Mark Jones markjones011 at tiscali.co.uk
Sat Dec 14 12:48:35 MST 2002


At 14-12-02 06:20, Julio wrote:

>Mark Jones says: "Both Julio and Jurriaan share a productivist,
>ricardian-sraffian reading of Marx which is highly contentious, not to say
>tendentious."
>
>With all due respect, I will only speak for myself.  Mark Jones' labels do
>not help clarify the issues.  Let me get into the substance.

I have some comments on Julio's post but first a point about Julio's
misreading of the Grundrisse.

Marx's letter to Kugelmann which Julio cites was written 11 years after
Marx wrote the Grundrisse. It therefore reflects Marx's mature views as
these were first elaborated in the Grundrisse. In the latter, Marx is at
pains to show how the capitalist mode of production sets the stage for the
liquidation of ALL economies based on the allocation of labour-times. His
comments on "communalism" do not refer to the future but to the
precapitalist past. Marx clearly states in the Grundrisse his view that
capitalism will "blow sky high" the use of labour time as the "measuring
rod" of  social activity.  What "every child knows" s/he knows only about
the past or the capitalist present, NOT about the posited communist future
where Marx is at pains to argue, there will neither be exchange-value NOR
what Julio  calls the "economy of time"( Julio says "communism is defined
by the economy of time operating in a direct form. Obviously communism will
not be unconstrained by the laws of nature or by the law of economy of
time. ") Julio even states that Marx so argues in the Grundrisse. Wrong!
Marx says, simply, the exact opposite. (btw, Julio, it would be helpful if
you give page references to cites where possible).

Here is what Marx actually says:

"In machinery, the appropriation of living labour by capital achieves a direct
reality in this respect as well: It is, firstly. the analysis and
application of
mechanical and chemical laws, arising directly out of science, which
enables the
machine to perform the same labour as that previously performed by the worker.
However, the development of machinery along this path occurs only when large
industry has already reached a higher stage, and all the sciences have been
pressed into the service of capital; and when, secondly, the available
machinery
itself already provides great capabilities. Invention then becomes a
business, and
the application of science to direct production itself becomes a prospect which
determines and solicits it. But this is not the road along which machinery,
by and
large, arose, and even less the road on which it progresses in detail. This
road
is, rather, dissection- through the division of labour, which gradually
transforms
the workers' operations into more and more mechanical ones, so that at a
certain
point a mechanism can step into their places. Thus, the specific mode of
working
here appears directly as becoming transferred from the worker to capital in the
form of the machine, and his own labour capacity devalued thereby. Hence the
workers' struggle against machinery. What was the living worker's activity
becomes
the activity of the machine. Thus the appropriation of labour by capital
confronts
the worker in a coarsely sensuous form; capital absorbs labour into itself- 'as
though its body were by love possessed'.

The exchange of living labour for objectified labour - i.e. the positing of
social labour in the form of the contradiction of capital and wage labour -
is the
ultimate development of the value relation and of production resting on
value. Its
presupposition :is -- and remains -- the mass of direct labour time, the
quantity of labour employed, as the determinant factor in the production of
wealth. But to the degree that large industry develops, the creation of real
wealth comes to depend less on labour time and on the amount of labour employed
than on the power of the agencies set in motion during labour time, whose
'powerful effectiveness' is itself in turn out of all proportion to the direct
labour time spent on their production, but depends rather on the general state
of science and the progress of technology, or the application of science to
production. (The development of this science, especially natural science,
and all
others with the latter, is itself in turn related to the development of
material
production.). Agriculture, e.g., becomes merely the application of the
science of
material metabolism, its regulation for the greatest advantage of the
entire body
of society. Real wealth manifests itself. rather and large industry reveals
this -
in the monstrous disproportion between the labour time applied, and its
product,
as well as in the qualitative imbalance between labour, reduced to a pure
abstraction, and the power of the production process it superintends. Labour no
longer appears so much to be included within the production process; rather the
human being comes to relate more as a watchman and regulator to the production
process itself. (What holds for machinery holds likewise for the combination of
human activities and the development of human intercourse.)

No longer does the worker insert a modified natural thing as middle link
between
the object and himself; rather, he inserts the process of nature,
transformed into
and industrial process, as a means between himself and inorganic nature,
mastering
it. He steps to the side of the production process instead of being its chief
actor. In this transformation, neither the direct human labour he himself
performs, nor the time during which he works, but rather the appropriation
of his
general productive power, his understanding of nature and mastery over it by
virtue of his presence as a social body - in a word, the development of the
social
individual which appears as the great foundation-stone of production and of
wealth. The *theft of alien labour time, on which the present wealth is base*
appears a miserable foundation in face of this new one, created by large scale
industry itself. As soon as labour in the direct form has ceased to be the
great
well-spring of wealth, labour-time ceases and must cease to be its measure, and
hence exchange value [must cease to be the measure] of use value. The *surplus
labour of the mass* has ceased to be the condition for the development of
general
wealth, just as the *non-labour of the few*, for the development of the general
powers of the human head. With that, production based on exchange-value breaks
down and the direct, material production process is stripped of the form of
penury
and antithesis. The free development of individualities and hence not the
reduction of necessary labour time so as to posit surplus labour, but
rather the
general reduction of the necessary labour of society to a minimum, which then
corresponds to the artistic, scientific etc. development of the individuals
in the
time set free, and with the means created, for all of them. Capital itself
is the
moving contradiction, [in] that it presses to reduce labour time to a minimum,
while it posits labour time, on the other side, as sole measure and source of
wealth. Hence it diminishes labour time in the necessary form so as to
increase it
in the superfluous form; hence posits the superfluous in growing measure as a
condition - question of life or death - for the necessary. On the one side,
then,
it calls to life all the powers of science and nature, as of social combination
and of social intercourse, in order to make the creation of wealth independent
(relatively) of the labour time employed on it. On the other side, it wants
to use
labour time as the measuring rod for the giant social forces thereby
created, and
to confine them within the limits required to maintain the already created
value
as value. Forces of production and social relations - two different sides
of the
development of the social individual - appear to capital as mere means, and are
merely means for it to produce on its limited foundation. In fact, however,
they
are the material conditions to blow this foundation sky-high."
(Grundrisse, Penguin 1973 p 703-706)
---------------------------------

Secondly, Marx very clearly and systematically confronts productivist
economics and epistemologies in the Grundrisse. But I'll deal with that in
another post.

Mark Jones


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