[OPE-L:3906] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Marxists AND Sraffians Misinterpreting Sraffa

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@Princeton.EDU)
Date: Fri Sep 29 2000 - 22:31:29 EDT

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Re: Andrew's 3903 (Andrew, don't forget that you seemingly forgot to reply
to me months back about whether Grossmann was correct to highlight that
Marx himself thought the rate of accumulation would speed up even as--or
indeed because--the rate of profit was falling;remember the long passage
from Marx which I typed out?)

Rakesh wrote:
"Now what I think the critics are implicitly thinking is that we are
simply allowing prices to vary any which way over time with no
consideration for the constraints imposed by the reproduction of the
system on how much freedom prices actually have to vary

It is true that static equilibrium theorists often present the false
binary of static equilibrium vs. a "disequilibrium" in which anything can
happen and therefore nothing can be said. But when they apply that false
binary to me (I won't speak for others), it is simply a straw man. It
has no basis in anything I've written. In Marx's theory, value cannot be
altered in exchange,

Again, I think this kind of formulation based on a loose analogy to
physical laws of conservation assumes that Marx understood substance as
something that does not change in change. However, the value substance is
altered in and by exchange. It is what changes in (ex-)change. Note my
previous arguments that Marx accepted an Aristotlean theory of substance
and did not understand substance as defined by Leibniz, Descartes and other
early modern philosophers. A greater quantity of value may not be created
in exchange but this does not mean that the value substance is not altered,
does not indeed change in and through (ex) change. Marx drew more from the
organic than the physical sciences, which is part of the reason the
Aristotlean influence could remain; Aristotle's physics was what was
decisively repudiated in the modern period (for Aristotle's biology, see
Joseph Needham, Max Delbrueck, Ernst Mayr).

" so total price in the market is constrained to equal
the total value already produced. There is also the process by which
profit rates *tend* to equality, so price deviations from production
prices are bounded in some weak sense."

But these kinds of constraints do not assure that an economic system will
have the organisation it needs to reproduce or develop (unlike crystals of
course economic systems do not merely replicate). Or rather it says that
one of the conditions a capitalist system has to meet (at least
tendentially) is the making of an average rate of profit in the mutually
interdependent branches of production. We could call this a supply side
constraint to go with circulation based one of the equilibrium condition
for interdepartmental exchange.

But there must be other principles of organisation. Just as life is not a
heap of materials but a determinate organization thereof--this being
Aristotle's chief criticism of the atomists--so is the economic system.
Even changing, developing life forms are organized and constrained in their
development by that organisation.

"The reproduction of the system, however, DOES NOT impose constraints on

I think we should distinguish between the replication and reproduction of a
system. Reproduction after all can and does proceed with heritable

So I am not arguing that the "replication" of the system per se imposes
constraints. Only that there must be some principles of organisation which
must be more or less respected if a system is to reproduce and develop.
A positive net product for every "commodity" however does not seem to be
one, as you persuasively argue.

All the best, Rakesh

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