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

From: Andrew Brown (Andrew@LUBS.LEEDS.AC.UK)
Date: Mon Mar 29 2004 - 05:49:38 EST

Hi Jerry,

> I believe this is an *excellent* point made by Tony since, in my
> view, so much of what passes as Marxian history is *reductionist* for
> the reason Tony gives.  This *simplistic* reduction of historical
> explanation from theory is bad history and bad theory.  Yet, this
> privilaging of class conflict over other factors, including
> competition within a class, happens so often.  Historical phenomena
> are too complex, though, to be explained by way of a simple reduction
> and deduction from basic theoretical propositions.
> What did Ben write in this exchange by way of criticism of Tony's
> explanation?

The article was by Fine, Lapavitsas and Milonakis. They did not
agree that system and history were so far apart. Nor do I. There *is*
a distinction and systematic dialectics very useful, amongts other
things, for stressing this. But the analogy with a cell seems apt
enough. It has stages of development through time - to grasp the
system is to have some idea of the stages, and vice versa.

> > different  respective versions of crisis theory and the role of
> > finance therein, in these particular literatures. Geert's stuff on
> > this is very interesting and would be great  to compare  with other
> > stuff. There *are* some close parellel's. E.g. both Geert and Fine
> > see the  LTRPF as  essentially cyclical, and to do with
> > stratification of fixed capital of different vintages.
> I think there is somewhat of a convergence in perspective as one moves
> to a consideration of more concrete levels of abstraction.  I find
> this to be interesting, if true, since the two perspectives begin with
> different insights yet theorize some concrete phenomena related to
> contemporary capitalism in some, but not all, ways that are similar.

I'm not sure that there is such a convergence, in general -
interesting issue to explore further, time permiting

> Have you read Geert's contribution to the Albritton and Simoulis eds.
> volume?  I believe it is particularly relevant to this exchange since
> it concerns the theorization of the contingent, using the instance of
> inflation, from a systematic dialectical perspective.

Yes - very useful, esp. on methodological points. Shows how the oft
repeated criticism of systematic dialectics that it cannot find room
for contingency is very wrong. I think the respective theories of
inflation of say Geert and Alfredo are different due to different
theories of value. I'll say no more because they are both on the this
list and inflation is not a topic I have worked on -- I'd like to when I
get the chance.

> You made the point previously that you thought there is much to be
> learned from systematic dialectics.  I think they would make the same
> point about Fine's writings.


Many thanks,


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