[OPE-L:1224] Re: capitalism as an organic system

Gilbert Skillman (gskillman@mail.wesleyan.edu)
Mon, 26 Feb 1996 08:44:12 -0800

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I eagerly look forward to reading and responding in detail to Mike's posts
1218-1220, but I would like to comment on the apparent terrain of our
discussion. Mike writes:

> Suffice it to say that I disagree on most things but (at least at
> the moment) there appears to be one surprising agreement. To
> what I am sure will be Gil's great disappointment (which can
> be anticipated even in sunny British Columbia), I want to
> deal not at all with the value-theoretic question here but
> with some broader issues about the conditions under which
> capitalism can be considered as a totality.

As I noted in my response to Mike's original posts, there is most
certainly "one surprising agreement" about the theoretical basis for
analyzing the development of capitalist exploitation: we're both
arguing on the basis of historical-materialist, and more specifically
historical-strategic grounds (as he affirms near the end of his
second first-round post), as opposed to the value-theoretic
grounds established by Marx in Chs 4-5 of Vol. I. and criticized by
me. I note further that nothing in Mike's two rounds of posts
depends for its validity on Marx's conclusions at the end of Ch. 5.

But then it seems clear to me that Mike is agreeing, at least
tacitly, with the basic point of my Ch. 5 critique: the appropriate
basis for understanding the significance and dynamics of the
capitalist mode of production is on such historical-materialist, or
more specifically historically contingent strategic grounds, and not
the value-theoretic grounds established in Ch. 5.

This is not to say that Mike agrees with my particular reading of this
historical-materialist theory; his posts make it quite clear that he
does not. But that's fine with me: instead of disagreeing about
theoretical fundamentals, we're simply hashing out substance on
theoretical terrain we both agree to. That's a basis for real
theoretical progress of the sort I had hoped for in joining accepting
Jerry's invitation to join OPE-L.

Thus, contrary to Mike's anticipation up there in sunny British
Columbia, I'm not disappointed by his choice to construct his
argument without reference to the value-theoretic grounds established
by Marx in Ch. 5. To the contrary I'm in complete sympathy with this
approach, since I've shown that Marx's value-theoretic conclusions
there do not follow from the arguments given in the text of the chapter.
Why waste any more time on invalid claims?

Mike and I may use different vocabularies (e.g., I have not tended to
speak of "capitalism...considered as a totality", for better or worse),
but don't be fooled: we're talking about the same thing.

In solidarity, Gil Skillman