[OPE-L:1553] Re: Lapides and Marx's wage theory

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Sat, 23 Oct 1999 05:34:13 -0400 (EDT)

Paul Z wrote in [OPE-L:1551]:

> Jerry, you earlier wrote that there is no "smoking gun" to be used to
> defend a six-book interpretation and Marxists have to live with the
> ambiguity (i.e., I though you could respect Lapides' argumentation to the
> contrary). Now you write as if it is fact that Marx was writing a
> sequence of books.

What I wrote was that there is no "smoking gun" to support *or refute*
that proposition. I am saying the reverse as well, i.e. there is no
"smoking gun" to support the proposition that Marx abandoned the
6-book-plan or converted it into a 4-book-plan (thereby eliminating Books
2 & 3 by incorporating the subjects into Book 1) as Kenneth L suggested.

A "smoking gun" would be a clear, definitive statement by Marx -- one way
or the other. As is the case in so many debates about Marx, the search for
the "smoking gun" often proves to be futile.

However, I believe *in context*, and examining all of the evidence, that
Marx had not abandoned the 6-book-plan. And, indeed, I have tried to show
you some of the evidence, relating to the logic that Marx used in the
structure of _Capital_, to make this point.
> Jerry,
> actually, has a better formulation I think, namely, that the subject
> matter is treated "substantively different from the way it was treated in
> Capital". Now that gets us somewhere because Jerry seems to be giving
> priority to an earlier, unpublished work to a later published (Marx
> himself, for Vol. 1) work on the same subject.

I think, rather, that the presentation in _Capital_ is a *more*
sophisticated and complex one than in the _Grundrisse_. *However*, that is
_only_ because I view _Capital_ as Book One. Yet, *if* _Capital_ was
intended to be a terminal work, *then* I would have to say that the
presentation is of a inferior nature to the _Grundrisse_ because it is so
one-sided. Also: in the _Grundrisse_ Marx tells us that he plans to write
the other books (this was discussed in the recent "Marx's ordering"
thread). In _Capital_ Marx does not tell us, i.e. there is no "smoking
gun", one way or another. But, note, that he *doesn't* tell us what the
"economic law of motion of modern society" is even though it is identified
as his ultimate "aim".

> If I may offer an intepretation, I think the Mike and Jerry sense that
> Marx is progressively jettisoning Hegel as he climbs theoretically and are
> calling "Marx, come back" [allusion to the old movie "Shane"].

On the contrary, if you interpret _Capital_ as Book One in the 6 (or even
the 4) book plan, then you recognize the systematic dialectical
presentation and, thereby, the dialectical unfolding of categories.
Indeed, the very fact that Marx didn't examine such topics as the state,
foreign trade, and world market and crisis in _Capital_ suggests very
strongly that this was the case. And then again there is the ending of
_Capital_ where Marx *explicitly tells us* what the next question to be
answered is. That question states that the next topic concerns
classes -- Landowners "Landed-Property" and Wage-Workers "Wage-Labour".
Indeed, the very last paragraph of _Capital_ introduces this subject (i.e.
the subject of the next book -- Book 2).

> So, let's raise the temperature of this discussion a bit (even for
> Volume 1):
> "In theoretical work as in art, I value only the simple, the tranquil and
> the bold. This is why, for example, the famous first volume of Marx's
> Kapital, with its profuse rococo ornamentation in the Hegelian style, now
> seems an abmondation to me (for which, from the Party standpoint, I must
> get 5 years' hard labor and 10 years' loss of civil rights....)"
> -- Rosa Luxemburg, 3/8/17 from prison.

Well, Luxemburg -- with her polemical style typical of the period --
could be counted on to raise the temperature of just about any discussion
that she was part of! I'm not convinced, though, that what *we* need is a
to raise the temperature. Also, what she is saying does not constitute an
argument or evidence for an interpretation one way or the other.

In solidarity, Jerry

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