Marx begins v2 of Capital with a discussion of the “three stages” in which the “circular movement of capital takes place.” (23.) As an aside I want to note something in Marx’s wording. The first part of v2 focuses on “the Metamorphoses of Capital.” The emphasis here is on capital in motion, on capital’s movement as it takes place, capital as a process.

Marx’s three component stages are the appearance of the capitalist in the labor market as an owner of money and buyer of labor power, the production process in which the capitalist makes use of labor power purchased, and the appearance of the capitalist in the market as the owner and seller of the commodities made in production.

The middle of the three, production, is Marx’s focus in v1 of Capital. In v2 Marx focuses on “the various forms which capital takes on in its different stages (…) which it now assumes and now strips off in the repetitions of its circuit.” (23.) There are at least three orders or temporal registers here. One is the order of presentation. As I said, in v1 Marx focuses on the second stage, and in v2 he focuses on other stages and the ensemble of stages. The order of Marx’s presentation – I’m going to call this “Marx’s logic” (ML) without intending any larger claim by the use of that name – is not the same as the order of development of that which he presents about. That is, Marx’s critique of capitalism does not proceed in the same order in which capitalism proceeds.

This suggests a second order, what I just called “the order in which capitalism proceeds,” which is really at least two orders or temporal registers. One of these two is the history of capitalism – and the larger history of modes of production of which the history of capitalism forms one moment – to which Marx periodically refers. This includes the development of money, originary accumulation as an event, changes in machinery and working hours, etc.
It strikes me that actually “the history of capitalism” consists of at least two orders. I say so because here too Marx’s presentation does not proceed in the order which capitalism (and perhaps the history of modes of production) proceeds. Rather Marx uses an ideal-typical version of this order, as when he calls England the “classic” case, and Marx does so consciously and deliberately. I’m going to call one of these orders “Marx’s history” (MH) and one “capitalism’s history” (CH), again without any allegiance to any larger claim, just wanting a term to use for each register.

What I called the “order in which capitalism proceeds” has an additional order or temporal register, which Marx indicates in the opening of v2 of Capital as distinct from his order of presentation (what I called “Marx’s logic” or ML), namely, the ongoing relationship between the three stages he named. These three stages, [ ], occur simultaneously. I want to call this “capitalism now.” I should say, I don’t mean “capitalism at the time of this writing,” as in “contemporary capitalism,” but rather something more like “the ensemble or totality of social relations operating at any given moment in actually existing capitalism.” Instead of “capitalism now,” though, I’m going to call this “capitalism’s logic” (CL). I do so mainly for symmetry of my abbreviations, and also because I have an intuition that I haven’t yet worked out about time/nowness and logic.

To repeat, the orders or temporal registers I named are Marx’s logic, capitalism’s history, Marx’s history, and capitalism’s logic, which I have abbreviated ML, CH, MH, and CL.

I will call MH and ML textual matters and I will call the CH and CL material, the things Marx seeks to investigate outside of and as he produces his texts. (These terms are clumsy not least because “material” starts with “m,” making for some additional potential confusion about the abbreviations. For now I’ll stick with them. Again I don’t mean to make any claims by these terms, I just want names to distinguish these elements. They could also be called wordly and worldly, or critical and operation, or Political Economy and political economy, or Marx’s matters and capital’s matters, or Francis and Terry, or any other terms.)

These four registers can be paired up in two ways, which I have tried to indicate in the terms and abbreviations. One is to pair them textual with textual and material with material (by the first word of the term and first letter of the abbreviation). A second way is to pair them (what I have called) history with history and (what I have called) logic with logic (by the second word of the term and second letter of the abbreviation).

1. MH—ML, Marx’s history—Marx’s logic; CH—CL, capital’s history—capital’s logic.

2. MH—CH, Marx’s history—capital’s history; ML—CL, Marx’s logic—capital’s logic.

The above may be simply a function of the combination of my liking Marx with my being a hobbyist of terminological and taxonomizing (and hey, who doesn’t love a good taxonomy?) and abbreviational (and neologizing) hairsplitting.

Among the differences between the textual and material matters here is that the former, more than the latter, could plausibly be argued to have changed over the course of Marx’s life. Put differently, Marx’s narrative about history and his understanding of the logic of capitalism may have changed over the course of his life while it’s not clear that the logic of capitalism did (and I take it as a given that, once it has occurred, history – in an everyday sense of the term, meaning “stuff that happened in the past” – does not change, though certainly our knowledge of and the meaning of history can and often does change).

[For later – notes on Walter Johnson – pedestal and the veil “dynamic simultaneity,” and his discussion of modes of historical time; use the latter to talk about Marx]

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