Re: [OPE-L] self-interest in _Capital_ and Marxian theory

From: Andrew Brown (A.Brown@LUBS.LEEDS.AC.UK)
Date: Thu Sep 01 2005 - 11:37:15 EDT


Thanks - hadn't thought of it that way before.

Still, for me, the problem with thinking in terms of capitalist
'self-interest' in Vol. 1 is that it suggests that there is an analysis
of, or at least reference to, the intentions of the capitalist, albeit a
very 'thin' reference, in Vol. 1 (a suggestion that I take to be in line
with Tony Smith's 1990 classic book). But this seems to contradict the
continual point made in Vol.3 that it is *only* by the time we reach
this level (introducing profit), that we reach the level of the
consciousness of individual capitalists. And only then do we see the
illusory nature of this consciousness therefore.

I labour this point because it provides a basis on which, these days, I
disagree with Tony's discussion of structure and agency in capital. Tony
has used this to debate with Elster and others I think. Instead of
taking Tony's line of argument I'd instead emphasise that we don't
really get to the level of consciousness of individuals (self-interest)
until Vol. 3. This is why I'd disagree with many attempts at 'modelling'
say simple commodity production or basic Vol 1 level exploitation
because such models attribute self-interest to agents at the vol. 1
level when this can't be done until vol. 3.

Relatedly, Marx doesn't really go into details about competition in Vol.
1 - whenever he mentions it he stresses that it is really a topic to be
deferred until later, until, that is, we have introduced profit in Vol

Many thanks


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