[OPE-L:6405] Production techniques

From: Alejandro Ramos (aramos@btl.net)
Date: Mon Jan 21 2002 - 16:40:52 EST

Re Gil's 6399:

>Oh, well, if *that's* the standard, how "useful" does your brother the real
>capitalist entrepreneur find the Marxian "law of value" to be?

I'll ask him as soon as we, perhaps collectively, reach a critical
agreement about what is the "law of value"! I think the citations show that
there is no clear statement by Marx of the concept --thanks for the
additional references! I'll post another interesting piece later.

As per the "uselfulness" of the theory as standard, it's an interesting
matter in itself. However, the problem of Micro texbooks is not only this.
They are, broadly speaking, "unplausible" (is this English?) constructions.
If you open The Origin of Species, the world Darwin describes is, prima
facie, a plausible description of the biological world. If you open
Capital, the world Marx speaks about is a plausible -not necessarily
correct- but plausible, description of capitalism. If you open Lancaster's
book, this is not true. You need "fundamental presumptions" which turn the
matter just incredible: nobody goes in the world with "cotingent plans as
to how they would behave in all market circumstances and that all prices
within the range of variation that is likely to occur". So, you no need a
PhD in Epistemology to see that the whole construction is a
"transliteration" of some optimization techniques, creating, ex post, a
"world" that in fact does not exist --it's not a historical reality-- by
means of unplausible "fundamental assumptions". Although that "world"
doesn't exist, it does nicely "fit" with the math technique! At most that
"world" corresponds to certain hidden philosophical and controversial
speculations about "human nature" (Benthamism, for example). So, it's an
inversion of the process of knowdledge acquisition: instead of observing
and describing the real world (as, Darwin or Marx does) we have an ideal,
"philosophical" construction presented in applied math terms. Whatever
thing does not fit with this (e.g. *money*, the State, *time* --because
everything has to happen instantly-- etc.) is carefully cut off the picture
by means of ad hoc "assumptions". How far can we go with this?


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