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

From: Gerald A. Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Wed Mar 10 2004 - 10:23:51 EST

Hi Paolo.

> 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 maintains the
> social relations as they are the state has to gather funds to pay for
> the government dependent individuals.

This presents both a  mutual dependence of  the state-employed
'unproductive classes'  and capitalists and a potential conflict in
class interests between the the 'unproductive classes' who are paid out
of state revenues and the capitalists who are levied taxes.

[E.g. If there is a 'tendency for the "unproductive classes" to
increase'  (which could, in part, be seen as a dynamic associated
with the growth of bureaucracy) and this leads to additional taxation
and state borrowing, then the rate of accumulation could be adversely
affected by a "crowding-out effect". What's wrong with this reasoning?]

> 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
> Bonapartist type.

A theory of the state under capitalism, which is part of a larger theory
of capitalism, must be general enough that it is able to grasp the forms of
government  independent of the specific forms that government takes
within individual social formations during particular historical periods.
The latter would need to be conceptualized at the more concrete level
of abstraction where there are conjunctural and class studies.

> 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.

The emphasis appears to be on economic relations,  but any non-economic
relations which are essential to the grasp of the subject matter need to be
explained.  E.g. bureaucracy, power, and prestige are not strictly or
exclusively economic relations.

> You refer to the state as the state-form. Does that come from the Critique
> of   Hegel?

I hadn't been thinking of Marx's critique of Hegel when I wrote the 'state-
form'.   I don't want to be evasive but I think the discussion might be
better if instead of answering your question we *ask* others on the list --
what is the meaning of 'state-form'?  Is it synonymous with 'The State'
or does it express some other concept and reality?

> I was also curious to know what Marx meant by the
> "Encroachment of bourgeois society on the State".

I interpret this to mean the "encroachment of Civil Society on the
State".  This leads me to *ask*  whether Civil Society "encroaches"
on The State?  If so, how?  What are some examples historically
of this 'tendency'?  If not, why not?

In solidarity, Jerry

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Thu Mar 11 2004 - 00:00:01 EST