Re: (OPE-L) Systematic Dialectics and the Presentation of Historical Detail in Volume I of _Capital_

From: Andrew Brown (Andrew@LUBS.LEEDS.AC.UK)
Date: Tue Mar 23 2004 - 05:58:44 EST

Hi Jerry,

Your question is eloquently and challegingly put. All your points are well taken. But
at the end of the day, you are relying on a few letters to make a case, where you
have a finished text, viz. Capital Vol. 1, telling you the opposite story. That is, the
sections on the working day (and you don't mention primitive accumulation but this
is also important) are there and carry rather more weight than a letter or two of
Marx. An interpretation that makes sense of the intrinsic place of these aspects of
'Capital' is preferred to one that doesn't, don't you think? Marx's letters to which you
refer indicate that some sections are longer than they would otherwise have been;
they do not indicate the sections have no intrinsic place in the text. They do not
even indicate that lengthening the sections was not in accord was the intrinsic
structure (the 'underlying architechtonic') of 'Capital'. Rather, Marx would surely
lengthen sections which could *legitimitely* be lengthened without doing injustice to
that intrinsic structure? He would not add superfluous material, surely.

But the real point is not about the interpretation of Marx, of course, it is about the
role of empirical and historical material in theorising capitalism. It seems to me that
systematic dialectics has, in arguing against the prevalent 'logical-historical'
interpretation, bent the stick rather to far in the opposite direction, in seperating
system and history. To grasp a system entails grasping how the system comes in to
being just as much as it entails grasping how, once it has come into being, it 'posits
its own presuppositions', don't you think?

Another thought: what of the masses of historical detail in the Contribution to the

Many thanks,


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