[OPE-L] Ajit Sinha II

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Wed Jul 11 2007 - 17:00:45 EDT

I am not worried if I find that Marx's two identities (between total profits
and total surplus value and between total production prices and total
values) cannot hold, because in a dialectical theory dealing with a moving
process, they are only simplifying abstractions anyway. Plus, if Marx is
correct, value relations exist irrespective of whether they are expressed by
prices or not, since human beings produce and maintain their products with
their work. The question is what the theory can explain and predict, and
what conditions would need to be satisfied for it to be at all realistic. It
may explain a lot, or very little (because pitched at a very high level of
abstraction). Marx and Engels themselves explicitly denied that the two
identities would apply in reality, at most they thought the discrepancies
would not be so great.

You are at a far higher level of economic theory than I am, have a much
better grasp of the literature, hence my reference to "dummies". My own
thinking and study about all this got derailed at the critical point, life
became a tragic mess, and I did not delve deeply into the mathematics of it,
as I originally wanted. But anyway I think mathematical equations cannot
substitute for conceptual precision in the definition of measuring units;
they only reveal the logical and quantitative implications of concepts and
measurement units. The important thing here is to be clear about what you
think has to be explained, what you need to explain. I think here we
probably differ somewhat. There are oodles of mathematical proofs that Marx
is wrong, but they typically do not do much justice to the problems he tried
to solve or the concepts he used to solve them. The real questions are

1) it is possible to develop Marx's unfinished theory further in a coherent
way, or not
2) we need to adopt parts of Marx's theory and reject others
3) we need a completely new theory to satisfy Marx's explanatory goals in
modern setting

I think you reject 1), you accept 2) and think that 3) is an open question.
I am a bit of a "waverer" at this point, as I have tended to move from
thinking 1), then 2) and then 3) but then moving back again the other way. I
think I would need an amount of research time equal to the years I lost out
of my productive intellectual life due to personal crises to solve that
satisfactorily, but I may not be so lucky. How much control over one's life
can one have, in these uncertain times? Life is what happens to you while
you are making other plans, and you have to meet your personal needs
somehow. A dangerous thing to say, if you believe in the benefits of planned
economy, but true in some sense. Well maybe I should make some "Other


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