Re: [OPE-L] Ch. 7 as starting point for reading Capital???

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Wed Jun 20 2007 - 10:57:19 EDT

Hi Riccardo,
I can't remember to whom and when Marx  wrote his 
advice about the chapter order "ladies" should 
read Capital I. Perhaps he suggested beginning 
with the chapter on the working day?
Interested in your reading of chapter 7. After 
all, here (living) labor is described  as the 
living ferment combined with lifeless means of 
production. In the Grundrisse (living) labor is 
described as the form giving fire. And though I 
don't think it's been pointed out before Marx's 
language in the Grundrisse seems derived from 
Empedocles, that rich doctor from present day 
Sicily, your birthplace, no?
Empedocles after all singled out fire of the four 
elements because it seemed more of an action and 
it can be used to change the three states of 
matter of or combinations of them into the things 
we see, or to change one state into another--ice 
to water, water to steam. Without fire, he 
reasoned, the world of things must rely on 
accidental collisions and linkages to change.
For Marx labor is the form giving fire.

>Hi Rakesh, I see this only now, somehow it went 
>"back" in the list of the messages. Thanks for 
>both suggestions, and especially for the 
>Korsch's paper. He has been one of my first 
>"love" in Marxian theory, especially the Korsch 
>of the book "Karl Marx".
>At 20:47 -0700 19-06-2007, Rakesh Bhandari wrote:
>>>A request for help.
>>>I think someone on this list (Rakesh, perhaps?) made a comment once about
>>>Althusser advising people to start reading Capital from ch.7. Is this right?
>>>Does anyone have a reference, or even a quote?
>>>Many thanks if you can help me on this.
>>If I said that I was mistaken. Althusser 
>>recommends beginning with Part II, chapter 4. 
>>Korsch  said to begin with Chapter 7, though it 
>>would not serve as a good description of a 
>>wafer production facility or an automated 
>>assembly line!
>>>That is why I want to recommend to the 
>>>beginner an approach that diverges somewhat 
>>>from Marx's advice on a suitable start for the 
>>>ladies (wherein we may sense a certain 
>>>deference to the prejudices of his own time!). 
>>>I hope that the approach I recommend will 
>>>enable the reader to attain a full 
>>>understanding of Capital just as readily, or 
>>>even more readily than if he were to begin 
>>>with the difficult opening chapters.
>>>It is best, I think, to begin with a thorough 
>>>perusal of Chapter 7 on 'The Labour Process 
>>>and the Process of Producing Surplus-value'. 
>>>There are, it is true, a number of preliminary 
>>>difficulties to be overcome, but these are all 
>>>internal to the matter in hand, and not due, 
>>>as are many difficulties in the preceding 
>>>chapters, to a really rather unnecessary 
>>>artificiality in the presentation. What is 
>>>said here refers directly and immediately to 
>>>palpable realities, and in the first instance 
>>>to the palpable reality of the human work 
>>>process. We encounter straightaway a clear and 
>>>stark presentation of an insight essential for 
>>>the proper understanding of Capital - the 
>>>insight that this real-life work process 
>>>represents, under the present regime of the 
>>>capitalist mode of production, not only the 
>>>production of use-values for human eventually 
>>>through the difficult parts as well as the 
>>>simpler passages of the book should save this 
>>>part up until he really does come to the end 
>>>of Part 7, for Part 8 was intended by Marx as 
>>>a final crowning touch to his work.
>>Now that all this is all on line I can see that 
>>I spent way too much of my limited resources 
>>buying copies of all these books!
>>In the course of our discussions Fred Moseley 
>>said I think that chapter 7 is the most 
>>important chapter. Obviously an intriguing 
>>position but he did not elaborate.
>>Yours, Rakesh
>Riccardo Bellofiore
>Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche
>"Hyman P. Minsky"
>UniversitÓ di Bergamo
>Via dei Caniana 2
>I-24127 Bergamo, Italy
>direct   +39-035-2052545
>secretary    +39-035 2052501
>fax:     +39 035 2052549

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