Re: [OPE-L] Marxist Political Economy in Australia Since the Mid 1970s

From: Michael Heinrich (m.heinrich@PROKLA.DE)
Date: Tue Apr 05 2005 - 11:55:14 EDT

B.R.Bapuji schrieb:
> Can we refer to Marx's economic analysis as Marxist Political Economy
> since the subheading of Marx's 'Capital' is 'A critique of Political
> Economy'?
> Is it not necessary to call Marx's theory of economics with a different
> name?
> Ranganayakamma

You met an important point. Marx didn't deliver a variant of "Political
Economy", he delivered a "Critique of Political Economy". This was not
only the subtitle of "Capital", it was at the end of the 1850ies the
name of his whole project, which led him to the famous "six-book-plan".
By this critique, he meant not only a critique of special arguments of
other economists (which is quite normal in a scientific dispute), but a
critique of a whole science: Marx didn't want to contribute to the
science of economics, he criticized this science, their basic
categories, points which were taken for granted in this science. As the
famous sentence of the subchapter on commodity fetishism indicates
("Political economy has indeed analysed value and its magnitude, however
incompletely, and has uncovered the content concealed within these
forms. But it has never once asked the question why this content has
assumed that particular form..."), Marx didn't want to criticize only
the results but also the questions which were put (or which were not
put) by political economy. By his analysis he reveals some kind of
double character of all economic categories: on the one hand value,
money, profit, interest etc. express relations existing in a capitalist
economy (and these relations were in part and uncompletely revealed by
political economy) on the other hand the same categories disguise these
relations, they express a lot of mystifications and fetishisms. Insofar
Marx's analysis contains a critique of these basic categories "by
presenting them" as he told Lassalle in a letter.

Speaking about Marx, the difference between "Political Economy" and
"Critique of Poltical Economy" is crucial. But unfortunately this is not
the case for big parts of Marxist Tradition. The "critical" parts of
Marx's "Capital" (value form analysis, commodity fetishism, trinity
formula etc.) were often more or less neglected, especially by "marxist
economists". So, we can speak in a critical sense about "marxist
political economy", meaning an approach, which - although using Marx's
terms - is a branch of political economy, much closer to left ricardians
than to Marx's critical approach.


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