p.e. outline/finance capital

glevy at acnet.pratt.edu glevy at acnet.pratt.edu
Tue Aug 8 16:21:57 MDT 1995

  Paul Cockshott wrote:

> I think that the problem of the determination of interest rates
> vis a vis profit is very important for the whole debate on the
> effects of a declining rate of profit. My own feeling is that
> the determinants of the interest rate are quite independent of
> the determinants of the profit rate.
There is no question that interest rates have not been explained
adequately in Marxist economic theory. The relationship of the
determinants of the interest rate to changes in the general rate of
profit is an important unresolved theoretical issue that we need to
address to better understand the dynamics of capitalism.

How do we go about connecting the subject of changes in the general rate
of profit to the subject of the determinants of the rate of interest?

We begin with developing an *outline* that seeks to logically connect and
sequence the topics that we do not understand adequately.  How do we
develop an outline?  My tentative suggestion is:

Step One: *list* those aspects of capitalist reality that our theory does
           not yet explain adequately (to begin to do this I have
           suggested that we look at what Marx himself wrote about his plans
           for _Capital_as well as some secondary literature --
           Rosdolsky, Lebowitz, etc. -- that refer to Marx's plans).

Step Two: Take the topics from that list and attempt to logically connect
          and *sequence* them (e.g. is the study of foreign trade a
          subject that should be studied at a more abstract or more
          concrete level than the study of the state?).

Step Three: Take the general subjects from step two and attempt to
          logically specify *sub-headings*, divisions and sequence.

Step Four: Organize the above and present it in *draft outline* form for
          further consideration and modification. Complete the outline.

Step Five: Take the "Outline" generated by the process above and go on
          to the task of advancing Marxist economic theory by studying
          the subjects that are identified in the outline.

One doesn't have to be an economist to understand the logic behind
creating an outline. Creating an outline, as all writers know, is a
process that allows one to logically structure and organize one's
thoughts prior to writing. It is in the outline stage that the most
difficult and meaningful ideas are identified, connected and specified.
It is the first practical step in producing any new theory or advancing any
existing theory.

I don't have all the answers about how such an outline on political
economy can be generated. It is a major task that could only be
accomplished with the collaboration of other Marxist economists who are
committed to working with each other in good faith towards producing such
a product.

It will be very difficult, in practice, to complete such a task. However,
it is too important a task to be left undone.

If you wish to participate in such an effort, please contact me.


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