[OPE-L] From Keith Tribe

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Thu Aug 10 2006 - 09:09:22 EDT

Dear Rakesh Bhandari,

Thanks for your interesting query which I found in my Sussex mailbox - that
is however only a convenience address, I am an independent scholar in fact
and this is the address you should use in future.

I am intrigued by the idea that people still do discuss these issues.  As
far as answering your question goes, I would probably stand by the arguments
I made in 1974, with some qualification.  I think it would be true to say
that from the later 1970s until last year I had looked at Marx's writings no
more than two or three times - I find Max Weber a far more interesting
analyst, of capitalism as well.

However, last year I retranslated the Zasulich letters for Cambridge UP and
I was shocked at what I read.  I knew in the 1970s that Marx's analytic
capacities waned, the Ethnographic Notebooks make this clear, but the
Zasulich drafts just go round and around.  Poorly structured, poorly argued.
He refers to the French edition of Capital to conceal his change of mind on
the universality of his analysis of capitalism, I have looked again at the
material in the Shanin collection Late Marx but incline to the view that
Marx refers to the French edition to effect this concealment, since, so far
as I know, he does not revise the text in the same way for the second German
edition.  I am a bit hampered in all this since there is no French edition
in any British library so far as I can tell (I have an online version now
but it is the wrong edition, a reprint and not the original); the second
edition is only in the British Library, not in Oxford or Cambridge; and
there is no copy of the newer Gesamtausgabe in Oxford, my nearest source.  I
have the Dietz Werke but that is useless, it is the wrong edition of Capital
and the editors have modernised the text - I do have a facsimile of the
first edition and was surprised to see that in the Werke reprint of the
preface to the first edition all emphases have gone and it has been
reparagraphed.  So that rather makes you think they would have done other
things as well.

So far as reading Capital goes, you need to use only the first and second
German editions read against the (original) French edition.  Anything else
is a waste of time.  The second German edition revises the structure and
ordering of material (within chapters) quite heavily, drawing attention to
the fact that the argument is not especially tight in the first place.
(This is the sort of thing you latch on to as a translator searching for a
cited passage - the text keeps on looking as though it is about to come out
with the formulation you are looking for, and then it veers away and starts
again).  I have not had a chance to look at how the Gesamtausgabe deals with
all this editorially, but hope to get to London this month and will go to
the BL and take a look.

In the 1980s I read a paper which argued very convincingly that Marx had
intended there to be two volumes to Capital and that the two further volumes
that Engels generated ran together duplicate material from the different
attempts Marx made to complete the project, summarised in his own words some
original material, and even in some cases wrote bridging sections of his
own.  One can argue of course about Engels' understanding, but if we are
arguing about Marx's Capital there is in fact only one volume, in the three
versions I note above.

Marx certainly had all sorts of ideas about extending his work - most
writers do - but the evidence, even from Grundrisse, is that he was never
very good at organising his material in an effective way and so the one
volume he did complete is the best he could do with all his plans.  (Alfred
Marshall had a similar problem!)

I'd be interested in your reaction to these comments, and look forward to
hearing from you,

Keith Tribe

-----Original Message-----
From: Keith Philip Tribe [mailto:kt51@sussex.ac.uk]
Sent: 08 August 2006 19:00
To: tess@dircon.co.uk
Subject: Fwd: Grossman on Capital

----- Forwarded message from Rakesh Bhandari <bhandari@berkeley.edu> --
From: Rakesh Bhandari <bhandari@berkeley.edu>
To: kt51@sussex.ac.uk
Subject: Grossman on Capital
Date: Fri, 4 Aug 2006 07:44:23 -0700

Dear Professor Tribe,
I participate on a private list serve (OPE-L) dedicated to the
discussion of
Marx's political economy. I recently mentioned your piece on Marx's
from 1974. Strong objections have  been expressed to the idea that Marx
abandoned his six book plan; people are adamant that Capital is in
fact a torso
of a larger projected work. Enrique Dussel has even suggested that
Marx completed
only 1/16th of his project. I was wondering whether you would like to
discuss these issues again. This was the last message which I wrote. I
wondering whether I have understood you correctly:

One question though is whether Marx said what he meant to say about
wage labour
within the constraints of the actual plan of his work.
So what was the plan of his work? What is the relation between the six
and four volume plan? I think Tribe/Grossman are correct that the
represents a break with the previous six volume plan.

To see this we can't reduce Marx's debt to Quesnay to the
reproduction schema only. This is what Fred [Moseley] has done, I

The debt to Quesnay is present in the architectonic of of the three
volumes of Capital as a whole.

The first volume studies the production of the net product; the
analysis of the net product depends on distinction between constant
and variable capital, and the second
volume focuses on the interdependence between the two productive
departments of
means of production and wage goods as realized in exchange; the third
volume then studies the process of reproduction as a whole, including
both the limits to that process of reproduction (FROP) and
the integration of the new elements-- the credit mechanism, the other
forms of capital (commercial
and banking) and  landed property.

Marx moves successfully from an abstracted study of the production of
the net product  to a theory of the reproduction of capital as a
whole. The third volume is dynamic and concrete, and the
dis-simulating surface appearances  of capitalist society (e.g. the
trinity formula) are indeed theoretically explained.

Marx's Capital is thus a theoretical whole, not a torso. But to say
this is not to say that more need
not be said about wage labor or credit or landed property or the world

   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?

These are of course fundamental questions which I think the archive
will show have been understudied
on OPE-L.

In many ways this is the fundamental question about Marx's
method--what is the relationship between
the six and four volume plans?

Which one of Oakley's possibilities is correct?

----- End forwarded message -----

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