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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #279: What Marx owes him - What Marx owes to Proudhon, the instigator denied (fr, it, pt) [machine translation]

Date Fri, 2 Mar 2018 08:19:31 +0200

After admiring the economic theories of Pierre-Joseph Proudon, Marx violently broke with him in 1846, partly out of personal grudge - Proudhon had refused to take his part in a quarrel between German socialists -, partly by refusing his method of analysis ... of which, however, it will be inspired ten years later. ---- There was a time when Marx[...]was full of praise for the Frenchman who was presented in The Holy Family (published in January 1845, signed jointly by Marx and Engels) as " the the most logical and penetrating socialist writer " . This work contains a vibrant eulogy of Proudhon, who is recognized as the master of scientific socialism, the father of theories of labor-value and surplus value, and so on.

Proudhon then represents " the proletariat arrived at the consciousness of oneself " . It " subjects the basis of political economy, private property, to a critical examination: it is the first examination resolved, ruthless and scientific at the same time. This is the great scientific progress he has made, a progress that revolutionizes political economy and makes possible, for the first time, a real science of political economy " [1]. Proudhon showed that " it is not this or that kind of private property - as other economists claim - but property as such, in its universality, which distorts economic relations. He did all the criticism of the political economy could do in keeping with the perspective of political economy .[...]

Praise of Marx and Engels

According to Georges Gurvitch, Marx attributes to Proudhon " a role identical to that played by Sieyes in the preparation of the French Revolution. According to him, what Sieyes said of the third estate, Proudhon expressed it for the proletariat: "What is the proletariat ? Nothing. What does he want to become ? All". Is Marx right ? Let's say it bluntly: yes, and more than he thought. " [2][...]But the praises of Marx and Engels to Proudhon suddenly stop in 1846 after the publication by the latter of the economic contradictions System . Nothing goes well.[...]

It is surprising to see how quickly Proudhon was able to pass Marx from the status of reference of socialism to that of adversary. This shift has not really been studied, Marxist authors sticking to what Marx says, without critical examination.[...]

" Only way to destroy the property. My friend Proudhon, if you continue like this, we will have a republic without you (roofs). Hostile cartoon, Paris, 1848.
The method " hypothetical-deductive "
It's The German Ideology that gives the key[...]. In this book, Marx and Engels explain[...]their materialistic conception of history, that they come in a way of " discovering " and that they are impatient to apply: from that, Marx goes he believes that it is possible to explain the mechanisms of the functioning of the capitalist system through the historical method. In the same year, Proudhon publishes his system of economic contradictions (subtitled " Philosophy of misery "), In which he uses the hypothetico-deductive method[...]. The hypothetico-deductive method is a perfectly scientific method: it consists in putting a hypothesis in order to deduce the observable consequences and to determine their validity. Then from there, we put a new hypothesis, etc. The genius of Proudhon is to have applied this method to the political economy.

Marx and Proudhon have asked one another the same question: to elucidate the mechanisms of the functioning of the capitalist system. But where, and especially when to start ? In antiquity, the Middle Ages, in the XVI th century ? The problem is insoluble. Then Proudhon decides to do otherwise: he creates a logical construction, a simulation of the capitalist system (he calls it a " scaffolding " ): he proceeds by " categories " . He says to himself: what is the essential category of capitalism ? It's the value. And from there, he deduces all the categories that contribute to the explanation of the system [3]

Marx is furious, he violently attacks Proudhon, accuses him of idealism (supreme injury) because of the use he makes of " categories ", publishes a hysterical attack against Proudhon[...]entitled Misery of Philosophy , then for more than ten years, publishes nothing in economics.[...]

Then suddenly, after more than ten years, Marx discovers the right method. When he explains this " new method ", especially in the 1873 postface to Capital, the somewhat discerning reader realizes that this is only a resumption of that used by Proudhon in 1846. But as he does not Not to say that he pumped on Proudhon, he says that he had read " by chance " the Science of the logic of Hegel, and he had an illumination.[...]

Strange similarities

It is significant that when one compares the plan of the System of contradictions and that of Capital , published twenty years later, there are strange similarities.

But[...]the " convergences " do not stop at the question of the method. It is also found at the level of concepts. The categories on which Proudhon founds, in the System of Economic Contradictions , his " simulation " of the capitalist system, his " theoretical model , " are the surplus value (which he calls " windfall " ), the division of labor, the machinism , competition, monopoly, lower profit rates, crises, etc. We find all these concepts at Marx. Yet Proudhon lacks an important notion, which Marx develops in Capital,which justifies that this book, published twenty years later, is more appropriate to the understanding of the capitalist system. This is the distinction between division of labor in the workshop and division of social work.

Some Marxist writers have not failed, rightly, to point out this deficiency, but with a certain amount of bad faith. Indeed, it would have been more fair to compare the System of Economic Contradictions with Misery of Philosophy , written at the same time, and not with Capital[...].

It is therefore totally inappropriate to oppose to Proudhon's argument of 1846 the developments of the Marxist theory completed in 1867 ... Indeed, it is only ten years after Misery of Philosophy that appear in Marx's writings. concepts as fundamental as the distinction between variable capital and constant capital ; the representation of the value of a commodity as the sum of constant capital, variable capital and surplus value, etc.

Can we learn from all this that there is no firewall between the various authors who have attempted the mid XIX th century to build a theory of human emancipation, individual[...]or collective (Proudhon, Marx, Bakunin).

René Berthier

This article is from René Berthier's book, Affinités non électives. For a dialogue without language of wood between Marxists and anarchists, Éditions du Monde libertaire / Libertarian editions, 2015.
In summary:
Editorial: The Marxian dimension of anarchism
Alain Bihr (sociologist): " Even insufficient, Marx remains necessary ! "
Political economy: The usefulness of Marxian criticism for libertarians
Basics: Capitalist logic in eight basic notions
the value
the work force
domestic work
the capital gain
the trend decline in the rate of profit
Marx or Keynes ? The development of capitalism is no longer epoch
On the borders of Marxism and anarchism, councilism
Proudhon, the instigator denied
Bakunin, the critic heard
Daniel Guérin, returned from " libertarian marxism "
The " other communism " remains relevant

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