[Marxism] Re: Reply to Tom on the meaning of capitalism andstatecapitalism
mekchi at verizon.net
Mon Dec 13 23:23:34 MST 2004
"I'm also a bit mystified why Jurriaan reacted so strongly to what Mahmood
Ketabchi wrote. Actually, given how long our exchange was, we should be
delighted that anyone read us!"
Thanks for your sympathy!
"Mahmood's argument seems much closer to mine than Jurriaan's, but there is
a danger of one-sidedness."
True, my position is close to yours. But why one-sided. Is it one-sided to say that capitalist exploitation occurs outside of realm of market and exchange? Only private capitalists exploit people? If not, why is it one-sided to say that exploitation can occur also in state owned enterprises?
Also I don't think it's quite right to say that "Whether means of production is owned privately or owned by the state is irrelevant to capitalist production."
Why isn't it quite right? Capitalist production is capitalist exploitation.
"Marx's analysis of exchange, private ownership and the market is necessary to lay the basis for his
discussion of production and exploitation. I think it's essential to understanding state capitalism, too, but one has to work through a number of layers so I won't go into it here."
Ture, Marx talks about all the things that you say. They are all important to analyzing capitalism. That is clear. That being said, one must be able to grasp Marx's particular way of looking at capitalism, that is, his analysis of capitalist exploitation, production of surplus values and its appropriation.
Marx talks about exchange in the begging of the Capital I, but just to show that it produces no surplus values. According to him workers get paid for the labor power they sell. He does not talk about market until in Capital III. He sees no reason to justify his theory of surplus value by first going through capitalist market economy. Buying and selling produces no surplus value.
And no where Marx says private property ownership is an essential characteristic of capitalist exploitation. What he says is that capitalist exploitation requires that productive laborer to be separated from the means of production. But, it is irrelevant whether the state owns the means of production or a person or a group of people.
Tom when arguing with Jurrian correctly quotes Marx to refute Jurrians viewpoint. But when it comes to me he gives me some advices not to be one-sided. Thanks for your advice. But mixing things up and piling them on top of each other does not help understand Marx. It only obscures Marx's contribution and his criticism of capitalism. The entire bourgeoisie world is trying suppress and obscure the issue of exploitation as expounded by Marx. Our job as Marxist is to demystify Marx and his contribution and not to create more confusion.
----- Original Message -----
From: Tom O'Lincoln<mailto:suarsos at alphalink.com.au>
To: marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu<mailto:marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
Sent: Monday, December 13, 2004 5:45 PM
Subject: [Marxism] Re: Reply to Tom on the meaning of capitalism andstatecapitalism
Mahmood writes: "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
But production doesn't occur in a vacuum. Marx's analysis of exchange,
private ownership and the market is necessary to lay the basis for his
discussion of production and exploitation. I think it's essential to
understanding state capitalism, too, but one has to work through a number
of layers so I won't go into it here.
State capitalism does have some distinctive features. It's potentially more
subject to political pressure than the more dispersed private version,
hence the need for totalitarian control in the eastern bloc. That control,
in turn, made it harder to move the economy from crude "extensive growth"
(extraction of more and more absolute surplus value by tapping new reserves
of labour) to more sophisticated "intensive growth" (extraction of relative
surplus value by raising productivity). Even in the west, state enterprises
are more likely to be political footballs.
Finally, it's a bit one-sided to say "Social classes do not make the
relations of production; they themselves are the reflection of those
I agree that relations of production are the theoretical priority, but it's
a reciprocal relation, not just a "reflection". Social classes, and their
interactions, definitely do contribute to shaping relations of production.
Militant trade unionism forces up wages, which in turn drives capitalists
to invest in labour-saving machinery, which in turn leads to a falling rate
of profit. And the effective collapse of the private bourgeoisie in some
parts of Eastern Europe during World War II created a vacuum that was later
filled by Stalinist bureaucracies and their state-owned industry.
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