Re: [OPE] CAPITAL AS POWER: free PDF download

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Tue Dec 21 2010 - 16:52:25 EST

On 2010-12-20 23:13, GERALD LEVY wrote:
> I think you are bending the stick too much in one direction.

That is deliberate, of course, because I want to bring out the problems
with implicit idealist assumptions. It is to ask the questions in the
wrong way, i.e. fruitless way.

> What representations of these relations they carry in their heads (their
> consciousness of themselves and their relation to others, including other
> members of their class and other classes) is indeed an important factor
> when determining their actions. Members of the working class are not
> Pavlovian mice who are guided simply by an instinct for self-preservation.
It is arguably the case that while the agents' actions will be
constrained by the relation sets and available resources, the individual
actions chosen at any point in time depend on their mental states. These
vary due to innumerable factors and the only reasonable way for a social
theory to cope with this vast number of possible outcomes is to to apply
probabilistic concepts.

The fruitful question is not whether mental states affect which actions
are performed, but rather how is that statistical outcome determined? In
other words one needs an appropriate materialist theory of consciousness
and ideology that acts as a probabilistic selection process of the
actions. Even if we model the generation of ideas within the entire
population of agents as a random process, the fruitful question is why
do some ideologies reproduce, expand or decay among the agents?

> E.g. if the
> efficacy of the 'power relations' between the bourgeoisie and
> the working class in the US did not rest, in part, on the beliefs of
> those agents then the whole of US history would be (vastly) different!
Trying to explain the trajectory of US history from the standpoint of
their beliefs will quickly collapse into idealism in which great men or
great ideas mysteriously enter the scene or vulgar sociobiology by
attributing special mental properties of the 'American people'. It is a
fruitless question.

You must ask *why* were the beliefs of those agents not different? Then
the problem is in the right terrain; ideology becomes a mediating factor
to be explained.

//Dave Z
ope mailing list
Received on Tue Dec 21 16:54:06 2010

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