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Re: Capital Volume 3 Reading Group

Wed May 24, 2017 4:02 pm

re: surface phenomena, this REALLY comes out in a comical way when Adam Smith talks about circulating capital vs. fixed capital. You make a profit by getting rid of one and by holding on to the other. Marx rakes him over the coals for this statement, but think about it from the businessman's perspective. He wants to keep his machinery working and going for as long as possible, and wants to process as much raw material as possible, Adam Smith is just translating this to political economy, which winds up being totally stupid.

Re: Capital Volume 3 Reading Group

Thu May 25, 2017 10:54 am

Definite forms of thought correspond to definite modes of life. Political economy, as the ideology of the bourgeoisie, begins with the forms of thought that arise during the daily life of the capitalist, and more or less elaborates this into a system of thought, an ideology. This is the basis on which Marx calls capital a 'critique' of political economy.

As a tangential thought, I think one of the barriers to the acceptance of Marxism in it's undiluted form in academia is the academic division of labour. A work like capital crosses the traditional barriers of history, social theory, politics and economics. Some fields fare better than others, a historian can accept that history has more to do with social class and economic factors than the actions of 'great men' without undermining his existence qua historian, but for an economist to accept that his apparently value free discipline constitutes the ideology of the bourgeoisie par excellence is prima facie impossible without first abandoning his existence as an economist.

Re: Capital Volume 3 Reading Group

Thu May 25, 2017 5:07 pm

I finished chapter five, which is probably my personal favourite chapter so far. It reminds one, especially the section about economy in working conditions, to a certain extent of Bordiga and his attacks on 'filthy lucre'. Whenever you're finished we can move on to the next block.

Re: Capital Volume 3 Reading Group

Sun May 28, 2017 4:29 pm

Amusingly I pretty recently re-listened to The Legend of the Piave in which Bordiga both refers to filthy lucre and the horrible practice of division of labour as it relates to construction of a dam.

But yea, chapter five is one of the chapters that makes me say volume 3 is just volume 1 part 2, lots more references and descriptions to the actual daily living and working conditions of the working class. It really serves to highlight that we're not just talking about abstract models of supply and demand in a sterile economics textbook, that what we're talking about is the ideology that masks the assaults on the working class behind those sterile textbooks.

Re: Capital Volume 3 Reading Group

Mon May 29, 2017 6:44 am

Marx, Volume 3 pp. 428 wrote:As the reader will have recognized in dismay, the analysis of the real, inner connections of the capitalist production process is a very intricate thin and a work of great detail; it is one of the tasks of science to reduce the visible and merely apparent movement to the actual inner movement. Accordingly it will be completely self-evident that, in the heads of the agents of capitalist production and circulation, ideas must necessarily form about the laws of production that diverge completely from these laws and are merely the expression in consciousness of the apparent movement. The ideas of a merchant, a stock-jobber or a banker are necessarily quite upside-down. The ideas of the manufacturers are vitiated by the acts of circulation to which their capital is subjected and by the equalization of the general rate of profit.

From a bit further on in the text. It's from chapter 18.

One thing I also think is interesting in this regard, is what Marx says earlier in Volume One, in the chapter on the working, day when talking about the connection between surplus-value and surplus labour time.

Marx, Volume One pp. 345 - 346 wrote:Suppose the working day consists of 6 hours of necessary labour and 6 hours of surplus labour. Then the free worker gives the capitalist 6x6 or 36 hours of surplus labour every week. It is the same as if he worked 3 days in the week for himself and 3 days for the capitalist. But this fact is not directly visible. Surplus labour and necessary labour are mingled together. I can therefore express the same relation by saying for instance that in every minute the worker works 30 seconds for himself and 30 seconds for the capitalist. It is otherwise with the corvée. The necessary labour which the Wallachian peasant performs for his own maintenance is distinctly marked off from his surplus labour on behalf of the boyar. The one he does on his own field, the other on the seignorial estate. Both parts of the labour-time thus exist independently, side by side with each other.

It's clear in this instance that a relation, that between surplus and necessary labour time, which is expressed clearly in the corvée system, is obscured by the capitalist mode of production. Marx makes the remark at one point that political economists are generally unfamiliar with non-capitalist modes of production, to the extent that they are, they attempt to subsume it within their existing categories. Thus, for example, all means of production starting with the tools of pre-historic men are referred to as capital. To an extent it is admitted, for example, that historically there has been a lot of variation in terms of distribution and circulation, ignoring the inner connection of these with production. The epoch of the specifically capitalist mode of production appears thus as simply the removal of certain fetters placed on production by the state and society.

Because capitalist society, in it's inner workings, is an inherently difficult thing to comprehend fully, the ideology of capitalism presents itself as something mundane, as the systematic elaboration of the notions that enter into the heads of the capitalists in their everyday activity. Pre-capitalist societies, on the other hand, are much simpler and more direct. Class distinctions appear as political distinctions between castes and estates, and thus present themselves openly on the surface of society. Ideology in these forms of society thus takes on a much more 'fantastic' aspect than it does under capitalism.

Marx notes in connection with Greek mythology, and this applies to mythology more generally, that it's existence is bound up with a very low level of development of technology and productive forces.

Marx, Grundrisse pp 111 wrote:...is Achilles possible with powder and lead? Or the Iliad with the printing press, not to mention the printing machine? Do not the song and the saga and the muse necessarily come to an end with the printer's bar, hence do not the necessary conditions of epic poetry vanish?

Direct and immediate relations of production correspond to a direct and immediate relation to nature, and hence a generally fantastical or mythological view of existence. Capitalism brings about a huge revolution in the productive forces of society, subordinating nature to humanity at a rate which is exponential compared to all previous productive development. It destroys all fantastical conceptions, it makes the world mundane, and it's ideology par excellence is suitably worldly.

The 19th and 20th centuries saw the growth and propagation of spiritualism and various 'contemporary', 'new age' religions, and these all appear as having an air of ridiculousness in contrast to previous religions. This is not an artificial distinction created by the passage of time, but a real distinction created by the relations of production. Greek, Norse, Roman and more generally Pagan mythologies, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and other 'old' religions were developed in accordance with the general level of their society, they are it's necessary products. But spiritualism emerges to the extent that the growth of production eliminates the basis on which a fantastic ideology was possible. It emerges as a reaction to the growth of the mundane, but an impossible one. In practice the various forms of spiritualism demonstrate the crassest materialism, being a means for the enrichment of their founders, or for selling various essentially useless trinkets.

Communism first emerges also as something fantastic, as a religious movement, or as a utopian idealism. And in general because it opposes the conceptions formed by the 'practical' capitalist in the course of his life, the capitalist naturally assumes that this, and all manner of opposition to his conceptions, is something fantastic. Marx proceeded by exposing the relations that lie behind the conceptions of the practical capitalist, and the falsity of these conceptions. Because of this, Marxism could never be fully appropriated or tolerated by capitalism, in the way that various ethical or religious forms of socialism might be, it always had to be 'corrected', or taken in a piecemeal fashion. The latter anyway usually expresses itself in attempting to form intentional communities, or in various philanthropic schemes which fail to challenge the existing relations of production, and can always be recuperated by capital.
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