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

From: Francisco Paulo Cipolla (cipolla@UFPR.BR)
Date: Mon Apr 25 2005 - 14:49:22 EDT

Heinrich, regarding the issue of "critique of political economy" I usually say
to my students that Marx wants to show how the workings of the capitalism system
create at the same time erroneous, mistified or false aprehensions about it.
Usually this occurs because appearance is taken to be the totallity of the
subject. This is clear in vol. II of Capital where to each of the circuit of
capital Marx associates one school of thought: the circuit of commodity capital
to the Phisiocrats; the circuit of productive capital to Classical Political
Economy, whereas in fact capital is all 3 circuits at once. Capital appears in
many forms. If we fixate our attention in one of them we have a partial view of
what capital really is.
The way I understand your point is this: Marx´s analisys is at the same time an
analysis of what capital is and since what capital is includes how it presents
itself to the eye, then the analysis of capital must of necessity be at the same
time an analysis of how its forms of appearance constitute the basis for all
sorts of mistifications.
Therefore a positive theory of capitalism cannot but be at the same time a
critique of political economy.
If this is what you have suggested in your post I agree completely.

Michael Heinrich wrote:

> 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
> correspond
>  > 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 exposé
> [Darstellung] of the system of bourgeois economy. It is at once an
> exposé 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) exposé and critique, is in my view the real Hegelian
> heritage (instead of "laws" of dialectics) and it is less understood in
> Marxist tradition.
> Michael

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