[OPE-L:4984] RE: Reply to Andrew on "Proof"

From: Drewk (Andrew_Kliman@msn.com)
Date: Tue Feb 20 2001 - 01:10:43 EST

A reply to OPE-L 4977.

I thank Paul Zarembka for another thoughtful post.

Paul wrote: "Your answer winds up illustrating my worry of "who
decides?" regarding a criterion of "proof"."

Well, I'm sorry you're worried, but in a way it is comforting to
know someone else is also worried.  I am very worried about it,
have been for a long time.  It seems always to be on my mind.  My
basic premise is that people are capable of reasoning correctly,
and thus capable of agreeing on standards of proof (which is not
to say that there's a single, transhistorical standard that is
appropriate).  When agreement doesn't take place, I construe the
breakdown as the result of something interfering with rationality.
When it isn't just a question of one or two individuals who resist
reasonable standards of proof, but a whole community, I suspect
that very deep political-ideological interests are ultimately at
work.   As you say, the value theory debate is all about politics.

Paul wrote:  "But when you get to the scheme itself, you yourself
have to interpret the role of the first period (you need to engage
in " 'stretching out'... Marx's example"). ... The point is that
it is NOT in Marx himself.  It becomes an interpretation. ...

"In other words, you have to go BEYOND what are in the schemes to
make your case."

Let me try to be more careful in distinguishing what I think is in
Marx's text -- what his own work on expanded reproduction
proves -- and what is others' doing.   In my view, by proving that
Ic is not limited by the extent of the market, Marx's own work
proves that Dept. I can grow more quickly than Dept. II.  Marx
seems not to have written that his schema prove this, but I think
they do so nonetheless;  the proof is there "in Marx himself."
Others' interpretation has been required to *see* that the proof
was there "in Marx himself."  The "stretching out" was my own

Paul wrote:  "It looks to me that they are charging you with an
INTERPRETATION of Marx (which they consider inappropriate) and
seeming to offer PROOF to you of the opposite (by using Marx's

Well, yes, but I'm a big believer in the possibility of proof (or
demonstration, etc.) in that case as well.  I'm just trying to get
some agreement on *what* will be and won't be, can be and can't
be, proved by a discussion of the Part 2 evidence, before we enter
into the discussion.   They've been very evasive about this, and
even seem to be refusing to discuss it.   I think they don't want
to be pinned down in advance, for much the same reasons that they
and others refuse to say under what conditions they'll be willing
to concede that they've been wrong.  They really don't want to put
their opinions to a definitive test.   They want a way of wiggling
out of having to admit anything if I come up with an alternative
interpretation of the passage from Ch. 12.

Jerry keeps asserting without the least *proof* that there is no
possible interpretation of that passage other than Fred's.  I call
on him to *prove* that impossibility.  I don't think he will be
able to do so.   If he cannot, I call on him to withdraw his

"I will go one step further.  If we scratch far enough below the
surface of these discussions, I think we will find politics
(which -- to be rather simplistic -- has bourgeois, petty
bourgeois and proletarian dimensions).  Thus, I notice that the
weekend conference has Gary Mongiovi supporting Sraffa and
labeling your work "vulgar" (petty bourgeois) in his paper "Vulgar
Economy in Marxian Garb: A Critique of Temporal Single System
Marxism".  I guess the fires are going to burn over that one!"

Yes, of course, it is all about politics under the surface or, in
my case, on the surface -- like the man said, disdain to conceal
our aims, etc.  The weird thing is that Mongiovi and his fellow
physicalist suppressers at the RRPE make these political
denunciations, but ALSO try to deny that their suppression of
temporalist research is political!  (One reason for this is that
the RRPE has an official policy against exclusion on political
grounds.  So they pretend that their exclusion of temporalist work
on "theoretical" and "methodological" grounds isn't political.
Talk about empty distinctions.)  So in one breath, Mongiovi calls
us vulgar economists because we don't believe that value is a veil
or that Marx would have written Das Körn instead of Das Kapital if
only he had been able to do matrix algebra.  In the next breath,
Mongiovi plays dumb when he gets to Ted McGlone and I saying that
our purpose is to combat an ideological attack on Marx's body of
ideas.  How, Mongiovi asks oh-so-innocently, does pointing out
some "technical errors" the man made constitute an ideological

My response is very simple.  *Prove* that the "technical errors"
are errors.  If you can't -- and the physicalist opponents of Marx
have been at it for a century without having been able to prove
anything of the sort --your exclusion of the man's own work, in
its original form, is just plain censorship.  Your attempts to
appropriate his name for your own motives constitute a hostile

So while I agree that political motivations are behind the whole
debate, but that doesn't mean we can't apply objective and
rational methods to assess arguments and evidence.  It seems to me
that people's motives have nothing to do with whether their
arguments, theories, etc. are true or false.   I don't think you
were suggesting the opposite, Paul, but I'm not sure what you
*were* suggesting.


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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