[OPE-L:3348] Re: Critique

From: glevy@acnet.pratt.edu
Date: Thu May 25 2000 - 12:57:56 EDT

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---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: John Holloway <104164.2012@compuserve.com>
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 02:04:08 -0400
Subject: [OPE-L:2613] Re: Critique

1) On Negri, Lebowitz and Cleaver

2) Where is the subjectivity in Capital
        book 42-48. Presence of the negated subject protesting against our
        The existence of fetishism means that the only way that we can
possibly develop a theory of society is critically.
'Man's reflections on the forms of social life, and consequently, also his
scientific analysis of those forms, take a course directly opposite to that
of their actual historical development. He begins, post festum, with the
results of the process of development ready to hand before him.'(75)
3) On definition. Definition as the momentary rigidification of social
a) We live in a society of rigidified social relations. It is this
rigidification that makes definition possible, but definition confirms the
a) The struggle is for a self-determining society, a society characterised
by a fluidity of social relations.
b) Struggle now is pre-figurative: the form of struggle is related to the
goal of a self-determining society. Struggle is directed against
d) Theory is an integral part of struggle. Theory must be directed against
the definition which is the conceptual counterpart of the rigidification of
social relations.

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Message text written by Gerald Levy

"Where we differ, most fundamentally, is on our interpretation of

1. As you have made abundantly clear, you view the subject of
   _Capital_ as critique of political economy. While I agree that
   critique of political economy was an essential part of Marx's purpose
   and method of investigation and presentation, I think that the subject
   of Marx's work (of which _Capital_ was, in my view, only one part of
   a larger project) was "modern society" (capitalism).

2) You believe that our standpoint must be to critique the perspective by
   capital of workers as objects (victims) and to assert the subjectivity
   of labor. I agree that we must advance this critique and understanding,
   but don't believe that was Marx's purpose in writing _Capital_. Rather,
   I would say that the one-sided treatment of wage-labor in _Capital_
   requires that at a later stage of the analysis (or "layer" of
   abstraction) the subject of wage-labor be developed and deepened.
   In other words, you see the subjectivity of the working class within
   _Capital_ via the critique of political economy. I think that this
   subjectivity was intentionally not developed in _Capital_ because it
   was to form the subject of another one of Marx's books (Book 3) and
   would be developed still further when addressing other subjects (in
   Books 4-6).

   My perspective, thus, on the _place_ for this subject in Marx's theory
   is very similar to that held by Mike L.

   Perhaps this also explains, therefore, how we can share many other
   perspectives despite this difference in interpretation. An analogy
   might be to consider the relationship of Toni Negri's theory and
   interpretation to that of Harry Cleever. Both Toni and Harry, as we
   both know, agree much more on basic theoretical and political issues
   than on their understandings of _Capital_. This is most strikingly
   obvious when one compares Negri's interpretation of how the subject of
   wage-labor was treated in the _Grundrisse_ vs. _Capital_ in _Marx
   Beyond Marx_. As you know, Toni advances an interpretation (similar to
   that of Mike L in this regard) that when Marx wrote _Capital_ he was
   still following the "6 book plan" and that this subject was to be
   developed in the planned book on "Wage-Labour" (Book 3). Harry, on the
   other hand, in _Reading Capital Politically_ argues that this subject
   was the theme of _Capital_ and can be observed throughout the 3

   Your interpretation of _Capital_ (and that of fellow listmember,
   Massimo) is close to Harry's (I think). Mine is closer to Toni than to
   Harry and closer still to Mike L than Toni.

Does this make it easier for you to see where there are agreements and
disagreements between us on these issues?

Jerry 2614:
A short addendum to [2613]:

We continue to disagree over whether our perspective should be, and
whether Marx's perspective was, anti-definitional. I would say that even
where we reject the definitions of political economy, we must as part of
the process of understanding and presenting (our own alternative) theory
advance definitions.

I think this disagreement stems from our different understandings of the
role of critique of political economy in Marx's theory. It is true, of
course, that classical political economy advanced definitions and many of
these definitions were mistaken and fetishistic, but this does not mean
that an attempt to define terms was one of their failings. Just because
they advanced definitions, in other words, is no justification for an
anti-definitional stance on our part.

In solidarity, Jerry

Paul Z. 2615: Capital, however, did not and does not define production
productive forces, mode of production, labor power, constant capital,
variable capital, production of absolute surplus value, production of
relative surplus value. Marx did. Why didn't Marx "struggle against
definition", but rather FOR definition within the context of his struggle
for knowledge? I suppose it is possible to argue FOR such definitions and
against a definition of "class", but I haven't heard such an argument. (I
have repeatedly asked John to relate, one way or another, to these
attempts FOR definition undertaken by Marx.)


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