[OPE-L:4287] Re: Mandel vs. Baran-Sweezy

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Wed, 5 Mar 1997 08:43:10 -0800 (PST)

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Ale R wrote in [OPE-L:4285]:

> This *seems* to say that in e.g. Vol I we have something like a
> "competitive model" of capitalism which had been overcome by
> "modern economies" plenty of "monopolies" and "oligopolies".

No, my point was more basic --

I wanted to note that both Mandel and Baran-Sweezy had, *in some ways*, a
similar research agenda. Of course, there were *many* difference as well,
but I think it's important to try to understand commonalities as well as
differences in perspective. This is sometimes overlooked ...

E.g. despite the *very deep* differences in perspective on method and
value, I think that Althusserianism and Hegelian-Marxism *share* a common
rejection of certain "diamat" perspectives popularized in the USSR. My
feeling is that this should be noted so as not to forego a possibility of
constructive engagement between these schools.

> However,
> as far as I remember, Marx strongly suggests that accumulation drives
> capitalism to CONCENTRATION AND CENTRALISATION. I have never found
> persuading this (Hilferding, Lenin?) idea of a "competitive
> capitalism" analysed by Marx and a "monopolistic capitalism" in which
> e.g. the "law of value" is no longer valid.

I think Mandel, for one, would agree with you. I do as well, but ... this
subject has to be developed further and more concretely. For instance, how
is this subject analyzed at the level of abstraction of capitalist
production as a whole? And: how does this subject relate to the analysis
of foreign trade, the state-form, the world market, etc.? And: how has
industrial structure developed and changed since Marx's time? And: how
does Marx's analysis fit in with the reality of industrial pricing in
most branches of production dominated by oligopolies? Etc...

> In any case,one can "further develop" Marx's theory in opposite
> *theoretical* grounds.

True enough.

> In this case, one can either try to "test"
> Marx's position concerning the determination of value by labor-time
> in the light of "modern developments" (as it seems Mandel did) or
> propose a "increasing surplus approach", which IMHO is not Marx's
> theory.

There are other alternatives as well.

> I am (obviously) sympathetic with the idea of "further
> develop" Marx, but this is not a "magic" way to avoid:
> (a) the understanding of what Marx tried to propose, which is NOT a
> easy task and
> (b) to take some theoretical position.


In solidarity, Jerry