Notes on Re-reading Postone VIII: The process of production.

Towards the end of part three of TLSD Postone makes it to the hidden abode of production. He does mention elements of Marx’s analysis of production such as relative surplus value and real subsumption. However, he uses these points mainly to elaborate his earlier interpretation of part one in contrast to the bogeyman of traditional Marxism. This is in contrast to an account of how Postone’s interpretation is realized in these later categories. For instance, rather than an account of real subsumption describing how production is transformed and articulated in the role of capitalists as personification of capital and the dull compulsion of proletarians, Postone provides the following summary:

Marx’s analysis of the “real subsumption” of labor under capital is an attempt to analyze the process of production in developed capitalism as molded by capitalist relations of production (that is, by value and capital); he treats this production process as intrinsically capitalist. This demonstrates that, in his view, the fundamental contradiction of capitalist society—the contradiction between its forces and relations of production—refers not to one between industrial production and “capitalism” (that is, bourgeois relations of distribution) but to one within the capitalist mode of production itself. This, obviously, undermines the traditional conception of the role accorded the working class in the transition from capitalism to socialism. 283

This does not so much substantiate his interpretation by provided a full-fledged account of how capital possesses an intrinsic historic dynamic constituted by socially specific labour as carry on the arguments he has made from the beginning about historical specificity and mediation:

Marx, then, analyzes both the concrete form of industrial production and the dynamic logic of industrial society in terms of the twofold social forms that constitute capitalist society. This is yet another sign that the full implications of his initial categories emerge only in the course of his analysis of the capitalist sphere of production. I have shown that Marx associates the category of relative surplus value with the real subsumption of labor under capital and with an ongoing historical dynamic; relative surplus value is the form of surplus value adequate to capital, as understood by Marx. Only when this category is unfolded in his presentation does the commodity form of social mediation emerge fully developed. It becomes totalizing, a moment of a social totality that it constitutes; as we shall see, this mediation now becomes a moment of a totality. With the introduction of the category of relative surplus value—even more than in the case of labor power understood as a commodity—the categories with which Marx begins his analysis ‘ ‘come into their own” and retrospectively illuminate his logical point of departure. This is particularly true of the temporal dimension of the categories: only at this point in Marx’s argument does the logical un- folding of the categories express a historical dynamic of capitalist society and, in this sense, become “real” as a historical logic. In other words, in Marx’s analysis, the development of relative surplus value accords capitalism a dynamic that, although constituted by social practice, has the form of a historical logic. It is directional, unfolds in a regular fashion, is beyond the control of its con- stituting agents, and exerts an abstract form of compulsion on them. The character of this dynamic can be explained, according to Marx, in terms of the dualistic forms of the commodity and capital. This implies, conversely, that,inasmuch as these forms grasp such a logic of development, they are fully valid socially only in developed capitalism. 284-85



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Deep in the adjunct crackhole.
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