Re: (OPE-L) Re: "Marx, Markets and Meatgrinders: An Interview with Bertell Ollman" from Political Affairs

From: Francisco Paulo Cipolla (cipolla@UFPR.BR)
Date: Tue Mar 09 2004 - 17:08:47 EST


Thanks Jerry for your stimulating post. Obviously one feels overwhelmed by the
volume of reading and research that must be done if marxists want to be more
convincing both scientifically and in their daily propaganda.
I think the idea of keeping the eyes on the prize is very serious. However it
would be much harder to comprehend the subject matter -- Capitalism and State --
if we were to depart solely from the present day evidence rather than mixing
Marxs suggestions with new evidence.
To keep it simple consider the question of Taxes/unproductive classes. This is
in itself a whole field of analysis. I guess here Marx is referring to the
unproductive classes employed by the state, i.e., the army, the legislators, the
judges, the civil servants. What seems interesting to me is that Taxes as far as
the unproductive classes are concerned is a subject matter that is independent
of the type of government that happens to exist: as long as it mantains the
social relations as they are the state has to gather funds to pay for the
government dependent individuals.
In asking about the relationship between the state and the economy I had in mind
relations that are independent of whether the government is a committee of the
bourgeoisie or whether the government is of the the Bonapartist type. If we look
at the way Marx orders the contents of what was supposed to be the book on the
state it seems that he has in mind these economic relations.
You refer to the state as the state-form. Does that come from the Critique of
Hegel? The form of appearance of the state as the interest of all in opposition
to its intrinsic or essential being as the instrument of one class? Here the
economic relations help to understand the state as a form of appearance: taxes
come from all, therefore the state must be in the interest of all. I do not
think the question of the state as form and its economic foundations in
capitalism need to be separated.
I was also curious to know what Marx meant by the
"Encroachment of bourgeois society on the State".
I am very interested in reading Reuten and Williams` book on the state. Maybe
Ill scape this shameful ignorance.
Thanks again
Paulo

"Gerald A. Levy" wrote:

> Paolo and others:  Here's a bit more to think over this
> weekend.
>
> 1)  "how Marx would proceed in integrating the state in
> his overall theory of capitalism" is an interesting thought-
> experiment, but:
>
> a) we'll never know the answer to that question except in
> a *very* general way (discussed briefly below).  So,  it is
> a *speculative* question.
>
> b) while it is one of the many background questions that
> could be asked, should it form the starting-point for an
> investigation of the state?  I don't think that's the best idea.
> One has to focus on the *subject itself* (i.e. capitalism)
> if one wishes to reconstruct the state in thought in a form that
> allows us to grasp the essential, real character of the state and
> its inter-connection to the CMP.  This is a research task of
> a different order than interpreting and speculating on Marx's
> writings.
>
> 2) Paradoxically perhaps, some insights could be gained by
> *asking* whether the very broad statements that Marx wrote
> would be the contents of the Book on The State can serve as a
> suitable frame of reference for us today.  That is, we could
> *critically* interrogate those sketchy plans by asking to what
> extent they are INadequate and INcomplete and INcapable of
> grasping the essential character of the state in bourgeois society.
>
> In  what Oakley [1983] describes as the "First *Grundrisse* plan,
> Marx wrote:
>
>      "(3) The State as the epitome of bourgeois society.
>            Analysed in relation to itself.
>            The 'unproductive' classes.
>            Taxes.
>            National debt.
>            Public credit.
>            Population.
>            Colonies.
>            Emigration."
>            (M&E, _Collected Works_, Volume 28, p. 45; spacing altered
>            for visual clarity;  for the  slightly different wording in the
>            Penguin ed. of the _Grundrisse_, see p. 108.)
>
> Note that the above plan in the Economic Manuscripts of 1857-58,
> includes what the  Third *Grundrisse* plan" refers to as  "The State
> in its external relations."
>
>        "Then the *State*.
>          (State and bourgeois society. --
>          Taxation, or the existence of the unproductive classes. --
>          The national debt. --
>           Population.--
>           The State in its external relations:
>            Colonies.
>           Foreign trade.
>           Rate of exchange.
>           Money as international coin."
>           (Ibid, p. 195; altered as above; Penguin ed. version is on p.
>           264.)
>
> Later, in the '6-book-plan', "The State in its external relations" becomes
> simply  "foreign trade" (_A Contribution to the Critique of Political
> Economy_ in  __CW_, Volume 29, p. 261).
>
> The question that I think should be asked, though, is not speculative or
> Marxological: namely, is the above broad outline a satisfactory first step
> in the reconstruction in thought of the subject matter?  For example, what
> is the logic behind the ordering?  Are there essential aspects of the
> subject that don't have a place in that ordering?  Having the benefit of
> being able to examine capitalism in a more mature form than Marx
> witnessed, are there essential aspects of the State that weren't apparent to
> Marx or are in need of modification?
>
> In other words, by *critically* interrogating what Marx wrote -- keeping in
> mind first and foremost the subject matter itself  (a slogan from the civil
> rights movement -- "Keep your eyes on the prize" -- comes to mind)
> some insights can be gained. (1)
>
> In solidarity, Jerry
>
> Note:
>
> (1) "Keep your eyes on the prize" could also be extended to mean that we
> should keep in mind the "prize" of a new society.  That is,  the 'END'
> should not be forgotten.  Certainly Marx didn't forget it: e.g. in outlining
> the "Second *Grundrisse* plan", he describes
>
>    "the conclusion, the world market, in which production  is posited as a
>      totality and all its movements also, but in which simultaneously all
>      contradictions are set in motion.  Hence the world market is likewise
>      both the presupposition of the totality and its bearer.  Crises are
>      then the general pointer to beyond the presupposition, and the urge to
>      adopt a new historical form." (_CW_, Volume 28, p. 160; for Penguin
>      ed., see p. 227).
>
> [NB: if in the world market "all contradictions are set in motion"  and if
> there are contradictions that arise from the state-form it follows that,
> according to Marx,  the contradictions of the state-form come to the
> fore during crises.  Thus, crises -- and their causes -- are not narrowly
> economic alone.]
>
> This point can be seen again in the Economic Manuscripts of 1857-58 in the
> when Marx again refers to the world market:
>
>      "Finally the world market.
>       Encroachment of bourgeois society on the State. [>>>/////what do you
>       think *THAT* means?, JL/////<<<]
>       Crises.
>       Dissolution of the mode of production and form of society based upon
>           exchange value.
>       The real positing of individual labour as social and vice versa.)"
>       (Ibid, p. 195; spacing altered again for visual clarity.)
>
> Reference:
>
> Oakley, A. (1983) _The Making of Marx's Critical Theory: A Bibliographical
>      Analysis_. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul
>
> --------------
> > Thank you Jerry. Ill think it over during the week-end.


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