[OPE-L:3002] RE: Developing Marx

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Wed, 11 Sep 1996 02:44:07 -0700 (PDT)

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A reply to Andrew's [OPE-L:3001]:

> I'm happy to
> rephrase my point as: "...you already know that you dissent from this
> perspective on a method of inquiry and investigation appropriate for critical
> political economy." How this differs from a lack of sympathy is unclear to
> me, however. I should also note that, in my view, the development of Marx's
> Marxism and the development of critical political economy are 2 different
> things.

I would say that Marx's critical theory is a (distinct) subset of critical
theory. What I am suggesting is that an essential component of Marxism is
its *critical* component -- this implies a critical perspective on the
writings of other Marxists _and Marx_. _Even if we *conclude* that we
agree with Marx_, we are still required to critically evaluate his work. As
Marx did not intend his theory to be a dogma or a religion, I believe he
would have *demanded* no less from us (note both that I am not accusing
Andrew of being dogmatic or religious and that Andrew agree with that --
see the next sentence).

> Nor do I ask anyone uncritically to accept Marx's Marxism, or do so
> myself. I agree with the requirement of critically evaluating all existing
> thought.


> Jerry's response seems to presume that the task of rediscovering and
> developing Marx's Marxism is incompatible with a critical attitude
> towards it.
> I not only think they are compatible, but that it is impossible to
> comprehend, much less develop, anything unless one has a critical attitude
> towards it. But as I am using "critical," it doesn't mean external or
> disinterested, or necessarily imply rejection of some aspect of Marx's
> Marxism.

I do not presume that the task of "rediscovering ...." As for the rest of
the above, I am in agreement.

> I
> had asked what was the use of answering Jerry's questions, about how I think
> Marx's Marxism needs to be developed and how the TSS interpretation of his
> value theory relates to that, because Jerry already knows he's not "in
> sympathy" with this effort.

What I said was that I expressed dissent from the what I took to be your
"method of inquiry and investigation" (for a frame of reference, some of
my recent comments on this topic appeared in the later stages of the
"assumptions, assumptions, assumptions" thread). I have *never* suggested
that I am not in sympathy with TSS interpretationS of value theory or
TSS efforts to "develop" Marx. On the contrary, (although I would not
presently call myself a TSSer), I am very much in "sympathy" with the TSS
goal of developing disequilibrium dynamic theory. As for the specifics of
particular TSS interpretations, I am still ... listening.

> I just don't see that any purpose would be served by my detailing the
> finer
> points of an effort from which you already know you dissent, and from which I
> know that most members of the list dissent.

Perhaps the previous paragraph clarifies my perspective a bit.

> First, I think it is misleading to say that Marx never suggested that he had
> "completed" his work. In a well known letter (the "artistic whole" one, if I
> remember) Marx said that he wouldn't publish anything unless he had the whole
> complete, in front of him. Thus Capital I is complete, in his view.
> Moreover, Vol. II is anticipated in summary form in Vol. I, as are the key
> theoretical conclusions of Vol. III. We also know that he wrote the
> work more or less in reverse order. Hence Capital as published by Marx is
> theoretically
> complete, which is not to deny that more fleshing out of fine points is
> possible, or that Marx failed to complete all the other work he wanted to do
> (e.g., a publication on what is rational in the Hegelian dialectic, his
> ethnological studies). But the claim concerning the theoretical completeness
> of Capital does deny, for instance, that theoretical results of others that
> *contradict* or *fail to replicate* those of Vol. I can be justified as being
> compatible with Marx's work on the ground that it is "incomplete."

We already discussed the "artistic whole" question at an earlier point in
OPE-L history, so I won't get into that now (although, I would certainly
be interested in what others on the list think regarding that question).
Now, was _Capital_ complete? Given Marx's statement on "artistic whole",
given the fact that Marx never suggested that he had completed his theory,
and given the fact that what became Volumes 2 and 3 were _drafts_ (in many
cases, _rough and preliminary drafts_), I believe that we can not answer
that question with a "yes." As for V1, that is certainly a more
"complete" work than the rest of _Capital_, but I believe that Marx
envisioned the *whole* of _Capital_ to be an "artistic whole" -- yet, he
didn't complete the rest of the "whole."

> That opposition is inexplicable if Marx lacked a clear concept of
> his Marxism. The same is true for his battles against other socialist
> tendencies throughout his life, including in the International. I suspect
> that if Marx were alive today, he'd be saying a lot if "if this is Marxism
> .." in response to a lot of things accepted as one or another Marxism.

If what you are saying is that we need to understand the whole of Marx's
theory and praxis in order to understand his perspectives, then I am in

> Third, as Jerry notes, I have repeatedly emphasized that there are different
> interpretations of Marx. But that doesn't mean "anything goes."

I also would not say that "anything goes."

> Of course, nothing in the above implies that it is illegitimate to dissent
> from Marx, only that it is illegitimate to cover up such dissent by reference
> to "incompleteness" or "inconsistency" that doesn't actually exist.

I would not disagree with the above.

In OPE-L Solidarity,