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

From: Michael Heinrich (m.heinrich@PROKLA.DE)
Date: Fri Apr 22 2005 - 09:06:50 EDT

Paul Zarembka schrieb:

> We all know that Marx was doing a critique.
> But what are the concepts of "production of absolute surplus value",
> "relative surplus value", "accumulation of capital" (in the sense Marx
> used it), "constant capital", "variable capital" etc. except NEW CONCEPTS
> developed by Marx. These concepts are NOT simply criticizing the enemy's
> political economy.  These are concepts defined by Marx to UNDERSTAND
> capitalism.
> We have no need to fight with people who speak of "Marxist Political
> Economy" (we have real enemies out there).
> Paul Z.
I don't want to "fight" with people, who speak of "Marxist Political
Economy" but to discuss. And the discussion is not a purpose in itself
but it should help to fight with the "real enemies".
If one is satisfied with Marxism in 20th century, then it may seem to
him, that there is no need for such discussions. I think Marxism in 20th
century was anything else than a success story and therefore it could be
useful to look at the analytical tools we are using.

But I suppose there is some misunderstanding or some different use of
terms (may be related to different traditions of discussion). When I
read the mails of Paul Z. and of Jerry I had the impression that you
confront analysis of capitalism on the one hand with critique of
political economy (as a critique of bourgeois theries) on the other
hand. Already at the beginning of the discussion I accentuated, that
critique of political economy for Marx means more than criticizing
bourgeois theories: it is a critique of categories, which are at the
base of such theories as well at the base of everyday life (the
constitute the "religion of everyday life" as Marx mentioned in the
section about the "Trinity formula".

And this critique (not of theories but of categories, which are not
inventions but which are produced as "objective forms of thinking) is
not opposed to an analysis of capitalism, it is not a different project
but it is the specific way in which Marx delivers this analysis.

Jerry wrote

 > Marx very clearly states what the subject is:  "What I have to examine in
 > this work is the capitalist mode of production and the relations of
 > production and forms of intercourse [Verkehrsverhaltnisse] that
 > to it" ("Preface to the First Edition" of Vol. 1, Penguin ed., p. 90).
 > Notice that there is no mention of critique of p.e. -- even though it is
 > clear from what else Marx wrote that critique of p.e. had a role in this
 > examination.

Even when there is no mention of "critiqu" (besides it is mentioned as
subtitle of the whole book) the question is, in which way Marx did this
examination? Was it the same way, as Ricardo did? (Who probably would
agree about the subject) I think there is a main difference not only in
the resultats of Ricardo and Marx but also in the way of analysing and
presenting the subject.

What Marx intended to do, he clearly states in a letter to Lassalle:
"The work I am presently concerned with is a _Critique of Economic
Categories_ [underlined by Marx] or, if you like, a critical exposť
[Darstellung] of the system of bourgeois economy. It is at once an
exposť and, by the same token, a critique of the system." [February
22th, 1858]

That the project, what Marx undertakes, is at the same time (not as
seperated subjects) exposť and critique, is in my view the real Hegelian
heritage (instead of "laws" of dialectics) and it is less understood in
Marxist tradition.


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