>The World Trade Organisation negotiations with China is clear evidence
>that the law of
>value does not operate in an unadulterated fashion. It is evidence that
>there is no such
>thing as free trade in any comprehensive sense. It would appear that there
>never has been
>free exchange of commodities in any enduring sense. The law of value and
>the specific laws
>of capital operate in an significantly adulterated way. The state has
>always played an
>historically significant role in relation to the circulation of both
>commodities and
>capital. Consequently to try to apply Capital to the contemporary world
>economic situation
>in any pure way will simply produce conceptual abstraction. Marx's Capital
>cannot be used
>as a naive model that can be naively used to provide a comprehensive
>understanding of the
>capitalist economic system. Capital is a work of abstraction. This may
>explains how much
>of Marx's political work even after he written Capital are in at least
>many cases free
>from the form presented in Capital.
>Warm regards
>George Pennefather

This might hold if Marx had ever restricted himself to the theoretical bits
of the first volume of Capital, or had not been aware of the relationship
between the laws determining the movement of capital and their empirical
manifestation, or had not intended to write sections of Capital dealing
with precisely these points. It might even hold if early, revolutionary
Soviet Marxists such as Preobrazhensky had not developed the relationship
between the operations of the law of value and an economic system in which
this law is significantly impaired, such as the proto-socialist Soviet
Union with its workers' state.

As it is, however, using Marx's method as applied say in his articles on
Free Trade and Protectionism from 1847, in the three volumes of Capital
(the third of which is full of references to the empirical pressures
distorting a "pure" working through of the underlying laws of motion of
capital, and in fact provides an explanation of the forces behind the
"adulterated" surface appearance of things under capitalism, that is a
pretty full account of the workings of commodity fetishism, which is
already outlined in Book One, in the three volumes of the Theories of
Surplus Value and in his other works (such as Wages, Price and Profit, and
the correspondence), -- using this method and Marx's findings there is no
justification whatever for considering Capital as a model or its use in
analysis as "naive" or "abstract".

The difference in "form" noted by George is related to no difference in
conceptual content. The underlying ideas are the same, as is the
scientific-dialectical method. Clearly, the mode of expression used in
correspondence or political articles and polemics won't be the same as that
used in a work of scientific analysis and presentation, although in Marx's
case the difference is not as great as it might be in others.

In short, the "pure" way of using Capital imagined by George is not Marx's
way, and any conceptual abstraction resulting from the use of Capital in
analysing the world we live in must be laid at the door of the analysts
themselves and not the tools they are using, in this case Capital and
Marxist method.

There is still no better way of understanding the workings of capitalism
than studying and understanding Capital, Theories of Surplus Value and the
other works by Marx relating to these, in the  context of Marx's whole
political and revolutionary activity. This is shown by nothing more clearly
than the complete reliance of the most successful revolutionaries of our
century (Lenin and Trotsky) on Marx's findings and method, and the
disasters produced by working class leaders (most particularly Stalin and
Mao, as usurpers of the revolutionary Bolshevik tradition, but not
forgetting Kautsky and the whole treacherous sell-out tradition of the
Social-Democrats) who turned their backs on these findings and Marx's



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