Re: [OPE] Fwd: Theory as History

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Mon May 10 2010 - 16:47:47 EDT

> May 7, 2010 09:58:16 AM, wrote:
> I've just published a collection of essays in the Historical Materialism book series and thought you might want to circulate mention of that on OPE-L. The essays straddle some thirty years of work and deal mainly with the question of how Marxists can develop a stronger (more sophisticated, more flexible) conception of 'modes of production' that doesn't simply reduce them to given forms of exploitation of labor. Identifying 'relations of production' with 'forms of exploitation' undermines a more powerful treatment of both sides of this equation, labor included. A key argument of the book is that relations of exploitation correlate with modes of production in complex ways.
> Here's the url, for more details:<>

This seems to be a very interesting work that I will try to get hold of
once the price is no longer so prohibitive. I would, however, contend in
line with passages in Vol.1 and Vol.3, respectively, that the form of
surplus appropriation is the *central defining element* of a mode of
production, it's inner most secret. This is also in line with what
first-rate Marxist historians such as Ste. Croix or Wickham use and in
contrast with the often misleading notion that the mode of production is
the 'combination of relations and forces of production'.

Identifying the form of surplus appropriation, however, only allows
historical analysis at a certain scale or resolution. Less coarse
concepts about the relations of production---how labour is organized in
a wider sense---need to be added for more detailed analysis and
comparisons and as well as the forces of production that enable rather
than 'correspond' to these relations. A current example would be the
comparison between Sweden and East Germany in 1975 that Paul C made.

//Dave Z
ope mailing list
Received on Mon May 10 16:52:07 2010

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