Kojin Karatani's Transcritique introduces a startlingly new dimension to Immanuel Kant's transcendental critique by using Kant to read Karl Marx and Marx to. Taylor and Francis Japanese Studies, Vol. 27, No. 1, Exteriority and Transcritique: Karatani Ko¯jin and the Downloaded By: [Göteborg University . HIMA 14,2_f12_I 4/11/06 PM Page HIMA 14,2_f12_I 4/ 11/06 PM Page Transcritique: On Kant and Marx KOJIN KARATANI.
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formi dable Transcritique. On Kant and Marx, Kojin Karatani refers to as the ' parallax' dimension.1 Best known as the most striking Japanese literary critic of his. Request PDF on ResearchGate | On Jun 1, , Jeff Noonan and others published Transcritique: On Kant and Marx, Kojin Karatani. Kojin Karatani - Transcritique on Kant and Marx - Ebook download as PDF File . pdf), Text File .txt) or read book online.
But, in reality, commodities can have values only after their relationship is synthesized by money, and each one of them is given its value.
In reality only prices exist as the indicators of the mutual relations between commodities. Thus Bailey stressed that the value of a commodity exists only thanks to its relationship with other com- modities. But Bailey did not question what expresses price: money.
In other words, he did not question what relates commodities to each other and composes the system: that is, money as the general equivalent.
Money in this sense is totally irrelevant to money as sub- stance like gold or silver; rather, it is like a Kantian transcendental apperception X, as it were. The stance to see it in relation to its ma- teriality is what Marx called fetishism. After all, money as substance is an illusion, but more correctly, it is a transcendental illusion in the sense that it is hardly possible to discard it.
For mercantilists and bullioniststhe predecessors of classical economicsmoney was an object to be revered. This was evidently the fetishism of money. Scorning this, classical economists posited the substance of value in labor in and of itself. But this so-called labor theory of value did not resolve the enigma of money; rather, it reinforced and sustained it.
Both Ricardothe advocate of the labor theory of valueand Baileyits radical critic and the unac- knowledged primogenitor of neoclassical economics managed to erase money only supercially. As Marx said, in times of crisis, people still want money suddenly, going back to bullionism.
The Marx of Capital stands on the side of the mercantilist, rather than Ricardo or Bailey. By criticizing both Ricardo and Bailey on such a premise, his critique elucidated a form that constitutes the commodity economy.
According to Marx, if gold becomes money, that is not because of its immanent material characteristics, but because it is placed in the value form. The value formconsisting of relative value form and equivalent formmakes an object that is placed in it money. Anythinganythingthat is exclusively placed in the general equiva- lent form becomes money; that is, it achieves the right to attain any- thing in exchange i.
People consider a certain thing i. Crucially, Marx begins his re- ections on capital with the miser, the one who hoards the right to exchangein the strict sense, the right to stand in the position of equivalent format the expense of use. The desire for money or the right to exchange is different from the desire for commodities them- selves. I would call this drive [Trieb] in the Freudian sense, to distin- guish it from desire.
To put it another way, the drive of a miser is not to own an object, but to stand in the position of equivalent form, even at the expense of the object. The drive is metaphysical in nature; the misers goal is to accumulate riches in heaven, as it were. One tends to scorn the drive of the miser.
But capitals drive to ac- cumulate is essentially the same. Capitalists are nothing but rational misers to use Marxs term. Buying a commodity from someone somewhere and selling it to anyone anywhere, capitalists seek to re- produce and expand their position to exchange, and the purpose is not to attain many uses.
That is to say that the motive drive of capitalism is not in peoples desire.
Rather, it is the reverse; for the purpose of attaining the right to exchange, capital has to create peo- ples desire. This drive of hoarding the right to exchange originates in the precariousness inherent in exchange among others.
And to this end, one must take into consideration the dimension of exchange, and why the ex- change inexorably takes the form of value. The social exchange, however, is consistently opaque and thus ap- pears as an autonomous force which we can hardly abolish. Engelss conviction that we should control the anarchic drive of capitalist production and transform it into a planned economy was little more than an extension of classical economists thought. And Engelss stance was, of course, the source of centralist communism.
Say a certain thing becomes valuable only when it has use value to other people; a certain thingno matter how much labor time is required to make ithas no value if not sold. Marx technically abol- ished the conventional division between exchange value and use value.
No commodity contains exchange value as such. If it fails to relate to others, it will be a victim of sickness unto death in the sense of Kierkegaard. Classical economists believe that a commodity is a synthesis between use value and exchange value.
But this is only an ex post facto recognition. Lurking behind this synthesis as event is a fatal leap [salto mortale]. Kierkegaard saw the human being as a synthesis between nity and innity, reminding us that what is at stake in this synthesis is inevitably faith.
In commodity exchange, the equivalent religious moment appears as credit. Credit, the treaty of presuming that a commodity can be sold in advance, is an institu- tionalization of postponing the critical moment of selling a com- modity. And the commodity economy, constructed as it is upon credit, inevitably nurtures crisis.
Classical economics saw all economic phenomena from the van- tage point of production, and insisted that it had managed to demys- tify everything other than production by reasoning that it was all secondary and illusory. As a result, it is mastered by the circulation and credit that it believes itself to have demystied, and thus it can never elucidate why crisis occurs. Crisis is the appearance of the crit- ical moment inherent in the commodity economy, and as such it functions as the most radical critique of the political economy.
In this light, it may be said that pronounced parallax brought by crisis led Marx to Capital. Notwithstanding the Hegelian de- scriptive style, however, Capital distinguishes itself from Hegels philos- ophy in its motivation. The end of Capital is never the absolute Spirit.
Capital reveals the fact that capital, though organizing the world, can never go beyond its own limit. And all the enigmas of capitals drive are inscribed in the theory of value form. The theory of value form is not a historical reection that follows exchange from barter to the formation of money. Value form is a kind of form that people are not aware of when they are placed within the monetary economy; this is the form that is discov- ered only transcendentally. In the reverse of his descriptive order from form of value, money form to miser to merchant capital to industrial capitalone has to read Marxs retrospective query from the latter to the former.
Classical economists rebuked the businesses of bullionists, mercantilists, and merchant capitalists of the previous age and denounced their economic role. They argued that while they earn prot from the difference of unequal exchange, industrial capital makes money from fair, equal exchange: it derives prot from the division of labor and cooperative work. In contrast, Marx thought of capital by returning to the model of merchant capital. He saw capital in the general formula: Money-Commodity-Money.
This is to see capital essentially as merchant capital. Capital under this light is a self-increasing, self-reproductive money. This is the movement M-C-M itself. The case of industrial capitalwhich is usually considered to be totally differentdiffers only in that the role of C is a complex that consists of raw material, means of pro- duction, and labor-power commodity.
And this last, labor-power commodity, is truly inherent in industrial capital. For industrial capi- tal earns surplus value not only by making workers work, but also by making them buy backin totalitywhat they produce.
Classical economists claim that merchant capital or mercantil- ism conducts unequal exchange misses the point. Merchant capital attains surplus value from spatial difference. Meanwhile, industrial capital attains surplus value by incessantly producing new value systems temporallythat is, with technological innovation. This categorical division does not prevent industrial capital from attaining surplus value from the ac- tivity of merchant capital.
Whatever the kind, capital is not choosy in how it attains surplus value; it always attains surplus value from the difference of value systems by equal exchange within each deal. But, one of the points I want to pose is that how surplus value is earnedin contrast to how prot is earnedis strictly invisible, and the whole mechanism remains in a black box, as it were. Thus invisibility is also a condition for the struggle within the process of circulation.
It is troubling that many Marxists posit surplus value only in the exploitation of the production process rather than in the differ- ences between value systems.
These Marxists see the relationship be- tween capitalists and wage workers as a disguised extension of that between feudal lord and serfs and they believe that this was Marxs idea. But it originated in the Ricardian Socialists, who drew from Ricardos theory of prot the idea that prot making is equal to the exploitation of surplus labor. This became the central theory of the English labor movement in the early nineteenth century. Though it is true that Marx himself said a similar thing time and again and it may entertain a vulgar ear, it should be distinguished from that as- pect of Marx that actually elucidated the enigma of surplus value.
The best it can do is to explain absolute surplus value achieved by the elongation of the labor day , but not relative surplus value achieved by the improvement of labor productivity the particu- lar characteristic of industrial capitalism.
The Marx of Capital, in contrast, stresses the priority of the circula- tion process. Hence, Hic Rhodus, hic salta! Nevertheless, this antinomy can be undone, that is, only by proposing that the surplus value for industrial capital comes from the difference of value systems in the circulation process like in merchant capital , and yet that the differ- ence is created by technological innovation in the production process.
Capital has to discover and create the difference incessantly. This is the driving force for the endless technological innovation in indus- trial capitalism; it is not that the productionism comes from peoples hope for the progress of civilization as such.
It is widely believed that the development of the capitalist economy is caused by our material desires and faith in progress; so it is that it would always seem possi- ble to change our mentality and begin to control the reckless devel- opment rationally; and further, it would seem possible to abolish capitalism itself, when we wish.
The drive of capitalism, however, is deeply inscribed in our society and culture; or more to the point, our society and culture are created by it; it will never stop by itself. Neither will it be stopped by any rational control or by state intervention. Marxs Capital does not reveal the necessity of revolution. As the Japanese Marxian political economist, Kozo Uno pointed out, it only presents the necessity of crisis.
The capitalist economy cannot eradicate the plague, yet neither will it perish because of it. Environmentalists warn that the capitalist economy will cause unprecedented disasters in the future, yet it is not that these disasters will terminate the capitalist economy.
Also, it is impossible that capitalism will collapse by the reverse dynamic, when, in the future, commodication is pushed to its limitit is impossible that it would die a natural death. Finally, the only solution most of us can imagine today is state reg- ulation of capitals reckless movement. This autonomy should nevertheless be understood in dis- tinction from the sense of historical materialisms doctrine that state and nation assume superstructure in relationship with economic base; they are relatively autonomous to, though determined by, it.
First of all, as I have suggested, the very notion that the capitalist economy is base or infrastructure is itself questionable. As I have tried to elucidate in the book, the world organized by money and credit is rather one of illusion, with a peculiarly religious nature. Saying this from the opposite view, even though state and nation are composed by communal illusion, precisely like capitalism, they in- evitably exist thanks to their necessary grounds. Simply put, they are founded on exchanges that are different from the commodity ex- change.
So it is that no matter how many times one stresses their na- ture of being imagined communities, 5 it is impossible to dissolve them. As young Marx pointed out vis--vis another bind: To abolish religion as the illusory happiness of the people is to demand the real happiness. The demand to give up illusions about the existing state of affairs is the demand to give up a state of affairs which needs illusions. The criticism of religion is therefore in embryo the criticism of the vale of tears, the halo of which is religion.
After reecting upon value form, the Marx of Capital seems to explicate the historical genesis of commodity exchange in the chapter Process of Exchange.
There he stresses that it began in between communities: The exchange of commodities begins where communities have their boundaries, at their points of contact with other communities, or with members of the latter. However, as soon as products have become commodities in the external relations of a community, they also, by reaction, become commodities in the internal life of the community.
Furthermore, Marxs statement, which I quoted earlier, is in fact based upon the premise that there are other forms of exchange. Commodity exchange is a peculiar form of exchange among other exchanges. First, there is exchange within a communitya reciproc- ity of gift and return. Second, the original exchange between communities is plunder. And rather it is this plunder that is the basis for other exchanges: For instance, commodity exchange begins only at the point where mutual plunder is given up.
In this sense, plun- der is deemed a type of exchange.
For instance, in order to plunder continuously, it is necessary to protect the plundered from other plunderers, and even nurture economico-industrial growth. This is the prototype of the state. In order to keep on robbing, and robbing more and more, the state guarantees the protection of land and the reproduction of labor power by redistribution.
It also promotes agri- cultural production by public undertakings such as regulating water distribution through public water works. It follows that the state does not appear to be abetting a system of robbery: Farmers think of paying tax as a return duty for the protection of the lord; mer- chants pay tax as a return for the protection of their exchange and commerce.
Finally, the state is represented as a supra-class entity of reason. Plunder and redistribution are thus forms of exchange. Inasmuch as human social relations entail the potential of violence, these forms are inevitably present. And the third form is what Marx calls the commodity exchange between communities. Furthermore, and this is the nal question of this book, a fourth kind of exchange exists: associa- tion. This is a form of mutual aid, yet neither exclusive nor coercive like community.
Associationism can be considered as an ethico- economic form of human relation that can appear only after a soci- ety once passes through the capitalist market economy. It is thought that Proudhon was the rst to have theorized it; according to my reading, however, Kants ethics already contained it. In his famous book, Imagined Communities, Benedict Anderson said that the nation-state is a marriage between nation and state that were originally different in kind.
This was certainly an important suggestion. In the feudal ages, state, capital, and nation were clearly separated. They existed distinctively as feu- dal states lords, kings, and emperors , cities, and agrarian commu- nities, all based upon different principles of exchange. Roughly, then, Mode A involves gift exchange and reciprocity. It is appropriate to nomadic and clan societies. Mode B entails conquest, plunder and redistribution.
It emerges alongside formal law, empire and the state. Mode C consists of commodity exchange and capital. In other words, for Karatani, capitalism does not appear in Europe because Europe is the most civilized or advanced place on earth.
On the contrary, capitalism and commodity exchange, or Mode C, could take shape in Europe precisely because Europe was an irrelevant backwater, so far removed from the empires in which Mode B, or plunder and redistribution, reigned supreme. While Mode D has never been the structure in dominance, at least not on a world historical scale, it has always been present, Karatani maintains, particularly within radical religious movements.
After a few of decades of a historicism that emphasized the local, the discrete, the situated and the specific, the fact that Karatani is willing to make sweeping claims about human history, and even explicitly teleological ones, is more than a little refreshing.
At the same time, perhaps the most interesting elements of The Structure of World History are to be found in the details. Rather, the basis of parallax is the stubborn positivity of both of its terms.
Rather, it is radically other — oblique or orthogonal — to the movement of negativity. The trick is to read Lacan in a more Kantian way, instead of a Hegelian one. Basically, the Analytic of the Beautiful poses the question of singularity and universality. A judgment that something is beautiful is, according to Kant, completely ungrounded.
Yet despite being ungrounded, an aesthetic judgment makes an implicit demand for universal assent. This is what separates aesthetic judgments from mere personal preferences. But when I say that Proust is the greatest writer of all time, I am doing a lot more than just expressing a personal preference.