Re: (OPE-L) Re: White and Luxemburg

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@BUFFALO.EDU)
Date: Thu Mar 18 2004 - 15:18:25 EST

> Wasn't  "Introduction to Political Economy"  a popular pamphlet based
> on her lectures at the Party (SPD) school?  As such, it seems misguided
> to compare its internal structure to that of _Capital_.  Perhaps a
> comparison to _Value, Price and Profit_ might be more relevant.


Luxemburg's preserved Chapters 1, 3, 6, 7, and 10 are 250 pages in print
in German. If the whole is doubled, we're talking 500 pages, similar in
length to *Accumulation of Capital*.  This doesn't qualify as a pamphlet
and comparison to "Value, Price and Profit" is unwarranted.

> What did Luxemburg identify as her aim in the "Introduction"?   Did
> she  identify  her "ultimate aim" in the same way as Marx did in the
> July, 1867  "Preface to the First Edition" of Volume One of
> _Capital_?

The origins of the rise (and later fall) of the science of political
economy as a result of the rise of capitalism after primitive communism,
slavery, feudalism. Then the explication of that science.  Or so it reads
to me.  She doesn't provide a 'one-liner'.

> Even within the context of a systematic dialectical presentation,
> moreover, the subject of primitive accumulation could come first
> *if* it was understood to be a historical preface prior to the
> presentation of the theory.  That is, it could be taken in that
> context to be a preface that comes before the actual starting point of
> the dialectical presentation.  (I am reminded of an introductory
> economics textbook that _begins_ with economic history and only
> afterwards moves to the presentation of the theory.) Similarly,
> one could have included it  as an "Appendix"  or a lengthy footnote
> or relegated it to a possible continuation.

Yes, you are correct.  That's why White's book is so important.  Because
it shows how Marx got into difficulties and thus the story doesn't end
with your paragraph above.

> If I were teaching a short, introductory class to Party members, I
> might also begin with the "easy stuff" -- economic history.

Actually, I think almost all American students, without interest in
anthropology, could get bored to tears learning Morgan on Iroquois
Indians.  And the Iroquois lived in the same state of New York as you and
I.  Anyway, I made a mis-statement: Luxemburg didn't BEGIN with primitive
communism, but rather "What is Political Economy?" and "Social Labor".
Still, "Commodity Production" only come after three chapters on
pre-history of capitalism.

What I'm suggesting is that Luxemburg, fresh to the subject (just 12 when
Marx died), could, in her own way, write on the subject that also
concerned Marx without being burdened by the outlines Marx had written for
himself, that Marx could be argued to having begun to see the very
structure of his work as itself a burden (which he was stuck with by
1867), and that Luxemburg can be considered to be a follower in the best
tradition of Marx himself, including late Marx.

Let's throw in another consideration: Luxemburg, in her earlier years, did
refer to dialectics. But in a letter from prison she wrote that Marx's use
of Hegel in *Volume 1* was an abomination.  And as far as I can tell, her
*Intro* and *Accumulation* is independent of Hegel.  Isn't this
independence from Hegel a factor behind some intellectual critics of
Luxemburg, the effort to keep repeating that she was mistaken (even after
our friend Joe kicked the bucket).


Vol.21: Neoliberalism in Crisis, Accumulation, and Rosa Luxemburg's Legacy
RESEARCH IN POLITICAL ECONOMY, Zarembka/Soederberg, eds., Elsevier Science

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