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In Theory as Critique, Paul Mattick explores the structure of the argument in Marx's Capital in order to explain its applicability to the society we live in. In Theory as Critique, Paul Mattick explores the structure of the argument in Marx's Capital in order to explain its applicability to the society we live in.


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In Theory as Critique, Paul Mattick explores the structure of the argument in Marx's Capital in order to explain its applicability to the society we live in. In Theory as Critique, Paul Mattick explores the structure of the argument in Marx's Capital in order to explain its applicability to the society we live in.

44 review for Theory as Critique: Essays on Capital

  1. 4 out of 5

    Avery

    Very interesting and fresh interpretation of Marx-- I appreciate Mattick Jr.'s commitment to theoretical precision and immanent critique. However, while his spartan Marxism allows a powerful heuristic without a totalizing worldview, I think it may be so ascetic so as to drastically limit the scope of Marxism's explanatory power. Definitely worth engaging along with other recent interpretations of Marx, e.g. Postone, Heinrich, Harvey, and as a critique of the likes of Kliman & Brenner (although I Very interesting and fresh interpretation of Marx-- I appreciate Mattick Jr.'s commitment to theoretical precision and immanent critique. However, while his spartan Marxism allows a powerful heuristic without a totalizing worldview, I think it may be so ascetic so as to drastically limit the scope of Marxism's explanatory power. Definitely worth engaging along with other recent interpretations of Marx, e.g. Postone, Heinrich, Harvey, and as a critique of the likes of Kliman & Brenner (although I'm not sure how much I actually agree with Mattick Jr.'s critiques here).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    At first this book seemed to offer exactly what I was looking for: a discussion of Marxism through the lens of history of science. It opens by discussing the fact that Marxism has failed to become a viable scientific research program by Lakatos' definition. He acknowledges that where a real science soon surpasses its founders and creates a new core of knowledge from which even their own writings can be critiqued, Marxism is still stuck on Marx. What I misinterpreted was how Mattick felt about thi At first this book seemed to offer exactly what I was looking for: a discussion of Marxism through the lens of history of science. It opens by discussing the fact that Marxism has failed to become a viable scientific research program by Lakatos' definition. He acknowledges that where a real science soon surpasses its founders and creates a new core of knowledge from which even their own writings can be critiqued, Marxism is still stuck on Marx. What I misinterpreted was how Mattick felt about this. I didn't expect such an introduction to lead into a book that is simply another attempt to police the correct interpration of Marx's original text. There are flickers of the subject I'm interested in here, but every piece of history of Marxology is swallowed up by an ocean of Mattick unable to resist correcting his subjects, explaining where their theories deviate from his correct interpretation of Marxism. So instead of being a history of science book, it's a statement of Mattick's take on Marx. He spends the whole second chapter constructing elaborate, tenuous, even tedious analogies and justifications to defend the claim that Marx was doing science--why it was okay for him to make certain assumptions and simplifications, because physicists (and other economists) do the same thing!--while carefully avoiding the conclusion that modern economic science can threaten the validity of Marx's theory. It almost feels like he's imagining himself in an alternate history. He builds up the achievement Marx made relative to Ricardo, framing his theory as a major scientific advance, but then spends the rest of the book fending off intrusions of later thinkers presuming to build on, critique, or reinterpret Marx, as if neoclassical economics simply doesn't exist. A lot of that is good and reasonable, because his critiques of things other Marxists say are on point. But so much of the content is him swimming in Marxian terms, trying to explain how they *actually* go together but never exposing them to the same sort of critique. You can see the two modes of Mattick's thought fighting just as Bohm-Bawerk and Schumpeter's critiques recognize Marx as a genius fighting Marx as an ideologue. I am forced to conclude (and of course I suspected this all along) that a Marxist simply doesn't have the perspective to answer the questions I'm interested in. They're definitionally incapable of stepping back and recognizing Marx's ideas as historical artifacts with flaws and limitations found in all such. As believers, when problems are raised, they can't resist the impulse to dive in and try once more to square the circle. Or, perhaps they're able to answer my questions all too well. When I first read Mattick say in the introduction that Marxism never became mainstream because it was "a science intended to theorise opposition to every facet of the existing society," I took this as a kind of tongue in cheek self-deprecation. There's an offhand remark Mattick made shortly before I stopped reading, a piece of pure, fervent ideology that brought me up short in an otherwise clear-headed (aside from its muddling in Marx's guts) work. "In the course of this solution [to the failure of Ricardo's theory of value], Marx destroyed the attempt to use the labor theory of value to explain and justify social relations. Value is not the magic that ties the self-interest of each to the social interest of all; it is the form in which the exploitation of one part of society by another is carried out." Mattick believes that all of marginalist economics is a justification, an excuse, a concealment of the truth Marx discovered. It is on one hand an utter abdication of the aspiration to philosophy of science--you can't simply write off 170 years of economic theory as a bad-faith attempt to defend the status quo. It's a tall claim! You need to defend it! Instead, he just turns back to Marx, tries to rearrange Marx's own terms not so much to prove Marx was right as to reiterate the argument that has already been purportedly debunked. It's all just an enormous waste of time!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    This book is great at bringing forward a comprehensive way of reading and understanding Capital's abstractions and its relations to political economy, especially where Mattick dispels illusions about hegelianism and other criticisms that arise specifically when one does not take into account the different levels of analysis of Capital. Mattick's "Model I and Model II" are particularly original and useful in this regard. It also draws A LOT from Henryk Grossman and Tony Smith in establishing a "c This book is great at bringing forward a comprehensive way of reading and understanding Capital's abstractions and its relations to political economy, especially where Mattick dispels illusions about hegelianism and other criticisms that arise specifically when one does not take into account the different levels of analysis of Capital. Mattick's "Model I and Model II" are particularly original and useful in this regard. It also draws A LOT from Henryk Grossman and Tony Smith in establishing a "correct" interpretation of Marx that dominates this book, to the point where Mattick spends more time critiquing writers like Heinrich and Kliman than actually expounding on the philosophy of science analogy that really drew me in at the start of the book. Of importance is also the final chapter, which uses the (very technical and sometimes overbearing) development of Marx's idealism in Capital to fight back against some Marxists (and non-Marxists) naive empiricism when it comes to understanding bourgeois economic data without a Marxian value theory.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rain Sailing

  5. 5 out of 5

    LASZLO

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ben Dunn

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    Ryan

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    Anthony

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    Al Raven

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    Aidan Ziliak

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    Grant Black

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    Jake

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    Meenal Jagtap

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    Viktor Glushkov

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    C

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    Jake Sauce

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    Carjack Fairy

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    Nathan Fisher

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    Daniel

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    Charley Marx

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    Chris

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    Joanna Thompson

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    KtKr

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    Anton Ösgård

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    Anas Nor'Azim

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    ERF

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    Drew

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    Kevin Carson

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    Abcxyz

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    Jangali

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    james

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    Annalise Burkhart

  44. 5 out of 5

    Andrine

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