[OPE-L:7041] Re: Re: Marxist economics?

From: Francisco Paulo Cipolla (cipolla@sociais.ufpr.br)
Date: Mon Apr 22 2002 - 11:14:37 EDT

What have been the main contributions to the understanding of what determines the
value of labor power? By discussing them we may advance towards accomplishing what
has to be done.
Regarding technical change, it is true, most of the maxist debate was around
theoretical principles. Scanty attention was paid to the empirical world, that is,
the world of real adoption of new methods of production and the motivations that
led capitalists to do so. In fact all the energy around this issue wa sucked by
the question of the falling rate of profit. For the question of the TRPF, posed as
it was, on an abstract level, there is no need to investigate the real world of
technical change. The price for this is that the real world is not known and we
are back to a pre-Galilean approach to science.
What have been the efforts to see into technical change from a marxian point of
view? By discussing them we may advance towards a better understanding of today's
I am also confident that once the empirical world is looked at we will begin to
see how generous Marx's concepts are as instruments for the understanding of
today's capitalism and therefore as a weapon to struggle against it.
Paulo Cipolla

Simon Mohun wrote:

> It seems to me that what we call it doesn't much matter. But there are a
> whole host of unresolved issues about how contemporary capitalism works.
> For example:
> 1. What determines the value of labour power and wages?
> 2. What determines the value of money?
> 3. What is the predominant pattern today of technical progress? Has it
> changed? If so, why?
> 4. Why has the rate of profit been rising in major capitalist economies
> since 1982 or so?
> 5. (If you believe in the distinction) what are the consequences of the
> continuous steady rise in unproductive labour over the last third of the 20C?
> 6. Why is inflation so low? (Or, why was it so high in the 70s and 80s?)
> 7. What are the economic mechanisms of imperialism?
> 8. If finance is an unproductive sector, why is it so predominant?
> 9. How do financial derivatives and associated products connect with value
> theory?
> 10. What determines exchange rate movements?
> (And more generally:
> 11. Why is Marxism so male? (Look for example at OPE-L.)
> 12. What do we mean by socialism, and how do we think it might work?
> And I could go on.)
> These are serious analytical issues and require serious work. Marxism
> surely has to be more than just a political rhetoric. Or, there's not a lot
> of point in trying to change the world if we don't understand it. I guess
> this is to say that you can call it what you will - economics, Marxist
> economics, political economy, critique of political economy or whatever
> -  the questions remain and still require our answers. Don't they?
> Simon
> At 14:06 19/04/02 -0400, you wrote:
> >In his last message, John Holloway mentions, towards the end:
> >
> > >the impossibility of a Marxist economics
> >
> >I am not quite sure how this should be understood. I agree with the view that
> >what we do is political economy rather than (neoclassical) economics, that
> >they are mutually incompatible, and that a large part of our job is to
> >criticise (neoclassical) economics. In this sense one could argue that
> >"Marxist economics" is a misnomer, and that we do is a "critique of
> >economics".
> >
> >I have also heard the argument that Marxists do *not* do political economy
> >but, rather, a "critique of political economy" - cf. the title of "Capital".
> >I disagree with this view, because I think it conflates what Marxism *does*
> >with Marx's critique of Ricardo, Smith, etc. Therefore, describing our work
> >as a "critique of PE" seems to me both misguided and misleading (but I may be
> >wrong).
> >
> >John, can you help?
> >
> >Alfredo.
> Department of Economics,
> Queen Mary, University of London,
> Mile End Road,
> London E1 4NS,
> UK
> Tel: +44-(0)20-7882-5089 (direct)
> +44-(0)20-7882-5095/6 (Dept. Office)
> Fax: +44-(0)20-8983-3580

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