(OPE-L) [Jurriaan's] Papers

From: OPE-L Administrator (ope-admin@ricardo.ecn.wfu.edu)
Date: Wed Apr 14 2004 - 13:15:52 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jur Bendien" <bendien88@lycos.com>
Sent: Wednesday, April 14, 2004 4:13 PM
Subject: Papers

Hi Jerry,

Haha... The papers I mentioned haven't been written yet, they just
exist in my head - it was partly a satirical joke, although I do aim to
write them (I doubt however that I could get a paper published with a
title such as "Rescuing Marx from Marxist self-activity").

As long as I have been interested in Marx I have noticed numerous
papers which are titled "Towards an analysis of..." without really
making the analysis itself. This is a kind of writing which I want
to stay away from - I think that either I should briefly suggest how I
think an analysis could be made, or else make the analysis myself,
but the idea of claiming academic credit for a paper which suggests an
analysis but doesn't make it, is something I don't really believe in. I
might as well just refer to papers I haven't written yet... as I did in my
previous mail to you.

In point of fact, I have not written up about two dozen texts because
my life got derailed and my attempts to put it back on the track weren't
very successful yet for various reasons (you can have too many people
meddling with you so that you cannot make good decisions anymore - I've
often ended up feeling like a rat in a Skinner box and that is not
conducive to constructively finishing my research projects).

I have only done a rough draft of an essay on the transformation
problem, which I posted on Marxmail (which ought really to be a book,
since, to correct the mistaken interpretations of Marx's modelling
of the transformation of values into prices of production requires the
completion of Marx's theory in regard to such topics as capitalist
competition and price theory; I personally very much regret that Marx
did not make a more explicit analysis of the concept of price itself,
since, if he had done that, then there would have been a lot less fuss
about value theory).

You might argue that mentioning papers I haven't even completed yet is
bit fraudulent of me to do, but think of this way: in contemporary
capitalism, which features a spectacular growth of what Marx called
"fictitious capital" and is driven increasingly by gambles by people in
"futures economics" which is said to have a "hyper-reality" - in which
wealth in the present is founded upon claims to future wealth and the
displacement of costs incurred by the consumption of that wealth to the
future and to others elsewhere - people are constantly claiming credit
for things they don't in truth possess, or haven't really created. But
although this rationalisation of life today is based on projections into
the past or into the future, nobody calls them "frauds" however; it
seems to have become a perfectly acceptable practice.

So if I imply I can write those papers, refer to them and claim that
they will exist in the future, I am doing nothing wrong... or am I ?
I leave it to the learned scholars to adjudicate (I am not at present
attached to any scholarly institution - but there are actually scholarly
institutions nowadays which are speculating in hedge funds). Certainly
my purpose, apart from a bit of humor, is not to deceive or pretend

Although I am very interested in Marx from the point of view of social
science, I personally reject the very idea of "Marxism", because this
transforms Marx's critical-scientific and philosophical thought into an
all-encompassing ideological system or cosmology, which stifles
individuality and innovation and can lead people to try an impose
ideological or political systems on others which disrespect or violate
the real natures of those people. So I think you can be a socialist or
communist etc. but being a "Marxist" typically causes attempts to
reconcile the irreconcilable, and a form of thinking which is no
different from religion, except that religious people normally exhibit
healthier forms of association. I accept though that this is a minority
viewpoint and that there are many self-styled "Marxists" who do
perfectly good research or pursue a successful politics with honorable

As regards value-form theory, I think it offers some important insights
but really I don't think it reflects what Marx really intended.
Value-form theory really suggests to me an inability to apply Marx's
research method and that it "Hegelianises" Marx's method in an erroneous,
idealist way. Marx suggested that inquiry must proceed both through an
empirical analysis of the facts and through criticism of the
interpretation of the facts by economists and social theorists. It was a
question of discovering the dialectics in the empirical material and in
the evolution of interpretations of that empirical material. Only then
could the subjectmatter be dialectically represented. However, what the
value-form theorists try to do is to derive and develop concepts and
analyses from Marx's value theory in a way which only provides a social
phenomenology. The result is that either the empirical analysis doesn't
conform to Marx's concepts, or that theorising is done which has no
empirical content. But that just suggests that Marx's theory cannot be
applied to real experience.

Marx makes it absolutely clear towards the end of Capital Volume 3 that
he thinks that, while he aims to examine capitalist conditions in their
"ideal average", the deviation of labour-values from output prices just
isn't all that great, and the empirical tests of this claim suggest that
Marx was correct in this. But obviously output prices are not the only
prices there are, and in examining the cost structure of production we
must reckon with the fact that relative prices of outputs are influenced
by prices of assets outside of the sphere of production; and we also
have to acknowledge the effects of monopolisation of markets (blocking
price-competition) on price structures. But I don't really think that
affects the validity of Marx's own argument. I hope to return to this
topic at a future date.

Best regards


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