From MARXISM-AND-SCIENCES@LISTSERV.CC.EMORY.EDU Sat Jan 6 05:55:28 2001
Class as process (Chris Burford's initial response)
By Chris Burford, 4 Jan 2001
At 12:01 31/12/00 -0500, you wrote:
>It is simple enough: What distinguishes a Marxist (in the sense of a
It is a feature
>A philosophical axiom:
Good. A realist rather than an empiricist approach.
>I do not believe this axiom to be adventurous. For example, in terms
Everything is connected with everything else.
>I further assume that the initial (inherited; historical) structures
I like the emphasis on emergent properties.
The formulations here however talk about inherited and historical
>I find this reading of a "thermodynamic engine" to be very useful. It
I would welcome this but what is the basis for saying "almost half" of the processes we see are emergent rather than dissipative?
>why creativity (in the sense of
Why "improbable"? There are a range of probabilities for all outcomes. Improbable ones are part of the range of probable ones.
>However, I've not been able to get any critical feedback from folks in
I am surprised. One of the earliest experiments on chaos theory was done on thermodynamics. I am thinking of Gleick's chapter in "Chaos" on Libchaber's experiment.
>I think it receives some warrant from cosmology,
You mean because it was not purely empiricist. They are very dogmatic about being empiricist.
>Another example. The means of production, inherited from the past,
This is a very condensed proposition. Could you explain in what sense you mean it?
From a marxian point of view exchange value could be seen as an emergent property of commodity exchange, but I see this as emerging at the level of the overall economy.
I am not at all sure that is how most marxists would understand exploitation. They would accept the argument that fundamentally the capitalist gets more exchange value from the hire of labour power than the value needed to provide that quantity of labour power itself. There are some forms of relative surplus value that depend on technical advantages in an economy with means of production at changing levels of productivity.
Although I agree that emergent properties is a modern scientific idea that is compatible with some marxist approaches, the connection needs to be argued through.
Do you want to go ahead?