[OPE-L:149] The Book on Landed Property

Michael A. Lebowitz (mlebowit@sfu.ca)
Tue, 26 Sep 1995 23:03:16 -0700

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In message Sat, 23 Sep 1995 12:43:59 -0700,
wpc@clyder.gn.apc.org (Paul Cockshott) writes:

> Jerry asks if the six book plan is better than just adding
> more chapters to capital. I am sure that it is much better,
> but it presents us with a tremendous challenge, even to attempt
> the second book. What for instance is the starting point,
> corresponding to the commodity in Capital, that one would
> use in analysing landed property?
> Should one seek a historical starting point, as in Engels
> Origins of Family and Private Property, or is there
> a synchronic starting point for the analysis of landed
> property.

It seems to me that Paul C. here poses the wrong problem. Marx's concern
here was not to study landed property but "modern landed property", ie.,
landed property within capitalism. Further, his approach, as we see in
CAPITAL, was not to introduce new categories as independent and extrinsic
but, rather, to reveal that they emerge out of the preceding categories (as
in the case of money to commodity, capital to commodity and money, etc); the
new category is understood as one which does not drop from the sky but
which. rather, is revealed as necessary to the existence of (but outside of)
the preceding category. Ie., it is what Lenin described as the first
dialectical moment--- the grasping of the distinction which the first term
implicitly contains.
When Marx first was thinking about the question of modern landed property
at the time of the Grundrisse, his idea was that capital posits landed
property as something outside it and thereby posits as well wage-labour (cf.
his thinking in the Grundrisse, Vintage,278-9). Subsequently, I think in
1862 in a letter to Engels, he concluded that modern landed property was
actually within capital. And, this is what he tells us explicitly in Vol
III, Ch 37 on the first page--- that although the analysis of landed
property in its various historical forms is beyond the scope of the book
(CAPITAL), it is possible here to look at landed property as encompassed by
capital (ie., modern landed property). In this respect, the 6 books become
here 5. What we, in fact, see in CAPITAL is that Marx proceeds to say that
wage-labour (and its reproduction) is necessary to the existence of capital
but it is outside of capital, its reproduction occurs outside (can be left
to the worker's own drives)-- cf. Vol I, Ch.23.
I'll come back to Tony's comments on the book on wage-labour in a
subsequent posting. I should note, however, that Paul B. has posed a
critical question--- the issue of the environment and biosphere in relation
to economic activity. Where does this belong (logically)? Is it at the point
where we consider the outer totality, the world market? Or, does it belong
sooner? Eg., insofar as the side of the wage-labourer might be seen as
posing the question of use-value in general (the other side of the
commodity), would it not be appropriate to consider this in the context of
the book on wage-labour--- recognising , of course, that any such
consideration remains partial and incomplete until such time as we consider
the whole in the context of the world market?
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