Saturday, October 6, 2012

The translation of "alienate" and one quote from TSV: a follow-up to Chapter 23 & 24

# The translation of “alienate”
In the chapter 21, Marx states:
The money-capitalist, in fact, alienates a use-value, and thus whatever he gives away is given as a commodity. (Capital, Vol.3, p.472, Penguin version)
Does the term, alienate, here means the social philosophy sense alienation, or simply the synonyms of transfer or deliver? (There are also many "alienate" used in other sentences within the chapter 21)
In the original German version of Das Kapital, the word used here is “veräuβert”, which can be directly translated into English as “alienate”. However, the word “alienate” in English can refer to different meanings. In the legal literature about the property right, the same “alienate” means transfer or deliver.
According to the context, Marx here is trying to describe that the use-value of capital is gave or lent to the industrial capital as a commodity, so I think that the meaning of the word “alienate” in the chapter 21 is more close to “transfer” or “deliver” rather than the social philosophy sense alienation.
In other chapters and sections, where Marx explicitly refers to the social philosophy sense alienation, Marx usually uses the word, entfremdete, rather than "veräuβert." Such as in the chapter 23:
Due to the alienated character of capital, its antithesis to labour, being relegated to a place outside the actual process of exploitation, namely to the interest-bearing capital… (Capital, Vol. 3, p.382, International version)

Since the estranged  character  of capital,  its  antithesis  to  labour,  is  shifted 
outside the actual process of exploitation, i.e. into interest-bearing 
capital... (Capital, Vol. 3, p.506, Penguin version. *Here seems that the translator of this version was aware of the problem, so he chose a different word)
“alienate” or “estrange”here are translated from “entfremdete”.
Unfortunately, this word “entfremdete” is also translated into English as “alienate”, which is easy to get confused. (Please see the juxtaposed English-German pages here:
I have consulted one of my friends who had studied the legal German. She says that this word “veräuβert” means “transfer” and “deliver” in German, and it is a legal term. “Entfremdete” means “separate” or “estrange”, which is more close to the social philosophy sense alienation. 
Besides, I have check two version of Chinese translations of Marx’s Capital, and I all find the word “讓渡” here, which means “transfer” or “deliver”.
(I just found by chance that there is a paper which pointed out similar problems: Cowling (2006) "Alienation in the Older Marx." Contemporary Political Theory, 5(3): 319–339.)

# about master-slave dialectics
In a section called [4. The Process of Ossification of the Converted Forms of Surplus-Value and Their Ever Greater Separation from Their Inner Substance—Surplus Labour. Industrial Profit as “Wages for the Capitalist”], in Theories of Surplus Value, Vol.3, there is an interesting passage which seems relate to the master-slave dialectics:
Industrial profit does indeed include some part of wages—in those cases where the manager does not draw them. Capital appears in the production process as the director of labour, as its commander (captain of industry) and thus plays an active role in the labour process. But insofar as these functions arise out of the specific form of capitalist production—that is, out of the domination of capital over labour as its labour and, therefore, over the workers as its instruments, out of the nature of capital, which appears as the social entity, the subject of the social form of labour personified in it [capital] as power over labour—this work (it may be entrusted to a manager) which is linked with exploitation is, of course, labour which, in the same way as that of the wage-worker, enters into the value of the product; just as in the case of slaverythe labour of the overseer has to be paid for like that of a worker. If man attributes an independent existence, clothed in a religious form, to his relationship to his own nature, to external nature and to other men so that he is dominated by these notions, then he requires priests and their labour. With the disappearance of the religious form of consciousness and of these relationships, the labour of the priests will likewise cease to enter into the social process of production. The labour of priests will end with the existence of the priests themselves and, in the same way, the labour which the capitalist performs qua capitalist, or causes to be performed by someone else, will end together with the existence of the capitalists. (The example of slavery has to be amplified by quotations.)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Chapter 23 & 24, Capital Vol.3

MarxReadingGroup Ch 23 & 24                              5 October 2012

#Ch 23
[Basing on the analysis in the previous chapters, the interest and the profit of enterprise (owner’s income) appear originally merely as portions of the profit (surplus value). The difference between these two things is originally quantitative. But they in reality are viewed as something qualitatively different, and fetishised. In these two chapters, Marx explains why and how was this formed. ]
[This may be considered as an exercise of “the advance from the abstract to the concrete”, while Marx’s method is definitely more complex than this formula. ]

Qualitatively difference:
---The ossification and individualisation of the two parts of the gross profit in respect to one another, as though they originated from two essentially different sources.
---The capitalist operating on his own capital, like the one operating on borrowed capital, divides the gross profit into interest due to himself as owner, as his own lender, and into profit of enterprise due to him as to an active capitalist performing his function.
---The moneyed capitalist does not appear to have any relations with the wage-worker, but only with other capitalists, while these other capitalists, instead of appearing to be in opposition to the wage-workers, appear rather as workers, in opposition to themselves or to other [capitalists] considered as mere owners of capital, representing the mere existence of capital. (Theories of Surplus Value, vol.3)
---He creates surplus-value not because he works as a capitalist, but because he also works, regardless of his capacity of capitalist. This portion of surplus-value is thus no longer surplus-value, but its opposite, an equivalent for labour performed.
---The social form of capital falls to interest, but expressed in a neutral and indifferent form. The economic function of capital falls to profit of enterprise, but abstracted from the specific capitalist character of this function.

Marx asks: Why and how is this so?
Marx’s method: Analysis; From the abstract to the concrete; Fetishism criticism

--- It is not only a matter of different quotas of profit assigned to different persons, but two different categories of profit which are differently related to the capital, hence related to different aspects of the capital. >>>> What’s the relationship between the aspects?
--- The simple empirical circumstance that the majority of industrial capitalists…work with their own and with borrowed capital.
--- as soon as a portion of profit universally assumes the form of interest, the difference between average profit and interest, or the portion of profit over and above the interest, assumes a form opposite to interest – the form of profit of enterprise. These two forms, interest and profit of enterprise, exist only as opposites. Hence, they are not related to surplus-value, of which they are but parts placed under different categories, heads or names, but rather to one another. It is because one portion of profit turns into interest, that the other appears as profit of enterprise. >>>> logical antitheism or real conflict (competition)?
--- Yet historically interest-bearing capital existed as a completed traditional form, and hence interest as a completed sub-division of surplus-value produced by capital, long before the capitalist mode of production and its attendant conceptions of capital and profit. Thus it is that to the popular mind money-capital, or interest-bearing capital, is still capital as such, as capital par excellence. >>>> The historical becomes the fetishised. (The process of capital becoming capital or its development before the capitalist production process exists, and its realisation in the capitalist process of production itself belong to two historically different periods. In the second, capital is taken for granted, and its existence and automatic functioning is presupposed. In the first period, capital is the sediment resulting from the process of dissolution of a different social formation. It is the product of a different [formation], not the product of its own reproduction, as is the case later.(Theories of Surplus Value, vol.3))
--- There is a real reason at the root of this. Money (as an expression of the value of commodities in general) in the [production] process appropriates surplus-value, no matter what name it bears or whatever parts it is split into, because it is already presupposed as capital before the production process. (Theories of Surplus Value, vol.3)
--- Just as the conversion of money, and of value in general, into capital is the constant result of capitalist production, so is its existence as capital its constant precondition. >>>> The Reality as the fetish
--- the class of money-capitalists confronts him as a special kind of capitalists, money-capital as an independent kind of capital, and interest as an independent form of surplus-value peculiar to this specific capital.
--- however the gross profit,…the portion belonging to the functioning capitalist is determined by the interest, since this is fixed by the general rate of interest (leaving aside any special legal stipulations) and assumed to be given beforehand, before the process of production begins, hence before its result, the gross profit, is achieved.
--- [The notion that the capital would yield a surplus-value even if not applied productively]… is correct in the practical sense for the individual capitalist. He has the choice of making use of his capital by lending it out as interest-bearing capital, or of expanding its value on his own by using it as productive capital, regardless of whether it exists as money-capital from the very first, or whether it still has to be converted into money-capital. But to apply it to the total capital of society, as some vulgar economists do, and to go so far as to define it as the cause of profit, is, of course, preposterous. >>>> Fallacy of composition. Opportunity cost. Fisherian theory of the rate of interest and profit?
--- interest falls to the share of the capitalist even when he does not perform the function of a capitalist and is merely the owner of capital; and that, on the other hand, profit of enterprise does fall to the share of the functioning capitalist even when he is not the owner of the capital on which he operates. >>>> beyond the legal form of property
--- Interest...represents the ownership of capital as a means of appropriating the products of the labour of others. …Interest represents this characteristic not as directly counterposed to labour, but rather as unrelated to labour, and simply as a relationship of one capitalist to another. …Interest is a relationship between two capitalists, not between capitalist and labourer.
--- On the other hand, this form of interest lends the other portion of profit the qualitative form of profit of enterprise, and further of wages of superintendence. …He creates surplus-value not because he works as a capitalist, but because he also works, regardless of his capacity of capitalist. This portion of surplus-value is thus no longer surplus-value, but its opposite, an equivalent for labour performed. >>>> “entrepreneurship”
--- It is just as if a king, who, as king, has nominal command of the army, were to be assumed to command the army not because he, as the owner of the kingship, commands, plays the role of commander-in-chief, but on the contrary that he is king because he commands, exercises the function of commander-in-chief. (Theories of Value, vol.3) >>>> Lacan’s quote, Marx’s Capital vol.1 note.21, and here, to be a king by pretending otherwise
--- Thus the nature of surplus-value, the essence of capital and the character of capitalist production are not only completely obliterated in these two forms of surplus-value, they are turned into their opposites. But even insofar as the character and form of capital are complete [it is] nonsensical [if] presented without any intermediate links and expressed as the subjectification of objects, the objectification of subjects, as the reversal of cause and effect, the religious quid pro quo, the pure form of capital expressed in the formula M—M'. The ossification of relations, their presentation as the relation of men to things having a definite social character is here likewise brought out in quite a different manner from that of the simple mystification of commodities and the more complicated mystification of money. The transubstantiation, the fetishism, is complete. >>>> mystification and fragmentization (anti-financial but pro-industrial capital)

Question1: Basically, Marx employs the consistent method of analysis here to define the distinct economic and class forms of interest and enterprise profit (owner’s income). It’s very similar with the twofold character of the commodity. Interest appears as a general, pure form of the exchange value of capital, basing on the mere ownership of capital, and the enterprise appears as coming from some specific forms of the use value, basing on the functioning “labor” of capital. As in the case of commodity, which has use-value and exchange-value, these two aspects are just twofold character of capital, and indicate to no antagonism or conflict between them.
But Marx also said right after the beginning of chapter 23 that it is only the competition (appears only once) between these two kinds of capitalists which creates the rate of interest. And he mentioned also the contradiction (appears only once too) between the function of capital in the reproduction process and the mere ownership of capital outside of the reproduction process. These two are terms containing at least potential antagonism or conflicts.
What are the meanings of the competition and contradiction here? What’s the relation between these two kinds of capital?

Question 2: What’s the base and distinct character for the interest in pre-capitalist society?

#Ch 24
--- In M – M' we have the meaningless form of capital, the perversion and objectification of production relations in their highest degree, the interest-bearing form, the simple form of capital, in which it antecedes its own process of reproduction. It is the capacity of money, or of a commodity, to expand its own value independently of reproduction – which is a mystification of capital in its most flagrant form.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Chapter 16, 17, Capital Vol.3

* The circuit of industrial capital covers both production and circulation spheres. Within the latter, the industrial capital assumes the form of commodity capital and money capital. When the function of the latter two is taken over by independent capitalists they become commercial capital and money-dealing capital, respectively. Marx calls the two merchant capital. Part IV of Capital Vol.3 is about merchant capital.

Chapter 16. Commercial Capital

1. Distinction between commodity capital & commercial capital
 1) Commodity capital:
   - 'A mere form of existence of industrial capital'
   - Pertains to a more abstract analysis about 'capital in general' in Vol.2
 2) Commercial capital:
   - Commodity capital becomes commercial capital when the function of metamorphosis between money and commodity acquires independent life as a special function of a special capital being fixed by the division of labour.
   - Pertains to a more concrete analysis about 'capital in competition' in Vol.3
2. Turnover
  - 'The velocity of circulation of commercial capital' depends on:
    i) The speed with which the production is repeated & the way various production processes are interconnected
    ii) The speed of consumption
    iii) The development of the function of money as means of payment, i.e. the credit system
  - The faster the turnover, the smaller is the part of total money capital that figures as commercial capital, and vice versa.
  - As no value, and thus no surplus-value, is produced in the circulation process, the length of circulation time is in inverse relation to the rate of profit.
  - Commercial capital indirectly contribute to value production; namely, by shortening the circulation time and realizing the already produced value.
 (Dialectical nature of the relation commercial capital has with industrial capital)

Chapter 17. Commercial Profit

1. Scientific analysis vs. historical development:
   - "In the course of scientific analysis, the formation of the general rate of profit appears to proceed from industrial capitals and the competition between them, being only later rectified, supplemented and modified by the intervention of commercial capital. In the course of historical development, the situation is exactly the reverse. It is commercial capital which first fixes the prices of commodities more or less according to their values, and it is the sphere of circulation that mediates the reproduction process in which a general rate of profit is first formed. Commercial profit originally determines industrial profit" (400).
   - "Concentration historically appears in commerce earlier than in the industrial workshop" (409).
   - How should we understand this contradiction? Is Marx's emphasis of industrial capital over commercial capital compatible with some historical observation, say by Sweezy, that commercial capital played a vital role in the transition from feudalism to capitalism and in the advent of capitalism? Marx's answer could be found in chapter 20 "Historical Materials on Merchant Capital".

2. Commercial labour & the source of commercial profit
   - "Whereas industrial capital appropriates the unpaid labour of others, commercial capital appropriates a portion of this surplus-value by getting it transferred from industrial capital to itself. It is only by way of its function in the realization of values that commercial capital functions as capital in the reproduction process, and therefore draws, as functioning capital, on the surplus-value that the total capital produces" (407). 
   - "Commercial employees' unpaid labour, even though it does not create surplus-value, does create his ability to appropriate surplus-value. They are the source of the profit for commercial capitalists. Just as the unpaid labour of the worker creates surplus-value for productive capital directly, so also does the unpaid labour of the commercial employee create a share in that surplus-value for commercial capital" (407).

3. General rate of profit:
   - Commercial capital contributes to the formation of the general rate of profit. Therefore, it must yield the average profit as industrial capital does according to the proportion it forms in the total capital even though it is not involved in the production of surplus-value.
   - Commercial profit is not an excess over the value of commodities (in case of social capital as a whole); it emerges since commodities are sold to a merchant at the price below their value and sold by her/him at their value. 

4. Two theoretical questions Marx raises:
   1) Do we add money capital the merchant advanced to purchase commodities from the producer into the final sale price? No, but only profit on the commercial capital is added. "Commercial capital is similar to fixed capital in the sense that in so far as it is not consumed, its value does not constitute an element of the commodity’s value."
     - I think Marx's numerical example in p.398 is strange; in his calculation, the merchant buys C from the producer at 1,062. But here we are assuming a commercial capital of 100 at the start. With what money then does the merchant pay the producer 1,062? If she/he has to advance 1,062 of initial money capital to purchase C as Marx is explicit in his example in p.410-11, all the calculations that follow, i.e. the general rate of profit, commercial profit, price of production, etc. should be revised, it seems.
    Marx raises this question in p.412, but his answer given in the following pages does not seem to directly address the issue.
   2) Do we add variable capital of a commercial capitalist into the final sale price? No, as wage for commercial labourers is not an origin, but a result, of surplus-value production. "Wages of commercial labourers employed in the circulation sphere derive solely from the commercial profit as their labour is not value-creating one."