Re: White and Luxemburg. Was: (OPE-L) New Dialectics and Critical Realism

From: Christopher Arthur (cjarthur@WAITROSE.COM)
Date: Thu Mar 18 2004 - 13:17:02 EST

Dear Paul
thanks for these observations and refs.

At 3:14 pm -0500 17/3/04, Paul Zarembka wrote:
>Thanks for your review of White's work and I have obtained James White's
>reply; it is attached.  Did both appear in *Studies in Marxism*?
Yes. No. 8, 2001,

>I share White's understanding of what Luxemburg was trying to accomplish,
>against your dismissal of her work on accumulation of capital.  In fact,
>I'll up the stakes.
>Marx started *Capital* with "Commodities" and goes forward as we all well
>know, never really getting to history until the end of *Volume 1*.  Yet,
>around the time that the first edition of *Capital* was published, he
>became more and more deeply drawn into the historical question and the
>question of the penetration (or lack thereof) of capitalism into
>pre-capitalist society.  As White says,
>   "It emerged [from White's investigations] that what Marx was interested
>in at that time was the action of capital on non-capitalist societies,
>traditional agrarian communities. He began this line of inquiry not with
>Russia, but with his native Germany, using mainly the works of Maurer. But
>the country where the peasant agrarian commune was most in evidence was
>Russia, and it was to that country that he naturally turned his
>Compare Luxemburg's *Introduction to Political Economy*.  She doesn't get
>to "Commodity Production" until her six chapter!  Her long third chapter
>is "Elements of Economic History: Primitive Communism" and used some of
>the exact same source materials as Marx was reading.  (Marx, Luxemburg and
>White all read Russian.  Incidentally, half of Luxemburg's third chapter
>is now translated into English in *The Rosa Luxemburg Reader*, edited by
>Peter Hudis and Kevin B. Anderson, Monthly Review, 2004, pp. 71-110.)
>Luxemburg goes on to feudalism and the guilds.
>In other words, Luxemburg's project became in fact what White says Marx
>was moving toward in his late years!  Pretty amazing, no?  I think
>Luxemburg came to this on her own, although apparently she did have access
>to some of Marx's unpublished materials.
>Where I might depart from White is that I think the problem with
>accumulation of capital as the extension of capitalism is already a
>problem in *Volume 1* of *Capital*, while White thinks it arises from the
>interface of *Volume 1* with *Volume 2*.  My argument appears in
>"Accumulation of Capital, Its Definition, A Century after Lenin and
>Luxemburg", *R.P.E.*, Vol. 18, pp. 183-241, and is also mentioned in my
>comment on Sayer's review of White.
>Another comment.  In my view, you over-estimate the cogency of Lenin's
>economics.  For my own evaluation, see my article last year in *Science
>and Society*, "Lenin, Economist of Production: A Ricardian Step
>Backwards".  The more carefully I read Lenin's economics, the less
>'marxist' it became and I wouldn't use it as a standard anymore.
>In any case, I prefer your review of White's *Karl Marx and the Origins of
>Dialectical Materialism* because you clearly respect the work, in spite of
>disagreements.  I hadn't known of it before and am glad that White is
>receiving increasing attention.
>P.S. I notice some typos in White:
>a. "Manuscript I of the second draft written in 1865": actually refers to
>Manuscript I of Volume 2.
>b. The first edition of Capital was 1867, not 1868.
We caught both those mistakes in production

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