transformation, transubstantiation, manifestation

Chris Burford cburford at
Tue Jul 4 08:13:27 MDT 1995

On Sunday 2nd Jerry made a very constructive suggestion that some
people collectively summarise different positions taken
by various writers on "transformation".

Although this was not quite what I had suggested, if possible I think
it would be very positive. We could get to a position where we
could see strengths and weaknesses in different models, and then
be freer to make value judgements we want to make anyway, without having
to prove the other side is illogical, dogmatic, or opportunist, and with
clear heads and eyes wide open.

Two caveats however:

1) Following Andrew Kliman's point, can the ideas being summarised
not be called the "transformation problem"? I think this problematises
the question and accepts that marxism should be on the defensive.
Would we go along with the loaded chauvinism of talking about the
Mexico problem, the Irish problem, or the Black problem in the USA?

Even the word "transformation" is not quite right because it is about
how an underlying dynamical process is manifested in a mass of specific
phenomenal detail.

2) My particular complaint against Justin in this debate, which you are
handling so constructively, was that Justin eclectically refered to a
number of authors as having disproved the marxist law of value, without
quoting a coherent argument from them. In a field under the
hegemony of bourgois ideas, I think that is dangerous and I welcome
his recent post accepting the importance of this. I am glad he
resonates to my suggestion that he fears the law of value is used as
some sort of a religious catechism. For him I guess the question might
most appropriately be called the "transubstantiation problem".
I would prefer it to be called the "manifestation issue".

Perhaps if you could choose a neutral title which
no-one understands you would have the best chance of reaching agreement.

>From my limited acquaintance with the debate I wonder if others too
may help. I am thinking of Paul Cockshott and Allin Cottrell, and Alan

I have a problem about getting into many texts directly myself but I
am concerned about the law of value because of problems of unequal
exchange on a world scale, so I was particularly interested in Jim
Devine's reference.

Chris Burford, London.

From: glevy at
Date: Sun, 2 Jul 1995 18:10:36 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: LOV - value of references?

Chris B. would like a summary of the different positions taken by various
authors on the "transformation problem."  This would be a useful task
that could be performed in a relatively objective manner, i.e. we could
list the various major authors going back to Bohm-Bawerk and Hilferding
and briefly summarize what each has said.  This would be a service, not
only to Chris B., but to others on the list as well who aren't familiar
with the literature on this subject.  It might take a fair amount of
work, though.  Any volunteers?  I'm willing to assist if someone else is
willing to coordinate.



PS:  If we could get a couple of people from different "sides" to work on
this task together (possibly Steve Keen and James Devine) we might be
able to present a summary post that could be accepted by people with
different positions.  If we did that, we might then avoid the endless
problems of disagreement about who said what.

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