the tradition defined by Harry
Cleaver as "autonomist Marxism", where the emphasis is put on capital as
social relation of struggle and the working class as active and constitutive
subject of reality.
I wish to join in the debate on the TSS vs SSS by picking up Duncan's
suggestion/invitation to focus on the social aspect and political economic
insights we can get out the TSS. This I believe is the most important aspect
of the TSS approach that unfortunately is never discussed at length.
For example, in his their latest article on the subject (pub in
Freeman and Carched ed.), Andrew and Ted start out with the emphasis
on this social meaning: "First, we argue that it was appropriate to
his purpose, that of showing the transformation to be part of the
process by which workers' subjectivity is transformed into an
antagonistic economic `objectivity'. To comprehend this process of
transformation into opposite, we suggest, values and prices must be
retained in one relation, not separated into opposed system of calculation."
They then go on to the second aspect of their work, which has
captured most attention in the debate on this list (and indeed in all
the conferences we held at EEA in the last three years), that is when
these values and prices are held in one single relation, they show
Marx's procedure to be logically coherent.
I believe however that these two aspects, the social meaning of the
transformation and the method used by TSS are not separated.
TSS not only shows that value BECOMES price of production - thus
getting rid of the separation between the two systems of prices and values
- but also HOW value becomes price of production. In the formal model
this transformation occures through a sequential process.
The importance of this method is not so much the fact that it brings
"history" and "time" in the picture (post-Keynesians do it all the time),
rather in the CLASS MEANING of this history and time.
The TSS METHOD inherently shows that the transfromation of values
into prices of production is based on the endless process of value creation,
self-expanding values, boundless imposition of alienated labour. It is
preciselly THIS that allows within the TSS method to maintain values
and prices in one system, because as value *becomes* price, price
does not cease to be a sum of value, whose substance is the transformation
of human subjects into objects.
There is another important feuture of the TSS method. It is that it
accounts for the fact that the transformation occures without the capitalist
being aware of it. In fact, capitalist's cognitive apprehension
of the process is not in term of constant and variable capital,
surplus value and value - categories that maintain a direct link with the human
substance of them all, with the sensuous experience of
abstract labour - but in terms of cost-price, profit and price of
production. These categories in which the subject has been totally obliterated,
are thus not false. No, they are there in the TSS model, and constitute
the immediate strategic variables used by
capitalists to account for and make sense of accumulation, to procede
from one period to another of, from their perspective, endless accumulation.
These categories constitute capitalists EXPERIENCE of the
valorization process, an experience which is separated from the experience
of the subjets involved in value creation. The TSS model,
by bringing value and prices of production in one system, also
account for capital as a CLASS RELATION in which values and prices
of production are categories which refer to the lived experience of
two opposite and clashing social subjects.

Massimo De Angelis
(University of East London)