chapter  3
14 Pages

Critical realist arguments in Marx's Capital

WithHans G. Ehrbar

In Capital, Karl Marx uses Hegelian concepts and terminology extensively. Marx interprets the meaning of certain familiar kinds of market transactions, in order to come to the conclusion that value consists of congealed abstract labour. In order to follow Marx's argument we need to know what the words 'form of appearance' and 'expression' mean. Commodity exchange and private property – relations which are located on what Marx calls the 'surface' of society – are the institutions which induce the producers to take actions that enable the continued functioning of the economy. For a long time, capital existed therefore only at the periphery of the economy, as merchant capital or usury capital siphoning surplus value out of circulation. Marx comes to the conclusion that exchange value is the 'form of appearance' in which some deeper attribute of commodities, which he calls 'value', 'expresses' itself.