[OPE-L:3862] Re: Re: Rational expectations Marxism

From: Steve Keen (s.keen@uws.edu.au)
Date: Wed Sep 20 2000 - 16:37:39 EDT

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This is a reasonable but partial reply Andrew. You neglected to reply to my
comment some months ago on the letter to Kugelmann, presumably because you
thought your (a) and (b) had won the day. I wasn't to know this, of course,
because my reply elicited nothing from you at the time. That's one reason I
wrote that provocative statement yesterday.

I said "not so" because my critique of your position is completely
independent of what you call the "physicalist" position. It is based on
philosophy, and the specific issue in my interpretation of Marx which
concerns you is that it undermines the core proposition that labor is the
only source of value. It makes the labor theory of value logically
incoherent, whether you take a "physicalist" or "TSS" approach to
intrepreting Marx.

As I argued beforehand, I regard your test:

"the real test of the opposing interpretations, in this case as in general,
is which can best make coherent sense of the text(s) as a whole. Does the
interpretation yield a coherent value theory, or one beset by logical errors?"

as a valid one. But I don't believe that such a test must necessarily lead
to arguing that the text as a whole is itself logically coherent--being
human, Marx may have made some mistakes. I happen to believe that one of
them was preserving the notion of his Physiocratic forebears that there
were some inputs to production which were "sterile".

So on your point:
>"Steve, you have misunderstood. I did not suggest that your APPROACH is
>beset with logical problems. Your INTERPRETATION of Marx's value theory
>is beset with logical problems. You yourself concede that when
>interpreted as you interpet it, "Marx's" theory becomes logically
>incoherent. Now whose fault is that? Marx's? Or yours?

I argue that it is Marx's "fault". But that is hardly a criticism of Marx,
since I regard the logical advance he made as enormous. The fact that he
incorrectly applied it, because he was still wedded to a previous
interpretation, is a minor flaw in comparison. As Marx himself once argued:

"It is conceivable that a philosopher should be guilty of this or that
inconsistency because of this or that compromise; he may himself be
conscious of it. But what he is not conscious of is that in the last
analysis this apparent compromise is made possible by the deficiency of his
principles or an inadequate grasp of them. So if a philosopher really has
compromised it is the job of his followers to use the inner core of his
thought to illuminate his own superficial expression of it. In this way,
what is a progress in conscience is also a progress in knowledge. This does
not involve putting the conscience of the philosopher under suspicion, but
rather construing the essential characteristics of his views, giving them a
definite form and meaning, and thus at the same time going beyond them."
(Karl Marx 1839: notes to his doctoral dissertation, reprinted in McLellan

As for your subsequent point:

>"Unless you can *demonstrate* that it is Marx's own fault, you are not
>entitled to claim that his actual theory, rather than your interpretation
>of his theory, his theory as *you* interpret it, is logically incoherent.
>But the only way you could demonstrate that it is Marx's own fault would
>which his theory is coherent. I suggest that you will not be able to
>demonstrate this. In any case, you certainly haven't done so yet, so you
>are not entitled to claim that the incoherence arises from Marx's own
>texts, rather than from the manner in which you have construed these

I believe that the TSS approach is logically incoherent, as Ajit has been
arguing very eloquently on this list. From my point of view--which I intend
putting in a paper, as well as arguing it on this list--TSS is also a
travesty of Marx's own method, where he was careful to separate out causal
factors so as to deal with them one at a time. You might describe your
interpretation as TSS, but I've never seen anything so methodologically
"simultaneist" as putting every detail of time, physical depreciation,
technical change and moral depreciation into the input-output matrix. As
Ajit has observed in his discussions with Rakesh, this melange approach to
analysis allows you to put anything you like into one column, anything you
like into another, and then claiming you've proven something.

You might regard this as misrepresenting your position--which perhaps it is
in some details. But I have the Freeman & Carchedi volume next to me, and
your 1999 paper with McGlone, so I'll make sure I have your interpretation
down pat in anything I submit for publication.

Dr. Steve Keen
Senior Lecturer
Economics & Finance
University of Western Sydney Macarthur
Building 11 Room 30,
Goldsmith Avenue, Campbelltown
PO Box 555 Campbelltown NSW 2560
s.keen@uws.edu.au 61 2 4620-3016 Fax 61 2 4626-6683
Home 02 9558-8018 Mobile 0409 716 088
Home Page: http://bus.macarthur.uws.edu.au/steve-keen/

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