[OPE-L:3288] Dunayevskaya on Luxemburg

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU)
Date: Mon May 22 2000 - 15:04:23 EDT

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In OPE-3264, Andrew offered commentary on Dunayevskaya and I provided a
brief reply in 3265 saying that I was also working up material on
Dunayevskaya, material suggesting the deeper source of the tension by
Dunayevskaya toward Luxemburg. By way of background please note that
material on Althusser v. Dunayevskaya appears BEFORE the text below but is
not included here (for reasons of space).

Comments from anyone welcome, on or off list. Thanks, Paul Z.

******************** http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/PZarembka


[Footnoting omitted as are all italics; citations are to R. Dunayevskay's,
1982: *Rosa Luxemburg, Women's Liberation, and Marx's Philosophy of
Revolution*, Second Edition, Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois
Press, 1991 and ro others listed in "Accumulation of Capital, its
Definition: A Century after Lenin and Luxemburg":

Dunayevskaya first offers her interpretation of Marx:

     "Rosa Luxemburg's Accumulation of Capital is a critique of Marx's
theory of expanded reproduction in volume 2 of Capital.... Since the
publication of volume 2 of Capital in 1885, the pivot of the dispute on
expanded reproduction has been Marx's diagrammatic presentation of how
surplus value is realized in an ideal capitalist society.... Marx does not
let us forget that his premise is that of a closed society, which is
capitalistic. [W]hile Marx excludes foreign trade, he nevertheless places
his society in the environment of the world market.... Marx wanted to
answer [in addition to exposing an error of Adam Smith] the
underconsumptionist argument that continued capital accumulation was
impossible because of the impossibility of 'realizing' surplus value,
i.e., of selling.... In disproving the underconsumption theory, Marx
demonstrates that there is no direct connection between production and
consumption.... 'it is so connected only in the final analysis, because in
capitalist society consumption followsproduction'." (pp.33-34,
paragraphing not indicated).

Regarding Dunayevskaya's comment on the world-market environment, it will
be dealt with below. As to Marx wanting to disprove the underconsumption
argument, the only underconsumptionist before Marx was Sismondi and he is
not cited by Marx in any of the part of Volume II discussing the
reproduction schemes. Furthermore, there is no other direct confirmation
that Marx is here struggling to oppose underconsumptionism, rather than
simply wanting to describe and analyze the circulation of total social
capital under conditions of simple and extended reproduction. Note also
that, at the end of the passages cited above, Dunayevskaya is quoting her
translation of a passage not from Marx, but from Lenin's Development of
Capitlalism in Russia. Lenin's own interpretation went through a process
of change, somewhat contradictory and is discussed in Zarembka (2000,
Section II).

Dunayevskaya goes on:

     "To illustrate the process of accumulation, or expanded reproduction,
Marx divides social production into main departments -- Department I,
production of means of production, and Department II, production of means
of consumption. The division is symptomatic of the class division of
society. Marx categorically refused to divide social production into more
than two departments....[as] there are only two classes and hence only two
decisive divisions of social production.... The relationship between the
two branches is not merely a technical one. It is rooted in the class
relationship between the worker and the capitalist." (p.34)

The 'categorical' refusal she alleges is not obvious. First, Dunayevskaya
doesn't cite a source for her remark. Second, when Marx was earlier
working on the schemes of reproduction, at one point he divided society
into hundreds of branches until he found out that he wasn't accomplishing
anything important (see Oakley, 1985, pp.214-226 and the indicated
citations to Marx, 1905a). Third, Dunayevskaya seems to forget or ignore
that whether there are two, three, or hundreds of branches producing
distinct use-values, all require constant capital and variable capital;
that the number of branches need not be associated with the separation of
constant capital from variable capital within each branch. In other
words, associating a two-department division to the class relation of
capital to wage-labor is a stretch.

Continuing, in an attempt to rid the issue of markets,

     "[F]undamental to Marx's whole conception [and cutting] through the
whole tangle of markets[,] Marx's point is that the bodily form of value
predetermines the destination of commodities. Iron is not consumed by
people but by steel; sugar is not consumed by machines but by people....
In the capitalist economic order, means of production forms the greater of
the two departments of social production. And hence also of the

     "It is impossible to have the slighest comprehension of the economic
laws of capitalist production without being oppressively aware of the role
of the material form of constant capital.... In order to produce ever
greater quantities of products, more means of production are necessary.
That, and not the 'market', is the differentia specifica of expanded

     ".... capitalist production creates its own market -- pig iron is
need for steel, steel for machine construction, etc. -- and that
therefore, so far as the capital market is concerned, the capitalists are
their own best 'customers' and 'buyers'. Therefore, concludes Marx, the
whole complex question of the conditions of expanded reproduction can be
reduced to the following: can the surplus product in which the surplus
value is incorporated go directly (without first being sold) into further
production? Marx's answer is: 'It is not needed that the latter (means of
production) be sold; they can in nature again enter into new production'."
(pp. 35-36, quoting Marx at end).

Dunayevskaya has the annoying habit of quoting her own translations into
English from Russian translations, even when the original language is
German, without providing comparable standard translations nor even
pagination other than the Russian. Sometimes this author could not locate
the passage cited, to know exactly where she is working from. In this
case, however, the quotation at the end to Marx must be1 a passage in
Theories of Surplus Value, Part II. The text, in a standard translation,
reads that "machine-building machines... need not be sold but can re-enter
the new production in kind, as constant capital" (Marx, 1905b, pp.487-88).
There are no italics for 'in nature' (or 'in kind'). More importantly,
Dunayevskaya relabels "machine-building machines" as the entire category
of "means of production". The sleight of hand is even more apparent
simply reading the titling of this subsection, "The Direct Transformation
of a Part of Surplus-Value into Constant Capital -- a Characteristic
Peculiar to Accumulation in Agriculture and the Machine-building
Industry". The titling clearly shows that we are dealing with a special
case, a subset of all means of production. Dunayevskaya wants us to think
that the market is not an issue, not from a general statement of Marx's,
but from a special case (to which she does not alert her reader)!

Having noted that Dunayevskaya has in no way proven that Marx was
unconcerned with the market when addressing accumulation, let's follow her
onward since what Marx wrote may not be decisive, particularly given that
Luxemburg argues that Marx made errors with regard to analyzing
accumulation, a sufficiency of markets for the accumulation of capital,
other than through penetration of non-capitalist sectors, is a critical
issue. Dunayevskaya's summation of extended reproduction says,

    "It is not 'people' who realize the greater part of surplus value; it
is realized through the constant expansion of constant capital.... The
whole problem of the disputed volume 2 is to make it apparent that
realization is not a question of the market, but of production" (p.36,
paragraphing not indicated).

In other words, it is not "capitalists" -- people -- who buy (realize)
means of production (along with labor power), it is realized in capitalism
in production itself, ever expansion of constant capital; it is realized
-- can we say? would Dunayevskaya say (consistent with her revolution for
humanity and for freedom) -- 'inhumanly'.

Now for Dunayevskaya's explicit critique of Luxemburg. First,
Dunayevskaya claims that Marx did not delimit Marx to a fully-capitalist
world but rather to a fully-capitalist, isolated nation. In this regard,
Dunayevskaya is repeating Otto Bauer to whom Luxemburg had provided her
own answer (which seemed to have no effect on Dunayevskaya, although she
read it). Luxemburg's explanation is worth reproducing as it provides her
understanding of Marx, whom she finds correct in his intentions:

    "Marx's premise is no fantastic absurdity, it is a scientific fiction.
In fact, Marx presupposes the real tendency of capitalist society. He
assumes that the state of total and universal rule of capitalism has
already been reached, that highest development of the world market and
world economy which capital and every present economic and political
development is in fact heading for. Thus, Marx is placing his
investigation on the tracks of the real historical tendency of
development, whose final goal he takes as already reached. Scientifically
speaking, this method is quite correct and, as I have shown in my book,
completely sufficient for the investigation of the accumulation of
individual capital, even if, as I believe, it becomes incorrect and
misleading when applied to the main problem: the accumulation of aggregate
social capital." (1921, p.137)

In other words, says Luxexburg, ignore issues of an outside arena for the
capitalist society and examine implications for Marx's scheme of extended
reproduction. When we find a problem (Luxemburg does), perhaps we can
also find the solution. If no problem results, then analysis could
proceed on to other issues. This approach seems unobjectionable.

Dunayevskaya claims that for Luxemburg the organic composition of capital
c/v is "merely 'capitalist language' of the general productivity of labor"
and therefore Luxemburg deprives "the carefully isolated c/v relationship
of its class character.... The next inevitable stage is to divest the
material form of capitalism of its class chararacter. Where Marx makes
the relationship between Department I, producing means of production, and
Department II, producing means of consumption, reflect the class
relationship inherent in c/v, Luxemburg... speaks of the 'branches of
production' as if it were a purely technical term!" (p.38, paragraphing
not indicated). We don't know exactly where Luxemburg refers to
"capitalist language" in connection with c/v. And Marx (1905a, p.122)
says, "it has thus not helped us at all to shift through nearly 800
branches of production" (using the Progress translation) -- N. B.: '800'
and 'branches'. But no matter. We have already said that identifying c/v
directly to the class relation is a stretch.

Finally, we come markets in Luxemburg. Dunayevskaya first says that, for
Marx, "it is production that determines the market. Luxemburg, on the
other hand, finds herself in a position where [she] makes the market
determine production. Once Luxemburg eliminates the fundamental Marxian
distinction of means of production and means of consumption as indicative
of a class relationship, she is compelled to look for the market in the
bourgeois sense of 'effective demand'" (p.39). Dunayevskaya seems to
forget that use-values produced in consumption-goods Department II is a
department for consumption needs of two classes, capitalists and workers;
that the use-values produced by that departmental go to capitalists and
workers in each of the two departments. There is no one-to-one
relationship of departments of production to social classes.

Dunayevskaya hurries onward: "That the 'consumed part of constant capital'
is not consumed personally, but productively, seems to have escaped
Luxemburg's attention.... the consumed part of constant capital and the
new investments in capital are realized through production" (p.40). We
have arrived back to Department I's production of means of production
having its own outlet as constant capitals for Departments I and II; no
questions need be asked. It is really production for the sake of
production, rising c/v absorbs new production; no questions need be asked.
No need to remind the reader of Marx's statement (which Lenin had cited in
1899a, p.59, and repeated in 1899b, p.55 -- text which Dunayevskaya
herself had translated from Russian to English2, and therefore knew quite

    "[Individual] consumption definitely limits [productive consumption],
since constant capital is never produced for its own sake but solely
because more of it is needed in spheres of production whose products go
into individual consumption" (Marx, 1894, p.305).

Dunayevskaya's position, vis-a-vis Luxemburg, reminds us of Howard and
King's rejection of Luxemburg, summarized at the end of our prior section
(which in turn is similar to some others before them). However, Howard
and King do not reject the role of the market. They (and others) rather
argue that necessary "customers" (i.e., capitalists) are there to realize
ever increasing production of means of production, without worrying about
any connection to consumption. By focusing on rising c/v and also away
from markets, Dunayevskaya drives us into production and only production
for her interpretation of Marx's schemes of reproduction. Why? Because
alienation of labor is in production and, in her view, Marx's concept of
alienation "broke through all criticism" of bourgeois society. To allow
Luxemburg to focus on markets is to allow Luxemburg to recognize that
people buy and sell. To stay in production and out of markets is to try
to sustain that "it is not 'people' who realize the greater part of
surplus value; it is realized through the constant expansion of constant
capital". It is to reaffirm a point she makes elsewhere in her book,
Economics is a matter not only of the economics laws of the breakdown of
capitalism, but of the strife between the worker and the machine against
dead labor's domination over living labor, beginning with hearing the
worker's voice, which had been stifled 'in the storm and stress of the
process of production'. (p.140)

To then "negate" this "negation" (alienation) is her humanist revolution.
Along the way, she must reread Marx and even read what is not there.

And, if all this is not enough problem for Dunayevskaya's argument, there
is a punch line. Marx's schemes of reproduction do not include a rising

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