[OPE-L:1560] Re: Re: Lapides and Marx's wage theory

Jurriaan Bendien (djjb99@worldonline.nl)
Sat, 23 Oct 1999 23:12:11 +0100

Jerry wrote:

Thus, as I said before, the analysis of
>the state-form is required precisely because it wasn't examined in
>_Capital_ yet is a form that arises necessarily out of a further
>development of the commodity-form (thus the category of money implies the
>state. But where is the analysis of the state?).

Jerry may wish to consider this introductory passage from an essay by
Ernest Mandel, "Methodological issues in defining the class nature of the
bourgeois state", translated (32pp) by me in 1985 from a volume of essays
in honour of Leo Kofler (Marxismus und Anthropologie. Bochum: Germinal
Verlag, 1980.):

"Every attempt to deduce the character and essence of the bourgeois state
directly from the categories of Marx's Capital - whether from "capital in
general", from the exchange and commercial relations at the surface of
bourgeois society, or from the conditions for the valorisation of capital -
overlooks that the state, i.e. an institution separated from society and
turned into an autonomous state machine, was not originally created by the
bourgeoisie. This class was content to take over the state as it existed
before it came to power (viz. the semi-feudal absolutist state) and to
transform it in accordance with its class interests. The determination of
the class character of the bourgeois state must therefore take as its point
of departure the following questions: why did the modern bourgeoisie not
smash the absolutist state machine but only change it ? How did this change
occur ? To what ends does and must it use the conquered and adapted state
machine ? How does it succeed in using the state machine, despite its
characteristic autonomy, for its own class purposes ?
The objection that such a methodological approach is characterised by an
ambivalent eclecticism can be disposed of immediately, since the field of
action of the state is not reducible to "purely economic conditions". As
product of the social division of labour, state functions as such gain
independence, i.e. become the responsibility of special organs separated
from society, only when the division of society into classes has already
taken place, i.e. as instruments of existing class society. Technical
necessity, or reified consciousness by themselves, cannot explain why the
majority of members of society are compelled to leave the exercise of
particular functions to a minority. Behind the technical necessity and
reified consciousness there are relations among people, class relations and
class struggle. To deduce any given state form, including the bourgeois
state, from purely economic relations, is to remain riveted to a reified
reflex of class relations, or to reduce the class struggle in a mechanical
way to "pure economics".
Conversely, the origins and development of the bourgeois state cannot
simply be reduced to the general necessity to use non-economic force
against the class enemy of the bourgeoisie. The specific roots of this
necessity must be related to the special forms of the capitalist mode of
production, as a necessary complement of the rule of capital and not of the
ruling class in general. If one detaches the essence of the bourgeois state
from the conditions of existence of the state, then its specificity, which
distinguishes this state from all other class states, is generally lost
instead of being incorporated in it. Only an articulation of the special
functional conditions of the bourgeois state with the specificity of the
capitalist mode of production and of bourgeois ideology p which are jointly
determined by the structure of bourgeois society as well as mutually
determining - makes it possible to pose the problems surrounding the class
nature iof the bourgeois state exhaustively and thus to solve them.
It follows that every contemporary bourgeois state simultaneously reflects
general features of this nature and particular characteristics, which
relate closely to the moment (the phase of development of capitalism, of
the bourgeoisie and the proletariat) at which the bourgeoisie fought for
the direct conquest of political power, as well as the conditions of the
class struggle (including the relationship of forces between the
bourgeoisie, aristrocracy, and plebeian/proto-proletarian, semi-proletarian
and fully proletarianised producers). Not only the concrete institutional
arrangements and more particularly the state form (e.g. a constitutional
monarchy in the Britain and Sweden, as distinguished from a republic in the
USA and France), but also the special political tradition of every
bourgeois nation and its ruling political cliches and ideologies (which
also play a very important role in the emergence and development of the
modern labour movement) are closely tied up with this."

In solidarity


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