Positive side to anti-LTV case

Juan Inigo jinigo at inscri.org.ar
Wed Oct 5 07:11:25 MDT 1994


>... since it [My argument] is built on Marx's
>logic, much of what Marx argued is preserved. Only the ideas derived
>solely from the LTV go--the transformation problem, the tendency for
>the rate of profit to fall, the secular immiserisation of the working
>class, and the inevitability of socialism.

All the determinations of Steve Keen's theory are condensed in this phrase.

As I've alleged from the very beginning of our discussion that there isn't
any such thing as a LTV in Marx's reproduction in thought of the
specificity of present-day society, Steve's assertion concerns me in a
direct way only in that "the ideas of Marx," wherever they might come from,
are ordered to "go" by Steve's theory.

For the sake of brevity, I will not stop on "the transformation problem,
the tendency for the rate of profit to fall," as the "go" of the other two
"ideas" say by themselves what all of such "go" are about.

a) "the secular immiserisation of the working class" goes

In a previous message to the list, I've developed Steve's thesis that

>... the class struggle is thus a struggle over the
>apportionment of the surplus between the capitalist and working
>class, and there is no upper limit--short of the entire surplus--
>to the level that workers can claim.

until showing it has no substance other than telling the exploited that
they can achieve their freedom under capitalism just by getting their wages
to amount the value of their labor-power plus the part of the total
surplus-value produced by it (according to Steve's theory that the means of
production in which the constant capital is materialized produce
surplus-value), and to the exploiters that the exploited can be, not only
free under their rule, but presented as partners in capital's brutal
depredation of nature.

The conclusion that the immiserisation of the working-class is not
inevitable under capitalism, is just a further step into this fantastic
world.

I've presented another message to the list showing how the "the secular
immiserisation of the working class" is currently at work, and how Marx
discovered that this immiserisation, "the general law of capitalist
accumulation," is a necessary concrete form of the production of relative
surplus-value. By taking shape in a continuous increase of constant capital
at expense of variable capital, this production results in an absolute
increase in the mass of the proletariat, with an increasing proportion of
individuals definitively expelled from production and thus pushed into
consolidated pauperism, and a decreasing proportion of individuals that go
on receiving the value of the labor-power they sell, which renders a
constantly increased rate of relative surplus-value. But, above all, what
Marx discovered in the production of relative surplus-value as the
essential determination of the proletariats conscious political action is
that this production is at the very core of the revolutionary potency of
capital to supersede itself into socialism.

As Marx discovered, the progressive immiserisation of the working-class
will be expelled from the real world only on superseding capital as the
general social relationship. But, in fact, Steve has a quite different aim:
he wants to expel the immiserisation of the working-class from the "world
of ideas." As this "reform" of capitalism has the materiality of an
exorcism, Steve wants to perform it by making the spirit that has
introduced the evil idea, Marx, to confess through him that "the secular
immiserisation of the working class" is only a product of a methodological
self-contradiction, regardless what even the simplest analysis say. Then he
will be able to enjoy, from the top of his ivory tower, this, to him, "the
best of all possible worlds."

b) "the inevitability of socialism" goes

If we are to take Steve's assertion seriously, then we must logically conclude:

1. that capitalism, in spite of its necessity to submit all production and
consumption to science and its necessity to increasingly concentrate
production as a direct social potency -- which being human potencies
alienated as capital's potencies takes concrete shape in the increasing
immiserisation of humanity -- doesn't carry in itself the necessity to
supersede itself into the community of the freely, therefore conscious,
associated individuals. This is but the most ordinary claim of the
apologists of capitalism, which states that capitalism is the eternal form
of social life. Of course, if capitalism can go on existing forever and,
according to Steve, violence must be excluded from the actions aimed at
overcoming this system of social life that obviously has violence as a main
necessary concrete form of realizing its determinations, capitalism is "the
best of all possible (actually, the only possible) worlds."

2. that the attempt to transform capitalism may conduct humanity back to
some more primitive (pre-capitalist) form of society. Still, all of these
societies have shown to be the form through which human potencies have
developed themselves beyond the capacity of direct social relations among
individuals to regulate the life of society, thus producing the necessity
of the autonomous regulation of this life through commodity production and,
therefore, through capitalist production. So any eventual return to those
more primitive forms of society can but to carry back to capitalism. Of
course, if humanity is condemned to this closed cycle forever and violence
must be excluded from the actions aimed at overcoming this succession of
modes in which social life is organized that obviously have violence as a
main necessary concrete form of realizing their determinations, capitalism
is "the best of all possible worlds."

3. that the attempt to transform capitalism may conduct humanity to a new
form of society, essentially different from

        a. the general autonomous regulation of human metabolism process
where material production is at the same time the production of the general
social relation (commodity production) under its most developed form of
capital accumulation, that is, capitalism, and

        b. the general conscious regulation of human metabolism process
through the cognition of each individual of her/his determinations as a
member of this society, that is, socialism or communism, indistinctly.

In that case, Steve should explain us how the process of social metabolism
would be regulated (organized), that is, which general form this process
would take.

Neither fascism nor Stalinism/"really-existing socialism" are the case.
Very briefly, Fascism is the ideological expression of the national process
of capital accumulation where private capitals use the collective potency
of the state to force laborers to work for a wage under the value of their
labor-power, or directly forcing them to work for no wage at all until they
fall exhausted and are sent to death-camps, and to try to destroy or
appropriate by direct violence the capital that is active in other national
ambits so as to expand their own scale of accumulation, thus trying to
overcome the general overproduction crisis. Therefore, fascism is just an
extreme face that the bloodthirsty nature of capitalism takes as a national
process. Stalinism/"really-existing socialism" is the ideological
expression of the national accumulation process of the capital that is
wholly collective property within this national ambit (and therefore, as
much capital for the whole of the proletariat, and as much private capital,
for the proletariat of the rest of the national ambits, as any other).
Therefore, Stalinism/"really-existing socialism" is just an extreme face
that the alienation of human potencies takes as a national process of
capital accumulation, consequently carrying in itself the whole brutality
of capitalism, but also, the whole of its potencies.

Of course, if humanity is condemned to have no choice beyond different
forms of capitalism and violence must be excluded from the actions aimed at
overcoming this system of social life that obviously has violence as a main
necessary concrete form of realizing its determinations, capitalism is "the
best of all possible (actually, the only possible) worlds."

In brief, the future is already here! Steve wants Marx to be spelled
F-u-k-u-y-a-m-a! If Steve's theory isn't a crude apologetics of capitalism,
which is it?

And Steve himself completes the picture: he has presented his theory to the
list for a casual, politically aseptic, reason:

> My reason for raising them [my postings to this list]
>here was more, to paraphrase the title of theatrical performance, so
>that "at least you can't say that you haven't seen it."

Unfortunately for him, the Marxism list isn't a political kindergarten.


Through many messages to the list I've followed Steve's theory, even in its
own logical terms, developing it to the point where the specific social
necessity this theory incarnates becomes evident. I've placed some very
concrete questions to Steve, and asked him to point out exactly at which
step of my developments following his theory he could show I was mistaken.
He never answered these questions. Instead, his typical replies were

a- ad hominem arguments:

>If you really wish to
>challenge me--rather than simply rile me-- ...

>It is this logic of Marx which I have explored at great length,
>and which you in your posts effectively refuse to acknowledge. I
>would contrast this with my exchanges with Chris, where he has
>seriously considered ...

>I did expect to find individuals so wedded the the LTV that they would
>go on the attack against the heretic (me) merely for having the views
>that he held.

>You sound
>more like a religious fundamentalist predicting Armageddon on the basis
>of a reading of scriptures than a serious analyst of society.

b- "read this, read that":

Anybody would say Steve thinks he has the monopoly on reading what are the
most common, worldwide known books and journals concerning Marx and
Marxism. He even believes he is able to decide if I've read or not what he
has written:

>If you should so trouble yourself as to read what I have written,
>Inigo, you would find ...

Maybe Steve believes that anyone who reads his papers must immediately _see
the light_, and as I go on questioning his theory the only possibility is
that I haven't read him. In that case, he is doubly wrong. Still, this
isn't all. Steve believes he can decide I've never come across the
contemporary "non-neoclassical economists" before:

>... you would think that I'm the first non-neoclassical economist in
>history to make the claim that labor is not the only source of profit ...
>>Instead, there is a long chain of such claims
>before mine--from Steedman, Carling, Bose, and many others.

Let me present just one example of what Steve's "read ..." are about:

>Read Meek and Hilferding. It was their arguments re the development
>of exchange that I was paraphrasing.

There are many things one could criticize Meek and Hilferding for. But
nobody can charge them with saying that from "Two cultures meeting "at the
border"" (where "the eventual price set may well reflect subjective
valuations of the goods" and "it is quite feasible that the 'utility' of
what was exchanged affected the price") exchange develops through an
immediate jump to "as trade becomes routine, commodities ... are produced
... for ... profit." (that is, coomodities become at once the products of
capital). This has no relation at all with paraphrasing, it's just an
abuse. Here is a true short quotation from Hilferding: "But exchange must
also answer the question about if production must be carried on by the free
worker or by the capitalist entrepreneur. This is the answer to the
question of the variation in the relation of exchange, that must be
verified _inside_  the production of commodities through the progressive
transition from the simple production to capitalist production." (Finance
Capital, retranslated from Spanish, chapter 1, paragraph 5)

Now, does Steve really read what I write? My

>Some of the infinite concrete forms the supersession of capitalism in
>socialism has, can only take shape in a day by day imperceptible change;
>what Marx called (quoting him by heart) "the hidden transitions" from
>capitalism to socialism. Other of those forms need to be realized through
>violently immediate visible movements. But both types belong in capital
>accumulation process as much as any other capital's form. The reduction of
>the former transitions to "reformism" and of the latter to "revolution"
>does but to isolate them from their specific determinations, thus turning
>them into pure ideological abstractions.

reads for him as

>Surely the experiences
>of the 20th century at drastic social change--experiences which seem to post-
>date your experience of the world--should at least make one sceptical about
>the chances for bringing about a better society by violent change. Your
>confidence that good will come of such change is breathtaking in its denial
>of recent human experience.

c- a mass of quotations from Marx violently isolated from their context
that clearly say the opposite that Steve presents them as saying. Fred
Moseley is currently pointing out this same fact.

d- a quotation from Grundrisse falsified to make Marx appear as
contradicting himself, by cutting out from the original text some complete
sentences and, specifically, the true subject Marx refers to in what is
left as a second part immediately related to the first one (as this is a
well-known case for the members of the list by now, I will omit its
transcription here). When I pointed out the true content of the original
text, Steve argued that

>... only in an unedited work (e.g., email) can you get away with lengthy cites
>>from original authors. Editors tend to demand such things be abbreviated in
>>journals, and the trick is to abbreviate without losing the meaning ... I
>agree >that such a practice can result in the writer omitting what other
>readers may >regard as crucial in the original ...

When I showed that his cutting out was inadmissible even from a grammatical
point of view and asked Steve to point out exactly where my grammatical
analysis was mistaken, all he answered was

>I resent any implication that I have made my case by selective quotation,
>>especially since you have not read my [pub]lished work on this subject.

By the way, this falsified quotation appears with the cut out part missing
in Steve's Thesis. As far as I know, editors demands have nothing to do
with academic thesis.

e- self-contradictions with respect to the questioned argument

>... in general, the payment to workers will _exceed_ the
>value of the commodity they sell.

When I pointed out that his theory implies that

> ... when wages are high enough to include
>'the value of labor-power' plus the whole 'surplus-value produced by the
>particular input labor-power', ... capital ceases to exploit the
>>waged-laborers, ...

Steve replied

>As for wages exceeding the value input of labor-power, that is possible--but
>hardly likely (though you should perhaps read ...


Now Steve has announced he will not reply to anything that I write.
Concerning myself, I will go on critically answering what he writes as soon
as I consider the concrete case relevant with respect to the development of
science as a necessary form of concious political action.

Juan Inigo
jinigo at inscri.org.ar



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