[OPE-L:5073] Re: Production and Circulation

riccardo bellofiore (bellofio@cisi.unito.it)
Mon, 19 May 1997 02:54:57 -0700 (PDT)

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I agree on most of [5063]. Note however that the analysis of the first
volume of Capital already takes into account circulation, exactly because
to analyze production proper Marx must start from the preliminary exchange
on the labour market.

The issues we are debating are, IMHO:

(i) why labour is homogeneous in production as (potential) abstract labour,
since labours are expended there as concrete dishomogenous labour? The
usual answer is someting similar to Colletti's (abstraction in exchange) or
something which pretends labour as such is equal in immediate production.
Both are flawed, though the first is more interesting than the latter -
from here one says: they will be expressed as equal in money on the
commmodity market. To say that labour is homogenous because commanded by
money capital on the labour market may be a way out, if this is meant at
least to be a monetary process partly independent from the abstraction of
labour in final exchange, and the two are not made (logically)

(ii) the exchange ratios by which this exchange on the labour market in
volume 1 - namely, labour values - are simply a first approximation, an
assumption, later to be modified? My opinion is that in very important
senses the answer is no, exchange ratios at labour values actually rules
the basic class relation in actual capitalism.

(iii) if there is not some argument stressing that living labour can be
measured before final exchange, and that necessary labour idem, I don't
understand how one can speak of priority of production over realization of
value. The articulation of production and circulation is so strong that
before final exchange nothing is quantitatively definite.

Of course, I can read what you wrote as fully compatible with my positions;
and with most others' positions as well. And I agree that in the way you
put the thing some divisions may disappear. But my efforts here is to
understand if to see where there are difficulties, and in what ways they
have forced a lot of people to desert marxism in the '70s and the '80s.


At 7:58 -0700 18-05-1997, Gerald Levy wrote:
>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.
> 180).
>In solidarity, Jerry