Re: Value of slaves was Money, mind and the ontological status of value

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Thu Jun 17 2004 - 17:18:05 EDT

But I reject the proposition that the argument I offered relied on the
perspective of the juridical subject.  I was trying to recall Marx's
argument from PreCapitalist Economic Formations, and I did not get it wrong.
For me this has always raised the same problem you have raised.  There seems
a contradiction between the argument in v. III from the Chapter on Labor
Rent that

"It is always the direct relationship of the owners of the conditions of
production to the direct producers -- a relation always naturally
corresponding to a definite stage in the development of the methods of labor
and thereby its social productivity -- which reveals the innermost secret,
the hidden basis of the entire social structure . . . "

and the argument of PCEF that slaves are to be "place[d] among the
*inorganic conditions* of the conquering tribe's reproduction."  [Marx's
emphasis] (417). (All pages references are to v. 28).

He goes on "Property -- and this applies to its Asiatic, Slavonic, ancient
[classical] and Germanic forms -- therefore originally means the relation of
the working (producing) subject  (or the subject reproducing himself) to the
conditions of his production or reproduction as his own." (419)

That the producing subject here is not the slave is reflected in the
immediately following paragraph:

"Slavery, serfdom, etc., where the labourer himself appears among the
natural conditions of production for a third individual or community . . .
and where property therefore is no longer the relation of the independently
working individual to the objective conditions of labor -- is always
secondary, never original . . . ."
Paul Cockshott

I think there is a contradiction here between the capital chapter
and the pre-capitalist economic formations formulation.

It is something that I have often argued with Greg Michaelson about.
He takes the same position as you on this.

My feeling is that the category 'producing subject' used in pre-capitalist
economic formations, is a modified form of the category of juridical
subject. If we follow Pahukanis this category arises from commodity
exchange and should not be applied to pre-commodity exchange situations.
I take it as given that the philosophical subject is in turn a highly
abstracted ideological development of this juridical category.

I don't think we have the right to demand complete consistency from
Marx on this since we are dealing with a collection of working notes
in the case of the pre-capitalist economomic formations text, and
an unfinished draft in the case of capital 3. We would all expose
inconsistencies if our lifetimes working notes were carefully examined!

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