[OPE-L:7171] Re: Re: Re: fundamentalism

From: Riccardo Bellofiore (bellofio@cisi.unito.it)
Date: Wed May 15 2002 - 09:38:53 EDT

Dear Jerry and Paul,

	of course F&H description IS a caricature, but that's almost 
always the case. I think that most Marxists talking about Sraffians 
IS a caricature. If we stop there, we will never have intellectual 

	About the capital-logic reading etc., well, it is much more a 
caricature than at the time. You know, I was born to this stuff when 
to say that production is the fundamental (sic!) determinant was OK, 
now of course most of the 'dialectic' reading of Marx has gone 
towards the other end of the spectrum, that capital is a totality 
where production and circulation are equally important (may I confess 
that, though I've always thought that circulation and distribution 
are really very important, in capitalist totality production is 
dominant? may be I'm a fundamentalist, after all)

	As to Paul's answer, indeed, I take the phrase "working to 
apply Marx's theory to the contemporary scene without qualifying the 
explanations given in Marx's Capital" as a good definition of 
fundamentalism, also implying that there is no contradiction or 
problem in Marx himself. I don't take this as offensive. I name here 
two friends, with whom I have a lot in common, but also many 
differences. I would say that, more or less, the words by Paul would 
apply to Fred Moseley but not to Geert Reuten. Sometime I may agree 
with Fred against Geert, but my attitude is definitely nearer to 
Geert's. So may be I'm not a fundamentalist, after all.

	That said, I have no problem in abandoning the adjective 
"fundamentalist" if it is seen as offensive by others. I don't think 
that "orthodox" would be felt as similarly offensive. In any case, we 
must have some term to label those who think that, to quote Andrew 
Kliman, since Marx was right, don't 'correct' him. just apply, or 
'test' it.

	Paul is quite right that however, whatever the label (he 
makes the example of 'Keynesian') attributed to others must be 
justified, that is the proponent must say why s/he thinks that that 
label is applied to the other.



At 22:07 +0100 14-05-2002, paul bullock wrote:
>Jerry and Riccardo,
>For my part I can only say this: F&H seemed to be using this term
>'Fundamentalists against us (David Y, myself and  others involved in the
>debates at that time) because we were working to apply Marx's theory to the
>contemporary scene without qualifying the explanations given in Marx's
>David Y's precise attack on neo Ricardianism eg against Glynn and Sutcliffe
>in the New Left Review , and his demolition of the idea of a 'transformation
>problem' ,  forced F&H to distinguish themselves, but they wouldn't accept
>what we were saying. Frankly I had no interest in what they thought they
>meant  especially as Harris also called our approach Keynsian... without the
>slightest attempt at justification!..(in Socialist Register). Indeed our
>explanation of inflation, state expenditure, the role of armaments
>production,  domestic labour and so on were never taken up by them, so I
>guess they neither wished to risk a real argument and stuck only to calling
>paul b
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "gerald_a_levy" <gerald_a_levy@msn.com>
>To: <ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu>
>Sent: Tuesday, May 14, 2002 2:43 AM
>Subject: [OPE-L:7164] Re: fundamentalism
>>  Re Riccardo's [7l62]:
>>  > if I remember well, the term Fundamentalists was used in Fine &
>>  > Harris Re-reading Capital with no overt dismissive tone - at least,
>>  > if you think that neo-Ricardian is not dismissive for Sraffians.
>>  > However, I am in trouble with your answer, since I've always thought
>>  > that Fundamentalism implied that there were no theoretical or
>>  > analytical problems in Marx, so that the only thing to do for us
>>  > followers was to apply and develop for an historically more advanced
>>  > situation the original, 'fundamental', line of thought already there
>>  > in Capital.
>>  For Fine and Harris "capital-logiciians" was understood to be
>  > synonymous with "fundamentalist".   Yet, no reason is offered for _why_
>>  capital-logical interpretations should be deemed to be "fundamentalist".
>>  Nor is there any reason to suppose that  "capital-logicians" are
>>  necessarily "fundamentalists" in the sense in which you describe above.
>>  While I wouldn't exactly say that by labeling capital-logical
>>  interpretations "fundamentalist", Fine and Harris are being dismissive, I
>>  will say that I think it is a  instance of   a) loaded terminology; and
>>  b)  caricature.   While I think there are many good things about their
>>  book,  it does seem to me that at times they caricature both
>>  "Neo-Ricardians" and "Fundamentalists" so as to position themselves
>>  as more "well-balanced" moderates in between these two "extremes".
>>  Consider:  "For Fundamentalists, the sphere of production is
>>  determinant. Indeed, it is the only sphere of economic activity that
>  > they analyze in a consistent manner."  (p. l9)  Oh, really?  This is
>  > a simplistic caricature (and therefore, a misrepresentation) of capital-
>>  logical interpretations.  Yet, also consider:  "For Neo-Ricardians all
>>  analysis of the capitalist economy takes place in the sphere of
>>  exchange and distribution" (Ibid).  Oh, really?   For authors who
>>  don't consider themselves to be either Sraffians or capital-logical
>>  theorists, this makes a very nice and easy divide -- but it is less
>>  than accurate as a representation of both traditions.
>>  I'm still not clear what the origin of  the expression Marxist
>>  "fundamentalism" is, but if  those who adhere to capital-logical
>>  interpretations willingly accepted the title of "fundamentalist" that
>>  others (such as Fine and Harris) have given them, then I think
>>  it was  a serious mistake because of the other associations that
>>  "fundamentalism" has that I referred to in [7l6l].   In any event,
>>  a couple of the "fundamentalists" that Fine and Harris critiqued
>>  are on this list (David Y and Paul B) so they might be able to
>>  shed some light on the origin of this expression in terms of whether
>>  it was a designation that they came up with or one that was imposed
>>  upon them but later accepted willy-nilly by some.
>>  In solidarity, Jerry
>>  PS:  At one point OPE-L member Anwar S also referred to his
>>  theories as  "fundamentalist" -- I'm not sure if he still does -- but very
>>  oddly  and curiously the F&H l979 book makes no reference to his
>>  works.

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
secretary +39-035 277501
fax:	  +39 035 277549
homepage: http://www.unibg.it/dse/homebellofiore.htm

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