Marxism

Steve.Keen at unsw.edu.au Steve.Keen at unsw.edu.au
Sat Oct 28 13:44:54 MDT 1995


Dear Jim Miller,

I think your post was adequately answered by both Louis
and John. On the one hand, this list is now dominated--for better
or for worse--for those who accept Marx's analysis and want to
"get on with it". On the other, Jim's posts have come across to
those of us who are not convinced that Marx's analysis was
complete as ignorant of the many ways in which critics have
pointed out that it is--potentially--incomplete.

For instance, your discussions of the labor theory of value gave
no indication that you had read Steedman's _Marx After Sraffa_,
definitely a modern milepost in the criticism of Marx. One aspect
of Steedman's critique, for instance, is that, working directly
from quantity figures, you can show positive profits co-existing
with _negative_ surplus value. John also mentioned the Okishio
Theorem, another serious problem with Marx as conventionally
understood--and that means as understood by people who take
the analysis in Capital as complete.

My critique is, analytically, much simpler than both of those,
but philosophically, much deeper. If Steedman and Okishio are
correct, then, as you put it, the:
|categories of "capital," "constant capital,"
|"variable capital," and all the rest, are meaningless,
|and Marx's _Capital_ is just so much rubbish...
or, in other words, critical analysis of capitalism--and as you
also commented, politics--is best done entirely without
reference to Marx.

On the other hand, if I am correct, while much of _Capital_ *is*
incorrect, there is a much richer analysis to be derived from
the legacy Marx have us, and reference must be had to Marx for
both analytic and political work.

So I agree with you, of course, that these issues are important.
However, to date, your contribution on this matter has lacked
depth--and that is why I and John have treated your posts the way
we have (and I would guess it's why others who once chirped up
have also remained silent).

Maybe you just need to go away for a while and so some reading.
I don't suggest that you read everything on Marx since Marx,
of course. But you should certainly read Sweezy's (ed.) _Karl
Marx and the Close of his System_, Ronald Meek's *2nd edition_
of _Studies in the Labor Theory of Value_ (this includes his
preface and postface where he explains, very clearly, the
Sraffian critique), Steedman's _Marx After Sraffa_, Chapter 4
of Roemer's _Free to Lose_, recent work by Dumenil, Foley, Devine
and others on the "new solution" to the transformation problem
in the Cambridge Journal of Economics, Research in Political
Economy, and the Review of Radical Political Economy, and
Alan Freeman's recent difference equation work.

And, pardon me, but you should re-read my thesis. Confusing 
my--and Marx's--general proposition that in exchange, the
use-value of a given commodity plays no role in determining
the exchange-value of *that same* commodity, with the
proposition that use-value and exchange-value are dialectically
related, and then arguing that I believed use-value and
exchange-value were unrelated at the general level, was a
misreading of my argument of breathtaking proportions.

Once your posts betray an awareness of the intervening debate
between Marx and ourselves, and an ability to read a critic
constructively, rather than simply looking for any basis
whatsoever with which to dismiss him/her, then your postings
to this--and any other lists--might evoke response, rather
than silence.

Though the tone and content of the above might imply otherwise,
I wish you the best if you undertake the path suggest I
suggest. While your scholarship has not been obvious, your
sincerity has not. However, ever since a great teacher of mine
convinced me not to over-value sincerity ("the most sincere
person you'll ever meet is the maniac chasing you down the
street with an axe, intent on chopping your head off"), I've
put sincerity in second place to, amongst other things,
scholarship.

Cheers,
Steve Keen


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