[OPE-L:5230] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: one commodity models and illustrations

From: Duncan K. Foley (foleyd@cepa.newschool.edu)
Date: Wed Mar 21 2001 - 17:18:18 EST

I don't think I agree with all of these methodological points.

In general, models always abstract from critical features of reality. 
The important question is whether the model has enough detail to 
throw light on the problem it's aimed at. For example, it is very 
difficult to deal with the relation between c and v in empirical 
studies of most modern economies because the data is not available at 
the flow level to measure c. But I don't think that means Marxist 
economics should just give up on those economies.

I agree with you that "specific to capitalism" requires a the concept 
of labor-power, but I don't see why you tack "multi-commodity 
production" onto the list, in the sense that the technology has to 
have a significant difference in compositions of capital across 
sectors. Some capitalist economies might have relatively little 
dispersion of compositions of capital, but they would still be 


>Re Duncan's [OPE-L:5152]:
>>  You'd probably want to treat labor-power as a
>>  different commodity in  this setup. But any
>>  general theorems that would  be true for
>>  multi-commodity economies would have to hold
>>   for this one as well.
>I don't think that follows. If it did, then perhaps
>we'd be able to conclude that any general
>theorems that apply within a Walrasian
>general equilibrium system also apply within
>a capitalist economy.
>What is at issue is the minimum specification
>for a model or illustration that purports to have
>meaning for a capitalist economy.  If we don't
>accurately specify the model, then we can obtain
>a model or illustration that has as much meaning
>for comprehending capitalism as the Walrasian
>If we eliminate in our models and
>numerical illustrations  the distinguishing
>characteristics of capitalism as a distinct mode
>of production (such as the class relations specific
>to capitalism) then our theory can no longer
>comprehend the nature of any subject matter
>specific to capitalism. This means that our
>illustrations must have the two major classes, multi-
>commodity production, labor-power, money, and
>the basic categories associated with capitalism
>(including c, v, and s) if it is to have analytical worth. If we are talking
>about technical change
>and dynamic models/illustrations, then I think
>that our illustrations should also have constant
>fixed capital as well as constant circulating
>In solidarity, Jerry

Duncan K. Foley
Leo Model Professor
Department of Economics
Graduate Faculty
New School University
65 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10003
messages: (212)-229-5717
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e-mail: foleyd@cepa.newschool.edu
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webpage: http://cepa.newschool.edu/~foleyd

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