[OPE-L:6541] Re: * poll: who has advanced political economy since M

From: Andrew Brown (Andrew@lubs.leeds.ac.uk)
Date: Fri Feb 08 2002 - 13:01:23 EST

Hi Jerry,

More thoughts:

> > ii) It is nothing to do with 'my reckoning': it is a cast iron
> > fact that, say, on this list, and in the broader debate, there are
> > a host of  different, *mutually incompatible* interpretations of
> > value and surplus value. One fruitful question is: why?
> I think that the differences in interpretation of value have
> *always* been linked to differences in methodology and philosophy. 

I agree

> As for your
> 'cast iron fact', I think that there are some interpretations of
> value which are mutually incompatible and others which are broadly
> similar but different in nuance and emphasis.

Don't you think the broad picture is one of basic lack of consensus 
fundamentals? The recent debate on Benner's article was revealing 
this regard. The various responses in, for example, Historical
Materialism, all gave very different explanations, based on different
interpretations of value (even though they all agreed on the
importance of value!). (Let us ignore the extraordinary fact that an
article as theoretically backward as Brenner's attracted so much
attention). I am currently working on the topic of capitalistic
exploitation - i surely wish there was a common understanding of 
on this - especially one which had a close relation to what Marx
actually says (and, more importantly, one which consistently
comprehended capitalistic exploitation)

> There was, no doubt, a division of intellectual labor between M&E
> but I don't think that Marx ever agreed that E should be assigned by
> mutual agreement the 'more philosophical aspects of their joint
> project'. 

The key is that we agree there was a division of intellectual labour
between the two. Then, it is de facto the case that Engels did the
'more philosophical aspects', i.e. explicitly developed the philosophy
of dialectical materialism.  

> > As for Marxists 'ridiculously' cutting of Engels philosophy from 
> _Capital_, I think that for most of the history of Marxism the > 
tendency has been the *reverse*: i.e. the traditions of both > 
German-Austrian social democracy, Bolshevism, and latter-day 
'diamat' > in the USSR all emphasized an essential line of 
*continuity* betweeen > M&E. The relative separation of M from E 
been a more recent trend.  

Yes, it is this trend to which I am referring, whilst at the same time
pointing out that 'diamat' (as in Stalin's monstrosity) has done much
to encourage this trend. (It is one thing to emphasise continuity, it
is another to do so with a monsterous conception of just what that
continuity entails!)

> > Why not? Perverse appearances *can* be comprehended. If you
> > don't believe that, you end up collapsing to scepticism.
> Yet, there is no reason to believe -- especially given Marx's
> material conditions -- that he was uniquely situated and talented
> such that he alone could penetrate those appearances.

Well it all depends doesn't it? It's the content that decides, on this
one. Morever, we are talking about the adequate presentation of
Capitalism here. It took Marx years and years of work, and he got
nowhere near finishing. This at least suggests that the problem is a
'tricky' one. But the point remains that the issue that you raise
ultimately depends on the content; the material conditions do not
decide it one way or another.

Many thanks,


> In solidarity, Jerry

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