The concept of ‘critique’ and the ‘critique of political economy’ (from the 1844 Manuscript to Capital)

Ranciere’s contribution to Lire le Capital was left out of the English translation of Reading Capital. This is a shame, since as Elbe points out, Ranciere’s interpretation of critique and the genesis of value have important parallels with the early work of the Neue Marx-Lekture. The attached, which marks the third part of Ranciere’s contribution, is largely about fetishism.  In the article, Ranciere rightly points out that fetishism is neither ideology or alienation:

The concept of fetishism in Capital poses a problem which can be initially formulated in the naive form: What is involved in fetishism?

We know that this is the conception which acts as a foothold for those who interpret Capital on the basis of the anthropology of the Young Marx. For them fetishism is only a new name for alienation. In fetishism relations between men become relations between things. Thus the activity of men passes into an alien being; it becomes a determination of things and men are dominated by these relations between things. Fetishism is therefore an anthropological process analogous to that of alienation.

An opposite interpretation denies fetishism any of the character of a real process and says that it is only a conception of economic relations, an ideology.

In fact we shall only understand fetishism if we think it in continuity with what I have said about the structure of the process and the development of its forms.

He also makes important points about that the differences between Marx’s theory of alienated human essence in The Manuscripts and his theory of value in Capital, which could have influenced or at least parallel some of Heinrich’s arguments about the continuity and discontinuity in Marx, the ambivalences in Capital and his interpretation of fetishism —

We have seen that as we passed to more and more concrete forms of the process of capitalist production the inner determination that governs their motion disappeared, that the nuclear form disappeared in the completed form. It is this movement that is constitutive of fetishism. A certain connection presents itself on the surface of the process that we can call a fetishistic structure. The fetishistic discourse is the elaboration of this connection of concrete forms presented on the surface of the capitalist process and reflected in the consciousness of the agents of production.

It also possible that Ranciere’s work might provide a bridge for the sort of project Milious is working on — a synthesis of value theory and Althusserian structuralism. For these reasons Ranciere’s contributions should be more widely known and read.


About HR

Deep in the adjunct crackhole.
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4 Responses to The concept of ‘critique’ and the ‘critique of political economy’ (from the 1844 Manuscript to Capital)

  1. CB says:

    Does an english copy of Rancier’s addition to Reading Capital exist?

  2. CB says:

    Is that the entirety of his addition to reading capital?

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