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Uno Kōzō’s Theory of ‘Pure Capitalism’ in Light of Marx’s Critique of Political Economy
Value without Fetish presents the first in-depth English-language study of the influential Japanese economist Uno Kōzō‘s (1897-1977) theory of ‘pure capitalism’ in the light of the method and object of Marx’s Critique of Political Economy. A close analysis of the theories of value, production and reproduction, and crisis in Uno’s central texts from the 1930s to the 1970s reveals his departure from Marx’s central insights about the fetish character of the capitalist mode of production – a departure that Lange shows can be traced back to the failed epistemology of value developed in Uno’s earliest writings. By disavowing the complex relation between value and fetish that structures Marx’s critique, Uno adopts the paradigms of neoclassical theories to present an apology rather than a critique of capitalism.

Abstract

Uno Kōzō (1897–1977) was Japan’s foremost Marxian economist. His critique of Marx’s method in Capital, especially regarding the ‘premature’ introduction of value-form analysis in Volume I, motivated him to rewrite all three volumes of Capital in his book The Principles of Political Economy (–2).

Notwithstanding Uno’s increasing popularity in international Marx research, I will present a critical paper that looks at a fundamental misunderstanding in Uno’s reading of the value form. In what is one of the most significant discussions of the value form in postwar Japan, Uno argues that ‘value’ and money as its ‘bearer’ cannot be understood in abstraction from personal interaction and human wants in commodity exchange. By drawing on the Japanese documents and supporting the view of Uno’s rival Kuruma Samezō (1893–1982), I want to show that it can, and how Marx understood the ‘law of value’ as a non-personal law of social domination.

In: Historical Materialism

After Transcritique: On Kant and Marx (2003), Karatani Kōjin’s new book The Structure of World History presents another engagement with Marxian theory from a ‘heterodox’ standpoint. In this book, rather than viewing The Structure of World History from the aspect of mode of production in the conventional ‘Marxist’ sense, Karatani shifts perspective to the modes of exchange. To this end, Karatani appropriates what he sees as Marx’s emphasis on ‘exchange’. In the present essay, by looking at the textual evidence, I critically evaluate whether this appropriation of Marx’s theory is justified. I furthermore contend that Karatani’s reading of the concepts of value, money, capital, and surplus-value from the standpoint of ‘exchange’ (i.e. circulation) arises from a grave misconstrual of Marx’s critical intent. Accordingly, Karatani neglects the critique of exploitation and the systematic production of poverty that informs the basic assumptions of Marx’s analysis of the capitalist mode of production.

In: Historical Materialism
In: Value without Fetish
In: Value without Fetish
In: Value without Fetish
In: Value without Fetish
In: Value without Fetish
In: Confronting Capital and Empire
In: Confronting Capital and Empire