The adventures of Vergesellschaftung



This paper engages in a dialogue with ((and critique of) opposite approaches whose importance is that they take seriously the issues of what abstract labour is and what are the specificities of capitalist ‘socialisation’ (Vergesellschaftung). On the one side there is Michael Heinrich’s view about the Marxian ‘monetary theory of value’, stressing the nachträgliche Vergesellschaftung, whereas abstract labour exists only in monetary circulation of commodities, hence in ex post ‘socialisation’, within a non-commodity money approach. On the other side, there is Roberto Finelli, insisting that labour is already immediately fully ‘social’. This latter position is untenable in literal terms and is unilateral (actually erasing money from any essential role in value theory), but its merit is to show how unilateral is also the view of abstract labour within a perspective reducing Vergesellschaftung only to an a posteriori dimension. This limit results from the Neue Marx-Lektüre’s almost exclusive focus on the first three chapters of Capital since its implicitly Adornian beginning in Reichelt and Backhaus, which will be briefly recalled and assessed. In fact, in Marx the nachträgliche Vergesellschaftung in universalised commodity circulation gives way in the later chapters to the unmittelbar Vergesellschaftung: the ‘immediate socialisation’ in the capitalist labour process, where abstract labor not only counts but actually is already abstract in production – a point not to be confused with a deskilling/deconcretisation perspective. Rubin and Napoleoni well saw, in different but complementary ways, that for Marx abstract labour already exists as (potential and latent) ‘value/money in motion’ in immediate production. Backhaus correctly writes: the pre-monetary value (which is actually an anticipated money value even before actual market exchanges!) is the ens realissimum governing capitalist totality in its centre. Abstract labour is a process. The problem is that breaking the mediation between value and labour through money as a commodity, as Heinrich and others do, capitalist reality risks to be splitted in two worlds: concrete/real in production versus abstract/monetary in circulation. Marx would be lost. The paper argues that the unilateralities are overcome and the difficulties are solved if we move towards a Marxian macro-monetary theory of capitalist production, within a fully endogenous money perspective. Its central focus is on capital as a [social] relation grounding the Konstitution of the Fetish-character of Capital as a Subject. The ‘ex post socialisation’ in commodity circulation and the ‘immediate socialisation’ in immediate production must be preceded by an ‘ex ante socialisation’: the monetary imprinting of wage-labour (‘ante-validation’ of it as prospective living labour, looked in its turn as abstract labour δυνάμει) by banks as providers of finance to production. Money as the universal equivalent is deduced prior to capital, when commodities are presupposed: money as capital is however logically required to have commodities as posited results. This point, in different forms, was anticipated by de Brunhoff (ante-validation as pseudo-validation) and Graziani (finance to production). The capitalist monetary Kreislauf (circuit) is indeed the other side of the coin of the abstraction of labour as a process, from labour-power (initial finance) to living labour (production) to objectualised labour (ideal money) to the final validation (real money).

socialisation - Karl Marx - Michael Heinrich - Roberto Finelli - abstract labour