Below I have posted an edited excerpt from the third part of a recent web forum thread dialogue on F.E.D. dialectics in which I participated.
I have once again notated my interlocutor's queries by 'Q#.:', and my responses by 'R#.:'.
Please feel free to join in this dialogue here, by posting a query or comment via the Comment function of this blog.
Q3.a.: You wrote:
Goods/Gifts exchange-relations + Commodity Barter exchange-relations."
A lot of what you focus on seems to about the self-interaction of things, but is that not an idealist conception of Marx' materialism?
R3.a.: I do not see what you mean by seemingly equating "the self-interaction of things" with "an idealist conception of Marx' materialism".
The emphasis on "self-interaction" is, besides being accurate to objective reality, also an antidote to the rampant externalism of many mechanistic and reductionistic mis-readings of Marx's theory. Marxian dialectics is not, primarily, a science of "external contradictions" -- of external "conflicts"; of entities/forces, mis-conceived as existing in mutual, atomistic independence and mutual externality.
Marx and Engels make it plain, in their writings, that their dialectics is primarily a matter of internal "contradictions", of self-contradictions, of immanent contradictions, of the "self-change" [<<auto-kinesis>>], of the 'self-action', of the 'intra-action', that drive the 'self-evolution'-and-'self-meta-evolution' ['ontological self-revolution'] of natural [ev]entities, both those of pre-human Natural History, and those of 'human-Nature-al History', as well as those of contemporary 'extra-human Natural History'.
For example, it is the 'self-duality', the 'intra-duality' of a main sequence star -- the diametric opposition, within every single 'micro-locus' of its interior, of its 'self-gravitational self-implosive self-force', and its 'self-explosive thermonuclear/nucleosynthetic self-force' -- that even allows such a star to persist in existence for more than a few microseconds, that drives the 'self-evolutions' and the 'self-meta-evolutions' of such stars, in part, before, during, and, in part, also after its residence in stellar "main sequence" status, and that also drives the main part of cosmological atomic evolution, eventually populating the intra-galactic inter-stellar media of galaxies with the full periodic-table ontology of the "atoms" cosmo-ontological category, and laying the groundwork for cosmological molecular evolution and beyond.
For example, it is the 'self-duality', the 'intra-duality' of the capitalist system -- of the working class versus the capitalist ruling class, of variable capital versus constant capital/the rest of capital within the production process, within "productive capital", of capital versus capital itself as self-expropriator, as 'fetters-on-the-growth-of-the-productive-forces-destroyer' --
capital as self-expanding value # capital as self-contracting value [e.g., due to obsolescence depreciation and enforced write-off of old vintage fixed capital due to competition from new vintage fixed capital, incarnating the growth of the social forces of production], using '#' as the sign for the relation of dialectical, internal, immanent, self-"contradiction"
-- that drives the self-evolution, and the 'self-meta-evolution' [the 'socio-ontological self-revolution'], of the capitalist system, as a transiently necessary but transitory form, an equally-necessarily self-transcending form, or else human-species-'self-extinctioning' form, of the collective life-process and life-<<praxis>> of an emerging planetary humanity as, consciously and unconsciously, the collective subject/agent of planetary human history.
In any case, Marx's materialism is no crude, reductionist 'matter-ism': even [surplus-]value, the primary category of Marx's critique of capitalist political-economics, refers, not to a purely physical thing, but a human intersubjective construct, projected, by humans, collectively, 'consensually', onto social things, and an objectively lawful object of scientific study because humans collectively tend to act, to behave, all but unanimously, as if their value-construct were an entirely external-to-mind, physical thing, during a certain, historically-specific epoch of their "prehistory" [Marx].
Marx's materialism is a 'psychohistorical materialism', a materialism that -- scientifically and objectively -- takes the "materiality" of the human psyche, of the products of the human mind, of ideologies and of sciences, of "universal labor", of the influence of those mind-products, of those "memes", of that 'idea-matter', of that 'subject-matter/agent-matter', on human-societal action.
R3.b.: First of all, let me now clearly state that we use human, socio-ontological category-names, like 'the Goods-/Gifts-Relation' and 'The Commodity Barter-Relation', in the same way that Marx uses his phrases "The Commodity-Relation", and "The Money-Relation", and "The Capital-Relation" -- namely, to name human "social relations of production", that are the social masks of real human subjects, real human agents, real human persons, who are constrained to, precisely, "personify" [Marx's term] these "social relations of production", when those persons exist in the context of certain, historically-specific human social formations.
Of course, more is always involved in such transitions than is explicitly asserted by such category-names.
However, the Genomic cognitive limitations of human beings are such that we cannot hold in mind all that is involved in even everyday processes, in detail, with even all of the limited specifics that our limited Genomic sensoria can record, represented mentally all in explicit form.
Especially with regard to human social processes, as Marx wrote, in the very Preface to the very First German edition of Capital, abstraction is an essential instrumentality: "In the analysis of economic forms, moreover, neither microscopes nor chemical reagents are of use. The force of abstraction must replace both."
But these -- inherently omissive -- abstractions must therefore be selected/developed because they are rational abstractions, apt abstractions, if they are to qualify as valid, scientific abstractions, or as scientific "idealizations". They must be abstractions that capture the core of the phenomenology explicitly, and that capture even more than that core connotatively, implicitly, as a subliminal reminder as to what they leave out of explicitude.
Marx held that his key explanatory categories -- of "the social forces of production" and the "social relations of production" -- qualified as such scientific abstractions.