Re: (OPE-L) RE: the intellectual origins of 'simple commodity production'

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Wed Sep 08 2004 - 16:32:16 EDT

Ok Marx may never have used the phrase simple commodity production.
But didn't he distinguish between the capitalist circulation of
commodities and the simple circulation of commodities, e.g. exchange
of commodities by small craftsmen against the revenue of
despots/lords or exchange of use values produced for feudal lords
only in order to diversify their luxury consumption? Why not refer to
the commodities circulated outside of capital as simple, i.e. non
capitalist, commodity production? Far from being merely an
intellectual possibility, Marx articulated modal differences not in
terms of the presence and absence of commodity exchange but in terms
of whether commodities circulated as capital, or were paid for out of
revenue/circulated for diversifying consumption. Again why not call
the two  latters kinds of commodity circulation simple or simple
commodity production?
  In Mattick Jr's reading,  the simple circulation of commodities does
not simply evolve into the capitalist circulation of commodities, and
the commodity itself does not become the characteristic form of
wealth unless labor power has itself become a commodity. The
condition of possibility of both "market" society and the economic
discourse in and through which it is reproduced is the dispossession
of direct labourers. Moreover without the mass production of
commodities for the purposes of the valorization of capital,  the law
of value would not have regulated exchanged in direct or mediated
form: reproduction did not depend on alienating at value, and markets
were not deep enough without the dispossession of labour to ensure
exchange by the law of large numbers at value. To apply the category
of value outside this context is to over-extend the category (Marx's
critique thus Kantian in form as Mattick Jr and Freudenthal argue). I
go back and forth between Mattick Jr's and Jurriaan's point on this.


At 5:26 PM -0400 9/6/04, Gerald A. Levy wrote:
>A further, and earlier, discussion of the insertion of 'simple
>commodity production' into Volume III is in the following
>article by Michael H:
>[see Section 3 -- 'Introductory Handicaps caused by Engels'
>edition' -- subsection c) -- 'commodity production and capitalist
>production'].  Originally published in _Science & Society_ Volume 60, #4,
>Winter 1996-97.
>In solidarity, Jerry
>Chris also notes
>that the only time when the expression 'simple commodity
>production'  _did_ occur in _Capital_ was in Volume III but that
>this expression was inserted there by Engels (Christopher J. Arthur
>_The New Dialectic and Marx's Capital_ Leiden; Boston; Koln: Brill,
>2002, p. 19; emphasis in original).

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