[Marxism] Re: Reply to Tom on the meaning of capitalism andstatecapitalism

Mahmood ketabchi mekchi at verizon.net
Sun Dec 12 21:51:56 MST 2004

I have been following this discussion between Tom and Jurrian about capitalism.  It is a very interesting debate. I just like to make a couple comments about it. 

Jurrian wrote:  
"Essentially, what matters for the bourgeoisie as a class is the ability
to own and accumulate private assets securely, and to be able to trade,
without undue restrictions. That would be their main objection to the
Soviet Union"

First, based on this definition private property ownership and market are two essential characteristics of bourgeoisie society.  This definition has nothing to do with Marxism.  This is not a Marxian criticism of capitalism. Criticism of private ownership and market existed before Marx. Marx's great contribution to criticism of capitalism lays somewhere else.  Marx's entry point to analyze capitalism was neither private ownership nor Market but rather exploitation of labor power and appropriation of surplus value by industrial capitalists.  

Capitalist exploitation does not occurs in the market. Buying and selling of labor power is a "fair and equal exchange."  Buying and selling of other commodities produces no surplus value.  Whether means of production is owned privately or owned by the state is irrelevant to capitalist production. Capitalist production is production of surplus value and its appropriation by people other than the productive laborer.  Appropriation should not be defined as private ownership but the exclusive right to control and distribute the surplus value extracted for productive labor.              

Second,  Jurrian's definition is reductionist. Capitalist production should be viewed primarily as a social process not what this or that group of capitalist prefer or like. In his analysis of capitalist production, Marx abstracts from "what matters to bourgeoisie as a class." Instead he focuses on the process or the inner workings of capital through which surplus value is produced and appropriated. He moves from inside out.  Social classes do not make the relations of production; they themselves are the reflection of those relations.  Jurrian's statement overshadows class and class exploitation under capitalism.   

Mahmood Ketabchi


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