T. Smith

Hans Despain DESPAIN at econ.sbs.utah.edu
Sat Apr 1 16:32:13 MST 1995

Those of you who have bothered to read my previous posts surely have
taken not that I have made many references to Tony Smith's *The Logic
of Marx's Capital: A Reply to Hegelian criticism*.  Albany: SUNY
Press, 1990.  Moreover, it as been recommended by a number of us.  I
would like to offer a summary and presentation to those of you who
are interested.

I have called this a minimal *dialectical* reading of *Capital* for
two reasons.  First, Klaus Hartmann has called (or has been called)
his "non-metaphysical" interpretaion of Hegel's *Logic* a minimal
reading of this great work.  *Minimal* is in reference to the notion
that first and foremost what is at stake with dialectics is an
epistemology, especially an anti-metaphysical moment.  Therefore,
initially, momentarily, or presentationly the problems of ontological
commitment and historical teleology (and dialectics of nature) are
abstracted away (and sometimes aruged against).  Second, not only
does Smith very much interpret Marx in a similar way, but Smith is
arguing that Marx very much follows the method and presentation of
Hegel's own *Logic*.  This is also supported by corresponse to Engels
and of course in the Second Preface to *Capital*.

Smith's interpretaion centers on the argument that Marx's method is in
no way ecceletic and confussed, but is instead coherently united
within a single "architectonic."  This architectonic is in reference
to the systematic transcendentally organization of the specific
*subject's* categories, in the case of Marx in *Capital* the
subject is of course Political Economy.  The categories are ordered
from the most ontologically abstract to the more ontological
concrete.  And having arrived at the most concrete determinations,
Marx (as he tells us in *Grudrisse* and as Hegel does in the
*Phenomenology of Spirit*) is able to make sense of the chaotic whole
which he began.

Smith's interpretation is systematic opposed to historical, this
again is supported by the words of Marx in *Grudrisse*, where he says
that it would be a mistake to order the categories of Political
Economy as they appeared historically.  Smith's interpretation is in
opposition with first L. Colletti's anit-Hegelian return to Kant.
This opposition is dealt in one of his chapter's in his *Dialectical
Social Theory: And Its Critics* Albany SUNY Press 1993; and in an
artical found in *Science and Society* 1986, v. 50,2, titled
"Hegelianism and Marx: A Reply to Lucio Colletti."  And is the best
critique of Colletti that I am aware of. [also I have a hunch that
Colletti being schooled with a Hegelian tradition, and being a
Marxist probably had a very hard time defending Marxism against
Hegelian critism, has Smith is able to construct in his work.
Hence, perhaps it is possilbe that Colletti mistakenly believed he
needed to hedge-hog Marxism behind Kantianism which had its own
developed response to Hegelianism? {though I believe he has much to
defend a Kantian position as would a Hegelian looking for Kantian

Smith offers and critiques three other readings of Marx's *Capital*.
First is the "Logico-historical Reading," this is the most wide held
reading of Marx's *Capital*.  And is especially expounded by the
Stage Capitalism Marxists of the French Regulation School, the U.S.
SSA of D. Gordon et. al., E. Mandel, Baran and Sweezy, etc.  Smith
argument against this reading is that he fails to make sense of some
of the most important logical determinations of Marx, such as the
Labor Theory of Value.  There is for example no historical mode of
capitalism which traded commodities directly at their value (i.e.,
what Anwar Shaikh calls direct prices).  But, the logico-
historical reading would argue capitalism has moved from "value"
to "cost-price" to "costs of production," rendering, according
for example to Gordon and Boyer the Labor Theory of Value outdated
and no use for modren capitalism.  From the the logico-historical
reading the materialist anti-Hegelian dialectic is somehow the
teleological aim of history.  Hence, the dialectic of history
eliminates the contingent and accidental features of history, making
the history of capitalism an intelligible interprise.

The second reading is the "Developmental Thesis," whereby it is
argued that Marx abandoned his Hegelian roots from the time of
*Grundrisse* to the writing of *Capital*.  Wherefore, the Hegelians
view Marx's method as a regress, and the anti-Hegelians as
progressive severing of his Hegelian roots.  This reading can be
supported by Marx's early criticisms of Hegel whereby he is finally
able to dis-entangle himself from his Hegelianism before undertaken

The third reading of is the "Incoherence Thesis," Smith himself cites
especially Hans-Georg Backhaus (all cited in German), whom set out to
defend, similar to Smith, a systematic reading but became convinced
that Marx is "incoherent" on the issue, hence, the methods are mixed
in confussed in Marx's *Capital*.  This would suggest that Marx did
not understand the Hegelian systematic dialectical logic, and must be
committed to a telelogical development of history.

Against these readings Smith expounds his dialectical systematic
Hegelian reading of Marx.  Thus, first Smith must defend his reading
against the logico-histroical, develomental, and incoherent readings.
He argues that Marx very well understood Hegelian dialectics and
believed, as the other Young Hegelian, dialectics to be revoltionary
and emanicpating.  Though Feuerbach and Marx interpreted Hegel as
metaphysical they attempted to reformulate him non-metaphysically,
although they themselves did not realize just how well Hegel
himself had sowed the seeds of a non-metaphysical reading.  This
becomes quite clear of Hegel in Klaus Hartmann's and Terry
Pinkard's presentation, and is very much supported by especially
Hegel's early writings prior to the *Phenomenology of Mind* (see
Lukcas' *The Young Hegel* where it should be noted that Hegel himself
very much critics Christianity which predated Feuerbach, and begins
to expound a Political Economy which certainly has implication for

However, Hegelian dialectics where too esoteric for the readers Marx
wanted to reach, moreover, Hegelianism was being kicked around like a
"dead dog" due to the bastardization by the Right Hegelians and
Christian dialectics (which was the true aim of Marx's and
Feuerbach's; Bauer's and Strauss' aggressive critiques of Hegelianism
and not necessarily Hegel himself) hence, after the response from
*Grudrisse* he choose to incorporate historical and empirical data to
support his otherwise unbending systematic presentation of Political
Economy categories.

     --- from list marxism at lists.village.virginia.edu ---


More information about the Marxism mailing list