Mark Jones' excellent quotes

Jurriaan Bendien J.Bendien at wolmail.nl
Sun Dec 15 07:57:59 MST 2002


Mark wrote:

What is central for Marx, and crucial for us, is not vague prefigurings of
possible alternative futures, but the concrete analysis of capitalist
society, and the emergence of the capitalist mode of production from its
concrete historical predecessor, the epoch of simple commodity production.

I suppose it is "crucial" for us if we want to mimic Marx. If however you
are interested in a socialist future, you have to discover the
presuppositions and conditions of future society in the present society, the
way the present prefigures the future.
That requires an analysis of contemporary reality, not simply of Marx's
text. What Marx anticipated in the 1850s has become reality today, the
question then becomes how you can go beyond that. This is not "vague
prefigurings of possible alternative futures" but a realistic conception of
what socialist society could be like, as a way of informing socialist
politics. I am not sure what you mean by an "epoch of simple commodity
production", but there has never been a whole society based on simple
commodity production, i.e. simple commodity production combined with other
modes of production.

Mark wrote:

What we are doing here is eavesdropping on Marx's thought process in one of
the first and still tentative attempts not only by Marx but by _anyone_ to
grasp the emergence of industrial capitalism from the womb of artisanal and
rural commodity production. We should therefore not to be misled by his talk
of 'economy of time'. Here, too, Marx is specifically and ONLY referring to
the capitalist labour process and the specifically (and historically
unprecedented) capitalist division of labour, the division of the economy
into many sectors, many branches of industry, each with qualitatively
different forms of labour and very different organic compositions of
capital.

Actually, Marx writes: "On the basis of communal production, the
determination of time remains, of course, essential. The less time the
society requires to produce wheat, cattle etc., the more time it wins for
other production, material or mental. Just as in the case of an individual,
the multiplicity of its development, its enjoyment and its activity depends
on economization of time. Economy of time, to this all economy ultimately
reduces itself. Society likewise has to distribute its time in a purposeful
way, in order to achieve a production adequate to its overall needs;just as
the individual has to distribute his time correctly in order to achieve
knowledge in proper proportions or in order to satisfy the various demands
on his activity. Thus, economy of time, along with the planned distribution
of labour time among the various branches of production, remains the first
economic law on the basis of communal production. It becomes law, there, to
an even higher degree. However, this is essentially different from a
measurement of exchange values (labour or products) by labour time."

Furtheron in the Grundrisse, Marx writes (p. 711): "Real economy - saving -
consists of the saving of labour time ( minimum ( and minimisation ) of
production costs ); but this saving [is] identical with development of the
productive force."

This issue is well summarised at
http://www.geocities.com/~johngray/eclips44.htm

Jurriaan


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