[OPE-L:5564] Re: Re: William of Ockam's Razor and Political Economy

From: Ajit Sinha (ajitsinha@lbsnaa.ernet.in)
Date: Mon May 14 2001 - 07:17:39 EDT

Gerald_A_Levy wrote:

> Re Ajit's [5558]:
> OK, I re-checked your original post [5541].
> As you wrote, you did not refer to a 'traditional
> interpretation' (this was Rakesh's paraphrase).
> You referred to two positions -- 1 of which (the
> one that you sought to critique) was the
> 'predominant interpretation of the first chapter of
> *Capital*".


Jerry, I think this approach of yours is designed for a general waste of time,
and so i'm not too keen on continuing on this line. But just to show you that
you misinterpret simple things and unnecessarily go on to a path which leads
no where, I will make brief comments. First of all, I did not say that the
position "I sought to critique" was predominant interpretation of the first
chapter of *Capital*, but rather "which *would* be the predominant
interpretation of the first chapter of *Capital*" (emphasis added). Which only
means that I am not proposing any alternative reading from the first
interpretation, i.e. the social division of labor interpretation of the value
problematic in the first chapter of *Capital*.

> You seem to think I am confused -- on this point
> you are correct. I am confused *by what you
> wrote* and hence asked what I thought to be a
> very simple and straight-forward question in 5557.
> To understand the source of my confusion let's
> look again at parts of your original contribution
> to this thread in 5541.
> In 5541, which btw was a response to a post by
> Howard Engelskirchen, you wrote:
> > Of course, i don't know the details of what
> > has gone on before but from what I see it seems > the debate is hovering
> around the
> > Hegelian interpretation of value and value-form.
> So, it would seem that you believed your
> comments are supposed to have some bearing on
> VFT. OK, but then you go on to write:
> > The first thing we have to establish is what is this > "real" but
> "non-empirical"
> > thing called "value"? There are two ways of
> > approaching this elusive thing "value"
> > by taking Marx's writings as a guide. One way is > to see it in terms of
> social
> > division of labor, i.e. somehow value refers to
> >  the  division of total social labor into various
> > different sectors, and exchange-
> > value or the prices of production is
> > the form the value takes. The other way is to
> > approach it as a representation of
> > technology of production, which is the underlying > determinant of
> exchange value or
> > prices of production.
> There are *more than 2* ways of approaching value, though, using Marx's
> writings as a guide.


Not really! By two approaches I mean two approaches that can be taken up
seriously. You can have infinity number of silly approaches, but serious
minded people are not going to waste their time with it.

> What you seem to be confronting, then, is
> *not VFT* but:


May be you don't understand VFT. There is no Hegelian interpretation of value
problematic in Marx that does not understand it in the context of the social
division of labor.

> > Now, for the first approach, which would be the > predominant
> interpretation of the
> > first chapter of *Capital*,
> yet *very clearly* a VFT reading of the first
> chapter is *by no means* the 'predominant
> interpretation.'  No one says that -- no one
> believes it.  Thus, the point of my 5557 was to
> ask whose perspectives are you subjecting to
> critique.


Who ever said that VFT is the predominant interpretation? I simply don't care
if it is or it is not. My point is simply that if you just read the first
chapter of *Capital*, and you are a person with good faculty of understanding,
then you will have no option then to say that Marx's value problematic is
concerned about social division of labor. That's all.

> > to be acceptable one will need to establish some > kind  of relationship
> between the social division
> > of labor and the prices of production,
> > and nobody has succeeded in doing so to the
> > best of my knowledge.
> Nor should we expect the 'predominant reading'
> of the first chapter of Vol 1 to establish any kind
> of relationship whatsoever about POP. So again
> I am confused by what you wrote: *either*we
> are discussing the 'predominant' interpretation of
> Vol 1  *or* we are discussing a subject at a level
> of analysis where POP are already formed.


This is the basic difference between you and me. I'm interested in identifying
problem and trying to solve it. You are interested in cataloging people and
labeling them. If you had any interest in a fruitful discussion, you would
know that I at least know this much that prices of production is not formed in
the first chapter of *Capital*. So why indulge in high school level
argumentation? The question is that the resolution of the problem with Marx's
theory of value cannot be found unless a satisfactory relationship between the
reading of the first chapter is established with the concept of prices of
production. What's the big deal about it?

> You suggested at the end of 5558 that "all you
> need do" is read one or both of a couple of
> articles you wrote to understand which group
> of authors you are referring to. I have the draft
> that you sent me many years ago (btw, thanks
> for that) of your "A Critique of Part One of
> _Capital_ Volume One: The Value Controversy
> Revisited" in front of me now.
> When you identify authors near the beginning of
> that paper (p. 6 in the draft) it is in reference to
> the theory of commodity fetishism. Is that the
> subject that you want to discuss now? If so,
> please connect that topic to what you have
> written on this thread.
> For the 'orthodox side' on the subject of
> commodity fetishism (which is _only one_ of the
> subjects that concerns Ch 1), you identify Piling, Shaikh and Weeks.  OK,
> _for the sake of
> argument_, I'll accept that these 'orthodox'
> writers put forward the 'predominant' reading of
> Ch. 1.  Yet, none of these authors could be said
> to represent VFT: indeed, some are harshly
> critical of VFT.  I also note that in your 5 page
> bibliography in which there are 89  sources listed,
> only 1 (Tony Smith's book on _The Logic of
> Marx's Capital_) is listed which could be said to
> put forward a VFT perspective.


Jerry, can I give you a friendly advise? Don't waste your life labeling
others. Try and do something productive. My argument in that paper deals with
two problematics at a very broad level. Quite a few people will fall on one
side or the other, who otherwise will not fall in the same group. There is
nothing great shakes about it.

> In conclusion, I like to know whose theories
> are being debated so that I have a clear
> understanding  of the nature of the debate (and
> so that I can refer to the original sources for
> clarification). Otherwise, confusion reigns.
> So, until I know which authors and perspectives
> are being critiqued, I guess I will have to stay out
> of  this sub-thread.


Jerry, forget about names. Be concerned about content, which I find sorely
missing in the majority of post on ope-l. Cheers, ajit sinha

> In solidarity, Jerry

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