Re: [OPE] capitalism as a * * * system

From: howard engelskirchen <>
Date: Wed May 18 2011 - 21:20:19 EDT

Hi Jerry,

Two comments: First, actually Marx is pretty clear that the concept of
'capital in general' does not extend to any consideration of competition.
It picks out those distinctive features that specifically distinguish
capital from other modes of production without extending to a particular
capital's day to day interactions with other capitals. On the other hand it
does pick out the separation of productive entities who produce for private
exchange and it does pick out the separation of workers from their
conditions of production and these two separations already imply the
exercise of coercion. The emergence from 'capital in general' of both
competition and the state in Marx's analysis, or as a development of the
start he provided, is I think in each case work that needs to be done.

Second, a p.s. re my change of the subject heading. I argued a week or so
ago that capital was not a natural system in response to the article Paula
posted and in so doing tried to make clear that I was hewing close to a
narrow sense of 'nature' that could claim some anchor in natural science --
you can't produce without engaging nature, you can't exist without engaging
nature, you can't flourish without engaging nature for that purpose. But I
agree with an earlier comment you made that calling this or that something
natural has too explosive a history to be of use -- there are too many
horror stories.

That should end discussion.


----- Original Message -----
From: "GERALD LEVY" <>
To: "Outline on Political Economy mailing list" <>
Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 8:00 PM
Subject: Re: [OPE] capitalism as an unnatural system

>> Jerry wrote:
>> "I thought you were using the term ideology in the more specific Marxian
>> sense of the term.
>> There isn't one "specific Marxian sense of the term". As that text says,
>> the
>> term "is used with a wide variety of connotations, even among Marxists".
> Hi Paula:
> Indeed, but you are the first Marxist I've met who suggested that ideology
> is simply "a set of ideas".
>> His
>> IS and the IS of others are different, in fact they are mutually opposed;
>> but they are also connected, because the same system that produces his
>> freedom to compete produces also the limitations to that freedom.
> What system are you referring to? Capitalism? There is nothing inherent in
> the capitalist mode of production or its laws of motion which bring about
> "free competition".
> Now one could *assume* free competition in a layered exposition of the
> subject
> matter (capitalism). Indeed, one *must* assume free competition at a
> level of abstraction of 'capital in general' because that is prior to
> an analysis of the *state form* and it is precisely the role (or non-role)
> of the state in the process of competition which determines whether
> competition as such exists or whether free competition in particular
> exists
> or existed.
> In solidarity, Jerry
> _______________________________________________
> ope mailing list

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Received on Wed May 18 21:20:21 2011

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