[OPE-L:37] Re: Plans, Political Writings, and Dates

Michael A. Lebowitz (mlebowit@sfu.ca)
Wed, 13 Sep 1995 02:27:28 -0700

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In message Tue, 12 Sep 1995 11:32:24 -0700,
wpc@clyder.gn.apc.org (Paul Cockshott) writes:

> 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?

Nothing is easier, it seems to me, than just deciding we will list all
the questions not covered by Marx and then proceeding to add these subjects
to what Marx did. One obvious question would be, however, in what order
should these subjects be explored? We certainly know that for Marx this was
not a trivial question: to understand the appropriate starting point and the
appropriate order was something he struggled with constantly. Is it time to
consider the individual capital? supply and demand? use-value? Is the
logical order the same as the historical order? For me, the
process of considering Marx's plans is not for satisfying our curiousity
but, rather, for helping us to grasp his logic as a way to build upon
Using those plans (and it doesn't have to be all of them) doesn't mean
that we necessarily think that Marx "got it right". Eg., even if we could
find bibliographic evidence that Marx changed his mind about a separate work
(book/ volume/"chapter") on wage-labour (which is not the case), I would
argue (and have in _Beyond Capital_) that *analytically* this would have
been a mistake--- because Capital is itself one-sided. Similarly, I think
there are many, many problems in Vol 3--- not merely the chapter on turnover
which Engels wrote (an irony, since Engels in Vol 2 revealed that he
disagreed with the importance Marx placed on this) but even a simple
question like--- why does Vol 3 start with cost-price?
I would like to support Jerry's proposal to begin with the plans.
Naturally, I think everyone should read _Beyond Capital_, too, but
(recognising utopian fantasies when I say them) will instead suggest a few
short pieces on-line at csf which bring out part of my argument about
the implications of a missing book on wage-labour. Also, one suggestion that
I do want to make explicitly is that at an early point we proceed through
each volume of Capital--- ask whether people see any problems in that
volume, list them and then proceed to discuss these in turn.
in solidarity,
Michael A. Lebowitz
Economics Department, Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
Office: (604) 291-4669; Office fax: (604) 291-5944
Home: (604) 255-0382
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e-mail: mlebowit@sfu.ca