[OPE-L:1684] Re: Definitions and subject matter

glevy@acnet.pratt.edu (glevy@acnet.pratt.edu)
Thu, 4 Apr 1996 03:51:19 -0800

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Jerry (old)
(1) Simple commodity production
Some seem to believe that the category of simple commodity production
describes an actual stage in pre-capitalist development that is analyzed
with Marx's "logical-historical" method. I believe instead that it is a
logical construction in Marx's argument and is not intended to be a
description of an actual mode of production prior to the advent of
capitalism or a kind of pre-capitalism.

Paul [from OPE-L:1682]
One does not have to posit a stage. What we are talking about
are modes of production not social formations. It is social
formations that go through sequential development not modes of
production. During their sequential development the mix of modes
of production may vary. Petty commodity production is a definite
set of production relations that can exist in combination with other
modes of production. At times it may in fact be dominant in the
sense of employing the greater portion of societies labour.
But this does not make it, or capitalist production for that

Jerry (new)
I didn't say the PCP was a stage. I said that some interpret PCP as a
historical stage.

When and where and as part of what mode of production did PCP exist as

Why don't modes of production go through "sequential development"? Don't
they change in new ways over time irrespective of the mix of social
formations? I.e. even if we abstract from international differences in
terms of social formations, can't we say that modes of production go
through distinct and subtle development?

Paul (on international)
Question is whether he would have dealt with it in a future volume.
Whatever the answer we need to examine it ourselves.

On the last sentence, I agree. Obviously we can't answer the first
question conclusively for reasons that we discussed regarding Marx's plans
for _Capital_, but aren't *some* of the reasons why we agree that further
examination is important also true in Marx's time?

He could not both produce a work of historical materialism and eliminate
the historical chapters. He would deviate into the sort of idealist
apriorism that is characteristic of economic theory. Why is there no
detailed historical work in Roemer or Steadman for example?

I believe the above confuses the mode of inquiry with the form of
presentation. No one, I think, would say that historical studies were not
a part of the process of enquiry. Are they a necessary part of the form
of presentation? If so, why? I'll let you give the answer to your last