[OPE-L] Reclaiming Marx's "Capital"

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Sat Aug 25 2007 - 08:05:34 EDT

I think Prof. Kliman would really have been better off calling his book
"Redeeming Marx: explorations in the possibility of consistency".

The main point is really that, if you make a grandiose drama about
"misrepresentation" and "suppression" and suchlike, while you yourself
misreport, mislabel and abusively edit the views of those with whom
you disagree,  it doesn't really wash in the end.

In the latest issue of the refereed British Marxist journal ''Capital &
Class'', the scholars Simon Mohun and Roberto Venezani say politely: "In
their use of logic, their reporting of the views of those with whom they
disagree, and in their elaboration of their own fundamental categories,
Kliman and Freeman leave something to be desired." ("The Incoherence of the
TSSI: A Reply to Kliman and Freeman", ''Capital & Class'', issue 92, Summer
2007, p. 144).

It is not that people want to censor the Klimanites from saying what they
have to say, but that they object to the moral double standard of the
Klimanites. The Klimanites want to be able to defecate "humanistically"
on other people, but when it gets done to them, they go in a huff
and protest against "not being taken seriously". The Klimanites want to
call other people stupid, but when their own stupidity is revealed,
they claim in advance they "have an explanation" and that we ought to
adopt their concepts before we know what they are. This makes it
difficult to discuss, so then they end up looking for people who to
discuss with, and who will take them seriously, with a plea that
they deserve being taken seriously. But the fact they are not taken
seriously, is of their own making, the communication style they have.

Prof. Kliman put all the emphasis on "consistency", but that is not a very
smart move, because if there is only one inconsistency, the case falls down.
And no absolute consistency is possible in language or mathematics anyway,
it is not to be found there. Perhaps Kliman hopes that his focus will
attract people into searching for inconsistencies, and thereby ineluctably
be led on to the Path of Truth and Righteousness he discovered. But actually
this is a rationalist fallacy, precisely because from a logical
inconsistency, all kinds of conclusions can follow. People might just as
well conclude it's not what it reclaims to be, and get on with something

If you really have a devastating, irrefutable argument, all you need to do
is publish it. But actually, the Klimanites want to do much more.
Prof. Kliman is not simply an author, he is also simultaneously a marketeer
(see his website for instance), a propagandist and a politician on the
warpath. He seeks to introduce politics in the abstract realm of value
theory, and draw direct political conclusions from that theory. In
fact everything is political, and this goes right down to the syntax
of a sentence.

What this means is that the ostensibly "neutral" logical argumentation
is in reality infused by a morality defining "goodies and baddies",
if not explicitly, then through innuendo. The righteous must get their
reward, the wicked must be punished, with Prof. Kliman as the

You have the original TSSI product invented by Michel Husson, and
then you have the spin-offs Kliman tries to sell, and in the end you have
the TSSI approach to everything, "rising from the abstract to the concrete".
The TSSI is supposed to unite a disparate band of orthodox Marxists
who reject Sraffian or neo-Ricardian approaches. But this is not a
healthy basis for unity.

Probed more deeply, it turns out that this thinking is sectarian
(the Dunayavskaya sect is a sect, just like Trotskyism is a sect), at which
point Prof. Kliman rushes in to "prove" he is "not a sectarian". But however
he twists and turns, the consistency he craves is still lacking. He then
suggests that it is up to other people to prove, that he is inconsistent,
but goes on believing he is consistent anyway. In reality, the
Klimanites claim consistency in advance of proof, because the TSSI
supposedly removes ALL known inconsistencies in the quantitative
dimension of Marx's value theory. This is simply not true, and that
is quite easily proved, even without complex math.

Here in Holland we have a different meaning for "reclaiming". We have
polders. You drain the water, and so reclaim the land. But if all you do is
build a dyke around the area that is to be reclaimed, and marvel at the
"consistency" of your design, you haven't reclaimed the land yet. You still
have to drain it, prepare the soil etc. and how are you going to do it?
The is the question. You can of course laugh at the little Dutch boy who,
noticing a hole meantime, put his finger in a dyke, but when the flood
comes rushing in as the dykes crumble of old age, it's a different story.


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