[OPE-L:2770] Re: (5 end) Partial Reply to Fred's on Althusser, concluding with CLASS STRUGGLE

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@acsu.buffalo.edu)
Date: Fri Apr 07 2000 - 14:05:37 EDT

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>Part 1 is not just the Contribution inserted into the beginning of Vol.
>1. Marx rewrote Chapter 1 extensively and several times (more times it
>appears than any other chapter). So, if his alleged "epistemological
>break" made any difference with respect to the logic of the
>starting-point of his theory, then surely Marx would have made those
>revisions. But it is remarkable how similar the overall logical
>structure of Chapter 1 in its final oft-written version is to the first
>version in the Contribution. This suggests to me that whatever
>"epistemological break" there may have been between 1859 and 1872, this
>did not affect the logic of the starting-point of Marx's economic theory
>in Capital. If Marx's starting point in 1859 was Hegelian (and I think
>it was) then it remained Hegelian in 1872, and not just as a "Hegelian
>residue", but as Marx's best attempt and mature thought.

I do not see a reason to oppose the ordering of the chapters, Althusserian
or Hegelian, i.e., I do not see a reason to oppose "the starting point",
but I could be persuaded otherwise. Regarding the substance of Chapter 1
specifically, I'm not knowledgeable enough on Marx's reworking of it, but
the very fact of it does suggest that Marx himself was struggling with a

>By Question 2 I mean:
> What are the initial presuppositions of Marx's theory:
> quantities of money-capital or physical quantities of inputs and

>According to my "macro-monetary" interpretation of Marx's theory, the
>initial presuppositions are quantities of money-capital - the M in M-C-M'
>(along with the quantity of abstract labor and the value of money).
>According to the predominant Sraffian interpretation of Marx's theory, on
>the other hand, the initial presuppositions are instead the quantities of
>the physical inputs to production and the real wage, which I have argued
>is a fundamental misinterpretation of the logic of Marx's theory.

I haven't thought about this.

>> Question 4 should be related.

>Related to what?

Typo: I had started an answer and then felt uncomfortable and forgot to
come back to it. I don't have a good answer right now.

>> Don't know about 3, 5, and 6.

>Question 3 is very important. This is a key difference between Marx and
>Ricardo. It is the issue that Marx mentioned in his comment on Sieber in
>the Notes on Wagner, where he said that Wagner could have understood the
>DIFFERENCE between Marx and Ricardo on the theory of money if he had read
>Sieber. If one ignores Chapter 1 and this key derivation of money, then
>this important difference between Marx and Ricardo is missing. Marx
>becomes more like Ricardo. I also think that Marx's derivation of money
>was "Hegelian" (at least to some extent) as Patrick Murray has argued.

I'll be learning from you, Fred, on this. But I was not saying to just
"ignore" Chapter 1.

>Questions 5 and 6 are of course the long-standing main controversies over
>Marx's theory. If Marx's "epistemological break" had no effect on these
>two issues, then this "epistemological break" has very little relevance
>to Marx's economic theory.

A reduction of Marx's economic theory to "determination of prices of
production in Part 2 of Vol. 3", and "the derivation of the falling rate
of profit in Part 3 of Vol. 3?" (Questions 5 and 6) is not acceptable to
me. (In fact, it blows away any interest in accumulation of capital
except to the extent it could be pulled under the rubric of a falling
tendency of profits. It blows away any interest in production of relative
surplus value as determined by capitalist social relations of production
-- not excluding the green revolution, except to the extent... It blows
away any interest in the struggle between merchant capital and industrial
capital, in the role of banking capital, in absolute and relative ground
rent). In sum, I reject reduction of Marx's economic theory to those two
issues. Maybe you don't mean a such a reduction, but I don't think I'll
try an answer from this starting point.

>> >Paul, I wasn't expecting a full answer to these big questions, but I was
>> >hoping that you could give us at least some idea (an example or two) of
>> >what you have in mind, because I do not know what you mean by "Marx
>> >distanced himself from Hegel". In particular, what difference did this
>> >"distancing" make in the logic of Marx's economic theory, especially with
>> >respect to my questions above?
>> This is the toughest question and very deep. Rather than quote
>> Althusser I'd note that his supposed structuralism (he doesn't accept that
>> chacterization), his emphasis on theory as itself a practice, his
>> criticism of "historicism" and "humanism", his work on ideology, all
>> relate to a very vigorous opposition to the bourgeois class ruling our
>> society, to an scientific effort never to underestimate its strength, and
>> to understand that history does not "evolve" for us, but rather we must
>> engage in CLASS STRUGGLE.

>I am sorry, but I do not see the relevance of this paragraph to the
>question asked in the preceeding paragraph.

Then let's put it on hold.

>I will try to read Althusser's Reading Capital over the weekend. I am
>looking forward to it very much. I am very curious to see how much
>Althusser discusses the key questions listed above on Marx's economic

>Paul, thanks again for this very productive and illuminating discussion.
>I look forward very much to its continuation.

And thank you, Fred.

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