Re: [OPE-L] Marxist Political Economy in Australia Since the Mid 1970s

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@SFU.CA)
Date: Tue Apr 05 2005 - 12:23:25 EDT

I think both Ranganayakamma and Michael Heinrich are forgetting about The
Inaugural Address of the First International, where Marx spoke explicitly
about two political economies--- the political economy of capital and the
political economy of the working class and about two victories for the
political economy of the working class. I explore this in my 'Beyond
CAPITAL: Marx's Political Economy of the Working Class' (Palgrave, 2003)
and more recently in 'Beyond the Muck of Ages' in the forthcoming Bonefeld
and Psychopedis volume I mentioned recently. Really, if political economy
as such is the appropriate object of critique, then what sense do people
make of the two victories that Marx describes and his statement that
'social production controlled by social foresight... forms the political
economy of the working class'? I think it should be understood that the
critique of political economy that Marx pursues in CAPITAL is
class-specific--- ie., is the critique of the political economy of capital.
         in solidarity,

At 11:55 05/04/2005, you wrote:
>B.R.Bapuji schrieb:
>>Can we refer to Marx's economic analysis as Marxist Political Economy
>>since the subheading of Marx's 'Capital' is 'A critique of Political
>>Is it not necessary to call Marx's theory of economics with a different
>You met an important point. Marx didn't deliver a variant of "Political
>Economy", he delivered a "Critique of Political Economy". This was not
>only the subtitle of "Capital", it was at the end of the 1850ies the
>name of his whole project, which led him to the famous "six-book-plan".
>By this critique, he meant not only a critique of special arguments of
>other economists (which is quite normal in a scientific dispute), but a
>critique of a whole science: Marx didn't want to contribute to the
>science of economics, he criticized this science, their basic
>categories, points which were taken for granted in this science. As the
>famous sentence of the subchapter on commodity fetishism indicates
>("Political economy has indeed analysed value and its magnitude, however
>incompletely, and has uncovered the content concealed within these
>forms. But it has never once asked the question why this content has
>assumed that particular form..."), Marx didn't want to criticize only
>the results but also the questions which were put (or which were not
>put) by political economy. By his analysis he reveals some kind of
>double character of all economic categories: on the one hand value,
>money, profit, interest etc. express relations existing in a capitalist
>economy (and these relations were in part and uncompletely revealed by
>political economy) on the other hand the same categories disguise these
>relations, they express a lot of mystifications and fetishisms. Insofar
>Marx's analysis contains a critique of these basic categories "by
>presenting them" as he told Lassalle in a letter.
>Speaking about Marx, the difference between "Political Economy" and
>"Critique of Poltical Economy" is crucial. But unfortunately this is not
>the case for big parts of Marxist Tradition. The "critical" parts of
>Marx's "Capital" (value form analysis, commodity fetishism, trinity
>formula etc.) were often more or less neglected, especially by "marxist
>economists". So, we can speak in a critical sense about "marxist
>political economy", meaning an approach, which - although using Marx's
>terms - is a branch of political economy, much closer to left ricardians
>than to Marx's critical approach.

Michael A. Lebowitz
Professor Emeritus
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6

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