[OPE-L:7211] Re: Marx on solving human problems

From: Hans Ehrbar (ehrbar@econ.utah.edu)
Date: Sat May 18 2002 - 12:34:34 EDT


I fully agree with the first half of your [7210]: for Hegel
all contradictions are internal.  The concept of alterity,
i.e., unrelated otherness, does not exist in Hegel.  Marx
did not sufficiently criticize this but partly took it on
board with his thesis that external contradictions were
ultimately irrelevant for capital; it would overcome them
all and its downfall would be its internal contradictions.
Not because they would lead to an automatic breakdown;
capital can limp on for ever with whatever contrivance is
necessary to keep the internal contradictions in check, but
because it would lose its legitimacy.  A good example are
here the intellectual property laws.  Information is not
suitable for the kind of exclusive private property inherent
in commodity production.  Therefore the capitalists come up
with the contrivance of copyright laws etc., which have a
hard time being accepted by the masses, see Napster and
software piracy.  Of course, most internal contradictions of
capital are much nastier than this.

It is a too optimistic view to think that only internal
contradictions are relevant for the downfall of capitalism.
When the internal contradictions of capital have become
strong enough to become a problem for it, then the other
side of the coin, the socialist relations growing in the
womb of capitalism, are strong and developing as well.
These internal contradictions are really an embarrassment of
riches: capitalism has pushed productivity to such a level
that the commodity form is no longer adequate.  This is why
Marx thought the solutions of the problem arise together
with the problem itself.  But in the external clash between
capital accumulation and the limited resources of our
planet, there is no such other side of the coin which would
provide a solution, exactly because this clash is external.
Perhaps this will clarify why I consider the distinction
between internal versus external contradictions relevant

Hans G. Ehrbar

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