[OPE-L:2839] Re: Rx Economics/Keynes

From: riccardo bellofiore (bellofio@cisi.unito.it)
Date: Thu Apr 13 2000 - 10:51:58 EDT

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At 13:17 +0100 13-04-2000, Gerald Levy wrote:

>But, was Keynes a "disinterested inquirer" who was engaged in "genuine
>scientific research"?

Jerry, I guess this are *two* questions (though I now you're quoting
Marx!). The first is: was Keynes a disinterested inquirer? My answer is:
no. The same answer I would give for Marx: he was not a disinterested
inquirer. Was Keynes engaged in genuine scientific research? My answer
would be: yes (the same I would say for Marx).
>I would say that Keynes' standpoint was that of an *economic mechanic*
>or a *pharmacist* writing prescriptions for the ailments of capital.

The same could be said for Ricardo when endorsing the battle against rents
(corn laws, etc.).
>By concentrating his analysis on the *short-run*, he did not even attempt
>to comprehend the long-term processes of capital accumulation.

Kalecki said that the long run is a series of short run. I agree. The long
run as such does not exist.

>There is
>of course merit to examining the short-run, but when one has a theory for
>the SR that is not part of an integrated theory for the longer-run, then
>one doesn't have a theory which is capable of comprehending
>capitalism: just a theory that may (or may not) be "useful" for a period
>of time (for preserving capitalism). Not only did Keynes refuse to accept
>the scientific challenge of developing an integrated SR and LR theory, but
>his "prescriptions" (i.e. policy proposals) were written from the
>standpoint of making capitalism work better (or, if you will, prescribing
>a drug that prolongs the life of the patient even before one has
>conducted a thorough-going scientific evaluation and testing of
>the patient. Since the life of the patient -- capitalism -- has been
>saved, no doubt *capitalists* are happy with the result). [As a
>recent patient, though, I want to know the long-term health consequences
>of the medicines prescribed before I start popping pills!].

My answer would be: for prescribing the right medicins, Keynes had to
discover the laws of capitalism in its own epoch, and in doing so he made
authentic, scientific discoveries, unknown to earlier political economy
(and critique of pol. ec.).
>So, if one's standpoint is "What should I propose to policy makers (in the
>state and international financial institutions) to make capitalism work
>better (and/or save capitalism)?", does that mean that one is a political

Yes, if he is furthering the scientific comprehension of how capitalism work.

BTW, there is a methodological issue here. I think that economics cannot be
divorced from 'use', from 'practice'. The dimension of practice in Marx
was, to be very very short, class struggle from the standpoint of the
working class. The dimension of use for Keynes was to make both workers and
capitalists better of.


P.S.: why didn't you said that Keynes was a *dentist*, but rather used the
term pharmacist?

        Riccardo Bellofiore
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