Sunday, February 18, 2007


Study schedule

The page references to the McLellan book of excerpts are to the Paladin edition, 1973.

Section 1: pp.83-111.
McLellan excerpt 1, p.26ff.
Key passages.
Notes from our discussion
The method of inquiry and the method of presentation. What do historical materialism, the primacy of the mode of production as a determinant, and dialectics mean? The arts and material development (pp.109-11). (In this connection it may be useful also to look at Marx's short 1873 Afterword to Capital volume 1, and his even shorter Preface to "A Contribution to a Critique of Political Economy", the other texts where Marx said he was discussing methodology).

Section 2: pp.883-893.
McLellan excerpt 2, p.58ff.
Key passages
Notes from our discussion
Free-trading and protectionism. Bastiat and Carey.

Section 3: pp.115-134 (also 161-2 and 248-9).
No excerpts included in McLellan.
Key passages
Notes from our discussion
Critique of Proudhonist socialism as represented by Darimon. "The foolishness of those socialists (namely the French, who want to depict socialism as the realisation of the ideals of bourgeois society articulated by the French revolution) who demonstrate that exchange and exchange value etc. are originally (in time) or essentially (in their adequate form) a system of universal freedom and equality, but that they have been perverted by money, capital, etc..."

Section 4: pp.135-172.
McLellan excerpt 3, p.70ff; 4, p.76ff; 5, p.81ff; 6, p.86ff.
Key passages
Notes from our discussion
Critique of those socialists who advocated that workers should be guaranteed the full fruits of their labour by being paid in "labour-money" (money representing so many hours of labour rather than so many dollars), and then being able to buy goods and services representing exactly as many hours. "This demand can be satisfied only under circumstances where it can no longer be raised".

Section 5: pp.172-250.
No excerpts in McLellan.
Key passages
Notes from our discussion
Money as the "god among commodities" and the "real community" of capitalist society. "Wage labour on one side, capital on the other, are therefore only other forms of developed exchange value and of money". Accounting money and hard cash. Circulation and the other functions of money. Crises.

Section 6: pp.250-266.
McLellan excerpt 7, p.89ff.
Key passages.
Notes from our discussion
What is capital? The difference between a trading economy and capitalist production.

Section 7-10: pp.266-458 (also pp.487-8 and 514-5).
Excerpt 8, p.89ff (=pp.278-9)
Excerpt 9, p.93ff (=pp.304-310)
Excerpt 10, p.100ff (=pp.325-326)
Excerpt 11, p.102ff (=pp.331-2)
Excerpt 12, p.104ff (=pp.359-364)
Excerpt 13, p.111ff (=pp.409-410)
Excerpt 14, p.113ff (=pp.415-6)
Excerpt 15, p.115ff (=pp.450-6)
Excerpt 16, p.122ff (=pp.456-8)
Excerpt 18, p.139ff (=pp.487-8)
Key passages.
Notes for our discussion
How capital becomes productive. How the exchange-relation between the capitalist and the worker, formally free and equal, is in fact a relation of exploitation. "Labour is absolute poverty as object, on one side, and is, on the other side, the general possibility of wealth as subject and as activity... Instead of... considering the worker to owe a debt to capital for the fact that he is alive at all, and can repeat certain life processes every day... these whitewashing sycophants of bourgeois economics should rather have fixed their attention on the fact that, after constant repeated labour, [the worker] always has only his living, direct labour itself to exchange..."
"Capital is productive, i.e. an essential relation for the development of the social productive forces... Those who demonstrate that the productive force ascribed to capital is a displacement, a transposition of the productive force of labour, forget precisely that capital itself is essentially this displacement, this transposition, and that wage labour as such presupposes capital... The demand that wage labour be continued but capital suspended is self-contradictory".
The difference, however, between capitalist and pre-capitalist exploitation: "The sphere of [the worker's] consumption is not qualitatively restricted, only quantitatively. This distinguishes him from the slave, serf, etc.... [The] essential civilising moment... on which the historic justification, but also the contemporary power of capital rests..."
The "great civilising influence of capital; its production of a stage of society in comparison to which all earlier ones appear as mere local developments of humanity and as nature-idolatry"; and simultaneously its limitedness, its propensity to crises.
"Capital in general, as distinct from the particular real capitals, is itself a real existence".

Section 11-12: pp.458-533 (and pp.769-70, and pp.881-2).
McLellan excerpt 17, p.125ff (=pp.459-471)
Key passages
Notes for our discussion
Extra note: The "civilising influence of capital"
Extra note: productive and unproductive labour
Extra note: more on "why the working class"
Extra note: Geography and historical materialism
The historical emergence of wage-labour from pre-capitalist trading economies. The distinction between capitalist wage-labour and e.g. medieval day-labourer relations.
Capital, circulation, public works, and privatisation. "The separation of public works from the state, and their migration into the domain of the works undertaken by capital itself, indicates the degree to which the real community has constituted itself in the form of capital".

Section 13: pp.534-690.
Key passages
Notes for our discussion
McLellan excerpt 19, p.141ff (=pp.539-542)
Excerpt 20, p.145ff (=pp.610-4)
Excerpt 21, p.150ff (=pp.649-652)

Section 14: pp.690-743 (especially 701-712)
Excerpt 22, p.154ff (=pp.692-704)
Excerpt 23, p.164ff (=pp.704-6)
Excerpt 24, p.167ff (=pp.708-711)
Excerpt 25, p.171ff (=pp.711-2)
Key passages
Extra note: crises
Three questions arising from pages 690-743
Extra note: revolutionising education

Section 15: pp.745-882.
Excerpt 27, p.176ff (=pp.748-750)
Excerpt 26, p.173ff (=pp.831-833)
Notes for our discussion
"Capital as fructiferous". Tendency of rate of profit to fall. Interest and profit. Money and precious metals. Alienation.

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