[OPE-L:6475] Re: Non-Capital and Variable Capital

Claus Germer (cmgermer@SOCIAIS.UFPR.BR)
Sat, 18 Apr 1998 15:29:05 -0300

I sent the following post yesterday but something must have gone wrong
because I didn't see it appear in the list. So here is it again:

Jerry wrote:

> "*Use-value* confronting capital as posited exchange-value is
> *labour*. Capital exchanges itself, or exists in this specific
> form only in relation to *non-capital*, the negation of
> capital, in respect to which alone it is capital; the real
> non-capital is *labour*" (_CW_, Vol. 28, p. 204, emphasis in
> original).
> *******************
> Re: living-labour and variable capital
> Since we're talking about variable capital, I would be interested in
> hearing what others think about the treatment of "non-capital" in
> _Capital_. E.g. what does the above suggest about the archiotronic
> structure of _Capital_ and the extent to which the "negation of capital"
> is (or is not) explicitly discussed as a subject in its own right?

I don't know what the content of CW, vol. 28 is, but what I understand Marx
is dealing with in this passage is the nature of value as capital against
its nature as mere money. The subject is extensively examined by him in
Grundrisse (Penguin, p. 266 ff). The mention to non-capital is in the
context of the analysis of the contradiction between the social and the
natural character of the products of labor in capitalism, which is the
basic contradiction in the merchant economy.

The contradiction develops in a sequence of steps, beginning with the
simple commodity, which is as such a contradictory unity of value and
use-value, i.e., social and natural form of the product of labor at the
same time. A contradiction that finds its solution with the development of
money. It means that the contradiction is projected outside the commodity
and into the sphere of circulation: money as value then represents the one
pole of the contradiction, while the collection of all ordinary commodities
represents the pole of use value.

The development of capital implies the projection of that contradiction
from the sphere of circulation into the sphere of production. Whit the
emergence of capital, money and commodities are no more the poles of a
contradiction, because capital is at the same time money and commodities.
In this way commodities cannot be the opposite of capital. However,
commodities now are expressions of capital not only as use-values, but as
particular forms of value. In this way, capital comprises in itself both
the general form (money) and the particular forms (commodities) of value.
Where is its opposite, use-value? It is represented by labor force, because
it represents potentially all commodities, as the opposite pole to capital
as value on the other pole.

In this sense, since capital represents value in all forms, its opposite
can only be the negation of capital or non-capital, and in the capitalist
economy the only opposite to capital is labor.

It seemed to me that Jerry had another meaning in mind when he stressed the
expressions *non-capital* and *negation of capital*. If this is correct,
what is it?

Btw, what is archiotronic?

Regards, Claus.

Claus Germer
Departamento de Economia
Universidade Federal do Paraná
Rua Dr. Faivre, 405 - 3º andar
80060-140 Curitiba - Paraná

Tel: (041) 362-3038 ext. 2537
(041) 254-3415 Res.