[OPE-L:5063] Re: Production and Circulation

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Sun, 18 May 1997 07:58:20 -0700 (PDT)

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Re [5058] and Riccardo's [5061]:

I). Although this discussion ("ideal vs. real value" and related threads)
has been at a very high level of abstraction, I think it has been (and is
continuing to be) a very useful discussion. What I like the most about it
is that, although we have been using different terminology, there has
been a sincere effort by the participants to really _understand_ what
others are saying and intend. Although this has sometimes been a tortuous
process, it has the great advantage of creating greater clarity on what
unites and divides us on our interpretations of value.

II). In some ways, I believe that the question regarding the creation of
value is similar to the proverbial question regarding chickens and eggs,
i.e. what came first, chickens or eggs? I was trying to make precisely
that point in [5058] where I noted that it is the systematic and
generalized _exchange_ of labour-power for money that creates the
value-relationship. Thus, *before* production and the "creation" of
value, the value-relationship -- a social relation between capital and
wage-labour which comes to be expressed via the value-form -- must be
created and re-created.

III). For a further understanding of this process, I believe we need to
re-focus our attention from Volume I, Part I to Volume II, Parts I and II
especially. I should add here that I view Volume II, especially the first
two parts, as the most under-read and neglected sections of _Capital_. By
noting the exchange of labour-power for money, I think I am simply
highlighting a point that Marx made in the first page of Volume II. I.e.
when we examine the circuit of money capital (M-C...P...C'-M'), the
"first stage" (M-C) is when "the capitalist appears on the commodity and
labour markets as a buyer; his money is transformed into commodities, it
goes through the act of circulation M-C" (Penguin ed., p. 109). As Marx
goes on to note,

"In Volume I, the first [M-C, JL] and third [C'-M', JL]
stages were discussed only in so far as this was necessary for
the understanding of the second stage [...P..., JL], the
capitalist production process. Thus the different forms with
which capital cloths itself in its different stages,
alternatively assuming them and casting them aside, remain
uninvestigated. These will now be the immediate object
of our inquiry" (Ibid).

[Also important to note is the next paragraph where Marx explicitly
states the assumptions appropriate for this stage of the analysis: "In
order to grasp these forms in their pure state, we must first of all
abstract from aspects that have nothing to do with the change and
constitution of the forms as such. We shall therefore assume here, both
the commodities are sold at their values, and that the circumstances in
which this takes place do not change. We shall also ignore any changes of
value that may occur in the course of the cyclical process"].

IV). I think that the focus on the production process that many have re
value is a result of an interpretation which focuses on a reading of
Volume I. Yet, in considering the production and reproduction of value, I
think we should focus instead on the *unity of production and
circulation*. Marx expresses this point, in part, in the second paragraph
of VII, Ch. 4. I.e. after re-stating the "three figures of the circuit";
i.e. (I) M-C...P...C'-M' [the circuit of money capital]; (II) P...Tc...P
[the circuit of productive capital]; (III) Tc...P (C') [the circuit of
commodity capital], Marx states:

"If we take all three forms together, then all the premises of
the production process appear as its result, as premises
produced by the process itself. Each moment appears as a point
of departure, of transit, and of return. The total process
presents itself as the unity of the process of production and
the process of circulation; the production process is the
mediator of the circulation process, and vice versa" (Ibid, p.

In solidarity, Jerry