[OPE-L] Quesnay

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Tue Sep 12 2006 - 08:59:51 EDT

>Jerry, the point I made was in a particular context.
>The context was the possible influence of the
>Physiocracy on Marx's theoretical framework in
>CAPITAL. Now the most original contribution of the
>Physiocrats (particularly Quesnay) was the notion of

Yes indeed the importance of the French Confucius.

Equally important as surplus is reproduction, the theorization of
production and circulation as constrained by the need to produce
again, no? As John Torrance shows (Marx's Theory of Ideas), the idea
of self constraining production as ontologically fundamental can be
found in the early Marx but his early ideas are vague. And no where
near as analytically breathtaking as the Physiocratic theory with its
political implications of wu-wei.

As a student of Sraffa, wouldn't you consider the discoveries of
surplus and reproduction equally important?

It's also only with the reproduction schema that Marx shows that his
science is possible because it does indeed have an actual object
capable of  reproduction through time, the capitalist mode of
production. Otherwise there would be no object with enough integrity
and coherence of which to theorize the laws of motion! In this sense
the second volume of Capital is scientifically fundamental, the
bedrock of the entire theoretical venture. And it is also of course
the least studied volume.


>  It is also contended by many that the whole
>of political economy, including Marx's can be
>understood as a 'surplus approach economics'. Now, in
>that particular context, where the core of the theory
>revolves around the concept of 'surplus', it is a
>pertinent question to ask: what is surplus? Now you
>can legitimately ask all sorts of different questions
>such: as what is capitalism? or how all kinds of
>things relate to it. But I'm not interested in getting
>into such questions, definetely not on ope-l. I give
>little bit of my time to ope-l and that's all I can
>do. You need to sharpen your questions or put
>alternative point of view within the context of a
>debate, which can be responded to. I'm definitely not
>interested in writing books on this list.
>(By the way, both Rakesh and Howard have misunderstood
>what I meant by 'point of view'. An agent can perceve
>something to be a 'surplus' if s/he has command over
>it and can utilise it in whatever manner s/he deems
>fit.) Cheers, ajit sinha
>--- Jerry Levy <Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM> wrote:
>>  >  Now I'm not interested in Marxological debate
>>  > on this question. But I think a more interesting
>>  > question from theoretical perspective would be to
>>  > ask: what is surplus?
>>  Hi Ajit:
>>  If we, as you suggest, put aside the Marxological
>>  debate
>>  then that leaves us with the question:  if one wants
>>  to theorize
>>  the subject matter of capitalism, what are the
>>  analytical sub-
>>  subjects which need to be theorized, what is their
>>  logical
>>  connection, and what are their inter-connections?
>>  "What is surplus?" is a trans-historical question:
>>  all
>>  class societies have a surplus product. (whether
>>  there is also
>>  surplus value produced depends, of course, on the
>>  definitions
>>  and analysis that one is using).   The theorization
>>  of capitalism
>>  as a specific subject (rather than the theorization
>>  of a general
>>  history of modes of production) requires that we
>>  move beyond
>>  that question to ask and explicate the answer to:
>>  what
>>  distinguishes the capitalist mode of production from
>>  other
>>  modes and what is the character and the
>>  developmental
>>  tendencies and 'contradictions'/'antagonisms' of
>>  that mode?
>>  If you oppose the conception of capitalism and
>>  inter-relationship
>>  among sub-subjects expressed in the 6-book-plan,
>>  then one
>>  still has to put forward an analysis in which all of
>>  the essential topics
>>  and logical moments related to the subject
>>  (capitalism) are grasped.
>>  So, my question to you (note well that I am
>>  following your suggestion
>>  that the Marxological question be put aside) is: how
>  > are the subjects of
>>  capital and wage-labor, capital and landed property,
>>  wage-labor and
>  > landed property, capital and the state, wage-labor
>>  and the state,
>>  landed property and the state, foreign trade and the
>>  3 major classes,
>>  foreign trade and the state,  the world-market and
>>  capital, the world
>>  market and the working class, the world market and
>>  landed property,
>>  and the world market and capitalism as a whole
>>  theorized together?  Do
>>  you reject the idea that these topics need to be
>>  theorized together to
>>  understand the subject of capitalism as a whole?; do
>>  you have a
>>  suggestion for an alternative framework for better
>>  understanding this
>>  subject as a whole?  Let me suggest to you that the
>>  question is not
>>  "what is surplus?" -- it is how do we fully answer
>>  'what is capitalism?"
>>  and how does it as a (you are not going to like this
>  > word) "totality"
>>  operate?
>>  In solidarity, Jerry
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