Historical Temporalities of Capital: An Anti-Historicist Perspective

Historical Materialism 17 (4):44-65 (2009)
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Abstract

Marx's rethinking of the combination between absolute surplus-value and relative surplus-value during the 1860s is very important in order to reconsider the co-presence of different forms of historical temporality and exploitation. Postmodernism presents a picture of a plurality of historical times in which the old lies beside the modern and the sweatshop beside the high-tech factory. Because it fails to provide an explanation of the relation between these forms, postmodernism produces a false image of an 'ahistorical' present. In this article I want to show how the combination of differentials of surplus-value works and why a representation of a plurality of historical temporalities synchronised by the temporality of socially-necessary labour is the most adequate image to comprehend it. The theoretical task is to show how the mature categorial structure of Capital not only does not need an historicist philosophy of history, but is in fact incompatible with it.

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