• Moliere
    I'm thinking that I want to participate in this: it's an online course with David Harvey discussing the Grundrisse.

    I thought I'd share it as an opportunity for thems who like the idea of a live guided discussion from a living philosopher.
  • Mikie

    Harvey is fantastic. This will be interesting indeed.
  • fdrake
    Also committed to join. Thanks for the heads up.
  • Moliere

    Well, the person who told me about it bought me a hard copy of the book, officially guilt tripping me into committing. :D (honestly was probably going to do it anyways)

    Glad to have some fellow travelers along. Maybe we can use the thread to post thoughts as we go along.
  • Maw
    Would love to attend in NYC but I have a conflicting schedule unfortunately. I did read the Grundrisse along with his video series several years back.
  • Moliere
    That's cool. Feel free to comment along.

    I've read a lot of Marx, including Capital v 1, but never the Grundrisse -- it wasn't exactly on my list, but I'm easily nudged ;). Plus the whole free course to keep me on schedule is nice.
  • Moliere
    Got my account up and running at Action Network, and spotted the reading schedule as I was getting prepped for tomorrow. I haven't read yet, I was going to wait until after class to see what sort of format to expect from the class before taking notes and such. (also, I didn't get the companion, I'm just going to follow along with the Grundrisse)

    Looking forward to it!
  • Moliere
    Some notes while listening, very rough but willing to share:

    I stand corrected in the first lecture, as Harvey tells us he is not a philosopher in the first few sentences :D. Oh well. I am inclined to call anyone a philosopher who can interpret Marx.

    Super happy with Harvey's mention of "moments", and the circulatory analogy.

    Interesting his inner/outer distinction -- because it highlights how the "outer" is itself something which comes under control, or is coming under control, as capital develops. And I like how Harvey highlights the totality in order to focus what Marx is talking about, the mode of production of capital, as well as because he uses "metabolism" as a distinction between the environment and the mode of production.

    But as "moments"! Very cool. I like his highlight that it depends on where you're at in the text.

    Neat that Harvey mentioned the M-C-M of capital, but he's breaking it down with his notion of "every conversion from commodity to money", but then highlighting "totality" where each part is interdependent upon the other parts to make a process work, not a thing. He even mentions "flow" which made me happy, thinking about the Deleuze-Marx crossover.

    Hah! I love his story about 9/11, and how people got worried about the flow of capital. I basically attribute the whole "back to normal" thing with Covid-19 to be the same thing.

    Then 2008 mentioned, which makes me happy too. First time I read Capital V1 was in the wake of 2008 and it made me start to take Marx seriously rather than just as an interest.

    Also glad he mentioned climate change in relation to Marx, especially with his notion of the "spiral structure" of capital. There's an entity you can relate to problems!

    I'm glad he's relating modern political problems to the theories of Marx, and in a way that's actually quite easy to digest. With a live Q&A from the audience no less! That's brave to put on a live stream. (also, they said they'll have the video recorded to share on youtube later)

    Hrrmm! Good question about why the Grundrisse! And what a great answer! I've asked that question myself, and hot-damn, a great answer that motivates me to get on to Capital V 2

    Interesting quote from Harvey is that Capital is written specifically for autodidacts, educated workers. Guess that's why I glommed onto it! As a young one I thought Engels was funny to say Capital v 1 was the bible of the working class, but apparently...

    Ahhh.... I didn't realize that Harvey was a geographer first. Eggs and faces.

    Happy that on lecture 1 he mentions how Marx is committed to freedom. (and even mentions a take about marxism/anarchy). "free time is what the mark of a what a socialist society should be about"

    Oh, no. So many mentions of Robinson Crusoe. I'm so seen! Just cribbing on Marx... ;)

    "there are certain categories that apply to economy no matter the mode of production"
    "i want to know the categories that specifically apply to a capitalist mode of production"
    -- love this mention of categories between the general theory and the theory of capital, because I remember capital v 1 starts with the most general categories which is very confusing when you are reading capital v 1 to learn about, say, capital. But he's always talking about the transition from feudalism to capitalism. So he has to make a third, general relation that relates the change

    hah! I snuck in some reading and was happy to hear the same highlight I made on p87 of Penguin as they said. The one where he's annoyed with Mill, and relating that to modern politcal struggles! ala Bernie/Sanders etc. that are popular and somewhat on the side of Mill. Glad to see this distinction being made. With the labor theory of value being mentioned no less! vs. the "problem of scarcity".

    Mmmm. I'm so happy to hear him hitting "moments" so often, because one of the reasons I have not written Hegel off is because I thought Hegel's logic is really central to Marxist thinking. And "moments", as I recall, were the monadic bits that formed the familiar the triadic structure from Hegel (then, having a name for that traidic structure, it can then form another moment from its negation...). Basically I'm glad that he's not doing the kind of reading which wants to minimize Hegel, because my honest reading of Marx is ... that they are too close to do that.

    I love the page 100 close Harvey quoted, supporting my interpretation of Marx that the social is an organism: "This is the case with every organic whole" (for David harvey, "whole" is "totality")

    "you learn Marx's method by watching him work" -- that's interesting because the only time I feel like I can kind of follow Hegel is in his Phenomonology of Spirit

    "he is very nervous about chaotic conception" -- until you start to break it down into all the classes and all these things and as you start to break it down you stop needing population.

    "...but this time not as a chaotic conception, but this time as a totality" -- starting to come back up from all the concepts you have established. it's a method of descent then a method of ascent...and the method of ascent is the real scientific method.

    ahhhhh! "that is what the grundrisse is trying to do is to conceptually grasp..." very excited to hear "grasp", tho not related to this but more Levinas in relation to Marx


    Hah! I love his honest comments about how he's not interested at all about Proudhon and Marx. Also I'm OK with having only read a few pages of the introduction, but now I'm seeing he's going to assume having read beforehand. Happy that he's up front about the kind of interpretation he's interested in, and I'm glad to hear that it's from the perspective of one of the main influences of Marx's theories! Never thought I'd get the opportunity to hear an interpretation of a text from a living Ricardian! One who is also critical of Marx. So, so good. I was nudged, and it's distracting me from reading Levinas, but... I think I'm hooked. (will post later when I figure out where they are putting the recordings)
  • Moliere
    Finished up the introduction reading today, and I like this quote from Marx on methodology because it relates to a number of debates we have on the forum with respect to realism:

    It seems to be correct to begin with the real and the concrete, with the real precondition, thus to begin, in economics, with e.g. the population, which is the foundation and the subject of the entire social act of production. However, on closer examination this proves false. The population is an abstraction if I leave out, for example, the classes of which it is composed. These classes in turn are an empty phrase if I am not familiar with the elements on which they rest. E.g. wage labour, capital, etc. These latter in turn presuppose exchange, division of labour, prices, etc. For example, capital is nothing without wage labour, without value, money, price etc. Thus, if I were to begin with the population, this would be a chaotic conception [Vorstellung] of the whole, and I would then, by means of further determination, move analytically towards ever more simple concepts [Begriff], from the imagined concrete towards ever thinner abstractions until I had arrived at the simplest determinations. From there the journey would have to be retraced until I had finally arrived at the population again, but this time not as the chaotic conception of a whole, but as a rich totality of many determinations and relations. The former is the path historically followed by economics at the time of its origins. The economists of the seventeenth century, e.g., always begin with the living whole, with population, nation, state, several states, etc.; but they always conclude by discovering through analysis a small number of determinant, abstract, general relations such as division of labour, money, value, etc. As soon as these individual moments had been more or less firmly established and abstracted, there began the economic systems, which ascended from the simple relations, such as labour, division of labour, need, exchange value, to the level of the state, exchange between nations and the world market. The latter is obviously the scientifically correct method. The concrete is concrete because it is the concentration of many determinations, hence unity of the diverse. It appears in the process of thinking, therefore, as a process of concentration, as a result, not as a point of departure, even though it is the point of departure in reality and hence also the point of departure for observation [Anschauung] and conception. Along the first path the full conception was evaporated to yield an abstract determination; along the second, the abstract determinations lead towards a reproduction of the concrete by way of thought. In this way Hegel fell into the illusion of conceiving the real as the product of thought concentrating itself, probing its own depths, and unfolding itself out of itself, by itself, whereas the method of rising from the abstract to the concrete is only the way in which thought appropriates the concrete, reproduces it as the concrete in the mind. But this is by no means the process by which the concrete itself comes into being. For example, the simplest economic category, say e.g. exchange value, presupposes population, moreover a population producing in specific relations; as well as a certain kind of family, or commune, or state, etc. It can never exist other than as an abstract, one-sided relation within an already given, concrete, living whole. As a category, by contrast, exchange value leads an antediluvian existence. Therefore, to the kind of consciousness – and this is characteristic of the philosophical consciousness – for which conceptual thinking is the real human being, and for which the conceptual world as such is thus the only reality, the movement of the categories appears as the real act of production – which only, unfortunately, receives a jolt from the outside – whose product is the world; and – but this is again a tautology – this is correct in so far as the concrete totality is a totality of thoughts, concrete in thought, in fact a product of thinking and comprehending; but not in any way a product of the concept which thinks and generates itself outside or above observation and conception; a product, rather, of the working-up of observation and conception into concepts. The totality as it appears in the head, as a totality of thoughts, is a product of a thinking head, which appropriates the world in the only way it can, a way different from the artistic, religious, practical and mental appropriation of this world. The real subject retains its autonomous existence outside the head just as before; namely as long as the head’s conduct is merely speculative, merely theoretical. Hence, in the theoretical method, too, the subject, society, must always be kept in mind as the presupposition.

    Definitely a "Hegel on its head" move, where the categories are real both concretely and within one's own head. (EDIT: or as I've said before, Marx gets to cheat on the problem of consciousness, but the solution might be judged worse than the problem)

    My aim is to have a writeup for the next reading to post before the class this time, so as to exercise the mind more.
  • Moliere
    In the introduction there's a number of times Marx really "shows his ass" -- and this is where my heterodoxy comes into play -- where he truly believes there are higher and lower forms of civilizational development, in the same vein as the positivists like Comte, but instead with a proposed socialism which could develop out of capitalism as an even higher form of economic development.

    Given the influence historiography, and even tangentially anthropology, has had on my thinking I cannot agree with Marx on stages of history, or even a material teleology. However, with historiography I've learned there's always a theory of history which makes the writing of history possible -- there is no "way things were" in a scientific sense. (which is another point of contention I have with the orthodox view, though not so strongly as the above).

    But to give an end quote to show what I'm saying:

    In the case of the arts, it is well known that certain periods of their flowering are out of all proportion to the general development of society, hence also to the material foundation, the skeletal structure as it were, of its organization. For example, the Greeks compared to the moderns or also Shakespeare. It is even recognized that certain forms of art, e.g. the epic, can no longer be produced in their world epoch-making, classical stature as soon as the production of art, as such, begins; that is, that certain significant forms within the realm of the arts are possible only at an undeveloped stage of artistic development. If this is the case with the relation between different kinds of art within the realm of the arts, it is already less puzzling that it is the case in the relation of the entire realm to the general development of society. The difficulty consists only in the general formulation of these contradictions. As soon as they have been specified, they are already clarified.

    Let us take e.g. the relation of Greek art and then of Shakespeare to the present time. It is well known that Greek mythology is not only the arsenal of Greek art but also its foundation. Is the view of nature and of social relations on which the Greek imagination and hence Greek [mythology] is based possible with self-acting mule spindles and railways and locomotives and electrical telegraphs? What chance has Vulcan against Roberts and Co., Jupiter against the lightning-rod and Hermes against the Crédit Mobilier? All mythology overcomes and dominates and shapes the forces of nature in the imagination and by the imagination; it therefore vanishes with the advent of real mastery over them. What becomes of Fama alongside Printing House Square? Greek art presupposes Greek mythology, i.e. nature and the social forms already reworked in an unconsciously artistic way by the popular imagination. This is its material. Not any mythology whatever, i.e. not an arbitrarily chosen unconsciously artistic reworking of nature (here meaning everything objective, hence including society). Egyptian mythology could never have been the foundation or the womb of Greek art. But, in any case, a mythology. Hence, in no way a social development which excludes all mythological, all mythologizing relations to nature; which therefore demands of the artist an imagination not dependent on mythology.

    From another side: 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?

    But the difficulty lies not in understanding that the Greek arts and epic are bound up with certain forms of social development. The difficulty is that they still afford us artistic pleasure and that in a certain respect they count as a norm and as an unattainable model.

    A man cannot become a child again, or he becomes childish. But does he not find joy in the child’s naïvité, and must he himself not strive to reproduce its truth at a higher stage? Does not the true character of each epoch come alive in the nature of its children? Why should not the historic childhood of humanity, its most beautiful unfolding, as a stage never to return, exercise an eternal charm? There are unruly children and precocious children. Many of the old peoples belong in this category. The Greeks were normal children. The charm of their art for us is not in contradiction to the undeveloped stage of society on which it grew. [It] is its result, rather, and is inextricably bound up, rather, with the fact that the unripe social conditions under which it arose, and could alone arise, can never return.

    There is an interpretation in there that minimizes the cultural chauvinism, but I'd say this is one of the things I find most unattractive in Marx -- he, too, was a product of his time, and chauvinism is a part of his writing.
  • Moliere
    The chapter on money -- begins with criticizing the belief that owned metal and monetary value are in any way related. And while fights with Proudhoun are more just for historical interest, the following reflects upon Marx's method:

    Economic facts do not furnish them with the test of their theories; rather, they furnish the proof of their lack of mastery of the facts, in order to be able to play with them. Their manner of playing with the facts shows, rather, the genesis of their theoretical abstractions.

    Marx against clouds onin the sky revolutionary thinking:

    But no, says the Proudhonist. Our new organization of the banks would not be satisfied with the negative accomplishment of abolishing the metal basis and leaving everything else the way it was. It would also create entirely new conditions of production and circulation, and hence its intervention would take place under entirely new preconditions. Did not the introduction of our present banks, in its day, revolutionize the conditions of production? Would large-scale modern industry have become possible without this new financial institution, without the concentration of credit which it created, without the state revenues which it created in antithesis to ground rent, without finance in antithesis to landed property, without the moneyed interest in antithesis to the landed interest; without these things could there have been stock companies etc., and the thousand forms of circulating paper which are as much the preconditions as the product of modern commerce and modern industry?

    Personally I'm enjoying the discussion on money's value, but I can see it as being pretty dry too. A gem in the discussion, though, to disabuse certain misinterpretations of the labor theory of value:

    What determines value is not the amount of labour time incorporated in products, but rather the amount of labour time necessary at a given moment.

    There's a lot more where Marx talks about the value of money in relation to other theories of value, in particular he criticizes the use of time-chits as a replacement for money, noting that the time-chits would basically function exactly as money does now, where it'd have a relationship to price such that 3 hours time-chit= 1 hour labor time, due to market fluctuations -- a common distinction Marx makes is between price and value, or exchange value and real value. If you think of the little charts they put up to represent a Market, the average between the fluctuations is here being posited as the value and the number on the graph is the price. I'm not sure if this was my understanding of Capital's distinction... I would have said that the two are entirely separate, or in contradiction, which is what Marx says here but he's also intimating that the market price more or less "tracks" value (if we wanted to dispute, say, the use of the average function, but wanted to posit another one, some kind of aggregate function EDIT: Like median or mode, for instance, but I'm sure we could come up with more)


    Also, I am not following this line:

    Value is at the same time the exponent of the relation in which the commodity is exchanged with other commodities, as well as the exponent of the relation in which it has already been exchanged with other commodities (materialized labour time) in production;

    I'm not sure what the exponent of a relation is, for Marx. (or, really, in general...)

    But, I like this paragraph which gets closer to what I understand of Marx's theory of value:

    Two commodities, e.g. a yard of cotton and a measure of oil, considered as cotton and as oil, are different by nature, have different properties, are measured by different measures, are incommensurable. Considered as values, all commodities are qualitatively equal and differ only quantitatively, hence can be measured against each other and substituted for one another (are mutually exchangeable, mutually convertible) in certain quantitative relations. Value is their social relation, their economic quality. A book which possesses a certain value and a loaf of bread possessing the same value are exchanged for one another, are the same value but in a different material. As a value, a commodity is an equivalent for all other commodities in a given relation. As a value, the commodity is an equivalent; as an equivalent, all its natural properties are extinguished; it no longer takes up a special, qualitative relationship towards the other commodities; but is rather the general measure as well as the general representative, the general medium of exchange of all other commodities. As value, it is money.

    More or less pointing out that any commodity can serve as a repository of value, and hence be currency. (but there are material reasons you'd pick one commodity over another).

    All this talk about how money works to arrive at the conclusion:

    Now, just as it is impossible to suspend the complications and contradictions which arise from the existence of money alongside the particular commodities merely by altering the form of money (although difficulties characteristic of a lower form of money may be avoided by moving to a higher form), so also is it impossible to abolish money itself as long as exchange value remains the social form of products. It is necessary to see this clearly in order to avoid setting impossible tasks, and in order to know the limits within which monetary reforms and transformations of circulation are able to give a new shape to the relations of production and to the social relations which rest on the latter.

    Super interesting paragraph distinguishing social existence of value from natural existence:

    The product becomes a commodity; the commodity becomes exchange value; the exchange value of the commodity is its immanent money-property; this, its money-property, separates itself from it in the form of money, and achieves a general social existence separated from all particular commodities and their natural mode of existence; the relation of the product to itself as exchange value becomes its relation to money, existing alongside it; or, becomes the relation of all products to money, external to them all. Just as the real exchange of products creates their exchange value, so does their exchange value create money.

    Got up to the break on page 153, or at the top of https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1857/grundrisse/ch03.htm today ~80 pages to go before Tuesday, laundry day should cover it.
  • Moliere
    One thing I'm wondering about -- I'm interested to see how Harvey begins to bring out the structure of the Grundrisse, because he mentioned that in the first lecture of his. And so far it just seems like a grab bag of topics that are loosely connected.
  • Moliere
    fyi, if you are following along with the marxists dot org website version, Tuesday's reading gets us up to everything before this point: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1857/grundrisse/ch05.htm
  • Moliere
    Picking up where I left off (weekends are for rest) --

    Even More on the Differences Between Time-chits and Money (and how that doesn't add up):

    In this case the bank is simultaneously the general buyer and the general seller in one person. Or the opposite takes place. In this case, the bank chit is mere paper which claims to be the generally recognized symbol of exchange value, but has in fact no value. For this symbol has to have the property of not merely representing, but being, exchange value in actual exchange. In the latter case the bank chit would not be money, or it would be money only by convention between the bank and its clients, but not on the open market. It would be the same as a meal ticket good for a dozen meals which I obtain from a restaurant, or a theatre pass good for a dozen evenings, both of which represent money, but only in this particular restaurant or this particular theatre. The bank chit would have ceased to meet the qualifications of money, since it would not circulate among the general public, but only between the bank and its clients...

    ..The bank would thus be the general buyer and seller. Instead of notes it could also issue cheques, and instead of that it could also keep simple bank accounts. Depending on the sum of commodity values which X had deposited with the bank, X would have that sum in the form of other commodities to his credit. A second attribute of the bank would be necessary: it would need the power to establish the exchange value of all commodities, i.e. the labour time materialized in them, in an authentic manner. But its functions could not end there. It would have to determine the labour time in which commodities could be produced, with the average means of production available in a given industry, i.e. the time in which they would have to be produced. But that also would not be sufficient. It would not only have to determine the time in which a certain quantity of products had to be produced, and place the producers in conditions which made their labour equally productive (i.e. it would have to balance and to arrange the distribution of the means of labour), but it would also have to determine the amounts of labour time to be employed in the different branches of production. The latter would be necessary because, in order to realize exchange value and make the bank’s currency really convertible, social production in general would have to be stabilized and arranged so that the needs of the partners in exchange were always satisfied. Nor is this all. The biggest exchange process is not that between commodities, but that between commodities and labour. (More on this presently.) The workers would not be selling their labour to the bank, but they would receive the exchange value for the entire product of their labour, etc. Precisely seen, then, the bank would be not only the general buyer and seller, but also the general producer. In fact either it would be a despotic ruler of production and trustee of distribution, or it would indeed be nothing more than a board which keeps the books and accounts for a society producing in common. The common ownership of the means of production is presupposed, etc., etc. The Saint-Simonians made their bank into the papacy of production.

    What Adam Smith, in the true eighteenth-century manner, puts in the prehistoric period, the period preceding history, is rather a product of history.

    This reciprocal dependence is expressed in the constant necessity for exchange, and in exchange value as the all-sided mediation. The economists express this as follows: Each pursues his private interest and only his private interest; and thereby serves the private interests of all, the general interest, without willing or knowing it. The real point is not that each individual’s pursuit of his private interest promotes the totality of private interests, the general interest. One could just as well deduce from this abstract phrase that each individual reciprocally blocks the assertion of the others’ interests, so that, instead of a general affirmation, this war of all against all produces a general negation. The point is rather that private interest is itself already a socially determined interest, which can be achieved only within the conditions laid down by society and with the means provided by society; hence it is bound to the reproduction of these conditions and means. It is the interest of private persons; but its content, as well as the form and means of its realization, is given by social conditions independent of all.

    Heh, those are right next to one another, but they are both really good sections. The first, as criticism of naive socialisms (one which mimics the same criticism I've heard levied against socialism, that the Party now is both the State and the Employer), and the second for talking about scope. "Private interest" is a social relation, which Marx here points out, while real, is the product of the time (the private interests come on the scene as soon as bourgeois politics begins to undermine feudal social relations) -- one could do worse in reading Marx in always remembering that Feudalism is the historical analogue of Capitalism: it's on a scope larger than the individual, in that case, fiefs and duchies and kingdoms and the entire mess that was medieval ownership, but it's those over time, and they are independent of any individual kingdom, duchy, fief, and so forth.

    But more on our relationship, in capitalism to the social bond:

    The reciprocal and all-sided dependence of individuals who are indifferent to one another forms their social connection. This social bond is expressed in exchange value, by means of which alone each individual’s own activity or his product becomes an activity and a product for him; he must produce a general product – exchange value, or, the latter isolated for itself and individualized, money. On the other side, the power which each individual exercises over the activity of others or over social wealth exists in him as the owner of exchange values, of money. The individual carries his social power, as well as his bond with society, in his pocket.

    Something interesting to note here is in relation to We-Intentions. Note how money, here, is not given power due to We-Intentions, but because it is an independent, social entity with objectively determinable properties.

    But, back to the badness of time-chits:

    Individuals are subsumed under social production; social production exists outside them as their fate; but social production is not subsumed under individuals, manageable by them as their common wealth. There can therefore be nothing more erroneous and absurd than to postulate the control by the united individuals of their total production, on the basis of exchange value, of money, as was done above in the case of the time-chit bank.

    Or, really, I'm just stressing the point about the social being both real and independent of individuals.

    Something often misunderstood with Marx is how he feels about capitalism. He's actually quite fascinated with its operations. And he judges it positively:

    It has been said and may be said that this is precisely the beauty and the greatness of it: this spontaneous interconnection, this material and mental metabolism which is independent of the knowing and willing of individuals, and which presupposes their reciprocal independence and indifference. And, certainly, this objective connection is preferable to the lack of any connection, or to a merely local connection resting on blood ties, or on primeval, natural or master-servant relations.

    Equally certain is it that individuals cannot gain mastery over their own social interconnections before they have created them. But it is an insipid notion to conceive of this merely objective bond as a spontaneous, natural attribute inherent in individuals and inseparable from their nature (in antithesis to their conscious knowing and willing). This bond is their product. It is a historic product. It belongs to a specific phase of their development. The alien and independent character in which it presently exists vis-à-vis individuals proves only that the latter are still engaged in the creation of the conditions of their social life, and that they have not yet begun, on the basis of these conditions, to live it. It is the bond natural to individuals within specific and limited relations of production. Universally developed individuals, whose social relations, as their own communal [gemeinschaftlich] relations, are hence also subordinated to their own communal control, are no product of nature, but of history. The degree and the universality of the development of wealth where this individuality becomes possible supposes production on the basis of exchange values as a prior condition, whose universality produces not only the alienation of the individual from himself and from others, but also the universality and the comprehensiveness of his relations and capacities. In earlier stages of development the single individual seems to be developed more fully, because he has not yet worked out his relationships in their fullness, or erected them as independent social powers and relations opposite himself. It is as ridiculous to yearn for a return to that original fullness [22] as it is to believe that with this complete emptiness history has come to a standstill. The bourgeois viewpoint has never advanced beyond this antithesis between itself and this romantic viewpoint, and therefore the latter will accompany it as legitimate antithesis up to its blessed end.)

    I'm sort of just quote-dumping here, but these are some great sections for clarifying misunderstandings I've come across in reading Marx : the social is independent of the individual, and alienation is a stage in seeking control over the social -- the original fullness that we might dream of cannot come back, either, because we now depend upon the world market. We were raised in an environment which taught us to become industrial citizens: if we "returned to how things were" we'd be peasants or hunter gatherers, and a great deal of the population would die off because those means of production are not able to support a population the size of what we have now.

    For Marx he's always pointing out that these relationships are not natural, because they are different from how they were (feudal), and so the bourgeoisie, like every class which has ruled the world, sees itself as the end of history when it's just a moment in history.

    Ye olde appearance/reality distinction -- the social appears natural because the individual has no control over the natural, but is born into a world with such and such social realtionships already at play. But in reality, the social relationship is much larger than our immediate surroundings, and our immediate surroundings, as well as ourselves as individuated people with personal bank accounts (the individual right to own property), are the product of social forces.

    A particular expenditure of labour time becomes objectified in a definite particular commodity with particular properties and a particular relationship to needs; but, in the form of exchange value, labour time is required to become objectified in a commodity which expresses no more than its quota or quantity, which is indifferent to its own natural properties, and which can therefore be metamorphosed into – i.e. exchanged for – every other commodity which objectifies the same labour time. The object should have this character of generality, which contradicts its natural particularity. This contradiction can be overcome only by objectifying it: i.e. by positing the commodity in a double form, first in its natural, immediate form, then in its mediated form, as money. The latter is possible only because a particular commodity becomes, as it were, the general substance of exchange values, or because the exchange values of commodities become identified with a particular commodity different from all others. That is, because the commodity first has to be exchanged for this general commodity, this symbolic general product or general objectification of labour time, before it can function as exchange value and be exchanged for, metamorphosed into, any other commodities at will and regardless of their material properties. Money is labour time in the form of a general object, or the objectification of general labour time, labour time as a general commodity. Thus, it may seem a very simple matter that labour time should be able to serve directly as money (i.e. be able to furnish the element in which exchange values are realized as such), because it regulates exchange values and indeed is not only the inherent measure of exchange values but their substance as well (for, as exchange values, commodities have no other substance, no natural attributes). However, this appearance of simplicity is deceptive. The truth is that the exchange-value relation – of commodities as mutually equal and equivalent objectifications of labour time – comprises contradictions which find their objective expression in a money which is distinct from labour time.

    This is an interesting paragraph to me because it highlights what "contradictions" means by Marx. Money is a concrete which resolves contradictions -- that's really interesting. "contradiction" is still a notion I'm suspicious of within the general wheel-house, because the rules for thinking dialectically are very far from clear to me, and are likewise easily subject to abuse because of that. Don't like a conclusion you've drawn? Just think dialectically about it, comrade! ;)

    Here I'm noticing how the concrete object resolves conceptual contradictions from a time period before -- so money comes about because we have division of labor which segments the population into roles which could not survive on their own, yet they don't produce commensurable goods. If you have 2000 pairs of shoes at the end of the day, while you are one hell of a shoe crafter, you don't have the things you want. You're reliant upon all the other laborers to do their part, and exchange their goods: basically the need for money. Hence why we have all the talk about time-chits -- I take it that it was thought to be a viable replacement to capital, where Marx is clearly coming down against that, saying that capital takes us to a better place than we were, while simultaneously laying the groundwork for the possibility of a new society).


    Through all the parenthetical notes it's easy to get lost in just what Marx is talking about and why, so I'm going to post the conclusion:

    This much proceeds from what has been developed so far: A particular product (commodity) (material) must become the subject of money, which exists as the attribute of every exchange value. The subject in which this symbol is represented is not a matter of indifference, since the demands placed on the representing subject are contained in the conditions – conceptual determinations, characteristic relations – of that which is to be represented. The study of the precious metals as subjects of the money relations, as incarnations of the latter, is therefore by no means a matter lying outside the realm of political economy, as Proudhon believes, any more than the physical composition of paint, and of marble, lie outside the realm of painting and sculpture. The attributes possessed by the commodity as exchange value, attributes for which its natural qualities are not adequate, express the demands made upon those commodities which ϰατ᾽ ἐξοχήν [36] are the material of money. These demands, at the level to which we have up to now confined ourselves, are most completely satisfied by the precious metals. Metals as such [enjoy] preference over other commodities as instruments of production, and among the metals the one which is first found in its physical fullness and purity – gold; then copper, then silver and iron.

    So eat it, Proudhon!

    I'm going to be real -- I totally skipped part a where he's going into why different metals couldn't be used as money, thereby scientifically demonstrating his conclusion. And I only skimmed part b.

    d, though, has some interesting parts I'm slowing down and reading now. I like this clear statement about money:

    But first let us note that what is circulated by money is exchange value, hence prices. Hence, as regards the circulation of commodities, it is not only their mass but, equally, their prices which must be considered. A large quantity of commodities at a low exchange value (price) obviously requires less money for its circulation than a smaller quantity at double the price. Thus, actually, the concept of price has to be developed before that of circulation. Circulation is the positing of prices, it is the process in which commodities are transformed into prices: their realization as prices. Money has a dual character: it is (1) measure, or element in which the commodity is realized as exchange value, and (2) means of exchange, instrument of circulation, and in each of these aspects it acts in quite opposite directions. Money only circulates commodities which have already been ideally transformed into money, not only in the head of the individual but in the conception held by society (directly, the conception held by the participants in the process of buying and selling). This ideal transformation into money is by no means determined by the same laws as the real transformation. Their interrelation is to be examined.

    Also pushes against some of the We-Intentions notes I put before; maybe because here he's talking about money in its ideal character in addition to its real character?

    But mostly I like Marx's clear statement on the dual character of money, that it is both the means of exchange and measure of value.

    One of the things I think that was "lost" in dropping Marx is looking for a material analogue that connects economics to the sciences. If economics is a science, as Marx holds, then it must have some measurable natural quantity -- hence Marx positing labor-time as the measurable quantity which all commodities share in common. Not that the price is in these units, it's not -- but with the discussion about money from before, it should be seen that since money is itself also just another commodity, nothing is explained by saying it's a medium of exchange. Of course it is, but what Marx is trying to understand is why it is a medium of exchange -- how is it that value, objectively (scientifically) increases? And for it to increase, you'd have to first say what it is, which for Marx is labor-time (though price tracks accreted concrete labor time, too -- so price is a measure, though its value fluctuates with its market)

    A quote about ideal/real:

    If exchange values are ideally transformed into money by means of prices, then, in the act of exchange, in purchase and sale, they are really transformed into money, exchanged for money, in order then to be again exchanged as money for a commodity. A particular exchange value must first be exchanged for exchange value in general before it can then be in turn exchanged for particulars. The commodity is realized as an exchange value only through this mediating movement, in which money plays the part of middleman. Money thus circulates in the opposite direction from commodities. It appears as the middleman in commodity exchange, as the medium of exchange. It is the wheel of circulation, the instrument of circulation for the turnover of commodities; but, as such, it also has a circulation of its own – monetary turnover, monetary circulation. The price of the commodity is realized only when it is exchanged for real money, or in its real exchange for money.

    Also, a good quote to hammer, again, how Marx's theory of capitalism depends upon an account of exchange

    The circumstances which determine the mass of commodity prices to be realized, on the one hand, and the velocity of circulation of money, on the other hand, are to be examined later. This much is clear, that prices are not high or low because much or little money circulates, but that much or little money circulates because prices are high or low;

    All the previous to just say how monetary policy isn't all you need to look at.

    Hrm, I'm thinking I'm going to call it there today. Tomorrow, finish before the lecture. I'm probably going to restart at the beginning of part D... I can feel the reading fatigue setting in and I'm starting to speed up. :D

    (Top of Page 186 in Penguin Grundrisse)
  • fdrake
    Thanks for all this @Moliere. May I ask you a favour? I'm trying to read along with the Marxists.org version, but I suspect the page numbers are way off compared to the Penguin Classic that Harvey's working from. Could I ask you to post the first line of Page 83 and page 115 in your version? In the marxists one they don't seem too related to Harvey's discussion topics. The translations are different too.
  • fdrake
    Oh I see you already did the thing. Sorry.
  • Moliere
    Hey no worries. I'm glad to do it. For the 21'st of February you'll stop at this paragraph on this page. I'll keep updating every week so you can follow along.

    This is the occasion to draw attention to a moment which here, for the first time, not only arises from the standpoint of the observer, but is posited in the economic relation itself. In the first act, in the exchange between capital and labour, labour as such, existing for itself, necessarily appeared as the worker. Similarly here in the second process: capital as such is posited as a value existing for itself, as egotistic value, so to speak (something to which money could only aspire). But capital in its being-for-itself is the capitalist. Of course, socialists sometimes say, we need capital, but not the capitalist. [7] Then capital appears as a pure thing, not as a relation of production which, reflected in itself, is precisely the capitalist. I may well separate capital from a given individual capitalist, and it can be transferred to another. But, in losing capital, he loses the quality of being a capitalist. Thus capital is indeed separable from an individual capitalist, but not from the capitalist, who, as such, confronts the worker. Thus also the individual worker can cease to be the being-for-itself [Fürsichsein] of labour; he may inherit or steal money etc. But then he ceases to be a worker. As a worker he is nothing more than labour in its being-for-itself. (This to be further developed later.) [8]
  • fdrake
    I'm intermittently unable to concentrate and ill, I've only gotten round to Grundrisse readings today, but have read the companion statements. Some notes I've made from the first week's readings are as follows:

    Subsection summaries (from Marxists.org translation)

    Section 1) “1. Production, Consumption, Distribution, Exchange (Circulation)

    “Independent Individuals. Eighteenth-century Ideas"

    This section is about the economists Marx is reacting to. More specifically, the intellectual climate of economics at the time. The chief accusations levied in this chapter are twofold. Firstly, that hitherto economists have tended to conceptualise the economy before inspecting it to see how it works. Secondly, behaviour and properties of people are dictated by how the economy was seen to work in these conceptualisations. Both are instances of "fitting reality to the model" rather than "fitting the model to reality". Though perhaps it is better to say that the the intellectual climate of economists idealised how the economy functioned, didn't inspect it, and assumed people behaved as if they were were governed by the idealised, ahistorical, model.

    "“Eternalization of historic relations of production. – Production and distribution in general. – Property"

    This section is about the mechanism of idealisation in the first section. The imagined models of the economy are reified as if they are natural laws. Rather than historical specificities. Marx seeks to depart from that reification to instead model capital as a process of continual development. That occurs over history, through the transition of modes of production, as well as within capital itself. Capital itself is being construed as a process of contingent development which follows general tendencies, historically, rather than natural laws, eternally. But you can look at commonalities in production to see what's shared, and start analysing there.


    There are some categories of capitalist economy which are often treated independently. They're also treated as being mutually exclusive. Together they form the general functioning of a capitalist economy. They are production, distribution, exchange and consumption. Treating them independently is silly, since they are mutually and conceptually dependent. Nevertheless you can split them apart for reasons of analysing them and their inter relations.

    Consumption and Production

    Consumption and production are interdependent. When something's produced, components of its fabrication process are used up. Things wear, break down, change in form. That is consumption. When something's consumed, When something's consumed, it also sustains a labourer. It produces and refreshes a necessary part of the production process. But clearly that's not the same as gears needing to be oiled and wear on machines.

    They also relate procedurally. As moments of capital's circuits. They're corollaries of each other. Mutually necessitating. Production is production for consumption. Consumption is of produced goods.

    There's a metaphysical way they relate too. A product is only a product insofar as it can be consumed. Consumption is only consumption insofar as it creates the need for continued production.

    Lastly, the concepts of production and consumption have a primary relation. Production produces consumption, and also the need to consume produced products, as production controls which products are accessible. In that regard, consumption can be seen as part of the process of production.

    These three things reinforce each other. They are analogous phenomena in different registers. But consumption and production are not identical. Conceptually interdependent? Yes. Saying something about one says something about the other? Yes. But they're not done by the same people. Other stuff goes on. Like distribution. And exchange.

    Distribution and production

    Distribution apportions produced goods to people. But not only that. Who distributes the products and who decides that? Ultimately who counts as producing each product - who owns the production process - decides how the products enter the networks of capital. In that regard those people are determinative of distribution. But society must be set up so that distributing products is principally determined by how products enter the market and how people relate to products.

    Thus, the distribution of products is also a social process. It's not just goods being assigned to people, it's how the assignment works socially, and furthermore the way society is structured to ensure that means of assignment. Production and distribution are interdependent. Who gets what is decided by who produces what and how. Who produces what and how is decided by who gets what. The principal way production and distribution meet is through the distribution of ownership of means of production. This is simultaneously a fact about production and distribution. And a nod to the fact that means of distribution long predate capital.

    “(c1) Exchange, Finally, and Circulation

    Circulation is all the exchanges put together and interacting; "circulation is the totality of exchange". It's also embedded in production. Any interstice comes with exchanges - need wood to produce a chair? Gotta buy wood. Need to sit with support? Gotta buy a chair. Who gets access to what is thus mediated by exchange; and thus circulation. This then relates to distribution; who accesses what is determined by the means of distribution. And thus production; who decides who exchanges what is determined by who produces what and how. Make the thing? You better buy things. Own the means of making? You exchange to get what you need to buy things.

    Summary point:

    Despite production, distribution, exchange, circulation and consumption all reciprocally codetermining (mediating), the way in which things are produced determines all the others. Who owns production determines distribution; production generates distribution. Who can buy what is determined by who produces what; production generates exchange. Production makes demands for its processes and satisfies other process's demands, including self maintenance; production generates circulation. Production sustains the need to rely upon it for need satisfaction; production generates consumption.
  • Moliere
    I'm not going to lie, all this about what determines the amount of money that should be in circulation is a bit dry, but here's one of the gems Harvey talked about:

    Circulation is the movement in which the general alienation appears as general appropriation and general appropriation as general alienation. As much, then, as the whole of this movement appears as a social process, and as much as the individual moments of this movement arise from the conscious will and particular purposes of individuals, so much does the totality of the process appear as an objective interrelation, which arises spontaneously from nature; arising, it is true, from the mutual influence of conscious individuals on one another, but neither located in their consciousness, nor subsumed under them as a whole. Their own collisions with one another produce an alien social power standing above them, produce their mutual interaction as a process and power independent of them. Circulation, because a totality of the social process, is also the first form in which the social relation appears as something independent of the individuals, but not only as, say, in a coin or in exchange value, but extending to the whole of the social movement itself. The social relation of individuals to one another as a power over the individuals which has become autonomous, whether conceived as a natural force, as chance or in whatever other form, is a necessary result of the fact that the point of departure is not the free social individual. Circulation as the first totality among the economic categories is well suited to bring this to light.

    One of the innovations of Marx, in social theory, is exactly this -- the notion that the social is independent of individuals, and that it can be described. He's talking about " the social movement itself" and not what a bunch of people are doing together.

    It's an idea that I've had a hard time getting across, sometimes, because we are so habituated to thinking ourselves as individuals, and thinking of the social as that which arises out of what a collection of individuals do.


    Oi, these notebooks are pretty rough. :D How many times do I need an example of two different commodities being equated to one another, and the explanation that money is the commodity which mediates the use-value (or physical) differences between products, and its value is expressed in price which is related, through the process of circulation, to labor time, and therefore it acts as both a medium of exchange and a measure of value. (apparently, hundreds of pages worth)

    (I feel like these notebooks are responding to some very particular criticisms that I'm probably missing, given this conversation happened some 150 years ago)

    But another gem, or at least a conclusion in what appears to be some difficult to follow reasoning:

    Only within circulation, then, is it such a material symbol; taken out of circulation, it again becomes a realized price; but within the process, as we have seen, the quantity, the amount of these material symbols of the monetary unit is the essential attribute. Hence, while the material substance of money, its material substratum of a given quantity of gold or silver, is irrelevant within circulation, where money appears as something existing in opposition to commodities, and where, by contrast, its amount is the essential aspect, since it is there only a symbol for a given amount of this unit; in its role as measure, however, where it was introduced only ideally, its material substratum was essential, but its quantity and even its existence as such were irrelevant. From this it follows that money as gold and silver, in so far as only its role as means of exchange and circulation is concerned, can be replaced by any other symbol which expresses a given quantity of its unit, and that in this way symbolic money can replace the real, because material money as mere medium of exchange is itself symbolic.

    Ahhh, at last, any commodity can serve the function of money.

    That's not the only thing he's trying to establish, but due to the historical nature of the debates I'm just admitting to struggling with some of the assertions (in trying to figure out why they are relevant).

    The story I'm gathering is -- money has moments. In its first moments it behaves in accord with C-M-M-C (interesting to note that in Capital, this equation is C-M-C -- here I'm guessing he's treating the equation as a particular exchange) (measure of value between two commodities?), in its second moment it begins as money to return as money (medium of exchange and realizer of prices), and then in the third moment money becomes an end unto itself and exits the field of circulation.

    In the case of money as capital, money itself is posited (1) as precondition of circulation as well as its result; (2) as having independence only in the form of a negative relation, but always a relation to circulation; (3) as itself an instrument of production, since circulation no longer appears in its primitive simplicity, as quantitative exchange, but as a process of production, as a real metabolism. And thus money is itself stamped as a particular moment of this process of production. Production is not only concerned with simple determination of prices, i.e. with translation of the exchange values of commodities into a common unit, but with the creation of exchange values, hence also with the creation of the particularity of prices. Not merely with positing the form, but also the content. Therefore, while in simple circulation, money appears generally as productive, since circulation in general is itself a moment of the system of production, nevertheless this quality still only exists for us, and is not yet posited in money. (4) As capital, money thus also appears posited as a relation to itself mediated by circulation – in the relation of interest and capital. But here we are not as yet concerned with these aspects; rather, we have to look simply at money in the third role, in the form in which it emerged as something independent from circulation, more properly, from both its earlier aspects.

    Heh, didn't quite finish the assignment. I'll have to block more time this coming week. But that's where I'm at as of right before class.
  • fdrake
    @Moliere - were you sent an invite link this week? I've yet to receive one.
  • Moliere
    I was not, I just went back to the youtube page. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkeaMEUxWrc&ab_channel=ThePeople%27sForumNYC Listening now.
  • Moliere
    Happy to hear that Harvey thought this section was definitely one with gems buried in a lot of muck that needs historical explanation to be of interest, because that was definitely how I was feeling.

    Glad to hear Harvey confirm my implementation of "use-value" in the above. :D

    "electronic monies are even more superior" -- yes! I'm glad to hear Harvey say this, because one of the things I've always thought about Marx's theory of what makes a commodity a good commodity for money actually are consistent with electronic balance sheets, and makes sense of a transition from gold-based to fiat money (even though I know Marx doesn't believe in fiat money, but that gold must back paper money)

    "We always have to ask the question: who is the master behind these ideas?"

    "ideas are the vehicles which change the world" -- Theses on Feuerbach

    Ahhh "free time is a measure of socialism" -- nice. Reminds me of the best theory of communism: "Communism is free time and nothing else"

    "Capital does not like a world in which there is free time. It colonizes it. And capital does not like a world in which people have time to think. They want people to be able to act on information, not think"

    "we get mixed up on money as a form of price, and money as a form of value"

    "we are actually producing experiences"


    Ooo this is interesting. The conflict between Marx's nihilism and Marx's clear and obvious moral commitments. Nice question.

    "they are not thinking about morality as a political question -- as far as they are concerned, how much morality is there on wall street?" -- yup. You get this even from the manifesto.

    "will you actually change capital by changing people's ideas and changing their morality? i think that the evidence of that is very very negative" -- I like that he's taking the hard line against belief as an agent of change. Not that it's unimportant! And he's emphasizing that, with Marx. But "activity" is a category distinct from belief.


    Interesting that he took a question from the youtube chat while they were streaming. I'll keep that in mind while reading. I might come up with one.


    I like that Harvey is pointing out the centrality of the military to our situation. And, in general, I like how Harvey is tying this old text to our current world throughout his lecture and Q&A. I agree that the military is our economic center.


    "both merchants and industrialists are subservient in the United States to the financiers"

    "one of the most important thing about money is how mobile it can be and so many of the innovations in block-chain technology are about reducing the cost of exchanges"

    Interesting that he's bringing in the idea of the velocity of transaction which Marx keeps mentioning. And then qualifying why monetary policy is still not the vector of revolutionary change.


    I'm impressed that Harvey committed to central planning. It's something I'm still "eh" on. But he puts to words some of the things I think -- like, can you say that central planning failed in the Soviet Union?


    Why was marx convinced money would not go off the gold standard? because it seems...

    ahh! this question is great. It's the exact sort of thought I was having that his theory actually supports fiat currency.

    "first, I don't know. i just think at that time there was no reason for it. and as marx is a person of his time it was irrelevant"

    definitely a different answer than I thought. More or less Harvey points to the passage which is a hypothetical to make a reductio of Proudhon as a good description of what we actually did; whereas what I think is that if labor-time is the basis of value then fiat currency makes sense as a development of money. Eventually, exchange-value rules. Money as measure and medium and goal becomes a concrete social which is alien to any individual (individual, worthwhile to remind ourselves, coming about as a reality only because of the economic relations which allow individual rights to property).


    Yup, just posting my notes while listening. I'm glad to have you along @fdrake -- I hope you get to feeling better soon.
  • Number2018
    the individual moments of this movement arise from the conscious will and particular purposes of individuals, so much does the totality of the process appear as an objective interrelation, which arises spontaneously from nature; arising, it is true, from the mutual influence of conscious individuals on one another, but neither located in their consciousness, nor subsumed under them as a whole. Their own collisions with one another produce an alien social power standing above them,

    I am not sure I understand your account of Harvey’s lecture correctly.
    It may be concluded that instead of this appearance - ‘the totality of the process appears as an objective interrelation,’- it is indeed generated by ‘the mutual influence of conscious individuals on one another and by their own collisions with one another.’ And yet, there is also ‘an alien social power standing above them, produce their mutual interaction as a process and power independent of them.’ So, aren’t there two mutually controversial generative processes? On the one side, you mention ‘collusions and interactions of ‘conscious individuals’; on the other, you write that precisely these interactions are produced by ‘an alien social power standing above them.’ Marx himself evaluated the process of social production as the important notion of his work: “The guiding principle of my studies can be summarised as follows. In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness.” (Marx, ‘Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy’).
    Will Harvey talk again about the production of social relations of production? In ‘Fragment on the machines’, Marx briefly outlined the production process as a whole.
  • fdrake

    This section begins with an elaboration of the pattern of analysis covered in section ( 1 ). Specifically how previous economists have idealised capitalist economies and forced those idealisations onto the functioning of capitalist economies. This is adjusting the world to fit a model, rather than adjusting a model to fit the world. Then how does this happen?

    The previously made error in method is twofold. Firstly, it has the wrong starting points. Secondly, it infers connections in the wrong way. Both errors are categorical errors, they are errors in style rather than blunders. The two errors germinate from the same style of thinking - it contaminates them both.

    The wrong starting points - Marx has criticised starting with the whole of a thing and breaking it apart into constituent elements. EG, what is life? Well it moves, it needs food... Rather, he prefers starting by isolating a concept he knows which is a part of a whole. EG, what is food consumption for a living organism? Well it needs to do that to keep itself going... The first way will be called The Bad Way, the second way will be called The Good Way.

    He prefers The Good Way because it begins with an explorable mechanism which can be compared directly with how things work. The Bad Way instead requires fixing fundamental concepts of the whole of a thing from the point of departure of its analysis. In the the Good Way, you get to find out what you need to assume about what you're analysing to make it match the world on a fundamental level. In the Bad Way, you assume how something works at a fundamental level and work out how to distort that fundament to fit the world. In essence, the Good Way abstracts from concretion and recontextualises the abstraction in the concrete. The Bad Way concretises from an abstraction already conceived under a concept, and splits up the concretion to cover states of things implied by it. In other words, The Good Way lets you check all of your working once or twice, the Bad Way makes hard to check all your working at all - your starting points and inferences.

    He uses that insight to shit on Hegel. But of course Hegel would idealise reality, he found the generating concepts of his own ideas in the process of their analysis! What is concrete is a concept! What founds that is mind! Marx finds the above error characteristically Hegelian, the most blatant example of the error in method.

    He also uses that insight to shit on other economists. Despite respecting Adam Smith, Smith was construed as often treating production as the central feature of all economies - but because Smith started with capitalist production and treated it as production universally, he ended up distorting what would apply to all systems of production due to setting up production as capitalist production. An error which may be generative of the myth of barter, and treating the capitalist economy's use of money as the way in which currency has always been used.

    Smith's error then propagated to the conception of labour. Smith got it half right, half wrong. Smith was right in thinking that all products (use values) were the result of labour - past labour, objectified labour - and that held for all economies. But Smith got it very wrong when he considered that all economies were indifferent to who did what insofar as they determined the value of products. The latter statement is true of capitalist economies with their characteristic function of money, but not of labour as considered universally. The equation of labour universally and labour in capitalism is an instance of reasoning The Bad Way - applying a fundamental conception and being unable to test it.

    Marx uses highlighting Smith's error in labour as a pivot point. He criticises wealth, agriculture, land, rent, joint stock companies, national wealth in the same manner; taking a conception of them which was seen as universal, highlighting how their conceptions each employ The Bad Way, and drawing out what makes their conceptions historically contingent and ultimately universalising something from capitalism into the past inappropriately.

    Since that error's so commonplace, and has been for years and years, the standard conceptual relations between economic concepts has also been screwed over by it. That means there's all kinds of bad starting points, which then engender the Bad Way of relating them. In that regard Marx feels he needs to fix the categories he's going to analyse and the order in which he'll analyse them.

    The order obviously has to be (1) the general, abstract determinants which obtain in more or less all forms of society, but in the above-explained sense (Good Way - me). (2) The categories which make up the inner structure of bourgeois society and on which the fundamental classes rest. Capital, wage labour, landed property. Their interrelation. Town and country. The three great social classes. Exchange between them. Circulation. Credit system (private). (3) Concentration of bourgeois society in the form of the state. Viewed in relation to itself. The ‘unproductive’ classes. Taxes. State debt. Public credit. The population. The colonies. Emigration. (4) The international relation of production. International division of labour. International exchange. Export and import. Rate of exchange. (5) The world market and crises.
  • fdrake
    ahh! this question is great. It's the exact sort of thought I was having that his theory actually supports fiat currency.Moliere

    I think it does too. At least for the Marx of Capital Vol 1. Equal valuations of commodity amounts don't care whether their representative's amount of "objectified labour" is derived from the socially necessary labour time of gold amounts, or a representative of commodity ratios alone - like a representative of gold, silver, bronze, eggs all at the same time. I think all that matters for a money to fall under Marx's analysis is the money is used to represent value relations socially and for exchange, socially, to be embedded in the circuit of capital. "How can it work with fiat rather than gold?" seems to me the same question as "How can it work with gold rather than silver?".
  • Moliere
    Oh I wouldn't go so far as to call it an account. This is all very rough, scratch-pad level wonderings on my part. Usually I do this in a notebook, but others were wanting to read along so I thought it might be a good way to eventually get a conversation started, or at least be able to read others thoughts and notes as they go through the text.

    The format of the class means that how much you get out of it depends very much on the student (at least for those like me who aren't taking this for a grade) -- no grades and no certificate and no feedback from writing papers to see if you have misread something and all that. So this was a way of maybe, somehow, focusing myself enough to stay on target ;)

    I'm not sure what Harvey will or will not cover. I myself haven't read the Grundrisse, so I couldn't even give you heads up beyond the table of contents.

    But I'm not so sure about this:

    It may be concluded that instead of this appearance - ‘the totality of the process appears as an objective interrelation,’- it is indeed generated by ‘the mutual influence of conscious individuals on one another and by their own collisions with one another.’Number2018

    except perhaps in a dialectical sense where there is another moment, which is generally what I think socialism is meant to be: When what was an alien relationship becomes something which is controlled by those who live under that relationship, and so it is no longer an alienation but rather political autonomy.
  • fdrake
    It may be concluded that instead of this appearance - ‘the totality of the process appears as an objective interrelation,’- it is indeed generated by ‘the mutual influence of conscious individuals on one another and by their own collisions with one another.’ And yet, there is also ‘an alien social power standing above them, produce their mutual interaction as a process and power independent of them.’ So, aren’t there two mutually controversial generative processes? On the one side, you mention ‘collusions and interactions of ‘conscious individuals’; on the other, you write that precisely these interactions are produced by ‘an alien social power standing above them.’ Marx himself evaluated the process of social production as the important notion of his work: “The guiding principle of my studies can be summarised as follows. In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness.” (Marx, ‘Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy’).Number2018

    @Moliere - I think Number's point isn't inconsistent with how you've put it. Also I wouldn't read your contrast, Numbers, as a contradiction. It can very well be that people create systems together which are impersonal and have a bizarre logic that constrains them. A bureaucracy, any workplace culture, a conflict dynamic in a relationship. The bizarre powers that guide people's relationships.

    From the quote you've given, I read it that the specifically productive relationships that have conscious people "collide within them" are characterised by a bizarre alien, self sustaining logic that the process of production generates and sustains.
  • Moliere
    Cool, glad someone else is on the same page as me there.

    Ahhh OK that helps me.
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