After Jappe

November 4th, 2011

Detail from Cathy Wilkes' I give you all my money, 2008

In a recent article Anselm Jappe says :(…) “The miseries of the world are not due , as in the Middle Ages to natural catastrophies, but to a sort of bewitching which separates men from their products.. that which does not function any longer is the “interface” which lays between men and what they produce: money. The crisis confronts us with the founding paradox of capitalist society. The production of goods and services is not here as a goal, but only as a mean. The sole goal is the multiplication of money, it is to invest one euro in order to extract two.

(…) One must maybe prepare ourselves for the after-money as we preparing for the after-oil.”

Anselm Jappe in Le Monde, L’argent est-il devenu obsolete? Un fetiche en voie de devalorisation, 1 November 2011

Comment: Jappe forgets that people who work produce commodities, which are then sold. They do not produce money in the first instance. It seems that Jappe makes a fetish of money. There is no shortage of money. On the other hand there is a shortage of jobs, and hence workers are out of work, and then they can’t buy the goods and services. Jappe needs to reread Marx and Postone. Maybe he has read too much Debord. in any case he failed to criticize Debord’s ghastly book Commentaries on the society of the spectacle where he fell into the conspiracy theory of history. Maybe Jappe did not want to upset people in Paris, he wanted to keep a foot in the pinko-leftist door. It did not work. Because he failed to criticize that awful stuff. Today Le Monde calls him a specialist of the works of Debord. More inflation. So what we live in are times of inflation…the end of his piece is dramatic; he calls for an ‘after money time.’ It won’t happen until the commodity and work are abolished.

Jappe resembles any pinko-leftist when he comes out with such stuff. It won’t do.

Written on the 4 of November by Michel Prigent , exclusively for Principia Dialectica,- the magazine that reaches parts other mags dare not touch…

42 Responses to “After Jappe”

  1. negative potential Says:

    “The sole goal is the multiplication of money, it is to invest one euro in order to extract two.”

    This statement from Jappe is actually spot on. I don’t know why you think you’re refuting him by saying that people don’t “produce money”, since that isn’t what he’s saying. He’s simply pointing out that production in capitalism isn’t for use, but rather for money.

    I think you’re the ones who need to re-read Marx.

  2. Sean Says:

    Toujours N’est pas Neg

    The contradictions of capital are not located at the point of exchange, but within the process of production itself.

    Even I get that


  3. negative potential Says:

    Where does Jappe say anything about “the point of exchange”?

    Production in capitalism is production for money. Honestly, if you don’t grasp this, you’re functionally illiterate.

    Do you think capitalist production is conducted for charity? For fun? For the sheer challenge of it? For the sake of developing technology? To *snicker* satisfy human need?

    No. Capitalist production is conducted to make money. Come on, you’re not seriously disputing this, are you?

  4. antyphayes Says:

    Marx argued that the exchange relation (and its ‘contradiction’) invade the organisation of production in order to reorganise it with the end of producing commodities for exchange, i.e. as Jappe says “The sole goal is the multiplication of money, it is to invest one euro in order to extract two.”

    To emphasise production at the expense of exchange is to forget that both historically and logically it is the exchange relation that determines the peculiarity of capitalist production. No doubt the contradictions of capital are located in production; however the tendency of capital is to subsume all productive activity under the principle of the production of values for exchange.

  5. negative potential Says:


    Some accuse value-form theorists of advocating a “circulation” theory of value, but that is nonsense, since the spectral quality of value cannot be localized in some “sphere”.

    We are dealing with a specific logic of specific social relationships that invade all spheres.

  6. Chris Cutrone Says:

    The commodity form is a social relation in *both* is its use-value and exchange-value relations. It’s dialectical.

    What this means is that the worker must first have a certain form of self-relation, maximizing the value of her own time, in order to produce a use-value as a commodity, prior to that commodity entering into a capitalist form of exchange.

    Exchange does not make the commodity, but the commodity makes the exchange.

    This is because the most important and profound object of the commodity form is not the article of consumption produced, but the labor-power, measured in time, of the worker. “Time is money.”

    The most important use-value is the fungible labor-time of the worker.

    The commodity form is a social relation for making people’s time useful.

    The problem with capital is that, after the Industrial Revolution (and only after the Industrial Revolution) it renders the use of time as a social relation self-contradictory, self-undermining, and self-destructive.

    What was once (in the manufacturing era of Adam Smith) a “positive dialectic” of use-value and exchange-value, maximizing the value of labor time, becomes rather the “negative dialectic” of capital, in which labor-time remains socially necessary while being rendered valueless.

    That’s the contradiction of capital.

    Jappe et al. are ideologues for the revalorization of the use-value of labor-time, contra “exchange.” They are Romantic, that is, conservative-reactionary, in their opposition to capital. Under the guise of advocating pre-capitalist social forms, they would rather ideologically justify taking us back to the beginning of capital, that is, valorizing another round of accumulation of capital, or, revalorizing labor-time as a social relation.

    Marx’s point was not to realize the value of “living” concrete labor, against “dead” abstract labor, but rather to redeem the emancipatory value of precisely “dead labor” and the abstraction of labor-time, historically, so as to make the social relations of labor-time obsolete.

  7. Sean Says:

    By jove Cutrone’s got it

  8. Sean Says:

    But there is nothing to choose between the Scylla of the agro romantics and the Charybdis of those who think ‘electricity + soviets = socialism’

  9. negative potential Says:

    Abstract labor time cannot be measured except by money. And money is the reason capitalists produce.

    You guys should spend more time actually reading _Capital_ and less time indulging in mystical flights of fancy.

  10. Chris Cutrone Says:

    Happy anniversary of the October 1917 Revolution!

  11. Chris Cutrone Says:

    @ Negative Potential:

    “Mystical flights of fancy”?

    Then Postone, Adorno, Lukacs, and Marx himself are guilty of this!

    For Marx, the greed of the capitalists (“for money”) only facilitates and is not the *cause* of capital. The commodity form of labor is. This is why Marx begins with the commodity form.

    As Lukacs put it, memorably,

    Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat

    “To be radical is to go to the root of the matter. For man, however, the root is man himself.
    – Marx: Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right.

    “IT is no accident that Marx should have begun with an analysis of commodities when, in the two great works of his mature period, he set out to portray capitalist society in its totality and to lay bare its fundamental nature. For at this stage in the history of mankind there is no problem that does not ultimately lead back to that question and there is no solution that could not be found in the solution to the riddle of commodity-structure. Of course the problem can only be discussed with this degree of generality if it achieves the depth and breadth to be found in Marx’s own analyses. That is to say, the problem of commodities must not be considered in isolation or even regarded as the central problem in economics, but as the central, structural problem of capitalist society in all its aspects. Only in this case can the structure of commodity-relations be made to yield a model of all the objective forms of bourgeois society together with all the subjective forms corresponding to them.

    I: The Phenomenon of Reification


    “The essence of commodity-structure has often been pointed out. Its basis is that a relation between people takes on the character of a thing and thus acquires a ‘phantom objectivity’, an autonomy that seems so strictly rational and all-embracing as to conceal every trace of its fundamental nature: the relation between people. It is beyond the scope of this essay to discuss the central importance of this problem for economics itself. Nor shall we consider its implications for the economic doctrines of the vulgar Marxists which follow from their abandonment of this starting-point.

    “Our intention here is to base ourselves on Marx’s economic analyses and to proceed from there to a discussion of the problems growing out of the fetish character of commodities, both as an objective form and also as a subjective stance corresponding to it. Only by understanding this can we obtain a clear insight into the ideological problems of capitalism and its downfall.”

    – The “subjective stance” of the commodity form was not, for Marx, “love of money!” It was the “reification” of labor-time.

  12. Says:

    ‘Celebrating’ the Bolshevik revolution is sick. Bunch of complete maniacs

  13. negative potential Says:

    “For Marx, the greed of the capitalists (“for money”) only facilitates and is not the *cause* of capital.”

    Nobody here is talking about the “greed of capitalists”, so drop that strawman right away.

    I am talking about a **structural relationship** in which human productive activity is subsumed to the logic of exchange.

    “The commodity form of labor is. ”

    What is a commodity? Something exchanged for money. What equivalent does the commodity labor-power receive? A wage (i.e. money).

    “This is why Marx begins with the commodity form.”

    Marx says very explicitly why he begins with the commodity form. In fact, he says so in the very first sentence! Good back and read it again.

  14. Chris Cutrone Says:

    Marx wrote in the first sentence of Capital (in what is not an entirely accurate English translation, whatever):

    “The wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails, presents itself as “an immense accumulation of commodities,”[1] its unit being a single commodity. Our investigation must therefore begin with the analysis of a commodity.”

    I don’t see how referring directly to Marx’s text resolves anything; it’s still a matter of interpretation.

    But I think it’s significant that Marx mentions the “capitalist mode of production” and not “mode of exchange!”

  15. Chris Cutrone Says:


    On “facilitates” vs. “causes,” I think that the issue is in fact money — not greed: as Marx put it, a capitalist is a rational miser, but a miser is an irrational capitalist!

    Money only facilitates and is not the causal determination of capital: the commodity form of labor(-time) is.

    What distinguishes the modern capitalist world is not the “money economy,” but rather the commodity form of labor as a social relation.

    The problem is not that everything is rendered into a universal equivalent, but that, first, the equivalent is not money but labor-time, and, second, that this universal equivalent is self-destructive (after the Industrial Revolution — and not before!).

    Getting back to Jappe, this is indeed the issue: Is capitalism a mode of exchange giving rise to a certain form of production, or a mode of production giving rise to a certain form of exchange? Are the social relations of capital imposed onto workers’ activity, or do they arise from the social form of the workers’ own activity? Is what needs to be changed the relations of exchange, or the mode of production? Jappe seems to think the former; Marx the latter. Maybe Jappe is right and Marx is wrong, but Marx is saying something different from Jappe.

  16. negative potential Says:

    “The problem is not that everything is rendered into a universal equivalent, but that, first, the equivalent is not money but labor-time”

    You’re confusing two entirely different things, namely labor-power as commodity and abstract labor time as the measure of value. And even after we separate these terms, you’re still wrong in saying that the equivalent is labor-time. General equivalent is the measure of labor-time.

    “but Marx is saying something different from Jappe.”

    Bzzzt! Wrong!

    “Die Reduction der verschiednen konkreten Privatarbeiten auf dieses
    Abstractum gleicher menschlicher Arbeit vollzieht sich nur durch den
    Austausch, welcher Producte verscheidner Arbeiten thatsächlich einander
    “Ein Arbeitsprodukt, für sich isolirt betrachtet, ist also nicht
    Werth, so wenig wie es Waare ist. Es wird nur Werth, in seiner Einheit
    mit andrem Arbeitsprodukt, oder in dem Verhältniß, worin die
    verschiednen Arbeitsprodukte, als Krystalle derselben Einheit, der
    menschlichen Arbeit, einander gleichgesetzt sind.”

  17. Sean Says:

    You been flipped for real this time Neg

    sorry dude

  18. David Black Says:


    “You’re confusing two entirely different things, namely labor-power as commodity and abstract labor time as the measure of value.”

    So labour-power as commodity produces value, and value is measured by abstract labour-time. What confusion are you talking about?

  19. Chris Cutrone Says:

    @ Negative Potential:

    Abstract time is not empirical but structural. Value is not price. The terms of commodity of labor-power and time as measure of value cannot be separated. That’s the dialectic!

  20. negative potential Says:

    “You been flipped for real this time Neg

    sorry dude”

    Address the Marx quote and I’ll take the bravado seriously. Otherwise, next!

  21. Sean Says:

    Don’t worry about it Neg. Remember the glory days instead. Remember that time Andrew Kliman came round shouting his head off about libel writs and shit? You flipped him for real dude. George Best would have been proud. I set it up and you whacked it into the back of the net. What with Russell Rockwell’s golden pincer movements last season, he’s never gonna recover.

    They still talk about that down my local.

    Glory days mate:

  22. negative potential Says:

    “Abstract time is not empirical but structural. ”

    If what you mean to say is that it cannot be measured by a stopwatch, but rather by money, then I agree with that.

    But if that’s not what you’re saying, then I have no idea what it is you’re trying to say.

    “Value is not price.”

    Right. Value is a social relationship expressed by price.

    Why are you acting like I would disagree with these utter banalities?

    Let’s try this again: Jappe is saying production in capitalism is conducted for exchange. Commodities are produced in order to be sold. I have no idea why you think this is even controversial.

    None of what Jappe says in any way stands in contradiction with the notion of capitalism as a mode of production. Nobody is asserting that capitalism is a way of exchanging rather than a way of producing. Not me, not Jappe, nobody. What we are saying is that in capitalism, the sphere of production is subsumed to the logic of exchange.

  23. Says:

    Jappe’s recent article is limited by space restrictions. Perhaps it isn’t fair to criticise what he fails to mention (i.e., identify the dialectical relationship between exchange and production) but put alongside his oeuvre in general, and other comments on possible ‘futures’ beyond capital, it is problematic.

    The article does seem to suggest that the crisis is one created and maintained by activity within the exchange process, and if only the ridiculous fetters of this artificial abstraction ‘money’ were done away with we could proceed towards the good society.

    Watch this space for a full English translation of the article under scrutiny any day soon, to be distributed, with critical commentary, at the Hist Mat conference in London next week

  24. Chris Cutrone Says:

    @ Negative Potential:

    I’m glad we’re on the same page that abstract time is not clock time!


    “What we are saying is that in capitalism, the sphere of production is subsumed to the logic of exchange.”

    That’s where I’d take issue: value is not merely exchange-value, but the combination of use-value and exchange value, the concrete and abstract dimensions.

    Also, the point is that one could have a capitalist mode of production without money! See Marx’s critique of Proudhon’s “time chits” idea.

    So, it is not, for Marx, that concrete production is subsumed under abstract (exchange-)value — or that only the exchange-value dimension is “logical” — but rather that capital is the dialectic of use-value and exchange-value in the commodity form. The commodity form is a form of *value*, i.e., *both* (or, the combination of) use-value and exchange-value.

    Why does this matter? Because money is a *form of appearance*. But so is concrete material production itself merely a *form of appearance* of capital.

    Going after money is hence one-sided and misleading. The abstract universal equivalent would need to be *realized* as well as *negated* in overcoming capital. Or, the emancipatory potential of *abstract* labor would need to be realized.

  25. pffft Says:

    Chris Cutrone, you’ve got most of the important stuff wrong. Value is the content expressed by exchange-value, which is the form of appearance of value. Value has nothing to do with use-value, except that all commodities that are values must also be use-values. But that does not make value the unity of use-value and exchange-value. Value is the coagulation of abstract labor, not an atom of use-value enters it. This is basic Ch1 stuff. You are confusing value and commodity; a commodity is indeed a unity of use-value and value.

    Concrete material production is not a form of appearance of capital, for Christ’s sake. That would be fetishism at its worst. You’re effectively saying that capital is productive and that useful labor is merely the form of appearance of abstract labor (and, therefore, that use-value is the form of appearance of value). It’s the other way around! In capitalist production, abstract labor becomes the universal form of concrete labors due to the real abstraction in exchange. And capital becomes the dominant form of social labor, of the metabolic process between Man and nature and Man and society. Hence capital, being such a form, *appears* as productive, and value *appears* as having this mystical ability to valorize itself. Those are precisely the fetishistic notions that Marx critizes!

  26. Sean Says:

    Whoa! Neg Pot’s team come back with a last minute equaliser! But is it all just fancy footwork from ‘Pfft’ or is there some substance to his game?

  27. Chris Cutrone Says:

    @ pffft:

    But, for Marx, the “fetishism” of the commodity form of labor in capital is *real*.

    It is our (“anthropological”) effective reality under capital. There is no perspective (of “use value” or “production”) “outside” it, for Marx, but only the immanent critique from *within* its “forms of appearance,” which are substantial, i.e., concrete forms of labor, and not merely *deceptive* forms of “exchange.”

    Abstract labor is real.

    The point is that capital is a mode of *production*, not exchange. Value in capital is not merely exchange, for Marx, but a form of *wealth*, i.e., use-values.

    – Yes, I agree, this is Marx 101!

  28. negative potential Says:

    “There is no perspective (of “use value” or “production”) “outside” it”

    That’s not what anybody is arguing, so knock it off with the fucking strawmen already. It’s incredibly irritating. Nobody is arguing that labor power isn’t a commodity, that the sphere of production hasn’t be shaped in accordance with the logic of exchange, or that the material sphere exists “outside” of the social relationships that shape it.

    The thread started out because of a statement that Anselm Jappe made that capital is valorized, and that in the capitalist mode of production, production is conducted with this valorization in mind, i.e. capitalist producers produce in order to make more money. This is a completely uncontroversial assertion.

  29. pffft Says:

    Chris, that’s all very nice and straight off a David Harvey lecture, but my point about capital being the form of social labor (i.e. of “concrete material production” as you put it), and not vice versa, still stands. Same holds for the commodity being a unity of use-value and value (and value *not* being a unity of use-value and exchange-value) – again, not an atom of use-value enters value. (Interestingly enough, Harvey makes the same sort of mistake right in the first video lecture, where he presents value as this “overcoming” of the contradiction between use-value and exchange-value. Totally wrong, I’m afraid.)

    It’s interesting that you recognize money as a social form (of labor), but then fail to see capital as a social form (of labor), when in fact Marx’s critique deals precisely with bourgeois *forms* of wealth: commodity, money and capital.

    I have made no mention of exchange in my post.

  30. Chris Cutrone Says:

    The question is whether the fetishism of commodities is a matter of exchange or production.

    Furthermore, is the critique of capital made from the standpoint of use-value, concrete wealth, or production, or can it be made (also) from the standpoint of exchange itself?

    Of course I am approaching the issue with the benefit of Postone, whose critique of “concretistic” or “use-value perspective” oppositions to capital as one-sided (and reactionary!) I think provide important insights into the entire Marxist problematic.

    As Adorno put it, the idea of justice and emancipation derives from the notion of exchange itself (Negative Dialectics).

    “Romantic socialism” and reactionary anti-capitalism are real problems, deeply rooted in the “Left.” Marx stands out as a singular figure in this regard — as exemplary of the dialectical approach to the problem of capital and emancipation beyond it.

  31. Chris Cutrone Says:

    @ pfft:

    I don’t think I’m arguing from Harvey — I haven’t watched the lectures, nor have I read his recent introduction to Capital. I haven’t re-read Limits to Capital in ages.

    Rather, I think I’m arguing from Postone There are, I think, some apparent parallels between Postone and Harvey.

    Of course, I may be mistaking Postone and making parallel errors to Harvey’s, etc.

    The phrase I’d use with respect to the commodity form of the value of labor in capital is that the commodity form is the “self-contradictory identity of the identity and non-identity of use-value and exchange value.”

    This means that Marx’s exposition is dialectical not least in the deliberate slippage between exchange-value and value: this, I think, is the reason why, at one point, Marx wrote that “not an atom” of use-value enters into value. — This is why it is important not to cherry-pick quotations from Marx!

    “pfft,” when you write that “Marx’s critique deals precisely with bourgeois *forms* of wealth: commodity, money and capital,” I would take issue with what you mean by “form.”

    Is it because commodities are produced for exchange that they are commodities? Of course this is true at one level, but at another level, if leaves aside the fact that workers produce themselves as commodities as a form of social participation.

    So what is at issue is what is meant by “social form.”

    Do we live in a society of social forms imposed by the bourgeoisie — is that what is meant by “bourgeois social forms?”

    Or, do we live in a *historically* “bourgeois* society, in which the *form of the social* is bourgeois, not in terms of those of the bourgeoisie, but rather of the very *bourgeois* (i.e., modern urban) *workers*.

    In other words, to overcome capital, do we need to overthrow the bourgeoisie, or transform the workers? The former task may be necessary for the latter, but the latter is not reducible to the former. This is what makes Marx important, among other “socialists/communists.” It — Marx’s critique of the *socialist workers’ movement* — is the heart of his critique of capital.

  32. negative potential Says:

    Cutrone, I’m calling you out right here: you haven’t even read the first chapter of _Capital_.

    If you had, you wouldn’t misuse the term exchange value in such an expansive way. It has a very simple meaning for Marx.

    Exchange value is simply the particular quantity of a specific commodity that exchanges for a particular quantity of another commodity.

    e.g. 10 yards of linen is the exchange-value of 1 coat.

    It’s really that simple.

    Your philosophical blather where you impart expansive new meanings to Marx’s concepts has very little to do with a close textual reading of _Capital_.

  33. Chris Cutrone Says:


    Another way of putting it is that transcending capital would be the realization of not only use but also exchange.

    Marx understood capitalist pursuit of profit as preserving value in exchange in terms of accumulation of surplus value, i.e., credit on the future. As Weber, following Marx, put it,

    “Unlimited greed for gain is not in the least identical with capitalism, and is still less its spirit. Capitalism may even be identical with the restraint, or at least a rational tempering, of this irrational impulse. But capitalism is identical with the pursuit of profit, and forever renewed profit, by means of continuous, rational, capitalistic enterprise. For it must be so: in a wholly capitalistic order of society, an individual capitalistic enterprise which did not take advantage of its opportunities for profit-making would be doomed to extinction. (Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Pgs. xxxi-xxxii).”

    The reason this is so was clearer for Marx than for Weber: capitalists must pursue profit to accumulate surplus value, not merely out of inter-capitalist competition, but also because capital itself requires growth to maintain itself as a social system.

    The problem, after the Industrial Revolution, is that such growth is self-contradictory, self-undermining, and self-destructive. Capital, for Marx, was a problematic form of growth (of wealth).

    Both use-values and exchange-values are expressions of this problematic form of growth. Hence, not only social exchange, but also social utility would need to be transformed beyond capital.

    So, for instance, “Production for human needs not profit!” is a very *un*- (or even anti-)Marx-ist formulation of the problem of capital.

    Capital’s self-destructive dynamic violates production for exchange and not only production for use. Capital is a self-destructive social form of “*value*.”

  34. Hektor Rottweiler Says:

    I think one of the reasons for Cutrone’s terminological problems is that he is expounding his analysis of Capital through Adorno’s terminology. He therefore treats Adorno’s concepts like dialectical, identity/non-identity and exchange as self-evident and lucid analyses of Capital, which they aren’t. If he is going to continue to do this what he should do is go through the painstaking task of relating Adorno’s terminology to Marx’s theory of value like Backhaus and Reichelt do. However, the problem is that if he did this then he would also have to admit that Adorno’s theory only provides what Reichelt terms: “sometimes brilliantly intuitive insights into the nature of the capitalist economy.”

  35. negative potential Says:

    That’s a good insight; on a related note, I think a lot of the obsessiveness about “circulationism” might be due to the fact that Adorno and Horkheimer really do have a sort of overweening focus on exchange, to the point of these dubious anthropological speculations about exchange originating in sacrifice etc.

    So I think a lot of the people like Cutrone or Postone or Kurz who want to position themselves in something of a lineage or continuity with the Frankfurt School have this hyper-sensitive tendency to project “circulationism” on other theorists, because it’s the major failing they see with their own Grandpa Ted.

  36. Chris Cutrone Says:

    Adorno-isms? Perhaps. But I am actually using more Postone’s terminology than anyone else’s. Perhaps I am assuming more familiarity with that here than I should.

    But I don’t think that Marx is actually any clearer than Adorno. It’s just that Adorno didn’t feel the need to re-write Marx’s Capital. So I suppose this compounds the problem.

  37. Chris Cutrone Says:

    @ Negative Potential:

    Regardless of Postone or Kurz, I don’t acknowledge any such “(major or otherwise) failing” of Adorno.

    I think one needs to understand where Adorno (and Horkheimer) was coming from to grasp the speculations on “sacrifice,” etc. Otherwise it becomes patent nonsense, which I suppose you may think Adorno’s work was.

    Again, the question is whether capitalist exchange is ambivalent (has an emancipatory potential to be realized) or just baleful.

  38. Chris Cutrone Says:

    @ “Hektor Rottweiler”

    For shame! (Using Adorno’s pseudonym to anonymously slam Adorno!)

  39. antyphayes Says:

    I have to admit to being underwhelmed by this so-called argument. As Negative Potential has tried to point out repeatedly, the point originally being made, against Prigent’s initial accusation of Jappe’s ‘money fetish,’ was the role of the exchange relation in shaping and subsuming productive activity to the end of exchange. Cutrone has further confused the issue in his rush to level the charge of fetishising exchange over production at Negative Potential – and by extension myself. The problem is I didn’t argue that, and as far as I can tell neither did Negative Potential. Or, in other words, there is no argument outside of Cutrone’s imagined one. To argue that exchange is the end to which capitalist production is geared is not to argue for the determinate priority of exchange over production. My original point is compatible with production becoming the determinate moment of the circulation of value insofar as this production is already generalised commodity production. To emphasise the production of value at the expense of the realisation of value (as Cutrone appears to be doing) misses out on both i) the unity of the moments of the circulation of value and ii) the value-form ‘invading’ concrete pre-capitalist processes of production from without (as it were). And if you don’t believe that Marx is making this argument too, then go read the first three chapters of Capital and be amazed!

  40. Hektor Rottweiler Says:

    I think antyphayes is right.

    I think things developed the way they did because Cutrone isn’t reading what other people have written.

    In my case I wasn’t slamming Adorno. I was pointing out that his concepts can’t be used in a self evident manner to provide a lucid and coherent explanation of how Marx’s theory of value unfolds. This seemed to be what you were doing in your definition of the commodity form as “self-contradictory identity of the identity and non-identity of use-value and exchange value.” I also thought it might explain why you were using exchange-value in a number of different ways since Adorno also does this.
    My point wasn’t that Adorno’s concepts don’t offer insight into Marx’s theory of value, its that in order for them to be insightful these concepts should be explicated so that Adorno’s terms are related to Marx’s theory in the way that Backhaus does with his shit hot chart in “Between Philosophy and Science: Marxian Social Economy as Critical Theory.” But even then i think there is the problem of relating how what might be termed Adorno’s social concepts like the ‘objective exchange abstraction’, which presuppose and fail to provide a sophisticated account of the unfolding of value, with
    Marx’s elaboration of value. Thus, as negpot points out, the problem of what Adorno’s concept of labour is and how it relates to exchange, and as Reichelt points out the fact that while Adorno acknowledged that the ‘objective exchange abstraction’ needed to be based on political economy he didn’t bother to do so.

    In the case of Postone’s terminology. Its been years. Time, Labour and Social Domination is like the Sandinista of value-form theory: its has some interesting ideas, but its overly long and not as original or groundbreaking as it thinks it is. I think Rubin, Arthur, Bonefeld and what has been translated of Backhaus, Reichelt and Heinrich provide much better readings.

    im curious to hear your explanation for the sacrificial speculations. The only way i can account for it is to treat it as a polemic against romantic anti-capitalism. And also to bracket that strand of Adorno’s thought from his marxian value strand like Breuer does. But this means separating Adorno from Horkheimer,

    That being said it seems that in this discussion Adorno agrees with the points that negpot and antiphayes are making, at least that is how i interpret the following:

    Profit comes first. A humanity fashioned into a vast network of consumers, the human beings who actually have needs, have been socially preformed beyond anything which one might naively imagine, and this is not only by the level of industrial development but also by the economic relationships themselves into which they enter…above and beyond all specific forms of social differentiation, the abstraction implicit in the market systems represents the domination of the general over the particular, of society over its captive membership…..Behind the reduction of men to agents and bearers of exchange value lies the domination of men over men. This remains the basic fact, in spite of the difficulties with which from time to time many of the categories of political science are confronted. The form of the total system requires everyone to respect the law of exchange if he does not wish to be destroyed, irrespective of whether profit is his subjective motive or not. The tendency to do so is universal, of one mind with the economic process, which reduces individual interests to the common denominator of a totality, which remains negative, because it distances itself by means of its constitutive abstraction from the individual interests, out of which it is nevertheless simultaneously composed. The universality, which reproduces the preservation of life, simultaneously endangers it, on constantly more threatening levels. The violence of the self-realizing universal is not, as Hegel thought, identical to the essence of individuals, but always also
    contrary. They are not merely character-masks, agents of value, in some presumed special sphere of the economy. Even where they think they have escaped the primacy of the economy, all the way down to their psychology, the maison tol�r�e [French: universal home] of what is unknowably individual, they react under the compulsion of the generality; the more identical they are with it, the more un-identical they are with it in turn as defenseless followers. What is expressed in the individuals themselves, is that the whole preserves itself along with them only by and through the antagonism.

  41. Chris Cutrone Says:

    OK, this clears things up a great deal.

    Where I stand;

    Yes, Adorno needs to be distinguished from Horkheimer.

    No, I don’t think Postone is unoriginal, but rather pitching his argument at a different level from other similar approaches to Marx.

    Yes, (as I pointed out) Marx *also* makes an argument about production as well as exchange — I was not choosing to prioritize one over the other but correcting what I perceived to be neglect.

    Furthermore, there is the issue of the realization of the emancipatory potential of capitalist exchange (which is also violated by the self-destructive self-contradiction of post-Industrial Revolution capital).

    This is why I am not at all concerned with the subsumption of *pre-capitalist* social relations, but rather the dialectic of *real subsumption*, which is what I think Marx focuses on as well.

    So, what “Hektor Rottweiler” quotes from (Dennis Redmond’s translation of) Adorno’s Negative Dialectics, above, I would interpret in the precisely *opposite* way, that, “What is expressed in the individuals themselves, is that the whole preserves itself along with them only by and through the antagonism,” needs to be understood in precisely this vein, not merely as critique of what’s wrong, but also what stands in need of redemption, all the “more identical they are with [the compulsion of generality].”

    Adorno was not a particularist — however the post-New Left/postmodernist (poststructuralist) sensibility has tried to assimilate Adorno to its concerns: Adorno was a Marxist.

  42. negative potential Says:

    “Time, Labour and Social Domination is like the Sandinista of value-form theory: its has some interesting ideas, but its overly long and not as original or groundbreaking as it thinks it is.”

    LOL. The album or the guerrilla group?

    Just kidding, I know you mean the album (Right?).

    “I think Rubin, Arthur, Bonefeld and what has been translated of Backhaus, Reichelt and Heinrich provide much better readings.”

    Agree 100%, and my saying so makes me sound like a broken record to the PD people at this point. When Heinrich wrote a short review of the German translation of Postone’s book a few years ago, he made the perfectly valid point that for people in Germany that have been following these discussions since the 1970s, Postone’s book isn’t quite as groundbreaking as it purports to be.

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