[OPE-L:36] Re: Plans, Political Writings, and Dates

John R. Ernst (ernst@pipeline.com)
Tue, 12 Sep 1995 19:25:50 -0700

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In Outbox: Your outgoing mail ernst said:
On Tue, 12 Sep 1995 Gilbert Skillman <gskillman@mail.wesleyan.edu> said:

>> What is the reason for dredging up Marx's plans for futher
>> writing?
>> Why is this an important step?
>> I can see it being of some historical interest but is
>> it more than that?
>I heartily concur with Paul's implication that "dredging up Marx's plans"
>not of primary importance to our collective agenda. Gil

Unlike Paul and Gil, I have not had a chance to once again go over each of
the various plans to which Jerry's post refered. One point that has always
struck me as curious in looking at them is that according to Marx's Jan.
1863 Plan, rent was to be treated prior to dealing with the falling rate of
profit. Further, in the Jan. 1863 Plan there is no chapter on market value
and market prices in the third book; yet in CAPITAL we find this as Chapter
10 of that Book. If nothing else, this raises questions concerning the hows
and whys of the change itself.

I would also note that in the Jan. 1863 Plan there is no section planned
prior to the treatment of the falling rate of profit that deals with the
turnover of fixed capital; yet we do find such a chapter in CAPITAL albeit
one written by Engels.

For me, these differences in plans raise questions about Marx's conception
of the falling rate profit itself as well as, perhaps, the manner in which
he wanted to build a theory of crisis. On this matter, my working
hypothesis is that by the time the first book of CAPITAL was written Marx
wanted to link his theory of crisis less to a falling rate of profit as its
cause and more to the way in which fixed capital turns over. Indeed, I
think in Michael Perelman's 1987 book he refers to Marx's keen interest in
turnover evident immediately after the publication of the Book I.

These, for me, are examples of what one can at least think about in looking
at the plans. Does this mean we start with the plans? I'm not sure. But
as we begin our project it again does give me reasons to note the
unfinished nature of Marx's work as well as to question treatments of
Marx's notion of crisis which ignore the turnover of fixed capital.


John R. Ernst