Writing Homework Help

UIC Clare Robert Marx and the Capital Essay


General Guidelines
Please write a 6-8 page (c. 1500-2000 words) essay on topic below
(choosing option A or B). As you compose your essay, keep in mind that the
resources for successful paper writing are in the course readings and in your
own experience, judgment, and imagination—not in any number of sources
you might consult, or an over-reliance on seminar (a good paper will often
be inspired by what goes on in class, but it never regurgitates notes). Your
essay must have a strong introduction and thesis statement, and must
demonstrate this thesis through the use of relevant textual citation
(including, but not necessarily limited to, directly quoted text) and consistent
argumentation. When you quote passages from text as evidence, select them
carefully and do not quote more than is needed; also, be sure to interpret for
your reader what you quote—don’t just leave it hanging in your text.
Although you must meet the assignment’s requirements on use of course
readings, do not treat the topic you choose as a list of questions that you
must answer, but as a framework for thinking; your paper must be guided by
criteria internal to it—that is, by its own argument—and not by an off-stage
topic. One way to make your argument explicit is to pose it against another
argument (whether real or hypothetical), and to sharpen the terms of your
opposition by fairly and clearly presenting reasons for that (mistaken)
argument. Before you begin to write you should assemble pieces of your
own argument and the evidence for them; when you begin to write you
should use your thesis to guide all your work. Try not to introduce your
paper with clichés, and as you write, think about what is necessary to
advance your argument and what is peripheral to it—act accordingly! You
must do your own work. Course readings must be cited by author name and
page number; if you consult any outside materials (including web pages)
which, again, there is no need to consult, you must include a bibliography,
even if those materials are not directly cited in your paper. Draw your
evidence and conclusions from a close reading of the texts—and remember,
when you compare texts, any comparison has to find something in common
to compare!
I will be available for consultation; please don’t hesitate to come to
me with ideas, questions, problems, etc. Papers are due in the Department
office by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, October 22 (and if you can email a draft to me
by noon on Monday, October 11 I’ll do my best to give you quick feedback).
Late papers will be accepted but penalized. Please give your essay an
appropriate title and number and staple your pages.

The Assignment
What follows (A and B, next page) are two “entry point” Marx passages for
a discussion of the first chapters of Capital. Both are about value, one more
about a critique of value as form and the other more about a critique of value
as process.
Please write a paper on one (and one only) of the following
passages/quotations (A or B), and use your understanding of it, and of its
implications, to evaluate the first chapters of Roberts’s Marx’s Inferno. (I’ve
followed the passages with questions—not for you to answer in your paper,
but simply as stimulants to thinking about the passages and how to explicate
them). The idea here is for you to use your analysis to interpret Marx in a
way that either supports Roberts’s reading of Capital in terms of freedom—
specifically, freedom as non-domination—or that takes issue with some
aspect of his distinctly political orientation. Some questions you might
consider (again, these are really just to get you thinking): On the basis of
your understanding of your passage and what it opens up, is Roberts right to
make freedom central (rather than equality, justice, correct science, or other
alternatives)? Does Roberts’s argument about the socialist context and the
need to move on from “moral economy” fit your analysis? Is Roberts right to
insist that commodity fetishism is not primarily about how or what we know
or see, but more about domination? Is Roberts right to make so much of the
arbitrariness or “anarchy” of the market? Is Roberts’s way of construing
exploitation and force (much of this last goes beyond ch. 7 into Part II) true
to the perspective on the text that you glean from your entry point? In
approaching Roberts, the idea is to think critically about his text through the
lens of your analysis of the Marx, or to use Roberts’s text explicitly as a lens
through which to read your Marx passage, or both. You can make Roberts
central or more peripheral to your analysis—it’s up to you—but he must get
more than passing treatment. And of course if you want to step back and
question/challenge Marx’s work (and/or Roberts) from your own perspective
that too is an option for approaching your passage/quotation.

A.“Political economy has indeed analyzed value and its magnitude, however
incompletely, and has uncovered the content concealed within these forms.
But it has never once asked the question why this content has assumed that
particular form, that is to say, why labour is expressed in value…” Marx,
Capital, vol. 1, pp. 173-174.
What does is Marx saying here? Some questions to think about: What does
Marx mean by “political economy”? Is he not himself doing political
economy when he, for example, posits his own labor theory of value in this
same chapter? When does a political-economic analysis lapse into what
Marx calls fetishism, or can it even avoid doing so? Does the distinctiveness
of Marx’s analysis of the “dual character of the labour embodied in
commodities” figure in here? Can Marx really tell us “why this content”
(presumably labor) has assumed “that particular form” (presumably the form
of value)? What would it mean for labor not to be expressed in value? Does
Marx offer some clues as to either what it might have meant in the past or
what it might mean in the future? Can you relate this moment of the text
back to the beginning analysis of the commodity form, and forward to
moments of chs. 2-7 (broadly exchange, money, capital, labor power and the
labor process)?

B. Chapter 3 is called “Money, or the Circulation of Commodities,” and
chapter 4 begins as follows: “The circulation of commodities is the startingpoint of capital.” “Value,” it seems, “…becomes value in process, money in
process, and, as such, capital” (Marx, Capital, vol. 1, pp. 188-244, 246, 256).
These chapters are full of talk of “metamorphosis” and “transformation.”
They take the relatively static picture of the first two chapters, and
supplement or replace it with a dynamic. How does Marx think this works,
and how does this dynamic link together what you’ve read so far into a
coherent whole? Think about the dynamic, and its relationship to money,
(other) commodities, and, if you can, the brief introductions of crisis on pp.
209 and 236. What is the difference between the money in C-M-C and the
money in M-C-M’, and what does it mean that “value…has acquired the
occult ability to add value to itself” (p. 255)? Can you relate this moment in
the text both backward, through moments in the discussion of money (e.g.
metamorphosis of commodities pp. 198-209) and simple exchange and
beyond (chs. 1 and 2), and forward, to moments of chapters 5 through 7
(contradictions, sale and purchase of labor-power, and the labor process)?


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