[OPE-L] Theories and practices

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Thu Dec 08 2005 - 16:00:41 EST

Ian Wright, with whom I basically agree, wrote:

So: no law of value, no underlying economic mechanisms that produce
class phenomena, etc.

A side comment - I think Marx's point is really that the "underlying
economic mechanisms" only observably reveal themselves in situations of
socio-economic crisis, conflicts and wars.

Marx's LTV seems pretty silly and counter-intuitive until, for example,
there is a strike, and people realise that if the work they take for granted
does not get done, literally everything starts to crap out. The war in Iraq,
where first an attempt was made to smash the existing political-economic
structure, and then rebuild it "in good capitalist fashion", provides I
think a stark illustration of the "underlying economic mechanisms" that are
at the core of modern capitalist civilisation. Except, they're not really
"mechanisms" so much, as social institutions based on enforced power

If the "underlying economic mechanisms" were never observable, then the
whole theory about them, would indeed be speculative only, but they do
reveal themselves, be it only in critical situations, when people are forced
to admit the real nature of their social relations, and previous ideological
illusions about them crumble.

If the law of value is a "law" of necessity, it is precisely because, as
Marx himself says, people can no more cease to produce than they can cease
to consume. As long as their consumption and production are separated acts
within a complex division of labour, they can imagine that production does
not determine consumption, or even that consumption determines production
(as in "consumer sovereignity" theories). It is only in a crisis situation,
that this is revealed not to be systematically true.

So we don't really need complicated epistemological gymnastics about
"transcendental realism", all we need to do is study the empirical facts
about what happens in crisis situations. As the "empiricist" Marx himself
commented: "The premises from which we begin are not arbitrary ones, not
dogmas, but real premises from which abstraction can only be made in the
They are the real individuals, their activity and the material conditions
under which they live, both those which they find already existing and those
produced by their activity. These premises can thus be verified in a purely
empirical way."


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