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Re-reading Marx - New Perspectives after the Critical Edition

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Massimiliano Tomba, University of Padova - From History of Capital to History in Capital

From History of Capital to History in Capital.
The intensity of labour and the integration between absolute and relative surplus
value in Marx's Manuscripts of the 60s and the 70s


With the publication of the critical edition of the economic manuscripts of Marx (MEGA2) it is clear that Marx's definition of his concepts was a "work in progress". Moreover, one can see the presence of real history in his reflection on logical categories.

In my paper I want to deal with two problems. First, I want to show the historical content in terms of class struggle in the categories that Marx uses, for example, in the concepts of abstract labour and of value. One must think about the concept of abstraction in terms of its historical content.

Second, I want to show how, for Marx, different intensities of labour, absolute and relative surplus value, are mutually implicated. Thus, an extortion of relative surplus value isn't possible without a proportional increase of the extortion of absolute surplus value in other segments of production.

That means re-thinking the classic two phases paradigm, according to which formal subsumption is historically transcended by real subsumption; but that also means posing the question of the model of historicism, as represented in the terms "late capitalism" and "arrested development", or, as a geographic variant of that opposition, the distinction between first, second and third world.