Re: [OPE-L] Marx's 3 invisible hands

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Mon Feb 05 2007 - 10:37:35 EST


> Hi Rakesh,
>
> nice to have you back. I read your mails with great interest. To your
> question: Marx and Engels (and Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg) use the idea of
> invisible hand in many ways in their explanation of market relations.
> often in a descriptive and sometimes in a critical sense. Engels uses it
> also in a positive, that is, in a normative sense to explain that
> individuals plans to manage their everydays lives end always somewhere
> else than planed.
>
> Best,
> Dogan
>
Nice to be back. I am reading Emma Rothschild's revisionist account of
Smith's invisible hand which she thinks Smith meant as an ironical joke.
This seems as revisionist as saying that natural selection was an ironical
joke for Darwin, or the three laws of motion an ironical joke for Newton,
or the central dogma an ironical joke for Crick and Watson. But she makes
a very detailed argument. Still thinking about it.

To me what seems most important is how Marx combined invisible and visible
hand processes in theorizing the workers' struggle against the capitalist
mode of production.

So I had written:

 3. In the pursuit of profit capitalists MUST create as if led by invisible
> hand the possibility
> and necessity a higher mode of production, though it can be achieved only
> through
> the visible hand of class struggle!

That both processes are implied has caused continuing confusion about
whether Marx is a positivist, objectivist, amoralist.

But I do think Marx leaves little doubt that capitalists themselves cannot
but create the possibility and necessity of a higher mode of production.
They are led by an invisible hand even if in the unlikely case many of
them see what the unintended effects of their actions are. Marx's argument
for socialism is partially based on the invisible hand, a causal process
with unintended effects. It is not primarily a Kantian or otherwise
ethical argument for socialism.

 Of course Schumpeter seems to represent this kind of resignation that
that capitalists have without any intention destroyed the protecting
layers of their system, but I think a careful reading will show that
Schumpeter meant to rally the capitalist class to the defense of the
order which they were unintentionally undermining. So Schumpeter did not
believe in the invisible hand. He wanted a visible hand to protect
against what he called premature socialization. His sympathies for
fascism are not surprising.

Rakesh








>
> -----Urspr√ľngliche Mitteilung-----
> Von: bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU
> An: OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU
> Verschickt: So., 4.Feb.2007, 17:26
> Thema: [OPE-L] Marx's 3 invisible hands
>
>
> Just a quick question about the invisible hand to Dogan and others
> How many are there in Marx? I know that 2 was mentioned in the discussion;
> don't remember 1 and 3.
>
>
> 1.Through competitive self interest the capitalists as a whole reduce the
> unit value
> of wage goods and thereby allow for the 'beneficient' result of rising
> relative surplus value.
>
> 2. Through attempts to earn extra surplus value capitalists create over
> time a pattern
> of a falling profit rate and a general crisis--a malignant invisible hand.
>
> 3. In the pursuit of profit capitalists MUST create as if led by invisible
> hand the possibility
> and necessity a higher mode of production, though it can be achieved only
> through
> the visible hand of class struggle!
>
> I know that Dogan has had an interesting discussion with others about
> Marx's understanding
> of unintended consequences and invisible hand.
>
> I was wondering whether other invisible hand arguments were mentioned.
>
> To Paulo, I am thinking about your very interesting response.
>
> Rakesh
>


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