thermodynamics

Rakesh Bhandari rakeshb at stanford.edu
Sun Sep 21 21:34:52 MDT 2003


I wrote this before receiving Jim C's note.

Julio wrote


>
>By the way, URPE's last issue of the Review of Radical Political Economics
>(vol. 35, 3, summer 2003) has a 3-page review of Keen's book written by
>David Laibman.  You may find it interesting.  (There are also interesting
>reviews of 3 books by Michael Perelman and a note written by Michael himself
>in the journal.)

Julio and others,
What do people think of Laibman's criticism of The Temporal Single
System School of Freeman, Kliman, Carchedi and Ramos (I am referring
to the controversy in the Research of Political Economy 1999 and
2000)? If I have understood Laibman correctly, he mainly faults their
examples for specifying an arbitrarily high rate of accumulation in
order to arrive at their results which were helpfully indicated by
Siddarth Chatterjee on this list a few years ago. Of course Sweezy
long ago criticized Grossmann for allowing the continuation of the
high rates of accumulation built into Bauer's schema (the European
social democrat Carl Landauer who became a prof at UC Berkeley and
authored the massive two volume history of European socialism
actually defended Grossmann against Sweezy). Interestingly, Kliman
once criticized on LBO-talk Bauer's schema as extended by Grossmann
just as Sweezy did, though the criticism may also apply to TSS's own
examples. I'm sure Andrew disagrees, so clarification would be
appreciated.

  I don't think TSS is saying that with their temporal conception of
value the rate of profit has to fall as a result of viable technical
change; they seem only to be saying that it can indeed fall where the
Okishio Theorem based on a simultaneist conception of value says it
cannot. So I don't think Laibman's findings are a refutation of TSS's
refutation of the generality of the Okishio Theorem; at best,
Laibman's findings show that the rate of profit cannot reasonably be
expected to fall as a result of viable technical change even given
the TSS conception of value and that in most cases or in realistic
cases the value rate of profit will track the material rate of profit
over the long term. But I think there are good reasons for allowing
for a higher rate of accumulation than David allows, but if one does,
then the mass of living labor absorbed in each period should rise in
absolute (though not necessarily relative) terms as well. And once
that is allowed, then the rate of profit may well not fall (in TSS
examples, labor power is free so the extension of the valorization
base wouldn't cost capital anything and couldn't thus depress the
profit rate; capital would be getting free the extra value added by
newly absorbed labor and may thus enjoy a spike in their profit
rate). That is, I think David L focuses on the rate of accumulation
when he should be focused on the mass of living labor absorbed each
period. I find TSS's holding the valorization base constant an
arbitary assumption.  I put this criticism to Siddharth a few years
ago, and I think he said it was technically correct. I have tried
without success to get TSS members to speak to this criticism. I
think they should because  I don't think mine is a decisive criticism
of their important theoretical efforts.

I agree with Jim C that Alan's intro is a very challenging and
important attempt to revive a revolutionary Marxian theory. His piece
on Marx w/o equilibrium in Capital and Class 1995 or so is excellent
too.

Clyder (Paul Cockshott) may argue that TSS conclusions depend on
their having used difference rather than differential equations.


Rakesh


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