[OPE-L:79] Marx's Goals

glevy@acnet.pratt.edu (glevy@acnet.pratt.edu)
Wed, 20 Sep 1995 13:14:10 -0700

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James Devine wrote:

> As the first and foremost of the list of Marx's goals in CAPITAL,
> Jerry includes:
> >>Outline and explain the logic of capitalism and its "laws of
> motion."<<
> I think that this is highly connected with the third on the list:
> >>Develop a theory that would serve as a guide for his
> revolutionary politics...<<
> Mike L's book BEYOND CAPITAL suggests a way of explaining the
> connection: Marx aimed to understand the "laws of motion of
> capital" while holding the reaction of the working class
> constant. It's not the "laws of motion of capitalISM" that's the
> subject of CAPITAL, since capitalism includes wage-labor and
> workers' response.

Here's what Marx had to say in the Preface to the First Edition:

"...it is the ultimate aim of this work to reveal the economic law of
motion of modern society...." (Penguin, p. 92)

Note that he said "law" (not laws, thus contradicting what both Jim and I
said before) and "modern society" (presumably, capitalISM). Now, I don't
want to see us get into a long debate talking about this sentence. But, I
would ask:

-- should OUR purpose be to understand capitalISM rather than capital? (I
would say yes).

-- what is the "law"? The law of value? Don't we have to examine the
interrelationships between different aspects of capitalism before we can
say that that there is *one* law that governs this mode of production? In
other words, isn't the idea that there is *one* law a conclusion that
we can only come to as a result of analysis (rather than a presumption)?

I'm trying to stimulate some more discussion.

In OPE-L solidarity,