Subject: [OPE-L:1715] Re: Re: value-form theories and the Uno-school?
From: nicola taylor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon Nov 22 1999 - 11:36:07 EST
Hello Paul and Jerry,
>Re Paul C's [OPE-L:1710]:
>> On the other hand we will never understand capitalism unless we approach
>> it from the standpoint of the future communism.
>I think it is idealist to assert that the way we can understand today is
>by comparing it to some ideal standard which has never existed in
The point here is the purpose of theory. If we are interested in socialism
and interested in the potential for class struggle, then we must be
interested in *Capitalism*. A theory that has great explanatory value for
capitalism, is a good guide to class struggle; it might however have little
or no explanatory value for other social systems. For example, the key
problem facing socialism may be the problem of how to allocate labour so
that people do not work unneccessarily, and so that there are no queues for
goods (just to be provocative, let me suggest that socialism requires an
efficiency principle - a theory that explains how supply will be brought
into an equilibrium relation with demand). This is not Marx's problem.
>> It is only this which enabled
>> marx to transcend the historically specific and partial presentations put
>> forward by the political ecnomists.
>Certainly, his theory was developed in the context of his being a
>revolutionary socialist - a communist. Yet, there were others socialists
>and anarchists of his time and before who had a "vision" of communism who
>were not able to develop an understanding of capitalism.
I understand Marx to be criticising the classicals for *not* adressing the
historical specificity of capitalism. The classicals saw *value* as a
natural (transhistorical) category; moreover, they treated commodities as
physical products theorised as 'containers' for the physical expenditure of
human energies (as a category, the commodity is therefore transhistorical).
Marx attempted to establish an alternative view of the commodity as an
abstract category reflecting the irreconcilable opposition between
use-value and value. This opposition redefines the commodity not only as
the repository of embodied physiological labour, but simultaneously as the
expression of class relations under capitalism: i.e. a *particular*
expression of alienated labour. From this point of view, it is the
value-relation that must be overcome in class struggle.
>> It strikes me that the value form theorists, with their
>> fixation on capitalism and its surface appearances are again producing the
>> sort of historically limited presentation that he was attacking.
>Before one can understand the future in heaven, one must first
>understand life on earth today (and beforehand).
>Moreover, a certain "fixation" with capital has its advantages. Not only
>is it necessary to comprehend "modern society", but it also is important
>from a revolutionary perspective: "Know thy enemy".
>In solidarity, Jerry
Exactly (and thanx for the poem, Jerry).
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