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

From: Francisco Paulo Cipolla (cipolla@SOCIAIS.UFPR.BR)
Date: Mon Sep 22 2003 - 15:12:53 EDT

The book, "Persistet inequalities", by Botwinick, was an attempt to lay
down the theory of competition upon which to understand that divisions
within the working class are a necessary result. These divisions
systematically created by the process od competition, divisions which
set one segment of the working class against another, much in the way
described by Marx (think about southern italians workers laboring in the
north), clearly become part of the domination of the proletariat by the
There is however another level of analysis which should be related to
intra-class divisions and this is the ideology proper to the capitalist
social relations.
All colleagues in OPE-L know: 1. the capitalist producrion process is a
process among things bought by capital. As a result the product and
productivity of labor appear as an attribute of capital; 2.Original
capital as a result of labor; 3. Profits as springing from total capital
rather than by its variable part alone; 4. Profits as salaries of
management; 5.Wages as payment for labor and not for labor power. These
are all aspects of the social relations which Marx tried to de-mystify
exactly for the reason that these were appearances which couvered the
exploitative nature of the system.

How should we relate this to Marx analysis of the Irish case? Is there a
continuos of analysis? How could this more general and abstract level be
interwoven with the more concrete analysis presented in Marx´s

"michael a. lebowitz" 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
>> production.
>> 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. LebowitzProfessor
> EmeritusEconomics DepartmentSimon Fraser UniversityBurnaby, B.C.,
> Canada V5A 1S6Office Fax:   (604) 291-5944Home:   Phone (604) 689-9510

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