djones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Sun Jul 23 05:06:46 MDT 1995
In this first volume of Transformation, there is also a very interesting
piece by Robert Albritton, "The De(con)struction of Marx's Capital."
Before I quote a passage which speaks to the themes of subjectivity,
Dunayevskaya vs Adorno, and capital logic, I make a few short comments.
This passage will not help much in answering Seamus' argument that
Zavarzadeh holds onto to a traditional understanding of base and
Albritton is the author of several works inspired by the Japanese Marxism
of Kozo Uno. Albritton seems to have developed a stage theory of capital
accumulation, something which I have been interested in partly because of
Grossmann's attempts to distinguish the imperialism and population
problems of an early capitalism from those of a late capitalism.
For example in 1943 Grossmann wrote "The fundamental characteristic of
Marx's historicism and the mark that distinguishes it from his predecessors
are not the doctrine of the historical succession of economic systems but a
special theory which, in addition to evolutionary changes *within* a given
system, explains the the objective and subjective conditions necessary for
the *transition from one system to another*."
I do not know much about Grossmann's impact on the development of marxism
in Japan, which Howard and King suggest was nil though G's major work was
translated into Japanese before any other language. So I would like to
hear any thoughts about G's possible influence in either a positive or
negative way, as well as any comments about the Unoist School.
I am very impressed by Albritton's article, and I am putting his books on
the top of my reading list.
Now to one of the relevant passages from Albritton which echoes one of
Postone's most controversial conceptualizations, viz. capital as Absolute
"In a sense Marx's greatest achievement as an economic theorist was to
grasp the character of capital's reifying and self-reifying tendencies. I
am using reification to mean the tendency to place a profit-maximizing
commodity-economic logi in command of human beings. In the extreme, when
reification is total, persons are reduced to being simplybearers of the
self-expanding motions of capital. To claim that capital is self-reifying
is to claim that is has a built-in tendency to expand and deepen its
commodity-economic logic. It follows that in the first instance, it is
capital itself that continually reproduces invidious distinctions between
those who are exploited, oppressed, marginalized, and silenced. Of course,
it is not only capital that does this, but it certanily plays a predominant
role. To speak this way of capital may seem to some to be committing an
error of reification since capital in a sense is, as a set of reified
social relations, also a set of humans. On the contrary, one of Marx's
greatest contributions was his understanding of how capitalism, once firmly
rooted in society takes a life of its own such that persons tend to be
reduced to mere instrumetns used by capital for its own self-expansion.
Thus it is not the case that I the theorist reify capital, rather capital
is self-reifying. If capital is as Marx claims 'self-expanding value,'
then this implies that where capitalism is present there will be at least
some tendency for social to be governend by profit-oriented markets that
are at least to some extent self-regulating. There is a self-expanding
automaticity built into capital, and in this sense capital is a set of
self-reifying social institutions."
In the monthly News and Letters, there has been an on-going debate about
such a position. I am interested in any comments about this attempt to link
the attributes of the Hegelian subject not to a revolutionary proletariat
but to capital as a set of self-reifying social institutions This seems to
me to be one of the more difficult arguments in contemporary marxism. So
any help is appreciated.
Albritton's piece is in Transformation 1, ed. Mas'ud Zaverzadeh.
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