Re: [OPE-L] What is most important in Marx's theory?

From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Fri Mar 09 2007 - 12:05:56 EST

>The title of the book is Capital.  Capital is defined as "money that
> makes more money" i.e. M . (M + dM).  This is the main phenomenon to be
> explained in Marx's theory, which he highlights and emphasizes in
> Chapter 4 of Volume 1.

Hi Fred:


Capital is not "defined" as  "money that makes more money".  Capital
represents a set of  specific SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS,  some of which
are expressed quantitatively.

What Marx is trying to do in posing what seems to be a puzzle --
what is the source of dM? -- is to explain how this dM is an expression
of  SURPLUS VALUE.    Surplus value represents a SOCIAL
RELATION: class exploitation is QUALITATIVE but the character
of  the COMMODITY-FORM  means that this QUALITATIVE relation
comes to be expressed QUANTITATIVELY.   Thus,  value and
surplus value have BOTH  qualitative and quantitative dimensions.  It
is a a VERY serious mistake, imo, to think that the quantitative is the
"most important dimension" of Marx's theory because it mystifies and
obscures the central importance of the qualitative social relations which
he seeks to explain.

> I am not saying that other questions are not important.  I am just
> saying that the production is the most important feature of capitalism,
> and therefore the most important question in Marx's theory of
> capitalism.

I  strongly disagree with this formulation as well.

In some NON-CAPITALIST modes of production, it could be
said that "production is the most important feature" of those modes
of production.  More specifically, what the previous sentence
means is that by examining the production process one can explain
the fundamental social relations specific to those modes of production.
In CAPITALISM, however,   the production and reproduction of
that mode of production  requires the UNITY OF THE PROCESSES OF
To say that "production is the most important feature of capitalism" is
one-sided and does not  adequately grasp the character of the
COMMODITY-FORM.  The circulation process is JUST as necessary
and important FOR CAPITALISM as the production process.

When you say that "production is the most important feature" you
are, alas, echoing the voices and writings of many other Marxists
over the years just as when you said that the quantitative  is "the
most important dimension" of Marx's theory I hear the echoes of
other Marxists (e.g. Andrew Kliman) who-- despite differences on
other matters -- have similarly one-sidedly viewed his theory in that

In solidarity, Jerry

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