Michael R. Krätke – Why Could Marx Not Complete Capital?

For all the Marxologists out there here’s a talk by Michael Krätke on Why Could Marx Not Complete Capital?  However, the title of talk is somewhat deceiving: Krätke doesn’t give one answer, he gives a number of them, while also demonstrating an encyclopedic knowledge of the different phases of Marx’s attempts to complete his scientific critique of political economy possibly gleamed from freebasing MEGA volumes. (If that’s the secret I gotta start.)  I don’t entirely agree with the content– particularly his dismissal of The Grundrisse and his snipes at philosophical interpretations of Marx–but he does get seem to get fetishism and stress that Marx has a monetary theory of value. If you’re deep in the PhD write up crackhole you might even watch it at one in the morning with a bowl of popcorn.

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About HR

Deep in the adjunct crackhole.
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6 Responses to Michael R. Krätke – Why Could Marx Not Complete Capital?

  1. Mike B) says:

    THE GRUNDRISSE is a think piece, never meant for publication, written in Left-Hegelian, which Marx used to help clarify issues in his critique of political-economy for himself. I, for one, am happy with Krätke’s take. The fetishisation of THE GRUNDRISSE has been going on too long.

  2. HR says:

    Hi Mike,

    I agree with you to some degree.

    In my view Kratke’s dismissal of the Grundrisse and philosophical interpretations of Marx were both too quick. I’m sure this had to do with the format of the talk. So I would be interested to see if he engages with the issue more substantively elsewhere.

    My assumption is that his swipes are directed at the ‘esoteric Marx’ of Reichelt and Backhaus who’s early work placed great emphasis on The Grundrisse as a sort of blue print of Marx’s disguised Hegelian method. However, Reichelt and Backhaus no longer hold this view.

    What they, and others, do point out is that The Grundrisse contains important and illuminating passages that help explain underdeveloped aspects of Capital.

    Since, as Kratke points out, Marx never finished Capital, this makes think pieces like The Grundrisse important. Particularly if they have illuminating passages etc.

    So while I don’t think The Grundrisse should be fetishized, I think it should be viewed as valuable source, among other valuable sources in Marx’s long and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to satisfactorily complete his scientific critique of political economy. For instance, i reckon the stuff on money in The Grundrisse is shit hott.

    • Mike B) says:

      Fair enough. I actually enjoyed reading the GRUNDRISSE when it came out in English. Maybe, I didn’t pay enough attention to the sections on money. I do remember being entranced with Karl’s hints on communist organisation of social relations e.g. I think around page 707 in my edition.

      “‘If the entire labour of a country were sufficient only to raise the support of the whole population, there would be no surplus labour, consequently nothing that could be allowed to accumulate as capital. If in one year the people raises enough for the support of two years, one year’s consumption must perish, or for one year men must cease from productive labour. But the possessors of [the] surplus produce or capital… employ people upon something not directly and immediately productive, e.g. in the erection of machinery. So it goes on.’ (The Source and Remedy of the National Difficulties, p. 4.)”

      Let free-time ring!

  3. Mike B) says:

    “<The creation of a large quantity of disposable time apart from necessary labour time for society generally and each of its members (i.e. room for the development of the individuals’ full productive forces, hence those of society also), this creation of not-labour time appears in the stage of capital, as of all earlier ones, as not-labour time, free time, for a few. What capital adds is that it increases the surplus labour time of the mass by all the means of art and science, because its wealth consists directly in the appropriation of surplus labour time; since value directly its purpose, not use value. It is thus, despite itself, instrumental in creating the means of social disposable time, in order to reduce labour time for the whole society to a diminishing minimum, and thus to free everyone’s time for their own development. But its tendency always, on the one side, to create disposable time, on the other, to convert it into surplus labour. If it succeeds too well at the first, then it suffers from surplus production, and then necessary labour is interrupted, because no surplus labour can be realized by capital. The more this contradiction develops, the more does it become evident that the growth of the forces of production can no longer be bound up with the appropriation of alien labour, but that the mass of workers must themselves appropriate their own surplus labour. Once they have done so – and disposable time thereby ceases to have an antithetical existence – then, on one side, necessary labour time will be measured by the needs of the social individual, and, on the other, the development of the power of social production will grow so rapidly that, even though production is now calculated for the wealth of all, disposable time will grow for all. For real wealth is the developed productive power of all individuals. The measure of wealth is then not any longer, in any way, labour time, but rather disposable time. Labour time as the measure of value posits wealth itself as founded on poverty, and disposable time as existing in and because of the antithesis to surplus labour time; or, the positing of an individual’s entire time as labour time, and his degradation therefore to mere worker, subsumption under labour…."

  4. Mike B) says:

    Etc….well, you get the picture. There are other time related passages in the GRUNDRISSE. Once Capital is eliminated as a social relation, the associated producers goal is to increase ‘disposable time’ amongst themselves. This disposable time could even include a producer wishing to spend more time on some socially necessary labour e.g. a scientist who loves solving the physics problems associated with black holes; a surgeon who loves removing cancers from grateful patients or an artist who loves painting beautiful images. Before reading the GRUNDRISSE, this aspect of Marx’s critique of political-economy had gelled for me yet.

  5. Mike B) says:

    I meant to say, NOT gelled for me. Pardon me, it’s early in the morning…must have coffee. Thanks for the fine blog.

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