“La economía política de los muertos: la metáfora cognitiva de los vampiros en Marx”: Marcos Neocleous
Este artículo tiene como objetivo mostrar la importancia de la metáfora del vampiro en la obra de Marx. Al hacerlo, cuestiona intentos anteriores de explicar la utilización que hace Marx de la metáfora en el contexto de su estilo literario, el barroquismo gótico del siglo XIX o la Ilustración racionalista. En cambio, el artículo acepta la opinión generalizada que relaciona vampiros y capital, pero argumenta que el uso específico que hace Marx de esta relación solo puede comprenderse en el contexto de su crítica de la economía política y, en particular, de la economía política de los muertos.
Al final del volumen I de El Capital, Marx emplea una de sus habituales imágenes temáticas y retóricas: “Si el dinero viene al mundo con una mancha de sangre congénita en cada mejilla, el capital lo hace chorreando de la cabeza a los pies, por cada unos de sus poro, sangre y suciedad” (1). El comentario es un ejemplo de hasta que punto el tema de la sangre y el horror está presente en las páginas de El Capital. Según Stanley Hyman, en El Capital hay referencias a dos formas de terror. La primera se refiere a la sanguinaria legislación contra los vagabundos, y describe la forma en la que la población rural agrícola fue expulsada de su hogares, convertidos en vagabundos y posteriormente “azotados, marcados, torturados con leyes grotescamente terribles, obligados a aceptar la disciplina inevitable del sistema salarial”.
La segunda se hace eco de los horrores experimentados por la gente en las colonias, “el secuestro, esclavitud y entierro en vida en las minas de los pueblos aborígenes. . . la conversión de África en un coto para la caza comercial de pieles negras ” (2). Pero a estas podríamos añadir una tercera forma de terror: la clase burguesa chupa continuamente la sangre de la clase obrera occidental. Esta forma de horror no es otra que el terror de una clase de propietarios que actúa como vampiros en su deseo y capacidad de chuparle la vida a la clase obrera.
In the past two decades the number, variety, and monetary value of marketable financial instruments, particularly securitized instruments, has grown by orders of magnitude. This is the most significant development in what many writers, for the most part Marxist, term ‘financialisation’1. It brings to light, however, an anomaly in the way they calculate the profit rate. This calculation takes no account of the capital tied up in these instruments.
This article shows that when this omission is corrected, there is a consistent long-run fall in the UK and US rate of profit which, contrary to the figures widely used by Marxists, have both fallen almost monotonically since 1968.
Why does this matter? First, the profit rate figures prominently in Marx’s own theory, as is clear from his published works. It is the explicit subject of the first 15 chapters of Capital Volume III (Marx, 1981: 117-378) and dominates the remaining analysis. Second, the results shed light on current debates about the cause of the present extended crisis. A significant group of writers (see Choonara, 2011) argue that this is recent in origin, unconnected with the serious difficulties that beset Western economies in the 1970s, and follows a recovery from that crisis, brought about by neoliberalism, in the 1980s. Thus Husson:
“After the generalized recessions of 1974-5 and 1980-82, a new phase opened in the functioning of capitalism, one which one could for convenience call neo-liberal. The beginning of the 1980s was a real turning point. A fundamental tendency towards increasing the rate of exploitation was unleashed, and that has led to a continuous rise in the rate of profit” (2008).
Michael Heinrich is an exponent of what is known as the ‘New German Reading of Marx’, which interprets the theory of value that Marx presents in Capital as a socially specific theory of ‘impersonal social domination’. He is a collaborator on the MEGA edition of Marx and Engel’s complete works and has published several philological studies of Capital. He has also authored a work on Marx’s theory of value, The Science of Value, which is forthcoming in the Historical Materialism book series. And recently he has published An Introduction to all Three Volumes of Capital as his first full-length work to appear in English.
I am not going to do a critique of Heinrich’s views on the theory of value, as this has been done by Guglielmo Carchedi in his book, Behind the Crisis (see chapter 2). But I am moved to respond to a recent article of Heinrich’s in the American Monthly Review, entitled Crisis theory, the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall and Marx’s studies in the 1870s (monthlyreview.org).
In this article, Heinrich makes the following points: 1) Marx’s law is inconsistent because its categories are indeterminate; 2) it is empirically unproven and even unjustifiable on any measure of verification; 3) Engels badly edited Marx’s works to distort his view on the law in Capital Vol 3; 4) Marx himself in his later works of the 1870s began to have doubts about the law as the cause of crises and started to abandon it in favour of some theory that took into account credit, interest rates and the problem of realisation (similar to Keynesian theory); 5) Marx died before he could present these revisions of his crisis theory, so there is no coherent Marxist theory of crisis.
Abstract: This article aims to show the importance of the vampire metaphor to Marx’s work. In so doing, it challenges previous attempts to explain Marx’s use of the metaphor with reference to literary style, nineteenth-century gothic or Enlightenment rationalism. Instead, the article accepts the widespread view linking the vampire to capital, but argues that Marx’s specific use of this link can be properly understood only in the context of his critique of political economy and, in particular, the political economy of the dead.
Towards the end of Volume 1 of Capital, Marx employs one of his usual dramatic and rhetorical devices: ‘If money comes into the world with a congenital blood-stain on one cheek,’ he says, then ‘capital comes dripping from head to toe, from every pore, with blood and dirt’.2 The comment is a reminder of the extent to which the theme of blood and horror runs through the pages of Capital. According to Stanley Hyman, there are in Capital two forms of horror. The first concerns the bloody legislation against vagabondage, describing the way that agricultural peoples were driven from their homes, turned into vagabonds and then ‘whipped, branded, tortured by laws grotesquely terrible, into the discipline necessary for the wage system’. The second concerns the horrors experienced by people in the colonies, ‘the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population . . . the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black skins’.3 But to these we might add a third form of horror: the constant sucking of the blood of the Western working class by the bourgeois class. This form is nothing less than the horror of a property-owning class that appears to be vampire-like in its desire and ability to suck the life out of the working class.
Workers in the United States are in a very difficult situation—one made significantly worse by the Great Recession and the very slow “recovery.” The latest data as we write this (available for January 2013) indicates that although the unemployment rate has declined from its peak and is now at 7.9 percent, when those working part time but wanting full-time jobs and those who have given up looking for work are added in, 14.4 percent of the labor force currently needs full-time employment.1 To give some idea of the meaning of such a large percentage needing full-time jobs, this represents 22 million people, compared to total nonfarm private-sector employment of about 113 million. Given the large portion of workers in part-time positions, there are currently less than 100 million full-time-equivalent jobs left in the private sector.2 With the public sector hiring few if any workers for the foreseeable future, and no New Deal-type works program in the cards, the private sector will be the source of whatever job increases occur.
As if the current employment situation is not bad enough, there has also been a long-term decline in the relative power of the working class, with capital increasingly gaining the upper hand. One crucial indication of this is the stagnation or decline over decades of real wages (corrected for inflation). For a while workers’ lost ground with respect to wages was compensated for by more women entering the labor force so that households increasingly had two earners, helping to maintain household income. However, over the last decade there has even been a downward trend in median family income—decreasing from $54,841 in 2000 to $50,054 in 2011 (both in 2011 dollars).3 The financial impact of the Great Recession has had a devastating effect on many people—with millions declaring bankruptcy, losing homes to foreclosure, or being forced “underwater” (owing more than the worth) on their homes.
“Finance and the realization problem in Rosa Luxemburg: a ‘circuitist’ reappraisal”: Riccardo Bellfiore and Marco Passarella
Article showing that Rosa Luxemburg’s analysis of capitalist accumulation is framed within a ‘circuitist’ macroeconomic reading of capitalism as a monetary production economy
The aim of this chapter is to show that Rosa Luxemburg’s analysis of capitalist accumulation is framed within a ‘circuitist’ macroeconomic reading of capitalism as a monetary production economy. The strengths and limits of her approach are to be found elsewhere than suggested by usual criticisms, especially those advocated by Marxist authors. Rosa Luxemburg cannot be reduced to the uncertain theoretical status of an ‘under-consumptionist’. On the contrary, she presents a clear (although incomplete) picture of the macro-monetary and sequential working of the capitalist process.
This chapter is organized as follows. The next section examines Luxemburg’s comments on how the enlarged reproduction scheme is introduced in volume II of Marx’s Capital. The third, fourth, and fifth sections summarize, first, the orthodox attack by Bukharin, and then the more sympathetic interpretations provided by Michał Kalecki and Joan Robinson. The sixth and seventh sections emphasize the affinities and differences of Luxemburg’s circuitist perspective with the contemporary theory of the monetary circuit. The eighth section concentrates on the problem of the monetization of profits and interests. Some concluding remarks are provided in the last section.
Primera conferencia de Enrique Dussel sobre la crítica de la economía política de Marx de su curso ” 16 Tesis de Economía Política”