[OPE-L:5739] Re: Re: why are we on this list?

From: Rakesh Narpat Bhandari (rakeshb@Stanford.EDU)
Date: Fri Jun 01 2001 - 22:07:36 EDT

>Re Rakesh's [5735]:
>Did anyone else notice the irony that shortly after
>complaining that Steve et al were responsible for
>the endless discussions by Marxists about the
>'transformation problem' etc and were thereby
>stopping our progression onto other topics such
>as the world market, Rakesh himself has re-raised
>the issue of the TP in his questions in [5735] to
>The record on OPE-L, I would assert, has not
>been that the discussions on the TP have been
>raised by those on the list who have charged that
>Marx is logically inconsistent. Rather, it is those
>who have attempted to show that Marx is logically
>consistent and that the 'problem' is a non-problem
>who have been the ones who have initiated some
>of our more lengthy exchanges on the TP. Another
>irony:  one of our recent threads on the TP was
>extended by Rakesh himself with his ardent
>support of the Gouverneur solution. In general,
>our debates have mostly focused on who had
>the best solution to the TP rather than wether there is a solution to the
>All we need do to break this cycle is agree to
>move on to other topics. But, if we go on to again
>discuss issues associated with the TP then let
>us at least not scapegoat our members who believe
>that there is no legitimate solution to the TP.
>In solidarity, Jerry

Fair enough. You got me, Jerry.

What needs to be recognized though is that value theoretic marxism 
should no more be prevented from developing due to a putative 
transformation problem just like neoclassical theory has not been 
stopped in its tracks by the (logical? real?) possibility of 
reswitching or neo ricardianism has not been shut up despite having 
no real theory of money.

  But it is marxism alone that has run into real obstacles because of 
its putative logical errors (Blaug just brushes reswitching aside 
calling on Lakatos to allow for the bypassing of small logical 
anamolies as long as the research programme is nondegenerate, but it 
seems not to have occured to Blaug that the complete transformation 
problem is an even more trivial logical anomaly). And Marxism alone 
runs into these problems despite the fact the critiques such as 
Garegnini's are themselves logically flawed (granting the adding up 
critique and then stipulating the invariance of the mass of surplus 
value) or at odds with each other (Bortkiewicz, Sweezy and Meek all 
give different, conflicting answers as to why they hold mass of 
surplus value, dept iii invariant and feel no reason to resolve their 

I am not interested in the TP; I am interested in showing how much 
the standards are changed when it comes to judging Marx. I am not 
trying to show that there is no transformation problem; I am trying 
to underline the operation of power within the academy, including its 
radical groups. It is the very triviality of the transformation 
problem that reveals the nature of the power by which Marxism has 
been marginalized.

  With Marx, he is thrown out of the game on logical violations before 
he is even allowed to bat. That is singular treatment. Which raises 
the question of why. Why pick on Marx's Capital of all theories? Why 
try to reduce it back to simply a critique of theories of income 
distribution? What else was marx trying to do? Why is this potential 
revolution in thought put back into the box and assimilated into 
something more familiar, viz. the classical economists' interest in 
the class based distribution of the social product. Why insist that 
Marx was doing essentially the same thing as Ricardo! He obviously 
was not.

  Now yes you are right I am myself contributing to marginalization of 
Marx by talking about these logical issues. . So you are right to 
point this out. I have contradicted myself.

However, my debate with Fred is not over the transformation problem 
per se (he has convinced me that the inputs are not in the form of 
values or even simple or direct prices) but concerns his violation of 
the principle that value cannot be directly measured and observed. I 
said that in equating price flow of a machine with value transferred, 
the mistake here is in confusing levels of abstraction. This is not 
the traditional transformation problem; as fred has put it, I have 
been raising the problem of an inverse transformation problem. And 
the point of this debate has been to get clear how the concept of 
value operates in Marx's theory; if I am right that it is not 
directly observable and measurable in the flow price of a 
machine--and if so, why is this so--can Marxism fend off positivist 

So I am not talking about the transformation problem:  I reject the 
traditional idea that the knowns can be the value ones (value 
transferred, rate of surplus value, total value) while the unknowns 
are the price ones--relative prices, prices of production, rate of 
profit. But again my point here is not the transformation problem but 
the nature of the necessary expression of value by way of another 
commodity, which is a system of misrepresentation which negativizes 
equal exchange, though Marx is often understood to have argued that 
the law of value regulates exchange ratios.   That is, I am trying to 
get to the money form. I wrote a long post on how Marx came to 
understand money as the god in the practical religion of everyday 
life, and then learned from the comments by Chris A and Howard on the 
peculiarities of the equivalent form which in my opinion holds the 
entire secret to Marx's theory of fetishism.

Yours, Rakesh

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sun Jul 15 2001 - 10:56:28 EDT