Re: [OPE-L] Capital in General

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Thu Oct 20 2005 - 08:20:30 EDT

>I do not mean to minimize the importance of capitalism's tendency toward
>crises.  I have devoted a lot of years to Marx's crisis theory, especially
>the falling rate of profit as applied to the US economy.  However, I have
>come to realize that the three volumes of Capital are generally at a
>higher level of abstraction than crises.  "Crises and the world market"
>was the 6th book in Marx's original 6-book plan.  Capital was only the
>first book.  Capital provides the basis for a more concrete theory of
>crises, but such a theory is not presented in the three volumes.  Before
>concrete crises can be analyzed, the production and distribution of
>surplus-value must be explained.  These fundamental questions are
>explained in Capital on the basis of the assumption that capitalism is
>"functioning normally", i.e. that S = D and price = value or = price of

I am quite worried about Fred's change of heart, seemingly away from
Mattick's interpretation of Capital as primarily a theory of crisis
and rupture (I know that Fred had said that if American capitalism
does not enter a Great Depression by the early 2000s, he would
consider Marx invalidated, but it seems that he is now simply
redefining what Marx actually did set out to do in order to maintain
allegiance to him). We have the critique of Say's Law at the
beginning, then the misery of the working class,  disproportionality
theory in the second volume (as Andrew T underlined), and FROP theory
in the third volume. I can't see how this work can be pressed into
the mould of an explanation of surplus value on the unrelaxed
assumption that S always equals D.

In fact, this idea that Marx never really got beyond S=D in his
theoretical work only opens him to the charge that he was a prisoner
of Say's Law. This is a concession to Keynes' lumping of him into his
idiosyncratic definition of classical economics. As Bernice Shoul
showed, Marx only makes provisional use of Say's Law in order to
discover a deeper source of crises, the shortage of surplus value in
the realm of production. Marx was however a thorough going critic of
Say's Law and Keynes only "rediscovered" much of Marx's criticism.


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