[OPE-L:4576] Re: Books 4-6 Revisited

Michael William (mwilliam@compuserve.com)
Thu, 27 Mar 1997 14:29:35 -0800 (PST)

[ show plain text ]

Jerry wrote, some time ago

> Now I have a question: how would you compare the architectonic structure
> the proposed book on the State [Book 4] in the 1st and 3rd _Grundrisse_
> (p. 108 & 264 respectively) plans to the logical structure developed for
> conceptualizing this subject in the Reuten/Williams book? I.e. do you
> agree with the sub-divisions and their order proposed by Marx (if so,
> why?) or would you suggest other (including additional) orderings? If so,
> could you explain the basis for your orderings of categories related to
> understanding the state-form? [Of course, I would welcome answers to this
> and other questions from Geert as well].

And I have been trying to make time to construct a considered, detailed,
response. Having failed in that endeavour, here is a general response.

We did not consult the plans in Grundrisse in connection with the
presentation in our book, nor had I until now paid much attention to them
in the context of systematic presentation. Our own presentation emerged
from intensive meditation on Marx's presentation in Capital, and intensive
ongoing debate between Geert & I (structured around one of us drafting some
paragraphs and the other commenting and perhaps redrafting etc, etc.) The
most obvious outcome different from Marx of this process was the starting
point in the Value-form instead of in Commodity. This entailed playing up
Section 3 of Ch. 1 of Capital 1, and the development of Money in the same
Part as Commodity. Later, Labour was not merely assumed to be the sole
necessary primary factor of production, but developed as such in the
presentation. We had most trouble in extending beyond Capital to the State.
Here the breakthrough (derived from intensive meditation on the State
Debates of the 1970s) involved developing Subjectivity and so Competitive
Society in order that the State should emerge from the latter's doubling
into State and Civil society. This, we think, resolved many of the problems
of trying to 'derive' the State in a functionalist manner form the economy
(the 'needs of capital'), whilst maintaining many of the insights of that
approach. This also enabled us to say a little about classes in and for
themselves, and to tentatively point at an integrated account of the
Private Sphere, and of the reflection of social contradictions in
psychological tensions. We also hinted only at the problem of the World
Economy and many Nation States.

We were unable, I think, to resolve the relative level of abstraction of
the emergence of the State (as upholder of Abstract Free Will) on the one
hand, and of the Value-form determination of the capitalist economy, on the
other. We felt that developing the State *required* a 'shift back' to a
much higher level of abstraction, and another conceptual development that
had then to be articulated with the prior development from Value-form to
Competitive Society. At a philosophical level, IMO, this needs more work on
not only *levels* but also *axes* of abstraction. On the other hand, if the
State is the last refuge of alienated human communality (shades of New
Labour!) in the bourgeois epoch, this dilemma is perhaps as much real as

Well, I think that has nicely avoided your question ... .

Comradely greetings

Dr Michael Williams
"Books are Weapons"

Department of Economics Home:
School of Social Sciences 26 Glenwood Avenue
De Montfort University Southampton
Hammerwood Gate SO16 3QA
Kents Hill
Milton Keynes
tel:+1908 834876 tel/fax: +1703 768641
fax:+1908 834979
email: mwilliam@torres.mk.dmu.ac.uk mwilliam@compuserve.com