[OPE-L:4885] Re: RE: Re: Give us some NUMBERS, Fred! (was: rent and the working class)

From: Gerald_A_Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@email.msn.com)
Date: Tue Feb 13 2001 - 04:33:54 EST

Re Andrew K's [OPE-L:4880]:

> In reply to Paul Bullock's OPE-L 4876. <snip, JL>
> Did Jerry put you up to this?

No,  Andrew.

> (He harangued me for months and months -- it felt like decades --
> about this issue.)

I'm sure it *felt* that way to you but I don't believe I "haranged" you.
For the benefit of newer members, including Paul, this discussion took place
mostly in a thread titled "assumptions, assumptions, assumptions" which
began in the Spring of 1996 and lasted, as Andrew suggests, for a number of
months and was re-born the following year.

After reading Paul's [OPE-L:4876] I was tempted to comment but decided
against it, but now that Andrew has dragged my name into this discussion, I
will briefly comment:

To begin with, I am not convinced that Marx *ever* made this assumption. The
instances (2) that Andrew has cited in the past do not, I believe, hold up
to scrutiny. Thus, when Marx said that "even if workers live on air" this
was more along the lines of  if one of us were to write "even if the Earth
was made of green cheese". Would we by so doing be making the "green cheese
assumption"? I don't think so.  Rather, we would simply be making a
metaphorical expression.

> Marxists continually build models of reproduction
> without
> including an armaments sector.  But capitalism could not reproduce
> itself for a week, maybe not even for a day, if the State were not
> armed to the teeth.  So your argument applies equally well against
> such models of reproduction.  But once we include armaments, we
> also need to include a separate sector for army boots, because the
> military can't keep the "peace" barefoot.  Etc.  Etc.
> What I don't understand is why no one ever raises the "capitalism
> would be impossible" argument in such contexts.

This is a misleading analogy. It is entirely legitimate to *initially*
abstract from the role of the state (and, thereby, the armaments industry).

The basic point, though, is that any model or illustration which assumes v =
0  *is not and can not be adequate for even the most abstract model or
illustration of a CAPITALIST economy*.  This is because the class relations
associated with capitalism represent essential parts of the very definition
of capitalism (and the subject of _Capital_).  To not include v in a
illustration of "capitalism"  (which the "living on air" assumption does) is
thereby a *mis-specification* of the basic parameters of the subject

I *still* don't understand why the assumption that v remains *constant*
instead of v = 0 isn't made in these very abstract numerical illustrations.
At a minimum, it would save confusion.

In writing the above, I nonetheless would prefer that we not again discuss
this subject at length.  Why don't we just say that  Andrew disagrees with
the above and leaves it at that?

In solidarity, Jerry

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