Re: [OPE-L] Six book plan, foreign trade

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Sun Sep 24 2006 - 13:57:05 EDT


>You wrote:
>"So we have an open and always already incomplete book but Marx's
>Capital is not an open book--it is a self-enclosed and completed
>theory of its object."
>With all due respect, this seems to me like sophistry. I could say e.g. "a
>dog is a dog, and at the same time not a dog", but this surely isn't very
>profound or dialectical. Beyond some remarks scattered through various
>manuscripts, Marx regrettably simply did not offer a systematic theory of
>foreign trade.
>Rosa Luxemburg in fact attempted to derive such a theory of the necessity of
>foreign trade from the "expanded reproduction of capital" as you say, but
>personally I'm a bit skeptical about that approach.

Why though? Why not study foreign trade from this theoretically
controlled perspective?

If Quesnay's general idea of expanded reproduction structured Marx's
theoretical investigation,
then this would seem to be the way to approach the problem. This is
the way Quesnay seems to have approached the problem (relying here on
II Rubin's summary).

>Trade in the world market, as Marx noted, is historically bound up with the
>very origins of the capitalist mode of production, i.e. not just a result of
>it, but a presupposition or initial condition of it. All we are saying here
>so far, is that for capital to grow, markets must expand, and this expansion
>occurs both nationally and internationally.

No this is not all that Grossman and Tony Smith are saying.

>I think as regards foreign trade, that what Marx would have done in his
>critique is to start off not with expanded reproduction, but with a critique
>of Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage.

An excellent point indeed.

Let's see if we can figure out what references Marx does make to
Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage.

But I think you have made a very important counter point.

I don't know Michael Huson's critique of Ricardo' theory of ca; did
you mean Michael Hudson? Carchedi's critique of Ricardo is very close
in spirit to what Marx wrote. But I read Frontiers of Political
Economy more than ten years ago!

Thanks for the counterpoint.


>  This is in fact the path taken
>by authors like Anwar Shaikh, Samir Amin, Michael Husson, Klaus Bush,
>Guglielmo Carchedi and others. But that path takes us beyond what Marx
>himself said.

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