Re: [OPE-L] conservation principles in economic and the natural sciences

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Wed May 09 2007 - 12:38:08 EDT

> I think there is only one conservation principle in
> natural science (I mean physics) and that is
> conservation of total energy. I do not know of any
> conservation principle in political economy. What are
> they? Now, don't tell me the normalisation equation
> used by some Marxists in the transformation problem
> as, total value = total prices of production is your
> conservation principle of political economy. That
> would be non-sense.

Hi Ajit:

The "conservation principle" used by some modern Marxian
economists is the *axiom* that value is conserved in exchange.
What this is intended to convey is the principle that the act
of exchange itself can't create new value.  We probably have
different reasons for disliking this axiom.  What I don't
like is -- at least the way I have seen it applied -- the assertion
that value once created can't be *destroyed* except through
use.  This leads to models of moral depreciation in which value
is simply redistributed among capitalists rather than there also
causing a destruction of capital values.  It might also be taken
to infer that value is simply redistributed through war and genocide
rather than those acts causing a dimunition in aggregate value.

Marx never referred directly to a "conservation principle".  It
has its origins in modern formalizations, perhaps beginning with

In solidarity, Jerry

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