Re: [OPE-L] re the 6 book plan

From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Wed Sep 13 2006 - 07:49:36 EDT

> Jerry, how can you understand capitalism without
> analyzing the role of education in creating the
> ideological conditions for capitalist reproduction and
> further the role of media, and then again the
> historicity of a culture, the sociology of a culture,
> the geography of a culture, the whole of natural
> environment and its relation with the mode of
> production on the one hand and the solar system on the
> other, and the relationship of the solar system with
> the universe and its relationship with the multiverse,
> etc., etc. to understand the totality of it all. How
> many more books did I prescribe for Marx or you
> already? Do you get my point? 'Totality' is just a
> mere slogan!

Hi Ajit:

I understand the point you wish to make but don't agree
with it.  We discussed this topic  last year, not within the
context of  the 6-book-plan but in a more general way in the
thread which included a discussion of Anita's Chocolate

1. My objection to the above is that it conflates topics associated
with an understanding of capitalism in general and topics which
are associated with conjunctural analyses of specific social
formations.  It also conflates topics associated with an
understanding of capitalism in general with topics arising from
specific natural sciences.  So, to comprehend the general
nature of capitalism as a totality does _not_ require that we
include within an analysis of that subject  an accurate analysis
of the nature of the solar system and whether Pluto is or is not
a planet.  Nor, for example, does it require a comprehension of
the historicity of _a_  culture or the sociology of _a_ culture, or
the geography of _a_ culture: these topics are all (to use your word)
historicized and need to be grasped within the context of  specific
conjunctural studies of individual social formations.

Some of the other subjects you mentioned (including education
and the media) do indeed need to be grasped in a _general_
way in the context of  an analysis of capitalism.  When we move
from an understanding of how those topics in _general_ affect
the reproduction of capitalism as a mode of production to the
_specific_ way in which an _individual_ capitalist society is
reproduced then we move to what I and some others have
referred to as conjunctural analysis but might be referred to by
others as being class analysis or stages theory.

2. There is some merit, though, to some of the warnings against
'totalizing'  _if_ it is the practice of some analysts to presume
that what is true for capitalism in general is also true for each
individual social formation throughout capitalist history.  This
logical error -- the fallacy of division -- is a trap that Marxists
often fall into.

3.  On the "scope" of an analysis:

This depends on:

a) the inner nature of what one is attempting to describe; and

b) the purpose of the analysis.

On b), I think it could be said, in a general way, that "scope
follows function."  I.e. the scope of a an analysis is related to the
purpose of the analysis.

Thus, if one desires -- as Sraffa did -- to present a critique of
(marginalist) economic theory then one proceeds in a very
different way than if one seeks to present a general analysis of
capitalism as a whole.  Further, if one were to think (I'm not
implying that you do) that Marx was an economist whose main
purpose in writing _Capital_  was to write a critical
history and analysis of bourgeois (scientific and vulgar) political
economy then one might speculate that he abandoned the

In solidarity, Jerry

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