[OPE-L:4849] The TSSI vs. Physicalism

From: Drewk (Andrew_Kliman@msn.com)
Date: Thu Feb 08 2001 - 09:52:59 EST

In OPE-L 4846, Rieu, following up on Jerry's point, wrote:

What analytical difference TSS interpretation can bring in
examining more concrete issues on capitalist economy, more
concrete level  than moral depreciation or TRPF?"

This is a big issue.  There are a whole lot of ways in which
Marx's value theory, as understood by its TSSI, gives different
explanations of various phenomena (and addresses different issues)
than physicalism does.  I'll give just one example below.

But first I need to object to the implication that Marx's law of
the tendential fall in the profit rate and moral depreciation are
not concrete.  The LTFPR does not predict a secularly declining
rate; it predicts CRISES, as prices fall in relation to the book
values of assets and existing capital is annihilated (see Ch. 15
of Capital III).  Having just lived through a huge crisis in
Korea, Rieu, wouldn't you say that it was pretty concrete?

Physicalism and underconsumptionism do of course lead to their own
explanations of crisis.  My point is that Marx's theory (as
understood by its TSSI) leads to a different one.  Physicalism
implies that productivity gains can solve all of the system's
problems (The New Economy!).  Underconsumptionism implies that a
"living wage," or perhaps the euthanasia of the rentier, can solve
all of the system's problems.  In contrast, Marx's theory implies
that capital itself, value production itself, must be abolished in
order to do away with crises.

OK, now on to another concrete difference.  I'm taking this
Andrew Kliman and Alan Freeman, in Paul Zarembka's _Research in
Political Economy_, Vol. 18, 2000:

"Laibman’s chief gripe against the law of value is that it
supposedly implies that, because capital does not benefit from
rising productivity –– a worker produces no more value just
because she produces more use-values –– capitalists lack an
incentive to drive their workers ever harder.  'It might even be
fun to be a proletarian' in an economy dominated by the law of
value.  What Laibman has forgotten, however, is that the law of
value implies that individual units of capital suffer from
below-average productivity and intensity.  Even though they face
higher production costs, they cannot sell their products for more
than other producers do.  The falling tendency of the rate of
profit and crises only exacerbate the problem.  *These* are the
incentives to drive workers ever harder, as well as to innovate.

"The economy in which it would be fun to be a proletarian is
instead the physicalist one.  Viable technological advance would
provide ever more goodies for workers and capitalists alike to
share.  With real wages rising in line with productivity, the
economy would go on indefinitely in its merry, crisis-free way.
Backward producers would not suffer from technological changes,
nor make their workers suffer, because they are producing just as
much corn as before, and of course the corn 'price' of corn can
never fall."


Andrew ("Drewk") Kliman
Dept. of Social Sciences
Pace University
Pleasantville, NY 10570 USA
phone:  (914) 773-3968
fax:  (914) 773-3951

Home:  60 W. 76th St. #4E
New York, NY 10023 USA

"The practice of philosophy is itself theoretical.  It is the
critique that measures the individual existence by the essence,
the particular reality by the Idea."

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