[OPE-L:6603] Re: Re: Re: RE: Re: * poll: who has advanced political econ om y since Marx? *

From: paul bullock (paulbullock@ebms-ltd.in2home.co.uk)
Date: Sat Feb 16 2002 - 17:39:35 EST


Pail Z has taken up some points in your reply to me, and Alejandro has responded to those. I  should like to go back to your reply below. I have interpolated comments as is the usual practice.

-----Original Message-----
From: Christopher Arthur <cjarthur@waitrose.com>
To: ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu <ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu>
Date: 13 February 2002 04:29
Subject: [OPE-L:6567] Re: Re: RE: Re: * poll: who has advanced political econ om y since Marx? *

>Paul (6555)
>Your message re Julian 6553 cites Lenin's On the so-called Market question
>from 'CW Vol 11'. Surely this is a mistake for Vol 1? Unless lenin wote two
>things with this title? 

Then in 6563 you say '   Paul B,  Re my last. sorry, my eyes must be going, you did write Vol. 1,  Chris A

Thanks for that Chris. Now, it is not your eyes that worry me but your concentration old chap! Lets see this article again.You say

'I disagree this article 'applies the Vol II  schemas'.

Well - one can see that in the article Lenin takes care to explain  the essence of chapter 21 of Vol 2 Capital. ('given in a most concise form' (p83 Vol1) Lenin). He effectively repeats  the 'First illustration', section III, 1a, using the same figures. He does so because Krasin has used the schemas. He corrects Krasin's use of the schemas. This undermines Krasin's argument, being an imminent criticism. This is an application of the schemas in a particular sense of course.

Lenin then asks p89 'The question now is , what relation has the theory that has been expounded to 'the notorious market question'?'  He  makes the point very clearly that   ' evidently, the explanation of how capitalism develops in general does not in the least help to clear up the question of the 'possibility' (and necessity) of the development of capitalism in Russia'.  Here he anticipates any criticism about his use of the process expounded in the reproduction schema by those who, examining Marx's  theoretical  exposition, claim they cannot be of use because Marx is examining capital in general. Lenin was not a fool.  (Paul Z expresses this by saying to you that Marx assumed that the capital / labour relation was already universal, which is correct but not quite the best way of making the methodological point here). 

Lenin then goes on to create his own table, first assuming simple reproduction and so using precisely the analytical basis Marx provides in the section he (Lenin)  has used to start the article. This new table expresses the  stages in the transformation of natural into capitalist economy. Marx's theoretical categories, constant capital, surplus value, and the exchanges between departments etc are all used quite properly as far as I can see. It is a real advance in the use of Marx's theory. By p104 we see how Lenin stresses that his table does not claim to depict the whole process  in the development of capitalism. He expands on this in the context of Russia. I cannot see therefore how you can say the article does not apply the Vol 2 schemas, unless you mean in the most unimaginative, immitative, mechanical and unthinking manner, which would of course be impossible in the Russian context ( unless you were Krassin) as Lenin said. Nevertheless he does apply the method in an exemplary fashion.

Now you say  - 

In this early work, Lenin cites the following from a discussion paper by H.
>B. Krasin (theoretician of a group in St. Petersburg Lenin joined in 1893):
>'[There are] two essentially different features in the accumulation of
>capital: 1) the development of capitalist production in breadth, when it
>takes hold of already existing fields of labour, ousting natural economy
>and expanding at the latter's expense; and 2) the development of capitalist
>production in depth, if one may so express it, when it expands
>independently of natural economy, i.e. under the general and exclusive
>domination of the capitalist mode of production.' (cited in V. I. Lenin 'On
>the So-called Market Question' Collected Works Vol. 1, p. 89)

>Now although Lenin gave a careful account of Marx's chapter on 'Expanded
>Reproduction', he understood that this pertained solely to the second
>issue, that is to say, it showed how capital could expand intensively, not
>extensively ('Market Question' Works Vol. 1, p 89). 

Unfortunately  Chris, this is another 'rush to judgement' as far as I  can see. Firstly on the p89 you quote Lenin says..'Without, for the time being, stopping to criticise this division...'  Then  on p105, and stemming from his explanation of the market  as made possible through the social division of labour he says ''Naturally, therefore, it is wrong to divide the development of capitalism into development in breadth and in depth: the entire development proceeds on account of division of labour.. etc . '  Those who remain interested here may read the rest themselves. This is why, of course, as you say     >"There is nothing
>whatever in Volume Two of Capital  on if and how capital might extend
>itself geographically. " It is entirely besides the point. Marx was not Harrod, nor Krassin.

There are clear issues of the understanding of Marx's method, and Lenin's grasp of it here, and of how to apply Marx's method. It does no good jumping in carelessly and making comments to boot such as ' If one can believe Lenin's account'... (why not?) (re Krassin anticipating Luxemburg). I leave the rest of your note as it stands.

Best regards

Paul Bullock.

(There is only one significant reference to the
>transformation of pre-capitalist forms by world trade. It is clearly a
>digression and relates solely to the transition of commodity production to
>capitalist commodity production. It is not relevant to the Russian case
>which has to do with the survival of communal production. D. Fernbach
>translation, Penguin, pp. 119-20) Furthermore there is nothing in it on how
>capital originally developed; it is solely concerned with how capital
>accumulates once it is fully developed and self-enclosed. Unfortunately
>then, it was useless to the Russians in assessing their conditions.
> Lenin did not even try to base himself on Volume Two. His arguments on if
>and how capitalism could develop in Russia are independent of it.
>However a certain misreading of the schemes of reproduction, made famous by
>Rosa Luxemburg, did have some relevance. If one can believe Lenin's
>account, Krasin anticipated Luxemburg in arguing that the restricted
>purchasing  power  of its own workers forced capital to search out external
>markets; these could either  be foreign markets or rooted in the
>non-capitalist sector of a given country. Krasin drew up a two-sector model
>of Russia in this spirit ('Market Question' p.90).  As Lenin observed, in
>his paper on 'The Market Question', this view neglects the strength of the
>internal market for capital goods, which powers the economy nicely, at
>least during upswings.
>But the main isue was whether the capitalist sector could or could not
>overwhelm the non-capitalist sector. The schemas are useless for this.
>Lenin's arithmetical example of how capitalism DEVELOPS do not rely on the
>schemas for the simple reason these discuss ALREADY developd capitalism.
>Chris A
>>     Julian,   Just for a start ... i don't know what you've read,  you
>>could  try  Lenin's  'On the so called Market question'... for an
>>exposition  (CW Vol1) , an application of the reproduction schemas in a
>>crushing response to a schema constructed by a Narodnik who aimed at
>>opposing  the tsar and proving this was to be done in a political and
>>social environment  in which capitalism could not develop... the question
>>remained only one of the  peasantry.   I know of no other independent
>>application of the schemas as a   political response... Lenin had an
>>amazing capacity to take Marx and apply the  critical ideas  provided by
>>him. ( It is interesting to see how for  years  entirely forgetable
>>'academics' sought to undermine  future  political  use of the
>>reproduction schemas like this, through trying to  drown  young radicals
>>in the so called  'transformation' problem)  .   .I don't know what Jerry
>>means by 'statistics' , the point is that Lenin  established the objective
>>circumstances in which to fight by a study of, and  reinterpretation, of
>>the Russian Government statistics, on the  basis of Marx's scientific
>>achievement and this work came to full fruition in  'The Development of
>>Capitalism in Russia'... and then in his formulation  of  a Party
>>programme  properly  dealing with the land question.     Marx wasn't
>>merely criticising 'PE' ,as Jerry seems to suggest... perhaps a  little
>>ingenuously.... he was dissecting the scientific developments of   the
>>representatives of  the progressive bourgeoisie, showing their limits,
>>developing value theory on a methodologically complete footing, and
>>attacking  the later 'prize fighters' of the bourgeoisie....It was a
>>political fight, an  ideological battle. Lenin understood that.    Read
>>the article I suggest Julian, asd an example,  and see what you  think.  
>>Cheers   Paul     -----Original Message-----
>>From: P.J.Wells@OPEN.AC.UK <P.J.Wells@OPEN.AC.UK>
>>To: ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu <ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu>
>>Date:  11 February 2002 19:19
>>Subject: [OPE-L:6553] RE: Re: * poll: who has advanced  political econ om
>>y since Marx? *
>>>Jerry  wrote
>>>>Re Julian's [6548]:
>>>>> I'd be interested the hear the views of better-read comrades  than
>>>>> myself on  this -- but do others agree with me that  Lenin
>>>>advanced > the *practical* *critique* of political economy  to
>>>>a marked degree?
>>>>At the risk of sounding  heretical, what exactly was that advancement?
>>>Well, actually I  was trying to emphasise the *practical* critique -- he did
>>>participate in  a revolution, after all.
>>>I'd agree with Jerry that many of those  works of his which are best known to
>>>the average revolutionary activist  are either popularisations (i.e., not
>>>scientific works as such) or  contemporary polemics.
>17 Bristol Road, Brighton, BN2 1AP, England

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