Saturday, August 17, 2013

Edited Excerpt from a Recent Dialogue on Dialectics.

Dear Readers,

I have excerpted and edited, below, for your consideration, from an online exchange in which I recently participated.




"I can’t even begin to comprehend what you’re saying as my brain just shuts down while attempting to understand this."
"Like other people mentioned I am much more of an artistic/human sciences person. . .”

M.D.:  I would like to do my best to redress what you report -- that the posts to this thread do not bridge across the humanities/social-sciences-vs.-natural sciences abyss for you, and, presumably, not for many others also.

You quote with approval the climactic words of Marx’s and Engels’s Communist Manifesto.

So let me begin there, with Marx and Engels, and restrict ourselves to the human sciences, as advanced by them.

I will limit myself, in the main, to the shorthand that Marx developed to describe human action, human social praxis, human social-reproductive process, during the epochs of the subsumption of those collective-human attributes by exchange-value, by alienation -- in short, by selling, culminating in self-alienation, or, at root, in ‘self-selling’ [the proletarian condition: wage-labor; labor-time based compensation in general]. Always remember that this subsumption of humanity by exchange value is and was humanity’s own act, even though no alternatives to that subsumption can sustainably arise until the social forces of production exceed the level where they are now, and have been.

Indeed, the central purpose of Karl Seldon’s Foundation Encyclopedia Dialectica can be gasped as developing scientific dialectics, based upon the examples of it provided by Marx and Engels, the true fathers of scientific dialectics. Scientific dialectics had heralds and precursors in Heraclitus, in Plato, and in Hegel, all of whom, however, mystified dialectics, and grasped dialectics mainly mystically.

That is, a central purpose of F.E.D. is to redress the consequences of the fact that Marx died trying to complete Capital, and did not live to undertake the work which he repeatedly set for himself as his next scientific task -- to write the book on scientific dialectics in general -- and of the fact that Engels essentially died editing Capital -- that is, died soon after sending volume II and then volume III to press, and did not live to develop and complete and publish a finished work from the draft that he left behind, of his Dialectics of Nature.

Now first, it is true: Marx’s account, in Capital, is, directly, a systematic presentation, a presentation of present human society in terms of its fundamental social relations categories, ordered systematically, not chronologically, and it is not meant to present the history of human social relationships from the beginnings of the human species. Marx’s account belongs, first and foremost, to Systematic Dialectics, not to Historical Dialectics.

However, there are, present, strong components of the history of human social relations, and of the chronological order of their genesis, in Marx’s systematic account, and which he deliberately accentuates, especially in the first chapters of volume I, on Commodity, Money, and Capital respectively.

Marxians, by and large, have not fully appreciated the meaning and the import of the two fundamental concepts that permeate Marx’s “Marxian” works from beginning to end, from The German Ideology, through the Grundrisse and A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, to all of the four volumes of his Capital, namely the concept of the social forces of production, and the concept of the social relations of production [the latter was originally named, by Marx and Engels, forms of [human, social] intercourse at the time of their writing of The German Ideology, and later re-named].

But it is clear, at least, that, besides the social relations of primitive communal hunting and gathering, extended-familial groups, of slavery, of feudal serfdom, etc., the term “social relations of production” was intended, by Marx and Engels, to encompass the forms of “the exchange value”, principally Commodity [“the Commodity-relation”], Money [“The Money-relation”], and Capital [“the Capital-relation”].

So let us describe these three social relations of production, in the chronological order of their arising, using Marx’s shorthand, and, thereby, reveal the human-historical dialectic that “they” -- that human beings, personifying them -- have created. The “dialectical algebra” developed by F.E.D. is rooted in this shorthand developed by Marx.

Consider the Commodity-relation, as it arises, historically, prior to the existence of -- prior to humanity’s discovery and embodiment of -- either the Money-relation or the Capital-relation. The human praxis around this, first, form of exchange-value, is commodity barter, or, in Marx’s shorthand --

C -- C’

-- describing the kind of human act in which the human holder of one kind of commodity, denoted by C, exchanges it for the kind of commodity held by another human holder, denoted by C’.

This is the highest form of exchange-value praxis that humanity manifests -- the highest form that the level of the human social forces of production, or of “human productivity”, can either support or necessitate -- for many millennia.

It already requires a level of the productive forces capable of producing a surplus production of the commodities traded between communities -- too much of one commodity produced for all of it to remain use-value in one community, too little of it produced in the other, barter-partner, community.

But the C -- C’ human praxis / process both expresses a rise in the human, social forces of production, and stimulates a further rise in those social forces of production.

Gradually, social productivity, social productive force, grows to the point where a money-commodity -- eventually, a precious metal -- separates itself out, in human praxis, from the rest of the commodities, and, at length, congeals, in human praxis, as full Money.

The Money-relation is born, from out of the womb of the Commodity-relation.

Money is a ‘meta-Commodity’, made up out of -- in the MINDs of the human agents of exchange -- that heterogeneous multiplicity of the limited ensemble of different kinds of Commodities for which Money will effectively trade, given the social conventions of the time and place in which those agents live. Money is thus not exclusively a physical-material reality, but a psychohistorical materiality, combining both physical and meme objects.

Thus, the action of the growing population of Commodity-relations, of “Cs”, among themselves -- as that population of C-relations expands and densifies with the growth of the social forces of production -- at a certain threshold in that growth, irrupts a whole new kind of human social relation, called the Money-relation, which Marx “shorthands” by M.

As a result, the “circulation” of human production takes a new, Money-mediated form --

C -- M -- C’

-- the “money-mediated circulation of commodities”.

¿So, what do we have in this [his]story and [her]story of humanity so far?

C denotes the original form of exchange-value, the “Commodity” of the Commodity barter process, and of the Commodity-social-relation-of-production.

The internal action within the growing manifold of Cs, reflecting the growing human social force of human social re-production, at length irrupts something new, which Marx notates as M, “Money”, the Money-social-relation-of-production.

So, historically, C of C still reproduces C, but, past a certain productive-force threshold, also produces something new, M:

C of C becomes C + M.

That is the first phase of an “historical dialectic”.

The “original” or “thesis” form of exchange-value, C, acting on/within itself, further expands itself, also giving rise to a new, supplementary opposite form of exchange-value, M, so that, where once only C existed, later both C and M co-exist, together, or --

C goes, in time, to C & M.

Then also, C and M do not merely coexist, but they synthesize, in human action, into a unified, society-wide process of the human movement of human products, forming a third category, “circulation”:

C -- M -- C’ -- M -- C’’ -- M -- C’’’-- M -- C’’’’-- . . .

In our notation, this story can be summarized, in “shorthand” [in terms of what we call a “Triadic” Seldon Function] as --

C ---> C + M + q/MC

-- wherein q/MC “shorthands” that synthesis of C and M which is the movement of the circulation of Commodities, mediated by Monies”.

As humanity’s productive forces grow further -- in part, under the stimulus of the expanded and accelerated exchange and circulation of Commodities to those who want/need them, that this mediation by the Money-relation enables, a second threshold is crossed. The “reflection” of the Money/Commodity Circulation process upon itself reveals/produces its inversion --

C -- M -- C’ -- M -- C’’ -- M -- C’’-- M -- C’’’’-- . . .

-- becomes, or also includes --

M -- C -- M’ -- C’ -- M’’ -- C’’ -- M’’’-- C’’’ -- M’’’’-- . . .

-- and the Capital-relation, K, is borne, e.g., at first, in the “antediluvian form” of “merchants’ capital”.

In our notation, this further story can be summarized, in “shorthand”, as --

C ---> C + M + q/MC ---> C + M + q/MC + . . . + K + . . ..

This “new category on the block”, this new supplementary opposite to both Commodity and Money, this new kind of exchange-value, this new social relation of production, “the Capital-relation”, which we “shorthand” here as “K”, or as “K”, from the German «Kapital» [since the “C” or “C” is “already taken”, by “Commodity”], is “a meta-Money, made up out of a multiplicity of [past profit/loss-]Monies”.

E.g., a merchant’s capital, or “retained earnings”, come to be made up out of the net of that merchant’s history of trades, of that merchant’s “period[ic] income statements”, of the net of that merchant’s negative [net loss] and or positive [net gain] monetary results:

M’ minus M;

M’’ minus M’;

M’’’ minus M’’;

M’’’’ minus M’’’, . . .

C of C becomes C + M, and then, later,

q/MC of q/MC becomes q/MC + K.

The money-mediated circulation of commodities [q/MC] still persists, but some of it later turns into the circulation of [the total social] Capital, mediated by Money-Capital and Commodity-Capital.

By the “arithmetical”, “algorithmic” rules of Seldon’s notation, this story of the human, historical dialectic of the human social relations and human social forces of production can be told, and remembered, in a powerfully concentrated, six-symbol cognitive form, for the advancing Marxian-historical epochs, generically denoted by t --


for epoch 0, C^3^0 = C,

for epoch 1, C^3^1 = C + M + q/MC,

for epoch 2, C^3^2 = C + M + q/MC + . . . + K + . . .

-- and so on, into the possible epochs beyond the present, beyond the society founded upon the Capital-social-relation-of-production.

This historic example --

C ---> C + M + q/MC ---> C + M + q/MC + . . . + K + . . . ---> . . . .

-- or --

C--C’ ---> C--C’ & C--M--C’ ---> C--C’ & C--M--C’ & M--C--M’ ---> . . .

-- is the classical example of Marxian, historical dialectic, and all of the developments by F.E.D. are an elaboration, an extension, and a generalization, and, ultimately, a “universalization” of this classical example.

Does the foregoing help, to give you at least a gist of what the discussion here has been about?

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