Banaji on Capital and Marxist history.

Here is what I think is an important concluding paragraph from Banaji’s essay on Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages that highlights what I think is (1) the properly Marxian way to approach history in terms of the logic or laws of motion of each mode of production well as (2) a fruitful and non-dogmatic theoretical approach to Capital highlighting the importance of all three volumes and indeed of volumes Marx did not complete.:

It would be foolish to deny that Marx’s handling of these categories was far from finished. He never left us with a developed or mature theory of modes of production, and a whole strand of his thinking on these issues can easily be mobilised to support the sort of equations that Wickham works with. But Marx also had a profoundly historical vision of what the different epochs or periods or modes of production were, which is, of course, best demonstrated in his analysis of capitalism. It is this second strand in his work that should form the point of departure for us. Clearly, by the capitalist mode of pro- duction, Marx meant more than the domination or widespread use of wage- labour, he meant the laws of motion that are summed up in the accumulation and competition of capitals. Since most of Capital was left unfinished, we do not have a proper or complete description of the interaction of ‘many capitals’, the most dynamic part of the system, and we tend to reduce the model to his description of individual capital in Volume One, which is one of its most abstract moments! In other words, ‘relations of production’, in Marx’s sense at least, are just not reducible to the relations of exploitation depicted in Volume One. They would have to include competition, credit, share-capital, moments that each had an Abschnitt in the 1857 plan, as well as the ‘world-market’ and ‘crises’ to which he planned to devote the final book, all of which were concrete determinations that Marx must, presumably, have lumped together in the general heading ‘shapes of the total process’ that was the proposed subject matter of ‘Book Three’ in the 1855/56 plan. The point here is that, by ‘capitalist relations of production’, Marx clearly meant all of this and not just the general form of exploitation described with such lucidity in Volume One. (Theory as History 213-14)


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Deep in the adjunct crackhole.
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1 Response to Banaji on Capital and Marxist history.

  1. Pingback: Productive debt « Recording Surface

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