Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON THE THOUGHT OF KARL MARX. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for Robert Paul Wolff Marx."




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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

IT'S HERE!

Okay, Alex Campbell has outdone himself, and the fourth lecture on Marx is here.  As promised, it begins with Jane Austen, the Cub Scouts, and a trip to the supermarket.

4 comments:

LFC said...

A naive, I guess, question.

Listening to this lecture, and glancing again at ch.6 of Capital v.1, I wonder how Marx deals with the fact that merchants made money, and sometimes large amounts of money, before the conditions of capitalism as he defines it existed on a substantial scale, i.e., before there were large numbers of workers forced to sell their labor-power b.c they possessed nothing else (and who were 'free' to sell it), and before there was large-scale factory production.

If the "secret of profit-making" (quoting from the Fowkes trans.) will "at last be laid bare" by following the capitalist and worker "into the hidden abode of production," i.e. the factory, how did "the owner of money" make money before there were factories on a large scale?

Clearly, merchants did make money by selling goods, say at the medieval or late-medieval fairs, and there is an extensive literature on this. Genoese merchants, for ex., went to 'the Orient' and sold whatever (I forget what exactly) in exchange for silks and spices that they then sold in Europe. No factory production, at least none that the trader himself was involved in as buyer of labor-power, was involved. So if the merchant/trader wasn't making a profit, what was he doing?

Does this devolve into something more than basically a debate on semantics? I.e., on one hand those who think wage-labor is an essential defining feature of capitalism, and on the other hand those who don't? I'm aware there is such a debate, though it's been a long time since I had to even think much about it.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Your questions are quite to the point, and Marx deals wth them at length. It is my fault that I have glossed over them to get at the themes I wanted to talk about. Alas, as with any great work, there is no substitute for reading the book itself. I shall try to weave some of that into the next lectures.

LFC said...

Thank you.

LFC said...

p.s. It's been a *long* time since I read Capital vol.1 and frankly I've forgotten a lot of it (e.g., I know there's the chap. on primitive accumulation but I don't remember it in any detail) -- hence the above question.