[OPE-L:1640] Space and time

glevy@acnet.pratt.edu (glevy@acnet.pratt.edu)
Sat, 30 Mar 1996 06:52:27 -0800

[ show plain text ]

Massimo in [OPE-L:1618] wrote:

> Andrew writes
> "In Ch. 15 of Volume III of Capital, Marx emphasizes a 3-fold
> separation of the production of surplus-value from its "realization"
> for the capitalist in the market-temporal, theoretical, but also
> spatial. I've never really understood why the spatial matters. Can
> anyone help out here?"

I just looked through Ch. 15. Andrew -- what passage are you referring to?

> The way I see it is this (in very brutal terms): The substance of ***it****
> all is human beings, the way they are subsumed within capital and the
> way they fight against it and attempts to go beyond it. But we as human
> beings can only act, operate, relate to each other, in short, live, through
> space and time. These are the two dimensions of **life**. Now, remember
> the metaphor used by Marx, the one about capital and its vampire-like
> character. Well, a vampire is about sucking life, and how can capital
> suck life out of us if not by imposing on us ITS DIMENSION OF
> and ITS DIMENSION OF SPACE as ENCLOSURE, as separation
> from direct access to means of producing life AND to prevent that the
> mobility among "the workers of the world" reaches too dangerous degree.

The spatial dimension to the production of surplus value relates, I
believe, to the fact that individual capitalists and blocs of capitalists
are geographically dispersed. While there is a tendency for increasing
internationalization of capital, it is also true that capitalists
internationally do not represent a homogeneous bloc with the same
interests, but, like the working class, are divided internationally.

The two dimensions of space and time are, of course, related in the sense
that capitalism did not come into the world fully developed
internationally, but had to be "exported" (as a social relation) to other
parts of the world. Yet, capital is also divided by the existence of
nation states. These nation states can pursue the class interests of
capitalists within their own country rather than further the class
interests of capital in general. There are, of course, also "internal"
divisions related to space, for example, by urban and regional areas and
agriculture/rural and industry/urban.

These division are, quite obviously, of great significance as it relates
to specific national policies and international divisions. I believe that
the spatial element would have to be analyzed more systematically when
one studies such questions as foreign trade, the state, and world market
and crises.

As for the question of the mobility of workers, which Massimo alludes to,
the mobility of the proletariat might be seen as being beneficial to
capital from the standpoint of some individual capitalists and even
certain nation states in the presence of a shortage of labor power. Yet,
there are also factors retarding that mobility. It is true that
increasing mobility creates the potential for increased class
consciousness, but it is also true that workers are divided by nation,
culture, race, etc. These divisions in many cases pre-existed capitalism
and can not be seen simply as a result of capitalist accumulation. It is
important in this regard to remember both the "relative autonomy" of the
state and the process of uneven and combined development.

In OPE-L Solidarity,