[OPE-L:5635] Re: capitalism as quantitative?

From: nicola taylor (n.taylor@student.murdoch.edu.au)
Date: Mon May 21 2001 - 09:36:50 EDT

At 08:43  20/05/01 -0400, you 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:

I, for one, much appreciate Jerry's thoughts (below) capturing the essence
of the debate on this tread exactly, as well as his 'fruitful' suggestions.
 I will do my best to come back to his question in the next few days...

comradely Nicky 

>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
>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
>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
>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
>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  

Nicola Mostyn (Taylor)
Faculty of Economics
Murdoch University
Telephone: 61-8-9385 1130

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