[OPE-L:4608] Re: Books 4-6 Revisited

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Sun, 30 Mar 1997 03:44:28 -0800 (PST)

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Thanks for the reply, Mike W. You wrote in [OPE-L:4576]:

> The
> most obvious outcome different from Marx of this process was the starting
> point in the Value-form instead of in Commodity.

Yet, in the book "self-production" and the dialectic of "sociation and
"dissociation" is the "abstract link to the starting point of our
presentation" (p. 55). That is, the value-form itself is first grounded in
"self-production.", right?

What were the consequences of beginning with "self-production" for the
later development of the presentation on the state and civil society?

> 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.

I agree that "intensive mediation" on the debates from the 1970's (and
still continuing debates!) are a vital aspect of "empirical work" re
developing understandings related to the state. Here we have a distinct
advantage over Marx in the sense that we have inherited a vast body of
literature among Marxists (and others) that Marx did not have access to.

> We also hinted only at the problem of the World
> Economy and many Nation States.

Interesting. Perhaps you would agree that these subjects within a
systematic dialectical presentation need to be more than "hinted" at?

In the book, these subjects are introduced in Part 3, Chapter 7, Sections
2-3. They seem to be presented as "difference" (Ch 7) in contrast to
"simple unity" (Ch. 6). (The subject of the "world economy" appears later
in Ch. 10, Sec. 1).

Within a systematic dialectical presentation, how would you go about
ordering the more concrete determinations of these subjects?

> [...] At a philosophical level, IMO, this needs more work on
> not only *levels* but also *axes* of abstraction.

Ah, yes: we're back to the ax. (this topic came up a year ago).

> 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
> conceptual.

I don't quite get the point you are alluding to re "shades of New
Labour!". "New Labour" what?

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

It wasn't quite a direct answer to the question I asked, but it was most
interesting and thought-provoking!

In solidarity, Jerry