[OPE-L:2230] Re: Chapter 5 and Marx's method

Gilbert Skillman (gskillman@wesleyan.edu)
Wed, 15 May 1996 10:50:36 -0700

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I forgot to include Fred's summary in my previously posted response.
I'll do so here to provide a clear snapshot of our contrasting positions:

> To summarize my arguments on these three points:
> 1. The textual evidence strongly suggests that the subject of Marx's
> theory, from the beginning of 'Capital', is specifically and solely
> "capitalist production".

I believe that no such "evidence" can be found in Capital itself, and
rather that one can find significant evidence to the contrary. In
particular, Marx *never* defines the capitalist mode of production as
equivalent to capitalist production. He *does* explicitly contrast
these terms, in at least one passage in Capital.

> 2. Marx successfully derived the necessity of wage-labor in the sense that
> wage-labor is necessarily related to other important characteristics of
> capitalist production.

Where? Fred asserts this derivation, but never demonstrates it.
Furthermore the necessary demonstration must proceed on
historical-strategic grounds, rather than the value-theoretic grounds
of I, Ch. 5.

> 3. Marx's aggregate theory of surplus-value in Volume 1 does not depend in
> any essential way on the assumption of individual price-value equivalence.

Perhaps not. But this is not at issue. Marx's ch. 5 analysis
manifestly does not concern this "aggregate theory"--every important
step of the argument, including the explicitly stated conclusion, is
presented in disaggregative terms. In addition, Marx explicitly
justifies his focus on the purchase and sale of wage labor at the
beginning of Ch. 6 with reference to the condition of price-value
equivalence. He makes no reference to any aggregate theory.
Finally, granting that Marx did proceed on aggregative grounds, the
latter cannot possibly justify Marx's focus on capitalist production
based on wage labor as the basis of capitalist exploitation.

Thus, if Fred is right, my critique of Marx's Ch. 5 argument is even
stronger than first suggested.

In solidarity, Gil