Re: [OPE-L] the forest and trees and classes of capitalism

From: Diego Guerrero (diego.guerrero@CPS.UCM.ES)
Date: Tue Apr 03 2007 - 13:59:15 EDT

Hi, Jerry,

In my opinion, what Marx says is: what appears to be a tree, is in fact an
element of the forest. That is: we see a specific use-value or tree, but as
a commodity it has a value, and value cannot be understood unless see it as
being a use-value produced with a fraction of the abstract labour of society
(the forest).


----- Original Message -----
From: "Jerry Levy" <Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM>
Sent: Monday, March 26, 2007 5:56 PM
Subject: [OPE-L] the forest and trees and classes of capitalism

> [Diego replying to Ajit:]
>> 1. This debate reminds me of the forest/tree question. You think we must
>> study the tree before looking at the forest. By contrast, I think Fred,
>> others and also I follow Marx in thinking that the correct procedure is
>> studying the forest before analysing the tree.
> Hi Diego:
> If one were to "follow Marx", wouldn't the "correct
> procedure" [sequentially]  be the following?
> 1) Firstly, you  identify the subject --  "The Forest".
> 2) Secondly, you  conduct extensive research into the history of
> the Forest  and  Trees (and related topics) and read and subject to
> critique what others had written about the Forest and the Trees.
> 3) Then, you organize your thoughts in outline form and begin to write
> the drafts for your study of The Forest.  Marx, of course, makes revisions
> as he proceeded with the writing -- which, as it turns out, did not follow
> the order of his exposition.  Thus, the drafts for what was later
> published
> as Volume 3 of Book 1 (in a planned 6-book study) were written before
> the  drafts for Volume 1 of Book 1.   As we all know, he only lived long
> enough to publish Book 1, Volume 1.    [Hopefully, you will _not_ follow
> Marx in this way: i.e. you live a much longer and healthier life!]
> 4) When you begin your exposition (in Ch. 1 of Volume 1 of Book 1)
> you write:
> "Where The Forrest prevails, there is an 'immense collection of trees';
> the individual tree appears as its most elementary form. Our
> investigation begins with the analysis of the tree."
> And, of course, you proceed from 4) to analyze in more concrete
> form the character of The Forest.  The Tree, hence, that you analyze,
> is part of the Forrest, rather than a tree in general.  However, it is not
> any particular, concrete tree.  In that sense, it is an Abstract Tree. [It
> is not an analysis initially of any particular tree or species of tree.]
> In any event,  Marx did not begin his analysis in _Capital_  by saying
> that first we must analyze the Forrest as a Whole.   He did not begin
> his analysis by presenting a Macro Theory of The Forrest.  Quite the
> contrary.  *He Began with the Tree!*
> To call an analysis of  The Forrest that begins with an analysis of The
> Tree a "macro" analysis is hence very misleading!
>> In my opinion, it is not
>> mainly a question of sequential versus simultaneous. It goes beyond: it
>> is
>> the question of the necessary rejection of methodological individualism.
>> Those who believe necessary to start from the individual behavior in
>> order to understand the system seem to forget that the individuals are
> socially
>> or globally determined. Micro-agents must be understood in their
>> macroeconomic circumstance. This is for instance why for Marx classes
>> come before individuals.
> And  his analysis of commodities and money came before the General Formula
> for Capital.
> Also, note well that the subject of classes is supposed to come AFTER
> _Capital_.  Before one can analyze classes more concretely (I.e. as
> diversity
> and unity-in-diversity rather than merely simple unity), one has to answer
> some
> basic questions such as:
> "The question to be answered next is: 'What makes a class?'; and this
> arises
> automatically from answering another question: 'What makes wage-laborers,
> capitalists and landowners the formative element of the three great social
> classes?'" (Vol. 3, Ch. 52, Penguin ed. pp. 1025-1026).
> In solidarity, Jerry

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