Marx, Trees and Second Nature.

I came across the two following passages while revising my section on the fetish form of interest-bearing capital. Too tired to go into it but it strikes me that Marx’s comparison of capital and nature differ from Lukacs and Adorno’s. Whereas Lukacs and Adorno tend to describe second nature as a pervasive, mystified and objective entity that towers above and works through everything with little explanation as to how or why, Marx’s imagery points out to how capital does this:

M — M’. We have here the original starting-point of capital, money in the formula M — C — M’ reduced to its two extremes M — M’, in which M’ = M + DM, money creating more money. It is the primary and general formula of capital reduced to a meaningless condensation. It is ready capital, a unity of the process of production and the process of circulation, and hence capital yielding a definite surplus-value in a particular period of time. In the form of interest-bearing capital this appears directly, unassisted by the processes of production and circulation. Capital appears as a mysterious and self-creating source of interest — the source of its own increase. The thing (money, commodity, value) is now capital even as a mere thing, and capital appears as a mere thing. The result of the entire process of reproduction appears as a property inherent in the thing itself. It depends on the owner of the money, i.e., of the commodity in its continually exchangeable form, whether he wants to spend it as money or loan it out as capital. In interest-bearing capital, therefore, this automatic fetish, self-expanding value, money generating money, are brought out in their pure state and in this form it no longer bears the birth-marks of its origin. The social relation is consummated in the relation of a thing, of money, to itself. Instead of the actual transformation of money into capital, we see here only form without content. As in the case of labour-power, the use-value of money here is its capacity of creating value — a value greater than it contains. Money as money is potentially self-expanding value and is loaned out as such — which is the form of sale for this singular commodity. It becomes a property of money to generate value and yield interest, much as it is an attribute of pear-trees to bear pears. And the money-lender sells his money as just such an interest-bearing thing. But that is not all. The actually functioning capital, as we have seen, presents itself in such a light, that it seems to yield interest not as a functioning capital, but as capital in itself, as money-capital.


As interest-bearing capital, and particularly in its direct form of interest-bearing money-capital (the other forms of interest-bearing capital, which do not concern us here, are derivatives of this form and presuppose its existence), capital assumes its pure fetish form, M — M’ being the subject, the saleable thing. Firstly, through its continual existence as money, a form, in which all its specific attributes are obliterated and its real elements invisible. For money is precisely that form in which the distinctive features of commodities as use-values are obscured, and hence also the distinctive features of the industrial capitals which consist of these commodities and conditions of their production. It is that form, in which value — in this case capital — exists as an independent exchange-value. In the reproduction process of capital, the money-form is but transient — a mere point of transit. But in the money-market capital always exists in this form. Secondly, the surplus-value produced by it, here again in the form of money, appears as an inherent part of it. As the growing process is to trees, so generating money (tocoz) appears innate in capital in its form of money-capital.


About HR

Deep in the adjunct crackhole.
This entry was posted in Adorno, Lukacs, Marx, Value and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s