[OPE-L:2788] Re: assumptions, assumptions, assumptions

rakesh bhandari (djones@uclink.berkeley.edu)
Fri, 2 Aug 1996 10:19:31 -0700 (PDT)

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I read as much of what Andrew writes as I can and the exchanges in which he
has participated on this list are often profoundly illuminating. I do
disagree with two of his claims in his latest post, however. A few quick
comments for now.

> As Marx shows in Ch. 5, capital as self-expanding value is
>contradictory. Value does not expand on its own, but requires the labor of
>living human beings in a material production process. What appears to be
>*self-*expansion is expansion through subsuming its "other." (I think
>Postone failed to appreciate this.))

I would like to finish Uchida's Marx's Grundrisse and Hegel's Logic before
I comment on Andrew's criticism here, as I think there is much similarity
between Postone, Uchida and Chris Arthur

>. One reason I'm so wary of talk
>of "levels of abstraction" is that so many who use it neglect this point
>entirely, and indeed use it to explain away contradictions in their account.
>One case I'm very familiar with is the claim that "transformation problem"
>solutions' results end up invalidating key conclusions of Vol. I *because*
>that Volume is "abstract" and at a more "concrete" level the results are
>"modified," i.e., negated. Another is the law of the tendency of the profit
>rate to fall. Grossmann and Mattick Sr had a different take on things, but
>also employed this method a good deal.

I think Fred has really clarified what was a central, though implicit,
feature of what both Grossmann and Mattick understood to be the movement
from the abstract to the concrete-- that is, the movement from the
determination of aggregate surplus value to the forms in which it appears
to the agents of bourgeois society. There is no negation involed in this
movement, however.

Also, I do not know anything about Roy Bhaskar's analysis of closed
systems; there may well however be an important connection here to
Grossmann's analysis of the laws of an abstract or closed capitalism, which
are then modified in an open system in which there are relationships to
precapitalist strata and precapitalist modes of production (Leswek Nowak
analyzes this method in *The Structure of Idealization*, which I have not
read yet). In other words, that the discovered laws may not be manifest in
an open system (in which there may be atmospheric pressure or in this case
precapitalist formations) does not invalidate their operative significance.
Again modification would not be negation. But I have much to think about
here. Hopefully more later.