Thoughts for Jim Miller

John R. Ernst ernst at
Fri Oct 27 12:37:32 MDT 1995

Dear Jim Miller, 
In your latest post you state that I've  
put the LOV in the category of religion. 
To be sure, I did refer to it that way but 
only in so far as one simply repeats the LOV  
without taking into account the objections 
to it.   When Steve Keen and I discuss  
matters concerning the LOV, we are both 
aware of many of these objections.  To be 
honest, it is not clear to me that you are. 
For example, let's take the Okishio Theorem. 
It shows that if real wages are constant and 
values calculated in the usual way, the rate 
of profit will not fall.  How do you answer  
Okishio?  From what you have written on this 
list I do not have a clue.  As for me, I have 
argued in a recent post on the Keen/Ernst 
discussion that values cannot be simultaneously 
determined.  Where do you stand on this and, more 
important, why?    
My argument with Steve begins by questioning his 
method of valuation on the basis of where it  
takes him.  That is, does it allow him to somehow 
capture that ever elusive, law of motion of modern 
society?  We'll see.  That ball is in his court.  Meanwhile, 
as someone who takes Marx seriously and not religiously 
I see the need to complete his work or, more modestly, 
to help complete it.  For example, Marx himself said after 
publishing the first book of CAPITAL that the timing of  
crises was to be related to the turnover of fixed capital. 
Yet within the halls of Marxism we have no work on this 
issue.  Are we saying that Marx was wrong?  Is the task 
simply too difficult?  Again, as Marxists, we stand without 
Let's take another issue.  For Marxists and non-Marxists, 
it was explicitly or implicitly assumed that for a FRP the 
economy must also have an increasing capital output 
ratio in material terms.  Recently, some, including myself, 
have rejected that idea.  It is an issue.  Let's discuss it. 
It clearly came up in the passage from the GRUNDRISSE  
that Keen cited.    
Thus, it does seem to me that in discussions with each other 
much is being said and learned.  We have to listen.  I'll 
listen to Keen/Ahab and demand that he listen to me.  He does 
and I try.  I do not jump all over him at every point simply because 
I do not have a completed theory of that law of motion.  If I did, 
I would.  I suppose where you and I differ is that I think Marx 
was right -- work is still to done.  If you've put it all together, 
it is news to me and, I assume, to others as well.  Until I see it, 
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. 

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