Deflation - a reply to Nick's interpretation of Marx

Nicholas Siemensma nsiemensma at
Sun Jul 13 20:58:01 MDT 2003

Jurriaan Bendien wrote:  
> This is not a caricature, it is a genuine
> description of how you and other
> self-styled Marxists often argue. I think you are on
> strong Marxian ground
> if you say that what happens to the relations of
> production, what Marx
> refers to as the sphere of production, decisively
> determines the rest of the
> economic edifice... But it is
> a big leap from there,
> to simply disregarding distributional questions and
> implying that they have
> no effect, that you can simply disregard credit,
> debt and  monetary
> conditions, the distribution of incomes among social
> classes, and so on, and
> just assert a few points about problems at the level
> of production, implying
> that (al of the) surplus-value produced, will
> automatically be realised.

You're right, it is a "big leap", a foolish non
sequitur which simply doesn't follow from the first
point, but it is *your* leap.  You merely reduce my
argument so as to better reject it as productivist
error, which doesn't get us very far.  My few lines on
deflation were deliberately simple yet correct, and I
had no reason to assert, say, the semi-autonomy or
coalescing feedback effects of realisation problems
and the realm of circulation, but that doesn't mean
that I ignore them.  In fact, I am *very* interested
and constantly dig around the important areas such as
the place of finance capital within the circuits of
capital, trends in factor productivity of capital, the
power of seigniorage and the nature of imperial
hegemony.  But I have little time for those who would
rather posit, sneer and argue with imaginary

There is no strict causal relationship between
deflation and underconsumption, but I could point to
the present period, the 1870s and the 1930s to display
the importance of accumulation-dynamics, in which
realisation issues play an important part but the
determining last-instance is the rate of exploitation.
 If this is lightminded, hectoring dogma which no
self-respecting or "reputable Marxist economist" would
agree with, then I must have been reading Paul
Samuelson all these years.  Maybe I should just stick
to decrepit old Say.  In any case, this is Marxism ABC
and any "amendment" of this notion would stand Marx on
his head.  

There are many other moments in your post where you
deliberately misunderstand me and ascribe to me views
I do not hold, or take Kierkegaardian death-defying
leaps from logic, such that I have reasonably already
"done you honour", if that's what you want, by
replying twice despite having very little spare time. 
I agree that we should not be talking tractors bashing
each other over the head with vacuous "opinion", and
should instead present our views with greater
seriousness and factual basis, but I'm not going to
spend time plugging imaginary holes in my thought. 
And to argue - as you do - that the problem of
anthropogenic climate change is just a "speculation"
on my part, and is not related to capital's inability
to transform its technical basis to overcome the
limitations of the original, hydrocarbon,
non-renewable industrial model, or the grotesque
inflation of the reserve army, is rather heroic, like
old Nelson holding the telescope to his blind eye.   

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