[OPE-L:7299] [OPE-L:828] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: abstract labour

Ajit Sinha (sinha@cdedse.ernet.in)
05 Apr 99 14:15:51 IST (+0530)

> In defense of political economy, Ajit wrote:
> >
> >The point I'm making is that political economy has been
> concerned
> >with two or if you like three fundamental questions: (1)
> allocation
> >of labor or resources, (2) Production and distribution of
> surplus,
> >and (3) accumulation and growth. One way to interpret great
> works
> >of political economy is to try and locate which of the three
> >problematics dominate its theoretical structure.
> Armed with these problematics, no economist is thus prepared to
> understand
> Marx's critique of political economy.
> The most glaring omission here is a theory of 'endogeneous'
> *cycles* (which
> cannot be derived from even Sismondian underconsumption since
> that
> *permanently* haunts the system) and crisis. You may want to
> check out the
> critique of political economy from a Marxian perspective such as
> Mattick's
> Economic Crisis and Crisis Theory (Sharpe, 1981)
It does not look good for somebody who does not know much of
political economy to make such strong statements. Mattick also does
not have much understanding of political economy, by the way. As
far as endogeneous cycles and crisis are concerned, it's part of
accumulation and growth process. You show poor understanding of
history of economics when you make such statements, since many non
Marxist, particularly Cambridge school economists, have spent their
life time working out endogenous cycles and crisis theories.
> As for 1 and 2. Note that for political economists Richard Jones
> is a dead
> dog who is not to be found in any detail in almost all the
> standard
> histories of economic thought (Eric Roll's and Guy Routh's are
> exceptions),
> though Marx preferred him to the abstract and deductive theorist
> Ricardo.
> Jones worked towards the historical specification in terms of
> property
> rights and production relations of how different societies
> carried out 1
> and 2. The principle of historical specificity as the heart of
> Marx's
> method was of course first underlined by Korsch in *Karl Marx*,
> 1938.
What is the historical specificity of capitalism?
> One of the boldest attempts to understand how in lieu of
> tradition and ex
> ante social planning labor must allocate itself under capitalism
> to the
> various tasks required for the reproduction of society is Moishe
> Postone's
> chapter on abstract labor in his magnum opus.
> Political economy also does not enjoy the critique of commodity
> fetishism
> which you want to expunge on the advice of your other hero
> Althusser. This
> critique has important epistemological dimensions, as
> superficially
> suggested in a previous post (John Torrance's Karl Marx's Theory
> of Ideas
> includes a detailed development as does Derek Sayer's Marx's
> Method). The
> critique also has a strategic thrust--to uncover critically why
> capitalism
> appears as a natural and eternal system.
> As a contrast to your three problematics, compare the following
> three:
> "The fundamental characteristic of Marx's historicism and the
> mark that
> distinguishes it from his predecessors are not the doctrine of
> the
> historical succession of economic systems but a special theory
> which, in
> addition to evolutionary changes within a given system, explains
> the
> objective and subjective conditions for the transition from one
> system to
> another. Briefly stated, it is that within the existing economy a
> new
> economic form arises and grows, that the two enter into ever
> sharper
> conflict with each other, and that through the violent resolution
> of the
> conflict the new economy finally takes over.
> "Within this general theory three are three special theories:
> (1)a doctrine
> of a 'universal social dynamic' of structural changes in society,
> valid for
> all 'antagonistic' societies; (2) the theory of the objective
> developmental
> tendencies of capitalism; and (3) the theory of the subjective
> bearer of
> change, that is, the class struggle theory." Henryk Grossmann,
> Journal of
> Political Economy, 12/43
> Rakesh
I think you should try writing something of your own, then may be
we can continue the discussion. Cheers, ajit sinha