[Marxism] Marx and Dialectics

Daniel Koechlin d.koechlin at wanadoo.fr
Wed Oct 7 12:34:59 MDT 2009

Marx was a profoundly nuanced, non-dogmatic thinker.

His thinking was made up of many strands, his insights into the concrete 
workings of capitalism and its eventual breakdown (or lack thereof) were 
ever evolving.

Nevertheless, he was deeply aware of the contradictions between 
appearences and reality, between exchange-value and use-value, between 
the capitalist imperative to expand and the resistance of the working class.

He jeered at the farce of vulgar bourgeois economics, whose real agenda 
has always been upholding the status quo.

But he never got down to finishing Capital and actually spelling out 
which (out of the many) contradictions of capital, would ultimately lead 
to its replacement by communism.

I suspect he never had the time to actually formulate a precise theory 
of economic crisis. We are left, in Capital III, with the law of 
diminishing profits due to increases in constant capital ( at the C-M 
level), with a theory of disproportionality between sectors I and II (in 
Capital II), with  an understanding of the struggle over surplus-value 
between  workers and capitalists (Capital I). Marx doesn't seem to have 
seriously subscribed to the underconsumptionist, Sismondian, Keynsian, 
view that wages were insufficient to  realize profits.

Anyway, Marx was a very subtle dialectician, always careful not to 
ascribe one single, absolute, cause to any single phenomenon.

I myself find Marx's extant writings (both published and unpublished 
during his lifetime) to be much closer to anti-authoritarian, 
libertarian communism than to so-called Marxism-Leninism. I don't think 
he quite envisioned "proletarian dictatorship" as individuals vying for 
power by manipulating a political party or their influence in the armed 

He thought that the working class should become the dominant class, and 
that workers should emancipate themselves from the shackles of class 
oppression. Had Marx had time to complete his work on the State, he 
would probably have lambasted any notion that the State should become 
the overseer of the working class and deny the working class any say in 
the managing of its own affairs. As far as I am concerned, Lenin is 
quite anti-marxist in this respect.

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