[OPE-L:6361] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: recent science and society and Fred M's interpretation

From: Gil Skillman (gskillman@MAIL.WESLEYAN.EDU)
Date: Fri Jan 18 2002 - 16:25:09 EST

Re Rakesh's post 6333:

Rakesh, I think I now see the basis on which you questioned the possibility
of being Marxist without embracing Marx's law of value.  Am I right to say
you reserve the term "Marxist" (as opposed to, say, "post-Marxist" or
"Marxist-inspired") for analysis that follows the analytical scheme laid
out in capital, so that someone who rejects Marx's theory of labor value,
for example, is not a Marxist by definition?  Even if that person embraces
most or all of Marx's diagnosis of and prognosis for capitalism?


PS, A point of lingering curiosity:  What exactly do you take Marx's "law
of value" to be?

>>  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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