[OPE-L:6341] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: recent science and society and Fred M's interpretation

From: nicola taylor (n.taylor@student.murdoch.edu.au)
Date: Thu Jan 17 2002 - 05:07:43 EST

Hello again Rakesh, nice to chat after so long! 

Suppose (again for argument's sake) that: i) I disagreed with you on the
capacity of value form theories to answer Marxian questions, without resort
to labour values, and ii) I consider VFT to be a Marxist approach.
Wouldn't that support Gil's observation: i.e. that Marxists cannot agree on
what constitutes the hard core of Marx's theory?  

My guess is that the Lakatosian framework is not very useful.  It might be
OK in neoclassical economics to try to establish a 'hard core' because
concepts (such as general equilibrium, constrained optimisation, scarcity)
are well defined.  Every economist knows what these things mean, and what
the implications are.  

The same is not true of Marx's LTV.  'Marxists' understand the LTV in many
different ways, depending upon what each of us take to be the method of
*Capital*.  So we might say, perhaps, that a 'labour theory of value'
rather than a law relating to 'labour values' is a common feature of all
Marxian research agendas - yet not agree on what the LTV actually means or
the role that labour values play in it.

So, speaking just for myself, I think Marx's theory throws up fruitful
research agendas in *many* different directions.  That is one of its

Like you, I have an opinion as to which is the *best* Marxist direction, of
course :-)

All best


At 05:01  16/01/02 -0800, you wrote:
>>Hi Rakesh, 2 questions for you:
>>>It is of course possible to give a *description* of crises, working
>>>class struggle within the abode of production and unemployment
>>>without reference to labor value (all one has to do is remove rose
>>>blinkered spectacles); it is not however possible in my opinion to
>>>give a deep explanation of the root causes of said developmental
>>>tendencies of the capitalist sytem on any other foundation than the
>>>one of labor value (or as Tony Smith would put it, in the
>>>commodity-form, money form, and capital form themselves; of course
>>>one could argue that rooting said phenomena in these forms does not
>>>necessarily commit one to the theory of labor value).
>>i) do you agree with Tony that Marx provided some grounds for 'rooting said
>>phenomena' in the value forms?
>>If you do agree, let's (for arguments sake) say that the value-form
>>determination of productive activity (and determination of patterns of
>>consumption) is the Lakatosian hard core concept of Marxism, and labour
>>values little more than a protective belt.  Then:
>>ii) are theories that attempt to develop this strand of Marx's thought
>>Marxist theories, given that they can explain the said phenomena without
>>recourse to labour values?
>this is appealing and well put indeed, Nicky, but my answer is no! 
>yes capitalist crises are rooted in value forms (by which I mean the 
>basic institution of commodity production (the commodity form) by 
>means of wage labor (wage form) for the purposes of private 
>appropriation (money- and capital-forms). But I think Marx's 
>explanation of why such an institutional arrangement--value form 
>theories helps us to specify its key features--leads to crises and 
>immiseration depends on the theory of labor value; moreover, it is my 
>hunch that without the theory of labor value it is not possible to go 
>from the value form specification of bourgeois institutions to a 
>satisfactory theory of general crisis.
>But I may not understand value form theory properly.  Now that I have 
>moved, I wanted to ask Michael Williams for a photocopy of his book 
>with Geert Reuten because the Stanford Library does not even have it! 
>I think Michael W was offering copies to people on the list?

Nicola Taylor
Faculty of Economics
Murdoch University
South Street
W.A. 6150

Tel. 61 8 9385 1130 
email: n.taylor@stu.murdoch.edu.au

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