[Marxism] Marx’s law of value: a debate between David Harvey and Michael Roberts | Michael Roberts Blog

Patrick Bond pbond at mail.ngo.za
Tue Apr 10 06:17:43 MDT 2018

Comrades, hi,

There's another frustrating input in the Smith-Harvey debate over at the 
Review of African Political Economy website:  "Dissolving Empire: David 
Harvey, John Smith, and the Migrant" 

"Does this mean that China in economic, cultural, social, or military 
terms has reached the status of an imperialist power?," asks Adam Mayer, 
who studies Marxism in Nigeria.

Wrong question, hence wrong formulation of the terrain of debate, and 
wrong answer...

I think the question should be, instead, "aren't China and other BRICS 
countries slotting into global imperialism as *subimperial* allies, in 
relation to the accumulation of capital, the super-exploitation of 
labour, species-threatening ecological destruction and global 

The answer is "Yes!" And there, in the next post, I argue, the problem 
is immense. (My post ended up drawling on for 8300 words so if anyone 
wants it, let me know. It'll be online next Monday.)

On 2018/04/02 09:26 PM, Patrick Bond via Marxism wrote:
> On 2018/04/02 07:32 PM, Andrew Pollack via Marxism wrote:
>> One particularly scary aspect of Harvey's argument is, as the quote 
>> below
>> shows, that he believes there needs to be different theories and 
>> therefore
>> different strategies for different sectors and movements. Or if not 
>> that,
>> then, at least implicitly, an insistence on no coherent theory.
>> This is particularly upsetting given the valiant efforts of some 
>> theorists
>> and activists to unite theoretically production with social reproduction
>> and thus with struggles against oppression linked in a coherent way with
>> the struggle against exploitation.
> I'm very biased, yeah, but really Andy, it's the opposite: his latest 
> circulation model (more so than his 1985 three-circuits-of-capital) is 
> a coherent, holistic approach to capitalism that builds in social 
> reproduction (especially gendered roles) and ecological 'free gifts of 
> nature' in a way that's ordinarily left out from Marxist theorizing.
> Have a look at that .docx file or check the diagram out directly at 
> http://davidharvey.org/
> In the same way as you, I think comrade Michael is doing a disservice 
> here, with his primitive either/or formulation (because obviously 
> class struggle is waged and 'decided' in production, realisation and 
> distribution circuitries, all the time):
> "I conclude from DH’s short paper that he aims to establish an 
> argument that class struggle is no longer centred or decided between 
> labour and capital at the point of production of surplus value. 
> Instead in ‘modern’ capitalism, it is to be found in other places in 
> his ‘circuit of capital’ that he presents in latest book and in 
> various presentations globally.  For DH, it is in the point of 
> realisation (ie over rents, mortgages, price gouging by pharma firms 
> etc) or in distribution (over taxes, public services etc) that the 
> ‘hotspots’’ of class struggle are now centred.  The class struggle in 
> production is now less important (even non-existent)."
> Cracks like those last five words are distractions.
> But likewise, I don't think David was particularly fair to Michael in 
> this remark - "Devaluation rarely appears in Roberts’ accounts" - 
> because after all, the blog is entitled "The next recession" and 
> Michael regularly makes his predictions about how crises will play out 
> in the context of his (rather monological) falling-rate-of-profit 
> causality. But David's absolutely right to call on all Marxists to pay 
> more attention to the way this vast batch of overaccumulated capital 
> that regrouped in untenable ways since 2008 is going to come crashing 
> down: "we would need to construct a strong theory of devaluation to 
> account for what happens in the market place."
> (Occupy movement strategists worked a rather esoteric theory up to the 
> level of public consciousness, but it took three years after the major 
> crisis inflection point. We surely have to do better, and do it 
> faster, in response to the next melt?)
> Anyhow, there is a bit too much of this kind of simplification going 
> on. Later this week I'll have a comment posted at the Review of 
> African Political Economy website where the Smith-Harvey debate on how 
> to characterize imperialism has been raging; it too would be improved 
> (in my view) by more generosity between leading intellectual comrades.

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