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

From: John Holloway (johnholloway@PRODIGY.NET.MX)
Date: Tue Mar 09 2004 - 19:36:22 EST

On the relation between the state and capital and the concept of the
state-form, I still think of the state derivation debate as the starting
point. See: Holloway and Picciotto, State and Capital, Edward Arnold, 1978;
Simon Clarke, The State Debate, Macmillan 1991.

(Sorry if someone has mentioned these already; I haven't been able to follow
the discussion closly.)

>From: Francisco Paulo Cipolla <cipolla@UFPR.BR>
>Subject: Re: [OPE-L] (OPE-L) Re: "Marx, Markets and Meatgrinders: An
Interview with Bertell Ollman" from Political Affairs
>Date: Tue, Mar 9, 2004, 4:08 PM

>Thanks Jerry for your stimulating post. Obviously one feels overwhelmed by the
>volume of reading and research that must be done if marxists want to be more
>convincing both scientifically and in their daily propaganda.
>I think the idea of keeping the eyes on the prize is very serious. However it
>would be much harder to comprehend the subject matter -- Capitalism and State --
>if we were to depart solely from the present day evidence rather than mixing
>Marxs suggestions with new evidence.
>To keep it simple consider the question of Taxes/unproductive classes. This is
>in itself a whole field of analysis. I guess here Marx is referring to the
>unproductive classes employed by the state, i.e., the army, the legislators, the
>judges, the civil servants. What seems interesting to me is that Taxes as far as
>the unproductive classes are concerned is a subject matter that is independent
>of the type of government that happens to exist: as long as it mantains the
>social relations as they are the state has to gather funds to pay for the
>government dependent individuals.
>In asking about the relationship between the state and the economy I had in mind
>relations that are independent of whether the government is a committee of the
>bourgeoisie or whether the government is of the the Bonapartist type. If we look
>at the way Marx orders the contents of what was supposed to be the book on the
>state it seems that he has in mind these economic relations.
>You refer to the state as the state-form. Does that come from the Critique of
>Hegel? The form of appearance of the state as the interest of all in opposition
>to its intrinsic or essential being as the instrument of one class? Here the
>economic relations help to understand the state as a form of appearance: taxes
>come from all, therefore the state must be in the interest of all. I do not
>think the question of the state as form and its economic foundations in
>capitalism need to be separated.
>I was also curious to know what Marx meant by the
>"Encroachment of bourgeois society on the State".
>I am very interested in reading Reuten and Williams` book on the state. Maybe
>Ill scape this shameful ignorance.
>Thanks again
>"Gerald A. Levy" wrote:
>> Paolo and others:  Here's a bit more to think over this
>> weekend.
>> 1)  "how Marx would proceed in integrating the state in
>> his overall theory of capitalism" is an interesting thought-
>> experiment, but:
>> a) we'll never know the answer to that question except in
>> a *very* general way (discussed briefly below).  So,  it is
>> a *speculative* question.
>> b) while it is one of the many background questions that
>> could be asked, should it form the starting-point for an
>> investigation of the state?  I don't think that's the best idea.
>> One has to focus on the *subject itself* (i.e. capitalism)
>> if one wishes to reconstruct the state in thought in a form that
>> allows us to grasp the essential, real character of the state and
>> its inter-connection to the CMP.  This is a research task of
>> a different order than interpreting and speculating on Marx's
>> writings.
>> 2) Paradoxically perhaps, some insights could be gained by
>> *asking* whether the very broad statements that Marx wrote
>> would be the contents of the Book on The State can serve as a
>> suitable frame of reference for us today.  That is, we could
>> *critically* interrogate those sketchy plans by asking to what
>> extent they are INadequate and INcomplete and INcapable of
>> grasping the essential character of the state in bourgeois society.
>> In  what Oakley [1983] describes as the "First *Grundrisse* plan,
>> Marx wrote:
>>      "(3) The State as the epitome of bourgeois society.
>>            Analysed in relation to itself.
>>            The 'unproductive' classes.
>>            Taxes.
>>            National debt.
>>            Public credit.
>>            Population.
>>            Colonies.
>>            Emigration."
>>            (M&E, _Collected Works_, Volume 28, p. 45; spacing altered
>>            for visual clarity;  for the  slightly different wording in the
>>            Penguin ed. of the _Grundrisse_, see p. 108.)
>> Note that the above plan in the Economic Manuscripts of 1857-58,
>> includes what the  Third *Grundrisse* plan" refers to as  "The State
>> in its external relations."
>>        "Then the *State*.
>>          (State and bourgeois society. --
>>          Taxation, or the existence of the unproductive classes. --
>>          The national debt. --
>>           Population.--
>>           The State in its external relations:
>>            Colonies.
>>           Foreign trade.
>>           Rate of exchange.
>>           Money as international coin."
>>           (Ibid, p. 195; altered as above; Penguin ed. version is on p.
>>           264.)
>> Later, in the '6-book-plan', "The State in its external relations" becomes
>> simply  "foreign trade" (_A Contribution to the Critique of Political
>> Economy_ in  __CW_, Volume 29, p. 261).
>> The question that I think should be asked, though, is not speculative or
>> Marxological: namely, is the above broad outline a satisfactory first step
>> in the reconstruction in thought of the subject matter?  For example, what
>> is the logic behind the ordering?  Are there essential aspects of the
>> subject that don't have a place in that ordering?  Having the benefit of
>> being able to examine capitalism in a more mature form than Marx
>> witnessed, are there essential aspects of the State that weren't apparent to
>> Marx or are in need of modification?
>> In other words, by *critically* interrogating what Marx wrote -- keeping in
>> mind first and foremost the subject matter itself  (a slogan from the civil
>> rights movement -- "Keep your eyes on the prize" -- comes to mind)
>> some insights can be gained. (1)
>> In solidarity, Jerry
>> Note:
>> (1) "Keep your eyes on the prize" could also be extended to mean that we
>> should keep in mind the "prize" of a new society.  That is,  the 'END'
>> should not be forgotten.  Certainly Marx didn't forget it: e.g. in outlining
>> the "Second *Grundrisse* plan", he describes
>>    "the conclusion, the world market, in which production  is posited as a
>>      totality and all its movements also, but in which simultaneously all
>>      contradictions are set in motion.  Hence the world market is likewise
>>      both the presupposition of the totality and its bearer.  Crises are
>>      then the general pointer to beyond the presupposition, and the urge to
>>      adopt a new historical form." (_CW_, Volume 28, p. 160; for Penguin
>>      ed., see p. 227).
>> [NB: if in the world market "all contradictions are set in motion"  and if
>> there are contradictions that arise from the state-form it follows that,
>> according to Marx,  the contradictions of the state-form come to the
>> fore during crises.  Thus, crises -- and their causes -- are not narrowly
>> economic alone.]
>> This point can be seen again in the Economic Manuscripts of 1857-58 in the
>> when Marx again refers to the world market:
>>      "Finally the world market.
>>       Encroachment of bourgeois society on the State. [>>>/////what do you
>>       think *THAT* means?, JL/////<<<]
>>       Crises.
>>       Dissolution of the mode of production and form of society based upon
>>           exchange value.
>>       The real positing of individual labour as social and vice versa.)"
>>       (Ibid, p. 195; spacing altered again for visual clarity.)
>> Reference:
>> Oakley, A. (1983) _The Making of Marx's Critical Theory: A Bibliographical
>>      Analysis_. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul
>> --------------
>> > Thank you Jerry. Ill think it over during the week-end.

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