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I keep writing short pieces that turn into long pieces. I am working on a continuation of the communization posts, but also hope to share some of my thinking on the historical novel, developed over the course of the semester.

Here are the first paragraphs of an essay I am writing about value and planning:

The tasks of abolition are long and elaborately ordered, they will shame Hercules; rather than list each thing to be abolished, revolutionary communism must economize. Marx’s theory of value, if it means anything for communists, has no other aim: it is a critical heuristic designed to focus those who would overthrow capitalism on the essential, a revolutionary heuristic. Value names for Marx the differentia specifica of the capitalist mode of production, the one element that presupposes all the others, the ring that binds together the other rings of money and wages, profit and price, property and the police, the state and the banking system, world markets and international conflict.

Like Gilles Dauvé and his circle, Marx had particular interlocutors in mind when he was developing his theory of value and his critique of political economy. Early socialists and anarchists such as Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and his disciple Alfred Darimon, on the one hand, and the “Ricardian Socialists” like John Francis Bray, John Gray, and Thomas Hodgskin, on the other, frequently proposed to right the wrongs of capitalism through reform of the money system and banking. Marx recognized the incoherence and impracticability of these reforms—which mostly consisted of proposals to replace national money with “labor money”— though it took him over a decade and a half to say so convincingly.