[OPE-L:2538] Re: class demarcation

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU)
Date: Fri Mar 17 2000 - 13:04:33 EST

[ show plain text ]

>>John H wrote in [OPE-L:2531]:
>>does understanding the meaning of class mean that we have to define it?

>Gerald Levy replied [OPE-L:2534]:
>Defining terms is a basic component of understanding any subject.

    For Marx also. Thus, my paper "Accumulation of Capital, its
Definition: A Century after Lenin and Luxemburg" which is now revised
(from first noting it on this list in October) has added a paragraph in
the introduction:

"Before we begin, it is perhaps important to recall, at least to some who
may doubt it, that Marx was concerned with definitions, that definitions
of concepts mattered. We refer above to Marx's remarks on Smith's
definition of productive labor. But he was also concerned about his own
definition [his word] of productive labor (see Marx, 1867, pp.476-77).
Another example can be cited, staying within *Capital*, Volume 1. On the
subject of constant and variable capital, Marx refers to that part of
capital "which is represented by the means of production...[and] does not,
in the process of production, undergo any quantitative alteration of
value." He calls it "the constant part of capital, or, more shortly,
constant capital". On the other hand, "that part of capital, represented
by labour-power, does, in the process of production, undergo an alteration
of value [since] it both reproduces the equivalent of its own value, and
also produces an excess, a surplus value.... I therefore call it the
variable part of capital, or, shortly, variable capital." In the next
paragraph, he then elaborates on the "definition of constant capital given
above" (Marx, 1867, p.202)".

    John may reply that class is in a different category from constant
capital, variable capital, accumulation of capital, etc. and that would
lead to further discussion I would guess. In any case, Marx's struggling
with definitions was part of his whole project and I don't think could be
dismissed (I'm not saying John has that position) without dismissing his
project of a lifetime.
Paul Z.

P.S. My paper is now considerably longer and can be viewed at
Footnotes are missing, but I've incorporated some of them, relative to the
October draft, into the text.

An appendix includes the first translation from Russian into English
(courtesy of Jim Lawler) of Lenin's marginal notes on Luxemburg's
*Accumulation of Capital*. As always, comments, private or list, are


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Apr 21 2000 - 09:47:57 EDT