Re: (OPE-L) the secret by which the capitalist class maintains its power

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@SFU.CA)
Date: Tue Sep 16 2003 - 20:50:21 EDT

At 12:51 16/09/2003 +0100, you wrote:
>Michael ignores the role of Marx's Capital in supplying revolutionaries
>with the ideological arguments against opportunist currents in the working
>class movement of his time - against the utopian and Ricardian socialists,
>against Proudhonism etc.

         I'm sure Marx's CAPITAL did supply revolutionaries with
ideological arguments.... The question, though, is whether division among
workers is THE secret by which the capitalist class maintains its power. I
think that this division is absolutely critical and that Marx struggled to
end all such divisions... but I don't think he really thought it was THE
         in solidarity,

>  Vygodski's book The Story of a Great Discovery is quite good on this if
> I remember correctly. The theory of the Labour Aristocracy is to explain
> the material basis of opportunism - at least understanding its material
> basis allows the movement to understand the vital need to combat it.
> Capital and other writings etc gives us the political and ideological
> arguments to conduct that struggle.
>Grossmann's understanding of the 'breakdown' theory makes it clear that
>the 'breakdown' creates the material basis for the class struggle to turn
>into a struggle over the system of production itself. It does not
>guarantee the outcome as 'no crisis is the final crisis for capitalism'
>until the system is overthrown. This has always been accepted by the
>so-called 'breakdown' theorists.
>David Yaffe
>At 00:29 16/09/03 -0700, you wrote:
>>At 10:13 15/09/2003 -0400, jerry wrote:
>>>A lot of reasons have been advanced for the continued
>>>persistence and dominance of capitalist relations of
>>>Writing in 1870 (April 9 letter to Meyer and Vogt),
>>>Marx disclosed what he believed to be "the secret by
>>>which the capitalist class maintains its power":
>>>"This antagonism [between Irish and English workers] is artificially
>>>kept alive and intensified by
>>>the press, the pulpit, the comic papers, in short by all the
>>>means at the disposal of the ruling classes. It is the secret
>>>of the impotence of the English working class, despite their
>>>organization.  It is the secret by which the capitalist class
>>>maintains its power.  And of this that class is well aware."
>>>(Marx-Engels, _Selected Correspondence_, pp. 289-90).
>>>This raises some interesting questions for discussion:
>>>1) If Marx believed that working-class division was  "the
>>>secret by which the capitalist class maintains its power",
>>>why didn't he make the same point in _Capital_?  I think
>>>I know the answer Mike L would give to that question. What
>>>other answers are there?
>>         While the concept of the degree of separation of the working
>> class plays a significant role in my argument (much more so in the new
>> edition) and its absence is attributed to the limited object of Marx in
>> CAPITAL, I think it is important to stress that this is far from being
>> the only significant point about capital's power not made in CAPITAL.
>> Eg. note Marx's statement in the Grundrisse (Vintage, 287) that the
>> creation of new needs for workers is the moment on which 'the historic
>> justification, but also the contemporary power of capital rests.' If
>> this is important, why no discussion of the creation of new needs for workers?
>>>4) Is it accurate to say today (i.e. re contemporary
>>>capitalism) that working-class division is the "secret by which
>>>the capitalist class maintains its power"?
>>         I'm afraid that I would say 'no'--- no more than in 1870 when
>> Marx wrote his letter. The premise is that a united working class in
>> itself would be sufficient to take away that power. However, insofar as
>> the wage-form in itself is the basis for 'all the notions of justice
>> held by both the worker and the capitalist, all the mystifications of
>> the capitalist mode of production...' and insofar as the mystification
>> of capital means that all social productivity and wealth appear to be
>> the result of capital, there is a more fundamental reason for capital's
>> power than the lack of organisation of workers. We have to remember why
>> Marx wrote CAPITAL.
>>         in solidarity,
>>         michael
>>Michael A. Lebowitz
>>Professor Emeritus
>>Economics Department
>>Simon Fraser University
>>Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
>>Office Fax:   (604) 291-5944
>>Home:   Phone (604) 689-9510

Michael A. Lebowitz
Professor Emeritus
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
Office Fax:   (604) 291-5944
Home:   Phone (604) 689-9510

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