[OPE-L:56] Pros and Cons: Comments

glevy@acnet.pratt.edu (glevy@acnet.pratt.edu)
Sat, 16 Sep 1995 03:58:42 -0700

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Mike L. wrote:

> Where to begin what? Is the goal to extend Marx's work or to add to it?

These goals are not necessarily in opposition. It seems reasonable to
assume that everyone on the list has read _Capital_, read tons of
secondary literature, and thought about many outstanding issues. Let's
take that as a given. In that sense our understanding of the problems
relate to our understandings of readings (and, we will find, our
understandings on value, method, and capitalist reality).

the important issue will be to develop the answers immanently, ie ,
> out of CAPITAL,etc.

We can not assume that the answers are immanent in Marx. We have to think
about the analytical questions for ourselves. We can do this in a number
of ways.

If the goal is, on the other hand, to add to Marx's
> work, the answers are to a significant extent extrinsic, no?

Not necessarily. Extending and adding are related.

In this
> respect, I am suggesting that we cannot avoid a methodological discussion
> before proceeding very far.

Everyone understands this. No matter where we begin, a methodological
discussion won't be far behind. If we start with the plans (any plans),
then the issue will come up immediately. If we start with another
suggestion, then the methodological issues will follow shortly

> > Second Issue: The listing:
> > A. Move systematically through each volume of _Capital_, ask whether
> > people see any unanswered questions, organize the submitted questions,
> > and then decide the order in which we wish to address them.
> >
> > Disadvantages: It exponentially increases the opportunities for
> disagreement and delays discussion of current problems. (However, I'm not
> aware that we are working toward a deadline.)

We don't have a deadline, but, on the other hand, we don't want to spend
years and years discussing basic questions. I hope everyone agrees with
that sentiment. We _could_ move systematically through _Capital_ if we
recognize that our purpose is to identify potential problems rather than
resolve them, i.e. we use that review as a source for the listing. Let's
say that someone has a problem with Marx's understanding of skilled
labor. Why can't we say we will reconsider that question at other stages
of abstraction and then move forward?

> > C. Begin the listing by examining Vol. 3 of _Capital_ and asking what are
> > the unanswered questions in that volume and before.
> >
> > Disadvantages: What's special about Vol 3?
> >
The level of analysis, i.e. capitalist totality. Also, if you begin with
Vol. 3 then you must ask what has not been answered prior to that volume.
I'm still not convinced about the best place to begin the listing. Yet,
the object (identify the questions) can be approached through a number of
different methods. If we are aware of the disadvantages of the method we
select, then I think (perhaps somewhat optimistically) we can overcome the
procedural problems and discuss the analytical problems instead.

If we don't start with the listing, then we can ask after (we discuss
Marx's last plans, for instance) what is the best way to do the listing.
Procedurally, we have to resolve *first* what we do next. I hear a lot of
agreement about one suggestion (Marx's last plans). If we follow that
path, then anyone who believes that other plans by Marx have meaning for
interpreting the last plans and our tasks can raise specific issues for
discussion at that time. The main thing is -- let's get this show on the
road. If there is anyone who has strong objections to taking Marx's last
plans next, then I'd like to hear those concerns articulated to the
list. We should then discuss those concerns and DECIDE what to do next.

For a new list, we are moving well enough. Let's keep the movement in a
forward direction.

In OPE-L solidarity,