Thursday, January 8, 2009

beginning Capital

It seems to me, five chapters into Capital, that everything Marx is building depends on a theory of value as crystallized labor-time. This labor-time is arrived at, even in theory, only through the mediation of society understood as a measurable, limited, abstraction. It seems that this theory of value will be invoked to preclude the possibility that surplus-value may accrue to money (turning it into capital) through the labor invested in it by those who hold it. In this way, it seems, labor will be constrained within the comprehensible domain of turning leather into boots (rather than that of selling dear and buying cheap). The development of money into capital seems set to take place autonomously. I have a hard time accepting this. It is not a stripping-away of illusion so much as a blatant failure to take actual practice into account. I do not find the easy references to 'social averages' especially convincing or plausible. Or perhaps, very likely, I have misunderstood. A large part of this volume of Capital is taken up by discussions of surplus-value, and the labor theory of value, and perhaps by the end of them I will have explanations for what seem like very large blind spots.

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