[OPE-L] Grundrisse.Help

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Fri Aug 04 2006 - 16:25:43 EDT


you wrote:

"Marx did however complete the study of the very object his study
created--an "ideal-typical" capitalist mode of production.
But what is the nature of this ideal type? Weberian or not? What do
we think of the Unonist interpretation? Or Leswak Nowak's?"

I remember studying this problem once, in MA class in 1982. A Weberian ideal
type is a 'useful fiction' (an analogy, metaphor or model) accentuating
certain salient features of a social phenomenon, and one compares that
picture with a complex social reality, to illuminate and interpret it. An
ideal type is however not 'true or false', and one cannot say that one ideal
type is better than another, only that one is 'more useful' than another in
interpreting the social phenomenon to which it refers. That is, Weber was
basically a neo-Kantian. He did not believe you can know social reality 'as
it really is' through an investigative procedure. In effect, for Weber
nobody can have any epistemically privileged vantage point with regard to
any social reality, and for him a social 'science' referring to law-like
regularities (necessities) in social behaviour was impossible. This was
commented on critically e.g. by John Lewis and Goran Therborn.

Thus, there are very big differences between K. Marx and Weber qua
(1) ontological assumptions about social reality,
(2) epistemology (how and why we know, truth claims etc.),
(3) abstractive procedures (how we arrive at our generalisations and

I think both L. Nowak and K. Uno/T. Sekine make many important valid points
in this regard, but they also subscribe to viewpoints I think are seriously
mistaken. For example,

- Nowak implied that idealization as such has a necessary (logical)
'structure', quite independently from the object to which it refers, whereas
in fact at best you can say in this regard that some forms of idealisation
are more appropriate/useful/ reasonable with regard to an object of study
than others.
- Uno equates the 'capitalist mode of production' with 'capitalist society',
and completely ignores the sphere of consumption; he implies that his three
'doctrines' of circulation, production and distribution are sufficient to
define the essence of capitalist society, which is an gigantic error. For
example, joint-stock capital is historically part of the very essence of the
capitalist mode of production 'from its birth', although K. Marx did not
discuss that in any detail.

There exists definite evidence that Marx did not even leave us even with a
'completed story' about the capitalist way of producing, never mind
capitalist society as a whole:

(1) The Grundrisse manuscript and other preparatory manuscripts refer to
many more topics in this regard than he published on.
(2) His own changing research and writing plans, and his own comments, show
that he envisaged much more about it, than he wrote down or published.
(3) By F. Engels's testimony, the manuscripts for Cap. 2 & 3 were often
incomplete, k. Marx intended to write more, and many 'gaps' had to be filled
in (for example, chapter 4 of Cap. 3 was completely written by F. Engels).
(4) Theoretically and historically, the capitalist way of producing could
not emerge and exist without share-capital, the state, foreign trade and the
world market.

In this respect, the biggest enemies K. Marx ever had were Marxist
doctrinaires who tried to turn his interpretations and hypotheses into a
fixed, completed neat-and-tidy theoretical system (a 'doctrine' as Kautsky
called it) which only the 'orthodox' Marxist high-priests are allowed to

I think K. Marx himself probably believed that it was sufficient for him
even just to publish only Cap. Vol. 1, since anybody capable of thinking
through the argument would be able to complete, or fill out, his analysis of
the source of value and capital accumulation.

Paradoxically, often the "Weberian" Marxists are more progressive than the
"orthodox" Marxists, because at least Weber emphasizes the importance of
substantive independent creative thinking, which is annihilated by the
orthodox Marxists, for the sake of doctrinal purity.



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