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

From: Gerald A. Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Wed Mar 24 2004 - 09:16:02 EST

Once again, Hi Andy:

> It still seems to me that our key disagreement is at the level of
> interpretation of 'Capital' as a whole, and more interestingly of our
> respective grasp of capitalism.

In general, that is probably true. But, that shouldn't prevent us from
being able to present our explanations of the very particular topic that
we have been considering in this thread.

> Perhaps all this goes to show that whether or not they constitute
> 'evidence', depends on our interpretation of them. What do you
> think?

I think it depends more critically on how we are each specifying
the issues in the debate.  I.e. we might be discussing different,
but related issues and hence talking past one another.  Perhaps
also it depends on what we think constitutes evidence itself.

> I have an *interpretation* of Marx that comprehends the letters
> perfectly well and doesn't see them as such a big deal. This doesn't
> mean they are off my radar screen!

Maybe I missed something -- when and where (before yesterday)
did you come to grips in your interpretation with how Marx's poor
health and financial distress had an impact on his work?  I.e. what
is the role in your interpretation for contingent, 'accidental' factors
affecting the final format, content and length of Volume 1?

> We have *different*
> interpretations of Marx, hence of the letters. Our disagreement is
> then about these interpretations of Marx, and to pursue further
> therefore is quite a big task for us.

We have different understandings of capitalism and different
interpretations of Marx, to be sure.  However,  in this thread
I have been focused on a much narrower question: i.e. I have
presented a reply to a portion of the critique of systematic
dialectics made by Ollman and others which asserts that
systematic dialectics fails to comprehend _why_ Marx
presented the historical details on the working day and
primitive accumulation at great length.  I have made the
counter-argument, as you know by now, that it is Ollman and
others who made this charge who fail to fully comprehend the
all of the specific reasons why Marx presented these topics at
great length in _Capital_.   While it might be useful to probe the
extent to which our understandings of capitalism (including our
positions on method and value) and our overall interpretations
of Marx's project differ, it should be much easier to focus on
one topic at a time -- such as the one now being discussed.
(But, see next comment.)

> I'd
> rather discuss the underlying grasp of capitalism that motivates the
> different interpretations of the text, than cite the text itself to death!

OK, despite what I just wrote, I'll take a small bite (mostly to see if by
so doing we can draw others into -- and thereby expand the scope of
-- this exchange):

* Can you explain (without citing 'the text') how your underlying grasp
        of capitalism differs from systematic dialectical interpretations?

> Do you disagree with the 'cell-form' metaphor?

No, but we may disagree on the meaning of that 'metaphor'.  From
my perspective, it is a restatement by Marx of the importance of the
'starting point' of  the commodity.  As you know, the 'starting point'
of the presentation has great significance for both Hegel and his
student, Marx.

In solidarity, Jerry

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