[OPE-L:2579] Re: the evolution of the meaning of "critique"

From: C. J. Arthur (cjarthur@pavilion.co.uk)
Date: Tue Mar 21 2000 - 12:08:22 EST

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Re [OPE-L:2570] Yes indeed Mattick has put it wrongly here. The paper I
cited earlier is better.
What is crucial is to grasp the *object* of Marx's critique. This is stated
to be 'political economy'; there is a common misunderstanding that this
means textbooks on political economy like Ricardo's since it does not
strike people that one can criticise anything other than a proposition, the
idea of criticising a fact being absurd. But that is precisely marx's
object. he is not criticising Ricardo's theory of value , he is criticising
value itself. 'Political economy refers to the the visible categories of
the bourgois capitalist system, on the basis of which people and
governments orientate themselves.
Among other proofs, notice that Ricardo is rarely citied in the text but
only in the footnotes. And why volume 4 if the first three were a critique
of 'theories'?
It is lucky Marx is not criticising Ricardo or we would really have an
obsolete book on our hands; but insofar as the fundamental categories of
capital are still there his object of critique is still there.
Incidentally Marx to Lasalle Feb 22 1858 is the key reference on Marx's
understanding of critique.
Chris A

>Re the section from Paul Mattick Jr.'s article excerpted by Nicky in
>> "Marx's theory of capitalist society is not meant to be a replacement for
>> political economy. It aims not just to demonstrate the analytic limits of
>> economic theory but also to explain the hold of that theory over the
>> inhabitants of the system.
>As we all know, the political economy that Marx critiqued is long
>gone. Indeed, what few adherents there are to classical (e.g. Ricardian)
>theory are treated by mainstream (neo-neo-classical) theory with almost
>as much disdain as are Marxists. Like us, they (indeed, all "heterodox
>economists") are deemed to be dinosaurs and freaks (and treated
>accordingly). So, what hold does that theory (long since repudiated by
>bourgeois economists) continue to have over the "inhabitants of the
>Even in Marx's time it is questionable whether the propositions of
>political economy had a wide influence over the majority (or even a
>significant minority) of the "inhabitants" of modern society.
>Of course, one could argue that fetischization remains a key component of
>contemporary mainstream economic theory. And that would be a valid
>observation, imo. The extent to which specific marginalist concepts have
>a significant influence over the consciousness and actions of the
>majority of inhabitants of contemporary society (the masses) remains
>Or, am I challenging too many long held assumptions by Marxists?
>In solidarity, Jerry

P. S. Please note that I have a new Email address,
but the old one will also run until the summer. (To be doubly sure load both!)

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