[OPE-L] If a six turned out to be nine

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

>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.


PS - I am aware that Cyrus Bina is not a pomo Marxist.

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