[OPE] Theory of trade, the world market and the state

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@tiscali.nl)
Date: Fri Feb 22 2008 - 17:53:37 EST

I did not say, Jerry, that "theory is but a matter of "pulling all the 
literature together" to tell a "sensible and comprehensive story". I said 
"Most of that Marxian analysis - the world market, the state etc. has 
already been done by various authors. It's just that nobody has pulled all 
the literature together yet in a really sensible and comprehensive story."

Very few of the concepts in Marx's critique of political economy were 
original, as he himself admitted and documented with copious notes (as S.S. 
Prawer notes in "Marx and World Literature", Marx was one of the first 
writers on political economy to carefully acknowledge his sources). What was 
original was the synthesis he devised through a careful conspectus and 
critique of the existing literature and relevant historical facts.

What Marxists believe, is that Marx was the only one allowed to do that. Out 
of that, you get a fixed doctrine, Marxism, which has all of the answers to 
all of the questions already, to which you have to win converts. Independent 
thinkers on the other hand think that new critiques and syntheses are 
necessary, assimilating both the new facts and the new theories (this is not 
really possible within Marxism, because it violates some or other principle 
of orthodoxy, or conflicts with literalness or the affirmation of faith).

There are e.g. numerous authors who have attempted to understand the 
influence of the law of value, unequal exchange, and the accumulation of 
capital in a world market setting (e.g. Luxemburg, Trotsky, Bukharin, Varga, 
Grossman, Kohlmey, Busch, Siegel, Altvater, Neussus, Schoeller, Horvat, 
Emmanuel, Carchedi, Palloix, Rowthorn, Amin, Mandel, Castro, Shaikh, Köhler, 
Weeks, Kay, Husson, Itoh, Smith, Went, Giussani to name just a few). So it 
not exactly that there is a theoretical vacuum here. It simply not true that 
"all that has been written by Marxians on the subjects of the state, trade, 
and the world market has been merely suggestive or empirical". In 
retrospect, it is rather easy to mark out where they succeeded and where 
they failed.

When the journal Prokla (Probleme des Klassenkampfs) was founded in West 
Germany in 1971, it indeed began explicitly with a discussion of the world 
market and monetary phenomena.

As regards the theory of trade, there is a rich Marxian, semi-Marxian and 
anthropological theoretical literature on it as well. As regards the theory 
of the state, there is also a very large literature on it, both historical 
and theoretical, in many languages. If you concentrate on the theoretical 
foundations rather than being distracted by fashionable hot-air 
globalisation discourses in academia, it is quite possible to write a good 
dissertation on it. Had my life gone differently, I would have done so 
already. You could learn about the world market in different ways - read 
books, talk to people who know a lot about it, visit countries etc. But in 
the end you have to theorize for yourself, that was what I was talking 


ope mailing list

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri Feb 29 2008 - 00:00:03 EST