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

Date: Thu May 19 2011 - 08:46:47 EDT

> 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.

Hi Howard:
Yes, I agree with the last sentence. But, my comment wasn't limited to
Marx - indeed it made no mention of him. What it concerned with the
process of abstraction in political economy. Just as political economy
(and even neo-classical theory) assumes a 'closed economy' prior to
examining an 'open economy' so too it typically examined competition
and capital in general prior to an examination of the state and how
the existence or the state and states modify one's understanding of
the process. What I was suggesting is that unless one examines the
role of the state and its relation to capital one can fall into the
ILLUSION of believing that capitalism requires free competition. This
is no more the case than a claim that capitalism requires laissez-faire
- and, indeed, the same authors who have argued for the policy doctrine
of laissez-faire have argued that free competition is an essential aspect
of that policy. In the work of Adam Smith, that policy doctrine was
based on a theoretical presentation about competition, as can be seen from
his analysis of the 'invisible hand'. I.e. the reason why the state
should pursue a policy of laissez-faire (and allow for free competition) was the
belief that capitalism and markets - through the competitive mechanism of
technological change, etc. - are inherently growth growth-prone
and socially-beneficial: they caused the wealth of the nation
to increase so the best policy for the state was to have a minimal
role in economic activity. That could be seen as a theoretical
underpinning for the policy proposals of laissez-faire and free
competition. They express a political agenda of the bourgeoisie
based on class interests (in opposition to the landowning class
and the state created monopolies) and very self-consciously were
not a description of actual current (or historical) conditions.
In solidarity, Jerry
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Received on Thu May 19 08:47:42 2011

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