[OPE-L:7027] Re: Capital & Class

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Fri Apr 19 2002 - 17:26:43 EDT

Re Paolo C's [7026]:

> Yes, by way of analogy I am suggesting that the whole book is about
classes. <

My response:  to the extent that the subject matter of _Capital_ is
capitalism, then it is true that _Capital_ is *all* about classes.
However, it is also true that _Capital_ is *not all* about classes.
Indeed, one could argue that there  is *nothing* in _Capital_
(in terms of  essential theory, rather than historical detail) about class
(except the last two pages of VIII).

How can it be that everything and yet nothing in _Capital_ is about class?
Let me explain:  _Capital_ is all about class to the extent that it is all
about the subject matter of capitalism.   It has little or nothing to do
with  the subject of class to the extent that the subject matter of
_Capital_ is capital rather than capitalism.  I guess I need to explain
some more: all of the categories essential for comprehending capitalism
in thought are can be unfolded from the  starting point (the commodity)
in the context of a systematic dialectical presentation. Yet, _Capital_ is
*only one*  part of that presentation. For us to grasp capitalism as a
totality (rather than just capitalist production as a whole at the level of
abstraction of "capital in general"), we  must comprehend classes, the
state, foreign trade, and world  market and crisis. This is because  these
subjects form *necessary moments*  in the unfolding in thought of  the
subject matter of capitalism.  Thus, the  sub-subject of class must  be
comprehended for each of the 3 major classes not merely in terms of
generality  (or simple unity, e.g. the "collective laborer")  but in terms
of  particularity  (difference, e.g. class divisions) and singularity
(unity-in-difference). Similarly, the subject of the state is a *necessary*
subject that must be grasped -- in a rich and developed form rather
than in a merely superficial  and general way.  Similarly, because
capitalism is an *international system* the subjects of foreign trade and
the world market --  while presupposed  at the outset (yet *purposely*
abstracted from) -- must be developed in a  systematic fashion for us to
grasp capitalism in all of its moments as a totality.

The point, then, of a word search is to emphasize this aspect that while
Marx was *of course* aware that capitalism is all about class, the
systematic examination of class was *not developed* in _Capital_  (it was
merely pre-supposed) but was reserved for further *deeper*  analysis at a
more concrete "post-Capital" level of abstraction.   Thus, the subject of
class --  Marx correctly pointed out in the last chapter of _Capital_ -- is
"the question to be answered next".

In solidarity, Jerry

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