[Marxism] From Sartesian

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Apr 12 16:06:26 MDT 2013


Lou,

AN implies that those of us who don’t take Heinrich’s speculations as 
the new anti-gospel are exhibiting religious faith—because, apparently, 
we aren’t persuaded by Heinrich’s mathematics.  I might accept the 
accusation as having some validity if in fact my response, or indeed, 
the responses of others were based on the mathematics.  They are not. 
They are based on the historical record of capitalism.  The agreement 
with the assertion that the rate of profit tends to fall with the 
accumulation of the means of production as capital, with the expulsion 
of labor-power from production,  is based on the actual movement of 
capital over a fairly substantial period of time; in the current 
moment—that period of time being cited as evidence goes back some 45 
years—and...can explain the twists and turns of capitalism in the US, 
and on a global scale, at the critical points in that 45 years.  Now 
correlation is not causation, we all know that... but after awhile, you 
know  evidence is evidence.  Shane demonstrated the long term tendency 
for a substantial period of time prior to 1968.  Others have 
demonstrated just such a decline in conjunction with increased “capital 
investment” for other periods.  Just circumstantial?   well maybe, but 
those are some pretty diverse, and convincing, circumstances, no?

It may very well be that Marx’s mathematics do not prove the “law,”  and 
yet the law exists.  There is a difference between proof and truth, not 
to go all Gödel-like on this.

It’s one thing to say as Heinrich does, that Marx was dissatisfied with 
what he had written regarding capitalist expansion and the limits to 
that expansion.  It’s another thing to speculate, and that too is what 
Heinrich does, that Marx’s dissatisfaction was driving him to reject the 
tendency of the rate of profit to fall as inherent in capital accumulation.

And it’s something else altogether to misapprehend the debates over 
crisis theory and claim that in the 20th century that debate has focused 
on 1) the law of the falling rate of profit  and 2) that the FROP 
“group” has represented”  Marxist “orthodoxy”—a term usually used to 
identify followers of the 2nd International, Kautsky etc.  And that 
Heinrich does also.

No way—the debates were usually about overproduction vs. 
underconsumption .   And also the debates centered around 
“disproportionality” which can be traced back to Rosa’s Accumulation of 
Capital, Rosa’s work, I think,  is the “original” disproportionality 
explanation for problems of capitalist reproduction.

One more thing, I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m getting a 
little tired of the “Engels as culprit” hymn that gets repeatedly sung 
by the new anti-holy family.  I mean I disagree with Engels presentation 
of the law of value as meta-historical too, not to mention the 
“dialectic of nature,”  but the implication I keep coming across is that 
Engels pieced together parts of Marx’s manuscripts to suit his, Engels’, 
own agenda.  Maybe I’m being unfair, but I bet I’m not the only one who 
smells that rat.  And Engels

Anyway, thanks for the plug on your list, and my best to Angelus in his 
translating efforts.





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