[OPE-L] "detour"

From: Pen-L Fred Moseley (fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU)
Date: Sun Apr 29 2007 - 09:56:29 EDT

Quoting Rakesh Bhandari <bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU>:

> Fred writes:
>> "Detour" suggests something temporary and
>> inessential.
> Isn't that what you want to suggest, that the detour is in fact not
> necessary? That it temporary and inessential?

Well, yes and no.  If you want to emphasize the capitalism is a
historically specific mode of production, then you would emphasize that
the indirect representation of SNLT by money is "temporary and
inessential".  However, if you want to analyze how capitalism works,
then you would want to emphasize the essential nature of this indirect
representation within capitalism.  Marx said over and over again that
money is the NECESSARY form of appearance of SNLT (in capitalism).  Not
something unnecessary or inessential in capitalism.

I still think that "necessary indirect representation" is the clearest
way to express the relation between SNLT and money in capitalism.  If
that is what one means by "detour", then fine.  But this is less clear,
at least to me.


> Marx's point of course is that the sociality of our labor need not be
> established ex post facto in the mediated value form but could be
> established ex ante. Marx is not arguing for the elimination of
> mediations (it's hard to imagine that he does not accept some aspects
> of Hegel's critique of immediacy), only against the temporal
> deferment of  the establishing of the sociality of  labor. For this
> reason, detour may well be a superior translation than mediated which
> does not suggest temporal deferment.
> As for commodity owners, I think of purchases at Home Depot. One buys
> building materials not from a commodity owner but from a check out
> machine. One scans the purchased items and then one's credit card.
> I face the machine, not the commodity owner or his human proxy; the
> machine recognizes not me  as a living affectual human being but a
> credit card. I may as well be another machine.  Commodity exchangers
> have only a shadowy existence or ghostly presence in the exchange
> realm of the economy on which economic theory focuses.   The things
> which do exchange are simply center stage. Can there be a drama of
> things? There have in fact been many dramatic histories organized
> around commodities, things. Isn't that strange, asks Bruce Robbins
> http://www.columbia.edu/~bwr2001/papers/commodity.pdf
> One of Marx's great accomplishments was that in his chapters on the
> production of surplus values he was able to pitch out of the
> depersonalized orbit of economic theory into the human needs of
> people. No Ricardo, Walrasian, neo Ricardian, or neo classical
> economist has ever kept so close to the ground of the living needs of
> workers.
> Rakesh

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