[OPE-L:8049] philosophy and political economy

From: Andrew Brown (Andrew@lubs.leeds.ac.uk)
Date: Mon Nov 25 2002 - 07:27:28 EST

Hello Michael, Jerry and all,

Re 8046 and related posts:

There is too much going on here than I really have time to get to 
grips with but:

(1) I agree with Paul Cockshott that the Heisenburg uncertainty 
principle is simply a manifestation of idealism that has nothing 
positive to offer social theory.

(2) Surely it is clear that 'dialectical materialism' attempts to 
answer the philosophical questions raised in previous posts in a 
Marxian manner. Stalin's debasement of the term must not blind us 
from the many Marxists, from Marx and Engels onwards, who have 
developed dialectical materialism. (I do not wish to enter into a 
debate on the Marx / Engels' relationship here!)

(3) Ilyenkov, as Pilling was among the first to show, articulates 
what he terms 'materialist dialcetics' with value theory and political 
economy. In essence Newton, or at least his philsophical 
'upholders' such as Locke, manifest 'mechanical' materialism. 
(Descartes' own mechanistic conception of matter led him to 
dualism in order to try to  account for the thinking body). 
Mechanical materialism must be superseeded by dialectical 
materialism, and the notion of scientific law is thereby superseeded 
also. The 'clever idealism' of (especially Hegelian) dialectics can 
thereby be put on a materialist basis. Thus, from this perspective, 
Michael's apparent charge that Marx is stuck at the level of the 
Lockean (Newtonian) concpetion of law, is incorrect. The charge 
ignores Marx's critique of mechanistic materialism, his critique of 
idealist dialectics and his championing of materialist dialectics. 

(4) The above is just a very brief statement of dialectical 
materialism. But I just wanted to remind people of it and to suggest 
that in Ilyenkov's, and others', hands it is a vibrant philosophy, not 
to be ignored.

(5) Re value. It seems to me very damaging to assimilate all 
quantitative value theory to the axiomatic method. The magnitude 
of value is important. E.g. the magnitude of prices, wages and 
profits are important! To theorise them is not to be an axiomatic 
model builder. A final assertion: I do not see *how* value can 
possibly be theorised outside of a labour theory of value. Labour 
time is the only possible material property of commodities that 
could be systematically related to commodities (this is Marx's 
openning argument in 'Capital' I think). Without such a property 
then political economy would be quite impossible. I fear that 
Michael's apparent view leads down this impossible road.

Sorry for all the brief assertions. Hope something useful in the 


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