[OPE-L:6293] Re: Re: Re: grossman (response to paul z)

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Sat Jan 12 2002 - 12:10:23 EST

Paul Z,

1. grossmann did not stop praising sismondi because he came to know 
of lenin's criticism of him, and grossmann did not come to criticize 
sismondi's crisis theory out of fealty to lenin whose 
disproportionality theory plays no role in grossmann's magnum opus. 
grossmann was critical not only of underconsumptionism but also the 
obsession with interdeptmental equilibrium from the perspective of 
his falling rate/mass of profit theory.

2. grossmann thus could not have moved to sismondi's or luxemburg's 
crisis theories because he did not agree with them.

3. should have grossmann been more explicitly critical of lenin's 
disproportionality theory? Perhaps. But there is no proof that he 
developed his crisis theory so that it would be in accord with what 
Lenin wrote. Anyways, Lenin did not write something like Finance 
Capital or Accumulation of Capital; what was Grossmann supposed to 
criticize? In my opinion, he gives Imperialism all the theoretical 
attention that it deserves. He does not fawn over passages from it. 
He treats it dismissively in fact. Yes,  he agrees with the 
revolutionary implications that Lenin derives from his study of 
imperialism but finds that there is no solid theoretical basis so he 
develops it. In order to put revolutionary political conclusions on a 
sound theoretical basis, he has to go after Tugan, Bauer, Hilferding, 
Luxembug, Bukharin, etc., for they had written on the *theory* of 
accumulation and crisis, not Lenin.  Lenin had written a popular 
outline, and Lenin himself relied on Bukharin and Bauer of whom HG 
spares NO criticism.

4. I do think a Lenin like theory of disproportionality is solidly 
grounded in TSV (disproportionality as a result of uneven technical 
change, not failures to anticipate demand a la classical partial glut 
theory) , not a theory of underconsumption.

5. Even if Luxemburg was not an underconsumptionist, her attention 
was on the realization of surplus value and interdeptal equilibrium 
(or the impossibility thereof). Grossmann wants to abstract a 
different aspect of the capitalist totality--the production of 
surplus value itself.

6. I never said or implied that Lenin is our man.  As I have said, I 
accept luxemburg's and the council communist critique of his 
political theory.

7. Again it is possible to have a sword out for Luxemburg's theory of 
accumulation (mattick wields grossmann's sword) and embrace her 
political theory (as mattick does).


>Rakesh Bhandari <rakeshb@stanford.edu> said, on 01/11/02:
>>Paul, you have obviously not read grossman's 1934 entry on Sismondi  for
>>the Encylopaedia of the Social Sciences in a long time! A more
>>appreciative note to a man whom he credits as the founder of theories  of
>>capitalist dynamics I cannot imagine.
>See, for a contrary reading, my citation of Rick Kuhn in my reply to
>>that grossman held his tongue for reasons of party discipline is  indeed
>>possible and likely.  but grossmann was by nature (it seems) a  choleric
>>guy, and he does not spare lenin rapier like criticism in  law of
>>accumulation and the breakdown (catastrophe) of the capitalist  system
>>(1929). Grossmann was not impressed with Lenin's work as a  piece of
>>theoretical reasoning, and he did not try to hide this from  anyone. And I
>>think this says more about Grossman's scientific  integrity than whether
>>he included Lenin's name in an obscure  footnote.
>Grossman was not a party member (to the best of my knowledge) and was
>writing from New York in 1941.  If Grossman did not like Lenin's economics
>then where is the public and/or published evidence, apart from a few
>remarks.  Why did he move TOWARD Lenin on Sismondi between 1924 and 1934?
>Why did he move TOWARD Lenin on Luxemburg between 1924 and 1929.  Why in
>1941 did he NOT cite Lenin at all?  Etc.
>Consider, also, simply the number of citations in the Banaji abridged
>edition of Grossman's "The Law of Accumulation and Breakdown of the
>Capitalism System*, 1929:
>    Lenin, 5 (the only marginally critical one is on p. 122,
>"Lenin linked this tendency [to an inherent 'tendency to stagnation and
>decay'] to the growth of monopolies.  That there is such a connection is
>indisputable, but a mere statement is not enough".)
>    Luxemburg, 23
>    Hilferding, 13
>    Tugan, 12
>By 1929, a Marxist discussing such questions should rank Lenin for
>attention near Hilferding and Tugan.  No?
>>   However,  it seems obvious that Grossmann argued that Lenin was  closer
>>to Marx's theory than Luxemburg and Sternberg were with their
>If Grossman thought Lenin was close to Marx on these questions, then he is
>opposing Marx's discussion of overproduction in T.S.V., Vol. 2, pp.
>492-535.  Rosdolsky is penetrating on this, I think.
>Luxemburg was not an underconsumptionist.  If you got this from
>Grossman/Mattick, what can I say.  See Bleaney *Underconsumption Theories*
>for another reading.
>>Even as profound a critic of Lenin as Mattick Sr
>>grants that Lenin did more to preserve the revolutionary core of  Marx's
>>critique of political economy than other 2nd Intl thinkers. 
>This is the bottom line?  Lenin is our man?
>>So it is possible that for party reasons  Grossmann did
>>not always name Lenin when attacking positions that  Lenin, along with
>>others, held. It would be interesting to get Rick  Kuhn's views on this.
>>especially his comparative analysis of their  respective ideas of the
>What party reasons?  He was not in a party in 1941 (to the best of my
>knowledge) and was in New York.
>>moreover, we would need to make a careful study of lenin's work to
>>determine whether he did not understand the differences between the
>>marxian and classical labor theory of value.
>Good, and if anyone on the list has done this or has pointers, it would be
>>>In my opinion, Grossman is a tricky fellow and many times one has to pay as
>>>much attention to the silences as to the opinions (e.g., anti-Luxemburgism)
>>>to get a fuller understanding of what he is up to.
>>And do not forget that Grossmann praises Luxemburg for defending the
>>revolutionary core of marxism against revisionists. In a sense, his
>>greatest praise in his magnum opus is for her.
>Jerry Levy's posting is good, in this regard.  It was simply de rigour to
>praise Luxemburg on the one hand.  We have Lenin's 1922, published 1924,
>article to tell us (including Bukharin and Stalin) to do that.  For me, it
>no longer has any effect until I read the substance of an analysis of her
>In your reply to him you say
>>and as i said, grossmann does not accept the bolshevik line in
>>theoretical matters. he did not share lenin's assessment that the  bauer
>>scheme disproved rosa l's argument.
>But I believe Lenin's views on Bauer were not public in 1929, in any case.
>Therefore, this is no defense of Grossman vis-a-vis possible subservience
>to Lenin.
>You also say
>>Bauer may have indeed allowed swindles between the depts to achieve
>>equilibrium growth ( Mattick Sr certainly did not deny the main point  of
>>Paul Z's critique, though Paul Z does not acknowledge this);  however,
>Bauer's opinion on Luxemburg, right or wrong, is not my main point.  If
>those 'swindles' were the main point we all would get somewhere, because
>there is real substance in discussing the meaning of what Bauer was
>attempting (his ignoring the use-value/exchange-value distinction).
>Anyway, Rosdolsky already dealt with the 'swindles' issue a long time ago
>(1968, pp. 497-99) and not only agrees with Luxemburg, his rebuttal is
>complementary to and perhaps even clearer than Luxemburg's own.
>To conclude, I defend my proposition that Bukharin has a 'sword' out
>against Luxemburg, and Grossman, a 'knife' (yes, I use those words!).
>Those interested may see, "Rosa Luxemburg's *Accumulation of Capital*:
>Critics try to bury the Message", *Bringing Capitalism Back for Critique by
>Social Theory, Current Perspectives in Social Theory*, Vol. 21, Jennifer
>Lehmann, ed., JAI/Elsevier Press, New York, 2001, pp. 3-45.

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