[OPE-L:2212] Re: Chapter 5

Gil Skillman (gskillman@wesleyan.edu)
Tue, 14 May 1996 11:55:33 -0700

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Michael W. writes:

>Thank you for your clarifications. I'm sorry you had to resume a past
debate for
>me. I will respond properly when I find time.

Not a burden. I look forward to your response.

>For the moment, I am puzzled by
>your interest in the 'why' questions you raised (which, as you say, can be
>answered by reference to other parts of Capital).

There are a number of interconnected reasons:

1) Through past discussions on this net and elsewhere, I have discoverd
that the sense in which these questions are answered by reference to other
parts of Capital (i.e., largely on historically-contingent strategic
grounds) only become clear once one rejects Marx's invalid value-theoretic
conclusions at the end of Ch. 5. For example: I've been surprised at the
degree of resistance to Marx's oft-repeated claim that usury capital and
merchant's capital extended to small producers reaped surplus value, and
therefore constituted "capitalist exploitation without the capitalist mode
of production." As far as I can tell the root of this resistance is to be
found in adherence to Marx's Ch. 5 argument.

2) Relatedly, most Marxists reject John Roemer's "Walrasian" approach to
exploitation and class on the grounds that he isn't addressing the same
concerns as Marx, not least because he ignores the strategic implications of
Marx's distinction between labor power and labor. But Marx's argument in
Ch. 5 also does not hinge on such strategic implications; thus it can be
demonstrated that Roemer legitimately disproves Marx's Ch. 5 conclusions by

3) Considerations such as the above point, I think, to a coherent
alternative way of
understanding Marx's (historical-materialist) theory of profit and
interest, an approach that is at best obscured by the framework established
by Marx in Parts 1 and 2 of Capital, Volume I.

I am more concerned with 'how'
>questions, when it is empirically clear, I think, both that formal
>subordination, and the trading of labour-power are dominant under advanced
>capitalism; and that the other modes of surplus appropriation also exist.

Fair enough. For certain purposes, clearly, there is now need to go beyond
these facts. But for what it's worth, *Marx* was manifestly attempting to
establish a stronger result than simply empirical generality.

In solidarity, Gil