[OPE-L:6513] Re: * poll: who has advanced political economy since Marx? *

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Wed Feb 06 2002 - 09:45:08 EST

Re the relative silence since [6508]:

Other than Gary's [6509] (thanks Gary), no one has responded to the
'poll' yet. Let us be clear that readers *will* draw inferences from this
thread *if*  listmembers do *not* respond to this question: readers might
very well infer that according to the Marxists here gathered there have
been no scientific advances in our understanding of  capitalism since Marx;
those same readers might very well attribute this to dogmatism.  (I think
that's the way it might be read by many PKT subscribers, do you agree
Steve K? ... Gary?)

I was waiting to read some other responses before responding myself
(since I'm the one who asked the questions),  but in the interests of
jump-starting the discussion I'll take a stab at answering:

I think there have been *many* advances in political economy since
Marx.  Some (for example, related to the literature on socialism)
don't concern our understanding of capitalism. Others are *techniques*
which do not _by themselves_ advance our understanding of
capitalism, like the development of input-output analysis (Leontief)
and game theory (vonNeumann/Morgenstern).  Others are specific
to understanding particular social formations (e.g. segmented labor
market theory developed by D.M. Gordon and others) or
conjunctures (much of the literature on imperialism and unequal

There are entire fields of study in mainstream economic theory that
Marxists would benefit from comprehending and critiquing that
raise issues and understandings that were not developed by Marx:
e.g.  much of the literature on industrial organization (e.g. the
literature on the diffusion of new technologies); urban economics
(there have been some important Marxist contributions to this
field, including contributions on the subject of rent); environmental
economics (including Marxist contributions like those of  former
listmember Jim O'Connor and current member Paul Burkett).
The literature on joint production initiated by Sraffa and developed
further by Pasinetti and others represents an advance in thought on
this subject beyond what Marx wrote.  Post-Keynesian thought has
also furthered our understanding of subjects like oligopolistic markets
and industrial pricing (Eichner and others), financial instability,
non-linear dynamics, and chaos theory (Minsky and others). Indeed, 
these writings have stirred contributions by Marxians to those 
understandings (e.g. by Semmler,  OPE-Ler  Anwar Shaikh,  former 
listmembers Dumenil/Levy; listmembers Itoh/Lapavitsas).  In turn,  
much of this literature could be said to begin with Robinson, Kalecki,
Steindhl, and the mathematicians in other fields who developed
non-linear dynamics and chaos theory.

The literature on 'long waves' represents an advance beyond
Marx.  Some of those who furthered our understanding of that
subject include pionerrs like Kondratief, Parvus, Trotsky, and 
more recently Mandel.

Perhaps the major reason why Marxian economic theory has not
developed to a great extent since Marx's death in 1883 is that so
few Marxists have even *attempted* to  move our understanding
of  capitalism *beyond Marx*.  Instead, most intellectual energy
by Marxists writing on political economy has been limited to
interpreting and 'defending' Marx (beyond those listed below,
former listmember Mino Carchedi is an exception).

So, now we get to the section of this post where I will stick my
neck out on a limb by suggesting that the following authors -- who
all published books in recent years -- have imo helped to develop
our understanding  *beyond Marx*:

Geert Reuten and Michael J Williams for _Value-Form and the State_.
One might justifiably say that Reuten/Williams were indebted to the
'state debate' in the 70's and 80's for stimulus. Nonetheless, what is
the most important contribution from my perspective is the attempt
to integrate our understanding of the value-form, the capital-form,
*and* the state-form.  I have serious questions about much of this
work (especially Part Three on the tendencies of accumulation of
capital) but overall I think it *does* represent an advance.  Even in
Part 3 there is some very original thinking, e.g. the model on capital

Another book that deserves recognition for advancing our
understanding of capitalism beyond Marx is Mike Leobowitz's
_Beyond Capital: Marx's Political Economy of the Working
Class_. Although the sub-title suggests a work that is centered
on interpreting Marx, I think that Mike L breaks new ground by
attempting to 'extend Marx'  in new directions and this work imo
is more of an attempt to move beyond Marx rather than just
beyond _Capital_.  What joins the Reuten/Williams and Leobowitz
efforts among other things (including the commonality that they all
belong to OPE-L) is an attempt not to be restricted to merely
interpreting Marx and instead focusing on attempting to further
and systematically comprehend capitalism.  Although Mike L
is not a value-form theorist I think in broad terms that the
methodological understanding of each of these authors is 
similar -- this earns them praise no doubt from those who
identify with Hegelian-Marxian methodology and opposition
from those who protest the use of 'Hegelianism' in political
economy (e.g. as did Althusser).

OK, who goes next?

In solidarity, Jerry

> * and what were their contributions to that understanding that
>    weren't already IN Marx's writings?
> *  Also: what contributions to our understanding of that
>     subject matter  concerned something  *other than* attempting
>     to develop our understanding of how capitalism has
>     changed and developed since Marx's time?
> * Also: is there *any* major part of Marx's theory that the
>    development of subsequent thought shows needs to be
>    modified or rejected?
> If Marxism is a science then all of these questions should
> be able to be answered -- even if our answers are different.

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