Calculation Problem Again

tgs at tgs at
Mon Oct 31 18:22:18 MST 1994

In my opinion, McNally's critique is much deeper than what you make it
out to be.  Pro-marketeers make out the market as did Smith (and I admit I
am not as versed about this subject as you are, but this is the way I feel,
and if I'm caricaturing, I apologize in advance), as a unique registrar of
supply and demand.  But what Marx discovered, as McNally points out, is
that the market system's unconscious "rationality" in setting prices--where, as you
yourself say, like on Dylan's Desolation Row, nobody had to "think to much"-- is
based upon the commodification of human labor in the wage market. If you
start monkeying around with this by freeing labor from commodification, you
play havoc with this vaunted unconscious rationality--as my friend Richard
Smith, of Solidarity, has shown in his many studies on China.  It is
just such attempt to regulate the market which plays havoc with China's
economy today, leads to the black market, etc.

It's just not so simple as you make out when you say that all we need is
a big welfare state, labor rights, assumedly labor control over the
goverment (HOw you'll get this through the Federalists, I'll never
know--that's my cheap shot), etc.  That's a Rousseauvian notion: that we can
be pure within the state, to exercise the political will to such an
extent, that we can control the market and not let it take control of us.
The abstract state, which you would need in any case to have enough power
to control the market, ends up being corrupted that market.  Look at Sweden, half
a dozen other experiments in social democracy.  As for producer capitalism
staying pure within society itself; it doesn't.  The more self-exploitative
we are in our own firm, the more profit we all think we'll get; this leads
to increasing hierarchy wihin the firm as the bastards who get things done
are increasingly promoted or promote themselves.  they become a new
capitalist class, all over again: a class is now in the saddle, as it corrupts
the state.

You say  you believe in the falling rate of profit.  How can this
tendency be countered by market socialism?  Can the market socialist state
abolish the FRP via legislative fiat?  Hardly.  As profits decline,
what incentive would be to serve the society, rather than get rich quick
schemes, financial speculation, feeding off the trough of the market
socialist state: precisely as the capitalists do today?  Even if you can
find some ur capitalist society, perhaps in the 19th century, where
profit does lead to efficient investment in useful production, you can't
show me how this could occur today.

Mattick, in  MARX AND KEYNES, discusses how Kenesian social spending, rather than


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