[OPE-L:1490] Law(s) of motion?

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Sun, 17 Oct 1999 09:26:37 -0400 (EDT)

Re Jurriaan's [OPE-L:1489]:

I emphasized previously that Marx wrote of a "law of motion" rather than
"laws of motion". I chose to emphasize the singular -- Marx's own
expression -- because of the important *context* of this statement in

Marx wrote in the "Preface to the First Edition" (with EMPHASIS added,

         OF MOTION OF MODERN SOCIETY" (Penguin ed., p. 92)


1) Marx very kindly has stated boldly what we often ask in advance of
   writers, planners, etc. -- i.e. he has told us what his ***SUCCESS
   CRITERIA*** is.

   Thus, if he has been successful in revealing the economic law of
   motion of modern society", then he has achieved his own stated "aim".
   If not, then not.

2) It is unclear -- to me at least -- even though he wrote this statement
   as a "Preface" to Capital, Volume 1, whether "this work" refers to:

   a) Volume 1 of _Capital_;

   b) All of _Capital_ (i.e. what he anticipated in 1867 to be the
      completed version of _Capital_: all 3+ volumes in their final

   c) All 6 books in the "6-book-plan" (since the historical evidence
      is unclear whether Marx still intended to write the other books and
      saw the book on "Capital" as only the first book in that sequence).

3) Marx *never tells us* what the "economic law of motion of modern
   society" is!

   Nonetheless, some believe that the "law of motion" is:

   a) a misnomer since there are instead "laws of motion" (I think that
      Kautsky was the first one to present this interpretation);

   b) the law of value (I believe, in context, that this might have been
      the interpretation of Engels);

   c) the absolute general law of capitalist accumulation (this appear to
      have been the [early] position of Raya Dunayevskaya [Hi Ted! Hi
      Andrew K!] in her early [mid-1940's] pamphlet _Outline of Marx's
      Capital: Volume One_. For her, the the AGLCA represented, it
      seems, the "law of development of capitalism" and that _"The law of
      motion of capitalist society is therefore the law of its collapse_
      [underlined in original, JL]);

   d) the law of the tendency for the general rate of profit to decline,
      as presented by Marx in the unfinished drafts of what was to become
      Volume 3. My sense is that this is the interpretation of a number of
      contemporary writers.

   ***** But, the bottom line is that Marx doesn't tell us what the
   "economic law of motion of modern society" is and we therefore have no
   way of determining whether he met his own "success criteria"*****!
   This fact alone should give all those who view _Capital_ as a
   "complete" work, pause for contemplation.

I apologize to Jurriaan if the above does not deal directly with the
thrust of his previous post, but I will return to discuss that subject
(including his listing of "laws of motion") if others want to discuss that
as well.

In solidarity, Jerry

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