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Drawing upon Alfred Sohn-Rethel's work, we argue that, just as capitalism produces abstract labor, it coproduces both abstract mind and abstract life. Abstract mind is the…
Drawing upon Alfred Sohn-Rethel's work, we argue that, just as capitalism produces abstract labor, it coproduces both abstract mind and abstract life. Abstract mind is the split between mind and nature and between subject/observer and observed object that characterizes scientific epistemology. Abstract mind reflects an abstracted objectified world of nature as a means to be exploited. Biological life is rendered as abstract life by capitalist exploitation and by the reification and technologization of organisms by contemporary technoscience. What Alberto Toscano has called “the culture of abstraction” imposes market rationality onto nature and the living world, disrupting biotic communities and transforming organisms into what Finn Bowring calls “functional bio-machines.”
This paper seeks to reconcile two very different views existing in the literature concerning how exchange and demand affect the magnitude of commodity values…
This paper seeks to reconcile two very different views existing in the literature concerning how exchange and demand affect the magnitude of commodity values. Traditionally, value is considered to be created in production and subsequently realized in exchange. An alternative monetary approach posits that exchange itself contributes to the determination of commodity values. Proponents of each view claim that significant parts of Marx’s theory of value are compromised if their interpretation of the role of exchange is not adopted. Drawing on the work of Rosdolsky and Roberts, I argue that it is necessary to distinguish between the effects of exchange and demand. Exchange acts to reduce concrete, private labor to abstract social labor, while demand affects the magnitude of labor considered “socially necessary” in the sense of being expended in accordance with existing social need. I identify a new category of exchange value – the market-price of production – and use it to explain how changes in demand act to redistribute value across industries by affecting the magnitude of abstract labor considered to be socially necessary. In this way the major claim of the two approaches to exchange are reconciled. The magnitude of value is fully determined in production. At the same time monetary exchange effects, or brings about, a social division of labor by reducing concrete, private labor to abstract social labor and by distributing value according to social need as expressed by effective demand.
Building on an analysis of values and prices in the context of explicitly heterogeneous concrete labors, this paper formally examines Marx’s repeated imagery of capitalist…
Building on an analysis of values and prices in the context of explicitly heterogeneous concrete labors, this paper formally examines Marx’s repeated imagery of capitalist competition as a process of “sharing” among “hostile brothers,” each a “shareholder” in a “social enterprise” in which particular commodities and capitals appear as “aliquot parts of the whole.” Approaching each commodity as it appears in competition – as the product of an aliquot part of the aggregate inputs to production – allows several conclusions. First, value-price transformation is equivalent to a transformation of actual production conditions (on the basis of which the social labor contained in the commodity is its value) into socially average or aliquot part production conditions (on the basis of which the social labor contained in the commodity is its production price). Second, price formation (“gravitational” adjustment to levels expressing equivalence) is the same thing as the formation of abstract labor as the homogeneous unit of measure for the labor content of commodities. Each is an aspect of a single process that simultaneously commensurates use-values as market equivalents and commensurates concrete labors as abstract labor, so that equivalents in exchange do indeed “contain” equal amounts of abstract labor. Third, concerning commodity fetishism and the “illusions” of competition, the social content of particular magnitudes becomes visible when each is represented as a “bearer” of crucial characteristics of the aggregate that have been projected onto its parts, so that what initially appears as separate, particular and individual is simultaneously connected, general, and social.
To demonstrate that, at its core, Marx’s critical theory is not a critique of a mode of class exploitation that distorts modernity, undertaken from a standpoint that…
To demonstrate that, at its core, Marx’s critical theory is not a critique of a mode of class exploitation that distorts modernity, undertaken from a standpoint that affirms labor, but rather one that uncovers and analyzes a unique form of social mediation and domination that structures modernity itself as a historically specific form of social life.
Critical reconstruction, interpretation, and application of Marx’s critique of political economy as developed in the Grundrisse and Capital, to the massive global transformations of the past four decades.
Marx’s critical analysis is well-suited to function as the foundation for a theory that systematically illuminates modern society in the 21st century. It is more conducive to grasping the contemporary world than traditional Marxism or most versions of post-Marxism.
The historical transformations of the past century suggest the central significance of a critique of capitalism for an adequate critical theory today. Such a critique must be capable of grasping the core of a social formation that is generative of a peculiar dynamic of identity and non-identity, of pointing beyond itself while reasserting itself. It indicates that the realization of the possibility of the abolition of proletarian labor is a necessary response to a deep structural crisis of capitalism.
While many inconsistencies can be found in Marx's theory if one chooses a view of reality in which time is absent, these inconsistencies disappear if the view is taken…
While many inconsistencies can be found in Marx's theory if one chooses a view of reality in which time is absent, these inconsistencies disappear if the view is taken that time is an essential component of that theory. The debate is thus between the simultaneist and the temporalist camp. This article sides with the temporalist approach but at the same time it argues that both sides have focused mainly on quantitative and formal logic aspects. This is the limit of the debate. The debate should move on from being only a critique and counter-critique of each other applying only formal logic to the issue of consistency to showing how and whether the different postulates (a time-less versus a time-full reality) and the interpretations deriving from them are an instance of a wider theory of radical social change. From this angle, simultaneism implies equilibrium and thus a view of the economy tending toward its equilibrated reproduction. Capitalism is thus theorized as an inherently rational system and any attempt to supersede it is irrational. This is simultaneism's social content. Temporalism, if immersed in a dialectical context, reaches the opposite conclusions: the economy is in a constant state of nonequilibrium and tends cyclically toward its own supersession. Capitalism is inherently irrational and any attempt to supersede it is rational. Simultaneist authors should now show how their approach to the issue of consistency fits into a broader theory furthering the liberation of Labor.
To choose a dialectical view of temporalism is thus to take sides for Labor.
This chapter gives an interpretation of basic elements of Marx's scientific method, focusing on his exposition in the first edition of the first chapter of Capital I. It…
This chapter gives an interpretation of basic elements of Marx's scientific method, focusing on his exposition in the first edition of the first chapter of Capital I. It can be shown that Marx's critique of political economy rests on fundamentals that are traceable in many a philosophical endeavor. This goes especially for categories and concepts relating to the theory of science and epistemology formulated in earlier German philosophy dating back to Kant. I try to demonstrate that such fundamental categories, expressed through our basic thought determinations – universality, particularity, and individuality – are developed through the judgmental and syllogistic forms of logic common to Marx and his immediate predecessors inside philosophy – thinkers as relevant in the modern world as they were in the adolescence of capitalism. Furthermore, I want to show how the concept of time is crucial in uniting the thought-determinations in question. The investigation tries to make it clear that the scrutiny of social forms of thought pursued by Marx amounts to a valid, immanent criticism of all the fundamentals of traditional bourgeois theory of science and economics. To this effect, the chapter evaluates some characteristics of the philosophies of Kant and Hegel. Also, to clarify the profundity of Marx's thinking and the thoroughness of his analysis, I go back to some of the philosophical ideas which were starting points for men like Kant and Hegel, especially in the form that we meet them in the classical political philosophy of Hobbes.
The purpose of this second part of this special issue is to contribute to a better understanding of the nature of Soviet society. It is not possible to analyse such a…
The purpose of this second part of this special issue is to contribute to a better understanding of the nature of Soviet society. It is not possible to analyse such a society in all its complexities within the space of one study. There are, however, some economic relations which determine society's major features. We believe that commodity‐production relations in the Soviet Union are of this type.
The labor theory of value (LTV) offers a lucid and forceful example of a “theory” thought to stand outside “history.” Considered as an “objective” form of theorizing, the…
The labor theory of value (LTV) offers a lucid and forceful example of a “theory” thought to stand outside “history.” Considered as an “objective” form of theorizing, the LTV seeks transhistorical truths about the relationship between humans and nature – whereby, as everyone knows, value in the world is produced by the fundamental force of human labor power. Marx is typically taken to have subscribed to some form of the LTV, and thus to have signed on to this form of theorizing. This article refuses to treat Marx as an analytic, ahistorical theorist who would either affirm or deny the LTV. Rather, I read Marx as a genealogist who excavates the story of labor and value within the specific historical context of an emerging capitalist social formation. This genealogical approach to Marx, and particularly to his less-often-discussed, Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, shows plainly that Marx never subscribed to the LTV, but more importantly that he eschewed the form of theory that the LTV presumes. Rather than seeking to make transhistorical theoretical claims about the relation between labor and value, Marx meant to demonstrate to his readers something about the way in which a definite and concrete (historically situated) capitalist social formation establishes value. A capitalist social formation establishes its own specific value relations, by first constituting, and then dissimulating, a link between labor and value.
Reflecting on “The Rehabilitation of Karl Marx” as a theoretical economist 100 years after his death, Robert Paul Wolff, on the way to writing Understanding Marx, noted…
Reflecting on “The Rehabilitation of Karl Marx” as a theoretical economist 100 years after his death, Robert Paul Wolff, on the way to writing Understanding Marx, noted that Marx had written, “at a conservative estimate, five thousand pages of theoretical material”. Therefore, in order to understand Marx's theoretical achievement, which Wolff compares with Darwin, Freud and Einstein (p. 714), “The simplest sort of common sense demands that we estimate Marx's place in the intellectual history of our civilization on the basis of this mass of economic theory” (p. 713). In addition to the three volumes of Capital, the three volumes of the Theories of Surplus Value, the Grundrisse, and the Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, however, “Marx also wrote, as a young man, a handful of exuberant, obscure, derivative, romantic reflections on the human condition…The same sort of common sense dictates that we not construe these youthful speculations as the final utterances of the true Marx” (p. 713). With these assertions, Wolff is reviving an old issue, for the benefit of a “modern mathematical reinterpretation of Marx” (pp. 715–16), that some had thought was laid to rest by the widespread availability of the Grundrisse.