[OPE-L:5653] Re: Re: the division of labor in a dialectical systematic theory of capitalism?

From: Ajit Sinha (ajitsinha@lbsnaa.ernet.in)
Date: Wed May 23 2001 - 07:30:20 EDT

Gerald_A_Levy wrote:

> Ajit wrote in [5641]:
> > To the best of my knowledge, I was the first
> > one,  probably still the only one writing on value
> > theory, who took  Beamish's work seriously and
> > commented on it in my 'A Critique of Part one of
> > *Capital* one: The  Value Controversy
> > Revisited', RIPE, 1996. In my opinion, Ali
> > Rattansi's  work on division of labor in Marx is
> > probably the best one
> Beamish believes that his book and Rattanasi's
> book 'complement each other'.  Yet, he notes
> that the specific issue addressed by Rattanasi
> (the question of the evolution of Marx's thinking
> on the topic of the abolition of the division of
> labor) is different from the focus of his book (see
> Beamish, pp. 8-9).  He addresses the significance
> of the division of labor for Marx's *method*
> shortly beforehand (Ibid, pp. 5-8).
> The reason I raised the Beamish book in
> connection with this thread is because, imo,
> he makes a very compelling case that one of
> Marx's central theoretical concerns from 1842
> through the publication of Volume 1 was the
> division of labor in capitalist society. What I
> think is most noteworthy is Beamish's detailed
> sequential examination of all of Marx's writings
> on this subject throughout the period including
> his study notebooks, unpublished drafts, and
> correspondence.  I don't think anyone can come
> away from a reading of the Beamish book with
> a belief that the issues surrounding conceptualizing
> the division of labor were deemed by Marx to be
> of only passing non-essential interest. This raises
> the question that I posed to our VFT comrades
> about the role of the division of labor (and
> related topics such as manufacture and machinery
> and 'modern industry') in  dialectical systematic
> theory.  In other words, why is there this 'gap'
> in the presentation?  Do they view it as only
> non-essential historical detail?  Is it merely
> "Vorstellung"  (translated by Tony S as 'picture-
> thinking' or 'imaginary representation')?  If so,
> then the Beamish book might suggest that they
> attach far less importance to that subject -- rightly
> or wrongly -- than did Marx.
> In solidarity, Jerry


For whatever its worth, here is the brief comments I made on Beamish's
and Rattansi's works:

Beamish (1992) in his detailed commentary on the subject of division of
labor in Marx from 1844 to *Capital*, which takes into account Marx's
unpublished works as well, notices that "Surprisingly, *Die Drundrisse
der Kritik der Politischen Okonomic [Rohentwurf]* contains very little
material directly concerned with the division of labour" (p.36). Further
on, he finds that in 'The 1861-62 Draft Manuscript' Marx begins "to
pursue one of the major themes in his analysis: distinguishing the
division of labour in the workshop from the social division of labour at
large" (p. 72). He goes on to note that in the final reworked manuscript
of 1861-63, "It [the division of labor] now appears to arise from
capitalist control over the production process and not, as implied in
1861-62, from certain factors also involving the sphere of circulation"
(p. 122). Beamish's account supports my argument presented above.
However, he himself fails to notice that he may be charting a
theoretical shift in Marx's problematic. He considers such developments
as a movement from "the theoretical level to an empirical level." A

On the other hand, Ali Tattansi (1982) in his detailed work on the
subject has correctly argued that in the works of the young Marx,
particularly the *1844 Manuscript* and the *German Ideology*, there is a
conflation between class and the social division of labor, and so the
demand of communism is also to abolish division of labor *per se*.
However, in *Capital* Marx distinguishes between class and social
division of labor. Rattansi argues that in *Capital* Marx is concerned
about abolishing one particular kind of division of labor--the division
of labor between mental and manual labor. Such division of labor is an
outcome of factory production in particular, which is predicated on
capital-labor relation. It is the capitalist class relation that gives
rise to machinery, which reduces manual workers to an appendage of the
machine. (Sinha 1996, pp. 295-6)

Cheers, ajit sinha

> References:
> Rob Beamish _Marx, method, and the division of
>      labor_, Urbana, University of Illinois Press,
>      1992
> Ali Rattansi _Marx and the division of labor_,
>      London, The Macmillan Press Ltd, 1982
>      (note that because of the difference in
>      publication dates, Beamish had access to
>      a number of important sources that Rattansi
>      was not able to examine, e.g. Marx's study
>      notebooks.)

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