Juan Inigo jinigo at
Mon Oct 30 23:17:42 MST 1995

Steve Keen prefers not to consider my step by step critique of his theory
that the use-values in which constant capital is materialized are sources
of a social relation, surplus-value, through a rational development
pointing out exactly where he finds I am mistaken. Instead, he claims

>Inigo, as I told you ages ago last time you attempted to engage me
>in debate, I have no interest in discussing my ideas with you until
>you read what I have published on the subject.
> ...
>And now I have the amusement of seeing two people believe that my
>argument is that use-value creates value in the sense meant by
>Bohm-Bawerk and his neoclassical descendants. I argue nothing of
>ths sort, but I'm not going to run my fingers to the bone trying
>to tell you what it is.

Steve's pedantry has reached (and not for the first time) the extreme of
assigning himself the fantastic power of knowing what I have or haven't
read! Or is it that he actually believes that the light of his spirit will
descend on anyone who reads his "refereed" (consecrated in the Church of
Academy, should be read?) published papers, and since I have not started
claiming something like "I repent from my critique pointing out the
vulgarity of Steve's theory, now I see that chairs in which constant
capital is materialized do produce surplus-value!" this can only mean I
haven't read them? Of course, he is wrong in every sense. And, again of
course, I have never associated his theory to Bohm-Bawerk's, beyond their
obvious common determination as two specific forms of vulgar economy.

But Steve really enjoys discussing only in the way of a ventriloquist, to
the extent of literally falsifying other people's writings to make them say
what he wants to, as he does with Marx's.

"Ages ago," I followed in this list Steve's theory even in its own terms,
on the open basis of his many detailed and lengthy posts (this discussion
can be found in the August/October 1994 archives of the list). I started
from the simplest claim of Steve's theory and went through its concrete
political meaning, pointing out one by one the falsities upon which he
builds his apologetics of capitalism, and his pretension that this
apologetics has Marx himself as its source.

On doing so, I presented Steve a couple of simple questions:

a- Value is the specific historical way through which the society of the
private independent producers allocates its total labor-power under its
specific concrete forms. The development of commodities into capital is
nothing but a specific form of this allocation, where all human potencies
are alienated into capital's potencies. If the socially necessary abstract
labor materialized in the commodities wasn't the whole substance of their
value (that is, of their capacity for relating among themselves in
exchange, thus relating their producers), or if it has ceased to be such
under capitalism, which is the general regulator of the present-day
autonomously ruled process of social metabolism, and rather, what value,
commodity, capital, surplus-value and profit actually are about not in
theoretical fantasies but in the real world?

b- Use-value is what determines a real form as a means for the human social
metabolism process. So it inherits in the materiality of the real form in
question. Being value, and its specific form surplus-value, nothing but
pure social relations (that is, the social coordination of human life, that
starts by allocating the current total capacity of society to perform labor
into its concrete material forms), how could the materiality of the means
of production acquire the capacity for producing social relations or for
becoming itself a social relation?

Steve never articulated a substantiated reply to them. Was it because of
the "tortured prose" of my questions? Maybe because Steve was afraid his
fingers would be run to the bone by replying them? Or was it just because
these simple questions make the whole grotesque of Steve's theory
immediately visible?

Now, after claiming that he has

>put the LOV in the category of religion.
> ... in so far as one simply repeats the LOV
>without taking into account the objections
>to it.

John Ernst has invited us to follow him:

>I'll hop aboard Keen's Pequod and see where it takes me,
>bearing in mind the seemingly fatal flaws at the beginning of
>our journey.  Call me what's his name.

Could John point out exactly where he finds that the synthesis about what
Marx discovers concerning value, that I presented to the list on October 21
in reply to Steve's theory, has a "religious" content? For, doesn't John
agree in that before starting a discussion about value being
"simultaneously determined" (sic) it is absolutelly necessary to be clear
about value being the specific substance of the present-day general social
relation, and therefore, of the autonomous system  of general regulation of
present-day social life? And doesn't John agree in that before starting a
discussion about "the falling rate of profit" it is absolutely necessary to
be clear about this materialized general social relation becoming the
subject itself of social production thus turned into a production of
substantiated value that valorizes itself? In John's words

>that ever elusive, law of motion of modern

Conversely, if we do not start from the simplest determination of value,
any discussion about value being "simultaneously" determined or "the
falling rate of profit" will become a completely abstract matter, the sort
of abstract matter that only vulgar economics can profit from. Or is John's
just a concrete claim to call us aboard vulgar economy?

And, by the way, could Jim Miller point out exactly where he finds my
posts, that are not just

>extended summaries and paraphrases of some of
>Marx's ideas..

but of Marx's reproduction in thought of the organic development of the
simplest forms taken by our general social relation,

>... tend to stray off the topic?

Why do I get engaged in this sort of deja vu concerning Steve's theory? I
do find that Steve's developments have a "merit": they are a very clear
example of a specific form of the apologetics of capital, whose development
Steve synthesizes in an uninterrupted flow starting from the question of
value as such, until reaching its concrete forms concerning the
proletariat's political action. And this action is what really matters.

Have this guy, that constantly claims that reading his published papers is
a must to understand what becomes crudely visible even in his briefest
posts, paid a little more attention to what other people write in this
list, he would have noticed "ages ago" that I have read his "refereed" and
unrestricted in length Thesis (which according to Steve is "preferably,
given the detail required here")"ages ago." But I was almost forgetting
that Steve makes a point of misreading what does not fit into his pedantic
claims. Anyhow, I can attest that the risk Steve fears so much that

>Email posts are short, unrefereed, and can
>easily be misinterpreted.

does not apply in his case. His published papers say exactly the same, and
sometimes even in a more abridged way, that his posts do. And he can always
point exactly where his posts lead to a misinterpretation, and correct
them. Furthermore, since he repeats now exactly the same he said a year
ago, we must understand he stands for all his claims.

So I will follow again Steve's developments by focusing in three concrete

a) their belonging to an apologetics of capital itself, that leaves aside
the apologetics of the capitalist, thus covering its true substance under a
"critical" make-up.

b) the really low that this apologetics has to fall to present Marx as
being "incoherent," to claim Marx himself is its actual source, once he is
"saved" from his "errors."

c) the immediate political meaning of Steve's claim that the use-values in
which constant capital is materialized are "exploited" by making them
produce surplus-value.

Juan Inigo
jinigo at

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