Re: [OPE-L] Truncating Marx's "Capital"

From: Fred Moseley (fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU)
Date: Sat Sep 01 2007 - 21:31:44 EDT

Hi Jerry,

The “transformation problem” has been the main reason given by
mainstream economists and others for rejecting Marx’s theory, and the
labor theory of value in particular, over the last century (two
centuries, if we go back to Ricardo!).  Just pick up any History of
Economic Thought textbook.  This is what has been taught to generations
of students:  “We can forget about Marx’s theory because it is
logically contradictory.”  So if it can be demonstrated that, with a
plausible interpretation of Marx’s theory, there is no contradiction
between the labor theory of value and equal rates of profit, I think
that would be a major step forward.  At least this most common excuse
for rejecting Marx’s theory would not be available.  Mainstream
economists would no doubt give other reasons for rejection, but it
would be harder, and the ideological nature of their rejection would be
more exposed.

So I think this is worth doing.  I am not saying that it is the main
thing to do, and that others should be working on it.  Just that it is
worth doing, and if further progress could be made, it would be a

Plus, I think significant progress has been made on this issue in
recent decades, with some new ideas and new interpretations, not just
rehashing old ideas – the new interpretation, the Wolff-Roberts-Calleri
interpretation, the TSSI, my “macro-monetary” interpretation, Diego’s
interpretation, etc.  And a fundamental issue has recently come into
clearer focus (due in large part to the work of the TSSI) – whether
Marx’s theory is based on the logical method of simultaneous
determination (as in the Sraffian interpretation) or sequential
determination (along the lines of the classical economists).  It seems
to me that it would be a shame to drop the discussion of this issue
now, just when real progress is being made, and perhaps reaching a
critical juncture.

I will certainly admit that progress has been painstakingly and
agonizingly slow.  But that is often the way it is in scholarly work.
Progress is slow.  But I think progress is being made in the
understanding of Marx’s logical method and Marx’s basic theory of value
and surplus-value and prices of production.  All this work may turn out
to be for naught.  I hope not, and I don’t think so.  But this seems
like a bad time to stop or discourage the work.


Quoting glevy@PRATT.EDU:

> Hi Jurriaan:
> The neverending debate (which has been going on for well over a century)
> has been very limited in its scope and has focused almost exclusively on
> the logic of Marx's theory of PoP and its relation to his theory of value.
> Enough historical time has passed that we should all be able to recognize
> the following:
> a) there is no reason to believe that the debate over the TP will be
> resolved to the satisfaction of most scholars in our lifetimes. The debate
> on the TP is not a "red herring" exactly, but it has become a road without
> an end.
> b) the debate on the TP has 'crowded-out' debates on many other topics
> which Marxians should be exploring in greater depth, especially those
> which directly concern the subject matter of capitalism rather than being
> focused on the narrow field of hermeneutics.
> c) regardless of its origin, the debate has been reproduced primarily by
> Marxians because and has become The Marxian Obsession.
> d) despite the intention of  many authors sympathetic to Marx to offer
> "solutions" to the TP which will - they hope - descisively resolve the
> debate, these authors are _themselves_ the ones who have caused the debate
> to be reproduced.
> e) there is absolutely no reason to believe that there will be consensus -
> or even anything remotely approaching consensus - over any of the
> alternative solutions which have been offered.
> f) the debate on the TP has gone on so long that it has its own
> _mythology_ concerning its own importance. This mythology was created and
> reproduced by the isolation of scholars working in this field.  Quite
> simply, scholars have lost touch with the realities concerning the
> relative (in-) significance of this subject but have created a mythology
> in which the subject takes on far greater importance than it in fact
> merits.
> In solidarity, Jerry

This message was sent using IMP, the Internet Messaging Program.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sun Sep 30 2007 - 00:00:04 EDT