[OPE-L:6333] Re: Re: Re: Re: recent science and society and Fred M's interpretation

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Wed Jan 16 2002 - 15:55:31 EST

>Rakesh, you write
>>My first answer is simple and predictable: if the average rate of
>>profit is not ultimately determined by labor time relations, then
>>capitalism cannot give rise to those contradictions in the process of
>>production that Marx, as a materialist, thought were the precondition
>>for the revolutionary activity of the only the subject that Marx
>>thought had even the latent power to actually effect a transition in
>>the mode of production--the working class.
>Understood as a direct answer to my initial question, this statement in
>effect makes three connected claims:
>1) Asserting that "the average rate of profit is...ultimately determined by
>labor time relations" (I take this to mean that the average rate of profit
>is presumed to be equal to the ratio of unpaid labor hours to the sum of
>paid labor hours and the labor embodied in expended constant capital) is
>tantamount to embracing the labor theory of value.
>2)  Unless the average rate of profit is understood to equal the ratio just
>indicated, capitalism cannot give rise to the contradictions Marx
>identified as the precondition for revolutionary activity by the 
>working class.
>3)  If one feels that either of the above claims about capitalism is in
>fact false, then one is not a Marxist. 
>Accepting claim (1) for the sake of argument,

well thanks since that relieves me of the duty of having to be precise!

>  I don't see the basis for
>claim (2) or (3).  For example, with regard to (3), are you suggesting that
>a necessary condition for being a Marxist is accepting every empirical
>claim Marx made (in Capital, say), even if one feels some are false?

It's not every and all empirical claims but those related in 
particular to the revolutionary activity of the working class.

I am saying that  Marx's work should not be understood to have 
described the deplorable working conditions in early capitalism 
Manchester; rather Marx's theory is meant to have adduced on the 
basis of the law of value a tendency towards protracted periods in 
which there are growing contradictions within the process of 
production itself, e.g, a struggle to reverse worker gains and 
depress wages below the value of labor power; for on Marx's own 
assumptions there can be no causal or moral teleogical grounds  for 
the revolutionary activity of the working class unless capitalism 
fails to develop the productive forces and to raise the living 
standards of the working class.

If such a tendency does not in fact prevail, then Marx's theory is 
invalidated (of course the hows and whys of verification raise 
tremendous problems); and if such a tendency does prevail but Marx's 
labor value theory fails to explain it, then Marx's theory fails as 

For example, I would say that Brenner's theory is not based on labor 
value; however it may successfully explain the obtaining of the 
social conditions that  give rise causally and morally to the 
revolutionary activity of the working class. Brenner would then have 
vindicated Marx only by having moved beyond Marx. His theory should 
then be considered post Marxist, not Marxian. And it is arguably a 
better theory for being just that.

>   With
>regard to (2), are you suggesting that the expressions of capitalist
>contradiction Marx identified (immiseration of the working class,
>increasingly severe crises) cannot arise *unless* the average rate of
>profit equals the ratio indicated above?

Well there are two claims here, and I thank you for allowing me to clarify;

(i)no, it is possible that such phenomena can be explained on a 
foundation other than the theory of labor value, but such 
explanations are not Marxian ones. Which does not mean that they are 
not better ones.

(ii)my judgement is all such alternative theories will in fact fail 
to explain the root causes of said developmental tendencies (crises, 

It is of course possible to give a *description* of crises, working 
class struggle within the abode of production and unemployment 
without reference to labor value (all one has to do is remove rose 
blinkered spectacles); it is not however possible in my opinion to 
give a deep explanation of the root causes of said developmental 
tendencies of the capitalist sytem on any other foundation than the 
one of labor value (or as Tony Smith would put it, in the 
commodity-form, money form, and capital form themselves; of course 
one could argue that rooting said phenomena in these forms does not 
necessarily commit one to the theory of labor value).


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