[OPE-L:2294] Re: Reply to Duncan (Profit Rate, Science)

Gil Skillman (gskillman@wesleyan.edu)
Mon, 20 May 1996 08:17:47 -0700

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I left this debate awhile back, and happily so, but since I've been dragged
bodily back in by Andrew, I thought I'd post a correction. Andrew writes: [...]

> Allin and Gil seem to say,
> select, from among all the various parts of the text (by what method
> and according to what criteria they do not say), one bit of it, interpret
> it in a plausible way, and use it as a fixed point against which to under-
>stand the text as a whole. Anything that does not fit in with this bit,
> interpreted thus, shows a self-contradiction in the text--because they
> refuse to accept, to seem to refuse to accept, that the truth is the
> whole, i.e., that the understanding of the whole should rightly influence
> one's interpretation of this bit.

No, I don't think that's it. Even a casual review of my posts concerning
the "Ch. 5 critique" will indicate that I, as well as most others on OPE-L,
are concerned with
"understanding the whole." In my particular case I have referred to a
battery of corroborative material--10 years' worth of Marx's published and
unpublished writing--to support a "historical-materialist" reading of Marx's
account of capitalist exploitation, and have engaged in much more Marxology
than I'd care to in order to combat refutations on the order of "that's not
what Marx wrote." For all of my central claims, I can show that that *is*
what Marx wrote, often repeatedly and unambiguously, and furthermore that it
fits the pieces of Marx's argument together in ways that other
interpretations are forced to reject. The "one little bit" at the
conclusion is Ch. 5 is just one possible (but analytically significant)
vantage point for grasping the theoretical significance of Marx's
historical-materialist account.

Now, vis-a-vis my earlier contribution to the TSS discussion, it certainly
wasn't a question of finding some "bit" in the text that seems to induce a
"self-contradiction" that would disappear were it subjected to the right
"interpretation of the whole." Instead I presented passages where Marx took
the pains to say: here's what I mean by the value of a commodity, and
here's what I don't mean---and which are contradicted by the TSS
interpretation, not by Marx. Of course I provisionally accept Andrew's
suggestion that this inconsistent passage is simply the first step of a
dialectical argument (though I see from a recent post on a different matter
that Alan has reservations about this method of interpreting Marx), but then
I must ask again: 1)OK, what formal expression is consistent with the Marx's
understanding of "value" as of I, p. 130 (Penguin)? And given this, 2)
what explicitly is the dialectic that moves us from this expression to the
TSS expression of value?

Finally, I repeat that for me the fundamental issue isn't the fidelity of
the TSS approach to Marx's conception of value, but its properties as a
theoretical foundation for analyzing capitalist development. Discussion on
the latter is of course ongoing.

In solidarity, Gil