LoV and Tory Stabilisation?

Chris Burford cburford at gn.apc.org
Fri Jul 7 08:21:26 MDT 1995

Howie feels that I am

"overstating the connection between the LOV and day-to-day politics. Or to
put it another way, in order to sustain the credibility of a strong link it
is necessary to water down the LOV to such an extent that many other
explanations than the law of value per se can be adduced to explain the same

I feel that objection could be made of any attempt to use the LoV to
interpret a complex politico-economic situation: many other explanations
can be given, and I have not read another single one about the Conservative
leadership crisis that could be called Marxist in its approach apart
from Will Brown's original post. That does not mean I am right, but
that marxists cannot restrict themselves in trying to apply
an analysis about the inner motions of the capitalist economy
because other explanations are adduced.

Howie went further to argue

Acknowledging the need to accumulate capital, which takes many forms in
governmental rhetoric, the most important contemporary one being the need to
remain "competitive", unites everyone who does not challenge capitalism, and
would thus seem to be a limited guide to clarifying the nature of the
various interests behind different political positions. Is Portillo any less
attuned to the needs of capital than Heseltine? Or Lamont, who would seem to
have been a purely political casualty of a previous cabinet reshuffle? The
problem with linking political and economic phenomena in one direction only
(ie. LOV determines politics) is that it does not allow for a reciprocal
effect of politics on economics.

Incidentally Lamont was no purely political casualty. He was central to
the skirmishing between British and European capital for several years
as Chancellor of the Exchequer. The day the pound fell from the exchange
rate he was involved in the most unbelievable gamble of literally billions,
yes billions not millions of pounds to defend the exchange parity. And he
snarled  in an unsporting manner that he had been let down by the
Bundesbank. Thus the economic base expressed itself in the psychology of
one mind with irrevocable consequences for the future relations of Britain
with Europe and the future of the British Conservative Party.

Lest I be accused of being an economic determinist, far from ignoring
the reciprocal effect of politics on economics, part of the dynamic of the
last three weeks cannot be explained without acknowedging that Lamont and
Major were one time quite close friends, and Lamont has been acting
jealously since his fall as having been personally betrayed.

But Howie's assumption that to argue for the relevance of the LoV
excludes the reciprocal effect of politics on economics, from a poster to
this list who is so thoughtful, illustrates the inertia of how we
typically read Marx through reductionist spectacles. Why should Howie's
proposition follow at all? Everything is connected with everything else.

This morning the BBC reports that the papers have some fascinating detail
that part of the bargain worked out between Heseltine and Major, is that
Heseltine gets an office "the size of a tennis court" near Major's
and that he has security access to Major's office at any time. It is
also significant that this news has been leaked. Heseltine is no fool.
Commentators have already dubbed his office "Number 10a Downing Street".

But to understand why Germany can survive with a leader as thick as Kohl,
and Britain may need someone as clever as Heseltine to be able to
continue to have a place in the capitalist sun, requires an understanding
of the relative determinacy, NOT excluding all other variables, of the
laws of motion of value in 1995 in western Europe.

Chris Burford, London

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


More information about the Marxism mailing list