From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Sat Sep 30 2006 - 10:09:31 EDT
>Do note how superficial our discussion has been. But so are for the most part the works we have cited: Rosdolsky, Tribe, and Itoh. Oh I don't think Rosdolsky, Tribe, and Itoh are superficial at all. But the relationship between the original plan and the changed plan is something which we can argue about forever and a day, it's a superficial debate. It is important I suppose, if one really wanted to write the missing volumes as Marx would have written them, but in that case the most convincing thing would be to actually write those volumes, which I invite you to do with all your literary expertise. I think Marx's discussion of competition, the credit system and share capital is very inadequate. And as I said, he wrote little about foreign trade or the world market. He also wrote little about wage-labour. >My point: Grossman's argument, whether correct or not, has not been well understood. Including by Tribe who defends it! Well actually Jairus Banaji did not even translate the whole book by Grossmann. Grossmann can also be interpreted in different ways. There is for example the Yaffe reading, the Bhandari reading, the Mandel reading, the Trigg reading and so on. It's the same thing with the Bible. >Well I think even Doug Henwood now admits that corporate insiders had not lost all power. The question of the relation between financial and industrial capital is much more complicated than this. No doubt it would take a whole book to do justice to the topic. I was not talking at all about power-relationships in the capitalist system. I was talking specifically about the ownership of capital assets and their overall distribution according to type. >In that book Melman was most interested in the effects of military spending if I remember correctly, not the hyper trophy of the financial sector. You are misusing the title. This is nitpicking, I was only trying to highlight the concept denoted by Melman's title, i.e. the fact that you can make profits without production, which your Grossmanite theory denies the implications of. It is true that Melman was mainly concerned with the military-industrial complex in his writing. His concern was with the growing neglect of US manufacturing and US infrastructure ("the productive base"), in favour of "means of destruction" and paper-pushing. See for example http://www.webcom.com/ncecd/bp18.html Part of the military sector is production, part not production. >have you read Grossman? Sure. But contrary to you, I'm not a Grossman fetishist. There will always be academics who argue along the lines that "only if you climbed up to the top of my totem pole, you would be able to see the truth" but I don't believe them. Grossman's writing is sufficiently general to permit of all kinds of interpretations, but as I said his central claim is that overaccumulation of constant capital in production causes the breakdown of the system, and that is precisely what I contest, simply because production is not the only source or repository of capital accumulation (though, in the last instance, the total stock of real wealth must grow to secure all the financial claims made on it). It seems that you don't understand my argument at all however. It's just Grossmann, Grossmann, Grossmann, etc. etc. >What is the relationship between this point and the following There is no immediate and direct relationship, I was describing only some of the main trends, from the point of view of changes in the distribution of capital assets in the total accumulation process. I suppose you could say there is a relationship, since capitalisation of appreciating real estate values provides the aggregate demand for expanding imports. >again how do you think this kind of deindustrialization speaks against HG? I don't really subscribe to the thesis of deindustrialization, among other things because, even if the relative importance of manufacturing is declining, the industrialization of services is occurring. I was referring to the relative and absolute growth of physical and financial capital assets existing external to the sphere of production, invalidating Grossman's reproduction schemes and specific breakdown arguments. >a critque of HG? exactly the point that accumulation was not restored with a continuous attenuation in s/v. Again you are using the term "accumulation" in a general way, without knowing what you are talking about. The growth in real terms of fixed investment in production was reduced in the OECD, but this did not mean at all that accumulation stopped, that is the point. As I said, Grossman believed the system would break down through the overaccumulation of constant capital and insufficient new surplus-value produced, but it doesn't break down, and if it has broken down, it is not for those reasons. He has a caricatured view of the reproduction of total social capital. Once we abandon the Marxists to their literal dogmas, and focus on the facts about capital ownership in the modern world, that becomes perfectly obvious. As Makoto Itoh notes clearly, the law of the TRPF "cannot show in itself at what point of the process a clear limit to capital accumulation causes a periodical crisis to appear" (op. cit., p. 294). >You can't seriously mean this as a critique of HG? You don't seem to realize how much your vision has been formed by his work, perhaps as mediated through Mandel. In my student days I was influenced by Mandel, who explored what happens after a Grossmanite breakdown and why, but I don't refer much to Mandel these days. Mandel thought more deeply through the implications of Grossman's analysis, and wrote a Phd thesis about it, concerned primarily with Grossmann's "modifying influences" counteracting the tendency of the average rate of profit to fall (though most Marxists, insofar they had read or understood his Phd thesis at all, missed that point). Mandel notes that Bauer, Hilfering, Luxemburg, Grossmann, Moszkowska and Bukharin etc. all tried to investigate the dynamics of capitalism and economic crises using the reproduction schemas, but for that reason failed, because the reproduction schemas were not really intended for that purpose. At best, the reproduction schemas could demonstrate various possibilities for economic disproportions developing in the system. More profoundly, we could say that the theories of these Marxists were still strongly influenced by bourgeois equilibrium theories. Although Mandel raised the discussion to a higher level, I think there's also a lot of problems with Mandel's analysis as well, so I do not refer to him much. Rakesh, you are a fellow who evidently sees himself as a connoiseur of Marxian literature, and you would like to supervise the further development of Marxian thought. But I think it cannot be so supervised, and I cannot spent more time on this discussion now. Jurriaan PS - I am aware that Cyrus Bina is not a pomo Marxist.
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