Postone Review if possible

Chris Burford cburford at gn.apc.org
Sat Feb 4 04:47:25 MST 1995


Hello Rakesh,

On Friday 30th December you drew the attention of the list to
Postone's Time, Labor and Social Domination: a reinterpretation of Marx's
critical theory (Cambridge, 1993). You suggested it was very interesting.

I have tracked it down through several London bookshops but
because it costs almost 40 pounds they do not keep it in stock. I do not
have such easy access to academic libraries, so I cannot browse through it
without taking the plunge to buy.

You regretted the absence of good reviews. Although later you indicated
that you were finding the book quite complex, would you now be willing
yourself to post on the list a short review, or just main themes you find
interesting?

For my part what I am most looking for, is theoretical development which

1) treats the capitalist economy as a dynamical self-reproducing system,
whose contradictions are not so much the inevitable cause of its final
destruction, as essential parts of the cycles of self-replication (though
revolution at vulnerable moments need not be ruled out as a possibility).

2) uses the concept of exchange value with some dialectical subtlety, seeing
the total exchange value of a society as fluctuating somewhat elastically,
and which assumes that exchange value and use value exist in a context of
assumptions shaped by the consciousness of the individual and the culture of
the society about the available choices in the real world.

3) that dynamically explains the harsh gradient of virtuous and vicious
circles of capitalist accumulation between countries and regions of markedly varying
degrees of technological development. (eg North-South "unequal exchange", or
between the peripheral parts of the European Union and the Golden Triangle
at its centre).

Why should Postone say all this just for my sake?
Though visually impared, I am just hoping we are all trying to feel our way
around the shape of the same elephant.

I would appreciate a brief review even if it doesn't refer to any of the
above even indirectly.

With regards and thanks,

Chris Burford.


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