Rough Theory

Theory In The Rough

Monthly Archives: February 2008

Europe in May/June – Suggestions?

I’ll be presenting to a conference in Rome in late May, and am hoping to be able to stay in Europe for at least a few weeks after. I hadn’t initially been certain this trip would happen – otherwise, I would have liked to put in proposals for other events. I’ll be at a point where it would be helpful to have opportunities to workshop thesis-related materials. Unfortunately, it’s a bit late to put in proposals to present to other events of which I’m aware. I’m not planning to spend the entire visit in Italy, but am trying to decide where else I might wander. That decision might boil down to whether there are interesting critical theory related events to sit in on, while I’m in the vicinity. If anyone knows of events that might be of interest, feel free to pass things on. (And, yes, in fact, critical theory events are actually what I do for leisure, even in Melbourne… ;-P)

Science of Logic Reading Group: Not Adding Up

So somehow, in spite of feeling I’ve been doing very little other than writing and talking about Hegel off the blog recently, I’ve nevertheless fallen hopelessly behind in blogging Hegel’s Science of Logic. The in-person reading group has continued to meet, with a brief break around the Hegel conference a couple weeks back, which all of us attended. We’re moving slowly, but we have won our way through to this week’s selection – the opening chapter of the section on Quantity. Meanwhile, I’ve been blogging only on stray paragraphs here and there, without tackling any decent sections of what we have been discussing.

There’s a great deal I would like to go back and write about. Just to get back in the rhythm, though, I think tonight I’ll just write something on today’s selection. Perhaps some of the other reading group folks, either in person or online, can fill in some of the gaps, or perhaps I’ll be able to backtrack in a quieter moment. For today, I just wanted to draw attention to some of the points Hegel makes in the second remark on the section Pure Quantity – an extended reflection on Kant’s importance (and limitation) for critical philosophy.

This remark further develops some of the concerns I’ve written on previously: Hegel starts by recognising Kant’s importance for dissolving an older metaphysics, and thus opening the path to a new philosophy. This recognition is promptly tempered by Hegel’s observation that Kant’s approach is “imperfect” in both its methods and its results. Hegel treats Kant’s antinomies as possessing a rational core that needs to be extracted from its form of presentation. His concern, as always with Kant, is that the approach is intrinsically dogmatic – that it presupposes that cognition possesses characteristics that have not been established (and, specifically, that it presupposes what it claims to prove) – and that the approach restricts reason, predeciding that it “should not soar beyond sensuous perception and should take the world of appearance, the phenomenal world, as it is” (407, 428). In the process of demonstrating these arguments, this remark also casts some light on Hegel understands his own method.

Hegel begins by suggesting that Kant has inappropriately exceptionalised his four cosmological antinomies, not recognising that such antinomies can be found at the heart of any Notion. Hegel argues “as many antinomies could be constructed as there are Notions” (408). Kant compounds this mistake by not locating the antinomies he does identify in the Notions themselves, but rather in a concrete, “applied” form in which such antinomies cannot be explored in their purity, but rather become intrinsically caught up in other determinations extrinsic to the Notion (409). Further, although Kant on one level recognises that these antinomies are not simply illusions, but contradictions that reason necessarily confronts, his attempt to resolve these contradictions contravenes this insight by treating the contradiction as fundamentally something subjective, something residing in the “transcendental ideality of the world of perception” (410).

These problems can only be overcome, Hegel argues, by grasping the antinomies as “two opposed determinations which belong necessarily to one and the same Notion” (410). Such an approach recognises the validity of each determination – but only as sublated within their Notion. By contrast, Kant’s approach is one-sided – it attempts to take up each determination in isolation from the other – to assert the validity of each dogmatically. Hegel’s description of Kant’s method here is not kind:

…this simple categorical, or strictly speaking assertoric statement is wrapped up in a false, twisted scaffolding of reasoning which is intended to produce a semblance of proof and to conceal and disguise the merely assertoric character of the statement… (411)

Hegel proceeds to illustrate his point by examining how the antinomy of continuity and discreteness arises in Kant’s argument relating to the infinite divisibility of matter. Much of the subsequent discussion consists of an argument that the way in which Kant frames his discussion of this problem, already assumes what it sets out to prove, and is therefore a tautological statement, rather than the proof it purports to be. Hegel wields an interesting and somewhat expansive concept of tautology here.

Hegel begins with Kant’s statement that every composite substance in the world is comprised of the simple (the atom) (412). Hegel notes that, by substance in the world, Kant intends substances as sensuously perceived, and that this substance is taken to be indifferent to the existence of the antinomy itself. Hegel argues that the very definition of a composite is that of something externally put together from things other than itself. The “other” of the composite, however, is the simple. Therefore it is tautological to say the composite consists of the simple – we know nothing more by this statement, than we already knew by simply examining the term “composite” (413). In Hegel’s (sarcastic) words:

To ask of what something consists is to ask for an indication of something else, the compounding of which constitutes the said something. If ink is said to consist simply of ink, the meaning of the inquiry after the something else of which it consists has been missed and the question is not answered but only repeated. (413)

Hegel then suggests that satisfaction provided by a tautological response to this question may derive from the tendency in ordinary thinking to presuppose some particular simple, out of which some specific composite has been formed. This intuition of ordinary thinking is, however, inadequate for the present question, which concerns not some specific composite, but rather the composite as such (413).

From here, Hegel dives into Kant’s proofs, to which Hegel objects in whole and in most parts… He thinks Kant could be more brief and more direct (when Hegel says this about your writing, etc…), and that much of the argument is tautological, smuggling in through the back door what it claims to prove. A characteristic example:

It is clear that the apagogical detour could be omitted and the thesis, ‘composite substance consists of simple parts’, could be directly followed by the reason: because composition is merely a contingent relation of substances, and is therefore external to them and does not concern the substances themselves. If the composition is in fact contingent then, of course, substances are essentially simple. But this contingency which is the sole point at issue is not proved but straightway assumed, and casually, too, in a parenthesis – as something self-evident and of secondary importance. (416)

(As a side point, while Hegel is opposed to presupposing anything that you want to prove, he is absolutely incensed by Kant’s parenthesis – it comes up several times in this passage. It offends Hegel deeply. If you are going to presuppose something, don’t do it parenthetically…)

The upshot of Hegel’s argument is that Kant’s conclusion essentially points back to the externality and contingency of composition – the very assumption smuggled in as a starting point for the proof, such that, in Hegel’s tones of rising sarcasm:

its laboured, tortuous complexity serves no other purpose than to produce the merely outward semblance of a proof and partially to obscure the quite transparent fact that what was supposed to emerge as a consequence is, parenthetically, that on which the proof hinges; that there is no proof at all, but only an assumption. (419)

Hegel next moves to Kant’s antithesis, which he treats with similar scorn – “This proof can be called a whole nest (to use an expression elsewhere employed by Kant) of faulty procedure” (419). Here, Hegel complains again about the mixing of metaphors from everyday experience and ordinary thinking – in this case, the assumption that whatever is substantial is spatial – in the construction of the argument. For Hegel, Kant’s assumptions pile up, insights are achieved and then perversely discarded in the movement of the argument, and the argument fails to comprehend its object by grasping it in its Notion. (419-422)

This extended close critique of Kant leads Hegel to a larger objection to Kant’s method – its self-restriction to appearances or phenomena, to what can be sensuously perceived. Contemplating objects as sensuously perceived, for Hegel, is never sufficient to grasp objects in their Notion. Kant’s conclusions are therefore restricted to what is available to sensuous perception – yet Kant extrapolates his conclusions to reason as a whole. Hegel argues that this amounts to an argumentative leap from:

all our visual, tactile and other experience shows us only what is composite; even the best microscopes and the keenest knives have not enabled us to come across anything simple (424)


Then neither should reason expect to come across anything simple. (424)

Close examination of Kant’s method, however, demonstrates a tacit dogmatism – assumptions smuggled in without proof, that composition (rather than continuity) is the mode of relation of substances, and that substances are therefore absolute and are related contingently. From the point of view of Hegel’s argument about quantity, Kant’s approach amounts to a separation of the two moments of quantity, that fixes each moment as absolutely separate. This approach results from treating substance, matter, space, time and similar categories as absolutely distinct and divided from one another – taking these categories as continuous, sublates this division. In Hegel’s words:

Since each of the two opposed sides contains the other within itself and neither can be thought without the other, it follows that neither of these determinations, taken alone, has truth; this belongs only to their unity. This is the true dialectical consideration of them and also the true result. (425)

Hegel’s move here is extremely interesting: this sublation in the category of the continuous, contains division – but as potential, as possibility (425). Hegel will develop from this an interesting critique of non-dialectical positions for confusing abstractions that grasp such potentials, with concrete or really existing entities. Hegel argues:

What is abstract has only an implicit or potential being; it only is as a moment of something real.


Such intellect commits the error of holding such mental fictions, such abstractions, as an infinite number of parts, to be something true and actual; but this sensuous consciousness does not let itself be brought beyond the empirical element to thought. (427)

I’d like to explore the implications of this a bit further, but the reading group is about to assemble (contingently?), so I’ll leave things with this summary for the moment. Since I’ve stolen time to write this in a small slice of time before the reading group, apologies if this is unclear or poorly expressed…

Capital, Volume 1, Chapter 1: A Way of Visualising Abstract Labour and Value

For anyone who doesn’t have the stamina to trawl all the way through the 11,000 words I somehow wrote on Diane Elson’s “Value Theory of Labour” (here and here), there is one bit of my argument that I wanted to reproduce in its own post, partially because it seems to me to belong in the series on Capital, volume 1, chapter 1, and partially because I’m still trying to decide whether I like this way of expressing what Marx is trying to do. I’ve removed everything specific to Elson, and just reproduced the metaphors I’ve been trying to develop recently – particularly as I’ve been trying to express in a more unequivocal way, why the argument about the fetish is not an argument simply about “market relations”. Apologies for the duplication with the Elson posts – I’m just assuming that more people will see this here, than will read all the way to the very end of the argument about Elson… ;-P


I find it useful to think about abstract labour in terms of sets and subsets, each enacted in collective practice.

The main set includes all sorts of activities that are productive or creative of social life in any sense of the term. This set might include working on an assembly line, falling in love, building a house to live in yourself, selling legal services, going on a vacation in New Zealand, etc. In spite of its apparent inclusiveness and genericness, it isn’t an accident that a set with such members should be thinkable to us. There is some practical sense in which our collective practice is – in at least one dimension – so indifferent to the specific activities that we carry out, that we have experiential access to a category that is so large that it can encompass all of these diverse things into an overarching concept of “human practice”. I’ll leave aside for present purposes how I think such a category is suggested by our practices.

Within this set, there is a subset of activities that are grouped together as attempts to assert themselves as commodity-producing activities. The people or groups who engage in this subset of activities can know how much effort they are empirically expending, to undertake whatever activity they are undertaking – manufacturing a car, providing medical services, building houses, etc. They cannot know, however, how successful they will be in getting the empirical effort they are expending to “count” as commodity-producing labour: they will only know this, once they send the products of their labour into the market. At that point, they will find out whether, and how much, of their empirical activity succeeds in making it into the final subset.

The final subset is activities that have successfully asserted themselves as commodity-producing labour – a status that may partially, fully or even excessively recognise the actual efforts empirically expended in production in the previous subset. This final, smallest subset of human activities, comprises those activities that get to “count” as part of “social labour” from the standpoint of the reproduction of capital.

There are other practically-enacted subsets – these three are the ones relevant to the understanding of the first chapter.

Marx’s argument about abstract labour and value relates to our experience of the salto mortale between the second and third subset. In his account, the process that culls from the activities undertaken in the second subset, to generate the activities recognised as “social labour” from the standpoint of the reproduction of capital, is a process that takes place “behind the backs” of social actors: they can experience it taking place, but they are not setting out to create such a process, and they experience this process as (what it is) an impersonal form of coercion on their intentional practices. Moreover, this process communicates its results to social actors through the process of the exchange of their products – through the proportions in which their goods exchange with one another. Productive activities that “succeed” in asserting themselves as part of “social labour”, demonstrate their success by exchanging for greater amounts of other products, which have not succeeded so well. Those activities that get to “count” as “social labour” are therefore rendered manifest to social actors, through a process that establishes relationships among goods. When Marx says that, in capitalism,

the relations connecting the labour of one individual with that of the rest appear, not as direct social relations between individuals at work, but as what they really are, objective relations between persons and social relations between objects.

he means this in a very literal sense. He is not describing some strange illusion under which social actors are operating, but something more like a very exotic ritual among the indigenous members of capitalist society, for establishing which activities count as social labour. This ritual is socially specific, but it is nevertheless perfectly real – it possesses a social validity for members of capitalist society that is not automatically undermined by the realisation that its reality is only social in origin.

Marx is worried that his readers won’t grasp how bizarre this familiar ritual actually is – that just pointing out the subsets, and indicating that we are regularly engaged in sorts of productive activity without any idea whether those activities will succeed in counting as social labour, will not provide sufficient analytical distance. He needs to jolt his readers out of their familiarity with their own context. He uses the concepts of abstract labour and value to provide this jolt.

Our collective behaviour, Marx argues, is tantamount to acting as though the labouring activities undertaken as part of the second subset, are haunted by a supersensible world that lies behind what we can empirically perceive – a supersensible world of abstract labour. To the extent that our labouring activities partake of this supersensible world, they succeed in being incorporated into the third subset. Our collective behaviour is also tantamount to acting as though the commodities we produce possess an intangible, supersensible dimension – a dimension in which abstract labour is objectified into the property of value. Another way of saying this is to state that abstract labour and value are “real abstractions” – practical truths specific to capitalist society – social entities that are enacted in collective practice.

Fetishised forms of thought, for Marx, express the existence of these social entities – but do not grasp them as social. Value is thus treated as an intangible substance that inheres in physical objects, and becomes manifest in the process of exchange. Abstract labour is treated as an intangible world of social labour that becomes manifest in the culling process of the market. In his argument, we enact entities like value and abstract labour as real abstractions, but the way that we enact such social entities (unintentionally, as side effects of practices oriented to other goals) and the way we manifest these entities (through proportional relationships established between goods) creates an intrinsic risk that social actors will become confused about the ontological status of these real abstractions – the risk that, as Marx jokes in relation to Dame Quickly, they won’t know “where to have it”.

Marx shows off a bit in the first chapter, using this argument very quickly to suggest that major themes in the development of western philosophy are actually expressive of this confusion over “where to have” these real abstractions. His analysis from that point is more careful, less sweeping – but equally oriented to linking conceptual categories as real abstractions back to the moments of the reproduction of capital in which such categories are enacted.

List of posts on Marx below the fold: Read more of this post

Reflections on Elson’s “Value Theory of Labour”, part 2

Okay, so I went a bit crazy with this… I hadn’t intended to write a whole article-length response to Elson’s work – which, between yesterday’s post and today’s, is effectively what I’ve done. This post is so long that, while I would normally post it to the front page, it just exceeds all reasonable length – I’ll have to tuck it below the fold. Also, apologies in advance that I’m simply too exhausted, having written this, to edit – there are sections where I think I’m being repetitive, and other sections where I’m moving too quickly – hopefully anyone who clicks through will understand that this was written in one long and possibly ill-advised sitting, and it suffers as a result…

For those trying to decide whether to click through, I summarise the second half of Elson’s argument, of which I’m much more critical than I was of the first. I focus particularly on the notion of a real abstraction – and on how Elson is both aware of this concept, and yet uses it in tandem with an analytical framework that is expressly posited as transhistorical – the effect is to criticise capitalism for having a certain set of real abstractions (captured in categories like abstract labour, value, and money) against critical categories that do not have this same “real” status. I follow this thread through Elson’s argument, discussing Elson’s comments on the “structure/agency” issue in theories of capitalism; I outline her reading of the first chapter of Capital; and I discuss her concluding discussion of the political implications of her reading of Marx. In spite of the length of this piece, I don’t cover Elson’s argument in the same micrological detail I used in the previous post: the length is made up of critical asides where I explore the differences and points of agreement between my own approach and Elson’s work. I conclude with a fairly condensed set of criticisms, and also provide a whirlwind sketch of how I understand the concept of abstract labour – just to provide some sense of the perspective from which I am offering this critique.

To the folks who asked me to comment on this piece, all I can say is: be careful what you wish for… ;-P Below the fold we go… Read more of this post

Reflections on Elson’s “Value Theory of Labour”, part 1

So, by popular demand, a follow up to the book-meme post, where I responded to Nate’s tag with a few sentences from Diane Elson’s “The Value Theory of Labour” from her edited volume (1979) Value: The Representation of Labour in Capitalism. This post wasn’t the first time someone has asked me to talk about my work in relation to Elson’s, so I promised to follow up on the short meme post with something longer soon. This is that something longer… ;-P

Before I get into Elson, I should mention the progress of the meme over at Now-Times – where my tag forced poor Alexei to have to translate a text in German, which also contained selections from Greek – I suppose, like all viruses, this one hits some people harder than others… Over at Grundlegung, Tom responded to the meme, but then rudely placed himself in quarantine and refused to share and share alike. I have patiently tried to explain that Tom has undertaken the commitment to infect others when he undertook the commitment to acknowledge the tag, but Tom, as always, stubbornly resists the implications of Brandom’s queen’s shilling argument. Tom: I have updated your score accordingly. Praxisblog promises “an appallingly long and obsessive response to that damn book meme”. I think I am afraid. The meme has hit massthink whilst Ryan/Aless is travelling – I’m certain we can all understand how inconvenient that is – he’ll respond in a more settled moment. I didn’t tag Gabriel Gottlieb over at Self and World, but the bug got to him anyway, and I’ll link his response here because I am still groaning from his title: “On the Very Idea of an Internet Meme”. Andrew over at Union Street tried to tag me, only to realise I’ve already been bitten – if you like, Andrew, you can consider this post a relapse, and consider that your second tag made me come down with a much worse case of this thing, forcing me to engage more deeply with the text than just quoting a few sentences…

Okay. Diane Elson. Note that I’m likely just to post notes on Elson’s piece here, rather than provide a worked out argument about how our positions intersect – since a few other folks hovering around have also read her, there should be some possibility for correcting anything I get too terribly wrong here…

Elson’s piece starts with an excellent question: what is Marx’s theory of value a theory of? The answer to this question is far from obvious, and major differences of interpretation of Marx’s work pivot on the issue.

Elson begins by outlining two common interpretations of the labour theory of value:

(1) The theory of value allows Marx to prove the existence of exploitation.

Elson associates this position with a transhistorical conception of the category of value – a conception that holds that surplus in all societies is based on value, but that in capitalism this is concealed – hence the need for a theory to reveal value (and human labour) as the basis for the surplus. Elson argues that Marx does not appear to have regarded value as a transhistorical category, and also that Marx’s concern was not to demonstrate that exploitation exists under capitalism, but rather to analyse the form of exploitation specific to capitalism. She argues, however, that this approach does at least keep the political charge of Marx’s theory at the forefront. (115-116)

(2) The theory of value allows Marx to explain prices.

Elson associates this approach with attempts to see Marx as a sort of critical culmination of classical political economy, proposing a theory with a similar object to that of Smith, Ricardo or Mill, which provides an explanation of equilibrium prices in a capitalist economy. Elson notes the (tacit or explicit) depoliticisation of the theory entailed by this reading – and also notes a tendency to hold the question of the determination of equilibrium prices to be so central that the category of value has come to be rejected, as arguments have been put forward that for why this category is inadequate to account for prices. (116-121)

She then opens a third possibility: that the object of the concept of value was never to theorise price – or, indeed, to account for “the origin or cause of anything” (121). She suggests that Marx’s concept of “determination” has been flattened into a notion of “cause” or “origin” in a way quite alien to Marx’s use of the term. (I agree with Elson on this – “determination” is one of a number of concepts that picks up very different analytical valences when lifted out of its Hegelian context and translated into the terrain of the applied social sciences – to the detriment of Marx’s analysis.) She therefore turns to an analysis of the object of Marx’s theory and the method of Marx’s analysis, as a necessary precursor to teasing out Marx’s relationship to Ricardo and to the questions that preoccupied classical political economy. (122-123)

Elson argues that the object of Marx’s theory was not the phenomena of exchange, but rather labour. In her words:

It is not a matter of seeking an explanation of why prices are what they are and finding it in labour. But rather of seeking an understanding of why labour takes the forms it does, and what the political consequences are. (123)

This analysis of the form of labour, moreover, is concerned with more than simply how labour is distributed within capitalism – a question that, for Elson, points back to the more traditional understanding of the labour theory of value. (124-128) It also points beyond the analysis of what Elson calls the “structure of production” – a concept Elson regards as too “deterministic” in a causal sense. (128-129) In Elson’s own words:

As several authors pointed out, Marx’s concept of determination is not ‘deterministic’… Although Marx stresses that determination can never be simply an exercise of individual wills, he also stresses that it is not independent of and completely exterior to the actions of individuals….

Distribution of social labour is not an adequate metaphor for this process of determination, because such determination always begins from some pre-given, fixed, determinate structure, which is placed outside the process of social determination. What is required is a conceptualisation of a process of social determination that proceeds from the indeterminate to the determinate; from the potential to the actual; from the formless to the formed. Capital is an attempt to provide just that. (129-130)

Elson notes that Marx’s formulations of this problematic, particularly prior to Capital, are often confusing and inconsistent – in part, she argues, because he was wrestling this problematic out of political economic texts that were concerned with something closer to a “labour theory of value”. Elson therefore centres her analysis on Capital, where she believes the object and method that are specific to Marx’s work are developed more clearly. (130)

Elson next offers the interesting suggestion that the readings of value theory she has already discussed are all guilty of what she calls a “misplaced concreteness” – a tendency to posit that certain “independent” variables are somehow already “given” in the process of production, while understanding the problem to be how to determine, based on those givens, certain other, “dependent” variables in the process of circulation. She argues:

It is simply taken for granted that any theory requires separable determining factors, discretely distinct from what they are supposed to determine….

This approach poses the relation of determination as an effect of some already given, discretely distinct elements or factors on some other, quite separate, element or factors, whose general form is given, but whose position within a possible range is not, using what Georges-cu-Roegen calls ‘arithmomorphic concepts’. Essentially a rationalist method, it assumes that the phenomena of the material world are like the symbols of arithmetic and formal logic, separate and self-bounded and relate to each other in the same way. This is not Marx’s method; his theory of value is not constructed on rationalist lines. (131)

“Arithmomorphic concepts” may become my new favourite term. I agree with Elson on this – I’ve been drawing attention to a similar problem by tugging on the issue of what Marx means when he calls Capital a “scientific” work – a phrase that is often misinterpreted in analogous ways to the concept of “determination” that Elson focusses on here. Just as Marx’s “science” is not an instrumental or positivist exercise, but an exercise in reconstructing a network of relationally-determined concepts, his notion of “determination” is intended to situate his categories within the network of relationships within which they acquire their present-day meaning: the concept of “determination” operative in his work is not a causal concept in an applied social science sense of the term.

Back to Elson: She argues that this presupposition – of givens strictly separated from dependent variables – operates even in some apparently unlikely places, such as in Althusser’s concept of “structural causality”, and in approaches that break with concepts of structure, only to try to recover “conditions of existence” purported to lie behind structure. (131) She then uses Ollman, as well as her own examination of Marx’s chemical metaphors and his complex discussion of the relationship between value, exchange-value, and labour time, to illustrate the ways in which Marx’s categories include within themselves aspects of the reality they are described as “determining” – undermining an interpretation that would see them in terms of independent-dependent variable relationships. (132-135)

She uses this analysis to argue that Capital, while viewing labour-time and price as distinct, does not understand the relationship between the two as that of an independent to a dependent variable. Elson argues:

The social necessity of labour in a capitalist economy cannot be determined independent of the price form: hence values cannot be calculated or observed independently of prices. (136)

Thinking back for a moment to the argument I’ve been making on the blog and in the thesis about Marx’s appropriation of Hegel: one of the things I’ve suggested that Marx draws from Hegel, is a peculiar argument about the relation of “essence” and “appearance”. Hegel criticises approaches that separate essence and appearance into two separate substances or worlds, and then try to answer the question of how these separate substances are related to one another. Essence and appearance are intrinsically related, for Hegel: they are mutually interpenetrating, mutually generative, sharing the same substance, but also distinct from one another. Marx takes this sort of argument over into Capital, with value presented as a kind of “social essence” generated in and through the flux and apparent lawlessness of the appearance of exchange (the argument is a bit more complex than this, as exchange isn’t the only site of “flux” – I’ll leave this point aside for now). In Marx’s argument, this social “essence” does not exist as some separate substance that sits outside exchange, determining the movement of “appearances” in the form of prices. Instead, value is something that emerges in and through that flux – a pattern or regularity that the flux itself generates, in and through its apparent random walk. Within this framework, it doesn’t make sense to talk about “value” as if it exerts a casual force on exchange as the dependent variable. Value is rather itself an “effect”, a “result”, intrinsically bound together with the flux through which it becomes manifest as a non-random pattern emergent over time. This pattern “determines” the flux, not in a casual sense, but as a description of the qualitative attributes of one of the aspects of, in this case, an overarching process in which both the “law” of value and the “flux” of exchange are moments.

I’m not suggesting here that Elson is making exactly the same argument, or would agree with how I’m am (somewhat clumsily) expressing the point here – I’m just trying to link her argument back to the ways I’ve expressed similar points recently on the blog. Elson, for her part, goes on from the quote above into a (to be honest, somewhat confusing to me – but that’s probably because I’m used to making this argument via Hegel’s essence/appearance distinction) discussion of “immanent measures”. Her point is to draw attention to what I usually call the “counterfactual” dimension of value-determining labour: the fact that this labour bears no relationship to empirically-observable inputs of labour time in production. She uses this to segue into an argument that money, not labour-time, serves as the social standard of measurement – and that labour-time and money are not understood as discrete variables whose proportional relationship to one another must be discovered, but rather as different forms assumed by a continuous a social process. (136-139)

Elson next asks whether she has perhaps demonstrated that Marx’s argument is incoherent, circular, or serves no purpose. If the argument can’t explain causation or origin in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions, what possible purpose could the argument serve? (139)

To address this question, she moves to an argument about dialectical materialism – about Marx’s theory as theory of immanent historical transformation through which social forms dissolve themselves and change into new forms, via internal social dynamics with no external cause. In Elson’s read, this approach does not involve making an argument about how earlier social forms led to later ones: even if the raw materials for a later social form derive from an earlier form, it is not this story of historical origin that is important for grasping a social form – this would entail adopting a standpoint outside a social form, to grasp that social form – an approach that Elson argues falls back into the independent-dependent variable trap. Instead, social forms must be understood with reference to their own immanent logic – and uncovering how that logic suspends within itself contradictory moments or potentials that determine that social form as transient and transformable. (139-142)

Elson argues that it is these contradictory moments that Marx describes as “determinants” – and that this description does not imply that the “determinant” somehow sits outside the social form, causing that social form to unfold in a particular way. Instead, “determinants” are moments of a complex social form, isolated out in Marx’s analysis and considered in abstraction from one another, in order better to draw attention to the conflictual potentials embodied in the society as a whole. The analysis does not stop with this process of isolation and abstraction, but then moves on to resubmerge the isolated moments back into the social process, which we can now grasp differently, as a unity that presupposes all the conflictual moments that have been analysed in isolation. Elson’s description here again echoes points I have been making through my analysis of Hegel’s influence on Marx:

These different, counter-posed aspects are often referred to be Marx as ‘determinants’ or ‘determinations’ (just as the opposed movements whose resultant is the ellipse are referred to as ‘determinants’). But that does not mean that the form is produced or caused by the ‘determination’ or ‘determinants’ acting in some autonomous way… The point is that the determinants are not independent variables, but are simply aspects, one-sided abstractions singled out as a way of analysing the form.

The analysis of a form into its determinants is, however, only the first phase of the investigation. After this phase of individuation of a moment from the historical process, and dissection of the tendencies or aspects counterposed in it, comes the phase of synthesis, of reconstitution of the appearance of the form, and of re-immersing it in process… This second phase does not simply take us back where we began, but beyond it, because it enables us to understand our starting point in a different light, as predicated on other aspects of a continuous material process. It suggests new abstractions which need to be made from a different angle, in order to capture more of the process. The phase of synthesis brings us back to continuities which the phase of analysis has deliberately severed. The whole method moves in an ever-widening spiral, taking account of more and more aspects of the historical process from which the starting point was individuated and detached. (142-143)

This is a very nice description of Marx’s method in Capital. From my point of view, it omits some details that begin to explain the order in which Marx introduces this categories – but this is a sort of trivial point to make, in response to a brief discussion that has other argumentative targets in view. I like very much the way Elson emphasises Marx’s practice of taking something that presents itself as a unified object, and then breaking that object into aspects, and teasing out the often conflictual dimensions of each aspect – this point is quite central to how I read Marx. I’m less happy with the characterisation of this method in terms of a back-and-forth movement from analysis to synthesis, although these are terms that Marx himself occasionally uses in discussion of his work, and my unease is more a matter of concern that these terms – much like “determination” – have more common associations that don’t quite capture what Marx does. I like the way that Elson emphasises how Marx’s method makes it possible to transform our understanding of categories – although I would like to supplement this with a discussion of how the categories are then introduced based on the order required to tease out the relationships that connect them to one another, to reveal how categories presuppose one another, would also open up an argument about how our understanding of earlier categories comes to be transformed, not simply by Marx’s analysis of the moments of those categories, but by the unfolding of the later categories as well. Again, though, I don’t understand this as something required for what Elson is trying to achieve in this article.

Elson concludes this pivotal section by asking what form of knowledge we acquire through this method. Her answer:

It cannot give a Cartesian Absolute Knowledge of the world, its status as true knowledge validated by some epistemological principle. Rather it is based upon a rejection of that aspiration as a form of idealism…. It is taken for granted, in this method, that the world has a material existence outside our attempts to understand it; and that any category we use to cut up the continuum of the material world can only capture a partial knowledge, a particular aspect seen from a certain vantage point. (143)

Elson uses this point to argue that world cannot be appropriated fully in thought; she suggests, however, that it could perhaps be fully appropriated in practice (143) – a position I’m not sure Marx would share, as practice also has its situatedness, its form: I’m not sure that appropriation of the world can be “completed”, whether in thought or in practice… She then moves to a criticism specifically of “capital logic” approaches, on the grounds that such approaches confuse capital – which she takes to be a category of analysis – with an entity, existent in the world in some form. She argues that this move falls into an:

illusion, taking capital not as a one-sided abstraction, a category of analysis, but as an entity; and understanding the historical process of form determination as the product of the self-development of this entity. (144)

My reaction to this comment depends on what Elson means by certain key terms. As phrased, this comment strangely sounds to me a bit like a reintroduction of a sort of essence/appearance distinction of which Elson is critical in other moments of her account: the comment seems to position our “thoughts” about an object, as subsisting outside that object – and also to position our thoughts as, in Hegelian terms, “inessential” in relation to their object, which is constructed as separate from themselves. I take Marx instead to be making a practice-theoretic argument about the generation of categories of thought – such that what we “think” is what, in some dimension of social practice, we “do”. I take his arguments about value, abstract labour, capital, and similar “supersensible” categories to be Durkheimian – to be arguments that we are enacting such things as social entities by behaving as though such entities exist in our collective practice. This doesn’t mean that such entities exist somehow outside our practice, “determining” that practice in a causal sense – and I take it that it is this move of which Elson is critical, as this sort of move is both idealist and tends to be undermining of attempts to conceptualise agency. I understand the concern motivating her critical comments here. As expressed, however, these comments treat capital as more “illusory” than I think Marx takes it to be: capital is something we do, something we create – and also something we can undo, something we don’t need to create. It is a social – not solely a conceptual – reality in the present time; it needn’t be either a social or conceptual reality in the future.

I’m only about halfway through Elson’s chapter at this point – from here, having laid a solid foundation, Elson jumps into the textual and argumentative specifics of her reading of the labour theory of value. I think I’ll pause here for tonight – it’s getting late, and I have an early start tomorrow. Hopefully I can find time to comment on the remainder of the piece soon. [Note: part two here.]

The Difference Between “Being” and “Appearing to Be” an “Objective Social Relation”

So I submitted the following abstract for a conference, and have had the abstract accepted:

When Georg Lukács situates Marx’s argument about commodity fetishism, on the terrain of a theory of reification and rationalisation, he introduces a small, but pivotal, shift in emphasis from Marx’s original concept. Lukács characterises the commodity-form, and its connection to social relations, the following way:

The essence of commodity-structure has often been pointed out. Its basis is that a relation between people takes on the character of a thing and thus acquires a ‘phantom objectivity’, an autonomy that seems so strictly rational and all-embracing as to conceal every trace of its fundamental nature: the relation between people.

The logic of this passage suggests the existence of a fundamental distinction between what “is” and what “appears”: the commodity-form causes what “is” – a relation between to people – to “appear” objective, to “seem” rational, to take on the “character” of a thing. Tacitly here, critique is directed toward “appearance” – directed toward dispelling a veil of objectivity that is positioned as a “phantom”. The standpoint of critique is what “is”, what pertains in a reality covered over by the veil of objectivity.

This line of argument would appear to be supported by many passages from Marx’s discussion of commodity fetishism, which often imply that Marx is also attempting to dispel an illusion, to penetrate a contingent appearance to reveal the reality underneath. In a pivotal passage, however, where Marx discusses the “social character of labour” in capitalist society, Marx uses a different sort of vocabulary – one that suggests an intrinsic relationship between what “is”, and how things “appear”:

the relations connecting the labour of one individual with that of the rest appear, not as direct social relations between individuals at work, but as what they really are, objective relations between persons and social relations between objects. (italics mine)

The logic of this passage suggests an intrinsic relationship between what “is” and what “appears”. In this paper, I want to trace the thread that flows from this formulation from Marx. By working closely through key aspects of the first chapter of Capital, I suggest that one of the targets of Marx’s argument about commodity fetishism, are perspectives that try to introduce a divide between essence and appearance. I further argue that the tacit vision of critique suggested by Marx’s approach, does not involve penetrating appearance in order to recover an underlying essence that has been obscured, but rather developing a standpoint from which the entire interrelated structure of essence and appearance can be criticised and overcome. By contrasting this approach, to the one put forward by Lukács, I will explore the limitations of theories that attempt to grasp capitalism in terms of the category of reification, and will suggest some of the ways in which Marx’s argument about commodity fetishism can be reinterpreted to open more productive paths for contemporary critical theory.

Now I need somehow to make this argument in a form expressible in half an hour… ;-P I take it that I’ve committed to presenting an argument that focusses fairly narrowly on what’s implied about the concept of critique and, specifically, critical standpoint, in my reading of Capital – which hopefully means that I haven’t committed to digging too deeply into how Marx conceptualises capitalism itself. In other words, I see this as a metatheory paper trying to clarify notions of critical standpoint, with reference, of course, to the sorts of substantive claims being made about capitalism as an object of analysis – but I’m assuming that, in order to deal with the specific question of how Marx and Lukács conceptualise their critical standpoint, I’ll have to be fairly gestural about… well… almost everything other than this specific metatheoretical question…

I’m somewhat conscious that this paper will end up retreading some of the ground covered in the Hegel conference paper – which of course itself retread ground from the thesis chapters, which retread ground from several months of blog entries that preceded them… I’ll say things in different words, with a different motivating question, and with a different argumentative intent. But there’s a sort of nexus of issues around Marx’s relationship to Hegel, the fetish as an argument about how to understand the genesis of a socially determinate entity, rather than as an argument about the need to penetrate an illusion to gain access to an underlying reality, and an argument about what happens to the concept of a critical standpoint, if we’re trying not to separate “essence” and “appearance” out into two different substances or worlds, but instead to treat both as dimensions of the same social context, and therefore as equally “true”, such that transformation then needs to be thought as the transformation of an entire complex structure, rather than as the selection of some moment of that structure that has come to be taken as more “essential” than whatever it is we’re trying to transform.

I feel a bit weird realising that this nexus has been working its way out of much of what I’ve written in the past year. I feel weirder that this nexus is, essentially, a side effect of my trying to make sense of other things – my direct intention was to write about the theory of capitalism – how capitalism itself is conceptualised as an object. And, on a different level, although I’m pleased to have had a couple of conferences where I had the room to work out this metatheoretical argument in sufficient detail to help me get my own head around what I’m trying to say, I’m beginning to get a bit nervous about how – short of a book-length treatment like the actual thesis – I’ll ever be able to present something that gets beyond the metatheoretical argument, to show what sort of actual work you can do within this approach. The Hegel conference paper really stretched and strained to make a very gestural argument, because so much groundwork needed to be covered first in order to open up the possibility for some other kind of claim – and, even then, I had to be extremely schematic – writing more an outline of what an argument might look like, than the argument itself. Admittedly, the purpose of that event required much more detail on Hegel than would normally be needed, but there is still a solid metatheoretical foundation I feel I need to lay before I can begin doing any proper work… I find that, if I don’t take this route through Hegel and through Marx’s argument about the fetish, people fall back into more conventional understandings of Marx, such that whatever argument I’m trying to make gets lost in the interpretive confusion… For a conference like the one to which I’ve proposed this paper, of course, I’m perfectly happy to talk about metatheory: it’s what I wanted from this event, and why I proposed this paper. I just find myself looking ahead, and wondering whether I have a sort of lifetime of having to preface every article I write with a sort of stock metatheoretical blurb that takes up half or more of the room I have for making an argument… ;-P At any rate… Something to worry about once the thesis is done…

At the moment, I’m curious about reactions people might have to the abstract. Does this strike people as a strange thing to focus on, in Lukács? Does the characterisation of Lukács’ position seem unfair? I realise I’m not exactly providing much grist to work from here… ;-P I’m just trying to get myself back into this thoughtspace, and thought I would toss out the abstract to see what sort of kickback it generates…

Uneventful Conversations

Random comments made to me today in and around the seminar on Badiou’s Being and Event:

Someone: “I liked your comments yesterday. Are you a mathematician?”

Me: “No, no – not at all.”

Someone: “Huh… Well… You sound like a mathematician.”

Someone #2 (in a separate interaction): “So… what do you teach?”

Me: “Research methods mainly.”

Someone #2: “Research methods?”

Me: “You know, ethnography, statistics…”

Someone #2: “Did you say statistics? You?! Statistics?!”

I gather from these interactions that random impressions of my mathematical acumen vary greatly…

Someone #3: “So why are you coming to this?”

Me: “Oh, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and writing on Hegel and Marx for the past couple of months. I had a big presentation last week. I just wanted to take a week off to read something completely different.”

Someone #3 (long pause): “You know… there is fiction…”

Thesis Problem of the Day

I have this section of my thesis that is effectively homeless. Or at least peripatetic. I keep moving it around from place to place. Internally, it’s fine. It does its job. It reads okay. But it’s like a picture hanging on a wall that is always just slightly out of kilter – everywhere I try to situate it in the thesis just… irritates me. It interrupts the flow, kills the argumentative momentum. But I think I can’t shake the sense that I “ought” to have this section somewhere in the thesis, it’s too long to tuck into a footnote, and yet doesn’t feel comprehensive enough to justify moving it to an appendix. Basically, the section is really annoying me. ;-P

What it does, is to make a textual case that Marx intends to construct Capital as a sort of Hegelian “science” – a textual case that this was, in some sense, “the plan”. As currently written, it makes this case in a very non-comprehensive way. It takes one illustrative example from the Grundrisse, and one from “Results of the Direct Production Process” – both of which are fairly direct illustrations in full Hegelian regalia of the sorts of claims I’m making – and then talks a little bit about the much more subtle hints in the first chapter of Capital. This is not exactly what you’d call an exhaustive demonstration of the point. I say this because it would be possible to pull together many, many, many more passages across these and other works that can be used to pile up evidence for this argument. So this section is at best illustrative – a sort of demonstration to the reader that my perception that the text is using this strategy, isn’t solely an inference, but also has some more conventional sort of archival evidence to back it up. It doesn’t, however, really seek to mobilise archival material as a major reason a reader should buy into my interpretation of Marx’s method. So there’s a base-covering element to the section – which I think is part of what annoys me about it.

Another part of what annoys me about it is that I read wonderful discussions of archival evidence periodically by people who simply do a much better and more comprehensive job of assembling this evidence than I do. Every time this happens, I think, “you know, my discussion of this is really half-assed”. Then I think, “But I’m not really writing a piece on archival evidence for a particular dimension of Marx’s method, so I really don’t want to spend a lot of time on this issue”. And so I end up keeping my little illustrative bit. But I continue to shove it around, in the vain hope of finding some place I can deposit it, where it doesn’t feel like it interrupts the flow of my argument, which largely tends to move from section to section by setting up some puzzle or problem presented by the reading thus far, which I’ll then try to resolve in the following section. None of these puzzles or problems intrinsically suggest that it would be interesting to go on a detour into a “proof text” for the sort of reading I’ve presented reconstructively, where the thrust of my argument has been “if we read the text with certain assumptions about method in mind, we can open some more powerful and interesting interpretations”. The reconstructive presentation keeps the focus on how the text can help us confront certain theoretical problems – so that those problems are central in my argument. What seems to happen (from my point of view at least) when I shift from reading Marx in a certain way, to trying to put forward evidence that Marx intends certain things, is that the focus of my argument is thrown into something where commentary on Marx becomes the end, rather than a means to something else I’m trying to understand… At the same time, some of the “proof texts” are far more unequivocal than anything I can do reconstructively. It’s difficult, for example, to get past a passage like this from the “Results of the Direct Production Process”, when trying to establish very clearly that Marx has Hegel’s “science” in mind when constructing his argument:

The commodity, as the elementary form of bourgeois wealth, was our starting point, the presupposition for the emergence of capital. On the other hand, commodities now appear as the product of capital.

The circular course taken by our presentation, on the one hand, corresponds to the historical development of capital, one of the conditions for the emergence of which is the exchange of commodities trade in commodities; but this condition itself is formed on the basis provided by a number of different stages of production which all have in common a situation in which capitalist production either does not as yet exist at all or exists only sporadically. On the other hand, the exchange of commodities in its full development and the form of the commodity as the universally necessary social form of the product first emerge as a result of the capitalist mode of production.

If, in contrast, we consider societies where capitalist production is fully developed, the commodity appears there as both the constant elementary presupposition of capital and, on the other hand, as the direct result of the capitalist production process.


[We proceed from the commodity, this specific social form of the product, as the basis and the presupposition of capitalist production. We take the individual product in our hands and analyse the formal determinations it contains as a commodity, which mark it out as a commodity… commodity circulation, and money circulation within certain limits, hence a certain degree of development of trade, are the presupposition, the starting point of capital formation and the capitalist mode of production. It is as such a presupposition that we treat the commodity, since we proceed from it as the simplest element in capitalist production. On the other hand, the commodity is the product, the result of capitalist production. What appears as its first element is later revealed to be its own product, and the more this production develops, the more do all the ingredients of production enter into the production process as commodities.]

The commodity as it emerges from capitalist production is determined differently from the commodity as it was at the starting point, as the element, the presupposition, of capitalist production. We started with the individual commodity as an independent article in which a specific quantity of labour time was objectified, and which therefore had an exchange value of a given magnitude.

Henceforth the commodity appears in a dual determination:

(1) What is objectified in it, apart from use value, is a specific quantity of socially necessary labour, but whereas in the commodity as such it remains entirely undetermined (and is in fact a matter of indifference) from whom this objectified labour derives, etc., the commodity as the product of capital contains in part paid, and in part unpaid labour…..

(2) The individual commodity not only appears materially as a part of the total product of the capital, as an aliquot part of the amount produced by it. Now we no longer have in front of us the individual, independent commodity, the individual product. It is not individual commodities which appear as the result of the process, but a mass of commodities in which the value of the capital advanced + the surplus value, the appropriated surplus labour, has been reproduced. Each of these individual commodities is a repository of the value of the capital and the surplus value produced by it. The labour applied to the individual commodity can no longer be calculated at all – if only because this would be a calculation of the average, hence a notional estimate….

(3) The commodity now reveals itself as such – as the repository of the total value of the capital + the surplus value, as opposed to the commodity which originally appeared to us as independent – as the product of capital in reality as the converted form of the capital which has now been valorised – in the scale and the dimensions of the sale which must take place in order that the old capital value may be realised, along with the surplus value it has created. To achieve this it is by no means enough for the individual commodities or part of the individual commodities to be sold at their value.

And so on… On one level, these sorts of passages illustrate the claims I’m making about Marx’s appropriation of Hegel’s method in a clear and definitive way. On another level, these passages also introduce other sorts of (extremely interesting) issues, but prematurely, with reference to what I’m trying to discuss in the early chapters, where I’m making preliminary claims about Marx’s relationship to Hegel in order to get the narrative underway. So there’s a problem created by the need to draw a reader’s attention to how these texts support the claims I’m making about Marx’s method, without getting distracted into interpreting these passages themselves… And there’s simply the problem that introducing a section that talks about textual evidence of Marx’s intentions, seems to me to keep interrupting the flow of my argument…

I’ve been toying with the question of whether I can deal with this problem with a slightly more elaborate version of what I did for the conference paper. There, I said that I would leave aside the whole issue of textual evidence for Marx’s intentions, and instead ask what difference it would make for our reading, if we approached the text with certain key assumptions in mind (assumptions I had derived from an interpretation of Hegel’s method). I’m toying with the idea of doing something similar in the thesis, via pointing to the various works whose express purpose is to demonstrate this sort of connection between Hegel and Marx – so to include just a couple of sentences or a paragraph in transition from Hegel to Marx, mentioning that better scholars than I had done wonderful work on this issue, and so I’ll presuppose certain things as given, based on their work, and focus instead on how the text opens up, when we confront it with those premises. My hesitation here is that there are differences – sometimes slight, but sometimes significant – between how I personally read both Hegel and Marx, and the readings that inform other attempts to demonstrate the Hegelian underpinnings of Marx’s work. So, while I think it’s been fairly well-illustrated that Marx intends Capital as a “science” in a certain Hegelian sense, and a few of the authors who think this also share a similar conception of how the derivation of categories works, at least in a general sense, any works I might cite will also be making claims about Marx, Hegel, or both that don’t entirely jibe with my reading – and I don’t want to act as though I’m implying that other scholarship supports what I’m doing, more than it actually does. And, of course, launching off onto a long digression about how, exactly, I differ from a number of specific works that address this issue, carries much the same disadvantages as just outlining my own textual evidence: it distracts from the flow of the argument into a side issue…

I’m sure this all makes scintillating reading… ;-P Just depositing the problem here to see if the process of complaining about it, helps me work out a better strategy for writing my way around it…

Now That’s Gotta Hurt

So Nate’s book meme pointed me back to a work Mike Beggs had recommended to me ages ago – the volume Value: The Representation of Labour in Capitalism, edited by Diane Elson (1979). As often happens in the midst of PhD research, I had gone through the book really quickly, decided I wanted to go through it more carefully as there’s a lot in it that is potentially valuable for me – and then of course left it sitting by my computer for several months, staring at me, a high enough priority to be the “closest book” to me when Nate’s meme hit – but without quite getting around to doing that more careful read…

It’s really a fantastic collection. I’m meant to be writing on Diane Elson’s piece, which is very good, and which a number of people have mentioned in relation to my work, as she also uses a formulation I tend to use – that Marx is not presenting a “labour theory of value”, but something more like a “value theory of labour”. There are overlaps and also differences of emphasis in our respective arguments – and I will try to write a post on those points of contact and disjunction soon. Now that I’m looking at the book again, though, I’m finding myself drawn to some of the other articles in the collection.

This morning I was looking at Jairus Banaji’s “From the Commodity to Capital: Hegel’s Dialectic in Marx’s Capital“, which sketches a very good account of Marx’s appropriation of Hegel, while sparring along the way with other readings of Marx that fail to recognise the Hegelian subtext. Althusser receives particularly pointed criticism for his suggestion that readers just skip over the first part of Capital on an initial read – a recommendation that, I must admit, does somewhat send the shudders through anyone who reads Capital as an appropriation of the Hegelian concept of “science”. Banaji probably sees Marx as a more consistent Hegelian than I do – and he may well be correct in this view – I’ve tended to read more critical intention into Marx’s use of Hegel’s method, and I also read a stronger practice-theoretic argument about the formation of subjectivity into Marx. So my Marx (to formulate this point quite anachronistically) has a fair bit of Durkheim mixed in with his Hegel. Regardless, Banaji’s article is an excellent presentation of the textual evidence for the “Hegelian” structure of Capital – making very similar arguments about the first chapter, and also casting a quick net over the whole three volumes, which I’ve barely had time to wink at in my writings here. This article does a lot of work in a very short space.

It also – and this, I have to confess, is what actually motivated me to write this post – flings some very funny barbs at opposing readings. This volume as a whole is a bit on the snarky side, and I find myself often laughing at the way the snark bursts out the seams of what are often otherwise fairly careful, well-developed, academic presentations – I find the disjoint very entertaining, even where the barbs occasionally land in my general direction… ;-P But the closing sentence of Banaji’s piece saw me burst out laughing on the tram, coming into work. How’s this for a concluding image:

…one of the most striking manifestations of the underlying crisis in the movement as a whole is the contemporary state of Western Marxism – the ecstatic leap from the uppermost floors of an imposing skyscraper of immobilised dogma to the granite pavements of confused eclecticism. (40)


Sound Argument

The talk I gave to the HSS08 conference was recorded, and an mp3 version (WARNING: 35MB) is now online. To be honest, given that I took up almost the entirety of my allotted hour, and that the file is therefore not exactly a quick download, you’re probably better off just reading the text version posted to the blog. But if you’re very patient, or are really curious what I sound like, here’s your chance. ;-P