[OPE-L:7157] Re: Re: Re: Re: 'Quaderni di Operai Contro' (Vitale) v. Paolo Giussani (fwd)

From: Riccardo Bellofiore (bellofio@cisi.unito.it)
Date: Mon May 13 2002 - 07:52:04 EDT

At 9:40 -0700 12-05-2002, Rakesh Bhandari wrote:
>>  Probably I expressed badly my feeling that we should stop go on 
>>looking at the appearence of 'etiquette', or Sprach-Ethik if you 
>>wish, and should move forward to a more substantial respect, which 
>>means taking seriously the most further away from us of our 
>>opponents, first of all looking at what he is actually saying (and 
>>this, Rakesh, does not mean simply that the 'other' has to explain 
>>himself/herself clearly, it means also that we have to pay 
>>attention and that we should avoid to picture him without 
>>considering his/her own self-represention).
>Dear Riccardo,
>Whose self representation have I failed to consider? I think that 
>you are saying that I have been impolite to...you? I don't believe 
>that I have ever said an impolite word to you or written an impolite 
>word about you on OPE-L. I shall continue to praise your work as I 
>always have.

Dear Rakesh,

I've never said that you were impolite to me (btw, I find this 
obsession of being 'polite'  very obnoxious: I've been happy that 
people make their points, even impolitely, always recognozing 
themselves as partial representatives in dialogue with others).

I was simply referring to your OPE-L 7147

"One shining example to me of ethical argumentation was Allin's 
discussion with me of the transformation problem a long time ago. As 
it was becoming clear that I had not really grasped what many thought 
the problem was, Allin then contrived an example so I could 
understand what the problem was thought to be. That is, Allin knew 
that in a reasonable debate, one has to give criticisms in such a way 
that the opponent can grasp them."

Good enough. I agreed. I was simply adding that in this argumentation 
procedure one has alwo to understand that the other's way of 
constructing his theses may be due to a different agenda than ours, 
and to different questions or hierarchy among questions. And also one 
has to recognize that there is no 'final solution' in intellectual 

>Now in terms of your acrimony with Paolo, we Marxists should not 
>forget the conditions of work. Paolo is an independent intellectual; 
>you are a member and chair of an economics department. It is your 
>job to remain in dialogue and debate with other economists. I do not 
>think Paolo should be too hard on you for that; at the same time, it 
>does seem to me that you characterized Paolo as a fundamentalist 
>textualist in comparison to this Vitale who seems to be  a real 
>fundamentalist textualist as well as a very obnoxious debater (by 
>the way, I think Paolo's paper on the value of labor power is one of 
>the great papers which I have read in Marxism).

Frankly, I do not have any "acrimony" with Paolo. Why you say that? I 
don't think I've has said anything against him (may be he has written 
something against me, but that's another issue altogether). I was 
simply saying, in my original intervention, that though Vitale's way 
of criticising Giussani, but also Pala, is made of awful personalized 
attacks on which I disagree, he is saying something which has to be 
heard, and I respect him as Giussani as Pala.

Where you take that I think of "fundamentalist textualist"? 
"Fundamentalist" may be (but I don't think I've written that), 
"textualist" certainly not. By the way, you think that the two 
adjectives are insults. What's wrong in being "fundamentalist"? Or in 
being "textualists"? Take Rosdolsky? Probably he was both, certainly 
the latter. I've learned a lot from him. So, what's the point? I 
don't understand. And of course, if I say: I think you're a 
fundamentalist, as a depiction of a situation, I would be interested 
in the answer: "No, I'm not, and e are the reasons".

You say "it's my job to remain in dialogue as an academician". No. I 
think is something which should be done by the all parties involved 
in intellectual dialogue. And hence also by me. Where I said that I 
waould not listen to Paolo G? I wrote exactly the opposite.

Just to take two examples. His works on so-called Globalization: 
excellent. His entry on Ricardo in Bottomore's and others Dictionary 
on Marxism: very good, and much more sensible than most things 
Marxists usually say on this stuff.

>As for Sraffa, Keynes, Hayek and Schumpeter,
>a. I don't see how Sraffa is not a critic of the labor theory of 
>value as those who were close to him (Dobb, Meek, Roncaglia) all use 
>the Sraffian input-output black box to criticize the labor theory of 
>value and proclaim that Sraffa alone 'solves'  the transformation 
>problem which took on new importance because it was a way of beating 
>Marxists with neo Ricardianism and all that implies.

This is very typical. Please a quote from Sraffa - Sraffa, not the 
Sraffians - against the labour theory of value. You see, one should 
be able to distinguish different layeers of the argument. We know for 
certain, by testimonies, that Sraffa never wanted to speak against 
the LTV, and Marx: look at Joan Robinson (in English) and Anntonio 
Giolitti (in Italian). We know from the Sraffa papers (I went there, 
and I so them: no pure Sraffians, e.g. Kurz, will tell that) that in 
unpublished writings Sraffa criticised Bortkiewicz and even defended 
the transformation. We know for certain that Sraffa equated the 
national income at prices to direct labour (from where do you think 
he took the idea?). Btw, in my paper for the book on Sraffa in 
Cozzi-Marchionatti, Routledge, there are some nice quotes. Did you 
saw them?

Let us leave aside Roncaglia. Dobb especially, but probably also 
Meek, defended the labour theory of value as they saw it - not as 
Moseley, or Kliman, or Foley, or Bellofiore etc. - may see it. And 
let me add that we have to learn from these giants, their capacity of 
dialogue with orthodox and heterodox streams in the economics 

So, first, it is our duty to respect what the others think of 
himself/herself. After, we can develop our argulent against what they 
are saying, and even againts their self-representationn. Me, for one, 
think that willing or not Sraffa WAS a critic of the LTV, since in 
his argument values are redundant, and there is no explicit link 

But, I repeat, first respect the other. Do you think that all of our 
friends which are talking of the need to confront Marx as he really 
wrote are doing the same with Sraffa? We have friends who even speak 
of Sweezy or Dobb as Sraffians! Don't you remember that Steedman wwas 
exactly against them?

>b. as for Keynes, he would have been much helped--as Homa Katouzian 
>has shown-- in his critique of Say's Law and liquidity theory of 
>interest if he had not dismissed Marx on the basis of his putatively 
>vile basis of personal correspondence; Keynes' own Social Darwinism 
>was in fact truly vile; John Toye has demonstrated Keynes's vile and 
>monstrous criticism of the british famine laws for attempting to 
>save too many Hindu lives. Moreover, the Keynesian system is 
>incapable of understanding why govt debt is fictitious capital 
>because it has no understanding of what capital is in the first 
>place; and its pivotal concept of the declining marginal efficiency 
>of capital is a conceptual mess, though it is still treated by 
>Keynesians as a simple datum which itself need not be clearly 
>explained. The General Theory is a confused and confusing mess.

may be: may also be that Marx would have been much better if he fully 
realised money is not a commodity, though specially, and first of all 
created ex nihilo ...

>c. I think you are more interested in Hayek's trade cycle theory 
>than his critique of the socialist calculation debate (I may be 
>wrong because I know that you have used Schumpeter against Hayek in 
>that debate); and in the final analysis explaining disequilibrium by 
>monetary over-expansion seems truly mono-causal and unconvincing, 
>though again I agree with Hayek's critique of Keynes' 
>underconsumptionism. Again Hayek could have developed this critique 
>if he had considered Marx's critique of underconsumption, which was 
>developed by Grossmann, Mattick and later Shaikh. Politically of 
>course no Marxist agrees with Hayek's underconsumptionism because 
>workers should never allow the crisis to be resolved on their own 
>backs, but workers then do need to realize that direct or social 
>wage gains (as well as their acceptance of direct or social wage 
>cuts) will not free capitalism of its cycles and catastropes.

I am not agreeing with Hayek's trade cycle. Simply, he saw problems 
that Marxists at the time were dismissing.

>d. as for Schumpeter, of course he was interesting insofar as he was 
>deeply influenced by Marx.

fine phrase. no theroeticfal advance outside Marx, I've understood 
your point(s)  right?

>But wasn't it Semmler who underlined that Schumpeter simply 
>conflated surplus value as such with innovator's profit which is in 
>fact *extra* surplus value. It's an elementary mistake, but it 
>brings down his whole system, no?

no: there's no other brilliant exposition of the link between bank 
finance and innovation than Schumpeter's. and, against you, I think 
Marxians have to learn from non-Marxians.

>It's not clear to me that Marxists have much to learn from the great 
>bourgeois economic theorists, though of course Marxists do need how 
>to use and analyze econometric data (my skills are quite lacking). 
>So I would not maintain that the method of bourgeois economics 
>(econometrics, modelling on the basis of non linear equations) are 
>useless to Marxists (it seems to me however that game theory in the 
>social sciences, as opposed to the biology of a John Maynard Smith, 
>is based on totally aribitrary and subjective values plugged in by 
>the theorist, but I have no idea), and of course we benefit 
>immensely from top flight journalism and descriptive accounts of the 
>working of institutions.
>But in the way of theory I don't think bourgeois economists have had 
>much to teach us Marxists since Richard Jones whose influence is all 
>over that most crucial chapter in historical materialism in Capital, 
>vol 3 as Marx attempts to differentiate labor rent, rent in kind, 
>money rents, etc. Since WC Mitchell and Eric Roll more than fifty 
>years ago, Jones's fundamental contribution to economic theorizing 
>has been lost in the history of economic thought. Which means that 
>since this then bourgeois economists have lost all real sense of the 
>historic specificity of their object of study--the bourgeois epoch 
>of production.

you see, I think Marx's real problems are the ones indicated 
explicitely by Boehm-Bawerk (why value refers only to labour) and the 
other indicated implicitely by Wicksell-Schumpeter-Keynes 1930, money 
as finance must be thought as completely divorced from commodities in 
actual capitalism, ever. not the transformation problem, which does 
not exist. but which may be should be framed differently if one 
thoroughly thinks of how to answer Boehm-Bawerk, and the WSK line. I 
doubt "fundamentalists" ever will get the problems.

but may be I'm wrong, of course

Riccardo Bellofiore
Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche
Via dei Caniana 2
I-24127 Bergamo, Italy
e-mail:   bellofio@unibg.it, bellofio@cisi.unito.it
direct	  +39-035-277545
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homepage: http://www.unibg.it/dse/homebellofiore.htm

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