Saturday, June 01, 2024

Draft Translation: For a Systematic Study of the Relation of Marx to Spinoza by André Tosel


Draft Translation: Not for Citation

What follows is another attempt at a translation of an important text by André Tosel on the Marx/Spinoza relation. It is not a finished, or polished translation, but a rough sketch put forward to help people get a sense of this overlooked articulation of the relation between Marx and Spinoza.

For a Systematic Study of the Relation of Marx to Spinoza: Remarks and Hypotheses André Tosel 

Published in 2008 in the book Spinoza au XIXe Siècle 

 The question of relation of the thought of Marx to that of Spinoza has up until now been the subject of more of a hermeneutic investigation than a philology. It is easier to construct a history of the different interpretations of Spinoza at the center of different Marxisms then to have determined the precise function of the reference to Spinoza in the work of Marx and to define the use Marx made of the spinozist problematic and the elaboration of his thought. 

 More or less the Marxists that were first developed a relation to Spinoza were an important milestone on the way to developing what could be called a historical and materialist dialectic. The relation begins in the midst of the Second International. The singularity of Spinoza’s thought has often been reduced to a stepping stone on the way to “monist” immanentism, which is supposed to be its philosophical structure at least in the reception of two thinkers, as Plekhanov has asserted in some preliminary texts working from some notes of Engels in manuscripts published in the USSR under the title of the Dialectic of Nature. In the dogmatic frame of the struggle between idealism and materialism, Spinoza anticipates materialism by his thesis of the unity of nature and by his doctrine of the equal dignity of the attribute of extension in relation to the attribute of thought. The doctrine of mode and substance causality, coupled with the critique of final causality and the illusions of superstition, signifies at the same time an overcoming of mechanistic thinking and the first form of the dialectic. Rare were those who, like Antonio Labriola, were careful not to oppose two conceptions of the world head-on and maintained a certain distance with polemical opposition, preferring instead to indicate that Marx did for mode of production what Spinoza had done for the world of the passions—a geometry of their production. In the Soviet Union before the Stalinist freeze, this interpretive tension is reproduced: Spinoza becomes the terrain through which the clarification of the dialectic takes place opposing mechanists and anti-mechanists, and original articulation of the thesis of liberty as the comprehension of necessity. These problems have been clarified somewhat. (Zapata, 1983; Seidel, 1984; Tosel, 1995)

One would have to wait for the deconstructive enterprise of Louis Althusser for this movement to be reversed. Spinoza is no longer a moment in the teleology which is integrated and surpassed on the way to Marxism-Leninism. His work is the means of theoretical production for reformulating the philosophical and scientific revolution of Marx without recourse to only the Hegelian dialectic. Spinoza is the first to have elaborated a model of structural causality that makes it possible to think the efficacy of the structure as an absent cause over its effects. The theory of knowledge is not one that authorizes absolute knowledge, but it announces this infinite exigency of a break with ideology without the hope of arriving at transparent knowledge. It obliges one to renounce any idea of communism as a state of a final reconciliation in social relations which would be deprived of any contradictions. “We have always been spinozists,’ Althusser announces in the Elements of Self-Criticism, and then proceed to the Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect from the Hegelian dialectic. It is then only an epistemological obstacle which prevents Marx from realizing the full power of his critique of political economy and to explore the continent of history that he discovered. Spinoza for clarifying Marx himself. Everything has been clarified. (Cotten 1992; Raymond, Moreau, 1997). 

 In terms of historical research, the spinozist studies that have been made after the end of the nineteen sixties in France and Italy have often been made by researchers who have rubbed shoulders with Marxism. We find the same oscillation between a tendency to read Spinoza according to a pre-marxist perspective, in the sense of a dialectic of emancipation, or liberation from a theological political complex and disalienation, even constituent power, and another tendency insisting on the infinity of the struggle against all illusions, even those of total liberation, affirming the unsurpassable dimension of the imagination in the constitution of the conatus and in the production of the power of the multitude. This oscillation is manifest often in the same commentators, often itself a function of the change of the historical conjuncture. However, up until now, there has never been an attempt to study from Marx’s works themselves the structural function of the spinozist reference in the constitution of Marxist theory, one which would permit us to better understand the understanding that Marx made of Spinozist work. The interpretations have anyway have developed from a certain exteriority to the letter of Marxists texts. 

 Several years ago, a German researcher, Fred E. Schrader, in a short text dedicated to the thematic of “substance and concept” chez Marx (Substanz und Funktion: zur Marxsrezeption Spinoza’s) drew attention to this situation (1984). He rightly noted that it was necessary to distinguish two moments in the research to avoid any merely external confrontation: a) first, obviously, document the explicit and implicit mentions of Spinoza in Marx’s text; 1) then, reconstruct the position of the reference to Spinoza in the process of the constitution of the critique of political economy which is the central Marxist work, alongside of the references to “Hegel” which one knows were constitutive in the years of 1857-1858. Only this philological and philosophical work can permit us to renew the state of the question. Schrader’s study must be considered. We propose to develop it and comment on it because up until now it has not received the attention that it merits. Before everything else, it is necessary to be precise. The work envisioned must be considerable, it includes taking into account the texts published by Marx, those published posthumously by Engels and by Kautsky, and all of those—collections of notes and thematic notebooks—which make up the incomplete nature of Capital, including Marx’s correspondence. The MEGA 2, Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe, still incomplete, has not finished being scrutinized. This work could begin from the hypothesis that we can conceptualize two periods in Marx’s work from which it is possible to reassemble occurrences that conceptualize the reference to Spinoza in order to determine their structural function. The first period corresponds to the years of his formation and the interlinking of the critique of politics and the early critique of political economy, it begins with the concept of history underlying the German Ideology and culminates in the Poverty of Philosophy and the Communist Manifesto. The second period begins with the research operating under the title of the critique of political economy beginning in 1857, interrupted provisionally in January of 1859 and beginning again in 1861. The reference to Spinoza is more explicit in the first period where it is a matter of an specifically political practice, articulating a materialism of practice. It is less explicit in the second period, it functions nonetheless as a fundamental operator in the essential theory of the substance of value in capital. 

The Philosophical Intensifier of Spinoza of the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus. Destruction of the Theologico-Political Complex and Democratic Radicalism. 

 Marx encounters Spinoza in the beginning of his theoretical and political journey. In 1841 we know from the preface by Alexandre Matheron (Cahiers Spinoza), Marx, after his doctorate, reproduced the extracts he copied from the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (MEGA 2 VI/I Berlin, 1977). He is curiously presented as the author of these texts and moreover they are reorganized in their own order which is not that of the Tractatus itself. The chapters containing the critique of the supernatural, of the miracle, and all of all forms of superstition are brought forward as essential and open on the properly political chapters dedicated to the freedom of thought (XX) and the foundation of the republic (XVI). The Ethics is not ignored but it is not reproduced, Letter XII takes the place of a speculative text and is accompanied with Letter LXXVI to Burgh. Everything takes place as if Marx considered as the most important question to be that of theological politics and is concentrated on the question of human freedom in its radical ethico-political dimension. What is important is that the revolutionary democratic state is realized according to this concept. 

 One could also consider that Spinoza is utilized here as one of the figures that a Doctorate of Philosophy considers along with Aristotle, Kant, Fichte, and Hegel as provocations, of that which puts knowledge in the service of a life liberated from the fear of authorities, which reappropriates humanity’s power of thinking and acting confiscated in the service of gods and fetishes. In a certain manner Epicurus is the paradoxically the first of the thinkers who claims that “it is a misfortune to live in necessity, but it is not necessary to live under necessity.” This truth finds a new application, after the French Revolution, in the age of a new ethics, where free individuals recognize themselves in a free state. 

 2. The explicit reference to Spinoza is displaced in the texts of the years 1841-1843—the Kreuznach manuscript dedicated to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, followed by the introduction and the Jewish Question. These constitute the Feuerbachian moment of Marx, at the heart of his theory of the alienation of the human essence. One must not make this critique of politics a simple transition towards the discovery of the alienation of social powers, nor understand it as an end of a politics understood as primarily statist. It is the ethico-political liberation which requires a transformation of social relations and which is a transvaluation or emancipation of social powers. Spinoza is not named, but certain passages from the TTP are repeated almost to the letter: Spinoza figures as the index of a new task , that is lacking in Hegel which is that of thinking beyond the dualism of civil society and the state. The name of this passage is democracy or true democracy. Marx returns to the letter of the Spinozist thesis according to which democracy is not only the name of a constituted political regime, but the essence of politics, the most natural regime, constituting the power of the people. The intensive force of Spinoza is that of democracy not as a mystical act or utopian ecstasy, but as a process of constitution that replaces actual void of the Hegelian state where the people lack themselves, in which the state becomes something separate, still theologico-political. Democracy is the active process by which the people is refigured as the negative instance of any separate political form and gives a political form to its social power. 

In monarchy one part determines the character of the whole; the entire constitution must be modified according to the immutable head. Democracy is the generic constitution; monarchy is a species, and indeed a poor one. Democracy is content and form; monarchy should be only form, but it adulterates the content. In monarchy the whole, the people, is subsumed under one of its modes of existence,. the political constitution; in democracy the constitution itself appears only as one determination, and indeed as the self-determination of the people. In monarchy we have the people of the constitution, in democracy the constitution of the people. Democracy is the resolved mystery of all constitutions. Here the constitution not only in itself, according to essence, but according to existence and actuality is returned to its real ground, actual man, the actual people, and established as its own work. The constitution appears as what it is, the free product of men."

 It is possible to remark that this constituent power of the demos tends to be presented as a sort of causa sui in the order of world of social relations. The naturalist dimension thematized in the Ethics is not posited here with the insistence of humanity as part of nature, with the thematization of the relations between internal and external causality. Necessity seems to have disappeared for an instant. It is notable that this in the same moment that Feuerbach defends Spinoza’s naturalism against Hegelian idealism and makes the author of the Ethics the Moses of modern thought who has destroyed theology by his pantheism, while reproaching him, for not having arrived at a radical humanist affirmation, since he maintained an equivocal equivalence between the naturalization of god and the divinization of nature. 

The Marxist reference is primarily to the ethico-political Spinoza, one of the “intellectual heroes of morality” as he says in a text contemporary with it, “Comments on the Latest Russian Censorship—” along with Kant and Fichte he is one of the heroes that found and defend the principal of moral autonomy. Spinoza makes it possible to undertake a philosophical political of Hegel, the people would be the only ontological instance that constitutes the political constitution, which is to say democracy, of civil society. Spinoza makes it possible to introduce a new dialectic within the incomplete dialectic of The Principles of the Philosophy of Right. This dialectic is simultaneously a critique. The object of this critical dialectic is the self-constitution of political activity in the struggle to overcome the domination of abstract entities erected into speculative abstractions defining the latest avatars of the theological-political complex. 

 Schrader does not say more in the exposition of the reference to Spinoza in this first period. We could take a step beyond his analysis. A unpublished path seems to be presented. We could in fact explore it as Yovel has done (Spinoza and Other Heretics); also the first book of Matheron, Individu et communauté chez Spinoza (1968) examines the double relation of the human conatus to other conatuses and objects that suit them or do not suit them the rudiments of a theory of objectification of the human essence that Marx elaborates in the texts of 1844 where he analyzes the people under the figure of the proletariat subject and object of alienated labor. The reading can shed light on Spinoza, but Marx has for his interlocuters Hegel, Adam Smith, and Feuerbach. Spinoza does not intervene here explicitly. It is preferable to follow the letter of his texts. 

 3. The text which follows, The Holy Family of 1845, indicates an unexamined reversal of perspective. Far from finding in Spinoza a radical thinker of liberty through the radicalization of the democratic process and developing Feuerbach’s theses of the virtues of Spinoza’s naturalization, far from continuing the anti-idealist elements of Spinoza, Marx for the first time distances himself from Spinoza placing him on the side of Descartes, of Malebranche, of Leibniz, of abstract rationalist metaphysics, in a paragraph before celebrating the materialists in which he inscribes himself. These are the materialists of the French Enlightenment, La Mettrie, Holbach, Helvétius, which are lauded for having operated outside of metaphysics. These are the authors that Plekhanov reinscribes as a defenders of monistic materialism in the thought of nature and in the theory of history. Certainly as Olivier Bloch in an important contribution has demonstrated (“Materialism, genesis of Marxism, 1981, reprinted in Matières à penser, Vrin, 1997), this chapter of the history of philosophy is a plagiarism by Marx who literally takes it from the Manuel d’histoire de la philosophie moderne by Charles Renouvier (1844). The soviet Diamat has been founded by a French critic… But the fact remains that Marx endorses this reconstruction which prefers Bacon, Hobbes and Locke to Spinoza, lauding them for the empiricism and nominalism: the English thinkers critique metaphysic speculation and open directly the way to materialism. Pierre Bayler in France can be considered the only fellow traveler of British empiricism by his scepticism he dissolves the metaphysics of Spinoza and Leibniz (The Holy Family, 171). 

 The Spinoza criticized here is that of the Ethics understood as a dogmatic treatise of metaphysics which has a “profane content” but it has lost its historical condition. This is no longer the antitheological political Spinoza but the speculative philosopher. Is it necessary to conclude that this is a contradiction on the part of Marx and to forget his previous theses? It is a surprising oversight because that which Marx and Renouvier give credit to Bacon, Hobbes, and Locke can be imputed to Spinoza as well. Everything takes place as if Marx, put off by the metaphysics of the Ethics forgets what he had found in the TTP—and this seems to be a permanent transformation. In fact the contradiction is not only apparent, or, more to the point, it concerns Spinoza himself. Marx does not have as his object an analysis of Spinozism. He uses the latter by breaking it down according to the needs of his task which is at this moment is to study the activity of real man and the possibility of his transformation by bringing together the theoretical humanism of Feuerbach, the French communism and socialism, and the English thinkers who represent this humanism in the domain of practice. “[Metaphysics] will be defeated for forever by materialism which has now been perfected by the work of speculation itself and coincides with humanism. As Feuerbach represented materialism in the theoretical domain, French and English socialism and communism represent materialism in the practical field which now coincides with humanism.” (The Holy Family, pg. 168) One can detect in this passage the presence of a schematic of the history of modern philosophy which has echoes of Moses Hess and Ludwig Feuerbach, the two have confronted the problem of the critical comprehension of Hegel and have begun to present a reinterpretation of the grand moments of the history of philosophy after their master. 

 Marx deviates from the interpretation of Hess given in a text which had a particular impact: The Sacred History of Mankind by a Young Disciple of Spinoza (1838). Hess appropriates Spinoza’s theory of knowledge and exploits his theory of the imagination to develop a positive sense of social utopia, and overall makes Spinoza the true alternative to Hegel’s Christian philosophy. Far from being an acosmism, the theory of substance is the perfect incarnation of the Hebraic idea of the unconditional unity of all. It is paradoxical, the other part, of the interpretation by Renouvier followed by Marx recovers and conceals that of Feuerbach that one can find in the same period in Preliminary Theses for the Reform of Philosophy (1842) and Principles of the Philosophy of the Future (1843). Marx brushes up against these theses of Feuerbach on Spinoza without reproducing them in their entirety. They make Spinoza an important moment in modern philosophy: at the heart of this movement they make this philosophy an important realization of the humanization of God, Spinoza remains still a speculative philosopher who is at once produces the realization and negation of God. Speculative metaphysics realizes with him its ultimate phase which is determined contradictorily as theism and atheism in the form of pantheism. “Spinoza is the originator of speculative philosophy, Schelling its restorer, Hegel its perfecter.”(Thesis 102) Pantheism becomes the only consequential theology in that it anticipates the end of theology in atheism. The Spinozist substance transforms all independent beings into predicates, into attributes of a unique and independent being. God is no longer only a thing thought, it is equally an extended thing (Thesis 3). Spinoza does not make the self-activity of self-consciousness the attribute that unifies and transforms substance into subject. This was Hegel's tour de force but he paid for it with an absolute idealism of spirit since once again spirit prevails over extension and concrete man is subject to abstraction separated from reality of self-consciousness. This inscription of Spinoza in metaphysics is all the more paradoxical because Marx finds in empiricism and British materialism the theses that Feuerbach attributes to Spinoza, and Marx accepts a definition in which materialism coincides with communism. As can be seen in this passage from Principles of the Philosophy of the Future 

 Pantheism is theological atheism or theological materialism; it is the negation of theology while itself confined to the standpoint of theology, for it turns matter, the negation of God, into a predicate or an attribute of the Divine Being. But he who turns matter into an attribute of God, declares matter to be a divine being. The realisation of God must in principle presuppose godliness, that is, the truth and essentiality of the real. The deification of the real, of that which exists materially – materialism, empiricism, realism, and humanism – or the negation of theology, is the essence of the modern era. Pantheism is therefore nothing more than the essence of the modern era elevated into the divine essence, into a religio-philosophical principle. 

Empiricism or realism – meaning thereby the so-called sciences of the real, but in particular the natural science – negates theology, albeit not theoretically but only practically, namely, through the actual deed in so far as the realist makes the negation of God, or at least that which is not God, into the essential business of his life and the essential object of his activity. However, he who devotes his mind and heart exclusively to that which is material and sensuous actually denies the trans-sensuous its reality; for only that which constitutes an object of the real and concrete activity is real, at least for man. “What I don't know doesn't affect me.” To say that it is not possible to know anything of the supersensuous is only an excuse. One ceases to know anything about God and divine things only when one does not want to know anything about them. How much did one know about God, about the devils or angels as long as these supersensuous beings were still objects of a real faith? To be interested in something is to have the talent for it. The medieval mystics and scholastics had no talent and aptitude for natural science only because they had no interest in nature. Where the sense for something is not lacking, there also the senses and organs do not lack. If the heart is open to something, the mind will not be closed to it. Thus, the reason why mankind in the modern era lost the organs for the supersensuous world and its secrets is because it also lost the sense for them together with the belief in them; because its essential tendency was anti-Christian and anti-theological; that is, anthropological, cosmic, realistic, and materialistic. [In the context of the present work, the differences between materialism, empiricism, realism, and humanism are, of course, irrelevant.] Spinoza hit the nail on the head with his paradoxical proposition: God is an extended, that is, material being. He found, at least for his time, the true philosophical expression for the materialistic tendency of the modern era; he legitimated and sanctioned it: God himself is a materialist. Spinoza's philosophy was religion; he himself was an amazing man. Unlike so many others, Spinoza's materialism did not stand in contradiction to the notion of a non-material and anti-materialistic God who also quite consistently imposes on man the duty to give himself up only to anti-materialistic, heavenly tendencies and concerns, for God is nothing other than the archetypal and ideal image of man; what God is and how he is, is what man ought to be or wants to be, or at least hopes to be in the future. But only where theory does not belie practice, and practice theory, is there character, truth, and religion. Spinoza is the Moses of modern free-thinkers and materialists. 

4. The anti-metaphysical fury of Marx, the blind submission to Renouvier, limits him in developing an interpretation of the Ethics more nuanced and sensitive to the historical contradictions. This situation is even more strange because it is in The Holy Family that Marx interprets materialist philosophers such that they are a Feuerbachian Spinoza. On can find then three theses that Marx distributes to different representatives of materialism and that can also be imputed to Spinoza. 

--Thesis 1. Nature is a primary reality, it can be explained by itself without recourse to the principle of a creator. Nothing comes from nothing. One can then have recourse to Bacon for who “the primitive forms of matter are essentially living forms, individuals, and it is they that produce specific differences.” He follows, as does Hobbes, in adding that “one cannot separate thought from the matter which thinks.” Thought cannot be separated from matter capable of thought. 

 --Thesis 2. The human order is inscribed in a specific manner in nature. This specificity does not specify anything extra-worldly of human activity. Hobbes has demonstrated the sensible nature of activity. “Man is subordinate to the same laws that nature. Power and liberty are identical.” The Holy Family) This order is known to promote the art of forming ideas, the human species is fundamentally educatable. 

---Thesis 3. What is important is to think the constitution of this human order according to radical possibilities of the ways of transforming these necessary conditions of experience of liberty-power. “If man is unfree in the materialist sense, i.e., is free not through the negative power to avoid this or that, but through the positive power to assert his true individuality, crime must not be punished in the individual, but the anti-social source of crime must be destroyed, and each man must be given social scope for the vital manifestation of his being. If man is shaped by his surroundings, his surroundings must be made human. If man is social by nature, he will develop his true nature only in society, and the power of his nature must be measured not by the power of separate individuals but by the power of society.” (The Holy Family 176). 

 It is not necessary to give the history of philosophy presented in The Holy Family a structural importance. It acts as a provisionally constructed polemical text where Marx has given the means for his own philosophical conception in broad strokes in order to better understand the intersection of humanism, materialism, and communism. The incongruence of the treatment of Spinoza, reinterpreted to be behind Feuerbach’s position, was not overlooked by Marx’s comrades in combat since H. Krieg (himself denounces by Marx in a virulent circular as a confused partisan of religious socialism), he wrote in a letter of June 6, 1845 in order to restore Spinoza’s battle against metaphysics overlooked by Marx, “you're probably right about what it says in the English Hobbes and Locke [i.e. that they vacillate contradictorily between materialism and theism], the same for Voltaire and his direct partisans; but Holbach is practically Spinozist, and it is with and Diderot that the Enlightenment reaches its summit and becomes revolutionary.” (cited by Maximilien Rubel and his edition of the philosophical texts of Marx titled Philosophie) 

5. The instrumental and fluctuating character of the reference to Spinoza as a metaphysician is confirmed precisely by The German Ideology. Marx returns in passing to the place of Spinoza in modern philosophy. Spinoza has developed the principle of substantial immanence but he has not integrated the principle with self-consciousness. Hegel would be the unity of Spinoza and Fichte (The German Ideology, 107). But for Marx this representation consigns him to a partial aspect of the Hegelian synthesis. Self-consciousness is at once a hypostasis of the real activity of human beings in the process of their self-production and the “the real consciousness of the social relations in which they appear to exists and to which they appear to be autonomous.” In a similar manner substance is “an ideal hypostatized expression of the world as it exists” that is take as the foundation of the world “existing for itself.” Marx returns to Feuerbach for clarification of substance and it anthropological resolution. We do not know much more, but the text seems to distinguish the Hegelian critique of substance and its possible materialist significance as “the existing world.” We would have expected considerations on the immanence of modes in natura naturans and of their dynamic interdetermination. In any case, Marx refuses the young Hegelain opposition between self-consciousness and substance, and proposes to maintain the category of substance as an inseparable unity of the existing mode and the beings which constitute the world in the play of their relations. Marx’s criticism has as its target the mystification of self-consciousness and its anti-substantial phobia. Everything takes place as if the ontological categories of Spinoza up until now rejected as conservative metaphysics have an intensive force irreducible to the critique of the young Hegelians. However, it remains that in this complex itinerary the use value of the reference to Spinoza is concentrated in the theological political constellation and the political constitution of the political force of social force. This reference becomes the presupposition of the materialist conception of history, but it does not intervene in the texture of these concepts. 

 The Spinoza Reference in the Critique of Political Economy, Substance and Concept 

Returning to Schrader and his propositions for the study of the second moment of the reference to Spinoza, that of the Marxist use of Spinozist concepts from the Ethics in the development of the critique of political economy in the development of Capital. Schrader pays particular attention to the reappearance in the margins of the reference to Spinoza in the period of the creation and exposition of the critique of political economy which is developed from 1851 to 1863. An important letter from Marx to Lassale from May 31, 1858 which was published in an obscure book on Heraclitus, gives to Spinoza’s metaphysics the same status that he gave to Hegel in a famous letter to Engels a few months before. 

 Even among philosophers who give a systematic form to the works, as for example Spinoza, the true inner structure of the system is quite unlike the form in which it was consciously presented. The true system is only present in itself. (Marx MEW, 29, Berlin, 1963, 561)

. What was of great use to me as regards method of treatment was Hegel’s Logic at which I had taken another look by mere accident... If ever the time comes when such work is again possible, I should very much like to write 2 or 3 sheets making accessible to the common reader the rational aspect of the method which Hegel not only discovered but also mystified. (Correspondence Marx-Engels) 

 Marx makes it clear that the elaboration of the critique passes through the utilization of elements of philosophical works which others appear to have completely bypassed. The presence of Hegel is the center of the interpretation of Capital. It would appear certain to this period that Marx no longer takes inspiration from the Feuerbachian critique of abstract speculation. In this case, the Idea separated from its contents generates the latter in a mystified way by legitimizing the crudest aspects, losing the benefit of seizing the real as a contradictory process, as is explained in The Holy Family or The Poverty of Philosophy. Hegel is from now on solicited for his dialectical discoveries: he elaborates the dialectic as an immanent process of thought and his discoveries serve Marx in developing his proper critique. The presence of Hegel in the period up to the publication of the first volume of Capital in 1867, in passing through diverse manuscripts of 1857-1858 (The Grundrisse) and the manuscripts from 1861-1863, has been attested to and demonstrated by works, either to reaffirm the heretical Hegelianism of Marx, (Rosdolsky, Reichelt, Zelenyi, all dedicated to research the logic of Capital, all following one of the most famous injunctions of all times, Lenin in the Notes on Dialectics) or to combat it in order to argue that Marx was Hegelian or anti-Hegelian (Althusser, and Bidet in his famous study, The Making of Marx’s Capital). This usage of Hegel consists essentially in using the categories of logic to expose the theoretical structure of the passages which operate from the commodity to value, from money as the measure of value to money as the means of exchange and as the universal means of payment, from money to capital. 

Schrader proposes the following recovery of the Marxist exposition of Hegelian categories:
 --Exchange value and the form of value correspond to the pure quantity of Hegel: this value and its measure is realized as money. The Marxist measure of value adopts the Hegelian determinations of the quantitative relations and their measure. 
--The circulation of commodities and money is described by the concepts of an infinite qualitative and quantitative process. 
 --Finally the passage from money to capital transposes the passage from being to essence. Marx has thus read and reused these conceptual determinations for the diverse functions of commodity, value, money and circulation. 
 And what about Spinoza? According to Schrader, he intervenes to resolve a logical problem that is at this point unresolved, that of the determination of the concept of capital supposed to integrate the logically preceding determinations. In good Hegelianism, Marx has made the movement of capital that of the essence of the concept. When Marx maintains that exchange value is realized in the circulation of other substances, in an indefinite totality, without losing the determination of its form, always remaining money and commodities, he makes capital the totality of substances. However, it thus impossible to maintain the internal connection between capital and labor, and more precisely abstract labor. Spinoza intervenes to make possible another use of the category of substance: that would not have its function to subsume the plurality of all substances, but to determine the quality of the fluent quantity that defines abstract labor. 

 One can see this in the text of Volume One of Capital, revised by Marx in 1873 for the French translation of J. Roy. The category of substance is introduce in the passage from the commodity to its determination as the contradictory unity of use value and exchange value. The exchange of commodities is only possible if the their values are “expressed in terms of something common to them all, of which thing they represent a greater or less quantities.” This something is a substance specific to all commodities. “This common “something” cannot be either a geometrical, a chemical, or any other natural property of commodities…[] it is evident that one makes an abstraction from use value when one exchanges, and that the relation of exchange is characterized by this abstraction (Capital). Exchange and the production process which supports it operate this real abstraction from the useful qualities of the objects to be exchanged. This utility, although necessary, does not render possible the exchange of objects of value insofar as they products of labor. Exchange concerns the objects considered as products of labor. 

 If then we leave out of consideration the use value of commodities, they have only one common property left, that of being products of labour. But even the product of labour itself has undergone a change in our hands. If we make abstraction from its use value, we make abstraction at the same time from the material elements and shapes that make the product a use value; we see in it no longer a table, a house, yarn, or any other useful thing. Its existence as a material thing is put out of sight. Neither can it any longer be regarded as the product of the labour of the joiner, the mason, the spinner, or of any other definite kind of productive labour. Along with the useful qualities of the products themselves, we put out of sight both the useful character of the various kinds of labour embodied in them, and the concrete forms of that labour; there is nothing left but what is common to them all; all are reduced to one and the same sort of labour, human labour in the abstract. 

 Capitalism cannot be grasped as a subject enveloping the totality of the process of the development. It is no longer a simple quantity in indefinite expansion. It is thought as the “social substance of as exchange values.” This substance can be determined as capital, but it goes beyond this process of determination by constituting a remainder, a "residue" that constantly reappears. “Let us now consider the residue of each of these products; it consists of the same unsubstantial reality in each, a mere congelation of homogeneous human labour, of labour power expended without regard to the mode of its expenditure. All that these things now tell us is, that human labour power has been expended in their production, that human labour is embodied in them. When looked at as crystals of this social substance, common to them all, they are – Values.” The concept of Capital is not that of the concept of substance becoming subject., it returns to the concept of social substance defined as abstract labor creator of value, substance of value, and substance which increases value: purely progressive quantity reduced to its infinity which is a true infinity irreducible to the logic of bad infinity, that of capital which nonetheless subsumes it. 

 However it is said that this reconstruction does not rest on an explicit reference to Spinoza. The objection is well founded. Schrader responds that it is Marx who reread Hegel and saw that the formal system of Spinoza could be used against Hegel critique of the concept of substance in the Logic. It is a matter of the problem of determination. Omnis determination negatio, Marx keeps reminding everyone of this. If it is Hegel who validates Spinoza’s judgement by demonstrating its insufficiency which for Marx transforms into a sufficient truth to permit him to avoid identifying capital with the Hegelian concept. Capital can increase its reality only by determining this social substance of abstract labor, by negating it. The tendency of capital, its ideal, is the absolute negation of this substance. Marx makes the insufficiency of Spinoza’s substance according to Hegel into a virtue. 

 In the Logic the principle according to which determination is negation is recognized as essential. But Spinoza, according to Hegel, remains with determination as limit which is founded on an other being. The mode is in another from which it derives its being but this other is in itself. It is the integral concept of all realities. But its immanence is only apparent. Each mode negates each other, determination of each is the result of the determined negation of all of the others. Far from determining itself in these negations, substance is negated in its absolute indifference. It does not reflect itself in these negations no more than they reflect it. The Spinozist principle does not arrive at absolute negation that it anticipates contradictorily. The substance is posed by an external reflection which compromises the otherwise affirmed subsistence of the determinations which become an effervescent moment (attributes and modes). This can be read in the texts from The Science of Logic dedicated to Spinoza. 

 "Of this proposition that determinateness is negation, the unity of Spinoza's substance — or that there is only one substance — is the necessary consequence. Thought and being or extension, the two attributes, namely, which Spinoza had before him, he had of necessity to posit as one in this unity; for as determinate realities they are negations whose infinity is their unity. According to Spinoza's definition, of which we say more more subsequently, the infinity of anything is its affirmation. He grasped them therefore as attributes, that is, as not having a separate existence, a self-subsistent being of their own, but only as sublated, as moments; or rather, since substance in its own self lacks any determination whatever, they are for him not even moments, and the attributes like the modes are distinctions made by an external intellect. Similarly, the substantiality of individuals cannot persist in the face of that proposition."Hegel, Science of Logic 

 "Since absolute indifference may seem to be the fundamental determination of Spinoza's substance, we may add that this is indeed the case in so far as in both every determination of being, like every further concrete differentiation of thought and extension and so forth, is posited as vanished. If we stop short at the abstraction [of substance] then it is a matter of complete indifference what something looked like in reality before it was swallowed up in this abyss. But when substance is conceived as indifference, it is tied up with the need for determining it and for taking this determination into consideration; it is not to remain Spinoza's substance, the sole determination of which is the negative one that everything is absorbed in it. With Spinoza, the moment of difference — attributes, thought and extension, then the modes too, the affections, and every other determination — is introduced empirically; it is intellect, itself a mode, which is the source of the differentiation." Hegel, Science of Logic 

 3. It is capital which fails to realize its ideal determinations of essence and which falls back into the residue of the social substance, of the abstract labor which it masks. Capital as a mode of production is ruled by the real abstractions of exchange value which are not comprehended by social agents. Value is a social abstraction that is produced from the base of multiple dispersed evaluations, that the understanding of the economist produces only after the fact, but can be known as a real abstraction operated by society and which is determined as a social substance of abstract time. The determination of the common substance as abstract labor makes it possible to dissipate the mystification produced by the appearance of capital as the self moving essence of value.

 All of the people, who are modes of this substance, cannot immediately represent to themselves the internal determinations of this substance in which they appear other than as representation of theological-political complex, the same as the agents of capital who cannot represent to themselves the determinations of capital (commodity-value-money-forms of capital) without fetishizing them as autonomous movements of the value form. Theoretical knowledge, the Wissenschaft, does not dissolve this fetishism because the mechanisms of its social reproduction are founded on the constitution of these forms of representation and their real efficacy. Capital cannot arrive at self-identity in terms of an absolute reflection. The determination that Hegel imputes to Spinoza negatively of substance as exterior reflection can better convey the determinations of moments of its critique. This places within the development of initial economic forms this sort of equivalent of the attribute of extension that is human labor, this common social substance comprising the forms of modal representations which capture it, that is to say that the forms of consciousness and their functional relations in the material process of reproduction.

 It is therefore the relationship between the substances of abstract human labor and mystified or adequate forms of social representations of this substance that Marx finds in in the hidden Spinozian system and that he utilizes in order to escape the limits of Hegel’s categories, which tend to sublimate substance into the concept and therefore annul the contradictions of capital in the passage from substance to the essence and the concept. From this point of view, Hegel and Spinoza would both be utilized without reservations by Marx as the complimentary and constitutive means of production of the critique of political economy. Spinoza would thus be primarily critical to the extent that the process of the development of the determination of capital cannot be ruled by the teleological order of being-essence-concept. The theory of the substance of abstract labor interrupts the movement of the idealization of capital from the mimesis of the Hegelian order that has been opposed. Spinoza is a moment of the emendation of the intellect internal to the Marxist critique, not an external instance that would be opposed in the confrontation with exteriority. 

 On an Incomplete Analysis 

 1. Schrader goes no further. The outline of his work remains open. In particular this analysis Postulates as evidence a substantial theory of abstract labor, one that has come under criticism from multiple non-marxist thinkers (Croce, Pareto, Menger) and also, more recently, by Marxists (Althusser and Bidet). In this case the relation to Spinoza would lose its fecundity. But if one leaves to the side the labor theory of value and its supposed foundational role, on the internal level the analysis still remains allusive, because it would have been necessary to exceed the level of Volume One of Capital in order to demonstrate the decisive character of Spinoza’s conceptuality in the Marxist conception. 

 Despite these uncertainties, the perspective opened by Schrader is stimulating in that can necessitate a more rigorous study, tempering the contradictory interpretations by the rigors of philology. 

 2. Schrader’s final remarks seem to us be more provocative. Starting from the idea that Spinoza and Marx begin from two different historical moments—that of manufacturing capital limited by the desire of hoarding and that of capitalism fully developed—the logical and ethico-political thesis of the submission of needs to absolute monetary enrichment, and that therefore the refusal of money as an end in itself, he begins to construct a shocking analogy between the third type of knowledge in Spinoza and the knowledge of the capitalist which exposes its money to circulation in order to multiply it. The determination of particular things sub specie aeternitas, as deepening the knowledge of their essence would symbolize with the effort of capitalists to insert money to measure things in their circulation sub specie capitalis. The reference to Marx attests to the irony of Marx: if the movement of true knowledge is infinite, this infinity cannot be confused with that of monetary accumulation which becomes a bad infinity because the means of accumulation are reversed and perverted to be posited as an end in itself. 

 3. It is more correct, as Schrader makes apparent, to find a space more effective for the forma mentis common to Marx and Spinoza: the two both diagnosis the pathology of the understanding and that of a form of life proper to a given historical world. Both understand the irreversible character of modern passions and set to understand and eventually cure these pathologies. Spinoza, son of a merchant enriched by international trade and a merchant himself in his youth, does not have contempt for money and the new wealth of nations promoted by capitalist economy. He does not dream of a return to oikos of finite needs in a household setting, he is not an aristoltean who condemns bad infinity of the circulation of merchandise which has as its object money and not the use value of merchandise. He registers the emergence of exchange value, he sees, as Aristotle did, that it is the subordination of true value. Remember the famous text from Ethics IV Appendix, consecrated to the function of money. 

 XXVIII. Now to achieve these things the powers of each man would hardly be sufficient if men did not help one another. But money has provided a convenient instrument for acquiring all these aids. That is why its image usually occupies the mind of the multitude more than anything else. For they can imagine hardly any species of joy without the accompanying idea of money as its cause. 

 XXlX. But this is a vice only in those who seek money neither from need nor on account of necessities, but because they have learned the art of making money and pride themselves on it very much. As for the body, they feed it according to custom, but sparingly, because they believe they lose as much of their goods as they devote to the preservation of their body. Those, however, who know the true use of money, and set bounds to their wealth according to need, live contentedly with little. 

The realization of money as a concept, the accumulation of money for accumulation, is unrealized. Marx adds that this goal is inaccessible because the character of use value of commodities contradicts the universal sociality of value. The common social substance in so far as it is measured in abstract labor time is measured according to quantitatively determined portions. Money is supposed to represent value in its infinite becoming of an end in itself, but it can only effectively represent a determined part. This contradiction is resolved in the deplacement that money makes in becoming capital, exchange value multiplied in profit. Spinoza’s therapeutic of desire also concern the intellect of calculation: the latter is not condemned, it is superior to the intellect of avarice which theorizes by avarita and does not develop the capacity to act and think. This understanding, however, is called upon to better understand the monetary economy by subordinating it to immanent true utility, that which is inscribed in the republic of free citizens. It is only in this sense that the accumulation of wealth under the monetary form can enter into the correct perspective of knowledge of the third kind. Marx in his own way wants to understand the action of human beings without deploring or flattering them. Capital cannot be understood going from substance to the essence of the concept, but it has its basis in substance, the social substance of abstract labor, and can be rethought and regrouped in the forms of economic understanding. Capital also has as its goal a particular therapeutic manner, the health and well-being of a social body that cannot be subsumed under capital but must encompass the increase of the capacities of acting and thinking that capital subordinates to itself. 

 4. This anti-teleological function of the concept of substance/abstract labor is not maintained by Marx for long in his dialectic. Certainly the function of the subject cannot be attributed to capital, but it is displaced and given a different support, not that of abstract labor with its internal multiplicity and impersonality, but its bearer, that of the working class, the proletariat, the people of the people. The substance of abstract labor becomes subject in the determination that Marx always uses with the English term general intellect. One could thus see a final return of Hegel which interrupts Marx’s return to Spinoza. The communism developed by the general intellect is the practical substitute of the Hegelian concept and imposes an anthropological version and anthropocentric teleology that Spinoza would not accept. What does the general intellect represent? It represents the capacity of the proletariat to organize the ensemble of forces defining the collective worker and the cooperation associated with it, under the direction of formation of the factory in the constitution of the unqualified worker, all representing the advance front of the progressive socialization of the social productive forces. Communism is not something that is imposed as a simple moral ideal, it is a product of the real historical process. 

 However, Marx does not escape here the teleologism that he shares with majority of German idealism. The socialization of productive forces—that for Marx leads the process of the self-production of humanity realizing its immanent end and to which he attributes the function of the concept—is not realized at the level of society. It cannot in any way constitute itself as a causa sui. The human world remains a world of world of modal relations and interactions: if the effects of liberation can realize themselves at the level of the individual (by the knowledge of singular things) or at the level of collectivity ( by the democratic constitution of the multitude), these effects would not be made from a mode as a complete cause of itself under all points of view. The capacity of a mode to act and think, human individual or society, can be more or less adequate, but this adequation does not annul the difference that separates the mode which is produced by and in another which it requires to subsist and which is produced in and by itself and becomes a cause of itself. The identity of natura naturata and natura naturans cannot grant a mode the capacity to be cause of itself under all points of view: it permits it to do so under certain points of view and certain conditions which are sufficient for an ethical realization. Communism to the extent that Marx thinks in terms of the becoming concept of the collective worker exceeds the conditions and possibilities of action predicated on modes. 

 To this structural impossibility we can add the consideration of an analytical one: modern society is not immense and singular enterprise under the order of the collective worker, it is, to say the least, a network of antagonistic enterprises in which on the contrary the process of work is fragmented to the point where it loses all material and ideal unity, a fragmentation that has been imposed by the imperative of capitalist society. Exploitation is not only maintained but it is generalized, it is only in compensation that the recomposition of labor process itself as something collective, cooperative, and associated that Marx believes leads the dialectic of the process of capitalist production. Spinozist realism is here irreducible. It does not limited us in taking the measure of the problem posed generally by Marx, it excludes, however, the solution envisioned from speculative teleology and it compels us to attempt to comprehend the modal form in which exploitation is reproduced. How can we form a new theory of the capacity for insurrection of the multitude subordinated to capital while they also resist it. What effects of liberation can still be manifested by producing new subjectivities which are embedded in real productive activities, not prisoners of unproductive ghettos ravaged by self-destructive violence, nor recluse themselves in the powerless rumination of a moral salvation? How can we escape forms of historical impotence? How can we avoid being reduced to the status of spectators of this impotence? Such are the questions posed by Marx and which are posed again today along with Spinoza and his critique of the teleological illusions of the general intellect, questions which have not arrived at the end of their road. But it is historically vain to ask Marx these questions: they are ours and it is up to us to answer them.

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