[OPE-L] transformation

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Sun Mar 25 2007 - 18:46:06 EDT

Paul C wrote

>I am unsure as to why people on this list continue to
>expend so much effort discussing the transformation problem.

There are too many economists on the list. Having been stung by
Sraffa, Samuelson turned around and used Sraffa to sting the
Marxists. The Sraffians got really excited, thinking that they had a
foothold in the economics profession which would allow them to argue
for a more "just" distribution of the net product as long as they
assented to the war on the Marxists. Hence Marx after Sraffa to which
New Left Review gave its name. First the Marxists were driven out by
the Marxists, then the Sraffians ignored, leaving them nothing to do
but write abstruse ignored mathematical texts and insult Marxists for
illogic.  Economics is consequently the most right wing social
science, making near impossible an academic revival of Marxism within
economics departments as Ben Fine has argued. Meanwhile, the other
academic lefts have little understanding of the theory of value,
dismissing it because it putatively does not apply to immaterial
labor or outlier immaterial goods such as software (Negri). Or the
left attempts to understand economics only in terms of force and
politics--hence, the most expansive definition of primitive
accumulation (Harvey).
The most interesting attention the theory of value has received is
from anthropologists such as Stephen Gudeman and David Graeber and
from philosophers such as Chris Arthur in regards to the ontological
implications of money and alas from an economist such as Cyrus Bina
who has attempted to understand the operation of the law of value on
a world wide scale in the oil industry.
Marx's transformation exercise is important. You even admit that
prices seem to be hovering between value prices and prices of
production. The theory of price of production gives expression to the
real contradictions of general commodity production which is also
capitalist production. The theory has interesting epistemological and
political implications.
What is most certainly wrong is that Marx ever admitted to the
problem in his transformation tables that almost every modern account
of his economics has him admitting to. I am glad to have set the
record straight on OPE-L. We'll see if anyone listens or proves me

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