[OPE-L:2027] RE: Re: Aristotle's Economic Thought

From: P.J.Wells@open.ac.uk
Date: Tue Jan 04 2000 - 18:01:23 EST

[ show plain text ]

Chris wrote:

> Marx is grossly unfair to
> Aristotle. He fault s him for failing to discover the "substance" of
> value,
> and ascribes this to ideological prejudice agaist equality. This is to put
> the cart before the horse.
> When Aristotle was writing there was no "substance" of value in Marx's
> sense; the value form was empty as Aristotle had to admit. Such capital as
> existed was largely merchant K; I do not think capitalist factories in our
> sense existed. capital was invested in mines but these were worked by
> slave
> labour.
> Two thousand years later commodity-capitalist relations became hegemonic
> and two things happen: 1) the value form acquires a "substance"; 2)
> 'Equality' becomes a popular prejudice flowing from the dominance of the
> structure of caommodity-exchange subjects.
        I've always understood M.'s comments in the intro. to the Grundrisse
to making (almost) exactly the point Chris is arguing here: that there was
indeed an "ideological prejudice against equality", BUT that this was
inevitable given the material basis of production at the time (i.e
Aristotle's views were not just ideological -- and certainly not a

        Incidentally, I have a feeling that there was at least some wage
labour in classical Greece -- I'm sure I've read somewhere that merchant
galleys were rowed by (highly-paid) wage labourers.

        Though I can't claim any serious knowledge of this epoch, I've long
had the impression that ancient Greece (or at any rate Athens) teetered on
the edge of a slope that could have led it fairly quickly to something
comparable to western Europe in the Middle Ages (and thus to capitalist take
off) -- an impression strengthened by reading Ellen Meiksins Wood's book on
Athenian democracy.

        And if I remember correctly, weren't the silver mines state owned?


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Mon Jan 31 2000 - 07:00:06 EST