Re: [OPE-L] Subjects, Objects and Starting Points

From: Howard Engelskirchen (howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM)
Date: Sat Dec 03 2005 - 14:49:36 EST

Hi Jerry,

If we say there is more than one subject to Marx's critique, we are not
proposing literary differentiations or conventional or instrumental ones.
If there is more than one subject, this is because there is more than one
scientific object.  That is why the issue of the 'simple commodity mode of
production' is so fiercely contested.

To come full circle:  we will want our notion of what counts as a subject to
be causally grounded, that is, if there is more than one subject this is
because there is more than one causal mechanism or structure to investigate.
So in the end this was part of my challenge to Steve -- if we ignore the
determinate quality of underlying mechanisms and instead make determinations
of causal relevance that are driven by social convention, then the subjects
we study will be conventionally organized too.  Taxonomy will trump cause
rather than correspond to it.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Jerry Levy" <Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM>
Sent: Saturday, December 03, 2005 9:47 AM
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Subjects, Objects and Starting Points

> > Here is a question presented by your first quote:  if neither value nor
> > exchange value are subjects, what does that do to the idea that value
> > which
> > increases itself is the animating subject of capitalist production?
> > we would not want to say, surely, that, well, since the commodity is the
> > subject of the first part, then some concrete social thing like 'means
> > production' must be the subject of the rest.
> Hi Howard:
> There is, I think, more than one subject in Marx's critique.  The
> subject is the bourgeois mode of production.  I think it's his claim,
> though, that capitalism as subject can be reconstructed in thought
> _beginning_ with the subject of the commodity.  What Marx wrote in
> the "Marginal Notes on Wagner", I believe, is consistent with what he
> wrote in "The Method of Political Economy" section of the "Introduction"
> to  the _Grundrisse_.   E.g. the sharp criticism that he makes of Wagner
> and Rodbertus was anticipated in a criticism of Hegel: "In this way Hegel
> fell into the illusion of conceiving the real as the product of thought
> concentrating itself, probing its own depths, and unfolding out of itself,
> by itself, whereas the method of rising from the abstract to the concrete
> is only the way in which thought appropriates the concrete, reproduces
> it as the concrete in the mind."
> He wrote a few sentences before that:
>  "the concrete is concrete because it is the concentration of many
> determinations, hence unity of the diverse.  It appears in the process of
> thinking, therefore, as a process of concentration, as a result, not as a
> point of departure, even though it is the point of departure in reality
> hence also the point of departure for observation [Anschauung] and
> conception.  Along the first path the full conception was evaporated
> to yield an abstract determination; along the second, the abstract
> determinations lead towards a reproduction of the concrete by way
> of thought." (Penguin ed., p. 101).
> As I suggested earlier, I don't see these passages as inconsistent.  I
> certainly don't see a contrast between "Hegelianisms" here in the
> _Grundrisse_ and what he wrote on this topic in the "Marginal Notes
> on Wagner": I can see no evidence here of an "epistemological
> break."   Do you agree?
>  It could also be claimed that there are other subjects at different
> of abstraction:  e.g. the working-class is a subject within the
> 6-book-plan.   In a sense, the movement of the exposition -- beginning
> with a subject (the commodity) and ending with a subject of the world
> market ["the conclusion, in which production is posited as a totality
> together with all its moments, but within which, at the same time, all
> contradictions come into play", Ibid, p. 227)  represents a movement
> from subject to subject and, _after_ the starting point, a movement from
> concept to concept.  I think it's also the case that what is conceived of
> as an _object_ at one level of the presentation can be seen also as a
> _subject_ at another level of abstraction.  Thus, the working class
> could be seen as _object_ from the standpoint of the political economy
> of capital and as _subject_ from the political economy of the
> working-class.
> In solidarity, Jerry
> > >     *    "Herr Wagner also forgets that for me neither 'value' nor
> > >           'exchange-value' are subjects, but the _commodity_"
> > >           ("Marginal Notes on  Adolph Wagner's 'Lehrbuch der
> > >            politischen Okonomie'" _Theoretical Practice_, Issue 5,
> > >            Spring, 1972, p. 42)

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