File spoon-archives/marxism-thaxis.archive/marxism-thaxis_1996/96-10-29.043, message 106


Date: Sun, 27 Oct 1996 20:30:50 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: M-TH: marxian, marxist, and the LTV


On Sun, 27 Oct 1996, j laari wrote:

> I have hold the view that labour theory of value has been sort of
> cornerstone of marxism: it shows that there's a factual, continuing
> antagonism between labour and capital, and that from this follows
> several nasty contradictions concerning justice, law, morality and so
> forth. 

I disagree with the cornerstone position of the LTV. I think you can
acknowledge the basic antagonism between capital and labor and the
exploitative character of capitalism without it. In fact, I think many
important Marxists have done so. The LTV plyas no significant role in the
the thought of:

Lenin
Trotsky
Bernstein
Luxemburg
Gramsci
Lukacs
Korsch
Althusser
Sartre
Habermas
G.A. Cohen

just for starters. No doubt many of these figures accepted the LTV, but
that doesn't mean that they made any use of it or that they would have
written 99.99% of what they did differently, or acted a jot differently,
had they rejected it. 

Recall Engel's graveside eulogy and his statement of Marx's contributions.
Formulating the LTV more excatly is not among these, according to Engels.
Which is fairly striking, given its role in Marx's magnum opus. I think
that leaving it out of the balance sheet was correct. It wasn't that
central. Nor has been a cornerstone of subsequent Marxist thought.

According to this, Marx might have made false analyses (in
> Capital), and he surely was one-sided in his analyses (an 'economist'
> who reduced the whole social world into economic basic relations),

Well, I differ here too. I think Marx's theiory is not a form of economic
reductionism, nor one sided in the way that you suggest.

 but
> that doesn't change a thing so far as he was able to show that in
> capitalist societies does emerge 'natural(ly)' forms of thought (that
> gets materialized as laws, moral conceptions, conceptions of justice,
> forms of social perception) which insist that there are no
> contradictions between general social tendencies or structures and
> public or 'official' self-conceptions of given society. That is, if we
> say our 'western civilization' is 'based' on equality and liberty, for
> example, and if we find out that there are contradictory structures to
> our 'basic facts', then we have a justified argument for a change.
> 
I don't quite follow this. Are you saying that if liberal or other
bourgeois ideoloigy cannot live up to iys own promises because of the way
capitalism works, that's an argument for change? Surely it is, but Marx
suggests a different basis, namely that capitalism cannot live up the
expectations and values generated in class struggle by the workers, in
opposition to bourgeois ideology.

> During the last few years I've read every now and then discussions on
> LTV and wondered turns in the discussions, directions they take. Well,
> that's not my point. Also I've realised that basically it doesn't mean
> a thing whether LTV stands or falls.

So, we agree on that. What happened to the "cornerstone" thesis, then?

--Justin




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