T. Smith: Hegelian moment

Hans Despain DESPAIN at econ.sbs.utah.edu
Tue Apr 4 19:05:57 MDT 1995


I had left off my summary of Tony Smith's *The Logic of Marx's
Capital: A Reply to Hegelian Critism* Albany, SUNY, 1990, having
established that Marx employs the *Essence Logic*, the second
dialectical logic matrix of Hegel's three books of *Logic* (the first
of course *Being Logic* and the third *Notion Logic*).  Within
*Logic* the three Books are parallel to Hegel's Universality (U),
Particularity (P) and Individuality (I), which he especially expounds
in the categories of "Judgement" and "Syllogism."  The U-P-I of
Hegel's Syllogic logic is also expounded by Smith and its
implication for Marxism in his *Dialectical Social Theory: And Its
Critics*, and also in his article "Hegel's Theory of the Syllogism
and its Relevance to Marxism" *Radical Philosophy* 48, sp., 1988.

The U-P-I structure of Syllogism is argued by Hegel to be the
structure of his entire *Logic* which includes Kantian *sythethic*
and *anayltic* moments.  If one is not careful here, it is easy to
become entangled in the web of Hegel's idealism.  Smith avoids this
completing by arguing the U-P-I structure (as does Hegel) is parallel
to simple *unity*, *difference* and *unity in difference*, this is
expounded by Smith in both his above Books.  In other words, first,
our categories (ordered ontological from the most simple abstract to
the more complex concrete), are found to have simple unity.  For
example Hegel's first category is of course *(indeterminant) Being*,
this most simple abstract category *unites* all that *is* as
simply *Being* (existing).  But this simple *unity* immediately gives
rise to a differentiation (or particularities of the universal).
This is the moment of *difference*.  In the case of Hegel's most
abstract category *Being*, it at the same time tells us *Nothing*,
there is simple no thought (information) in the notion of *Being*.
And anyone fimilar with Hegel knows that Being "passes away" to
Nothing, and Nothing "gives way" to Being, the truth of this motion
is *Becoming*.  *Becoming* is the *unity in difference* at this most
abstract level of thought.  This same triad is the motion of Hegel's
*Logic* toward ever more complex concrete categories of thought.
What this brief Hegelian example leaves out of course the more
complex justification between ever more concrete categories, and
especially the even more difficult transitions between Martices of
Logic (i.e., the three Books of *Logic*, "Being," "Essence," and
"Notion").

Now as stated above Hegel's three Books of *Logic* themselves parallel
this *unity*, *difference*, *unity in difference*.   Therefore,
Being=unity; Essence=difference; and Notion=unity in difference.
Smith argues that Marx employs the "Logic of Essence," while Hegel,
in Philosophy of Right, employs the "Logic of Notion."  Hegel
justifys his position based on the Freedom of the Market, which not
only *constitutes* Self-determination, but in fact *institutes* it.
Marx is criticial of this position on the grounds that the Freedom of
the Market is superseded or ontologically established following
production.  It is in the production process where wage-labor is
dominated by capital.  This means there is not a *unity in
difference* but instead *difference*.  This point for Smith's argument
is crucial.  It is especially Marx's use of "Logic of Essence" which
accounts for his *Dialecitical* difference with Hegel's
conservativism.

It is in this sense that Smith and Colletti would agree, in that Marx
contention with Hegel is not due to a sell out to the Monarch and
Bourgeois ideology for political reasons or otherwise, as the other
Young Hegelians contended, but is in fact within Hegel's employment
of the dialectic itself.  Smith himself critiques Hegel's employment
in the dialectic, in *The Logic of Marx's..* these critiques are
throughout the book, elsewhere, Smith expounds this critic in "Marx's
*Capital* and Hegelian Dialectical Logic" in *Marx's Method in
Capital* ed. by Fred Moseley, and "Analytical Marxism and Marx's
Systematic Dialectic Theory" in *Man and World* (23) 1990.

>From here Smith works through Marx's three volumes of *Capital* with
the *systematic* dialectic, from the abstract to the concrete, with
it movements, ins and by ways of *unity*, *difference*, *unity in
difference*, as his paradigm for reading and understanding
*Capital*.  The argument takes up the bulk of his book, with moments
of replying to Hegelian critisms from especially Klaus Hartmann and
David Winfield.

Smith offers a brief appendix which summaries the *systematic*
dialectic or *architectonic* of Marx's *Capital*.  Here I offer
only *briefly* one of his arguments for moments of his *systmatic*
(Hegelian) dialectical reading of *Capital*.

Knowing that Marx is ordering his categories of Political Economy in
a systematic, single architectonic, from the most simple abstract to
the more complex concrete, Smith is able, for example to show that
labor is unambiguously and unequivocally found to be ontologically and
(transcendentally) logically prior to all categories to follow.
Labor, in its, value-form, as it is found in capitalism, is Marx's
second category.  The first being the "commodity."  However, it is
*not* the case that a concrete category (commodity) is given priority
over the more abstract category of labor (one Hegelian criticism).
For the "commodity" is a determination of social production in
general, and capitalist form of production specifically.  In this
sense, the commodity, as "social production," is the most abstract
category of Political Economy.

Smith shows that "social production" can be direct/indirect and
at the same time resticted/unrestricted.  Direct and indirect means
that social production is undertaken either in a directed social
process or in private isolation, respectively.  Restricted and
unrestricted means, respectively, that the society is committed to a
caste-like system of *ascription* production, or free to move from
occupation relatively easy.  Capitalism then is an
indirect/unrestricted mode of social production, while a "better"
alternative would be direct/unrestricted.

It is in Marx's commitment to the specific analysis of commodity
production as his first category, which "provides the key to
understanding the role played by the concepts of value and abstract
labor in his theory" (Smith p. 67).  And, "*the foremost function of
the labor theory of value is to define the capitalist mode production
in contrast to other forms of social production*" (Smith, p. 68).

Hence, it can be aruged from a *systematic* dialectic interpretation,
that an abandonment of Marx's Labor Theory of Value threatens the
integrity of Marx's epistemology and defination of *Captialism*, as a
unique and specific mode of production.  Moreover, Smith's
interpretation also defends against a historical telelogical purpose
of history, toward soicalism or otherwise (Not against socialism, but
socialism must be won on ethical ground not historic)

Hence, what is at stake here is not a moment of philosophy or a
history of thought, but instead an understanding of our society,
emancipation, and goals for an alternative.  If the U-P-I are meant
to be in phase with one another (as Kant, Hegel and Marx believed),
then none should dominant the other moments.  For example, it can
be argued that universality is capital itself; particularity,
institutional forms; and individuality, individual humans.  In this
case capital (U) dominants both (P) and (I), they are out of phase
with one another, and hence human emancipation and self-
determination.  Likewise, many alternative system, e.g., the Soviet
Union can be argued to also have negelected instituting (if not
constituting) non-dominanting forms, whereby self-determination and
emancipation remain unrealized.

Therefore, I contend that the *systematic* reading expounded by
Smith, finds its importance is not simply as a "very academic"
endeavor, a discussion which becomes "so erudite and deeply
theoretically that the material base gets divorced from the
discussions" (Press, post, April 3, 1995), but very much has practical
and praxis implications (it not this Marx's very intention of his
theory).  Smith himself points this out in his article in the book
ed. by Moseley (above).

Marx's *Capital* and whole project is philosophical and theoretical,
accessing and understanding this aspect is of the utmost importance,
and will prove to set the direction of our *praxis*.  A *systematic*
dialectical understanding of *Capital* has very specific implications
for not only our *praxis* but also for our *faith* and *commitment*
to an alternative.  I urge others, (Press and Proyect) not to so
quickly dismiss Smith, Bhaskar, or Postone as high-brow theory but
consider theory a commitment to the integrity of Marxian philosophy,
epistemology, ehtics, emancipation and self-deternmination.  This in
my humble opinion should be the thrust of the Left and not toward a
"progessive" historical class struggle and purpose of history itself,
I believe the latter to be mistaken and misplaced.

Hans Despain
University of Utah
despain at econ.sbs.utah.edu


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