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Once again on Patrick's [OPE-L:3069]:
Let us consider Patrick's more detailed one-sentence summary of
> Capitalism is an irrational, alienating, exploitive, and
> oppressive economic system, but it is also a system that
> can produce tremendous economic growth and technological change.
(1) Yes, capitalism is irrational. However, Marx went to great
pains to explain the logic (or rationality) of the irrational.
(2) Yes, alienation is an essential feature of capitalism.
However, if you do not identify the relationship of
alienation to *class erxploitation*, then one is using
the term in the contemporary sense rather than the specific
sense in which Marx used that term.
(3) Yes, exploitation is central to the character of capitalism.
But, your summary does not relate the subject of exploitation
to the relationship of the capitalist class to [productive]
wage-workers. Thus, it does not convey the concept that Marx
wanted to convey when presenting the specific nature of
exploitation under capitalism.
(4) Oppressive? I agree that capitalism IS oppressive, but where
and how is this subject developed in _Capital_? For example,
one could claim that the state is oppressive. Yet, is that a
subject developed in _Capital_? No. Marx, no doubt, wanted
to develop this aspect of the state in Book 4 which, as we
all know, was never written. One could argue that there is
oppression within the family under capitalism. Yet, this
subject was not developed in _Capital_ either. Of course,
there is national oppression and the oppression of
national minorities (including racial oppression). Yet,
this subject is not developed at any length in _Capital_
either. Indeed, there is precious little about oppression
in _Capital_. One *could* argue that some of these forms
of oppression are not systematically required for the
reproduction of capitalist social relations, but are
instead subjects that lie outside of "basic theory".
Or, one could argue that they are subjects that need to be
developed at a more concrete level of abstraction than
that of _Capital_. BUT, I find it a stretch to claim that
this was such a major aspect of Marx's _Capital_ that it needs
to be included in a one-sentence summary. Perhaps we could
discuss the issue of the relationship of different forms
of oppression to capitalism at greater length?
(5) Your summary suggests that Marx viewed capitalism, a *mode
of production*, as being identical to capitalism, an
"economic system". Do you think that he believed that these
two expressions (mode of production; economic system) can
be used inter-changeably?
(6) Yes, it was a system that can provide tremendous economic
growth and technological change, but he also viewed it as
a *crises-prone* system. Moreover, the same process that
facilitates growth also brings about crises and instability.
I could go on and on .... But, the bottom line is that your
summnary does too much of an injestic to Marx's theory. This is
not because you set out with this intention, but rather the
attempt to simplify Marx's theory with such brevity
must, of necessity, be over-simplistic.
Yes, there is a lot to be said for popularizing Marx's (and
Marxist) theory (and theories). Yet, what starts out as
popularization can become vulgarization. Moreover, we have to
take Marx's "Preface to the French Edition" of Volume 1
seriously and tell those who want to understand Marx's _Capital_
that there is no royal road to science ....
In solidarity, Jerry
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