[OPE-L:4459] Re: Technical change and general truths

From: Andrew Brown (Andrew@lubs.leeds.ac.uk)
Date: Mon Nov 06 2000 - 07:34:05 EST

Hi Steve,

Have you not seen Fred's stuff? He's got hundreds of quotes from 
Marx on this. Marx thought that the treatment of SV prior to its 
distribution into profit, interest and rent was one of the two key 
contributions he made to political economy (the other being lab / 

My comment / question to you tried to make the general point that 
anything connected with 'social structure' might be considered prior 
to and independent of individual activity (will and consciousness). 
So if 'SV' is such, then there is no absurdity. Your brief reply leaves 
me in the dark as to your general take on soc structure vs. 
individual but it does suggest that your distaste for the view in 
question is down to rather more specific matters, ie down to the 
transformation problem. But what if there is a real causal process 
that does indeed substantiate Marx's claim regarding SV? Or at 
the very least, what if Marx *thinks* he has established such a 
process? (Obviously, this is my interpretation of Marx on 
exploitation). Then why your harsh judgement on the whole 
procedure? Neither on *general* (social structure vs. individual) 
grounds nor specific (transformation problem) grounds would your 
judgement be valid. Rather, you would instead have to attack a 
different interpretation, ie. you would have to argue that the 'real 
causal process' doesn't exist. Fair enough, we could debate that, 
but without unjustified harsh language from the outset.

I mean what is the point of an email list like this, or debate 
generally, if you are going to refuse to even countenance a view 
which is at the heart of many other people's interpretations of Marx 
(and of Marx's self-assessment of his own position)?


On 6 Nov 2000, at 22:57, Steve Keen wrote:

> Hi Andy,
> I've since found the relevant quote from Marx:
> "Thus, although in selling their commodities the capitalists of the various
> spheres of production recover the value of the capital consumed in their
> production, they do not secure the surplus-value, and consequently the
> profit, created in their own sphere by the production of these
> commodities... So far as profits are concerned, the various capitalists are
> just so many stockholders in a stock company in which the shares of profit
> are uniformly divided per 100." (Marx 1894)
> I would actually let Marx get away with this to some degree if he was
> talking about what I call the realisation problem--the problem of
> converting surplus-value into monetary profit--rather than simply trying to
> justify a numeric fudge to sidestep the transformation problem.
> But as it stands? Sorry, I simply can't take it seriously.
> Steve

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