[OPE-L:4268] Re: Mandel vs. Baran-Sweezy

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Sun, 2 Mar 1997 15:40:47 -0800 (PST)

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To be sure, one can speak of Mandel vs. Baran-Sweezy -- especially as it
relates to their respective understandings of value and Marx.

Yet, I think their *research agendas* were not wholly dissimilar. Wasn't
an essentially element of both of their projects to further develop
Marxist theory so that it was capable of comprehending the development of
"monopolies"? Or, perhaps, a more accurate way of expressing that
question is that they (and others, like Willi Semmler) wanted to apply
Marxist theory towards an understanding of modern economies in the
advanced capitalist nations in which most branches of production are
dominated by oligopolies, rather than monopolies in the strict sense of
the term.

Looked at from that perspective, there seems to be much in common with the
*purpose*, if not the content, of _Monopoly Capital_ and _Late

While I am generally sympathetic to Mandel's critique of Baran-Sweezy,
referred to by the Two Alejandros, I don't think that exhausts a critique
of Baran-Sweezy by a long shot. One of the more thought-provoking
critiques of _Monopoly Capital_ is by our own Mike L in an essay called
"The Theoretical Status of Monopoly Capital." Much of Mike's essay
concerns the "inner tendency of capital to become one" and the three
aspects of integration (horizontal integration, vertical integration,
conglomerate integration) and their relation to what he sees as their
inadequate development in _Capital_. I think this would be a good essay
for us to consider more fully.

A more empirical work that considers the question of differential profit
rates and reviews the literature on industrial pricing is the book
authored by Willi Semmler. In this case the question of competition and
monopoly in Marxian theory is evaluated more empirically (related
questions which are discussed in a more theoretical context are presented
by the contributors to the Semmler/Demele eds. book).

All of the above, and others besides, have attempted to develop a
theoretical understanding of "monopoly" based on different, perhaps in
some cases complimentary, approaches. The underlying rationale, of course,
is to more thoroughly consider the ways in which industrial structure
under capitalism has *changed* since Marx's time.

In solidarity, Jerry


Lebowitz, Mike "The Theoretical Status of Monopoly Capital" in Resnick,
Stephen and Wolff eds. _Rethinking Marxism: Struggles in Marxist
Theory: Essays for Harry Magdoff and Paul Sweezy_, Brooklyn,
Autonomedia, Inc., 1985, pp. 185-203

Semmler, Willi _Competition, Monopoly, and Differential Profit Rates: On
the Relevance of Marxian Theories of Production Prices for Modern
Industrial and Corporate Pricing_, New York, Columbia University
Press, 1984

Semmler, Willi and Demele, Ottwald eds. _Monopoltheorie Kontrovers: Zur
Neueren Theorie und Empire des Monopols_, Berlin, Verlag Olle &
Wolter, 1980