[OPE-L:3698] It's a given

Gerald Lev (glevy@acnet.pratt.edu)
Sat, 23 Nov 1996 07:04:30 -0800 (PST)

[ show plain text ]

To my surprise, although Fred keeps talking about Marx's aggregate
equalities as "GIVENS", no one has challenged him re this interpretation.
Yet, I get the sense that Fred *wants* us to discuss this perspective. So,
in the OPE-L spirit of seriously discussing and engaging the perspectives
of other listmembers, I have a few comradely comments and questions.

1. What is a given?

In a dialectical presentation and analysis, what is a given? A given
might be the *starting point*. Yet, the choice of a starting point,
especially in a Hegelian system, is crucially important. The starting
point must capture and embrace in its unfolding the essential
determinations of the subject that one is investigating. In the case of
_Capital_, Fred and I (and many others) agree that the subject of
investigation is capitalism and the starting point is the investigation of
the commodity.

In a sense, though, the starting point is *both a given and a result*.
Moreover, the very positing of a given starting point suggests that the
"other" that lies *beyond* the given must be understood and analyzed.
Thus, by positing capitalism as a starting point, one must consider
not-capitalism (pre-capitalism) and, later, beyond capitalism (the

Relatedly, if one considers capitalism initially from the standpoint of
the logic of capital, then one must go on then to consider capitalism from
the standpoint of the logic of wage-labor and the dialectic between these
two subjects (Mike L, are you out there listening?).

Thus, what is given at one stage of abstraction, needs to be *analyzed* at
another level of abstraction. In other words, fundamental givens must not
be mere assumptions but must be analytical *results*.

Consequently, *even if we accept your interpretation that Marx's aggregate
equalities are "GIVEN"*, they must also be *results* if they are to have
greater meaning and content. So my question (and it is a real question)
is: what are the *analytical* reasons for taking Marx's aggregate
quantitative equalities to be both givens and results?

[NB: this is not really an interpretive question that can be answered by
quoting passages from Marx. To be able to answer the above question
satisfactorily, from my perspective, one must advance *analytical* reasons
for why these equalities should be taken as both givens and results].

2. Givens beyond _Capital_

OK, let's assume for the moment that these aggregate quantitative
equalities are given. What does that tell us, then, about when we then
move beyond _Capital_ and Marx? If, for instance, these equalities are
given, when and how do these equalities manifest themselves? If it appears
that they are not given, what is the source (or sources) and implications
of this appearance?

Moreover, if we take the givens to be results, are these results modified
at later stages of determination?

In Solidarity,