"While not widely known, this work has greatly influenced a number of Marxian theorists concerned with the methodological framework of Marx's theory and his relationship to Hegelian dialectics. In contrast to the traditional reading [...], Eldred and his co-authors insisted on a systematic reading in which capitalism is the object of investigation from the beginning, with transitions from one level of theoretical abstraction to another justified logically by the immanent contradictions arising in the former." Tony Smith in Science & Society ISSN 0036-8237 Vol. 74 No. 4 2010 p. 565.
"The recognition that what exists of Marx's project is only a fragment was of tremendous importance, as this implied seeing Marxian theory as a radically open project, and developing areas of enquiry which were barely touched upon by Marx himself. [...] [T]he Anglophone few who followed the Germans in wishing to reconstruct Capital — the Konstanz-Sydney school, identified as a 'value-form school' — were seen by most other participants [in the value-form debate] as overly extreme. It is a feature of systematic dialectic as it has emerged recently that such suggestions of a need for a more radical reconstruction are now at the core of the discussion." 'Communisation and Value-Form Theory' in Endnotes ISSN 1943-8281 No. 2 London, April 2010.
without bothering about the issues for thinking. The year 1984 was the
tail-end of a period of intense interest in Marx on the part of youth in
Australia and West Germany. In Australia this interest took the form of
a reception of structural Althusserian Marxism, whereas in West Germany
it manifested itself especially in reading and research groups around Marx's
critique of political economy. As a young Australian research student in
philosophy, and well-tolerated by my Ph.D. supervisor György Markus,
I joined these West German discussions in 1976, being initiated into all
things Capital by Mike Roth.
Only in 1984, after completing work on my dissertation, did I come across Heidegger, who persuaded me that I had to learn ancient Greek to get to the deepest philosophical questions. Heidegger's phenomenological readings of Aristotle and Plato opened my eyes for ontology explicitly, beyond the implicit understanding I had gleaned from reading the dialectical thinkers, Hegel and Marx. It gradually became apparent that form-analysis was another name for ontology and that Marx's value-form analysis was nothing other than the key to a social ontology of capitalist society. Heidegger and Marx can be made to communicate via the detour of a phenomenological and ontological reading of the fifth book of the Nicomachean Ethics on which Heidegger offers no commentary, but to which Marx refers crucially in the first chapter of Das Kapital when dealing with the value-form. Thus can cross-fertilization happen. The exchange and distribution of goods is the core theme of the fifth Nicomachean book, and those goods comprise not only useful material things, but the immaterial good of esteem. Hence a connection between the constitution of commodity-value in exchange and the mutual estimation of human beings becomes visible, especially through the interchange of human abilities. The phenomenological interpretation of this connection culminated in my Social Ontology, published in 2008.(P2) To unfold a phenomenology of the power play of mutual estimation amounts to a socio-ontology of whoness.(P3) But back to my 1984 book.
The value-form is already ontological, as signalled by the term 'form'. In the realm of social ontology, the value-form is perhaps the ontological concept par excellence because it conceptualizes a fundamental form of sociation (Vergesellschaftung) which is at the same time an elementary form of social power play with its own ontological structure that differs in essence from the ontological structure of productive power focused on by Heidegger. The late Marx can therefore be read as the thinker who worked out and presented in fine detail the complex ontological structure of capitalist economy. At the heart of this structure is value as a power play. The Sydney-Konstanz Project's endeavour to reconstruct Capital systematically and venture beyond it to the realms of the state and the private sphere, under the guidance of a critical reading of Hegel's Rechtsphilosophie, therefore amounts to an explicit, detailed presentation of that total historical socio-ontological constellation called capitalist society.
Writing in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I imbibed the Zeitgeist of those New Left times in which the issue of overcoming capitalism in favour of a non-Stalinist, democratic, even libertarian socialism was on the agenda. Today I do not advocate any kind of socialism, and that not because I have become older, wiser, mellower, conservative and resigned, but for philosophical reasons. The sundering of universality from particularity in the value-forms is the Leitmotiv pervading my attempt at a social ontology of capitalist society, and the historical possibility of its practical overcoming forms the backdrop that envisages a conscious sociation replacing non-conscious, reified sociation. Socialist humanity is to become the ultimate underlying subject of society and the movements of social life. Human being is thus thought as subjectivity within a metaphysics (or ontology) of subjectivity. People, in the plurality of some kind of politically instituted 'we' — whether it be in a more or less centralized state with democratic institutions, a structure of workers' councils or whatever — are to become, as "freely associated producers", the subjects of social life. The dominant medium of sociation is thus to become consciously political, democratic in the stead of reified, competitive, gain-seeking sociation via the various value-forms. The proper name for human beings in such a competition, as I now see in retrospect, is not subjects of competition, but rather players in the gainful game.(P4) These players are free individuals exercising their various powers and abilities in an interplay with one another.
With an overcoming in socialism of reified sociation (Überwindung verdinglichter Vergesellschaftung), people themselves purportedly are to become 'truly' free on a higher plane of sociation than that enabled by bourgeois private property. The dream of a democratic socialism, however, is driven by a totalizing way of thinking that is out to collectively set up and control social living as a whole and is therefore a precipitate, in the socio-political realm, of what Heidegger calls the set-up (Ge-Stell). Since people are a plurality, the political, democratic sociation of living-together can only come about as ongoing political power struggle. Instead of mutually beneficial, agreed exchanges on the many different competitive markets (an economic power struggle), socialistic living must consist of endless, all-engulfing political power struggles on all levels. This amounts to the end of the individual as such, who is socio-ontologically possible only in conjunction with the state-protected, reified forms of sociation emanating from money (which translates as private property). Today I therefore affirm rather than question that "individual freedom without private property is impossible". (§76Ab) The value-form of money and the other value-forms derived from money have historically enabled the individual and individual freedom in the West. That is, the free individual is a definite historical form of sociation, and not some kind of imagined individual living in a pre-social 'state of nature'.
With the striving for a democratic socialism (or for social-democracy), the free individual has to be overcome and subjugated to a politically constituted, social 'we'. It is to lose its garden of privacy for, the reified social power afforded by the value-forms is to be overridden by the political, democratically organized, conflictual will. Politics becomes hegemonic, primary, all-pervasive. With the overcoming of free human individuality, however, freedom per se is socially eradicated. Anything resembling 'libertarian socialism' is a contradictio in adjecto. The free human individual can flourish only where it can be also private, i.e. where it is guaranteed protection from the incursions of a political plurality, a democratic 'we' institutionalized in the legitimated power structures of some kind of state.
The criticisms of individualistic egoism and individualistic consumerism from the left point indeed to deficiencies in desiring human being itself, which is ever seeking its individual advantage, but sociation via incessant political power struggle in any kind of democratic socialism by no means remedies these deficiencies. Self-seeking is merely displaced from the striving to gain income (reified social power) to the striving for influence within the political institutions of powers that be, including democratic economic and workers' management councils. The private, free, bourgeois individual metamorphoses into a self-seeking element, whose privacy is no longer protected, enmeshed and struggling in a web of overarching, more or less democratic, political structures.
A social ontology of capitalist-democratic society therefore aims 'modestly' at bringing to light the structure of the world as it is. There are certain things which not even the best art, but only philosophical thinking, can show, and there's no foreknowing what will come historically with such deeper insight. The figure of Überwindung (overcoming, getting-rid-of) is displaced by that of Verwindung (getting-over, twisting-free-of). Instead of striving to overcome reified, value-form sociation practically-politically, philosophical insight into reified sociation and its necessary adjunct in the bourgeois-democratic institutions enables a distancing in the way of thinking (Denkart) from the gainful game of striving for income, from the endless political power struggles within the democratic institutions and also from the unreflected striving for social status as somewho, but not in favour of entering another way of thinking that is out to politically-collectively set up and govern social living. Such distancing is a getting-over that, even whilst daily living continues to require engagement in power struggles, preserves those precious private interstices and niches in which individual freedom, both shared and solitary, can thrive in spite of all.
ME Cologne, February 2010
Part 1 summarises PROVISIONALLY some of the principal categories of the capital-analysis (it cannot replace the development provided in the Appendix) by way of providing a transition to an analysis of the "surface of capitalist economy" (Parts II & III). The principal form-analytic categories of the competition-analysis are those of PROPERTY, PERSON and SUBJECT OF COMPETITION. These are developed through a consideration of the subjective activity of individuals in relation to the pre-given (value-)form-determinate capitalist economic objectivity. The subject of competition is the bearer of COMPETITIVE FREEDOM, the overarching concept of the competition-analysis, whose contradictoriness is to be laid bare.
Part IV investigates the universal social subject which necessarily complements the competitive economy. The state too is conceptualised in relation to the form-determinate contradictory freedom of the bourgeois epoch, as REALISATION of freedom.
The principal figure of the total analysis, from the beginning of the capital-analysis, is a DIALECTICAL one: the DIREMPTION of the (ABSTRACT) UNIVERSAL from the PARTICULAR. This diremption is first constituted in the double-character of bourgeois labour, conceptualised in the value-form analysis. The figure recurs again and again as the INNER BAND which, IN REALITY and FOR THINKING CONSCIOUSNESS, connects the bourgeois form of society into a contradictory TOTALITY. The claim of the present work, that our present form of society constitutes a totality, can only be validated by thinking in a SYSTEM. On the various levels of the analysis, right up to its crescendo in the investigation of DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS, the contents of EVERYDAY CONSCIOUSNESS are taken into account in order to demonstrate to it that the various aspects of contemporary life are only lived out as modes of expression of the underlying essential contradiction.
Marx has a reputation as a philosopher, and is read by some of those interested in philosophy. His status as 'scientific socialist' is a drawcard in the political arena rather than for students of philosophy. The latter are often attracted to philosophy because philosophy is precisely NOT science, at least not in the sense of the natural sciences. Marx lets himself be misused by those with an allergy against any form of science, who want to find philosophical inspiration in a free and easy manner, without the irksome constriction of rigorous thought-fetters. Their conception of philosophy borders on what everyday understanding often means by philosophy: wild, fanciful, subjective ideas without practical application.
Marx has suffered his ups and downs in his career as the originator of marxism. At present, his popularity is at a fairly low ebb. For over a decade, some marxists have spoken of a 'crisis of marxism'(1). In popular understanding, and in some more serious interpretations of Marx, he is represented as the thinker who made various prophecies, including that of the 'Inevitability of socialism'. The agent of this 'historical mission' was to have been the proletariat. One can doubtless find evidence for this interpretation of Marx in his writings. Elements of the Hegelian Philosophy of History found their way, with a radical turn to the /ii) left, into Marx's thinking. The comparison of these optimistic elements of a philosophy of history with the course of history in the 20th Century has provided a childishly simple way of settling accounts with this revolutionary. A scientist whose predictions turn out to be wrong is obviously a quack, a mere idealistic soothsayer. With this judgment, many have saved themselves the trouble of gaining a closer acquaintance with Marx; others have read some Marx with this idee fixe in mind, which has prevented them coming to any fruitful understanding of the left-Hegelian.
Enlightened consciousness today - in contrast to the hopeful thinking of socialists, especially in Germany, up until the thirties - knows that history does not stand on our side, that it was a bad joke to talk of an 'objective necessity' of the proletariat reaching revolutionary consciousness. This enlightened consciousness is also cynical: it sees that, since the proletariat has failed to fulfil its prescribed historical mission, that we must make the best of things and set aims more modest than that of a socialist revolution. That is indeed one way out of a dilemma. The knowledge that we cannot rely on the current of history to move us forward is given a twist towards the affirmative: If history will not move us forward, then we should let ourselves be swirled along in its eddies. The graffito 'Only dead fish swim with the stream' makes a poignant point against this kind of resignative thinking. In the reified society, it is all too easy to allow things to have their way; this is one aspect of fetishised thinking. Everyday life is profuse with the compulsion of things, of the necessity of bowing to externally given circumstances. Marx's theory can be interpreted as a conceptualisation of these externally given circumstances', of the 'compulsion of things' apparently independent of human will. This conceptualisation should be able to point the way forward by showing the fulcrum where collective subjectivity could overcome reified relations and become subject of its own history.
A century of marxism has left a sorry record behind. The world has not become socialist. Real existing socialism has been dubbed by the Free West a 'totalitarian' system, and that not entirely without justification (although with this designation, /iii) the West follows its own insidious tendentious aims). Critical theories which have abandoned any association with the aim of a socialist revolution have been born and have gained a following. From the fact that socialism has not been realised, these theories propose that one had better give up the idea altogether. In doing so, they take leave of the problematic circumscribed by Hegel and Marx, which is directed at a dialectical theory of the totality in its contradictoriness. The totality is pronounced to be ineluctable, or even evolutionarily advantageous for humankind. The category of contradiction is relegated the status of an Hegelian residue in Marx, smacking of idealism, whose retention can only hinder the development of critical thinking.
The critics of dialectical theory are right in one point: the dialectical aspects of Marx's theory have to date not become a political force. The party in which Marx and Engels had the greatest direct influence - German Social Democracy - never at any time embodied the radical politics implied by the dialectical aspects of Marx's theory(2). Instead, it was the evolutionist aspects in Marx and Engels which caught the imagination of Social Democracy and allowed it a comfortable path. The evolutionist Marx is also the exoteric Marx, which admits of an uninvolved interpretation conducive to contemporary Marx-reconstructers, among others. The dialectical Marx remains hidden behind the evolutionist Marx, who employs a 'logical-historical' mode of argumentation in his main work and thereby gives credence to a marxist 'science of History'. Marx himself was responsible for this popularised version of his theory, in that he modified his dialectical presentation increasingly to a 'logical-historical' theory.
Above all, Marx wanted to have a political effect with his theory. Although he states in several places that he never made compromises to vulgar understanding, the way his work was received. gave him cause to think twice, to avoid further disappointment. The Critique of 1859 did not exactly take the world by storm.
Biskamp himself said to me, he doesn't see the "à quoi bon"; I expected attacks or criticism, but not to be fully ignored, which must also significantly impair sales. ... In America /iv) the first book has been extensively discussed by the entire German press. from New York to New Orleans. I am afraid only that it is held to be too theoretical for the working public there ... (Marx to Engels 22.7.1859, Marx to Lassalle 6.11.1859 B100)Such reactions, no doubt, moved Marx to "popularise as much as possible" (Preface to the first edition of Capital). A deeper ground for the popularisations - which are simultaneously historicising vulgarisations - is Marx's own "methodological unsureness"(3)) (in spite of the imperturbable calm with which marxists talk of 'Marx's materialist method').
What could be more popular than a theory which implies that history, (in the last instance?) is on our side? If a dialectical theory is to reveal the contradictoriness of the peculiar object, which is to be superseded and annulled, if at all, by the conscious act of a revolutionary subject, an evolutionary theory lightens the task considerably by suggesting that the revolutionary subject has only to release the trip-lever in history to unleash the potential inherent in the historical development brought about by capitalism. The ripened fruit needs only to be plucked from the tree; and conversely, one has to sit back and wait for the fruit to ripen.
With the critique of the teleological tendentiousness of an evolutionary theory, marxism could regard itself as having freed itself from a pernicious illusion. This liberation would lead - if consistently pursued - to an unearthing of the esoteric, 'dialectical' Marx, whose critical potential has never, in the relatively long history of marxism, been realised. As the debate in and around marxism now stands, the 'dialectical' Marx remains unpopular, one could say, almost completely unknown and disregarded. Instead, the evolutionary Marx has been cut down to size: there is no necessary evolution towards socialism, but one can employ some Marxian categories in a 'science of History', or a 'critical sociology' of social change. This capitulation of critical theory to historiography and sociology is not without its sociological explanations (which do not interest us here). Some have remained committed socialists politically, and pursue a marxist sociology /v) or historiography in theoretical endeavour.
With words one can only ever achieve so much. Nevertheless, the words contained in the following pages are placed to stem the tide in marxism and all theories with critical pretensions; a perilous enterprise, considering the fury with which some waves thunder in to shore and the mighty undertow of ancient, sluggish undercurrents. The thesis is the following: Only a DIALECTICAL theory can be critical; all else, on closer inspection, turns out to be froth and foam. This claim can only be evaluated by studying the entire presentation offered here.
The work concerned is a critique of economic categories or, if you like, the system of bourgeois economy critically presented. It is simultaneously presentation of the system and through the presentation a critique of it. ... The whole is divided into 6 Books. 1) On Capital (contains some preliminary chapters) 2) On Landed Property 3) On Wage-Labour 4) On State 5) International Trade 6) World Market. I can of course not avoid taking critical notice of other economists occasionally, especially polemics against Ricardo ... (Marx to Lassalle 22.2.1858 B80f)With these words, Marx describes, as in several other places(4) the entire system initially outlined by him in September 1857 during the writing of the introduction to an enormous rough draft. Striking is that the critique is to be performed through presentation of the system, already a hint at dialectics. In March of 1858 Marx writes again to Lassalle:
It is in no way my intention to work out all six books into which I divide the whole to an equal extent; but rather in the latter three to give merely the basic outlines, whereas in the first three, which contain the basic economic development proper, elaborations are not always to be avoided ... (Marx to Lassalle 11.3.1858 B87)My purpose here is not to investigate in detail the extent to which Marx executed or altered the plan of his system. Instead, I want to make some elementary observations about this planned /vi) system as a prelude to outlining a research program which has grown out of the attempt to reconstruct the Marxian drafts to this system. A point which cannot be over-emphasised is that the system aims at "critically presenting" a theoretical object existing in the bourgeois epoch. The system aims at presenting "for the first time an important view of social relations scientifically."(Marx to Lassalle 12.11.1858 B93 my emphasis) We are thus dealing with a proposed critical science of "bourgeois economy" (including the state).
The rough outline of six books is elaborated, in accordance with the
above-quoted view that the latter three books are only to provide the broad
strokes, in more detailed plans for the first book. To my knowledge,
extensive plans for the books on landed property and wage-labour do not
exist (cf. however the discussion of the change of plan below). The
book on capital has the following structure:
1) Production Process of Capitalb) The Section on Competition "or the action of the many capitals on one another"(B87)
c) The Section on the Credit System
d) The Section on Share-capital(5)
As a rough structure which was only partially filled out with drafts, even this articulation of the first book cannot be regarded as a blueprint strictly to be observed. In particular, the place of competition within the plan for the first book was never concretised with a draft. In the envisaged work to be published under the title of Capital, only the section on capital in general was to be covered. The plan for six books thereby shrinks in the years from 1859, when the Critique was published, to 1863, when work on the drafts for Capital was properly begun, to merely the first section of the first book. In this vein Marx writes to Kugelmann in December of 1862; the manuscripts for Capital, which are yet to be written, are described by Marx simply as the "copying out and final filing down for printing" of a manuscript entitled /vii) "On the Critique of Political Economy", written between 1861 and 1863.
It indeed comprises only that which should form the third chapter of the first section, namely, 'capital in general'. It therefore does not include the competition of the capitals or the credit system. ... It is the quintessence (together with the first part(6)) and the development of the following parts (with the exception perhaps of the relation of the various state forms to the various economic structures of society) could be easily carried out by others on the basis of that already provided. (Marx to Kugelmann 28.12.1862 B113)One could say today that Marx overestimated both his own powers and those of others. Not only did Marx not come to publishing his own theory of 'Capital in general', but no one else has ever ventured into an extended work on the remaining parts of his system. The reference to the difficulty of working out the relation of the various forms of state to the various economic structures remains enigmatic. According to the editors of the Grundrisse (cf. G p.X), the most extensive plan for the book on State consists of merely three printed lines:
(state and bourgeois society - taxes, or the existence of the unproductive classes - the state debt - the population - the state towards the outside ... (G175)The last-mentioned theme belongs already to the fifth book, on international trade. With regard to the present work, which has as one of its objects the bourgeois form of state, these remarks by Marx are of no positive help in the contemporary theoretical task of a state theory. The same holds for a work on competition, belonging to the "eventual continuation" of Capital. Despite hints in the draft for Volume 3 of Capital, and despite comments on competition in the first volume (cf. IV below), one is confronted with an autonomous task of research in any contemporary attempt at completing a systematic theory of bourgeois society. No amount of Marx-research will be able to uncover what Marx had in mind for the unwritten - even in draft form - parts of his system.
The title for the whole system - System of Bourgeois Economy - the references to competition in the rough draft for Volume 3 of /viii) Capital, as well as the above-cited plan for the book on state, suggest a rather economic work. The present work diverges from these Marxian intentions in a way to be explained in following subsections of this preface.
As to whether Marx ever actually gave up his plan of 6 books extending as far as a theory of state, international trade and world market, the view of Rosdolsky is of interest. Referring to the second detailed plan Marx works on from 1864-65 for Capital, he notes that
these books (the latter three ME) were never really 'given up', that is, that the themes falling within their area were never assimilated fully into the second structure of the work, but rather remained basically reserved to its 'eventual continuation'. (Rosdolsky 1977 p.23;1968 I p.39)This is to be contrasted with the plan changes concerning the first three books. The plan for Volume 3 of Capital which Marx writes to Engels on 30.4.1868 suggests the interpretation that at least aspects of the section on competition are incorporated in the treatment of the average rate of profit and that the books on landed property, wage labour and "the three classes" (referred to in a structure to be found in the Grundrisse G175) are to gain at least a condensed presentation in the seventh and last part of Capital Volume 3. This last part, containing the investigation of the "three revenues" and their corresponding classes, is to end with
the class struggle as conclusion, in which the movement and dissolution of the whole shit dissolves ... (B172)It is an undecidable question to what extent this analysis of revenue forms, a draft of which first appears in the 1861-63 manuscripts. can be regarded as a modified concretisation of the second and third books of the originally planned Marxian system(7). Whatever new insights are to be won in future philological investigations of Marx's writings, one must conclude that Marx's project of a critique of bourgeois society, however one may interpret this project, remained unfinished(8), indeed no more than a skeleton. Even the skeleton was left as a mere torso(9) - two published volumes, A Contribution to the critique of Political Economy /ix) and Volume I (in two German and one French edition prepared by Marx himself) - and the 'arms and legs' of voluminous unpublished manuscripts(10) to Volumes 2 and 3 of Capital, as well as to the historical presentation of the theory, Theories of Surplus Value. As for the projected 'flesh and blood' of an analysis of the bourgeois superstructure, alluded to in the notorious 1859 Preface as "the social, political and spiritual process of life"(11), not even a systematic plan was left behind by Marx.
In the 1859 Preface, which publicly announces the system of six books, Marx is misleading about the state of readiness of his work. He claims that "the whole material lies before me in the form of monographs"(Crit 19; MEW13 7), although the last three books are scarcely represented in these monographs, comprising excerpt notebooks from the years 1851-52(12) and the rough draft of 1857-58, first published in 1939 and 1941 under the title provided by the editors of the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute in Moscow, Grundrisse der Kritik der Politischen Ökonomie.
That Marx's system remains a fragmentary skeleton has not been seriously taken into account by the marxist tradition, and especially not by English-speaking marxism. An index for the infantile state of English-speaking Marx-research is that the Grundrisse first appeared in English translation as late as 1973. Its publication stimulated the printing of a flurry of articles, which however quickly gave way to boredom with the topic. Under the bland formulation 'Marx's main work', Capital is treated almost without exception as a more or less completed work. This illusion of completeness, with or without the admission that various special themes, such as a theory of capitalist crisis or of the credit system remain contradictory or incomplete, and the almost total lack of a critical evaluation of the one volume published by Marx and other manuscripts to Capital, reflects an apparently impenetrable complacency and unwillingness of English-speaking marxism to immerse itself in the minute details of Marx (not marxist) research. Even the long and extensive debate on the valve theory engaged in by a few marxists, and followed by a couple more, in Britain and the USA taps around in the dark or completely ignores the issue of the dialectical character of the /x) esoteric strand in Marx's value theory.(cf. III below). Perhaps a perturbing sign for an English-speaking marxism which, through the experience of the New Left, has tried to distance itself(13) from the official marxism of the Soviet Union is that, at least on the question of there being no need for a minute fundamental reassessment of Marx's system fragment, they are, through either disinterest or dogmatism, in fundamental agreement. The historico-empirical attitude or the mathematico-logical inclinations of English-speaking marxists have by and large precluded any minute and radically uncompromising re-evaluation of Marx's writings.
In the notes provided by the editors of the Institute for Marxism-Leninism in Moscow and Berlin to the first volume of Kapital (MEW23), the books projected by Marx on state, international trade and world market are silently written out of even ideal existence. After mentioning the planned six books of the 1859 Preface, the editors write:
In the course of further work Marx decided to construct his whole (sic) work according to the plan which he had earlier worked out for the section 'Capital in general' with its three subsections. (MEW23 845)This statement partly confirms the interpretation given above of Marx's letter of 30 April 1868, according to which the first three books are taken up in modified form in the three volumes of Capital. Following the last-quoted passage is a quotation from a letter from Marx to Kugelmann of 13.10.1866, in which Marx refers to his "whole work" as falling into the structure of the three volumes of Capital, as published, plus a fourth book, "on the history of the theory". The editors could sensibly put forward the suggestion that Marx, in 1866, had already abandoned any intention of writing the last three books of his planned system. They present the matter with apologetic slyness however, as if the whole system were now somehow taken up into the three books of capital. The new plan of Marx in any case cannot be represented as bringing new contents under the structure of the analysis of 'Capital in general', but as an abandonment of the previous systematic structure. The editors, of course, do not underline the fragmentary character of capital itself. To the /xi) asserted completed construction of socialism in the Eastern Bloc corresponds the asserted completeness of Marx's system. It is inconceivable that Soviet marxism question the theological underpinnings of the state religion. Although English-speaking marxism of late vigorously repudiates any uncritical acceptance of the social system in the East, it has not yet shaken, through an exacting, but rejuvenating, reassessment of Marx's critique of political economy, the petrified image of a solid foundation of marxism. In some cases, the stony image is adhered to, in others, a net is cast in entirely new waters. Neither attitude is able to bring an ossified marxism to life.
The kind of theory put together by marxists more often than not resembles the wedding robes of Penelope, who unravels the weaving of the previous day in the night, and starts every day afresh. There are ever new facets and events in the phenomenal world which draw the attention of some marxist theoretician or other, and cause him/her to devote energy to an obviously undone task. Why this task is given priority is determined in the first instance by personal interest. When pressed for a justification as to the critical relevance of the study, the answer often runs as follows: some organisation, social movement or group urgently needs empirical knowledge in some area for their 'struggle'. Or recourse is taken to the significance of a tradition or author (whose standing and relevance remain unquestioned). A marxist theoretician, like anyone else, cannot jump over his/her own shadow. This fact notwithstanding, one could hope that the question of what critique is, and how it relates to socialist revolution (for which the marxist waits since many years past) could be posed for a marxist.
In the present work, the object of attention is not the Marxian oeuvre itself. The starting point is rather the project of a systematic theory of the bourgeois form of society, which relates directly to Marx insofar as his writings on the critique of political economy form the indispensable theoretical raw material for a reconstructed capital-analysis. Marx's theory is the best in a long series of attempts to analyse capitalism. This reconstructed capital-analysis, in turn, serves as foundation for a theory of the surface of capitalist economy and of the bourgeois /xii) superstructure. There is already a marked change of accent from Marx's intentions, in that not the "system of bourgeois economy" is the object of analysis, but rather the totality of the bourgeois form of society. The structure of the total system, of which the present work comprises a version(14) of the fifth, sixth and eighth sections, is as follows:
I Commodities and MoneyThe first four headings cover the structure of a reconstructed capital-analysis (contained in the Appendix under joint authorship). In following subsections of this preface, a more detailed description of some parts of the system will be given. At first sight, the challenge of offering a contribution to a system appears to be beset with insuperable difficulties. Apart from the general distaste for thinking systematically, the debate in and around marxism over Marx's system fragment, even one hundred years after Marx's death, is marked by severe divergences(15) of interpretation on the one hand and by unshakeable complacency on the other. The present work does not deal with the disputes around the critique of political economy directly. It is founded on the Sydney-Konstanz group's reconstruction of Capital (cf. the Appendix), which has crystallised out of research and discussions starting with a research project organised by Mike Roth in Konstanz in 1971. Genuine critique aside. no one will be able to accuse us of putting forward half-baked ideas in our concise reconstruction. Reference will be made throughout in the main text to this reconstruction, as well as to Marx's texts. /xiii)
Our reconstruction, like all scientific argumentation, is open to criticism. This criticism presupposes of course the rare reader who is willing to take the trouble of mastering the argumentation and uncovering any defects therein. The attempt to build on the capital-analysis in the areas of competition and the state has shed light also on the fundamental concepts of the capital-analysis in connection with the aim of grounding a critique of the bourgeois forms. This form-analysis does not seek to 'reduce' superstructural phenomena to economic phenomena, nor to 'explain' superstructural phenomena causally in terms of economic factors. Instead, it aims at grasping the whole in thought. at laying bare the 'inner band' constituting this whole and at showing in which sense humans are not subject of their own social life and history, and the consequences thereof.
The present work is a philosophically oriented critique of two spheres of modern bourgeois reality, not a treatise on economics, nor a sociological study. Qualitative form is the focus of attention and not objective economic (or other) 'laws of motion' (which in any case are a hoax). The analysis makes no claim to being able to chart the historical development of bourgeois society. This latter activity of Understanding is to be contrasted with the speculative Reason of critique(17), which modern social science thought it had banished forever under a cloud of disgrace. In its fundamental characteristics and through all the immense variation in particularity thrown up by bourgeois history, the bourgeois form of society is subject - according to the programmatic claim - to the same essential critique as when Marx published in 1867 the first volume of his theory of the "present society"(CI 21;KI 16). In conceiving this work as the second part of a form-analysis, I have without doubt diverged from Marx's intention, in Capital, of explicating "the economic law of motion of modern society"(Cl 20, KI 15). There is nevertheless a line of development in Marx's critique of political economy, starting with the infamous and neglected value-form analysis of the third subsection of the first chapter of Capital and with corresponding texts in the Grundrisse, the Critique and the first edition of Capital, which although entirely at odds with the exoteric labour theory of value, can be fruitfully interpreted and reconstructed(18). In the /xiv) work of reconstruction - and self-evidently of necessity in the work of extension - it cannot be a matter of the juxtaposition of Marx quotations or the recounting of argumentation, but of developing an autonomous argumentation which, whilst owing a great deal to Marx, ultimately has to be assessed on its own merits.
In recent times, the efforts to reconsider the Marxian theory as a system in which concepts are derived one from the other, has not found especial favour, particularly not in English-speaking marxism. Even in West Germany. the spiritual home of Ableitungsmarxismus, the approach enjoyed only an ephemeral flowering. Part of the debate centred on the conflict between a logical and a logical-historical mode of presentation. The representatives of the 'logical' approach were in the main accused of operating with dry, abstract concepts which have a restricted validity in analysing the historically given capitalist societies. The abstract, bloodless categories, according to this position, should take on some colour by incorporating historical material arising in overabundance in every phase of capitalist development. The defenders of a logical position maintained on the contrary that little clarity about the status of the categorial development in Marx's Capital has been won, especially not by the proponents of a logical-historical position. The relationship between dialectical transitions in the capital-analysis and historical material, When not treated in a comically dogmatic and cursory /xv) way by referring to Engels' (in any case contradictory) remarks on the subject, has not received any satisfactory treatment at the hands of the logical-historicists. Here, a more detailed discussion of this debate cannot be gone into(19).
The doctrinaire defenders of a derivationist approach have been unable to give a clear and plausible account about how a 'logical' theory can be constructed. This inability has served to reinforce the prejudices of 'common sense' marxists. Here we clear away a few of the most obvious misconceptions. With the term 'logical', everyday conception usually associates a way of argumentation bound by strict rules in which one step follows from the preceding one with necessity. Mathematics is taken as the paradigm for such an argumentation. For those allergic to mathematics, it can be said that systematic thinking does not work with a mathematical form of proof (although it does make strenuous demands on the reader). Not only are the contents of a systematic social theory entirely different from mathematics - the one deals with the qualitative forms of social relations and phenomena, the other with space and time - but also the form of presentation. As Hegel points out in the preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit and elsewhere, the mathematical form of proof - contrary to a popular misconception - possesses no inner necessity but only the reassurance that the steps of the proof lead eventually to the desired result, namely, to the theorem which is to be proven. As opposed to this, systematic thinking argues for each transition in the presentation not by the application of axioms and rules of deduction, but by making clear why the presentation cannot come to rest at the systematic level already reached.
A further difference of systematic thinking from mathematical or other types of logical thinking is its relationship to the phenomenality of the social world. This phenomenality is not negated and replaced by axioms and formal rules of deduction. Rather, the initial and further development of the presentation depends on it taking account of the contents of everyday consciousness(20). The latter is not abstractly negated by systematic thinking, but enters into a dialogue with it. Hegel formulates this as follows: /xvi)
Against that therefore, which consciousness declares within itself to be the in itself or the true, we have the yardstick which it itself erects and against which it measures its knowledge ... Consciousness gives its yardstick in itself and the investigation will be thereby a comparison of itself with itself. (Ph.G 77,76)The yardstick is not dragged in from the outside, as a normative Ought which is to blame reality for its shortcomings on the basis of an a priori moral code, but is an immanent "comparison of itself with itself".
At the beginning of the presentation stand the proponent of the dialectical theory and the opponent, who has a practical, everyday knowledge of life in modern bourgeois society. The proponent takes certain elements of this everyday consciousness in forming the first concepts of the analysis. In doing this, the proponent does not deny the opponent his/her everyday knowledge, but makes the claim - indispensable for the construction of the system - to be allowed to determine the systematic level at which the contents and arguments of everyday consciousness may be brought into play. So far, this sounds deceptively simple for anyone acquainted with the endless literature on 'Marx's method', Hegel's speculative logic, or with the methodology of empirical social research.
With the construction of the first concepts of the presentation through an investigation of certain contents of everyday knowledge, the language of analysis is inaugurated. The opponent, who has followed through the construction of these concepts, must now continue the dialogue with the proponent by paying regard to the language of analysis, i.e. to the conceptual categories, developed to that point. The objections formulated by everyday consciousness now have to take the appropriate form of conceptually articulated objections. Everyday consciousness feels itself a little hemmed in, but may nevertheless abide by the rules of the dialogue, and see what comes next. Everyday consciousness is raised beyond its prosaic level - it becomes gebildet and is aufgehoben. Everyday consciousness is gradually taken up and dissolved in the systematic presentation without ever having been negated. The aim of systematic thinking is to achieve a knowledge of the inner connection /xvii) of the bourgeois form of social totality which can be mediated to everyday consciousness by way of the presentation. The presentation comes to a close when the general phenomenality of this social totality has found a place within the presentation at which it has been conceptualised to the satisfaction of the opponent. Everyday consciousness thereby can agree that its general contents have been taken into account by systematic thinking whilst simultaneously gaining insight into the inner coherence in the essential structure of bourgeois social relations, defracted by the chaos of impressions and experiences of everyday life. Dialectical thinking is a coming to rest amongst the chaos which continues to exist as an inchoate mass of confused fragments. Everyday consciousness maintains its validity in daily life in practically dealing with the multi-faceted world with which it is confronted.
The first categories of the analysis initiate the investigation of the essence of capitalist society, an essence which the analysis claims to have found within the anatomy of capitalist economy. These first fundamental concepts are the basis upon which the whole conceptual structure arises, and are thus crucial for the presentation. They formulate the inner thread which can be drawn through the whole analysis and which allows the bourgeois form of society to be conceptualised precisely as a TOTALITY. Systematic thinking reveals bourgeois society to be a connected whole in a sense which can only be shown by the presentation itself. This is simultaneously a ground for thinking in a system. According to its claim, the real object, the bourgeois form of society, is indeed a connected whole, a system, which can only be successfully comprehended when thinking likewise constructs conceptually the connection between the parts.
The true is the whole. The whole however is only the essence which completes itself through its development.(Ph.G 24)Formulated in another way, systematic thinking can be conceived as the investigation of the general form of society which arises necessarily on the basis of the indirect Vergesellschaftung of labour through the commodity form. The generality of the theory as form-analysis arises from the fact that the phenomenality /xviii) of bourgeois society is not uniquely determined by the essential relations of production but is nevertheless unique in its form - and that not as an 'ideal type' from which reality diverges to a greater or lesser extent.(cf. further below, on epochal validity).
If on the one hand systematic thinking does not abstractly negate the phenomenality of everyday life, on the other, it does not surrender the stringency of a conceptual development. It exerts itself to make the transitions from one level of the analysis to the next convincing and unarbitrary. The incorporation of new elements of everyday consciousness into the analysis does not happen capriciously, but is prepared by the preceding level of the analysis.
Scientific knowing however demands rather the surrender of oneself to the life of the object or, in other words, to have before oneself and express the inner necessity of the object. (Ph.G 52)The necessity of the movement of the presentation is bound to the concept of CONTRADICTION, which gives systematic theory its DIALECTICAL character. The first concepts of the presentation articulate a DOUBLEDNESS in reality consisting of two moments, PARTICULARITY and UNIVERSALITY, which are MUTUALLY DEPENDENT and simultaneously SUNDERED from one another. This sundering means that each moment contains within it the implicit claim to be the WHOLE; the moments are thus in this sense MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE. The contradiction can only exist in reality in that one moment is SUBORDINATED to the other. The movement of the presentation is the movement of the contradiction between the two moments. In part, the analysis is the investigation of the DOMINATION OF THE ONE MOMENT, UNIVERSALITY OVER THE OTHER. In other parts, the analysis is of the FORM OF MOVEMENT OF PARTICULARITY in the shadow of universality. In yet other parts, the analysis is of the forms in which the two moments strive for RECONCILIATION and IDENTITY with one another. Identity, however, could only be achieved if the contradiction ceased to exist in reality, in which case, it would no longer make sense to speak of two separated moments. The CONTRADICTION BETWEEN UNIVERSALITY AND PARTICULARITY is thus the INNER MOTOR of the presentation, which at the same time /xix) constitutes the INNER BAND. The revelation of this contradiction in ALL its ramifications is the CRITIQUE of the bourgeois form of society(21).
In this way the dialogue with everyday consciousness, expressible in Hegelian terms as a phenomenology, is also an immanent movement, driven by the necessity of the concept. In the attempts at the reconstruction of a critical social philosophy, the one aspect of the argumentation should not be played out at the expense of the other. The systematic presentation is neither a logical deduction of one concept from another, nor is it a mere stringing together of everyday phenomena in a convenient order which does not exceed the self-understanding of everyday consciousness.
The systematic presentation brings social phenomena to their concept. The concept itself is first developed in dialogue with the contents of everyday consciousness. In this sense, systematic thinking is a constructivist methodology(22). It builds its language of analysis up in a stepwise dialogical development. The bringing of a phenomenon to its concept is simultaneously the demonstration of its place within the total connection of the social phenomenality. At the same time, this bringing of a phenomenon to its concept is strenuous and demands an attention to the formulation of the conceptual language of the analysis as well as to the distinction between systematic levels. Libertarian and lazy elements in everyday consciousness experience a strong disinclination at this thought, which however is not insuperable if consciousness makes clear to itself that the effort will not be wasted.
To refrain from ones own interference with the immanent rhythm of the concepts, not to intervene with caprice and other acquired wisdom, this reservedness is itself an essential moment of attentiveness to the concept. (Ph.G 56)Although systematic thinking remains in dialogue with everyday consciousness, its claim to be able to determine the place at which the moments of everyday consciousness are brought into the presentation can seem to everyday consciousness to do violence to it. The demands of the systematic presentation can lead to the separation of moments which for natural consciousness 'naturally' belong together. As real imagined object, the concept formed of /xx) it by bracketing certain aspects, for everyday consciousness, seems poor and unreal. The real object appears dismembered. This appearance of dismembering, this "activity of separating" (Ph.G 36), arises in the contrast between the natural connections, including causal relations, assumed by everyday consciousness in daily life and the unfamiliar connections which systematic thinking exposes through its determinations by reflection (Reflexionsbestimmungen). To everyday consciousness, the inner connection constructed by separating its moments appears alien and fictitious. The former can only convince itself of the adequacy and justice of the systematic ordering and dissecting by following through the argumentation itself to see if in fact an inner connection is successfully constructed. The strangeness of the methodological dissection is to be compensated for by the insight into the essential relations, which strips away the natural self-evidence of accepted everyday phenomena and forms of consciousness. Everyday consciousness is shaken by its encounter with systematic thinking, and may resist the attempt to reconstruct its apparent obviousnesses. It often does this by refusing to accept the rules of the systematic dialogue, and counterposes its own idea of what social theory should look like (Marx's 'materialist method', 'history', 'concrete analysis', 'discourse analysis', 'semiotic delinquency', etc. etc.). Through this stratagem, a dialogue never gets off the ground. Well and good, there are lots of fascinating things in the world, and one can't do everything. Systematic thinking can only make clear its demand that everyday consciousness take leave of the well-known and its preconceptions and give itself over to the unfolding of the systematic argument. "Conversely, the individual has the right to demand that science reaches the ladder to this standpoint to him/her." (Ph.G 29)
The final question to which we turn in this subsection is that concerning the epochal validity of the analysis. Against the astounding rush of historical change and specificity, for naive consciousness it seems daring to claim as theoretical object an epochally valid form of society. Systematic thinking enters into dialogue and dispute with everyday consciousness as it exists in contemporary, modern society. It claims to conceptualise the specific form of bourgeois society by relating to certain moments /xxi) of everyday consciousness in a characteristic way. Everyday consciousness itself knows only its present form, and what it has heard of history, and cannot itself select those elements which possess an epochally universal validity. This selection is a task left for systematic thinking. It must be able to construct its categories in such a way that not only the definite limited phase or only a particular society is conceptualised. The systematic presentation is exposed to a test of its validity in every historical phase and every particular society through the reader's attempt to make sense of the argument. Although bourgeois society is characterised by continuous rapid and sometimes momentous change, systematic thinking claims to have grasped the general forms within which this change takes place. The forms themselves are universal. Not only the particular situation (structure of institutions, state of technology, concentration of capital, etc. etc.) as it actually exists at a specific point of time is of relevance for systematic thinking, but above all the forms of consciousness, which may represent a demand on reality rather than encapsulating the actually existing state of affairs. Forms of consciousness are not tied to the here and now of the historically particular situation, but can refer to both past and future. The forms of consciousness refer not only to how in a particular society the social and private life is actually organised but also to how consciousness thinks reality could or should be. This consciousness of Should and Could exists in the present and forms part of the material with which systematic thinking disputes. Systematic thinking aims at grasping the general social form of the social spheres, economy, state and private life, as well as their relation to one another. Their particular shape and relation to one another can alter historically without invalidating the systematic analysis.
Epochal validity refers immediately to a philosophical theme. Whereas sociology, economic and other social sciences concern themselves with particular constellations of phenomena observed within definite co-ordinates of time and space, philosophy occupies itself with the universal character of our social situation. The historical birth of bourgeois society was simultan- /xxii) eously the period in which classical bourgeois social philosophy attempted to give an account of bourgeois society per se. In doing this, it concerned itself with questions of morality, ethics and the general character of capitalist economy. The dissolution of philosophy in the various social sciences has meant that sight has been lost of central universal socio-philosophical themes. Certain key phenomena nevertheless recur again and again in various disguises in philosophy and the social sciences, even if they are today quickly gone over in favour of more particular, context-bound questions, or held at arm's length with a positivist scepticism. One question which has been suppressed more and more by philosophy and social science, to a point where most academics no longer see any point whatsoever in posing it, is: What is capital? Economics talks continually about capital, and does very well even in its lack of being able to ground one of its basic concepts. A similar remark holds for the question: What is bourgeois freedom? Sociology fashions the question into a problem which can be treated by empirical methods, and gives at most definitions of what is meant by the term. Philosophy handles the question in ethics and finds itself incapable of providing a form-determinate concept. This incapacity is intimately bound to the failure of philosophy to adequately conceptualise private property. Classical bourgeois philosophy operated in a problematic inseparable from that of political economy. Since the two have parted company, neither is able to provide a concept of private property; they mutually hinder one another.
A further external indication that a critical social theory concerns itself with central, epochally valid categories is the necessity of a dispute with alternative theories and partial theories during the course of the presentation. In this dispute, the alternative theories are treated as aspects of everyday consciousness, or more precisely, as attempts to work up everyday consciousness or aspects thereof into an understanding of itself. In the centre of this dispute stands the consideration of a correct conceptualisation of the 'free market' capitalist economy, the bourgeois-democratic state, the private life of the bourgeois individual, and the relation between them. In this way, systematic /xxiii) thinking carries on a dialogue not only with the naive conceptions which spring literally out of everyday life, but also and especially, with opposed, more or less elaborated theoretical positions. The latter dialogue represents also the greater exertion for systematic thinking, because elaborated theories make pretensions to scientific legitimacy and therefore enjoy a following which is prepared to argue against or dismiss the arguments of systematic thinking. "It is however far more difficult to bring fixed thoughts into motion than sensuous consciousness." (Ph.G 37) If one proceeds from the conception of an ideal speech situation, one could take the attitude, let the fisticuffs begin, and let the better position win. The present work is called an outline partly because it does not try to fight out every skirmish; rather, it sounds a battle cry.
An explication of the object of systematic thinking, the relation of the presentation at hand to the Marxian theory, and a description of the whole system into which the present work fits will be provided in the following subsections.
Form-analysis is to be distinguished from the predominant understanding of historical-materialism as a theory of historical development. Adorno polemicised against this conception of social theory, which can be found also in the writings of the founders of scientific socialism: xxiv)
It was a matter of the deification of history also with the atheist Hegelians Marx and Engels. The primacy of the economy is supposed to ground with historical rigour the happy ending as immanent to it; the economic process is supposed to produce the political relations of domination and revolutionise them to the point of a compulsive liberation from the compulsion of the economy. (Adorno 1966 p.313)Modern marxism and other critical theories cannot be regarded as having freed themselves from some variant or other of a mechanics of history. Such theory has no way of intervening in history as an explicit critique of consciousness which could initiate a movement leading away from the present form of society. Without this explicit critique, consciousness will never see the sense of putting the forms into question.
Developmental theory can be understood in two senses: firstly, as a theory of the progression of class societies from epoch to epoch, and secondly, as a theory of capitalist development within the bourgeois epoch(23). Both these variants of Histomat are well represented within marxism. The first owes its classical formulation to Engels' Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, which served as basic text for a series of vulgarisations within German Social Democracy, and which was elaborated on by Stalin in On Dialectical and Historical Materialism. The second variant is represented by massive amounts of contemporary marxist literature, and finds its classical formulation perhaps with Hilferding's Finance Capital and Sweezy's Theory of Capitalist Development. A competing developmental theory, both trans-epochal and within the bourgeois epoch, is Habermas' and his school's proposed reconstruction of historical materialism(24).
Form-analysis, in marking itself off from developmental theory, takes as its starting point the striking autonomy of the argumention in Capital when understood as a systematic argumentation aiming at the conceptualisation of epochal categories. The debate between systematic theory and developmental theory finds a firm ground for contestation in the interpretation of the Marxian capital-analysis. There, the decisive point is a clarification of the distinction between a logical and a logical-historical mode /xxv) of presentation. The theorist who has occupied himself most intensively with this question is Hans-Georg Backhaus. He has shed light upon the methodological problems of Marx's texts in relation to the perplexing phenomenon of the various versions (published by Marx himself) of the Marxian value theory. According to Backhaus, of the four versions of the Marxian form-analysis of commodities and money, the first, which appeared in the Critique of 1859, presents the value theory most consistently as a dialectical, 'logical' argumentation. The logical analysis is clearly separated from the historical, which latter comprises only the last two pages of the analysis of commodities and money in the first chapter of the Critique.
In this pseudo-historical appendix of the first version of the Marxian value theory however one must see the germ of its later 'historicisation' and 'vulgarisation' by Marx himself, above all however by the late Engels and the marxist interpreters. (Backhaus 1981 p.156f)This statement by Backhaus is the result of a painstaking study of Marxian and Engelsian texts as well as of letters written by both. Backhaus shows that even Engels did not consistently represent a logical-historical interpretation, but rather oscillated from an historical-logical position in the 1859 review of the Critique, to a logical position in the Konspekt and Anti-Dühring to a final logical-historical position in the foreword and appendix to the third volume of capital of 1894-95. The Engelsian theory of simple commodity production developed in this appendix can be viewed as a consistent conclusion to the tendency towards historicisation already present in the value theory as presented by Marx in the second edition of Capital. Backhaus also shows that Marx's silence on Engels 1859 review, which confusedly outlines a logical-historical mode of presentation, can plausibly be interpreted as an unsureness and unclarity on Marx's part as to the distinguishing characteristics of his 'materialist' manner of presentation as opposed to an Hegelian 'idealist' presentation.
It is of course not to be overlooked that he (Engels ME) feels similar scruples to Marx with regard to 'dialectically won' results. The central problem for their conceptual /xxvi) construction: how, on the basis of a non-idealist 'scientific' theory, 'dialectically won' results can he grounded, occupies both again and again. ... The Engelsian statements on method in the 1859 review have scarcely anything in common with Marx's actual procedure. If Marx did not 'tear up' or 'rectify' even this passage of the review, then one can only see in this a further index for the fact that he was not able to win any proper clarity about the distinctiveness of his procedure. (Backhaus 'Materialien 4' 1979 pp.21f, 23)It can easily be shown that the reference to historical data as an additional means of proof for dialectical argumentation, at least in relation to the value theory, reveals itself to be an empty, mythological construction. Marx's unclarity about his own methodological mode of procedure and the resultant multitude of versions of the value theory must be seen as the primary source of vulgarisation and neglect of the niceties of the value theory in the hands of Marx's interpreters.
After the appearance of the first version of the value theory, Marx admits in a letter to Kugelmann that there must be "something defective in the first presentation". (Marx to Kugelmann 13.10.1866) This admission is connected with the disappointing reception of the Critique even in the circle of political comrades. Wilhelm Liebkhecht commented that he had never before "been so disappointed by a book" (Marx to Engels 22.7.1859). Such evidence leads Backhaus to the conclusion that
Very quickly after the appearance of the Critique, Marx must have had the experience of not having been properly understood. (Backhaus 'Materialien 4' 1979 p.15)Marx's disappointments at the reception of his work did not stop with the appearance of the first edition of Capital Volume I in 1867. We pursue this matter of how Marx's theory was immediately received in order to highlight the difficulties with which Marx was confronted in having his theory taken seriously at all. In particular, the story following is instructive in showing how the stubbornness of editors and readers who basically do not want to upset their prejudices tempts Marx to make a greater effort to popularise - and thereby cut off access to the radical kernel of /xxvii) his theory. The editors of the Marx-Engels Werke write:
The nine reviews by Engels of Marx's Capital hitherto discovered were part of a plan worked out by Marx and Engels to counteract a bourgeois 'conspiracy of silence' (directed against the Critique ME). (Engels 1981 p.143 n.1)The editors do not mention that not only the German Nationalökonomie but by and large also the German workers' movement had ignored the Critique. To avoid a recurrence of this fate, Marx and Engels organised the publication of reviews in Germany and elsewhere, and had hopes of publishing a longer review, in two parts, in a British magazine, The Fortnightly Review, "founded in May 1865 by a group of bourgeois radicals"(MEW editors in Engels 1981 p.146). According to the editors,
For this review Marx and Engels repeatedly exchanged opinions as to content and form, as can be seen from their correspondence. Marx gave advice and wrote also variants for individual passages, which Engels completely took up in the text. The article was to appear under the name of Samuel Moore, a friend of Engels. (Engels 1981 p.146)If one goes through the correspondence between Marx and Engels between January and July 1868 (when Engels had finished writing the review), some curious points come to light.
Marx had contact with a certain Prof. Beesly of the University of London, who was closely associated with the First International.
Prof. Beesly, who is one of the triumvirate which secretly runs this rag, has ... declared, he is "morally certain" (it depends on him!) a criticism would be accepted. (Marx to Engels 8.1.1868)In his letters to Marx of 16 and 23 January, Engels asks Marx's advice concerning the review. The following sentences deserve attention:
In the first article I will probably be able to touch on the money-system - although important for England - only fleetingly; otherwise it will take up the whole article. If we could bring a second, then it could still come in. What do you think? (Engels to Marx 23.1.1868)In answer to this question, one finds only the sentence: xxviii)
As soon as your article for the 'Fortnightly' is at hand, Lafargue can turn it into French for the 'Courier francais'. (Marx to Engels 1.2.1868)Engels could not have found this answer very satisfying. He writes:
Although the matter concerning money is important and interesting, also for England (?!), I think it is appropriate this time to let it fade into the background; it would detract from the main topic and demand a long discussion so that the English reader would even understand that it is a matter of simple money as such, which s/he is used to imagining only in its intertwining with credit money, etc. What do you think? (Engels to Marx 2.2.1868)In Engels' estimation, the "matter concerning money" is a secondary matter, which "would detract from the main topic", namely, the surplus-value theory as theory of class exploitation. The review he finally writes in June 1868 indeed deals almost exclusively with the surplus-value theory, and makes only a passing reference to the money theory:
(The first chapter of the first edition ME) contains a new and very simple value- and money-theory, which is scientifically speaking extremely interesting, which we however will leave out of consideration, since for that which we hold to be the essence of Mr. Marx's views on capital, it is on the whole secondary (!) (MEW16 289)In this cursory way, Engels pushes Marx's "value- and money-theory" to one side. Quite astounding is the description of the "value- and money-theory" as "very simple". This description contradicts not only Marx's self-estimation (Preface to the first edition Cl 18;KI 11), but even Engels' estimation in a review he wrote on 12.10.1867 for the Rheinische Zeitung (which was never published). In this review Engels writes:
We add that, apart from the somewhat strongly dialectical matters in the first forty pages, the book, despite all scientific rigour, is nonetheless very easy to grasp... (Engels 1981 p.22)It seems that Engels took an easy way out in the review for the 'Fortnightly'. Perhaps not wanting to scare the English reader with a mention of dialectics. he misrepresents the value and /xxix) money theory as "very simple". In any case, that Engels regarded the exploitation theory as the central point of the first volume, is clear. In reply to the above-quoted letter, Marx writes to Engels:
I am completely of your opinion that at first you should not go more closely into the money theory, but only hint that the matter is treated in a new way. (4.2.1868)Marx was thus in agreement with Engels that the money theory was secondary for the purpose of introducing his work to the public, although he only puts the word "new", and not the words "very simple" into Engels' mouth. Marx himself therefore concurs with the introduction of a hiatus between the value theory and the theory of surplus-value (here including the theory of absolute and relative surplus-value production). The latter is obviously viewed by Marx as containing the critical content amenable to political agitation. The value theory is relegated to a scientific status, important for superseding other economic theories, but secondary from the viewpoint of radical politics. The history of marxism has entrenched this caesura between the first and second Parts of Volume I. A critical content of the value and money theory has never made itself felt in the political sphere. Marx himself was not in a position to clarify the critical import of the connection between the categories of the value theory and those of the surplus-value theory. The dialectical figures of the value-form analysis were not regarded by Marx as being essential for making the critique of capitalist relations implied by the surplus-value theory lucid. If this had been so, then it would have been folly to suppress the value theory in even a short article which was to have had political reverberations. Marx's increasing vulgarisation of the dialectical aspects of the value theory, and the lack of a dialectical development of the category of capital out of that of money, have sealed off the critical content of the Marxian theory for over one hundred years.
Because Engels is taken up with business in the Manchester factory, he cannot find the time to come to writing down the "Beesly article" (Engels to Marx 10.4.1868). He has considerable trouble with settling on an appropriate beginning to the article and again asks Marx's advice in letters of 10 and 22 May. Marx replies on /xxx) 23 May, with a draft of a beginning, which Engels actually reworks and incorporates into the review. Concerning the value theory, Marx reiterates his view that it should be skipped, but distances himself slightly in his choice of words:
In my view, since you want (sic) to begin with Chapter II (Part II in the second edition ME) (you must not forget however to draw the reader's attention somewhere to the fact that s/he will find the value- and money-shit presented in a new way in Chapter I) the following could be used as introduction, of course in a form suitable to yourself. (Marx to Engels 23.5.68)Again, here there is only a reference to the newness of the value- and money-theory, and not to its extreme simplicity. Marx is concerned only to point out to the reader the newness of his value theory, and not that it is crucial for his analysis of capitalist production. He apparently has the attitude that the value theory is the logical prerequisite of his theory of capitalist production, but is not indispensable for understanding what this latter theory means, and especially, what the critique is of capitalist production. The marxist discussion in recent years has adopted this apparent Marxian attitude (cf. also Marx's advice to Mrs. Kugelmann) in every way by setting up the problem of whether the Marxian value theory is necessary for the Marxian theory of class exploitation. The Neo-Ricardians have revelled in demonstrating that value magnitudes are redundant in demonstrating that the capitalists expropriate a surplus-product(25).
"From 29 May until about 15 June Marx and his daughter Eleanor stayed in Manchester with Engels."(MEW17 734 ed. note 127) Marx presumably gave Engels more tips for the review during his stay (passages to quote, etc.). In any case, Engels writes to Marx on 22 June with the news that "the article is coming along famously and will be positively ready this week". On 28 June: "The article is ready".
The piece was sent to Prof. Beesly, who "sent it to Henry (Marx is mistaken; he's called John ME) Morley (chief editor of the '-Fortnightly Review')" (Marx to Engels 23.7.1868). And then a couple of weeks later: /xxxi)
Enclosed letter from J. Morley, the chief editor of the 'Fortnightly'. Beesly did his best, but Mr. M. found the thing unreadable. Never mind! (Marx to Engels 10.8.1868)Engels is understandably upset in his next letter about the "petty-minded lousy clique-system", etc.(Engels to Marx 12.8.1868) The affair with the 'Fortnightly' closes with a meeting between Marx and Prof. Beesly:
I had a meeting with Beesly. The subeditor of Morley explained, the development is irreversible. Indeed, the article is too 'dry' for a magazine. Beesly proposes that I popularise the thing, without sacrificing the scientific points. This is rather difficult. However, I will try to. (Marx to Engels 15.10.1868)In the course of the months, Beesly's attitude changes from "moral certainty" that a review could be published, to the view that Marx should try to popularise and not be so dry. Beesly offers an alternative, namely, that the popularised article should appear in the 'Westminster Review'. It appears that here too, nothing came of the off-hand offer.
It is clear from this and other stories that Marx had considerable trouble in finding readers (Samuel Moore was an exception: "The most conscientious reader of your book here is Sam Moore; he has thoroughly worked through over 600 pages, and swots on unflaggingly." (Engels to Marx 19.3.1868) and editors who would take his work seriously. Wilhelm Liebknecht, for example, was frightfully enthusiastic to propagate Marx's theory, although Marx was convinced that he had not "read 15 pages of the book". (Marx to Engels 25.1.1858)
The detailed investigations by Backhaus serve as grounds for initiating a reconstruction of at least the value theory. And since the value theory is the conceptual foundation of the entire conceptual structure of Capital, reconstruction cannot stop short with a new version of the value theory. The methodological remarks provided in II above explicitly set out a particular mode of argumentation which unambiguously marks itself off from any logical-historical methodology. This methodology has been formulated in a consideration not only of Marx, but also of Hegel /xxxii) and of modern German constructivism. By taking an explicit methodological position, the character of dialectics is brought into the open. An explicit dialectics which emphasises the category of contradiction in the context of the contents of the analysis, is able to demonstrate what is implied by critique. This methodology has been applied in our reconstructed capital-analysis (see Appendix). The starting point is a new value theory which results from separating a form-analytic strand of argumentation from a classical labour theory of value of the Ricardian type. Arguments for this separation of the grain from the chaff cannot be gone into here (cf. App.). The reconstruction lays particular emphasis on the fact that the value theory is the foundation of a particular theory of money, namely, as form of value. This value theory of money is simultaneously a critique of all pre-monetary value theories. Commodities and money are to be understood as the form of social synthesis (Vergesellschaftung) of bourgeois labour. This specific concept of the Vergesellschaftung of labour enables then an analysis of the capitalist production, circulation and reproduction processes during which further value-forms, such as wages, surplus-value, capital, rent, interest, profit, fixed and circulating capital, arise. The reader will note from the overall structure given in I above that the order of presentation of the various themes also diverges from Marx's.
Here I do not give a more detailed explication of salient features of our reconstructed capital-analysis. I conclude this subsection with an anticipation of a result won by value-form analytic considerations, which distinguishes it from common interpretations of Marx's theory. The inspiration for this divergence can be found in Marx himself, above all in certain passages in the Grundisse, and also in aspects of Adorno's interpretation of Marx. In Negative Dialectics Adorno stresses a characteristic of capitalist relations as "a universal which realises itself over the heads of the subjects" (Adorno 1966 p.345):
Because the constitutive forms of social synthesis ... maintain their unconditional supremacy over the humans, as if they were divine destiny. (ibid. p.347)In support of this view Adorno quotes the Grundrisse: /xxxiii)
The individuals are subsumed under social production, which exists outside them as a stroke of fate; but social production is not subsumed under the individuals, which employs them as its communal asset.(G 76 cited in ibid. p.327)This passage occurs in a discussion of money and exchange-value, and cannot therefore be interpreted as applying only to the labourers who are subsumed under capital, but to all the individuals caught up in capitalist economy. This generalisation of those who are the 'prisoners' of capitalist relations is taken up by Adorno in his later writings, where he refers to the extension of the power of reified social relations over the capitalists themselves:
Domination over humans is still exercised through the economic process. Its objects are long since not only the masses but also those with power of disposal and their appendage. (Adorno 1970 p.155)This shift of emphasis in the critical import of a social theory signals the displacement of the theory of surplus-value as a theory of class exploitation from its central place in the traditional self-understanding of marxism. The labourers are indeed subsumed under capitalist relations in a characteristic way which involves the creation of surplus-value. The surplus-value theory however is reformulated as the theory of a contradiction on the basis of a form-analytic value theory. The point of the surplus-value theory is not the scientific proof of class exploitation. The concern with an exploitation theory in this sense belongs to the tradition of marxism understood as a science of history of the various class societies, through to bourgeois society. The next step in the march of history should abolish this class exploitation once and for all. Some marxists refer to the surplus-value theory as a theory of the form in which surplus-product is appropriated under capitalism. This is a bare improvement on a vulgar Histomat. Surplus-value is indeed the value-form of the surplus-product appropriated by capital. Some marxists interpret this as a theory of how class exploitation under capitalism is disguised under the value-form. This leads back to an understanding of scientific socialism as uncovering the (hidden) exploitation in capitalism, disguised by the deluding formal equality of /xxxiv) labourer and capitalist as free persons. The formal equality of free persons comes somewhat closer to the crux of a critique of capitalism, but not in connection with the fact that surplus-product is appropriated. Attention should instead be focused on the relation between these free persons, namely, the wage-labour relation.
By virtue of the wage-form (of value), the labourer stands under the domination of the capitalist in the production process. The latter employs the former as an object, as far as possible, like a piece of machinery, in the production of commodities. This NEGATION OF THE LABOURERS' SUBJECTIVITY is the kernel of the critique of capital. The value-categories allow the subjugated subjectivity of the labourers to be expressed. The labourers are subjected to the wage-form - an aspect of the value totality - and to the capitalist's command in the production process - which he can exercise only as personification of the value totality. The value categories articulate that wages and the alien power of capital are nothing but the alienated form of their own labour. The reified form of their own labour subsumes them in the production process. The capitalist is the agent of this subjugation, and simultaneously is himself subsumed under the value-form, as buyer and seller of commodities. In providing the categories for the analysis of the negation of subjectivity through the universal domination of abstract social labour over living labour, the value-form analysis lays the ground for a negation of the negation. If subjectivity were to become aware of the extent of its negation through the abstract universality, this knowledge could lead to a consistent collective act to overcome this subjugation once and for all.
The theme, negation of subjectivity, cannot be restricted to a critique of economy. The bourgeois private sphere presents itself as the realm where subjectivity can flower. Critical thinking can show just how illusory this flowering of subjectivity is in a society where social labour exists as reified totality(26).
The fragmentary character of Marx's theory shows itself as having decidedly political consequences. The critique cannot be made clear without an analysis which grasps the whole. /xxxv)
The competition and capital-analyses are complementary not only from the side of the former, but also from the side of the capital-analysis. The latter operates with a reduced concept of subjectivity; the economic actors appear there merely as the representatives of economic categories, who fulfil roles which are adequate to and identical with aspects of the total valorization process of capital. If terms of intentionality - aims, means, etc., i.e. a terminology of subjectivity - are employed in the capital-analysis, it must be understood that this is the surrogate subjectivity of executors of an economic process which asserts itself in conceptual categories foreign to the conceptions of the subjects of everyday economic life. For this reason, we refer to the actors in the capital-analysis as character-masks. On the level of the competition-analysis, by contrast, forms of subjectivity are thematised which correspond to everyday notions. Here it is a matter of the pursuit of individual aims with appropriate means. The means, property, are well-known to everyday consciousness as is the struggle which results from the implementation of these /xxxvi) means. The concepts formed of these well-known phenomena however are alien to everyday consciousness. The concepts of the competition-analysis reveal the underlying connection existing between the competitive struggle and the process of the value totality; the freedom of private property turns out to be based on an inversion (Umkehrung) of (competition) subject and (value-form) object.
The subjects of competition who appear in the competition-analysis are not to be identified with subjects per se. The concept of subjectivity on the level of competition remains restricted to the pursuit of economic interests. In this sense, the subjects of competition remain economic character-masks. For the sake of terminological clarity, however, the term 'character-mask' is employed only for the level of the capital-analysis. A fuller concept of subjectivity, where for example human needs and emotions come under conceptual scrutiny, will first be developed in the analysis of the private sphere. Roughly speaking, there are four tiers in the articulation of bourgeois subjectivity: character-mask (capital-analysis), subject of competition, private subject; the participation of the subject in the life of the (concrete) universal as citizen can be designated as a fourth broad level of subjectivity (treated in §§100ff). (Parts IX and X of the whole system are here left to one side.)
The conceptual transition from the capital- to the competition-analysis is made via the level of the revenue-form analysis, which is presented in an appropriately modified form in Part I. This is taken as transitionary level in the present work because the various value-form categories and character-masks are there summarised. On this level too, a certain mystification of the process of value-creation has been articulated, which smooths the way to the increasingly imaginary (in relation to the essential value-form objectivity) character of the social relations. It would be a peculiar misconception of the character of systematic thinking to turn this use of categories which to a certain extent mystify the essence into an objection against a systematic mode of presentation which takes forms of appearance of value seriously. In employing revenue-source relations as transitionary categories, /xxxvii) the systematic thread to deeper-lying relations is not lost. On the contrary, thereby, the inner thread is first demonstrated to consciousness. The insistence is made that the essence does not appear immediately - in which case, a dialectical theory would be entirely superfluous - but mediated through forms of appearance. This mediation is performed through successive levels of the analysis. In the main text, we pass over Part IV of the systematic with only a brief mention (cf. §10). This has been done for pragmatic reasons of space, to allow the reader eager to gain a vista of the plains lying behind the capital-analysis the quickest possible access to this new territory. The risk with this propadeutical strategy is that the reader COMPLETELY MISSES THE POINT of the analysis. I make therefore the following caveat: the reader wishing to fully understand or criticise the present work has no alternative in the long run but to work his/her way through the appendix. Since philosophy is a circle, it matters little where consciousness enters it; but it must be prepared to follow this circle back to its starting point, if it is to completely unearth its own presuppositions.
Although in his systematic plan, Marx envisaged a treatment of competition separate from the analysis of capital in general (cf. I above), in the published first volume of Capital remarks on competition are made which can only be regarded as systematic anticipations. In the chapter on the working day, for example, the struggle between the capitalists and wage-labourers over the length of the working day - a theme which properly belongs to the competition-analysis - is discussed. In this context, Marx makes the following statement:
The free competition enforces the immanent laws of capitalist production vis-à-vis the individual capitalist as external compulsion.(Cl 257; KI 286)Similar statements can also be found In the treatment of relative surplus-value production in connection with the introduction of new methods of production (cf. e.g. CI 371; KI 414). Such assertions, in spite of their ring of common sense in the ear of everyday consciousness, are necessarily programmatic. A concept of competitive subjectivity must first be developed before one can grasp what the compulsions of competition are. Marx nowhere /xxxviii) clearly poses nor solves this conceptual problem. If one can claim that dialectical elements are increasingly eliminated in progressive versions of the value theory, then a much more drastic diagnosis holds for later portions of Marx's theory: the care with which Marx worked out a concept of money stands in rude contrast to the conceptually slovenly way in which certain contents of everyday consciousness are drawn into later levels of the analysis as self-explanatory obviousnesses. The analysis does not in the least get behind these obviousnesses to allow consciousness to gain a critical distance to them. Only the course of the analysis, the systematic relation of the competition-analysis to the capital-analysis, is able to elaborate Marx's remarks on the subject of competition in Capital as statements about the competitive action of a form-determinate subjectivity.
In the same section of the Grundrisse where formulations of the overhang of social objectivity are to be found, as quoted above in III, passages can be read which indicate the necessity of complementing the capital-analysis with an analysis of competitive freedom in order to clarify how the subjects of competition deal with the overhang of objectivity with which they are confronted. We quote some Grundrisse passages which hint at the task to be fulfilled by systematic thinking:
...rather, a universal negation results from this bellum omnium contra omnes. The point lies rather in the fact that private interest itself is already a socially determinate interest and can only be achieved within conditions posited by society; that is, it is bound to the reproduction of these conditions and means. It is the interest of the private individual; but its content, as well as form and means of realisation, is given by social conditions independent of all. The social character of the activity, as well as the social form of the product, and the portion which the individual has of production, appears here as something alien and thing-like, opposed to the individuals; not as the behaviour of their mutual opposition, but as their subjugation under relations which exist independently of them and which arise out of the clash of indifferent individuals with one /xxxix) another. The universal exchange of activities and products, which has become a condition of life for each single individual, their mutual connection, appears to them itself alien, independent, as a thing. Although the whole of this movement appears as social process, and although the single moments of this movement proceed from the conscious will and particular purposes of the individuals, the totality of the process appears nevertheless as an objective connection which arises as a natural growth; indeed proceeds from the effect on one another of the conscious individuals but lies neither in their consciousness, nor is it as a whole subsumed under them. (G74 75, 111)Marx's discussion of these topics in the chapter on money indicates that he regards the kernel of this reification of social relations as lying in the commodity form. The adequate articulation of the confrontation of individuals with an alien social objectivity however requires the mediation of many categories which allow such categories as 'private interest', 'means of realisation of private interest', 'mutual opposition of individuals', 'universal exchange of activities and products' to be brought to an adequate conceptualisation. The conceptual language on the level of the analysis of commodities and money, which only initiates the analysis of capitalist form-objectivity, is too poor for the formulation of the richer, more concrete categories of the surface of economic life.
Why is the competition-analysis characterised as a critique of competitive FREEDOM? With this characterisation, it should not be overlooked that freedom is only one side of the coin: the other is the economic COMPULSION of the pre-given value-form objectivity. The analysis of competitive freedom is simultaneously its critique, in that it demonstrates the conditional character of the freedom of competition subjects; it consists precisely in the freedom to compete. The freedom is realised in the pursuit of the economic interest to earn income with appropriate means, namely, with various types of property. This freedom is not to be criticised as illusory, but as merely the obverse side of an indifferent compulsion of social objectivity. Competitive freedom does not /xl) exhaust the bourgeois forms of freedom; consideration of other forms is reserved to later systematic levels.
In terms of bourgeois society's consciousness of itself, freedom constitutes its principal category. Freedom is also a central concern of classical bourgeois philosophy. In particular, the concept of freedom is the fundamental category of Hegel's social theory of modern society in the Philosophy of Right. The present work provides the basis for an immanent critique of Hegel, which is outlined in several of the additions to the systematic paragraphs. This does not exclude that some of Hegel's arguments express with social validity the logic of the present form of life. Some Hegelian arguments will thus be found in the main text, mainly in connection with the analysis of state (cf. V below). The critique of Hegel, who has written one of the most systematically elaborated theories of the bourgeois totality, is not a matter of blank negation of his system, say, on methodologico-epistemological grounds, but rather one of raising it to a new, higher level(27) on which the contradictoriness of the totality is thrown into sharper relief.
The marxist tradition has come to regard Hegel as already superseded, as encapsulated in the all-purpose litmus of the dichotomy, materialism/idealism. Marx is presupposed to have settled accounts with idealism early in his philosophical career, thereby discovering, together with Engels, the 'dialectical-materialist' method, which disposes of Hegelian idealism, and in which historical material serves as reassuring underpinning. As we have discussed in III above, a closer scrutiny of Marx's texts reveals an unsureness on Marx's part in methodological questions. If one begins to doubt whether Marx had developed a dialectical-materialist method which stands Hegel's idealism on its feet, then the convenient dichotomy materialism/idealism in the bag of tricks for disposing of theories loses its credibility. A sensible borderline between Marx and Hegel cannot be drawn methodologically, with a reference to materialism and idealism. The two thinkers are to be distinguished from one another on the level of content of their theories and in their respective theoretical starting points. Marx is namely the theorist who explores the "anatomy of /xli) bourgeois society" from the starting point of the analysis of commodities and money.
The relevance of today providing a critique of competitive freedom is poignantly highlighted when one casts a glance at the apologists of this freedom, such as Friedrich von Hayek and Max Weber. Hayek is a modern defender of the benevolent workings of Adam Smith's 'invisible hand', which purportedly works a miracle which could not be consciously construed. Form-analysis can elucidate the more crippling sideswipes of this capricious hand, which is certainly no helping hand for those with no visible means of support, among others. The influence of Weber in modern social theory is not to be underestimated. He systematises some of the principal prejudices regarding the advisability of bourgeois freedom and the impossibility of achieving anything better historically. The centrality of the concern with the freedom of the individual in economic life from Hobbes to the present day is an index for the fact that we are here dealing with an epochal category. A dialectical concept of competitive freedom is crucial for a critique of bourgeois consciousness.
The tendency within marxism has been to try to show that bourgeois freedom is merely an illusion, that the bourgeois ideals of freedom are never realised(28) and that these ideals are merely a mask for class domination. This tendency finds it hard to accept that there are institutionally guaranteed forms of freedom in bourgeois society (not restricted to the sphere of competition). It further fails to perceive that the mere measuring of empirical reality up against the ideals of bourgeois society leaves the ideal uncriticised. In Hegelian language, the reality of bourgeois society may well not correspond to its concept (which can have disastrous consequences for some of its members), but its concept cannot be criticised through this sort of comparison. To be radical, the critique of bourgeois society must he able to criticise it in its concept, so that consciousness will take leave of certain deceptive ideals. Thirdly, it is not the sole task of theoretical critique to reveal the class character of bourgeois society. This adherence of marxist critique to one aspect of bourgeois reality has rendered it incapable of grasping /xlii) the whole of the bourgeois social form. It substitutes one contradiction in bourgeois society (which has not been adequately characterised, even by Marx himself) for the whole and, when it does not actually ignore other social contradictions, proceeds to subsume the bourgeois world under the schematism of its one critical insight. A variegated dialectical theory would be able to show how the unfreedom of the bourgeois human is perpetrated and perpetuated in and through the bourgeois forms of freedom. Such a theory can open a perspective for consciousness on a conscious, unfetishised form of social freedom, by breaking "the spell of the totality"(29).
The marxist theory of State is in a parlous, even scandalous, condition. Scarcely any progress has been made in the entire marxist discussion towards winning a well,-grounded concept of state. /xliii) It has been a matter of elaborating on the notions about the state as set down already in the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Gramsci. In attempting to construct a critical theory of state from classical sources, the scientificity of the theory has been surrendered. A theory of state must be able to stand on its own feet in order to present an argumentation which would have to be accepted as inter-subjectively binding and not merely insightful for the marxist who, in any case, mostly proceeds from certain unquestioned postulates. The construction of a state theory cannot be compared with the task of reconstruction of the capital-analysis (cf. III above). As we have seen above (I), Marx's plan for a system comprising a theory of state remained unexecuted. There exist no elaborated systematic writings of Marx which could be sensibly taken as the raw material of efforts at reconstruction. The writings of the early Marx on state have either polemical character, e.g. against Hegel (from a radical-democratic standpoint), or are programmatic in the sense that notions of the alienation of the state from society require for their adequate conceptualisation the analysis of economic categories, to which Marx turned only later, with his critique of political economy. In this programmatic sense, the mature Marx fell far behind the young Marx. As early as 1844, in the preface to the Economic-Philosophical Manuscripts, Marx announces an even more ambitious project than that planned at the time of writing of the Grundrisse. Decidedly non-economic themes are named:
I will therefore publish successively in different independent brochures the critique of right, morality, politics, etc. and in conclusion try to give the connection of the whole, the relation of the individual parts as well as finally, the critique of the speculative treatment of this material. For this reason, in the present work one finds the connection of national economy with state, right, morality. bourgeois life, etc. only mentioned insofar as national economy itself mentions these objects ex professo.(Ökonomisch-philosophische Manuskripte Leipzig 1970 p.87 MEW Erg. Bd. p.467)On the other hand, the mature Marx carries out an elaborate realisation of at least the first part of a program whose argument- /xliv) ation is well-explicated and grounded compared to the early works.
Marx's political and historical writings cannot be regarded as having independent scientific value. They contain certain views of Marx on the state, such as its class nature, which first have to be. grounded by a conceptual argumentation, if at all. The Communist Manifesto (written together with Engels), The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon and the Civil War in France possess interest as historical works or in connection with Marx's views on socialist society. In Part IV therefore, we will not discuss these texts.
The roots of the classical marxist theory of state can be found in Engels rather than with Marx. Engels' book The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State must be regarded as the foundation text for all further marxist views on the state. This work, quickly thrown together in the space of two months, during which Engels had visits from friends (Roth 1982 p.145 n.16), suffers from being based on a (mytho)logical-historical mode of presentation rather than a dialectical theory. Historically questionable descriptions stand in for concepts. I was able to learn nothing from this text in my research.
The third influential classical source of the marxist theory of state is Lenin's State and Revolution and related texts. We are confronted with a text which merely re-mouths Marx's and Engels' views on state and which therefore forfeits interest from a scientific perspective. Lenin's polemical aim in writing State and Revolution was to beat the revisionists Kautsky et al over the head with quotations from Marx and Engels. Faithfulness to the masters is the yardstick of his critique, not insightful argumentation which could be assessed independently by the reader. The legacy of this incestuous mode of theory formation is the strikingly unsystematic character of the classical marxist texts on state, which goes hand in hand with the adherence to certain dogmatically held - because conceptually ungrounded - ideas about the state. The most important of these is the class nature of the bourgeois state. Even Gramsci, whose genuine innovations in thinking on the state (although, systematically speaking, chaotic) /xlv) cannot be gone into here, does not problematise the axiomatic character of the class state. For any systematically argued critical theory of the bourgeois state (we are not interested in developing a general, transepochal notion of state), the dispute around the marxist notion of class state must assume a central position. Quotations from Marx supporting this view cannot decide the dispute one way or the other. The question is not whether the bourgeois state is a sphere of a form of society in which there are social classes. (Although it is to be noted that the common understanding of social classes constitutes a point of contention in the present work.) The question to be settled by form-analysis is whether the bourgeois state is to be conceptualised as class-state, in the sense of an agency of the ruling classes (Ausschuß der herrschenden Klassen). To satisfy the reader's curiosity, it can be said that this latter notion of the state is discarded by form-analysis as a piece of pure dogma useless to anyone trying to give a convincing account of the social form, state. The reader interested in what form-analysis positively has to offer for a critique of the state is referred to Part IV. We mention only that we do not serve up the old marxist (not necessarily Marx's).soup one more time, and provide arguments instead which can counter other (bourgeois) conceptions of the state by showing the grain of truth within them, but not at the cost of sacrificing the critique of value-form categories. On the contrary, a successful critique must be able to enter into a dialogue with other views on the state, and thereby dissolve them in the systematic argumentation. The senselessness of the confrontation between marxist and bourgeois theories of state, at least on the marxist side, can be seen in the failure of the marxists to self-critically reflect whether, or in which sense, the notion 'class state' can be made a grounded critical category.
The conception of state as an instrument of class domination is presented nowhere-more unequivocally than with Lenin. Despite all the critique of Leninism in its political form, a reassessment of his views on state has not led to any advance on the conceptualisation of state in the marxist discussion. Like Engels, and Marx in his popularising Histomat variant, Lenin poses the /xlvi) problem of state historically rather than conceptually:
The most important thing if one is to approach this question scientifically is not to forget the underlying historical connection, to examine every question from the standpoint of how the given phenomenon arose in history and what were the principal stages of its development, to examine what it has become today. (Lenin, 'The State' SW3 261)This methodology is firmly in the tradition of the logical-historical mode of argumentation, which, in the end, simply replaces conceptual problems with historical questions as to origins, sequences and correlations. In the hands of Lenin, this historical approach leads to bone-crunching, overbearing orthodoxy where theory is treated as the distillation of a quintessence extracted from historical material:
Engels' book The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State... is one of the fundamental works of modern socialism, every sentence of which can be accepted with confidence, in the assurance (!) that it has not been said at random (cf. p.xliv above ME) but is based on immense historical and political material.(ibid.)This is nothing other than an invitation to scientific paternalism, an attitude amenable to moulding marxism into a state religion. No wonder then that the average Soviet citizen has a stomachful of Marx, and those intellectual refugees from the East who still find something useful in Marx are deeply imbued with a Histomat2 conception.
The historical mode of argumentation is to assert that where class society has existed, the state has also existed, from which the conclusion can be drawn, voilà:
The state is a machine for the oppression of one class by another, a machine for holding in obedience to one class other, subordinated classes. (ibid. p.267)Does this conception capture the character of state? Is anyone to be critically enlightened in the long run by such statements without ossifying into dogmatism? Is the conception of state as "an apparatus of physical coercion, an apparatus of violence" (ibid. p.265) adequate? It presupposes that the instrument of domination /xlvii) is met by the active resistance of the dominated class. Otherwise, the physical coercion and violence would be only latent. Where the exploited class does not organise its political resistance to the state itself, or to the dominant classes, as in the present period in all bourgeois countries, the Leninist conception of state has an empty ring of revolutionary fervour appealing only to Trotskyist sects. Lenin's notion of state derives basically from revolutionary periods, from which we today are far removed. (Which raises the question for a critic of bourgeois society: Was Tun?) The one-sided notion of class domination precludes Lenin from taking bourgeois freedom and equality at all seriously: "all citizens supposedly become equal" (ibid. p.269) in the bourgeois epoch, "all were regarded as equal before the law irrespective of what capital each owned" (ibid.). The labourer is treated as "a poor man who own(s) nothing but his labour-power" (ibid.) and at the same time as "possessing no property" (ibid.), as "propertyless workers" (ibid. p.270). This inconsistency in formulation of the property status of the labourer, an inconsistency running through the entire marxist literature (cf.e.g. §74Aa-e), indicates a deeper-lying misconception of the critique of capitalism. Lenin's emphasis on the propertylessness of the labourers in capitalism allows him to criticise the 'illusion' of equality under the system of private property. The underlying inequality expresses itself, as Lenin emphasises in ever new variants, in "a situation in which some gorge while others starve" (ibid. p.274). The critique of capitalism is thus a critique of the gap between rich and poor. Since this injustice should be obvious even to naive bourgeois consciousness, the task of socialist politics is not so much predicated on a conceptual understanding of the reality which is to be changed, but on political organisation around slogans about class oppression and inequality in material wealth and economic power. Those who point out the real (abstract) formal equality of bourgeois individuals as property-owners and the freedom to compete with this private property, can only be answered with a demand for 'concrete' equality and the accusation that they are class enemies of the proletariat. End of the discussion, the revolutionary class struggle begins. No further clarity is striven for about the category of the labourers' freedom of private /xlviii) property in their own bodies. In denying that in the bourgeois epoch the labourers have certain forms of universally valid freedom, the crude view of the state as "a machine for the suppression of some people by others" (ibid. p.273) lies to hand. All other accounts of the state have to be discarded as lies and insidious obfuscations which mask the interests of the capitalist and land-owning classes. Lenin is only able to write a dogmatic view of the state which denies a validity to views which take the existing forms of bourgeois freedom seriously, and, in spite of this, SUBJECT THEM TO CRITIQUE. Lenin's critique avoids debate on the very issues which would allow him a real contestation with his bourgeois revisionist opponents. The problems which Lenin perceives are political rather than theoretical in nature, of the political propagation of correct and easily understood historical ideas. The question of state is posed by him in a simple either/or manner:
Is the state in a capitalist country, in a democratic republic ... an expression of the popular will, the sum total of the general decision of the people, the expression of the national will, and so forth; or is the state a machine that enables the capitalists of those countries to maintain their power over the working class and the peasantry? (ibid. p.270)The author who exaggeratedly emphasises the absolute necessity of studying the "WHOLE of Hegel's LOGIC" to understand anything of Capital, expresses himself here in a somewhat less than dialectical manner. With this either/or logic, a real problematising of a concept of state is foreclosed once and for all. One can be either a defender of the bourgeoisie or a champion of the proletariat. The critique of the bourgeois state is already encapsulated in its asserted class nature. The tenacity with which marxism has clung to this view of state, which can say nothing worth mentioning about the contradictoriness of the bourgeois forms of freedom, lies at the core of the impasse at which modern marxism finds itself. Instead of posing the problem of a critique of state, marxism has taken the easy way out, and fled into the empirical social sciences.
An awakening of interest in a theory of the bourgeois superstructure /xlix) based upon a systematically conceived capital-analysis blossomed briefly in the first half of the seventies in the West German Staatsableitung debate. Only relatively late in the piece did English-speaking marxism come to read about this debate with the publication of a collection of papers in Holloway and Picciotto (eds.) State and Capital: A Marxist Debate (London 1978). In the following pages, the editors' introduction will be discussed in order to show how a German development in theory, which offered at least the prospect of a serious rethinking and consolidation of Marx's theory, has been entirely misused and misinterpreted in the context of British marxism(30), by selecting only those (brashly orthodox) elements of the debate which can affirm entrenched prejudices. With phrases such as the "limits of the logical 'state derivation' approach" (Holloway & Picciotto 1978 p.25), the fact is masked that the German debate came to no successful execution of even the "first step" of its original task, formulated by Holloway and Picciotto as:
to 'derive' the state as a political form from the nature of the capitalist relations of production, as a first step towards constructing a materialist theory of the bourgeois state and its development. (ibid. p.2)Even this formulation, which makes a concession to a systematic problematic, treats the "derivation" as an irksome prelude to the real task of a "developmental" theory. With the ebbing of the student movement, the rollback against marxists in German universities, and the West German left's farewell to Marx, the occupation with capital-analytic theory has become more and more of a curiosity (from the perspective of 1984). The worsening of political conditions reinforced and furthered an inner tendency of the debate to capitulate and dissolve into empirical and historical studies. This does not prevent this dissolution being presented in a thoroughly positive light not only by British and American marxists, but also by West German leftists(31).
To return to our authors: the scare quotes around 'derive' in the above quoted passage already indicate that Holloway and Picciotto are sceptical about derivation. They make several apologies to the reader with the effect that his/her anglo-saxon wariness about /l) a project of systematic derivation is left unshaken, so that in the end form-analysis becomes a vague and empty phrase signifying a development in theory whose assimilation and truncation by traditional marxism should pose no insurmountable difficulties. The West German debate never reached any clarity over what 'derivation' means, and thus drew on notions of formal-logical deduction on the one hand, and of causality on the other. Neither notion offers much at all for the aim of a critique, and it is no wonder that West German marxists quickly came to the apparent limits of the derivation debate. A logical deduction exhausts itself with analytic conclusions drawn from a prioristic axioms, not exactly the thing to set a critical spirit on fire. The search for causal relations, in the time-honoured manner of the social sciences, seeps very quickly into historical and empirical research. The project of a dialectical theory of the superstructure seems to vaporize before the eyes. The derivationists themselves never came across the idea of critique as phenomenological form-analysis. There thus exist some grounds on which Holloway and Picciotto can be excused for their wooden, sclerotic representation of derivation, especially when one considers that their contact with the German debate was mediated by Joachim Hirsch.
Their summary of the debate opens with the acquiescing phrase: "Since the 'state derivation' debate often appears to be so abstract..." (ibid. p.15) and concludes with the calming reassurance: "If the reader finds the debate at times too formal and abstract, these criticisms (Wer denkt abstrakt? ME) are partly justified. (ibid. p.30) With such remarks, the authors guarantee that the distaste for conceptual thinking will only be reinforced. The three contributors to the book who represent the dissolution and provisional failure of the derivation debate (Hirsch, Gerstenberger, Braunmühl) are presented as its saviours in that they "raise in different forms the question of the limits of the form-analysis of the state." (ibid. p.29)(32)
Why it is that a derivation of state should only be a "first step" (ibid. p.2) in the construction of a materialist theory of the state, is revealed by the authors' idea that an adequate theory /li) must be able to account for the historical development of the bourgeois state. They criticise Blanke, Juergens and Kastendiek for making a "rigid distinction between form analysis and historical analysis."(ibid. p.21) "...the actual history of the development of state functions and state institutions is therefore something which has somehow to be added after the logical derivation has been completed ... " (ibid. p.26) "... it is hard to see how an adequate form analysis can be anything other than historical." (ibid. p.27) Here we have it: the derivation, conceived as a form-analysis, collapses into history, because any alternative is "hard to see". Over a hundred years of marxism is a support for this statement.
Backhaus' pioneering work, which aims at a radical shake-up of marxism, should have made Holloway and Picciotto a little circumspect in methodological and reconstructive questions concerning Marx's writings. They cite Backhaus' early article (ibid. p.179), without showing any evidence whatever of having learnt anything from him. They refer unproblematically to Marx's "derivation of the money form from the contradictions of the commodity" (ibid. p.16), although it is precisely this derivation which has been problematised by Backhaus(33). The conception of a "derivation" from "contradictions of the commodity" only makes sense as a logical transition. In the light of the critical German literature on the subject, which is accessible to the authors, the naivety with which they regurgitate Engels' vulgar view on method is nothing less than astounding. Even the famous methodological remarks by Marx in the introduction to the Grundrisse, which at least partially contradict the Engelsian conception, are not cited.
Holloway and Picciotto conceal the fragmentary character of Marx's Capital when they insist that
the task is not to develop 'political concepts' to complement the set of 'economic concepts' but to develop the concepts of Capital in the critique not only of the economic but also of the political form of social relations. (ibid. p.4)The conceptual structure, according to the authors, is already complete and requires merely an extension of application of the categories of Capital to the "political form of social relations". /lii) Whereas Poulantzas produces notions to grasp the specificity of the political, but without providing any mediation with a capital-analysis (cf. §74Aa), HolIoway and Picciotto bend the stick entirely the other way in proposing that the capital-analysis already contains the categories necessary
to illuminate the structure of class conflict in capitalist society and the form and conceptions (economic and otherwise) generated by that structure. (ibid.)With respect to systematic analysis, the authors' view is that not only is the Marxian capital-analysis in no need of reconstruction but also that no autonomous systematic extension is required to grasp the superstructure. If this were so, one could only be dumbfounded as to what the objective of the state derivation debate ever was. The authors claim that this debate has viewed
the categories elaborated in Capital (surplus value, accumulation. etc.) ... not as being specific to the analysis of the 'economic level'. (ibid.)From such a reductionist standpoint, nothing more than reduction could be achieved, a grotesque subsumption of superstructural categories under economic categories which could only reinforce the worst suspicions gladly set abroad by anti-marxists about marxism's economism. By treating Hirsch's contribution to the debate most kindly, the authors concur with the former's economism, expressed in banning the consideration of the state as an object requiring its own concept and which therefore cannot be grasped in terms of economic categories(34). This is apparent in that the authors repeatedly encapsulate their view of form-analysis as a demonstration of "the relation between the state and the contradictions of capitalist accumulation" (ibid. p.6). That the problem of a form-analytic concept of state is not comprehended (the solution of a problem is often simultaneous with its posing) in the headlong rush to a theory of development is indicated by the slide from mention of the"state form" (ibid.) to the "changing forms of state" (ibid. p.7). The dialectical-speculative task of developing a concept of the bourgeois state is substituted by the historiographical task of accounting for different historically defined forms of state. The concept of 'form' in the singular and plural usage of the word have two entirely different, unrelated meanings. /liii) The latter has little relevance in a dialectical critique, and that restricted exclusively to historical illustrations employed to elucidate conceptual categories. Despite the approving reference to the German debate's form considerations as a way out of the "rather infertile rut of' the Miliband-Poulantzas debate" (ibid. p.3), the criticisms made of Miliband, Poulantzas and Gramsci owe nothing to form-analytic considerations (in the sense outlined in Ill above) but rather to Holloway and Picciotto's opinion of how an adequate theory of state should look:
first, they are unable to analyse the development of political forms (note the plural ME); secondly they are unable to analyse systematically the limitations imposed on the state by the relation of the state to the process of capital accumulation. (ibid. p.10)The first criterion is historical; the second concerns the economic functions of state, not its form. The authors' incomprehension of the program of form-analysis as a dialectical theory (it is to be noted that Backhaus' early article was decisive in opening the derivation debate) is understandable on the background of their conception of the relation between capitalist economy and state as one of causality and functionality, rather than as a dialectical Reflexionsbestimmung arrived at through the consideration of a contradiction. In II and Ill above we have hinted at characteristics of a dialectical form-analysis which must seem strange to Anglo-Saxon eyes. One can be sure that such hints hit a nerve centre which provokes a sharp unreflected Pavlovian response; the search however is rather for the Archimedian point. Holloway and Picciotto only managed to find a suitable dust bin for the derivation debate by referring euphemistically to the evaporation of form-analysis as: "the limitations of form-analysis have become clear." (ibid. p.30)
Having come this far, the reader is posed with the decision as to whether to proceed to the heavier-going stuff of a conceptual development. I have put in some rasping jokes and mischievous, ironical remarks to ease the way. No compromise has been made with the temptation to popularise by vulgarising the conceptual development. /liv) A century of marxism has shown that nothing is to be gained by way of popularisation, when the point of the critique becomes thereby irretrievably lost. It would be comforting to delude oneself that in the hurly-burly of politics the finer points of theory do not make much difference. Alternatively, one could throw one's hands into the air and exclaim: "If the masses are expected to plough their way through these dialectics, then we may as well give up now!" That however would be to put the cart before the horse; in the first place, it is only the present reader who is posed with this decision. It would be appropriate to pose the question of what to do with a dialectical knowledge only AFTER it has been won. If the presentation has been at all successful, the world should look a little different then. The reader will have to be prepared to grapple with some reconstructed Hegelian categories (which presupposes that the reader hold his/her anti-Hegelian prejudices provisionally in abeyance). The Hegelian categories are not to be bandied around like advertising slogans (as happened with Althusserian terminology in the seventies). No apology is made for the demand that the concepts be thought through according to the rules of the systematic dialogue. It has become a customary obeisance in English-speaking marxism to at first embarrass oneself when presenting "abstract theory". Hegel's question, "Who thinks abstractly?", if pursued, would lead to the paradoxical result that those who pride themselves on being intimately in contact with the empirical-concrete are in fact the most abstract thinkers in the worst sense of the word. This kind of paradox is familiar to dialectical thinking under the concept 'inversion' (Umkehrung). For the reader whose curiosity I have succeeded in awakening, I promise some dialectical surprises.
I The Marxian System Fragment, its Reconstruction and Extension v
II General Methodological Remarks xiv
III Value-form Analytic Reconstruction of the Capital-Analysis xxiii
IV The Analysis of Competitive Freedom xxxv
V The Analysis of the Bourgeois-Democratic State xlii
PART 1 INTRODUCTION
THE ANALYSIS OF THE REVENUE-FORM 1§1 Elements of Labour and Loan Relations in the Capitalist Labour Process 1
Aa Marx 1
§2 The Wage-Relation 4
§3 The Leasing of Land 5
Ab Marx 5
§4 Money-Capital and Means of Labour 7
A Marx 8
§5 The Entrepreneur's Temporary Possession of Revenue-Sources 9
A Marx 9
§6 Profit of Enterprise 11
§7 Incomes and the Troika Formula 11
Ab Marx 12
§8 Mystifying Facticity of the Revenue-Form 16
A Marx 16
§9 The Four Classes 17
Aa Marx 18
THE FORMS OF COMPETITION 22§10 The Analysis of the Circulation Process of Capital (Summary) 22
§11 The Entrepreneur as Individual Subject. The Realisation of
the Entrepreneurial Will in the Firm. The Four Income-Sources 23
A Marx 24
§12 Entrepreneurial Freedom 26
§13 The Subjects of Competition 29
§14 The Income-Sources as Property. Competitive Freedom and Abstract Will 30
Aa Hegel 32
§15 Income as Property 39
A Marx 39
§16 Property in Commodities. Transfer of Ownership 42
§17 Ownership of the Firm's Assets 43
Aa Marx 45
§18 The Sale of Land as Change of Ownership 49
A Hegel and Marx 50
§19 Non-Alienability of the Labourer 54
Ab Hegel and Marx 55
§20 The Firm as Fictitious Capital. Goodwill 56
§21 The Right of' Property as Freedom 58
§22 Contract 59
§23 Free Subjective Action and Compulsion of Competition 61
§24 Abstract Equality and Conflict of Property-Owners 61
Ab Hegel 66
§25 The Property-Form as Social Framework of Competition 66
A Hegel and Marx 67
THE COMPETITIVE STRUGGLE 72
a) Competition between Firms 72§26 The Entrepreneur as Organiser of the Firm 72
§27 Wages of Enterprise. Maximisation of Gross Valorization 72
A Marx 74
§28 Lowering Unit-Cost by Increasing Effectivity 75
§29 Decreasing Turnover Time. Advertising and Market Share 77
§30 Entrepreneurial Choice of Branch 80
§31 Fixed Capital as Resistance to Change of Branch.
Tendency towards Equalisation of the Profit-Rate 81
A Marx 82
§32 Entry to a Branch 89
§33 Monopoly, Oligopoly and Collusion 90
§34 Buying, Selling and Loan Prices 95
§35 Merger and Takeover. The Collective Entrepreneur 96
b) The Competition between Entrepreneurs and Money-Capitalists 98§36 Accumulation and Concentration of Capital. The Share
Company and the Shareholder. Dividends, Share, Loan Capital 98
A Marx 100
§37 The Share Company as Collective Will of the Shareholders 101
Aa Marx 102
§38.Shareholders' Meeting, Directors, Directors' Fees 116
§39 The Interest-Rate on Loan Capital 117
A Marx 118
§40 The Loan Period 119
§41 Bankruptcy and the Risk Premium 120
A Marx 121
§42 The Company's Employment of Loan Capital 121
§43 Interlocking Directorships and Finance Capital 122
c) The Struggle over Privatised Nature between the Companies and the Landowners 124§44 Ground-Rent as 'Extraprofit' 124
A Marx 125
§45 Monopoly Rent and Absolute Rent 126
Aa Marx 129
§46 Basic Rent and Differential Rents I and II 131
A Marx 133
§47 Fixed Capital Investments on the Land:
Advantage to the Landowner 134
A Marx 136
§48 Fixed Capital Investments on the Land:
Advantage to the Company 137
A Marx 137
§49 Resolution of the Strife over Fixed Capital Investments 138
§50 Land Speculation 140
§51 Destruction of Nature 141
Aa Marx 143
Ab Marx 143
§52 The Landowner's Freedom with a Piece of Nature 145
d) The Struggle between the Companies and the Labourers 145§53 Company Hierarchy and Managers 145
Ab Marx 149
§54 Alienated Activity. Supervision and Power Structure 153
A Marx 154
§55 Control of the Labourers through Machinery and Management Science 156
Aa Marx 156
§56 The Wage-Form 159
A Marx 161
§57 Wage Differentials 163
A Marx 164
§58 Conditions of Labour 164
§59 The Trade Union 165
§60 Workers' Participation. The Co-operative 168
A Marx 171
e) The Person 172§61 Over-exploitation of the Labourers. Negative Right to
Aa Hegel and Marx 174
§62 The Negative Right to Existence and Capital 178
§63 Equal Exploitation of the Labourers 180
A Marx 181
§64 The Person as Culmination of Competitive Freedom.
(Self-)Consciousness of the Isolated Individual 181
Aa Hegel 184
f) Contradictions in the Reproduction of the Free Competitive Economy 186§65 The Free Competitive Economy. Material Reproduction without
a Conscious Social Subject: Disproportionalities 186
A Marx 189
§66 Absolute Overaccumulation 190
Aa Marx 191
§67 Relative Overaccumulation 197
Aa Marx 198
§68 Destruction of Capital 202
§69 Increase In the Organic Composition of Capital 203
Aa Marx 205
§70 Unemployment. The Economic Cycle 217
Aa Marx 219
THE DOUBLING OF COMPETITIVE SOCIETY INTO CIVIL SOCIETY AND STATE 222§71 Competitive Society 222
§72 The Will to be Acknowledged as Person 222
A Hegel 224
§73 Wrong 225
Aa Hegel 226
§74 The First Determination of the (Outer) State 228
§75 Law 252
Aa Marx 253
Ab Hegel 254
§76 The Doubling of Competitive Society into Civil Society and State 258
§77 State as Repressive Apparatus based on Rule of Law 263
§78 The Rule of Law,and the Process of Valorization 268
A Hegel 268
§79 The Successful and the Unsuccessful 270
§80 Income as Universal Means of Existence, The Consumer 271
§81 The Positive Right to Existence 273
§82 The Welfare State 275
Ab Hegel 277
§83 Taxation and the Autonomous Material Existence of the State 279
§84 State Economic Policy. The Positing of Universal Well-Being 281
§85 State Monetary Policy 285
§86 State Subsidies and State Enterprises 288
§87 State as Promoter of Capital Accumulation 290
§88 State as Promoter of Science and Education 292
§89 State Intervention in Industrial Strife 294
§90 State Sovereignty, National Interest, Foreign Politics 296
Ab Hegel 298
§91 International Competition and Foreign Investment 301
§92 Imperialism: First World and Third World 304
§93 International Competition and Ecological Destruction 308
§94 Execution of the Universal Will of State: The Bureaucracy 310
§95 Corruption of State Officials 311
§96 Assured Income and Career Path of State Officials 311
§97 Recapitulation: The State's Attempt to Reconcile Universality with Particularity 312
§98 The Doubled Doubling: Private Universality 313
§99 Subjugation of Civil Society and Private Life to the State 314
§100 Pressure of Coalitions on the Outer State 315
§101 The Gulf between State and Society 316
§102 Bridging the Gulf: the Inner or Bourgeois-Democratic State 317
Ab Hegel 318
§103 State Will as Will of the People. The Citizen 319
§104 Election of Members of Civil Society to the Universal 320
§105 Parliament: The Legislative Arm of the State 322
§106 Public Discussion and Parliamentary Proceedings 324
§107 Government and Ministers. Deliberation and Action 325
§108 Political Parties, the Opposition, Professional Politics 326
§109 The Compromise of Class Forces and the Government 329
§110 Disinterest and Apathy: the Apolitical Citizen 330
§111 Political Public Life. The Media 330
§112 Freedom of the Press. Expression of Political Opinion 332
§113 Competition between Political Opinions in Parliament 334
§114 Political Bribes and Scandals. Legitimacy Crisis 336
§115 The Free West and the Unfree East 337
§116 Statesmen and the Citizen's Opinion in Foreign Politics 339
§117 Protection of Civil Society from State Power 341
§118 Separation of Powers. Independence of Judges 343
§119 The Constitution. The Upper and Lower House 344
§120 The Constitutional Court 346
§121 Referenda. The Citizen's Affirmation of the Diremption
of Universality from Particularity 347
A VALUE-FORM ANALYTIC RECONSTRUCTION OF 'CAPITAL'(35)
Michael Eldred, Marnie Hanlon, Lucia Kleiber & Mike Roth 350Table of Contents to Appendix 488
NOTES TO APPENDIX 504
NAME INDEX 513
COMMODITIES AND MONEY 351§1 Industrial commodity products of Labour 351
§2 The Universal Exchange-Relation of Commodities; Bracketing
of Money; Premonetary Commodities; Expanded Exchange Schema;
§3 Abstract Associating of Concrete Dissociated Labours 353
§4 The Value Substance: Abstractly Associated Labour; Social Form
of Labour; Universality and Particularity 355
§5 The Expanded Expression of Value; Relative Value-Form and
Equivalent Form of.Value; Value as Potentiality 358
§6 Value as Actuality: Money; Doubling of the Premonetary
Commodity into Price-Determinate Commodity and Money;
Singularity; Ideal and Realised Price; Money Expression of
Value; Commodity and Money Forms of Value 361
§7 Immediate Exchangeability and Means of Circulation;
Absolute Value 362
§8 Magnitude of Value 367
§9 Determinations of Commodity-Money 369
THE CAPITAL - WAGE-LABOUR RELATION 379§10 The Commodity Producer; Production of Industrial Commodities 379
§11 The Wage-Labourer and the Wage-Form of Value; The Capitalist;
Loan Relation: Hiring of Labour-Power; Element of Production;
Means of Purchase and of Payment; Labour Process; Capital-
Relation; Capitalist and Working Class: Class Relation 379
§12 Articles of Individual Consumption 384
§13 Surplus-Value; Class Antagonism and the Contradiction
between Labour and Capital 386
CAPITALIST COMMODITY PRODUCTION 391§14 The Surplus-Value Producing Process; Necessary-Value, -Product
and Labour-Time; Surplus-Value,-Product and-Labour-Time., Rate
of Surplus-Value and of Exploitation of Labour-Power 391
§15 Absolute and Relative Surplus-Value Production 393
§16 Sources of Increases in Productivity 396
§17 Co-operation: Organisational Labouring Structure; Division of
Labour., Organisational Science: the Subjective Factor in the
Production Process 397
§18 Means of Production: Raw Materials and the Means of Labour;
Machinery; Old-Value; Productive Consumption: Use-Value;
§19 Relative and Absolute Surplus-Value Production Combined;
Natural Science and Technology: the Objective Factor in the
Production Process 404
§20 Absolute and Relative Residual Surplus-Value Production 406
§21 Land and Rent; Landholder; Profit; Landholding Class 407
§22 Improvements to the Land Not Requiring Renewal 410
§23 Valorization of Advanced Capital; Rate of Profit; Costs 412
THE INTEREST-FORM OF VALUE 416§24 Loaned Money and Interest 416
§25 Gross and Net Valorization; Interest Yield and Profit of
Enterprise; Rate of Net Valorization 418
§26 Circuits of Interest-Bearing and of Functioning Capital; Fetishism 420
§27 Money-Capitalists and Entrepreneurs; Money-Capitalist and
Entrepreneurial Classes 421
§28 Real and Fictitious Capital; Capitalisation; Rent-Bearing Capital 424
THE REVENUE-FORM 427§29 Elements of the Capitalist Production Process 427
§30 Revenues, Revenue-Sources and the Surface of Capitalist Economy 427
§31 Forms of Distribution of Value; Inversion: Revenues as
Components of Value 430
§32 The Troika Formula 431
§33 The Four Classes 437
§34 Everyday Consciousness as Fetishistic Reasoning 438
THE CIRCULATION PROCESS OF CAPITAL 440§35 Production and Circulation Time; Commodity-, Money- and
Productive Capital; Stages of the Circuit of Capital 440
§36 Division of Capital; Spheres of Capital; Turnover1 441
§37 Number of Parts of Capital 442
§38 Fixed Capitial; Resting and Circulating Fixed Capital; Latent
Capital; Depreciation Fund; Circulating Capital 443
§39 Original Capital(1); Additional Capital(1); Continuous and
Discrete Products 445
§40 Labour of Circulation; Unproductive labour; Circulation Labourers 446
§41 Means of Circulation; Fixed and Circulatilng Circulation
Capital., Production Capital 449
§42 Circulation Costs; Mystification of the Valorization Process;
Circuit of Costs; Turnover 450
§43 Original Capital2 ; Additional Capital2; Functioning Capital 451
§44 Preservation of Old-Value and Price Changes in the Means
of Production 452
§45 Fixed Capital Turnover and Increases in Productivity 453
§46 Original and Additional Annual Capital; Annual Functioning
Capital; Annual Profit of Enterprise; Annual Net Profit-Rate 455
§47 Mystification of the Capital Relation through the Multitude
of Costs 457
§48 Increases in the Annual Net Profit Rate; Cost Reduction and
Acceleration of Turnover 458
§49 Ground-Form Capital; Industrial and Commercial Capital;
Merchant (Commodity-Dealing) and Money-Dealing Capital 458
§50 Three Types of Functioning Capital; Expression of Value and
Intermediate Selling Prices 460
§51 The Bank; Deposits and Depositors 462
§52 Bank Account; Bank Balance; Giro-Money; Cheque 464
§53 Bank-Credit; Overdraft; The Credit System 464
§54 Commercial Credit; Bill of Exchange; Cash and Credit Price 467
§55 Banknote/Overdraft; Discounting of Bills 467
§56 The Banks as Creators of Giro-Money 468
THE REPRODUCTION PROCESS OF CAPITAL 469§57 Reproduction of the Aggregate Social Capital 469
§58 Departments of Commodity Production 472
§59 Distinctions Among Labourers and Lahdholders; Distribution of
the Total Commodity Product via the Mediation of Money
§60 Reproduction of lndividual Capitals 476
§61 Value Relations between Sectors of the Total System of Reproduction 479
§62 Social Reproduction of Fixed Capital 481
§63 Accumulation and Expanded Reproduction 484
§64 Reproduction of the Value-Forms, of the Capital-Relation
and of Class Relations 486
MARXCl, CII, CIII: Capital Volumes I,II,III Moscow 1954,1956, 1959
CI (P): Capital Volume 1 Penguin edition Harmondsworth 1976
Crit.: A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy Moscow 1970
KI, KII, KIII: Das Kapital: Kritik der politischen Ökonomie Bd. I, II, III in Marx-Engels Werke Berlin Bd. 23, 24, 25
EK: Das Kapital: Kritik der politischen Ökonomie Erster Band Urausgabe. Reprint of the 1867 first edition. Hildesheim 1980
GE: Grundrisse Translated by M. Nicolaus, Harmondsworth 1973
G: Grundrisse der Kritik der politischen Ökonomle (Rohentwurf) 1857-1858 Berlin 1953
TSV1,2,3: Theories of Surplus Value Parts 1,2,3 Moscow 1975
TM1,2,3: Theorien über den Mehrwert Bd.26.1, 26.2, 26.3 MEW
Z: Zur Kritik der politischen Ökonomie in Bd.13 MEW
B: Briefe über das 'Kapital' Berlin DDR 1954
HEGELRph: Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts Werke Bd.7 Suhrkamp Verlag Frankfurt a.M. 1970
E: Enzyklopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften im Grundrisse (1830) Bd. 8,9,10 Werke Frankfurt a.M. 1970
LI, Lll: Wissenschaft der Logik I und II Bd. 5,6 Werke 1970
Ph.G: Phänomenologie des Geistes Bd. 3 Werke 1970
OTHERDgV: Die gedoppelte Verdopplung (Roth/Kleiber/Hanlon/Eldred)
RVfA: 'Reconstructing Value-form Analysis' (Eldred/Hanlon)
App.: Appendix (Eldred/Hanlon/Kleiber/Roth). Slightly revised version of RVfA1-4. 'Reconstructing Value-form Analysis 1-4'
VRAK1-4: 'Vaerdiformanalytisk rekonstruktion af Kapitalen 1-4'
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____ 1984 'Reconstructing Value-form Analysis 3: The Analysis of Interest and the Revenue-form' to appear in Thesis Eleven No.9
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P1. An agitational approach to a critique of the bourgeois-democratic state in English is to be found in Karl Held and Audrey Hill The Democratic State - Critique of Bourgeois Sovereignty 1993. (Back to P1)
P2. M. Eldred Social Ontology: Recasting Political Philosophy Through a Phenomenology of WhonessOntos, Frankfurt 2008 pp. xiv + 688. (Back to P2)
P3. A phenomenology of whoness could be regarded as a surrogate for the projected analysis of the bourgeois private sphere. Cf. M. Eldred Der Mann: Geschlechterontologischer Auslegungsversuch der phallologischen Ständigkeit Haag + Herchen, Frankfurt/Main 1989b and M. Eldred Phänomenologie der Männlichkeit: kaum ständig noch J.H. Röll, Dettelbach. (Back to P3)
"Instead of from the beginning positing ideal forms of the bourgeois society against their bad reality and wanting to reaIise them for the first time or once again, Proudhon, according to Marx, should have posed the question, why must products take on the form of exchange-values and humans the form of free and equal rightful persons at all." (p.171)
Marx treats the forms of equality and freedom prematurely, at the level of the simple circulation of commodities in the Grundrisse and following texts on the critique of political economy; cf. §§14A, 21. Back
"One reason why the Anglo-American world has always found it hard to get excited about the state-derivation debate is the high level of abstraction at which the debate has been conducted." (Fay 1978 p.138)
Because of the common assumption of not only British and American audiences but also of the participants in the state derivation debate itself, namely to develop a conceptual apparatus adequate to carry out urgently-needed (who sets the deadline?) empirical research into concrete historical situations (ibid. p.140, my quip), the elements of the debate which are concerned with "abstract concepts and logical derivations" (ibid. p.130) are presented as a
"failing (which ME) lies in the amount of debate that has been devoted to the issue of precisely which concept is the valid point of departure." (ibid.)
Conceptual thinking gets short shrift. Marxist common-sense accepts unquestioningly that theory is a tool for empirical research, just at in the social sciences. It would be amusing to see someone try to employ the Grundrisse as a 'theoretical framework' for "empirical research", like hanging a wet dog out to dry on a clothesline. The reader of Marx's main work is invited to stretch his/her imagination:
"Certainly Marx never intended (to which letter is she referring? ME) Capital to be read as a purely economic analysis (Marx talks of a "critique of economic categories" ME), but rather as a total analysis of capitalist society." (ibid. p.131)
The project of developing a concept of state is (from the start, on the basis of bloody-minded preconceptions) pronounced a still-birth in the Anglo-American context:
"The rigorously logical derivation of the bourgeois state from 'capital' at its most abstract level will have to be dropped." (ibid. p.149)
The Germans do indeed have a reputation for being dry and stodgy, and some contributions to the debate in Germany do treat the derivation problem in a formal-logical way. The reader not hampered with blinkers however could discover some more fruitful elements in the debate. The source-texts to the debate by Backhaus, Krahl and Reichelt have never received any attention in the Anglophone world. Back
"Can one derive an explanation of the widespread oppression of women and blacks which has been present in the very structure and practice of all capitalist and pre-capitalist state apparatuses?!" (ibid.)
As far as I know, no 'derivationist' ever had such Napoleonic delusions of grandeur. The author probably developed an aversion to logic in his maths classes in school days. In spite of the new orthodoxy which quickly precipitated in the West German debate, which Frankel refers to, it was not such a bad thing that they "rediscovered the three volumes of Capital" (ibid.). Frankel laments that a ' general analysis, such as capital cannot provide a "political strategy" (ibid. p.118) and echoes the oft-heard anguished cry for historical specificity. According to the author, a good marxist should support "womens' groups, ecologists, the anti-nuclear movement, numerous nationalist movements such as the Basques, discriminated minorities and races" (ibid.117) He regrets only that these movements
"have generally been supported by Marxists only after they became mass movements - simply because their existence couldn't be 'derived' from capital when they were silent or non-existent problems." (ibid.)
Frankel can be thankful; at least after these movements have arisen the Marxist is so busy in solidarity groups that he/she can do nothing but give up the bad habit of trying to derive nuclear reactors and suchlike from Capital. Frankel shows himself to be a well-versed dialectician:
"A totality is made up of the dialectical relations between the general and the particular." (ibid. p.118)
Because however, generally speaking, marxists are so general, preferring to be Generals (rather than particulars), they
"have tended to ignore the particular, the specific; and to derive the particular from the general." (ibid.)
Frankel omits that marxists also tend to twist their opponents words in employing unfair polemical tactics. He gets reinforcement from a Sydney colleague, who very well could have just finished speaking long distance with Frankel, when he writes:
"What is required in Marxist scholarship is more concrete empirical work." (E. Jones 1983 p.30)
Ugh! More drudgery! I s'pose it keeps someone employed. This acquaintance with the concrete-empirical should
"bring the overly-abstract and fragmented theoretical constructions down to earth, and in the process ground the theoretical process in concrete historical detail. Marxists need more exposure to the fine detail of history, both past and present. ... My view is that, in the context of contrary values within the academic community (How right you are, Professor! ME), the position has to be constantly reasserted." (ibid.)
Jones will find no lack of academic colleagues who are willing to reassert again and again the central tenet of marxist, or more generally, Anglo-Saxon empiricist common sense. Anyone who doesn't hold it is obviously off his/her rockers. Evan Jones would in all probability be deeply disappointed by the present work. Back
"The fundamental form-determination of the bourgeois state, namely, the doubling of bourgeois society into society and state and the formal particularisation of the state as an administrative apparatus separated from society, cannot be derived out of the abstraction of isolated structural elements, but requires an analysis of the social reproduction process and the laws determining it in its totality." (Hirsch 1974a p.CXL)
A conceptual problematic is passed over in favour of historico-empirical research:
"The investigation of the capitalist process of accumulation and crisis therefore forms the central foundation of a historically concretised state-analysis." (ibid. p.CXLIII)
Down with philosophy! Long live sociology! Back