[OPE-L:4922] RE: "the special study on competition" and wage-labour

Michael_A._Lebowitz (mlebowit@sfu.ca)
Mon, 5 May 1997 15:27:38 -0700 (PDT)

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In message Mon, 5 May 1997 06:34:28 -0700 (PDT),

> I'm not sure about this analogy. It seems to me that Marx's argument above
> was that before we can understand capital as diversity (and then
> unity-in-diversity), we first have to understand capital as simple unity
> (capital-in-general). Thus, before we can understand wage-labour as
> diversity (and then unity-in-diversity) we first have to examine
> wage-labour as simple unity -- from the one-sided standpoint of capital in
> an analysis of capital-in-general. Later, in a separate presentation of
> wage-labour, we should also begin that presentation with a discussion
> of simple unity of the wage-earning class before proceeding to discuss
> diversity in the working class and unity-in-diversity of the working
> class.

This is more or less what I was suggesting (although I haven't approached
this in the same unity-diversity-unity framework).

>> In this
>> respect, the entire discussion of market phenomena and contingent
>> factors would seem to logically follow book 3 (existing, perhaps, as a
>> prelude to consideration of book 4 on the state); to move directly
>> from consideration of capital to competition would reinforce the
>> apparent one-sidedness of Capital.
> One could make an argument that the presentation of competition should
> follow the presentation of capital-in-general in _Capital_. Yet, IMHO,
> Marx _tells us_ [!] in V3, Ch. 52 (Penguin ed., pp. 1025-26) that the next
> subjects to be addressed are landed-property and wage-labour (Book II and
> III in the 6-book-plan). Thus, he writes:
> "The question to be answered next is: 'What makes a class?', and this
> arises automatically from answering another question: 'What makes
> wage-labourers, capitalists and landowners the formative elements of
> the three great social classes?'" (Ibid).
> This reading is reinforced by noting the subject that Marx chose to end
> Ch. 52 and _Capital_ with -- landed-property (and diversity in the
> landowning class) -- the subject to be addressed further in Book II. Thus
> he ended _Capital_ with:
> "... the infinite fragmentation of interests and positions into
> which the divisions of social labour splits not only workers but
> also capitalists and land-owners -- the latter, for instance, into
> vinyard-owners, field-owners, forest-owners, mine-owners.
> fishery-owners, etc." (Ibid, p. 1026).

These same passages, though, could be used as a basis for arguing that
Marx felt he *had* already dealt adequately with the 3 great classes at the
level of "simple unity". I.e., I don't think we can conclude that in Vol 3,
ch. 52, he was saying unequivocally that the next subjects are.... Further,
hadn't he explicitly concluded that much of the Book II material could be
incorporated in Capital?

> Thus, I agree that the subject of competition should be developed after
> Book III (on "Wage-Labour"). I also believe that an examination of
> competition, as diversity among capitalists, should proceed an examination
> of the state-form since the bourgeois state, in part, serves to mediate
> these differences (unity-in-diversity).
> Yet, I think the subject of competition has to be _further_ developed
> after an examination of the state-form when one examines "international
> trade" (diversity) and "world market and crisis" (unity-in-diversity).
> That is, the "outcome" of an investigation of "the state" [Book IV] is
> now "simple unity" when one goes on to investigate diversity among
> capitalist nation-states and "unity-in-diversity" among capitalists
> and nation-states internationally on the world market. One would then
> have to examine how the form of competition changes in the context of an
> "open economy". Do you agree?

I definitely agree with your point about the further development, ie that
we get new insights into the old categories (i.e., grasp new sides) as we
proceed. Eg., the state, which is initially grasped as the "concentration of
the whole" is quite different in the context of competing national capitals
in the context of the world market (Book VI) "in which production is posited
as a totality together with all its moments".
On the other hand (and here I go against my earlier suggestion---which I
believe Chai-on also posited), it is possible to take the same approach
with competition--- ie., explore it partially (and one-sidedly) in each book
initially. By this logic, competition of capitals would be part of Book I
(Capital). The case for this approach is that it would concentrate the
critique of the political economy of capital.

in solidarity,
Michael A. Lebowitz
Economics Department, Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C. Canada V5A 1S6
Office (604) 291-4669; Office fax: (604) 291-5944
Home: (604) 872-0494; Home fax (with warning): (604) 872-0485
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