[OPE-L:7198] Re: Re: Re: fundamentalism

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Thu May 16 2002 - 17:18:59 EDT

I may well agree with your count-criticism of Fine, but I don't see 
what is so troubling here.

Didn't you agree with Mattick that Keynesian full employment policies 
could in fact be adopted in the short term as Fine seems to suggest, 
though they would compound the problem of profitability in the long 
term? And in this sense didn't both you and Mattick differ from an 
extreme Robert Lucas like position that Keynesian policies may not 
even work in the short term? So why is it wrong to say that you were 
a (short term) Keynesian? It's not a horrible reading of Mattick Sr 
in my opinion.

Moreover, is there no overlap between your theory of inflation and 
the monetarist one? I do not remember your working out a detailed 
critique of the monetarist one--Pilling has a few pages in Crisis of 
Keynesian Economics against Friedman.  It does seem that it would be 
productive to hash these issues out. That is, in saying that your 
view of inflation is close to the monetarist one, aren't you being 
goaded on to differeniate your own view from that one? Again I may 
well agree with your reply here, but there seems no reason to 
continue the debate with Fine who is obviously a very serious, 
knowledgeable and productive person.

And what is wrong with Fine arguing that like Ricardo you do not give 
full weight to the possibility of capital saving innovation in 
relieving upward pressure on the OCC? Again this problem of capital 
saving innovation as a counter-tendency is in fact an important and 
very difficult problem, and does seem to have been downplayed by 
Ricardo. So what is wrong in saying that you are neo Ricardian here 
in not giving what he considers to be due weight to this 
problem--Fine obviously does not mean Sraffian here but neo Ricardian.

Again I am not saying that Fine has delivered a decisive critique, 
but there seems to me no reason to close off the debate on the basis 
of what he has written.

Were you not a short term Keynesian? How is your theory of inflation 
different than the monetarist one? Are you not Ricardian in not 
giving capital saving innovation its due?

All the best, Rakesh

>Fine was a member of the Communist Party of GB ( now defunct), 
>which, at the time,  had long given up any revolutionary claims. But 
>primarily he is an academic and his recent contributions demonstrate 
>this. I think your quotes from him on our work made it abundantly 
>clear that a reply would be undignified as well as a waste of time.
>In the present situation, I would hope that serious students of 
>Marxism who are concerned with building a revolutionary movement 
>would look at our contemporary writings - an application of the 
>ideas developed over the 1970s to the developing world situation 
>David Yaffe
>At 21:16 15/05/02 -0400, you wrote:
>>David Y wrote in [7l73]:
>>>   I regarded their criticism's as fundamentally dishonest
>>and saw no purpose in responding to them.  For myself
>>I believe Marxism has to be put to the service of a new
>>revolutionary movement and there is little point in forever
>>going over the old debates for the sake of it. <
>>OK, well I can appreciate that position.  The only problem,
>>though, is that F&H's works are still read and do have some
>>limited influence. 
>>Paul B in [7l67] wrote that Harris had described the position of
>>Paul and yourself  -- without even an attempt at justification --
>>as "Keynesian"   I know you don't want to go over old debates,
>>but you might be interested in the following gems from Ben
>>Fine in "Recent Developments in Marxist Economic Theory"
>>in Gerd Hardach, Dieter Karras and Ben Fine _A Short History
>>of Socialist Economic Thought  (NY, St. Martin's Press,  l978,
>>Ch. 5):
>>In the first selection FINE, citing your joint article "Inflation, Crisis
>>and the Post-War Boom" (_Revolutionary Communist_, 3/4,
>>November, l975) refers to the both of you as KEYNESIANS *AND*
>>"Those who argue the validity of the law of the TRPF by
>>asserting the dominance of the tendency over the counteracting
>>tendencies view the current recession in terms of the particular
>>response by capital to the inevitable working of the law. In
>>particular, the state is seen as being compelled to expand
>>expenditure to maintain employment for political stability.
>>The result of this is a further diminution in the surplus value
>>available for distribution to capitalists as profits, and inflation
>>as the state expands its credit to finance its expenditure.
>>Inevitably, the crisis is only postponed by these manoeuvres.
>>Again, we can see that *a Keynesian analysis has been
>>adopted (together with a Keynesian view of the role of the
>>state to maintain full employment)*  with the (false) presumption
>>that state expenditure will increase employment even though
>>profitability has been affected.  In addition, a *monetarist theory
>>of inflation* has been utilized with the (false) presumption that
>>the state predominantly appropriates resources through
>>over-expansion of the money supply" (p. 76, emphasis with
>>color added.)
>>In the next quote, FINE, citing David's article "The Marxian Theory
>>of Crisis, Capital and the State" (_Economy and Society_ 2.2,
>>l973),  refers to the E&S article as an "extreme version of"
>>NEO-RICARDIAN  "analysis":
>>"The second interpretation of the law [of the TRPF, JL] is the
>>one that insists on its validity by reworking Marx's analysis of the
>>rising organic composition of capital but continues by asserting
>>the dominance of the tendency over the counteracting tendencies
>>rather than theorizing the contradictory interaction of the two. In
>>this light, *such a view  can be considered to be an extreme
>>version  of the neo-Ricardian analysis* in which distributional
>>struggle, increases in the rate of exploitation and decreases in
>>the value of capital are considered *dogmatically* to be of
>>secondary significance relative to the TRPF.  Thus, the simple
>>interaction of the two tendencies as a sum must lead to an
>>actual fall in the rate of profit
>>    These two apparently opposing interpretations of the law
>>["the first Neo-Ricardian interpretation"  and David's, JL]
>>then have much in common and consequently have stunted
>>rather than developed Marxist theory" (p. 74, emphasis again
>>added with color.)
>>I can see why you wouldn't want to answer these charges.
>>I wonder:  was Fine a member of another (rival) political
>>party at the time?  Perhaps there was an unspoken political
>>agenda that he was pursuing in feeling the apparent need to
>>distort your positions.   Thus, perhaps, the two of you were
>>attacked because of your own political associations?  I'm
>>just speculating, of course: I just don't understand what is
>>going on here. Do you?
>>In solidarity, Jerry

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