[OPE-L:5630] Re: capitalism as quantitative?

From: Michael Perelman (michael@ecst.csuchico.edu)
Date: Sun May 20 2001 - 11:29:16 EDT

I explored this question in

"Marx, Devalorisation, and the Theory of Value." Cambridge
Journal of
Economics, 23: 6 (November): pp. 719-28.

Gerald_A_Levy wrote:

> (was "Marx's theory as a quantitative theory")
> Fred, Nicky, Geert, Mike W, Paul C and others:
> I'm searching for some way for us to make some
> headway towards dialogue and clarification. Here
> are some thoughts:
> This is a difficult issue to disentangle because the
> larger issue, imo,  is not which interpretation of
> Marx has the greater textual support but rather
> how we understand the subject matter of
> capitalism and the method that we use to reach
> that goal. At the end of the day (or at the end
> of the thread, in this case), there will still be
> disagreement. In part, this is because imo the
> larger issue is how we set out the qualitative
> and quantitative dimensions of the subject matter
> when developing the systemic interconnections
> of capitalism.
> Fred wants to address the "Marx question" (i.e.
> what did Marx's theory say?), and Geert and
> Nicky have replied to Fred's question(s). But,
> when all is said and done, I don't think that
> Fred's main question is Geert's and Nicky's and
> Mike W's main question (or even Paul C's main
> question.)
> Perhaps a more fruitful line of inquiry would be
> to trace back the two interpretations not to
> Marx but to two (or three) different interpretations
> in the history of Marxism and then to identify the
> methodological underpinnings of each
> interpretation.
> Would it be fair to say that the author which
> most inspired the current generation of VFTers
> was I.I. Rubin?  {NB: this is not to say that Rubin
> put forward a VFT.}  In Rubin, don't you see
> the strong *emphasis* on interpreting value
> in a qualitative sense? This same emphasis was
> suggested by some previous writers (e.g.
> Hilferding in his reply to Bohm-Bawerk.)
> Where, after Marx, does the *emphasis* on
> interpreting value in a *quantitative* sense
> begin?  von Bortkiewicz, perhaps? If not, with
> whom?
> Fred has argued that value has to be understood
> as both qualitative and quantitative. Nicky
> addressed that issue, as it related to Marx's
> theory, in 5625.  While there is a clear
> disagreement between these two interpretations,
> although  Fred puts forward what Geert has
> called a  LET (labor embodied theory), there
> might imo be more of a similarity between the
> R/W VFT perspective and Fred's LET perspective
> on this issue than between Fred's LET perspective
> and some other LET perspectives. To wit:
> I remember a former listmember who once wrote
> (in November, 1995) that "capitalism is all
> about quantitative relations."   That is the *other*
> pole in this debate (which I took exception to at
> that time.)  This same position is consistent with
> the position of Kelvin, which Paul C quoted
> approvingly in 5589, that theories which can not
> measure what one is theorizing with numbers
> are of a 'meager and unsatisfactory kind'.  These
> positions, it would seem to me, would be rejected
> by both VFT and Fred. Fred: am I right about
> that?
> Perhaps a way of getting at the methodological
> issues that lie at the base of this dispute would be
> to ask: in what sense is it (or is it not) *necessary*
> to theorize value under capitalism as, in part, a
> magnitude?   Here I am not asking how such a
> perspective would be desirable. Still less am I
> asking what Marx's perspective was. Rather,
> from the perspective of developing the systemic
> interconnections of capitalism is it necessary or,
> because of the subject matter itself, is it
> unnecessary and unattainable and illusory?
> Or, am I asking the wrong questions?
> In solidarity, Jerry


Michael Perelman
Economics Department
California State University
Chico, CA 95929

Tel. 530-898-5321
E-Mail michael@ecst.csuchico.edu

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sat Jun 02 2001 - 00:00:08 EDT