[OPE-L:6565] Tugan -> Hilferding and schema; where is Lenin?

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU)
Date: Tue Feb 12 2002 - 22:39:08 EST

Alejandro said in [OPE-L:6556], replying to Paul Bullock in [OPE-L:6555]:

>You may be forgetting here the *political* use Tugan-Baranowsky did of the
>schemas in order to argue that capitalism would be a self replicating
>entity, founding a tradition which started to crop up with Bortkiewicz and
>reached its peak with Okishio, Morishima et al. and still is healthy and
>alive with us.

First, note that both Lenin's *Imperialism* and Bukharin's *Imperialism*
comment favorably on Hilferding's *Finance Capital* as background for their
own work.  

Hilferding, in turn, has the following favorable citation to

    "... Indeed, the largely ignored analyses in the second volume of
*Capital* are, from the standpoint of pure economic reasoning, the most
brilliant in that whole remarkable work.  Above all, an understanding of
the causes of crises is quite impossible without taking into account the
results of Marx's analysis." (p. 243, Bottomore edition, 1981)  Hilferding
at this point has a footnote that "M. Tugan-Baranowsky deserves credit for
calling attention to the significance of these investigations for the
problem of crises in his *Studien zur Theorie und Geschichte der
Handelkrisen in England*.  The curious thing is that this needed to be
pointed out at all." (p. 420, fn. 5).

Hilferding does not cite Lenin anywhere in his book (nor Kautsky;
Luxemburg's work, of course, came later).  So, I read the above as a
further support for the importance of Tugan over Lenin within the Marxist
tradition Alejandro points to.

In two later footnotes, Hilferding has a couple of criticisms of Tugan, the
first regards his inappropriately pointing to idle money as a powerful
stimulus during crisis (p. 284 and p. 421, fn. 1), while the second could
also be largely applicable to Lenin (was Hilferding acquainted with Lenin's
work in the 1890s, published in Russian?).  The latter is worth quoting in

    "An extreme instance of this confusion [neglecting specific 'use
values' if disruptions are to be avoided] is to be found in
Tugan-Baranowsky's theory of crises.  By taking account only of the formal
economic categories of capitalist production, it overlooks the natural
conditions of production which are common to all systems of production,
whatever their historical form, and thus arrives at the curious conception
of a system of production which exists only for the sake of production,
while consumption is simply a tedious irrelevance.  If this is 'madness'
there is method in it, and a Marxist one at that, for it is just this
analysis of the specific historical structure of capitalist production
which is distinctively Marxist.  It is Marxism gone mad, but still Marxism,
and this is what makes the theory so peculiar and yet so suggestive. 
Without being quite aware of it, Tugan seems to sense this.  Hence his
vigorous polemic against the 'sound common sense' of his critics." (pp.
421-422, fn. 4)

For completeness, let me note that, yet later still, Hilferding refers to
Tugan's "excellent and reliable account of the history of crises in
England." (p. 422, fn. 1)

I sense that Tugan learned (correctly or not) from criticism received from
Lenin in the 1890s but Tugan is far more the responsible party.  It is
Luxemburg who confronts both but especially Tugan (but not Hilferding, whom
she ignores for some reason I haven't fully figured out -- I do know she
received a letter pointing out her omission).

Paul Z.

P.S.  Kautsky had a review and further elaboration (in English in 1911) of
Hilferding's book, and it is now on the web at

Paul Zarembka, editor,  RESEARCH IN POLITICAL ECONOMY at 
******************** http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/PZarembka

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