Towards an Unknown Marx: A Commentary on the Manuscripts of 1861-63

Towards an Unknown Marx: A Commentary on the Manuscripts of 1861-63

Towards an Unknown Marx: A Commentary on the Manuscripts of 1861-63

Towards an Unknown Marx: A Commentary on the Manuscripts of 1861-63

Synopsis

This book is the first complete commentary on Marx's manuscripts of 1861-63, works that guide our understanding of fundamental concepts such as 'surplus-value' and 'production price'.

Excerpt

But it does not appear in this form with the Physiocrats, because they have not yet reduced value in general to its simple substance - the quantity of labour or labour time. Their method of exposition (Darstellungsweise) is, of course, necessarily governed by their general view of the nature of value, which to them is not a definite social mode of existence of human activity (labour), but consists of material things - land, nature, and the various modifications of these material things.

(pp. 354-5)

In this short chapter, we wish to have especially an explicit 'epistemological attention', in order to describe the method used by Marx in his confrontations with capitalist economists. In subsequent chapters, we shall not be able to undertake the subject in detail, hence we must clarify here this specific level of Marx's discourse.

4.1

The case of Steuart (MECW. 30:348-52)

Deep down, J. Steuart has a mercantilist conception.

Before the Physiocrats, surplus value (Mehrwert) - that is, profit, in the form of profit - was explained purely from exchange, the sale of commodity above its value.

(p. 348)

Marx started to pay attention to the categories used by Steuart and discovered the fundamental structure of his paradigm: surplus value obtained in the sale (upon alienation) is profit, but by no means is 'surplus value' as Marx had defined it in the first Notebooks of these Manuscripts of 1861-63. From Steuart's point of view, surplus value and profit are identical, they are just two names with the same semantic content (according to Steuart, there is only one name: profit). Consequently, there is only one 'positive profit' which increases or expands the 'social wealth', the 'sum of use values', a greater amount of value (surplus value or profit) which is 'produced in consequence

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