[OPE-L:687] Re: on unitiated students

Michael Perelman (michael@ecst.csuchico.edu)
Sat, 9 Dec 1995 14:02:05 -0800

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Fred M. asked:
> Michael,
> It is still unclear to me what you mean by the "historical approach".
> In what way do you think that such an "historical approach" affected the
> order of the concepts in Capital?
> Specifically, do you think that Chapter 1 is about capitalism of simple
> commodity production?
> Thanks,
> Fred
I have been unsuccessful so far in explaining my understanding.

1. Marx uses a Hegelian approach in which almost everything presupposes
everything else. [A sloppy way to express the idea, admittedly.]

2. He wants to explain himself to people who lack a Hegelian understanding.
Where does he start?

3. Marx uses two, not mutually exclusive avenues: A. The commodity from
which he "deduces" the structure of capitalist society. B. What I called
the historical approach.

3. By the historical approach, I mean that he begins with simple commodity
production to develop "simple" value theory. Then from there, he adds
different levels of complexity, which parallel historical evolution. e.g.,
"once there was barter, then simple commodity production evolved, then
wage labor ..."

4. I do not mean that this historical approach is central to his work, but
he does fall back on it from time to time.

I hope this is clearer.

Michael Perelman
Economics Department
California State University
Chico,  95929

Tel. 916-898-5321 E-Mail michael@ecst.csuchico.edu