[OPE-L:1712] Re: Petty commodity production, theory & history

glevy@acnet.pratt.edu (glevy@acnet.pratt.edu)
Fri, 5 Apr 1996 07:36:59 -0800

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Chai-on [OPE-L:1705]
If PCP is not a mode of production, what is it then?

It is a social both a relationship that has historically co-existed within a
variety of social formations in which other modes of production
predominate and a logical category in the development of Marx's analysis.

This does not explain, though, its analytical significance in terms of
why Marx introduced the subject of PCP in _Capital_. As I explained in a
previous post, and this is consistent with my reading of the subject of
_Capital_ as capitalism rather than a trans-historical account, this
category is introduced for logical reasons relating to the development and
unfolding of categories particular to capitalism rather than being a
historical description of a form of productive relationship that *can*
co-exist with capitalism as a system of generalized commodity production.

PCP is present even today. Small store keepers,
peasants, freelances, etc. are a good example. Yeomanry in England, too.
Simple reproduction does not describe the capitalist m of p because, in it,
there is no accumulation. It refers to the PCP.

PCP can occur within social formations in which the capitalist m of p
dominates. Clearly it is an important relationship in many social
formations today. When does one begin to address the questions related to
PCP in terms of contemporary social formations? I believe that is a
"post-Capital" topic related to the "articulation" of different modes of
production and social formations.

As for simple reproduction, it is *possible* even within the capitalist
mode of production. This does not mean, though, that it represents a
typical situation under capitalism and, in fact, is highly unusual and,
to the extent that it occurs, momentary. The purpose, though, of
introducing simple reproduction is not to explain what *does* happen in
the course of the reproduction of capital, but what *can* happen. In that
sense, its purpose is to highlight the nature of extended reproduction
rather than to describe a historical process.