Value, price, method, politics

Juan Inigo jinigo at
Tue Sep 5 23:08:49 MDT 1995

Jerry writes:

>Juan includes two quotes from Marx in his latest post. The first comes
>from the 1844 Manuscripts and the second from _The Poverty of Philosophy_
>(1847).  Marx developed his ideas regarding political economy and the
>"scientific method" further in later years of his life. His understanding
>of dialectics and abstraction was somewhat different when he wrote
>_Capital_ from his earlier 1847 views.
>What is "pure reason"?  Can "pure reason" be applied towards
>understanding social and material reality? I think that Marx's very
>choice of the word *pure* is a reflection of his 1847 thinking when his
>materialist analysis was not fully developed.

I was not mistaken, Marx's prose does give Jerry headaches. Still, Jerry
should try to make the effort needed to overcome his headaches and to read
what Marx has written. In the two quotations from Marx I have presented in
my previous post, Marx is openly criticizing logic, and therefore, "pure
reason", as the necessity to be followed to appropriate real forms in
thought. But Jerry manages himself to believe Marx is praising "pure

As I have already developed in more than one previous post, Marx gives a
first step in putting dialectics right side up by opposing to the claim of
generality of Hegel's logic concept, 'the peculiar logic of the peculiar
object' (Critique of Hegel=B4s Philosophy of Right, 1843-4). 'The peculiar
logic of the peculiar object' excludes by itself the possibility for logic
to exist by itself, bringing it down to the reflection in thought of the
development of each real object's own specific necessity. Nevertheless,
Marx still has not completely developed here the distinction between the
ideally produced necessity, the logic, that is, the discursive reason, that
takes the place of the real causality in the representation and this real
causality itself. He has not gone yet beyond the boundaries of philosophy.

In the 1844 Manuscripts, Marx faces for the first time the economic
determinations of capital as the alienated general social relation of
present-day humanity. On doing it, he discovers for the first time in
history the real necessity of philosophy as a concrete form of alienated
consciousness and how Hegel has developed it to its end. Consequently, Marx
does no longer criticizes logic for being a general ideal necessity that
displaces a peculiar ideal necessity. From here on, Marx criticizes logic
for being an ideal necessity that displaces the real necessity that has to
be followed in thought to rule one's conscious transforming action. That
is, he criticizes logic for its very essence as a discursive reason that
represents the real reason in thought, as the necessary form in which
alienated thought takes shape. (see the first quotation in my previous

In his Theses on Feuerbach (1845), Marx opposes the interpretation of the
world to the transformation of the world. What transformation is he talking
about? The point is the production of the community of the freely
associated individuals, that is, of the individuals that rule their social
metabolism process by cognizing their own determinations beyond any
appearance. But given the externality of the logical necessity that any
theoretical representation of the world must follow, with respect to the
real necessity it attempts to appropriate in thought, all logical
representations cannot go beyond the appearances of the abstract and
concrete forms. So they are always "different ways of interpreting the
world." It happens that logical representation is not the natural form of
scientific cognition, but a historical form of it that can only rule the
transformation of the world within the miserable limits of the
appropriation of relative surplus value, a form of the alienated
consciousness that is so much so that sees itself as the abstract
realization of free consciousness. It happens that in scientific theory,
ideology takes the form of its opposite, of scientific method. The change
of the world at stake needs to be ruled by producing a form of scientific
cognition that overcomes the logical representation.

In The Poverty of Philosophy (1847), Marx develops the specific critique of
dialectical logic, showing step by step how this 'absolute method' starts
from categories (that is, from the ideal representation of the real forms)
and unavoidably ends up by representing itself as the one who engenders the
real forms (Hegel) o by succumbing to its own contradictions (Proudhon)
(see the second quotation in my previous post). Given its very essence as a
logical representation, and therefore, as an ideal construction that puts a
mental necessity before the material necessity, dialectical logic has no
way of being that new revolutionary form of scientific cognition, however
"materialist" it might be named.

In Grundrisse (1857-8), Marx points out the specificity of this new
scientific method and presents it as opposed to representation: "the
reproduction of the concrete through the path of thought." Dialectics is
finally placed on its feet by expelling from it any purely mental
necessity, any ideally constructed necessity, in brief, _logic_, to leave
place to the following in thought of the development of the real necessity
that determines a concrete real form as such.

In Capital (1867), Marx accomplishes the original development of the ideal
reproduction of the specificity of the present-day process of social
metabolism, of capitalism, until discovering its necessity to annihilate
itself in the conscious regulation of the process of social metabolism,
through the conscious revolutionary action of the proletariat.

In his Notes on Wagner (1880) Marx points out: "Let us thus face another
assertion of this Faust of our Wagner: '... On opposing a use value to an
exchange-value as a _logical opposition_, a logical concept is opposed to a
historical concept in a logical opposition, something that logically cannot
be done.' ... Undoubtedly, Rodbertus points the shot to me, ... Who does
establish here a logical opposition? Mr. Rodbertus, for whom "use value"
and "exchange-value" are, by nature, mere concepts. Actually, if we look at
any list of prices, we see that in it each concrete type of commodity
commits this same illogical process,  ... Here, a "logical" contradiction
exists only according to Rodbertus and the German professorial
schoolteachers, like him, that start from the "concept" of value, not from
"social reality", from "commodities", ... Rodbertus relies on this to face
use value as a "logical" concept. ... But where all of Rodbertus
superficiality better shows itself, is in his opposition between a
"logical" concept and a "historical" concept. ..."

In 1883, Marx dies.

Now let us go back to Jerry. Under the cover of one of those professorial

>I don't want to
>misrepresent Juan,

he goes on

>but his ideas strike me sometimes as more "early Marx"
>and Hegelian (in terms of modes of expression).
>Constructing an analysis of capitalism was not for Marx an entirely
>intellectual exercise like the works of Hegel. Remember the _Thesis on
>Feuerbach_? Marx's purpose was not entirely an intellectual exercise but
>was a political one as well.

This is an unhappy attempt to make me appear as claiming for some sort of
abstract mental construction, when I have developed once and again in my
posts to this list (including the one Jerry is supposed to be replying),
that the reproduction of the concrete in thought, dialectics placed on its
feet by Marx, can only be developed by following with one's thought the
development of the real necessity one is going to personify with one's
conscious action, as the necessary form in which the proletariat
consciously rules the revolutionary process of annihilating capital into
the community of the freely associated individuals.

By the way, it seems that it is not only Marx's prose and my prose that
give Jerry headaches, but Hegel's too. Or, rather, it seems he has not
given Hegel's prose the chance. If Jerry really believes that any of
Hegel's works is "an entirely intellectual exercise" and not "a political
one as well", he really does not know Hegel's works even by their cover.
Not to mention Marx's critiques of Hegel.

I have presented one more time in this post Marx's explicit rejection of
logic. And more than once, I have invited some members in particular and
anyone in the list to present some concrete references from Marx himself
(not second-hand interpretations, even those by Engels) where he says
something concerning he is doing philosophy, using a logic (dialectical or
just in general), or that any of these fit into his dialectical method, or
that the result he obtains is a representation of reality, or a way of
interpreting reality.

Since Jerry enjoys so much talking about

>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

etc., he will surely provide us with those concrete references. I only hope
that Jerry would not do like Hans Despain, that just ignored the question,
nor like Ralph Dumain, who (showing once more he is the exact incarnation
of what he defined as the academic essence) replied that finally there was
something substantial to discuss about in my posts, that those concrete
references could be surely found in some later work from Marx, but that he
lacked the time to look for them.

Juan Inigo
jinigo at

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