[OPE-L] Faux frais of production

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Sat Apr 29 2006 - 18:26:00 EDT


I was partly just kidding you with this stuff. Actually, when I first heard
the term mentioned in 1980, I didn't hear it properly, I thought I heard
"french fries of production". Lateron, inspired by scholars like Ernest
Mandel and Anwar Shaikh, I delved into national accounts data, analysing the
boundaries, valuation and cost structure of the social product, and I
wondered how Marx would have approached it (intermediate inputs produced
in-house vs. externally purchased intermediate inputs).

Basically, I think that value theory is not worth much, unless it can make
sense of the data of experience. Ernest Mandel wrote in the introduction to
his Traite d'economie Marxiste that "the scientifically correct position is
obviously that which endeavours to start from the empirical data of the
science of today in order to examine whether or not the essence of Marx's
economic propositions remains valid" (English edition, p. 17). This suggests
a very different approach than a sterile dogmatism that endlessly repeats
stock phrases, i.e. the purpose of theory becomes one of guiding the
ordering, interpreting and explaining of the facts of experience. I would
dispute many of Mandel's arguments, but this basic idea is I think quite
sound. It is difficult perhaps for people today to appreciate what an
enormous advance his book (completed in 1960!) was.


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