William J Blake
djones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Wed Jan 18 00:56:54 MST 1995
I am very interested in the life of William J Blake, about whom I can find
hardly mention. This post is an attempt to elicit information about Blake.
If anyone knows of anything about or by him (aside from what is mentioned
below), please do post me.
I have said many times that I think Blake's 1939 Marxian Economy Theory and
Its Criticism (also published as An American Looks at Karl Marx) is the
best introductory textbook which I have read. Geoffrey Kay's 1979
Political Economy of the Working Class is dedicated to Blake (as well as II
Rubin), whose textbook Kay also thinks is the best introduction yet
published. Science and Society editor David Laibman has also praised the
textbook, as well as Ted Wheelwright (the last two mentions appear in a
biography of the novelist Christina Stead to whom Blake was married).
Blake was also friendly with Henryk Grossmann, whom he visited in Leipzig
in 1950. Blake however was critical of Grossmann's theory of accumulation
and crisis. Blake wrote several pieces for the New Masses and quite a few
novels. I understand that he left some unpublished manuscripts, in
particular an up-date of his 1939 textbook. Does anyone out there have a
copy of the manuscript?
My interest in Blake has been reinvigorated by Postone's critique of
traditional Marxism, represented by Dobb and Sweezy. It seems to me that
Blake is much less susceptible to some of these criticisms; for example, he
pays attention to the value-form, the duality of labor, the concept of
abstract labor, the mode of production (though barely). I have found it
very useful to think through the similarity and differences between Blake
and Postone, two very advanced and challenging social theorists. (If only
this could pass as dissertation work!)
At any rate, if there are others who share my interest in Blake, please do
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