“New Readings of Capital in Japan since 1960s ― My personal retrospect ―”: Kimitoshi Mukai
Recently I. Elbe reconsidered ‘the new readings of Marx in BRD since 1965’ in his book amounting to 600 pages. ( Cf. Elbe 2010 ) Above all the first chapter ‘Basic reflections of value theory’ has interested me. So I also would like to retrospect ‘the new readings of Capital in Japan since 1960s’.
1 Kinzaburo Sato and the new readings of Capital in Japan
In 1978, H-G. Backhaus listed ‘three streams of interpretation of Capital’ as follows.
1. Logical-historical interpretation : Old orthodoxy that has its origin in Engels but now exists only in Marxist-Leninist textbooks.
2. Logical interpretation : New orthodoxy that has arisen around Frankfurt school and has received only the Grundrisse and Capital affirmatively.
3. Modelplatonic interpretation : Economists that are interested only in quantitative problems.
( Cf. Backhaus 1978 )
Following him, I also made a list of ‘three streams of Japanese Marxian economics in 1960s~1970s’ classified by their methodological standpoints.
1. Logical-historical approach : Old orthodoxy ( traditional Marxists ) ‘Civil society’ school ( K. Hirata )
2. Logical approach : Uno school ( K. Uno ) New orthodoxy ( K. Sato )
3. Modelplatonic approach : Algebra Marxism ( N. Okishio )
Here I classified Sato as a new orthodoxy in Japan by following reasons.
1. He rejected logical-historical interpretation of traditional Marxists, but he was not satisfied with Uno theory that was indeed logical but too objectivist.
2. He tried to interpret Capital logically throughout according to the Grundrisse. So his opinion was labeled as an excessively logical interpretation.
3. He was familiar with the studies of Marx in BRD, and above all he had sympathy with some authors of Frankfurt school, e.g. H. Reichelt and H-G. Backhaus.
Just after the Grundrisse, the first drafts of Capital, had been published in East-Germany, Sato started his study of Capital. For him the Grundrisse was an arsenal where he could get a lot of keys to the problems about Capital.
When I began to study Capital under Sato, he had already proposed a new logical
interpretation of ‘transformation of money into capital’ in Capital by studying the
“ ‘Simple circulation’ is ‘an abstract phase of fully developed bourgeois society’. So the transition from money to capital, or from circulation to production, does not mean the historical transition but the theoretical transition from the surface to the depth of the same developed bourgeois society.” ( Sato 1963 )
And I also applied Sato’s logical interpretation to ‘inversion of property laws of commodity production into laws of capitalist appropriation.
“ ‘Inversion of appropriation laws’ is the result of theoretical transition from the surface to the depth of ‘fully developed bourgeois society’, in other words, from the simple circulation that is a just formal mediator between two presupposed poles to the production of capital that really mediates the circulation.” ( Mukai 1973 )