Another note on translation in part one of Capital.

It is interesting to compare Fowkes and Ehrbar’s translation of what I think is a very important following passage. Fowkes translation of Veräußerung as ‘alienation’, although intended in the sense of exchangable, might lead one to interpret it in relation the 1844 Manuscripts. This could lead to conflating the historically-specific social character of capitalist labour with the trans-historical aspect of labour. Yet, as we shall see, it is the latter that makes the former a possibility dependent on the social relations of the mode of production, a point that is missed if they are conflated. (Incidentally, if Lukacs had read this passage  more closely he wouldn’t have conflated objectification and alienation.) Fowkes, translation, however, makes this point less explicit, constructing the strange notion that tacit agreement structures these conditions of separation, rather than treating this agreement, and atomisation, as something that is the outgrowth of the particular social relations.

“Things are in themselves external to man, and therefore alienable. In order that this alienation [Veriiusserung] may be reciprocal, it is only necessary for men to agree tacitly to treat each other as the private owners of those alienable things, and, precisely for that reason, as persons who are independent of each other.”

Ehrbar, in my view, provides a clearer explication of this idea, which in contrast to Fowkes translation, stems from these social relations constituting separation through the way that people confront each other and in so doing tacitly treat each other as private owners of commodities:

“Things are in and for themselves external to man, and therefore separable from him. In order that this separation may be reciprocal, it is only necessary that humans tacitly treat each other as the private owners of these separable things and, by this very act confront each other as independent persons.”

 

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About HR

Deep in the adjunct crackhole.
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