[OPE-L:7305] Marx on solving human problems (again)

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Sat Jun 01 2002 - 18:16:59 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jurriaan Bendien" j.bendien@wolmail.nl>>
Sent: Saturday, June 01, 2002 5:47 PM
Subject: Marx on solving human problems (again)


 Sorry that I offended you by calling the alleged "indifference" of
 capitalists to the use-values produced an instance of "infantile Marxism".
 From my point of view though, capitalists are always engaged in a twofold
 competitive battle, namely a battle for profits and a battle for sales -
 and use-value is a crucial aspect of the latter. I realise that Marx
 concentrates mostly on the valorisation process, and assumes usually for
 the sake of argument that the goods are sold, but that is an abstraction
 from reality, and we should not assume that the abstraction fully describes
 real capitalist behaviour, individually or in aggregate.

 "The very construction of Capital", George Lukacs reminds us in his The
 Ontology of Social Being (Part 2, p. 49-50), "shows that Marx is dealing
 with an abstraction, for all the evidence adduced from the real world. The
 composition of Capital proceeds by way of successive integration of new
 ontological elements and tendencies into the world originally depicted on
 the basis of this abstraction, and the scientific investigation of the new
 categories, tendencies and relationships that arise from this, until
 finally the entire economy as the primary dynamic centre of social being is
 encompassed in thought before our eyes. The next step that has to be taken
 here leads to the overall process itself, initially only conceived in a
 general way. For even though the whole society always forms the background
 to Volume One of Capital, the central theoretical presentations only grasp
 individual acts, even when dealing with such things as a whole factory with
 many workers, with a complex division of labour, etc. Later on the
 individual processes that have been previously considered separately have
 to be dealt with from the standpoint of the entire society. Marx repeatedly

 stresses that the first thing is an abstract and therefore formal
 presentation of the phenomena. In this connection, for example, 'the bodily
 form of the commodities produced was quite immaterial for the analysis',
 for the abstract laws apply in the same way to any kind of commodity. It is
 only the fact that the sale of one good (C-M) in no way necessarily leads
 to the purchase of another (M-C), that indicates the distinctness of the
 overall process from the individual acts, in the form of an insuperable
 contingency. It is only when the overall process is investigated from the
 standpoint of its lawlike character, which affects the economy as a whole,
 that this formal comprehension is no longer sufficient: 'The reconversion
 of one portion of the value of the product into capital and the passing of
 another portion into the individual consumption of the capitalist as well
 as the working class form a movement within the value of the product itself
 in which the result of the aggregate capital finds expression; and this
 movement is not only a replacement of value, but also a replacement in
 material and is therefore as much bound up with the relative proportions of
 the valu components of the total social product as with their use-value,
 their material shape" (Marx, Capital Volume 2, Moscow 1961, p. 394).

 The quote I mentioned before in our discussion about "productive forces
 turning into destructive forces" occurs  at the end of the first part of
 The German Ideology: "Finally, from the conception of history we have
sketched we obtain these further conclusions: (1) In the development of
 productive forces there comes a stage when productive forces and means of
 intercourse [Verkehr] are brought into being, which, under the existing
 relationships, only cause mischief, and are no longer productive but
 destructive forces (machinery and money); and connected with this a class
 is called forth, which has to bear all the burdens of society without
 enjoying its advantages, which, ousted from society, is forced into the
 most decided antagonism to all other classes; a class which forms the
 majority of all members of society, and from which emanates the
 consciousness of the necessity of a fundamental revolution, the communist
 consciousness, which may, of course, arise among the other classes too
 through the contemplation of the situation of this class" (The German
 Ideology, ed. Chris Arthur, p. 94).



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