[OPE-L:5180] Re: Re: Re: was Marx an economist?

From: Nicola Taylor (nmtaylor2001@yahoo.co.uk)
Date: Thu Mar 15 2001 - 21:31:26 EST

Hello all, there follows a correction/explanation re
my previous post on this topic (thanks to Jerry for
pointing out the error):

> > (snip, JL)
> > In the *Results* Marx (1976a, [Penguin/
> Vintage ed. of Volume 1, JL]
>  p.1056; cited Arthur,
> > C&C, 73, p.26) writes very clearly his views on >
> the  productivity of
> capital:
> > "Thus capital is productive:
> What is written is, rather, that:
> "Thus capital appears *productive*:"
> This is not an insignificant difference.
> It's no longer as 'clear', in terms of whether Marx
> thought that capital is productive, is it?

In the quote cited, Chris (C&C, 73, pp.32-3) makes an
amendment in square parenthesis: 'Thus capital [is]
productive' justified because he has stated:

'I would be inclined to reverse Marx's emphasis when
he said: "Capital is not only command over labour, as
Adam Smith thought. It is essentially command over
unpaid labour". (Marx 1976a:672) Instead I would
write: "Capital is not only command over unpaid
labour, as Karl Marx thought.  It is essentially
command over labour, i.e. of the entire working day".
Of course Marx knew perfectly well that it is only
because capital acquires 'command over labour' that
this "coercive relation...compels the working class to
do more work than would be required by the narrow
circle of its own needs"(Marx 1976a:424-5)'

My main reason for citing Chris's work was to suggest
that there is a point to reading and developing Marx's
concepts *heuristically*, rather than by reference to
*what Marx meant* or *what Marx considered important
in his work*.  Of course, I am aware that
historiographic and heuristic purposes are not at
opposite poles.  In order to develop Marx's concepts,
I take it for granted that one would need to have a
fair appreciation of one's own argument with Marx.

However, I also consider that crucial differences
among Marxists stem from irreconcilable ambiguities in
Marx's own texts that render any definitive reading of
Marx's theory of value, near impossible.  Andy B's
take on socially necessary labour, imo, stems from a
paradigmatic split between those who hold to an
abstract-labour embodied interpretation of Marxian
value theory, and those who do not.  Or, from a
different angle, the split might be seen to be between
those who read into Marx an ontological role for
*money* (eg credit) as a crucial determinant of
economic activity in a value-form determined system
(capitalism), and those who do not.  There seems to be
no way around this problem except to make one's own
reading of Marx explicit.

Once again, appologies for the error (btw, all the
quotes from Marx, above, are taken from Arthur, C&C,


Nicola Taylor
Division of Economics
Murdoch University
Telephone: 61-8-9385 1130

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