[OPE-L:1593] Re: Lapides' Chapter 11

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Tue, 26 Oct 1999 09:34:06 -0400 (EDT)

I have read with great interest Chapter 11 of Kenneth L's book (and I
thank him for making this chapter available to OPE-L) as well as his
other messages, including [OPE-L:1563].

I will here make some very short comments on these sources addressing the
question of whether Marx's later plans amounted to a 6-book-plan or a

1) Kenneth L suggests that, by allegedly dropping plans for Books 2-3,
Marx's 6-book-plan effectively became a 4-book-plan. In one sense, this
might be seen as a movement towards those who support a 6-book-plan
interpretation and away from those who have held to a "1 book
interpretation" (i.e. the interpretation that suggests that Marx planned
to write only the 4 volumes of _Capital_).

2) Kenneth L, as he makes clear in his text, is following the
interpretation of Grossmann on this issue (and, one might add, Rosdolsky
and Mandel). Yet, he claims too much when he writes that Grossmann
*"showed"* that Marx had given up the 6-book-plan and moved to a
4-book-plan. Grossmann, rather, *claimed* that this was the case, just as
others have *claimed* that Marx continued to envision his theory as being
presented within the context of a 6-book-work.

3) Kenneth notes briefly the positions of Kautsky and Grossmann on one
side and Wilbrandt, Rubel, Lebowitz, and McLellan on the other. He does
not claim that this is a review of the literature on the "plans" question.
While a more comprehensive review of the literature would have been
interesting, it was not the task that Kenneth had taken-up when writing
the book. No doubt, the demands of the publisher re total length affected
what was included as well. Nonetheless, one might have hoped for Kenneth
to address the perspectives of W-R-L-M at greater length and with less
assertive and dismissive comments (see, especially, his remarks on

4) Despite repeated claims about what he has "convincingly shown" (see
excerpts below), he has *not* shown what he claims to have shown. His
method is to review chronologically what Marx wrote about his plans. And
he does a very credible job in assembling what Marx wrote on this subject
(notwithstanding comments that Mike L made to the contrary about quotes
taken out of context). Yet, when all is said and done, Kenneth has *not*
shown that Marx said that he had moved away from a 6-book-plan to a
4-book-plan. Rather, what Kenneth *has* shown (and others, like Oakley,
had already claimed) is that there is *no proof* that Marx *either* gave
up the 6-book-plan or continued to adhere to it.

5) The chronological approach of looking at what Marx wrote on this topic
in chronological order has its merits. Yet, it is only *part* of what must
be examined re this issue. One must also evaluate both what Marx wrote and
did not write in _Capital_ and later writings and consider the *logic* of
the 6-book-plan. Unfortunately, there is very little attempt by Kenneth to
address the basic theoretical questions related to the logic that Marx
employed in _Capital_ in terms of the ordering of that work and the
categories developed and not developed.

6) In some of the quotes below, Kenneth suggests what he believes to be at
stake in this issue. I find his explanation, though, to be very troubling.
E.g. it troubles me when he asserts that "Marx's theory of wages and
wage labor has long been an indespensible element in the ideological
arsenal of the working-class movement". This is troubling both because he
sees Marx's doctrine as "ideology" (whereas, I believe, that Marx held that
his theory was *not* ideology) and because it suggests a possible
*political motive* to Kenneth's interpretation, i.e. to demonstrate that
Marx's theory is "sufficient for the "working class to pursue a
revolutionary program in opposition to capitalist rule". While there can
be no doubt that Marx held that there was a relation of his theory of
"modern society" to his revolutionary politics, it can not legitimately
be deduced that what Marx left us is either "sufficient" or "not
sufficient" from a *theoretical* perspective. Thus, what *is* clearly
speculative is when Kenneth write: "He [Marx, JL] has written his book on
wage labour; it is our responsibility to bring it to the workers." It is
a speculative conclusion to suggest that _Capital_ is "his book on wage
labor" and it is suggestive of a possible ideological motive for advancing
a particular interpretation of Marx.

In solidarity, Jerry

Excerpts from from [OPE-L:1563]

> In this book I devoted one chapter to the question: "Is there a missing
> book on wage labor?" This chapter was based in part on an article I
> published in Science & Society, "Henryk Grossmann and the Debate on the
> Theoretical Status of Marx's Capital" (Summer, 1992). At the core of
> this article was a translation of portions of Grossmann's 1929 paper on
> the plan of Marx's Capital, in which he showed that Marx's had moved
> from a six-book plan (including a book on wage labor) to the four-book
> plan as we know it today.

> After all, he [Mike L, JL] has made it his principal mission to
> advocate the missing book hypothesis, and I have undermined that by
> showing it to be false.)

> I believe that I have convincingly shown that there is no case for a
> missing book on wage labor;

> As Lebowitz and others have repeatedly said, proving that Marx had or had
> not abandoned the idea of a book on wage labor is not the point. I agree.
> The crux of the issue is whether or not Marx's theoretical legacy is
> sufficient for the working class to pursue a revolutionary program in
> opposition to capitalist rule.

> This is at the root of our disagreement. I say Marx's theory has been
> rightly called the citadel of the working-class movement, and if
> answers are hard to find in Capital to all our questions then we must
> turn to his other writings. And that precisely was my objective in
> presenting Marx's theory
> of wages and wage labor in its entirety for the first time--to show
> that his
> theory most definitely offers "an adequate basis" for working people to
> realize their goals.
> So when the question is asked what is at stake in this debate my answer
> is
> this: Marx's "theory of wages and wage labor has long been an
> indispensable
> element in the ideological arsenal of the working-class movement; to
> pretend
> that it does not exist is an attempt to disarm working people by
> denying
> them this part of his legacy" (233).

> Rather than bemoaning the fact that Marx didn't provide us with all the
> answers to every question we should work on uncovering and
> understanding the
> very rich legacy of analysis and methodology he did leave. There is
> more
> than enough in Marx's doctrine for working people to pursue their
> struggle
> for emancipation. The fact that that struggle has not yet been as
> successful as we would like can not be blamed on Marx. He has written
> his
> book on wage labor: it is our responsibility to help bring it to the
> workers.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0b3 on Mon Jan 03 2000 - 12:18:34 EST