[OPE-L:7121] Re: Frederick Engels at Highgate Cemetary -- March l7, l883

From: dashyaf@easynet.co.uk
Date: Mon May 06 2002 - 10:48:59 EDT


I would like to think that he could have been referring to the law of the 
tendency of the rate of profit to fall - 'the most important law of modern 
political economy and the most essential one for understanding the most 
complicated relationships. It is the most important law from an historical 
standpoint....' (Grundrisse p654 1953 German edition) More important in the 
speech of Engels was the following:

For Marx was before all else a revolutionist. His real mission in life was 
to contribute, in one way or another, to the overthrow of capitalist 
society and of the state institutions which it had brought into being, to 
contribute to  the liberation of the modern proletariat, which he was the 
first to make conscious of its own position and its  needs, conscious of 
the conditions of its emancipation. Fighting was his element. And he fought 
with a passion...

His law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall has some bearing on 
this point - much of the discussion on Marx today seems to have none!

David Yaffe

At 09:33 06/05/02 -0400, you wrote:
>In his speech at Marx's grave,  Engels claimed that "Just
>as Darwin discovered the law of development of organic
>nature, so Marx discovered the law of development of
>human history".  His summary of that "law of development
>of human history"  sounds very similar to Marx own
>(often criticized as simplistic) summary of his "general
>conclusion" in  the "Preface" to _A Contribution to the
>Critique of Political Economy_.
>Engels continued: "But that is not all. Marx also discovered
>the special law of motion governing the present-day
>capitalist mode of production and the bourgeois society that
>this mode of production has created.   The discovery of
>surplus value suddenly threw light on the problem, in trying
>to solve which all previous investigations, of both bourgeois
>economists and socialist critics, had been groping in the
>dark"  (cited from Maximilien Rubel _Marx without myth_,
>p. 330; published online at
>Look under l883 for "Articles on Karl Marx's Death".)
>Yet, Engels doesn't tell us what the "special law of
>motion" is.   Nor did Marx.   The _ONLY_ reference by Marx
>to a "law of motion of capitalism"  was in the "Preface to the
>First Edition" of  Volume One of _Capital_:  "it is the ultimate
>aim of this work to reveal the economic law of motion of modern
>society"  (Penguin ed., p. 92).   Yet, Marx did write elsewhere
>that the  discovery of surplus value was one of his most important
>theoretical contributions.
>So,  what *exactly* is the connection  that Engels had in mind
>between the law of motion and the discovery of surplus value?
>In other words:
>a) what is the "special law of motion" ?; and
>b) how  *exactly*  does the discovery of surplus value throw
>light on the "special law of motion"?; and
>c) why didn't Marx himself tell us what the connection was?
>[On c): Marx could not reasonably infer that the reader would
>understand what the "economic law of motion of modern
>society" is  without explicitly stating what that law is. And,
>not having stated what the law is, he could not have
>established any connection between the law and the
>"discovery" of surplus value.   Indeed, if we are to take
>Marx's  *own stated goal* for "this work" (it is unclear whether
>that was a reference to VI, all of _Capital_, or all 6 books
>in the 6-book-plan), then we MUST conclude that  *Marx's
>goal was not attained*  since the economic law of motion
>of modern society was ultimately *not* revealed. ]
>Suggested answers to above questions? Comments?
>In solidarity, Jerry

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