Rereading Capital

Rereading Capital

Ben Fine, Laurence Harris

Language: English

Pages: 190

ISBN: 0333231392

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The process by which Ben Fine and Laurence Harris simplified their early work "Reading Capital," as well as their accounting of the controversy between the Neo-Ricardinas and the Fundamentalists, inspired me to apply Occam's Razor to my earlier work, condensing it into "Capitalism vs. Economic Democracy."

Fine and Harris recreate the dialectics of the analysis of "Capital" as it moves from the sphere of production in Vol. 1, through the sphere of circulation in Vol. 2, and finally to redistribution of capital in Vol. 3: a dialectical method neither the neo-Ricardians nor the Fundamentalists follow in analysing the relationship between "Capital" and Sraffa's "Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities."

Fine and Harris move from the "statics," as they put it, of Marx' theory of value vs. price, and productive vs. unproductive labour, to the "dynamics" (again borrowing from mechanical engineering concepts) of the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, and theories of capitalist crises.

They then continue to the development of the relationship of the state to capitalism, from the laissez-faire era to the rise of state-monopoly capitalism in an imperialist context, which they saw as being seriously challenged by Reagan and Thatcher when they wrote "Rereading Capital" in 1979.

Thus, "Rereading Capital" points to an understanding of "Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities" as a prelude to "Capital," as well as to the rise and fall of neoliberalism which began just as "Rereading Capital" was being written, and which is now coming to an end in favour of another era of state capitalism: it inspired me to reexamine my own work, and thus write "Capitalism vs. Economic Democracy." I hope that others find "Rereading Capital" similarly inspiring.

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surplus value by produetive labour. They argue that wage-Iabour which educates and medically cares for the working class is productive even if it is employed by the state instead of capital and therefore not directly productive of surplus value. They justify this by drawing an analogy between repair work on fixed capital and 'repair' and reproduction of the commodity labour-power. Because Marx categorises machine-repair as productive labour sui generis, it is argued that wage-Iabour reproducing

capital are not broken despite their anarchic integration through market relations. 5.2 Crises and their Determining Contradictions The crisis theories examined above are unsatisfactory in several ways but most basically because they are partial as compared with Marx's. Neo-Ricardianism and underconsumption theories see the source of crises in the sphere of exchange; Fundamentalism is unable to see the articulation betwen production, on which it concentrates, and exchange and distribution. But

values between and within c1asses is analysed. 1.3 Determination by Production In Marx's economic analysis his propositions are dominated by a major idea, that the sphere of production is fundamental to the economy as a whole: not that production, distribution, exchange and consumption are identical, but that they all form the members of a totality, distinctions within a unity. Production predominates not only over itself ... but over the other moments as weIl. ... Adefinite production

and crises in the production process.' The example Marx then gives of this depreciation of capital (Capital, vol. III, chapter xv, section III) is one where it follows from an actual fall in the rate of profit; but it is clear that this is only one of the possible conjunctures, for Marx 84 Rereading Capital writes that 'these antagonistic agencies counteract each other simultaneously' (emphasis added) and the 'different influences may at one time operate predominantly side by side in space

theory to be an irrelevant diversion. Concomitantly, analysis of the sphere of production in abstraction, for which value theory is necessary, is rejected. From this follows a rejection by neo-Ricardians of Marx's distinction between productive and unproductive labour, for the distinction between these categories is central to Marx's concept of the fundamental determining role of the sphere of production and it is only relevant within a view which takes as central the relations between the three

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