Unequal Exchange: A Riposte

Sudeep M Dasgupta smdst7+ at pitt.edu
Wed Feb 1 08:31:09 MST 1995


This is in response to Jones/Bhandari's response to my post:

	Your gloss on my riposte to the debate around the "crisis of
capital" took this problem toward a clearer undersatnding of the
necessity, as you stressed, to theorize the 'logic of capital' not as a
simple cyclical movement, but one that is interrupted and forced to come
to terms with the contradictions (never the same) in/within its path. So,
yes, I would
concur that my argument about the discontinuous nature of the expansion
of Capital is  marked as a site/process that is dialectically
conditioned (dont like that last word but cant think of a more suitable
one now!) rather than circular.

On Tue, 31 Jan 1995, jones/bhandari wrote:

> In a very provocative post, Sudeep wrote:
>
> >It seems fairly clear though, that Marx's conception of the logic of
> >capital is precisely a refusal to accept some linear, non-discontinuous
> >smooth operation of the logic of capital.Capital works through the
> >contradictions that are inherent in the tension between, on the one hand,
> >profit maximization (the best input-output equation) and on the other,
> >competition between producers (this being brought into question in some
> >quarters by the growth of multinational capital).
 > >Coming at this from a different angle, Capital has to work through
> >difference, not by abolishing it. (cf.Stuart Hall's essays on Ethnicities)
> >Hence, one could argue that the disturbances and dislocations effected by
> >capital are not the first signs of its collapse, but offer instead the
> >very conditions of possibility for its expansion.
>
> Sudeep, please elaborate. About how "a suitable boy" became interested in
> Marxism.  Just kidding.
	This "suitable boy" came in search of the Golden Gate but found
himself stranded on the last reef of Marxism in this "New World Order".
(just kidding).

 But do explain:  what does it mean for Capital to
> work through difference (and where can this Stuart Hall essay be found).
>
Hall is specifically arguing for a conception of the "Global Postmodern",
where Capital does not work through homogenizing contradictions - erasing
difference - but rather through difference. Exemplifying his argument by
looking at mass media, he argues that it is precisely by recognizing
difference, acknowledging it and working through it, that Capital, on a
global scale can function. Let me hasten to add that he is in no way
arguing that there is no possibility to resist this, or refuse to respond
to the appropriation of difference under the aegis of "multiculturalism"
and its corollary neo-liberalisms. But thats another topic.

One example that comes to my mind is the way De Beers targetted satellite
television (STAR TV) as a medium through which it broadcast commercials
to countries in Asia with quite varied cultures. By recognizing the way
diamonds signify in say, Korea and India, and their function within a
different nexus of social/familial/gender relations in these two
countries, De Beers is able to "speak to" difference, not by selling some
uniform conception of diamonds, but by acknowledging it.
This is hardly a revolutionary discovery, but it exemplifies well how a
simplistic version of the global expansion of capital holds little
purchase.

Let me clarify that what Ive just written is NOT exactly dealing with the
issue that Doug and Scottie brought up (economic
dislocations/disruptions and the "crisis of capital"), but speaks to the
issue from a different angle, as I prefaced my calling up Hall.

As for the citations for the essays I dont have them with me right now,
but I am sure they come from an anthology edited by Anthony King with
"Modernity" and "Globalization" in the title. Your database could get it
from there I guess.

The two essays (which are transcripts of lectures Hall gave) are (Im
pretty certain) "The Local and the Global" and "Old Identities, New
Identities, Old Ethnicities, New Ethnicities".

Hope that helps.

Sudeep Dasgupta
smdst7+ at pitt.edu
UofPitt.


> Implicitly you are arguing against any automatic breakdown theory. So did
> Mattick (in each and every one of his works) and  Grossmann (see his
> December 1943 essay for the Journal of Political Economy and the
> translation in the Summer 1994 History of Political Economy, as did
> Grossmann's other student William J Blake in his 1939 textbook).  I have
 > done not much to correct the misrepresentation of these thinkers as
> automatic breakdown theorists.   There is no substitute for reading  their
> many works.  (There is however an implicit and perhaps successful critique
> of their position in Postone's monograph which I am finding takes time to
> assimilate; this I hope someone will want to explore with me).
>
> Each of these thinkers (along with  many others)have emphasized that the
> crisis-induced devaluation of capital is essential to the resumption of
> accumulation: "Perhaps the most grotesque and irrational aspect of
> capital's inner nature is that periods of deprivation for the masses of the
> population provide the mechanism to reenergize capital. Out of the ashes of
> unemployment, unsold commodities, and idle productive forces, capital
> arises to repeat the accumulation-crisis cycle. (John Weeks, Capital and
> Exploitation, p. 214-5; the most sophisticated recent analysis of this
> process that I know is section 6 of G Reuten's 1991 Cambridge Journal of
> Economics Piece on "the conditions of existence of the contradiction of the
> TRPF: stratification and devalorization.)
>
>  What I hope the more advanced theorists on this line will develop is the
> dialectical, not cyclical nature, of such a violent and forcible resolution
> to capitalist contradictions.  A dialectical, not cyclical, understanding
> of this resolution would be in line with Sudeep's rejection of the logic of
> capital as a smooth, linear, non-discontinuous one. (All this of course
> assumes a successful critique of the Althusserian rejection of any logic or
> essence of capital,but I think this has been accomplished by Postone and
> Julius Sensat, Jr in "Methodological Individualism and Marxism" Economics
> and Philosophy 4 1988).
>
> That is, this process does not simply repeat itself like a Nietzschean
> eternal recurrence of being: the conditions and requirements for such
- resolution change as capital accumulates.   Weeks concludes the previously
> cited work with such a consideration.  Does anyone have any thoughts about
> this?
>
> ps through private correspondence I have been informed that there is a
> forthcoming volume Marx and Non-equilibrium Economics, ed. A Freeman and G
> Carchedi, Edward Elgar.  In this context, Andrew Kliman's "A
> Value-Theoretic critique of the Okishio Theorm" is quite helpful, while I
> think providing a bridge between Mattick's critique of economics and
> Postone's phenomologically richer social theory.
>
>
>

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