The Transition to Capital in Marx’s Critique of Political Economy

In: Historical Materialism
Søren Mau University of Southern Denmark Odense

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The introduction of the concept of capital in Capital – with the words ‘we find’ – has provoked a great deal of discussion about the precise relation between the categories of simple circulation and the concept of capital. In this article, I argue that Marx derives the concept of capital by way of an analysis of the immanent contradictions of money, and that this dialectical derivation can be understood as a conceptual movement in which the concepts of money and capital progressively change their modal status. Furthermore, I examine the development of this transition to capital throughout Marx’s writings from the period 1857 to 1872, arguing that the same arguments can be found in all the relevant writings. Finally, the article provides a critical review of the literature on the transition to capital.

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