[OPE-L:96] natural laws

ECUSER (ECBURKE@scifac.indstate.edu)
Thu, 21 Sep 1995 11:12:53 -0700

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Marx does suggest from time to time that some laws governing
society are natural, e.g., the transhistorical necessity for a
reproductive allocation of social labor time (Marx to Kugelmann, July
11, 1868). This may have something to do not only with CAPITAL's
analysis "of the evolution of the economic formation of society . . .
as a process of natural history" but also with the at first sight
puzzling singularity of "THE economic law of motion of modern
society" (Preface to CAPITAL I). The (single) law that Marx is
talking about might just mean the particular social forms and
tendencies in and through which capitalist society reproduces itself
(albeit in unstable, conflict and crisis ridden fashion). (I think
there was an edited collection commemorating Marx and Keynes (a
centennial celebration) that used the title "The Economic Law of
Motion of Modern Society" in this sense.) There are other laws which
are 'natural' according to Marx in the sense that, while specific to
human socio-material reproduction, they apply to different systems of
production. Another important example is the natural basis of
surplus labor (surplus value under capitalism) in the natural
conditions of production (the earth must, in cooperation with labor,
yield more than enough to feed agricultural laborers to have a
surplus, a non-agricultural sector, etc.). Paul B.