[OPE-L:4344] Technical change and general truths

From: P.J.Wells@open.ac.uk
Date: Sat Oct 28 2000 - 13:02:02 EDT

I hope I'm not being unfair in juxtaposing these two snippets from recent
posts by Steve K and asking him to comment:

to Andrew K [#4218]

I don't per se object to open-dimensional analysis, by the way: strictly
speaking, capitalism is open-dimensional because technical change keeps
generating new products ... But I would object to it if it were undertaken
solely to avoid the TP.

on Rakesh [#4228]

	It is possible to characterise the "simultaneist" analysis of the
	transformation problem as a dynamic solution in which all rates of
	are set to zero. The conclusion of all these analyses is that the
	theory of value cannot be right. What you are alleging is that,
	effectively, the labor theory of value is only correct for positive
	of technical change, etc. If so, then it is not a general truth, and
	approach to eliminating the transformation problem is as much a
	of the labor theory of value as any simultaneist formulation. This
is the
	point I believe that Allin was trying to get through to you (and as
	know, I believe it is untrue at any rate of change).

To take the second except first -- Steve, would I be right in thinking that
by "general truth" you do NOT mean a claim like "the square root of two
cannot be expressed as the ratio of two integers"?

But in that case, what *do* you mean: a statement true about capitalism in

If so, then isn't the claim that the LTV is not a general truth about
capitalism belied by your comment in the earlier post?

Here I'd like to take you up on what you mean by a "positive rate of
technical change" [second post]; I'd guess that you mean "one which keeps
generating new products" (and deleting older ones?) [first post] -- in which
case I suppose a *negative* rate of technical change would be one in which
*old* products were revived (and newer ones deleted).

The point is that while a negative rate of technical change in this sense is
clearly logically conceivable (I've just done it), I simply can't accept
that such a thing is compatible with the continued existence of capitalism.

One of the most striking features of capitalism is that it is the first
social system in which the ruling class has an indispensable need for
continual technical innovation.

I think I'd support a claim that this is not only because of the undoubted
competitive motivation, but also because innovation helps legitimate the

At all events, I'm sure that if society was to suffer technical regression,
it would have to suffer social regression as well, e.g. revert to feudalism
or slavery.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Tue Oct 31 2000 - 00:00:12 EST