Positive side to anti-LTV case

Steve.Keen at unsw.EDU.AU Steve.Keen at unsw.EDU.AU
Fri Sep 23 17:40:56 MDT 1994

Inigo, I have long ago given up any hope that any communication between
us could be worthwhile. Your opening comments on my arguments in your
last post confirm this. You state:

>Yet, it actually has a far more repulsive face. Let's assume with Steve
>this absurd that the means of production produce surplus-value (that is,
>for instance, that a chair produces a specific form of the present-day
>general social relation among human beings, or the same in other words,
>that a chair as such is a concrete form in which the general regulation of
>present-day social life realizes itself). Now, let's assume with Steve that

I ALWAYS argued that "the means of production produce surplus value", as you
state in the first half of your second sentence; I NEVER argued that a use-
value produces surplus-value regardless of how it is used. If that chair in
the second half of your sentence is meant to refer, for example, to the one
you are sitting in, then I certainly don't argue that it produces surplus

As for wages exceeding the value input of labor-power, that is possible--but
hardly likely (though you should perhaps read Roemer's exchanges with Wolff
over this, where on some "back of the envelope" calculations, he estimates
that the return to labor-power in Japan is about 30%--which is far higher
than the average rate of return to the means of production.

Later, when you state:

>is just a twofold denying of the very possibility of socialism. In the
>first place, Steve's unconditioned assertion "it's impossible to predict
>what will eventuate after any sort of cataclysmic change in such a
>[nonlinear relationships] system", presents the possibility itself of the
>general conscious regulation of human life as a nonsensical chimera (By the
>way, which social necessity do the ideologists of present-day "normal"
>science from Popper to Rorty - and from the left to the right - personify,
>other than this one?) In the second place, to claim that "revolution"
>should be ruled out from the proletariat's political action because it's
>"an inherently dangerous route to social re-organisation," is to claim for
>the eternal subsistence of those of capital's forms that have this and only

it makes we wonder whether the Internet is a time warp, and I'm corresponding
with someone in the 19th Century.

For a start, I didn't deny the possibility of change--or even the evolution
of capitalism into something qualitatively different and superior. But that
process, if ever it occurs, will be in general gradual. 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.

Secondly, 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--
because that is what the assertion that it is the only source of surplus
value ultimately means. Instead, there is a long chain of such claims
before mine--from Steedman, Carling, Bose, and many others.

My argument differs in two respects from those predecessors.

Firstly, with to the point made by Louis about maths, those cases all
relied on maths to make their point--and that maths excludes a large
number of people from understanding it.

Secondly, their cases tended to disparage much else of what was in Marx--
except for Bose in particular, when the LTV was dispensed with, not much
else of Marx's wisdom survived.

My argument is made without maths, and since it 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.

Those "predictions" surely should look a bit sick a century after they
were made, but marxists like you continue to parade them. You sound
more like a religious fundamentalist predicting Armageddon on the basis
of a reading of scriptures than a serious analyst of society.

When I began my postings to this list, I did not expect to convince
the majority of even a minority of my views. My reason for raising them
here was more, to paraphrase the title of theatrical performance, so
that "at least you can't say that you haven't seen it."

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. Ironically, this was the manner in which Marx's own
views were greeted by his main "vulgar" opponent, Bohm-Bawerk**

If you should so trouble yourself as to read what I have written,
Inigo, you would find that Bohm-Bawerk's misinterpretation played a
pivotal role in giving birth to the view of Marx that you champion--
and which I believe buried the vast majority of his contributions to
political economy under a load of dated rubbish.

Finally, this will be the final reply I make to anything you write.
I can see no point in wasting my time composing replies to you.

Steve Keen


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