Re: (OPE-L) Re: "Marx, Markets and Meatgrinders: An Interview with Bertell Ollman" from Political Affairs

From: Francisco Paulo Cipolla (cipolla@UFPR.BR)
Date: Fri Mar 05 2004 - 15:22:52 EST

Thank you Jerry. IŽll think it over during the week-end.

"Gerald A. Levy" wrote:

> Hi Paolo. I wrote the following before your most recent post but I'll
> let it remain "as is".
> > Could one say that the theory of the state in Marx is derived from all
> > processes that could go wrong in the capitalist market system, processes
> > in  relation to which the state has to develop means to deal with on a
> > systematic basis?
> That would be a one-sided conception.  One shouldn't conceptualize the
> state only negatively as a derivative of what "could go wrong".  The state
> also has affirmative dimensions where there are struggles over what
> "could go right."   The state can be pro-active rather than just defensively
> responding to the processes that "could go wrong ....".
> This expression "what could go wrong"  is a bit slippery.  E.g. in a sense
> one could argue that public housing, public universities, national health
> programs, etc. are a response to what "has gone wrong" ... but not
> necessarily from the perspective of capitalist class interests.  From the
> perspective of real estate companies, the banks, landlords, etc., high
> rents for private housing are a manifestation of  "what can go right".
> >From the perspective of the working-class, public housing is an
> indication of  "what can go right".
> > What is our basic reading, if any, for this issue?
> I'm going to make a suggestion but first I'll preface it with some
> comments:
> a) well, of course, the easiest thing would be to recommend
> Marx  (_Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right_; _The Class Struggles
> in France_; _The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte_  ,Engels (_Origin
> of the Family, Private Property and the State_;  _Anti-Duhring_) and
> Lenin (_State and Revolution_).  But,  the object is not to comprehend
> the role of the state in all class societies (as Engels attempts in _Origin
> of the Family ...._) or to comprehend the role of state policy in an
> individual capitalist social formation during a particular historical moment
> (as Marx does in _Class Struggles ...), but rather to develop a *theory*
> of the state which is *part of*  a  larger understanding of the essential
> nature and dynamics of  the bourgeois mode of production.  That is,
> we need an *integrated theory*.
> b) what is required in terms of reading and research is to:
> i) contextualize our understanding of the state-form by considering its
> logical place within a systematic dialectical reconstruction of the CMP
> in thought.  For instance, we should ponder the *implications* of not
> systematically examining the state-form in _Capital_.  We should consider
> the role of the major classes (and how e.g. there is class segmentation
> yet unity-in-diversity within a class) as a prelude for introducing the
> state-form.  Similarly,  part of the contextualization would be to consider
> what subjects are presented after an examination of the state-form (e.g.
> trade; world market and crises).  In other words, to be able to
> systematically reconstruct the CMP in thought, including an adequate grasp
> of the state,  we must first have an image of the whole.  Or, putting it
> simplistically, we first have to understand how the main pieces fit
> together.
> ii)  just as Marx's presentation in _Capital_ presumed a critique of
> political economy, we would have to grasp the nature of bourgeois
> thought on the state since a critique of bourgeois theories of the state
> (whether part of the presentation  or not) would be a component part
> of our grasp of the state-form.  Furthermore,  we would have to examine
> the very rich literature by Marxists on the capitalist state.
> Now, having written the above, I'll make a very highly controversial
> suggestion for reading.  This suggestion is not because the authors
> necessarily "got it right" but rather because it can serve as a good point
> of departure.  Its advantages are that the authors:
> --  attempt to contextualize an understanding of the state-form
> (particularly with reference to an  understanding of the value-form, the
> commodity-form, and the capital-form) and thereby attempt to present
> an integrated theory of  the CMP which includes the state as a component
> part, and;
> --  because there is a comprehensive review of the literature on the state
> that can  serve as a guide for further research.
> With the above qualifications, my recommendation for "basic reading" is --
> * Reuten-G. and Williams, M. (1989) VALUE-FORM AND THE STATE: THE
>        New York: Routledge
> Has anyone else on the list got any better ideas for a single work to begin
> one's basic reading?
> In solidarity, Jerry

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