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They are consequently incapable of enforcing their class interest in their own name, whether through a parliament or through n convention.

A Monetary Value Theory

They cannot represent themselves, they must be represented. Their representative must at the same time appear as their master, as an authority over them, as an unlimited governmental power that protects them against other classes and sends them rain and sunshine from above" What a beautiful analysis of the difference between a community and a class! What a clear perception of the fundamental role of communication in the organisation of social space! We feel we are very close to a study of the efficacy of superstructures according to their spatial distribution — and yet this remains to be done.

There is thus in Marx a human geography before its time, a geography which is remarkably modern in that it avoids the traps of determinism, emphasizes successions of spatial techniques and arrangements, and goes straight to the essential contrasts where distribution is concerned — it considers the opposition of town and country, of centre and periphery, to be fundamental.

One then understands why some geographers are so enthusiastic, on reading Marx, when they discover a scheme which prefigures those they have seen slowly emerging, step by step, over a whole generation: thus does David Harvey make systematic use of the indications he finds in The German Ideology,. Grundrisse and Capital, to account for the genesis of the geography of the modem world and the problems modern cities are confronted with How then can we explain the singular fate of Marxist geography and its puzzling inability to set itself up and develop from there?

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Again we must look to Marx himself for the answer to this question. The disappearance from Marx's work of considerations on space. Henri Lefebvre 24 rightly points out that Marx's reflections on towns featured less and less prominently in his publications. It is one of the major themes ofThe German Ideology. Some time earlier, in The Condition of the Working Class in England in , Engels had gone much further in this direction — his reflection bore on both social and geographical themes.

But after , when Marx started working on Capital, his perspective changed. As early as Grundrisse, one has to pick up incidental references to space as they crop up in the course of developments on the themes of concentration or circulation. There is only one systematic development to be found about the arrangement of things in space As the most explicit text, as far as our present purpose is concerned, i. The German Ideology, long "abandoned to [ But why were.

Capital merely takes up analyses of the capitalist mode of production already suggested elsewhere, but it does so in a more rigorous, systematic and — let us use the word since Marx himself insisted on it — more scientific way. It is this "scientific" development which eliminates spaces from Marxism. Let us recall what the aim of this fundamental work, Capital, was: to criticise classical political economy and build the foundations of a knowledge of the dominant mode of production in the world of today on the basis of a new conception of man as a social being.

It is not easy to assimilate the results: this has to do with the bulk of the work, its extension in time and, even more, with the method followed. On this point, Marx was quite explicit: "Beginnings are always difficult in all sciences. The understanding of the first chapter, especially the section that contains the analysis of commodities, will therefore present the greatest difficulty.

I have popularised the passages concerning the substance of value and the magnitude of value as much as possible. The value-form, whose fully developed shape is the money-form, is very simple and slight in content. Marx therefore deliberately begins his study with the most abstract chapter. What was the reason for this? Here again Marx is perfectly explicit: "The economists of the seventeenth century, e. As soon as these separate elements had been more or less established by abstract reasoning, there arose the systems of political economy which start from simple conceptions, such as labour, division of labour, demand, exchange value, and conclude with state, international exchange and world market.

The latter is manifestly the scientifically correct method The concrete is concrete, because it is a combination of many objects with different destinations i. In our thought it therefore appears as a process of synthesis, as a result and not as a starting point, although it is the real starting point and, therefore, also the.

By the former methods the complete conception passes into an abstract definition; by the latter, the abstract definitions lead to the reproduction of the concrete subject in the case of reasoning. Hegel fell into the error, therefore, of considering the real as the result of self-coordinating, self absorbed, and spontaneously operating thought, while the method of advancing from the abstract to the concrete is but a way of thinking by which the concrete is grasped and is reproduced in our minds as concrete.

It is by no means, however, the process which itself generates the concrete" The opposition between the concrete as thought and the concrete as reality is thus at the heart of Marx's approach. From The German Ideology onwards he had been seeking to buttress his philosophical presuppositions with unassailable proofs. It was when he went through Hegel again, when he took Hegelian dialectic as his inspiration and put it back on its feet, that he found these unassailable proofs. The weakness of Hegelianism had been its abstractedness, its speculative character, its inability to specify the content of the object.

Marx sought his object in reality, but in order to apprehend it he did not, whatever he himself said, follow the methods of seventeenth-century economists. He added to it in such a way that it was completely transformed: he framed facts within concepts whose development lies at the heart of theoretical thought: "The value-form, whose fully developed shape is the money-form, is very simple and slight in content.

Nevertheless, the human mind has sought in vain for more than years to get to the bottom of it, while on the other hand there has been at least an approximation to a successful analysis of forms which are much richer in content and more complex. Because the complete body is easier to study than its cells. Moreover, in the analysis of economic forms, neither microscopes nor chemical reagents are of assistance.


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The power of abstraction must replace both" So it was by a process of abstraction that Marx sought to penetrate the secret which the usual simple procedure could not uncover. This is why he analysed the increasing. One thus moves from the simple value-form to the relative value-form, and then to the equivalent form, and the generalised equivalent form, which is money.


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Henceforward exchanges take place according to the following cycle:. C-M-C commodities-money-commodities.

Robert Paul Wolff

Evolution then leads naturally to the form. M-C-M money-commodities-money , in which money multiplies itself.

Class 01 Reading Marx's Capital Vol I with David Harvey

Because labour is subject to the logic of commercial exchange, which enables the purchaser to become the owner of the surplus value attached to it. What are Ae implications of this argument? Here lies the whole question of the validity of Marxism as a science. It is possible to construct a consistent theory of economics from the idea that it is labour which creates value. It had been done before Marx by the classical economists who inspired him practically until the end of his production The present vitality of the Cambridge School is sufficient proof that modern economists are still aware of this possibility: Joan Robinson 31 has recalled this very forcefully: to the marginalist axiomatic theory of utility one can always oppose the axiomatic theory of production costs.

But the notion of labour-value raises many difficulties and, besides, it is not essential to the argument as Piero Straffa has demonstrated in Production of commodities by means of commodities Joan Robinson proposes a logical reconstruction of Marx's economics starting from Straffa's argument, thereby eliminating most of the difficulties of the principles of Capital.

Marxism and space

Why then did Marx give so much prominence to the concept of value? This is the question raised by Joan Robinson: "The awkwardness of reckoning in terms of value,. In another passage she makes her criticism more explicit "The fact of exploitation makes profit possible, but there is no reason why the rate of exploitation should be treated as either logically of historically prior to the rate of profit" It is precisely on this however that Marx's whole construction rests: it gives him his polemical forcefulness, but at the cost of a dislocation of the rules of economics laid down by the scientific method.

Marx's adopted definition of value did not affect his economics, as is shown by his extremely interesting analyses of growth and of crises. Michel Kalecki 35 demonstrates that the identifications made by Marx, at the level of global economy, are very close to those described by Keynesian economics and make it possible to show analogous effects. The introduction of the notion of value does not nullify Marx's contribution to economics even if it hardly helps in understanding it. If he gave it a lot of prominence, it is because, to him, the function of value analysis was not essentially economic.

He saw it as the key to any explanation of social life: "Reflection on the forms of human life, hence also scientific analysis of those forms, takes a course directly opposite to their real development. Reflection begins post festum, and therefore with the results of the process of development ready to hand. The forms which stamp products as commodities and which are therefore the preliminary.

Understanding Marx : a reconstruction and critique of Capital / Robert Paul Wolff - Details - Trove

Consequently, it was solely the analysis of the prices of commodities which led to the determination of the magnitude of value, and solely the common expression of all commodities in money which led to the establishment of their character as values. It is however precisely this finished form of the world of commodities — the money form — which conceals the social character of private labour and the social relations between the individual workers, by making those relations appear as relations between material objects, instead of revealing them plainly" Analysis of value therefore gives Marx's thought its force as critique.

It led him to show, beneath the appearances at which most researchers stop, a profound reality, that of relations between the classes, the essence of phenomena one cannot otherwise reach. Marx conducted his analysis of the commodities form and the money form in the abstract At the end of his procedure he considered that he had come back to concrete reality. But does his argument have the universal implications he assumed it to have?


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