[OPE-L:3037] Re: Re: empirical verification of interpretations of Marx?

From: Fred B. Moseley (fmoseley@mtholyoke.edu)
Date: Sun May 07 2000 - 21:33:35 EDT

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On Sun, 7 May 2000, nicola taylor wrote:
> The text (Grundrisse, Penguin, 1973 pp.103-108):


> "Although it is true, therefore, that the categories of bourgeois economics
> possess a truth for all other forms of society, this is to be taken with a
> grain of salt. They can contain them in a developed, or stunted, or
> caricatured form etc., but always with an essential difference. The
> so-called historical presentation of development is founded, as a rule, on
> the fact that the latest form regards the previous ones as steps leading up
> to itself....In the succession of the economic categories, as in any other
> historical, social science, it must not be forgotten that their subject -
> here, modern bourgeois society - is always what is given, in the head as
> well as in reality, and that these categories therefore express the forms
> of being, the characteristics of existence, and often only individual sides
> of this specific society, this subject... (p.106)
> "It would therefore be unfeasible and wrong to let the economic categories
> follow one another in the same sequence as that in which they were
> historically decisive. Their sequence is determined, rather, by their
> relation to one another in modern bourgeois society, which is precisely the
> opposite of that which seems to be their natural order or which corresponds
> to historical development. The point is not the historic position of the
> economic relations in the succession of different forms of society. Even
> less is it their sequence in 'the idea' (Proudhon) (a muddy notion of
> historic movement). Rather, their order within modern bourgeois society"
> (pp.107-8).
> Interpretation: This particular text provides irrefutable evidence that
> Marx's subject was capitalism - a *particular* system of production for
> exchange. The text provides evidence that Marx believed that his concepts
> (and the concepts of political economy) have practical relevance ONLY for
> the explanation of capitalist phenomena. Moreover, if these concepts are
> used in the explanation of other forms of economic organisation they are
> empty abstractions (i.e. a mental imposition of categories on the subject
> matter).
> Is another interpretation possible?
> comradely,
> Nicky

Nicky, thank you very much for this very interesting and important passage
from the Grundrisse (from the introductory section on "Method of Political
Economy"). I of course agree with your interpretation entirely.

And I would like to ask Ajit and David how they would answer your
question. There may be other passages in which Marx appears to be saying
something different (I don't think so). But, is another interpretation of
THIS PASSAGE possible?


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