[OPE-L:1720] Re: Definitions and subject matter

Paul Cockshott (wpc@clyder.gn.apc.org)
Mon, 8 Apr 1996 11:23:56 -0700

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I don't understand the above. My understanding suggests that petty
commodity production can take place within the context of a number of
different modes of production, but is not a mode of production itself.
If PCP is understood as a mode of production, please explain its
relationships to other modes of production. Do you see it as a
"transitional" m of p? Also please explain the internal dynamics of the
PCP M of P.

In saying that petty commodity production must exist in conjunction
with other modes of production, one is only saying something that
is common to almost all modes of production - they coexist with
one another on the same planet, and to a greater or lesser degree

In the long view of history all modes of transitory, though none
are transitional.

Explain the dynamics of petty commodity production?

How many years research am I to devote to this question?

As far as Ireland in 1925 goes, wasn't it already a capitalist social

Note that I am talking about the Irish Republic post independence
and pre WWII. The main center of capitalist industry in Ireland
pre independence remained part of Britain. It was the predominantly
petty commodity producing areas that became independent.
Capitalism existed, but the majority of the hours of labour expended
were not under capitalist relations.
The market in the primary means of production - land - was very
inactive compared to what is the case in a fully capitalist economy.

If your answer is no, then when did the US economy become
capitalist? Also, what events in Ireland led to the transformation of the
PCP m of p into the capitalist m of p?

I leave the question about the US to people over there who are
more expert in its history.
I would suggest that the underlying factor leading to the dominance
of capitalism in Ireland would have been the inability of the petty
commodity producing sector to employ the younger generation, creating,
even in the absence of a forcible appropriation of the peasantry, a
reserve army for capitalist industry. Traditionally, this was a
reserve army for American, Scottish and English capitalism, from
the 1960s onwards it increasingly became a reserve for domestic
capitalism. The abandonment of protectionism and the joining of
the EC were important factors in the process. These triggered the
inflow of internationally owned capital to set up industry in Eire.

Is capitalism merely an abstract construction or does it express a
"material entity" (a rather ambiguous term, BTW)?

It is an abstract category.

My question, reproduced above, concerned the *form of presentation*.

While we want our theories to be rooted in material reality, on what
basis must the logical presentation and unfolding of a subject matter
include the historical evidence?

Once a science has matured there is a tendancy for textbooks to
restrict themselves to the logical presentation of a subject, perhaps
playing down the confirming evidence.

This is perhaps permisible for elementary didactic purposes once
the confirming evidence is well established. But it can give rise to
the illusion among readers that its validity is based only upon
its logical coherence: that what is logically coherent is in consequence

When establishing a theory one must not fall prey to this self delusion.
One must attempt to discover if there is evidence to back up ones

Given the Hegelian mode of presentation with which Marx in places
there is an temptation among some of his readers to fall into such
idealist self delusions. Marx, himself, with his, copious historical
details, tried to avoid this temptation.