[OPE-L:7156] [OPE-L:663] Re: what is the level of abstraction for market prices?

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Sat, 13 Mar 1999 07:02:46 -0500 (EST)

Hi Fred. I hope you, and the other listmembers attending, are enjoying
another stimulating IWGVT conference in Boston. You wrote in [OPE-L:648]:

> Marx mentioned in a number of places in Volume 3 the level of abstraction
> of "competition" that lay beyond Capital.

Yes, but *where* beyond Capital? (more on that question below).

> I think market prices would
> probably be one aspect at this more concrete level of abstraction, along
> with non-equilibrium "center-of-gravity" prices (as in Abelardo's Boston
> paper), debt-credit relations, perhaps international competition, and
> probably a number of other things.

Wouldn't the subject matter of "international competition" pre-suppose
the development of the subject of trade? Thus, one might include it in
either or both (depending on the level of concretion) of the subjects that
Marx proposed to develop in Book V (International Trade) and Book VI
(World Market and Crises).

> The question of how we move from the more abstract to the more concrete is
> even more difficult. Very little work has been done on this and much
> needs to be done.

Yes, I agree. Perhaps we could have a discussion of the methodological
questions involved in "extending Marx" to more concrete subjects that were
not analyzed by Marx.

To return to the question of market prices: it seems to me that there are
several options.

1) develop it as part of an analysis of competition immediately after the
subject matter of _Capital_. In other words, after Book 1 (Capital) and
before Book 2 (Landed Property).

2) develop the subject matter of competition after an analysis of the 3
major classes (Books 1-3), but prior to Book 4 (The State).

3) develop this subject in Book 5 (International Trade) and/or Book 6
(World Market and Crises).

While there might be some justification for c), it pre-supposes that the
subject matter of market prices requires the prior analysis of the
subjects of Books 2-4. Yet, this doesn't make a lot of methodological
sense to me. E.g. what would be the logic for analyzing market prices
after "The State"? Shouldn't one first analyze the law of motion of
capital at a level of concreteness that includes market prices before
analyzing the state-form?

b) also seems to me to be an uneasy fit. E.g. why should market prices be
developed after an analysis of Book 2 (Landed Property) and Book 3
(Wage-Labour)? In other words, would the subject matter of market prices
require a prior analysis of landed property and wage-labour? I did see why
that would be the case.

a) seems the most logical alternative. Yet, it would seem to fly in the
face of what Marx suggested was next in Chapter 52 (Classes) of Volume III
(of Book 1).

So I agree that these are not easy decisions to make. Wouldn't it make
more sense to consider the *total* range of "post-Capital" subjects that
require further development and then *order* them logically? This, though,
pre-supposes a further discussion on the methodological questions involved
in the ordering of subjects by level of abstraction.

In solidarity, Jerry