Re: [OPE-L] Marxism for the 21st Century - a revolutionary tool or more scholasticism? by Michael A.Lebowitz.

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Tue Aug 14 2007 - 17:36:20 EDT

Here is the English version

21st Century Marxism

In certain respects the situation of Marxism in the early 21st century
has much in common with that in the late 19th century. In both cases
Marxism is faced with a world in which the capitalist mode of production
dominates. During what Hobsbawm called the 'shorter 20th century', the
period from 1914 to 1990, world politics centered round the epochal
struggle between capitalist and socialist economic systems, and that
reality gave to Marxism a quite different character than in its first
period 1948-1914. In historical terms then, we are some 17 years into
the 21st century.

In each period Marxism has had to address itself to the theoretical and
political challenges of the moment. The 19th century addressed two main
1) The constitution of the proletariat as a class and thus as a
political party - (The Manifesto of the Communist Party 1848)
2) The critique of bourgeois political economy and the establishment of
a political economy of labour - (Capital 1867)

Certain questions were only touched on the form of a future communist
society (Critique of the Gotha Program)  and the political form of the
rule of the working class (The Civil War in France).

If we look at the  20th century we see a quite different set of
questions being addressed.
How were communist ideas to be propagated  (What is to be Done, 1902) ?
How was the communist movement to actually take power (The State and
Once the revolution had taken place how was the economy to be
re-organised (The New Economics, 1926)? 
How were revolutions in societies that were not yet fully capitalist to
take place (Why is it that Red Political Power can exist in China 1928)?

After the revolution how was the danger of counter-revolution to be
combated (Documents of the Shanghai Left 1967)?

In retrospect one can see that the mid 1970s represented the high water
mark of the socialist tide. Whilst the Vietnamse revolutionaries were
driving the US out of Saigon, and the last colonial empire in Africa,
that of Portugal, was falling, the failure of the cultural revolution in
China was setting the economic scene for the triumph or reaction in the
80s and 90s. When, after the death of Mao, Deng threw open the Chinese
economy to western capital investment, the balance of class forces
across the whole world was upset. An immense  reserve army of labour,
hireable of the lowest of wages, was thrown onto the scales. The
bargaining position of capital in its struggles with its domestic
working classes was, in one country after another, immensely
So today we are faced with a whole new set of questions. The general
intellectual/ideological environment is much less favourable to
socialism than it was in the 20th century. This is not merely a
consequence of the counter-revolutions that occurred at the end of the
20th century, but stems from a new and more vigorous assertion of the
classic tenets of bourgeois political economy. This re-assertion of
bourgeois political economy not only transformed economic policy in the
West, but also prepared the ideological ground for counter revolutions
in the East.

The theoretical preparation for the turn to the free market that
occurred in the 1980s had been laid much earlier by right wing economic
theorists like Hayek and Friedman.  Their ideas, seen as extreme during
the 1950s and 60s gained influence through the proselytising activities
of organisations like the Institute for Economic Affairs and the Adam
Smith Institute.  These groups produced a series of books and reports
advocating free market solutions to contemporary economic problems. They
won the ear of prominent politicians like Margaret Thatcher, and from
the 1980s were put into practice.  She was given the liberty to do this
by a combination of long term demographic changes and short term
conjectural events.  Within Britain, labour was in short supply, but
across Asia it had become super abundant.  Were capital free to move
abroad to this plentiful supply of labour then the terms of the exchange
between labour and capital in the UK would be transformed.  Labour would
no longer hold the stronger bargaining position.  The conjunctural
factor making this possible was the surplus in foreign trade generated
by North Sea oil.  Hitherto, the workers who produced manufactured
exports had been essential to national economic survival.  With the
money from the North Sea, the manufacturing sector could be allowed to
collapse without the fear of a balance of payments crisis.  The
deliberate run-down of manufacturing industry shrank the social basis of
social democracy and weakened the voice of labour both economically and

The success of Thatcher in attacking the working class movement in
Britain encouraged middle class aspiring politicians in the East like
Klaus and presaged a situation in which Hayekian economic doctrines
would become the orthodoxy. Thatcher's doctrine TINA, There Is No
Alternative, (to capitalism) was generally accepted. 

The theoretical dominance of free market economic ideas had by the start
of the 21st century become so strong, that they were as much accepted by
social democrats and self professed communists, as they had been by
Thatcher. In policy making circles they remain unchallenged to this day.
They owe dominance both to class interests and to their internal
coherence. The capitalist historical project took as its founding
documents the Declaration of the Rights of Man, and Adam Smith's Wealth
of Nations. Together these provided a coherent view of the future of
Bourgeois or Civil Society, as a self regulating system of free agents
operating in the furtherance of their private interests.  Two centuries
later when faced with the challenge of communism and social democracy,
the more farsighted representatives of the bourgeoisie returned to their
roots, restated the original Capitalist Manifesto, and applied it to
current conditions. The labour movement by contrast had no such coherent
social narrative. Keynes's economics had addressed only technical issues
of government monetary and tax policy, it did not aspire to the moral
and philosophical coherence of Smith.

The external economic and demographic factors that originally favoured
the turn to the market are gradually weakening.  Within the next 20
years the vast labour reserves of China will have been largely utilised,
absorbed into capitalist commodity production.   Globally we are
returning to the situation that Western Europe had reached a century
ago: a  maturing world capitalist economy in which labour is still
highly exploited but is beginning to become a scarce resource. These
were the conditions that built the social cohesion of classical social
democracy, the conditions that gave rise to the IWW and then CIO in
America, and led to the strength of communist parties in Western Europe
countries like France, Italy and Greece post 1945. We see in South
America this process in operation today.

These circumstances set 21st century Marxism a new historical project:
to counter and critique the theories of market liberalism as effectively
as Marx critiqued the capitalist economists of his day.

  The  historical project of the world's working classes can only
succeed if it promulgates its own political economy, its own theory of
the future of society.  This new political economy must be as morally
coherent as that of Smith, and must lead to economically coherent policy
proposals, which if enacted would open the way to a new post-capitalist
civilisation, just as those of Smith opened the way to the post feudal
  21st century Marxism can no longer push to one side the details of how
the non-market economy of the future is to be organised. In Marx's day
this was permissible, not now. We can not pretend that the 20th century
never happened, or that it taught us nothing about socialism.  In this
task 20th century Western critical Marxists like Cliff, Bettleheim or
Bordiga will only take us so far. Whilst they could point out weaknesses
of hithertoo existing socialism, it did this by comparing it to an ideal
standard of what these writers thought that a socialist society should
achieve. In retrospect we will see that these trends of thought were a
product of the special circumstances of the cold war,  a striving for a
position of ideological autonomy 'neither Moscow nor Washington',
rather than a programatic contribution to Marxism. The very
psychological detachment that such writers sought,  deflecting from
their own heads the calumnies directed at the USSR, prevented them from
positively engaging with the problems faced by historically existing
socialism. It is only if you envisage being faced with such problems
oneself, that one would come up with practical answers:
  "It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the
strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face
is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs
and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without
error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great
devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best,
knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the
worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his
place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither
victory nor defeat." (Citizenship in a Republic,  Roosevelt)
  Instead we must recover and celebrate the advances in Marxist
political economy that arose from the Russian experience: the method of
material balances used in preparing the 5 year plans and systematised as
Input Output analysis by Leontief; the method of linear programming
pioneered by Kantorovich; the time diaries of Strumlin.
  In the 19th century Marx's Capital was a critique of the political
economy that underlay British Liberalism. 21st century Marxists must
perform a critique of neo-liberal political economy comparable in rigour
and moral depth to Marx's 19th century critique. In particular we must
engage with and defeat the ideas of the Austrian school: Boehm-Bawerk,
Mises, Hayek, whose ideas now constitute the keystone of reaction.
Soviet Marxism felt strong enough to ignore the then, and the response
in the West came in the main from non-marxian socialists like Lange and
Dickinsen. If we are to reconstitute socialism as the commonsense of the
21st century - as it was the commonsense of the mid 20th, then these are
the ideas that must be confronted.
  In attacking them we should not hesitate to use the advances in other
sciences - statistical mechanics, information theory, computability
theory. And, to re-establish Scientific Socialism there must be a
definitive break with the speculative philosophical method of much of
Western Marxism. We have to treat political economy and the theory of
social revolution like any other science.
   We must formulate testable hypotheses, which we then asses against
empirical data. Where the empirical results differ from what we
expected, we must modify and retest our theories.
   To understand this new form of Marxist science consider the debate on
the so-called 'transformation problem'. There was, in the 20th century,
a huge and pointless literature attempting to rebut Boehm Bawerk's
criticism of Marx's theory of prices of production. The net result of
this debate was only to detract attention from the labour theory of
value and Marx's analysis of exploitation. The eventual breakthrough, in
the 1980s, against this Austrian critique of Marxism came from two
mathematical logicians Farjoun and Machover. Their work 'The Laws of
Chaos', was to my mind the most original contribution to Marxist theory
of the late 20th century. They used methods derived from statistical
mechanics to show that the assumption of a uniform profit rate, shared
by Marx and Boehm Bawerk, was erroneous, and that in reality the
classical labour theory of value (Capital vol I) operates. This was then
confirmed by the empirical investigations of Shaikh and others.
   This willingness to learn from other sciences and use them in the
struggle against the reigning ideology can be seen in the work of Peters
who brought the ideas of the computer pioneer Zuse into play in order to
validate the possibility of rational socialist planning. We see again in
Peters, what was evident in Shaikh and Machover, a re-assertion of the
importance for Marxism of the labour theory of value. Whereas for Shaikh
and Machover its role is causal in explaining the actual dynamics of
capitalism. For Peters it becomes both a moral principle and an
organising concept for the future socialism.
   The theoretical advances I refer to, occurred as the 20th century
gave way to the 21st. Vladimir Lenin said: "Without a revolutionary
theory there cannot be a revolutionary movement." This is as true today
as in 1902. In the late 20th century we came to lack such a theory.
Thatcher's idea that 'There is no alternative', only seemed credible
because we lacked a revolutionary political economy, one which not only
interpreted the world but explained how to change it, how to construct a
different world.
   21st century Marxism is starting out along the path to build that
revolutionary political economy. Let us hasten its achievement so that
when the next major restructuring crisis hits the capitalist world
economy we are in a position to equip  progressive movements with the
ideas that they need if they are to prevail.
   Paul Cockshott 2007

-----Original Message-----
From: OPE-L [mailto:OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU] On Behalf Of Paul Cockshott
Sent: 14 August 2007 22:25
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Marxism for the 21st Century - a revolutionary tool
or more scholasticism? by Michael A.Lebowitz.

I attach my contribution to the jungewelt series on marxism in 21st
century which came out along with Michaels.

Quoting glevy@PRATT.EDU:

> ---------------------------- Original Message 
> ----------------------------
> Subject: Fwd: Marxism for the 21st Century - a revolutionary tool or  
> more scholasticism? by Michael A.Lebowitz.
> From:    "michael a. lebowitz" <>
> Date:    Mon, August 13, 2007 4:48 pm
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> ----
> Hi Jerry,
>          In case you haven't seen this--- it was written for Junge 
> Welt, a German left daily,
>   in advance of a Berlin conference on Marxism for the 21st
> Century:
>          in solidarity,
>            m

> >Date: Mon, 13 Aug 2007 13:03:39 -0700
> >From: "Marx Laboratory" <>
> >To: "Marx Laboratory" <>
> >X-ASG-Orig-Subj: Marxism for the 21st Century - a revolutionary tool 
> >or more scholasticism? by Michael A.Lebowitz.
> >Subject: Marxism for the 21st Century - a revolutionary tool or more 
> >scholasticism? by Michael A.Lebowitz.
> >
> >
> >Marxism for the 21st Century - a revolutionary tool or more
> >
> >  'We need to return to Marx's premise - the vision of a society of  
> > the 'rich human being', one in which there is the 'absolute working 
> > out of his creative potentialities,' the 'complete working-out of 
> > the human content,' the 'development of all human powers as such the

> > end in itself'. In short, we need to embrace the vision of 
> > 'socialism for the 21st Century'.
> >
> >Radical Notes
> >Monday, 13 August 2007
> >
> >  Michael A. Lebowitz
> >
> >'Save me from these so-called Marxists who think they have the key to

> >history in their back pocket! Save me from disciples like those who 
> >followed Hegel and Ricardo!' Few people understood better than Marx 
> >how a theory disintegrates when the point of departure for 
> >theoretical work is 'no longer reality, but the new theoretical form 
> >in which the master had sublimated it.'
> >
> >Happily for him, Marx was spared the spectacle of disciples 
> >scandalized by the 'often paradoxical relationship of this theory to 
> >reality' and accordingly driven to demonstrate that his theory is 
> >still correct by 'crass empiricism', 'phrases in a scholastic way', 
> >and 'cunning argument'. Lucky Marx who (if Engels is to be believed) 
> >was before all else a revolutionary whose 'real mission in life was 
> >to contribute, in one way or another, to the overthrow of capitalist 
> >society' - he missed the affirmation by 20th Century scholastics that

> >what the working class really needs for its emancipation is proof 
> >that he was right all along about the transformation of values into 
> >prices and the tendency for the rate of profit to fall!
> >
> >How can we today follow Marx's mission and contribute to the 
> >overthrow of capitalism? How can we help the working class become 
> >'conscious of its own position and its needs, conscious of the 
> >conditions of its emancipation'?
> >
> >In a talk several years ago, subsequently published in Monthly Review

> >(June 2004) with the title, 'What Keeps Capitalism Going?', I 
> >stressed two main points. Firstly, if we understand anything from 
> >Capital, it should be that capital tends to produce the working class

> >it needs - workers who look upon its requirements 'as self-evident 
> >natural laws'. Why? The point is really simple: (a) the wage 
> >necessarily appears as a payment for a quantity of labour, thereby 
> >extinguishing every trace of exploitation; (b) all notions of justice

> >and fairness are based upon this appearance of an exchange of labour 
> >for money; (c) capital, the product of workers, necessarily appears 
> >as the independent contribution of capitalists and thereby deserving 
> >of a separate return; and (d) workers, as individuals within 
> >capitalist relations, really are dependent upon capital in order to 
> >meet their own needs and, indeed, are dependent upon particular 
> >capitals.
> >
> >Accordingly, in the absence of an understanding of the nature of 
> >capital, even when workers struggle, these struggles are for 
> >'fairness', for justice within capitalist relations but not justice 
> >beyond capitalism - i.e., at best, they reflect a trade-union or 
> >social democratic consciousness which does not challenge the logic of

> >capital. Given, then, that the spontaneous response of people in 
> >struggle does not (and cannot) go beyond capital, the responsibility 
> >of Marxists remains (as always) that of communicating the essence of 
> >capital to workers and thus the necessity to go beyond it. But, it's 
> >not enough.
> >
> >My second point was that 'For those within the grasp of capital, 
> >however, more is necessary than simply to understand the nature of 
> >capital and its roots in exploitation. People need to believe that a 
> >better world is possible. They need to feel that there is an 
> >alternative - one worth struggling for. In this respect, describing 
> >the nature of a socialist alternative - and analysing the 
> >inadequacies and failures of 20th Century efforts - is an essential 
> >part of the process by which people can be moved to put an end to
> capitalism.'
> >
> >Can anyone seriously deny this second point? Given the failures of 
> >'real socialism' and the success of capital thus far in the battle of

> >ideas - capital's success in convincing people that 'there is no 
> >alternative', contributing to the overthrow of capitalism requires us

> >to demonstrate to working people that there is a socialist 
> >alternative to the barbarism of capitalism.
> >
> >Socialism for the 21st Century
> >
> >There is a spectre haunting capitalism now. It's not the socialism of

> >the 20th Century - either real or theoretical. Rather, it is a 
> >challenge to capital that starts from the needs of human beings. At 
> >the core of the concept of socialism for the 21st Century is a focus 
> >upon human development. Marxists need to understand this spectre and 
> >its centrality to Marx's thought.
> >
> >The term, socialism for the 21st Century, entered general currency 
> >with Hugo Chavez's declaration at the 2005 World Social Forum about 
> >the need to reinvent socialism: 'We must reclaim socialism as a 
> >thesis, a project and a path, but a new type of socialism, a humanist

> >one, which puts humans and not machines or the state ahead of 
> >everything.'
> >
> >As I indicate in Build it Now: Socialism for the 21st Century 
> >(Monthly Review Press, 2006), that vision - although not identified 
> >yet with socialism - was already present in the Bolivarian 
> >Constitution (1999) which talks about 'ensuring overall human 
> >development', and about 'developing the creative potential of every 
> >human being and the full exercise of his or her personality in a 
> >democratic society.' And, it was articulated when Chavez talked in
> >2003 about the nature of the 'social economy' which 'bases its logic 
> >on the human being, on work, that is to say, on the worker and the 
> >worker's family, that is to say, on the human being' - an economy 
> >which 'generates mainly use-value' and whose purpose is 'the 
> >construction of the new man, of the new woman, of the new society.'
> >
> >This is a vision which rejects the perverse logic of capital and the 
> >idea that the criterion for what is good is what is profitable. It 
> >rejects the linking of people through exchange of commodities, where 
> >our criterion for satisfying the needs of others is whether this 
> >benefits us as individuals or groups of individuals. Istvan Meszaros 
> >expressed all this clearly in his Beyond Capital when he drew upon 
> >Marx to talk about a society in which, rather than the exchange of 
> >commodities, there is an exchange of activities based upon communal 
> >needs and communal purposes. And, Chavez explicitly embraced 
> >Meszaros' perspective in July 2005 when he said 'we have to create a 
> >communal system of production and consumption, a new system.' We have

> >to build, he insisted, 'this communal system of production and 
> >consumption, to help to create it, from the popular bases, with the 
> >participation of the communities, through the community 
> >organizations, the cooperatives, self-management and different ways 
> >to create this system.'
> >
> >The concept of socialism for the 21st Century which has been evolving

> >in Venezuela combines three characteristics: (a) social ownership of 
> >the means of production which is a basis for (b) social production 
> >organised by workers in order to (c) satisfy communal needs and 
> >communal purposes. (I develop this point in 'New Wings for Socialism'

> >in Monthly Review, April 2007.) At the heart of this concept and 
> >permeating all its elements, though, is the essential link between 
> >human development and praxis.
> >
> >That focus on practice was present from the outset in the Bolivarian 
> >Constitution, which insists that participation and protagonism by 
> >people is 'the necessary way of achieving the involvement to ensure 
> >their complete development, both individual and collective.' and in 
> >the identification of democratic planning and participatory budgeting

> >at all levels of society and 'self-management, co-management, 
> >cooperatives in all forms' as examples of 'forms of association 
> >guided by the values of mutual cooperation and solidarity.' With the 
> >current development of communal councils (representing 200-400 
> >families in urban areas) as the cell of a new form of state and with 
> >proposals for workers councils and worker management, there is 
> >definitely a deepening of the commitment being made in Venezuela to 
> >what Chavez called 'a new type of socialism, a humanist one.'
> >
> >Yet, as I indicated in Build it Now, given the many obstacles (both 
> >internal and external) to this process, it is not clear whether 
> >Venezuela's attempt will succeed. Nevertheless, socialism is back on 
> >the agenda, a socialism for the 21st Century which has at its core 
> >Marx's concept of 'revolutionary practice' - 'the coincidence of the 
> >changing of circumstance and of human activity or self-change.'
> >
> >All this should be recognized as a break with thinking about 
> >socialism in the 20th Century. In that view, socialism was considered

> >to be the first post-capitalist stage - a society with its own 
> >specific characteristics and laws, which was distinguished from the 
> >higher stage, communism. Having passed beyond the exploitation and 
> >irrationality of capitalism, socialism would ensure the rapid 
> >development of productive forces and thus would prepare the ground 
> >for the communist society of abundance.
> >
> >While this conception (and the resulting stress upon productive
> >forces) corresponded to the immediate concerns of societies 
> >attempting to break with capitalism yet surrounded by more powerful 
> >capitalist enemies, the separate stage of socialism was presented as 
> >Marx's view of the necessary step that all people would have to take.

> >Marx's own comments about the inherent 'defects' of the new society, 
> >further, were taken as a justification for building upon the basis of

> >self-interest - 'to each according to his contribution'
> >would have to be the rule until the development of productive forces 
> >had created the society of abundance.
> >
> >But that wasn't Marx's perspective. Rather than two separate stages, 
> >Marx understood that the new society necessarily develops through a 
> >process - a process in which it transcends the economic, social, and 
> >intellectual defects it has inherited from capitalism. And, the 
> >specific defect that he identified was not that productive forces 
> >were too low but, rather, the nature of the human beings produced in 
> >the old society with the old ideas - people who continue to be 
> >self-oriented and therefore consider themselves entitled to get back 
> >exactly what they contribute to society. Building upon defects - 
> >rather than working consciously to eliminate them - is a recipe for 
> >restoring capitalism (as experience has demonstrated).
> >
> >In short, just as capitalism developed through a process of 
> >'subordinating all elements of society to itself' and by creating for

> >itself the organs which it lacked, so also must socialism develop. In

> >place of the logic of capital and self-interest, the new socialist 
> >society develops by inserting its own logic centred in human beings; 
> >rather than taking self-interest as a premise, associated producers 
> >work to develop new social norms based upon cooperation and 
> >solidarity among members of society.
> >
> >Thus, building the new society stresses not the growing production of

> >things but, rather, creation of the conditions for development of 
> >human forces - i.e., conditions which replace capitalism's 
> >fragmented, crippled human beings with 'the totally developed 
> >individual' and permit people to develop through their own activity.
> >With the 'all-round development of the individual,' all the springs 
> >of co-operative wealth would flow more abundantly.
> >
> >This concept of socialism for the 21st century rescues Marx's 
> >original idea of an 'association, in which the free development of 
> >each is the condition for the free development of all,' a society 
> >focused upon the 'development of all human powers as such the end in 
> >itself.'  It embraces Che Guevara's stress in his classic work, 'Man 
> >and Socialism in Cuba', that in order to build socialism it is 
> >essential, along with building new material foundations, to build new

> >human beings. Thus, it rejects the practice of ignoring the 
> >transformation of social relations and human beings in order to 
> >develop productive forces - an unfortunate characteristic of the 
> >top-down efforts at building socialism in the 20th century.
> >
> >Marxism for the 21st Century
> >
> >Is there a relationship between the Marxism of the 20th Century and 
> >the errors in the attempts to build socialism in the 20th Century? I 
> >think there are many. For one, Marxists need to assign the 1859 
> >'Preface' (with its formulaic economic determinism) to a book of 
> >proverbs and study instead the Grundrisse's insights into the 
> >'becoming' and 'being' of an organic system, insights that will 
> >permit a better understanding of process. Further, grasping Capital's

> >focus on how relations of production precede and shape the character 
> >of new productive forces would help to reduce the worship of 
> >technology and the development of productive forces.
> >
> >However, I think there is a problem in 20th Century Marxism that 
> >flows from Capital itself. Why don't Marxists automatically begin 
> >from the question of human development and the concept of 'rich human

> >beings'? Why do so many Marxists not grasp that Marx's premise in 
> >writing Capital was his understanding that real wealth is human 
> >wealth, 'the rich individuality which is as all-sided in its 
> >production as in its consumption 'and that he wrote from the 
> >perspective of a society in which the results of past labour are 
> >'there to satisfy the worker's own need for development'? If Marx did

> >not have the socialist alternative clearly in mind, how could he 
> >describe the situation where means of production employ workers as 
> >'this inversion, indeed this distortion, which is peculiar to and 
> >characteristic of capitalist production'? An inversion of what?
> >
> >The problem originates in a misunderstanding of Marx's Capital - in 
> >the view that Capital is Marx's study of capitalism rather than an 
> >exploration of the side of capital, conducted through the beginning 
> >of a critique of the political economy of capital. When you fail to 
> >understand the limits of Capital (limits that Marx himself pointed 
> >out), it is not surprising that economic determinism, the view of the

> >productive forces introduced by capital as neutral, the treatment of 
> >the proletariat as abstract, the inability to understand how 'the 
> >contemporary power of capital rests' upon the creation of new needs 
> >for workers, the failure to recognize the 'general and necessary' 
> >tendency of capital to divide and separate workers and the effective 
> >disappearance of class struggle from the side of workers all follow.
> >
> >In Beyond Capital: Marx's Political Economy of the Working Class 
> >(Palgrave, 2003) and in the Deutscher Prize Lecture, 'The Politics of

> >Assumption, the Assumption of Politics' ( Historical Materialism, 
> >14.2, 2006), I explore the implications of Marx's failure to complete

> >his epistemological project - in particular, the one-sided Marxism 
> >that flows from the failure to recognize implications of the missing 
> >book on Wage-Labour. Why didn't he ever write that book?
> >Marx was less interested, I proposed, in the completion of his 
> >epistemological project than in his revolutionary project.
> >
> >Of course, as followers of Marx, we can do both. However, scholastics

> >and disciples for whom the point of departure is 'no longer reality, 
> >but the new theoretical form in which the master had sublimated it' 
> >can do neither. We need to return to Marx's premise - the vision of a

> >society of  the 'rich human being', one in which there is the 
> >'absolute working out of his creative potentialities,'
> >the 'complete working-out of the human content,' the 'development of 
> >all human powers as such the end in itself'. In short, we need to 
> >embrace the vision of 'socialism for the 21st Century'.
> >
> >And, as Marxists who live in this real world, we need to ask how 
> >precisely can we help the working class of the 21st Century become 
> >'conscious of its own position and its needs, conscious of the 
> >conditions of its emancipation'? What are their needs? What are the 
> >barriers that 21st Century capitalism has created to the realization 
> >of those needs? What, given their actual conditions of life, are the 
> >ways for workers to struggle against capital now? What, indeed, is to

> >be
> done?
> >We need, in short, to understand the conditions which global 
> >capitalism in the 21st Century has created. Obviously, they are not 
> >ones which we would have chosen. But, they are the only ones 
> >available in which we can make history.
> >
> >        *
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >No virus found in this incoming message.
> >Checked by AVG Free Edition.
> >Version: 7.5.476 / Virus Database: 269.11.13/946 - Release Date:
> >10/08/2007 15:50
> Michael A. Lebowitz
> Professor Emeritus
> Economics Department
> Simon Fraser University
> Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
> Director, Programme in 'Transformative Practice and Human Development'
> Centro Internacional Miranda, P.H.
> Residencias Anauco Suites, Parque Central, final Av. Bolivar Caracas, 
> Venezuela
> fax: 0212 5768274/0212 5777231
> http//

Paul Cockshott

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