By Jennifer Riley,2014-04-26 04:33
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    Norton, Bruce. Reading Marx for Class


    ; Trying to find a class-analytic framework: he raises the question, if Marx labored so much in order to create a complex,

    multipositional class-theoretic framework, why has not Marxian economics not taken this seriously?

    o He contends that after Marx’s death, the main academic effort was placed on discerning capitalism’s inner

    contradictions, and the problem of class (its historicity, its transformations) was not often tackled

    o (总想着灭亡论;忽视阶级论;

    ; Marx turned from being a social theorist into being a somewhat deterministic economist

    The Production of Bipolarity in Marxian Economic Theory

; In A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Marx talks about why the capitalist mode of production is always

    in transit

    o This is due to the struggle between the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing

    relations of production; capitalism at this point becomes dysfunctional and self destructive

    ; Western Marxian economics have taken this point and in stride; economists from Paul Sweezy to Paul

    Baran have connected the assumptions of 1900 with the thinking of 1980.

    ; This analysis is problematic for two reasons

    o The expectation that capitalism necessarily implodes has sapped Marxian economists’ interests in pursuing

    class-analytic work

    o The theoretical ways through which Marxian economists use to explain why this implosion is inevitable has

    sapped their capacity to develop a class analytic framework

    ; For traditional Marxists, it becomes quite literally impossible for economic life to go on as capitalism’s contradictions

    manifest themselves

    o Grossman believed that the falling rate of profit theory was the main contradiction, while Sweezy argued for


    ; Rosa Luxemburg contended that the historical necessity of socialism was only a result of the objective impossibility of

    capitalism at a certain economic stage

    o Class, for many traditional Marxists, is still important: but it is not used to explain exploitation and alternatives

    to capitalist class relations, but rather to explain the contradictory nature of capitalism itself

    Capitalists and Workers: Classical Marxism

    ; In the Manifesto, class lines are drawn very clearly: it is simple and clear-cut (there are two antagonistic classes,

    capitalists and workers); however, the concepts in volumes two and three of Capital make class more difficult

    o Marx speaks about many important considerations, from the profits of merchants to the salaries of supervisory

    managers, but this is left out of the analysis of many classical Marxists

    ; If classical Marxism sets its goal as a delineation of the fundamental contradiction of capitalism, class concepts must

    find their place in this process

    o One role for class sees the old actors (privately appropriating bourgeoisie) positioned against the new (socially

    organized workers)

    o Another role in underconsumption or falling rate of profit theories poses victims of the system against the

    system’s defenders

    ; These roles do not allow for a rich and complex variety of historically changing class positions and do not

    welcome any challenges to the bipolar model

    ; In fact, in underconsumption, there is no need to elaborate beyond a bipolar view

    ; Underconsumption is premised on two classes

    o If economies experience increasing problems of demand, it is because workers are

    restricted in their consuming power and capitalists cannot take up the slack

    ; In the postwar moment, Baran and Sweezy tried to understand the “elementary logic of the system” in the US by

    pointing out that two kinds of spending are funded by surplus: (1) capitalist consumption and (2) investment

    o Underconsumption theorizes by excluding: there is no room for the subsumed class process in this analysis ; Falling rate of profit theories also rely upon a decidedly bipolar class analysis

    o Capitalist struggle for more surplus value confront workers, who are limited in number, time, and capacity to

    increase their output

    o This theory leaves no room for the different claims on surplus value, nor does it leave room for the state; capital

    relentlessly “seeks” to appropriate all possible surplus value to the production process

    ; Logic of capital dominates all theories of the falling rate of profit

    Class and Implosion in Marxian Economic Theory

    ; Many theorists, including Sweezy and Rosdolsky, believe that the “crisis-producing forces” and the tendency for the

    rate of profit to fall are the logically necessary implication of Marx’s concept of capital

    o A bipolar conception of class has been intimately wed with the inner nature of capital, which makes crises


    ; All classical and post-classical Marxists have relied upon a conception of the class processthe reinvestment of surplus

    valuethat may contain many non-class processes

    ; Volumes two and three of Capital make class more difficult

    o Marx distinguishes between productive and unproductive workers, a variety of types of capitalists, and certain

    subsumed class positions

    o The later volumes make distinctions that the first volume represses

Mapping Marx's work

    Before we get into the analysis we need to make a distinction between Marx and Marxian. Marx himself is a theorist of class, but his follower marxian economists' are not. attention are not be directed to the right path. In volume two and three, obviously, disaggregate the analysis began in volume one that concerns class positions of capitalists and workers. In volume two and three, however, marx introduced the concept that distribution of surplus value to agents other than industrial capitalists. such as supervisors. Actually, Marx also keep developing his class analysis in volume two and three. For example, He distinguish between productive and unproductive workers, capitalists and certain subsumed class position, so class analysis is still a big component of volume 2 and 3. Even though later volume make distinctions and draw lines that were not drawn in volume one, they are just filling in details, but not introduce a different way of thinking.

Relocating the firm

    Marxian crisis economists are teaching far over the boundaries of traditional Marx's theory. So what we gonna do? Let's reread Volume one. Capitalist firm theories, according to all these economists, are doomed. Because their continued expansion will lead to collapse and that is the end of capitalism. Social structure of accumulation and regulation theories abandon the concept that the relations of production must restrict the productive forces, so continuing growth may not necessarily happen. They think firms are simply entitities keeps exploiting and expand. lol, It needs to be understand in the class context, use the class-theoretic analysis which involves surplus value distribution process. BOD knows how to make their employee happy by distributing little surplus value back, those people are smart enough that they know more than just accumulation. Such a firm's surplus- value distribution patterns may be expected to change historically, not fixed, but changeable. Firms can appropriate and distribute surplus value differently.

Firms and capitalist in volume one:

    Marx's firm is not simply an exploiter and expander. Let's for a moment, forget about the crisis-theoretic approach but come back to the class analysis framework. In section 7, Marx did talk about the process of accumulation of capital, and chapter 24, the transition of surplus value into capital. Seems like Marxian crisis theories can build on it, and make the claim that

    capitalists accumulate for accumulation's sake, but not true. Unfortunately, such presumption are used widely in falling rate of profit theory and underconsuption theory. But, even though Marx's argument in those chapters are an important sense the reverse of tradition interpretation, it does not say accumulation is an invariant force. He did not say accumulation is an destination for surplus value that overpowers all other alternatives. Actually, it is just a fraction of where surplus value goes

    and such variable change overtime. Neither law of competition nor the implications of technological change would support the conclusion the "accumulation for accumulation's sake" is "rule that governs the behavior of all capitalists". Many other allocations must equally well be made to accomplish the effect of accumulation. Marx said the capitalist, act as "capital personified", shaped by "motivating force". (This is the beauty of political economists because they never say something is the solely or only answer or determinant.) AFAS is just a slogan after depicting the change in contemporary capitalist consumption behaviors. Just like what you guys says after a party cannot be quote by others to generalize what a Bucknell student is like.

Last slide

Author suggest that the crisis theorists have not been able to share in Marx's critiques at classical theory's dilemmas because

    their own approach parallels classical theory's too closely. I am not sure if we should call them traitor. Crisis theorists fail to

    understand marx's analytical details. Marx was trying to describe historical change, not the foundational constancy, in the capitalist's distributions of surplus value. Obviously, Marx was not simply embracing classical theory's understanding of the capitalist's behavior.

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