Value, price, method, politics

Juan Inigo jinigo at inscri.org.ar
Fri Sep 1 08:32:40 MDT 1995


Jerry writes:

>To Juan: do you have to write like that?  Although you are a very sharp
>Marxist, your prose gives me headaches.

I have addressed some matters concerning my "style" in a post dated August
4. Naturally, I did it in my style, which means, not by taking it as an
abstract matter, but by developing the relevant determinations that take
concrete form in it. So I started by acknowledging my prose as a concrete
form of my personal determinations, both in general and as the specific
personification of alienated consciousness I am (including a constant
shifting from my portenio Spanish to _my_ written English), and how I
constantly struggle against those of these determinations I can see
attempting against the possible clarity of my exposition.

But I did not stop there. I followed my style into the determinations that
emerge from the form itself of the reproduction of the concrete in thought.
And I advanced a step further, by facing the determinations that appear to
be inherent in my style itself, but that actually arise from the specific
determinations of the reader that starts by believing that any scientific
development has, by nature, the form of a "logical representation" of
reality. On this assumption that he/she is dealing not with "the
reproduction of reality in thought" but with a "logical representation,"
this reader can only see in the adherence of the exposition to the formal
determinations of the former, an odd way of presenting a case of the
latter, however competent the author may be to present the ideal
reproduction of the necessity she/he finds in reality.

Jerry is positively convinced that Marx did never overcome the appearances
inherent in the logical representation of reality as the necessary
scientific form of the alienated consciousness that needs to see itself as
an abstractly free consciousness, nor, consequently, sees in Marx's claim
for "the reproduction of the concrete through the path of thought" the
necessity to develop a new form for the process of scientific cognition
itself. According to Jerry, it is all about:

>... dialectics is at the very
>core of the logical structure of _Capital_.

>The logical
>structure and sequence of topics for investigation in _Capital_ and the
>logical interconnection of different threads in that work are all
>examples of Marx's dialectical method.

> Marx wanted to not only present an abstract logical work, ...

>The logic that Marx used evolved over his
>lifetime and was explained further long after the appearance of
>_Capital_.

>_Capital_ is logically an unfinished work.

>... a logical form that mirrors the form of presentation of _Capital_.

>_Capital_ ...
>was to be a general exposition of the logic of capital.

Now, how can developments as the following ones, that I have presented in
previous posts, look like from such a point of view?

"_Logic_ [the pure _speculative thought_] is the _money_ of spirit, the
speculative, the _thought-out value_, of man and of nature; its essence
that has become completely indifferent to any real determination and which
is, therefore, unreal; it is the alienated thought that hence abstracts
from nature and the real man; the _abstract_ thought." (1844 Manuscripts)

and

        "Should it be surprising that, in the last degree of abstraction -
for there is abstraction  here, not analysis - everything presents itself
under the form of a logical category? Should it be surprising that, by
excluding step by step everything that constitutes the individuality of a
house and abstracting from the materials it is made of and from the form
that distinguishes it, one arrives at a body in general; that, by
abstracting from the limits of this body, one gets as a result just a
space; that finally by abstracting from the dimensions of this space, one
ends up having only the pure quantity, the logical category? By thus
abstracting from any subject all the so-called accidents, whether animated
or inanimate, men or things, there is motive to say that, in the last
degree of abstraction, one comes to get the logical categories as
substance. ... Should it be surprising, after this, that everything that
exists, ... , can be reduced by means of abstraction to a logical category,
and that, therefore, all the real world can be submerged in the world of
abstractions, in the world of the logical categories? ...
In the same way that everything is transformed into a logical category by
means of abstraction, it suffices with abstracting from any distinctive
aspect of the different movements to arrive at movement in its abstract
state, to the purely formal movement, to the purely _logical_ formulation
of movement. And if one finds in the substance of all things the logical
categories, in the logical formulation of movement one believes to find the
_absolute method_, that not only explains each thing, but that furthermore
implies the movement of things. ...
        If each thing comes down to a logical category, and each movement,
each act of production, to method, it naturally follows from here that each
set of products and of production, of objects and movement, comes down to
an applied metaphysics. What Hegel did concerning religion, right, etc.,
Mr. Proudhon intends to do it concerning political economy.
        Therefore, what is this absolute method? The abstraction of
movement. What is the abstraction of movement? Movement in abstract state.
What is movement in abstract state? The purely logical formulation of
movement or the movement of the pure reason. What does the movement of the
pure reason consist in? It consist in reason situating itself in itself, in
opposing by itself to itself and in combining itself with itself, in
formulating itself as thesis, antithesis and synthesis, or, in affirming
itself, negating itself and negating its negation.
        How does reason proceed to affirm itself, to present itself in the
form of a determined category? This is something that concerns reason
itself and its apologists.
        But once that reason has managed itself to place itself in itself
as a thesis, this thought, opposed to itself, unfolds itself in two
contradictory thoughts, the positive and the negative, the yes and the no.
The struggle of these two contradictory elements, embraced in the
antithesis, constitutes the dialectical movement. The yes becomes a no, the
no becomes a yes, the yes becomes at the same time a yes and a no, and the
no is at the same time a no and a yes, the opposites balance themselves,
they neutralize themselves, they mutually paralyze themselves. The fusion
of these two contradictory thoughts constitutes a new thought, that is
their synthesis. This new thought unfolds itself again into two
contradictory thoughts, that get fused again in a new synthesis. From this
process of gestation a new group of thoughts arises. This group of thoughts
follows the same dialectical movement of a simple category and it has as
its antithesis an opposed group. From these two groups of thoughts a new
group of thoughts arises, that is its synthesis.
        In the same way that from the dialectical movement of the simple
categories the group arises, from the dialectical movement of the groups
the succession arises, and from the dialectical movement of the successions
the whole system arises.
        Apply this method to the categories of political economy and you
will have the logic and the metaphysics of political economy, or, in other
words, you will have the economic categories that everybody knows and
translated to a little known language, hence producing the appearance that
they have been just born from a head full of pure reason ...
        So far, we have just presented Hegel's dialectics. Farther on we
will see how Mr. Proudhon has managed to bring it down to the meanest
proportions. ...
        On talking about the _succession in understanding, of the logical
succession of the categories_, Mr. Proudhon positively declared that he did
not wanted to expose _history in chronological order_ ... According to him,
everything should be followed from this ether [_the pure ether of reason_]
by means of dialectics. Now that the time comes to put this dialectics into
practice, reason betrays him. Mr. Proudhon's dialectics abjures from
Hegel's dialectics, and Mr. Proudhon is forced to accept that the order in
which he presents the economic categories is not the order in which they
engender one the other. The economic evolution no longer is the evolution
of reason itself.
        What does Mr. Proudhon present us with? ..., he does not present us
with either the sacred nor the profane history of the categories! ... He
presents us with the history of his own contradictions." (The poverty of
Philosophy, 1847)

Isn't Marx's a headache-giving prose? It certainly is, but only for the
point of view that conceives logic as the natural core of scientific
cognition. On the contrary, it is quite clear as soon as we place ourselves
at the point of view that has developed the determinations of logic and of
the logical representation as the historical forms of scientific cognition
that have to be overcome by developing the "reproduction of the concrete
through the path of thought" in the revolutionary process of constructing
the community of the freely associated individuals, being this dialectical
reproduction the necessary concrete form of consciously ruling that
process.

Juan Inigo
jinigo at inscri.org.ar



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