thermodynamics (was: What do Marxist's think about the future)

Les Schaffer schaffer at
Sat Sep 20 18:33:09 MDT 2003

micrhael perelman wrote:

> Les, especially, Phil Mirowski has long pushed the idea that
> economics went off on the wrong track when it failed to follow the
> lead of the people who were trying to develop an economic theory
> based on statistical mechanics.

as i wrote michael offlist:

    i was reading Didier Sornette's book last nite in the bookstore on
    physics of stock market collapses. i can believe some of the
    statistical mechanics and complexity techniques actually would
    pick out certain features in the market, but not neccessarily at a
    level that relates to things like class struggle and human ability
    to actually effect changes in their social structures. but at some
    level like day to day stock market fluctuations, who knows, there
    probably are signals which can be explained by complex dynamics,
    at the level of those signals.

just to add to my comment: i doubt the physics techniques would
resolve anything about the class structure of the economy until such
structures were built into the theory. take debreu's work for example,
he has "producers", "consumers", "commodities", and several other
actors on the stage. but no "owners" and "labourers", as far as i can
tell, so no dynamics at the class level (obviously).

i guess a question in my mind would be, would any of these theoretical
edifices have anything interesting to say if class, ownership, power
of the gun, etc were built into the theories???

i'd be curious to hear what Mirowski has to say. i have his machine
dreams ...

les schaffer

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