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The result, other things being equal, will be that demand for consumer goods will fall and that, unless new markets are found elsewhere, workers in those industries are laid off. If on the other hand, demand must be treated as autonomous, then, Hirst and Co. In any case Hirst and Co. A given composition of the social product is necessary only by virtue of a number of variables: the productivity of labour, the rate of exploitation, the rate of profit, the rate of interest, the structure of taxation, the organic composition of capital, to name but a few.

It is not a state toward which the economy is constantly tending, but a level which is itself constantly changing with the alteration of the factors on which it depends. Moreover it is a serious misunderstanding of the law of value to claim that its main role is to bring about this necessary composition. Competition between many capitals leads to the formation of an average rate of profit such that capital, in whatever branch of industry it is invested, receives a return proportional to its size.

Equilibrium is established when the rate of profit is equalised. However this state of equilibrium is not only different from, but is incompatible with that in which commodities sell at their market-values. For commodities to sell at their prices of production, some commodities must sell above their market-values and some below. This discrepancy does not invalidate the labour theory of value. And it is competition of capitals in different spheres which first brings out the price of production equalising the rates of profit in the different spheres.

Hirst and Co. Indeed, in an earlier article on the labour theory of value, Athar Hussein did so explicitly:. However, he did not. The significance of this argument is two-fold. The rate of profit, for example, is dependent upon the rate of surplus value and the organic composition of capital. Both can be understood only from the point of view of the process of exploitation which takes place at the point of production and which the labour theory of value enables us to grasp. Capital therefore cannot be treated as essentialist.

Marx conceives of capitalism as a system whose structure itself engenders a continual process of transformation. It is multinational, closely intertwined with the state and massively armed. The choice is between trying to understand it formally, by including it under a general definition of the capitalist mode of production, or by showing how its transformation arises from its very nature. By abandoning the concept of the capitalist mode of production, Hirst and Co. They assume that there is a bald choice between reflection on the nature of capitalism in general and the analysis of concrete individual capitalisms.

Indeed, this is the method they pursue themselves — they discuss the nature of money and then move on to talk about definite capitalist economies although they never get as far as actually analysing one. However, there is an unargued assumption implicit in this analysis. The relevant unit of concrete analysis is identified as particular capitalist national economies.

This identification leaves assumed and unanalysed the form of the capitalist nation state. This ignores a definite problem — that of the relation between different capitalist national economies and individual capitals at the level of the world economy. As far as Hirst and Co. The problem of the multinationals is dismissed in two pages. In other words, for Hirst and Co. Yet can definite capitalist national economies be analysed without prior reference to the world economy?

Monetary relations are analysed at length by Hirst and Co. Marx indeed wrote that the tendency to create the world market is directly given in the concept of capital itself. From this point of view, the classical Marxist tradition is not as poverty-stricken as Hirst and his collaborators would have us believe.

Hilferding, Kautsky, Luxemburg, Bukharin and Lenin, all starting out from Capital , left behind them a considerable body of work on the nature of the capitalist world economy and the capitalist nation state. On the contrary, it remains the indispensable basis for that work. The effect of Hirst and Co.

The Immigration Acts restrict the labour force in a definite way. Opposition to their racist basis cannot ignore the fact that control of the labour force through nationality is a precondition of any element of planning of labour supply whether devoted to capitalist or socialist objectives. It certainly involves the unargued presumption that the only road to socialism would be a national one.

Hirst and his collaborators are quite open about the political implications of their theory. Economism, they claim, has provided the SWP and other revolutionary organisations with a guarantee of the inevitability of revolution. If the classical conception of the structure of the social formation is displaced then the dichotomy between reform and revolution must collapse.

If the social formation is not conceived as governed by the essential structure of a mode of production and its corresponding forms of State, politics and ideology then the options facing socialist politics can no longer be reduced to a matter of confronting this essential structure or refusing to do so. Socialist politics can no longer be conceived as necessarily oriented towards the one big push that finally knocks down capitalism out of the way and clears the ground for something else.

This means that socialists should be concerned with expanding the areas of socialism and democratisation in the social formation and that existing struggles to these ends cannot be judged as diversionary merely because they fail to confront the overall structures of State power and the economy. And at the Communist University of London Hirst argued that it was necessary to break down two traditional oppositions — that between reform and revolution, and that between representative and direct democracy. This theme is not an original one: it recalls the strategy of Karl Kautsky and Austro-Marxists like Otto Bauer and Max Adler after the first world war.

They were unwilling to side openly with reformism. At the same time, when it came down to it, they feared revolution like the plague. The result was that they ended up as the intellectual fig-leaf of the right-wing leadership of Austrian and German Social Democracy. Bloomfield, Hunt, Purdy, etc.

Already we are seeing the fruits of Hirst and Co. Gabriel and G.


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There are no prizes for guessing which party comes out worse in this comparison. Of course, Hirst and Co. Whatever differences they may have, Hirst and Co. The chief difference lies in the greater intellectual and political honesty and theoretical rigour of Hirst and his collaborators.

In conclusion one of the most worrying features of Hirst and Co. In their work the two are seen as external to each other — the task of theory, or one of its tasks, is to deal with problems arising from political practice, but these problems are seen as coming from somewhere outside of, external to, theory.

The foundations of Marxism as the theory of the self-emancipation of the working class is quite absent from their work. Indeed, one has to ask whether there is any significant sense in which their work can be called Marxist. For those interested in the philosophical questions raised by Hirst and Co. Cutler, B. Hindess, P. Hirst, A. Marx, Capital , Volume 3, Moscow , p.

Marx, Grundrisse , Harmondsworth , pp. Obviously the form taken by independent capitals varies greatly: there is a world of difference between the private capitalism of 19th century Britain and the bureaucratic state capitalism of Stalinist Russia. See T. Marx, op. Hirst, op. Volume 3, pp. Marx, Capital , Volume 3, Chapter It is interesting to note that not even that paradigm apologist for bourgeois society, J.

Keynes, claimed so much for the theory of demand. See Hirst op. Marx, Capital , Volume 2, Moscow , p. Marx, Grundrisse , p. See also G. Volume 36 Issue 6 Dec , pp. Volume 35 Issue 6 Dec , pp.

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