(OPE-L) Re: Historical Explanation and Systematic Dialectics

From: Gerald A. Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Fri Mar 26 2004 - 13:37:58 EST

> I think it would be better if you chose select points and made
> them succinctly.


I will respond as you suggest.

> Brenner himself says the proximate cause of the long downturn was a
> fall in the rate of profit; the question is how he explains it. You
> don't show that the intra capitalist conflict could have by itself
> caused a fall in the rate of profit the long downturn. Nor do you
> show that any of your other factors can account for it.

I wasn't responding to Brenner; I was responding to what you wrote.

> >  By inference, you are suggesting that any factor which is
> >not a direct expression of the class struggle between wage-labour and
> >capital can not be the primary causal force behind a 'protracted'
> >economic downturn.
> Yes general crises require not a simple redistribution of capital but
> the devaluation of capital as such and a rise in the rate of
> exploitation of the working class as a whole.

This shows that you recognize that I was responding to the position
you suggested.

> So you disagree with Cyrus' arguments against cartelization?

Cyrus offers an explanation for why the oil industry is no longer
controlled by a cartel.  He does not claim that it can never again
be controlled by a cartel.

> It can demonstrated that a rise in the price of oil was not the cause
> of the mid 70s downturn.

I made no reference to the 1970's.

> Please, Jerry, if you are going to invent strawman, invent new names
> for them. Don't use my name.

There were no strawmen invented.  Deconstructing your own
words was enough.

> The point remains that class relations though manifested in things
> and prices are not just another causal factor.

The point remains that while class relations between capital and
wage-labour can be considered to have primary explanatory power
when analyzing capitalist crises _in general_ one can not therefore
presume that it represents the primary cause of an _individual_ crisis.

Previously you wrote:

>  The inability of intra capitalist competition in itself to
> explain a protracted downturn has been demonstrated by several of
> Brenner's critics.

And then added:

> Ultimately Brenner explains a depression in the
> profit rate as a result of a rise in the real wage, though he insists
> that the real wage does not rise as a result of working class
> militance. That is, Brenner himself does not ultimately explain the
> long downturn as a result of simply intra capitalist competition; he
> too turns to a change in the real relationship between capital and
> wage labor in the division of net product.

To which I replied:

> If Brenner 'ultimately' grounds the current economic downturn in
> the  struggle between capital and labour then all of the efforts by
> Brenner's critics to 'demonstrate'  that competition can not 'in itself'
> cause  a protracted downturn were misplaced.

You then ask:

> How does this follow?

a) you claim that Brenner's critics have 'demonstrated' that intra-
capitalist competition 'in itself' can not explain a protracted
economic downturn.

b) you then recognize that 'ultimately' Brenner does not explain
the downturn as a result of intra-capitalist competition.

a + b necessarily mean that "Brenner's critics" were advancing
an argument against a position that Brenner did not hold.

>  A classic 'straw
> man' type argument by the critics of Brenner.
> What are you saying here?

See above.

In solidarity, Jerry

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