Lenin's method

rakesh bhandari djones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Sat Sep 28 12:41:42 MDT 1996

>From Louis:

>. I hate to break the news to you, but unless
>we start achieving the theoretical and political maturity of Lenin, we
>will not achieve socialism. Lenin spent most of his time studying
>government statistics, not the Grundrisse.

This is ridiculous, the *Grundrisse* was not available to Lenin.

Maybe we would have been saved all the intimidating calls to read Hegel's
*Logic* if the *Grundrisse* had been available to Lenin and he had argued
that the failure of the Second International was a consequence of a failure
to read and understand Marx's own work, not Hegel's.

 (At any rate, the claim that Lenin, who read Hegel's Logic during WWI,
would ever immerse himself in statistics without always deepening his
knowledge of theory and categorial analysis is simply absurd--do you think
Lenin would have scoffed at works such as TA Jackson's  *Dialectics*
[1937]and Tony Smith's  *Logic of Marx's Capital* [1990], two very
different works from two very different periods,  as useless exegeses?)

Moreover, based on their reading of the Grundrisse, theorists such as
Antonio Negri and Moishe Postone are now arguing that Lenin may have got
Marx wrong.

Moreover,  Lenin himself based his crisis theory on Volume II of *Capital*,
it seems--see the discussion of the consequences of this in both Walter
Daum's and Paul Mattick's work.

There is also the question of Lenin's own use of statistics.  Did he for
example exaggerate the export of capital to the colonial world due to bad
statistical work and thus perhaps exaggerate the convergence tendencies in
the capitalist world economy? In terms of theory, does Lenin provide a
satisfactory explanation for why capital  becomes over-ripe?

There are many deeper questions here--for example about the nature of
statistics and their relation to state projects for the management of
populations (see *Demystifying Social Statistics*. London: Pluto, 1980;
Lorenz Krueger, 1990. The Probability REvolution. MIT) and about the
inability of statistical analysis to illuminate some of the most oppressive
conditions which labor faces--for example the intensification of labor. In
fact this can be hidden by reference to upward movements in the real wage.


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