[OPE-L:4275] Re: Re: Steve on the worthlessness of labor at the source of surplus value

From: Steve Keen (s.keen@uws.edu.au)
Date: Wed Oct 25 2000 - 19:08:08 EDT

To be honest, I've read very little of Althusser--just enough to feel that
I disagree with his interpretation. I too see a break in Marx's logic, but
I don't see it falling where Althusser does, nor to have the character he
ascribes to it.

There's also a personal bias reason behind not delving any more deeply into
Althusser than that. I was a very active participant in the struggles which
led to the formation of the Political Economy school at the University of
Sydney back in the early 1970s. Some fellow activists with whom I found
myself in frequent disagreement were great fans of Althusser then (don't
know how many still are). I got sick of hearing the word 'praxis'.

I am an ex-lawyer too, so I suppose that's why legalese sometimes creeps
(appropriate word!) into my language.

I'm not trying to convict anyone though--I'm more interested in analysing
how people reach the conclusions they do. Frequently, erroneous
propositions originate in either invalid premises, or specious assumptions
used to overcome logical conundrums--and I find far more examples of this
in neoclassical economics than I do in Marxist, I might add.

With respect to the labor theory of value interpretation of Marx, I argue
that it is based on incorrectly accepting the premise that labor is the
only source of value, and working logically forward from there.

The reason I call the premise incorrect is that, if you read Marx closely,
after 1857 that was not his initial premise but a deduction from a prior
set of dialectical premises about the commodity, exchange-value and
use-value. I argue that working logically from those premises reaches a
conclusion which contradicts the labor theory of value.

At 10:36 PM 10/24/2000, you wrote:
>Steve Keen <s.keen@uws.edu.au> said, on 10/25/00:
>>There we differ Paul. I believe that I am working more fully within
>>Marx's framework than anyone who starts from the premise that labor is
>>the only source of value. Marx himself was not willing to do this, as I
>>show in my papers.
>>I find it sad that Marx's alleged followers aren't as willing as Marx
>>himself was to deeply examine the logic of those who inspired him.
>"Marx's alleged followers".  That's an interesting formulation, taken from
>criminal legal practice.  
>Just for my curiosity, have you struggled with Althusser who deals with
>Marx's relation to Hegel?  Does such a person as Althusser, when moving
>out of the trial arena, become a simple Marxist (innocent) or a simple
>non-Marxist (guilty).
>Alejandro Ramos <aramos@btl.net> said, on 10/24/00:
>>I take advantage of this post to ask something I have had in my head for
>>some time. I remember that, in that article, you review Lenin's book on
>>Sismondi. At that point, Lenin position regarding the "markets" issue was
>>practically the same as Tugan. Lenin's book on S. was from 1897.
>>Wasn't possible that, at that point, Lenin had already read the 1st
>>edition of Tugan's book (1894)? Didn't he cite it? Later on, you say that
>>in a text of 1899, it's clear that Lenin had read Tugan. Why? Why not
>>before this, in 1897?
>Yes, Lenin had read Tugan's 1894 book in 1897 because it is cited a few
>times, the most important being in the section VII on 'Crises' in his
>Sismondi book.  There he defends Tugan against Ephrucy.  When Lenin issued
>in 1908 a new edition of his 1897 work on Sismondi, he added footnoted
>criticisms of Tugan, but in the 1897 there are none.
>Rosdolsky, as you probably know, makes a case for a close connection
>between Tugan and Lenin theoretically (Lenin comes "uncomfortably close to
>Bulgakov's and Tugan's 'disproportionality theory' of crises", p. 479).
>You are correct about my wording.  I do refer to Lenin reading Tugan in
>1899.  1899 is the year of Lenin's first overall assessment of Tugan's
>book, and probably partly conditioned by his reading closely Tugan
>empirical work for the *Dev. of Cap. in Russia*.   Perhaps Lenin was more
>influenced by Tugan in 1897 than I had thought.  But I cannot defend that
>yet. Thanks for pointing to this issue.
>Paul Z.
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
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