Re: [OPE-L] Truncating Marx

From: Riccardo Bellofiore (riccardo.bellofiore@UNIBG.IT)
Date: Mon Sep 10 2007 - 10:25:12 EDT

Hi David,

actually, I agree 98%. I too think that

- "There are no contradictions or 
"inconsistences" in Marx [regarding the 
transformation]; only some incompleteness in the 
formalization of the quantitative side of the 
theory. "

-  one has to "confront the question: what 
happens next?  After surplus value is 
redistributed and production prices formed, the 
elements of constant capital take on new values 
(based on the newly formed prices of production). 

I also agree on what follows about 
pooling-redistribution, sequential iteration 
abruptly stopped ('back into the empirical word, 
untheorized' or reaching the simultaneous 

Actually, in a very less efficacious way I wrote 
some of this kind in an ISMT volume edited by 
Campbell and Reuten.

Where I have doubts is when you write that the 
'invariance' assumption is irrelevant. I was of 
this opinion in 1980. Later on, I beacme 
convinced - probably, more an issue of more 
general reconstruction than of textual 
interpretation of Marx - that there is in fact an 
'invariance' in the spirit of Marx, the Marx of 
the 7th chapter so-to-speak: that the new value 
in the periods exhibits in money only current 
living labor.

If I should have to single out something which is 
invariant across the 3 volumes is this.


ps: I also very much agree in your criticism of 
those who label Sraffa "static-like" etc.. I 
think btw that the term should rather be 
'stationary'. But in fact, Sraffa's book is 
completely independent from the issue of 
'change', so it is neither stationary or 
evolutive. The real point is that Sraffa's 
problematic starts when Marx's game in vol. I is 
over, but I think Sraffa perfectly knew this and 
didn't saw his scheme as an alternative leading 
back to Ricardo.

At 15:00 -0400 9-09-2007, David Laibman wrote:
>Dear OPE comrades,
>    I have been trying to follow several related threads (equilibrium,
>TSSI, method, etc.), and getting frustrated as usual not being able to
>keep up.  This is why I am usually a lurker.
>    But I *must* offer a small whimper at a comment in a post by Anders,
>which refers to the "whole Bortkiewicz-Laibman tradition."
>    Wow!  In one sense I am flattered.  But Bortkiewicz was a crotchety
>anti-Marx writer who thought he had stuck it to Marx.  The TSS-ers take
>this much too seriously.  There are no contradictions or
>"inconsistences" in Marx; only some incompleteness in the formalization
>of the quantitative side of the theory.  The properties of the
>production/surplus extraction/value formation system can be studied
>using *both* simultaneous equations *and* sequential/dynamic systems;
>these are complementary approaches, not mutually excluding
>alternatives.  The so-called contradictions (Bortkiewicz) only arise
>because a particular limiting case of the value system (usually notated
>by the lambda vector) is given too much prominence -- in the study of
>*capitalism* -- by *both* Marx and Bortkiewicz!  *Labor* value is
>*formed* under the impact of the formation of a general rate of profit.
>There is indeed a *single system*.  There are no transformation
>invariances, and therefore no inconsistencies.  I think that the value
>system that has evolved in our literature to describe the benchmark case
>of profit-rate equality at the level of abstraction of unobstructed
>reproduction (the abstract capitalist economy) -- as it has evolved from
>Bortkiewicz (whatever his personal intentions) to Sraffa, Dobb, Meek,
>Sweezy, Shaikh, and, yes, even Laibman --is *more* "single-system,"
>*more* consistent, less eclectic, not anti-theoretical, and (here I
>write with reservations and warnings about "textualism") *more* in
>keeping with the spirit and essential content of Marx's work than
>anything the TSS crowd has produced.
>    So, please, don't associate me with any of Bortkiewicz's accusations
>against Marx.  They don't hold water, in my opinion.
>    But.  I also don't accept the characterization "Sraffa-like, static
>linear algebra."  There is nothing static about identifying inner,
>structural properties of the capitalist production/exploitation/value
>formation system; to the contrary, isolating those properties is the
>central task of value theory.  Isolating benchmark (you can even, with
>appropriate care, say "equilibrium") structures is crucial for
>understanding dis-equilibrium, transformative properties.  Marx has a
>beautiful formulation, about the law of value asserting itself only
>through its continual violation.  This captures the dialectic.
>"Non-equilibrium" can mean anything.  By contrasting, inherent pressure
>toward disruption of equilibrium points toward analyzable
>transformation, and (eventually) transcendence.
>    Finally, I must agree with Ian and register a skeptical note
>concerning Fred's attempt to distinguish between simultaneous and
>(non-TSS) sequential value determination.  If we tell the Vol. III, ch.
>9 story about pooling-and-redistribution of surplus value, we get the
>constant elements of constant capital story that Fred elevates into
>"Marx's method."  But no matter what you call it, you must, I think,
>confront the question: what happens next?  After surplus value is
>redistributed and production prices formed, the elements of constant
>capital take on new values (based on the newly formed prices of
>production).  What now prevents *another* round of
>pooling-and-redistribution from taking place?  Again, you *either* have
>to say, well, too much "time" has passed,.and things move on: technical
>change, social change, etc.  Then we are back into the empirical record,
>untheorized.  (Let's not worry about what the TSS-ers say; I dislike
>textualism applied to Marx; even more so, to TSSI!)  *Or* you let
>temporal iterations of pooling-and-redistribution proceed, to a second
>and third round and beyond, holding real-historical change in abeyance
>by means of theory, and you have, in the limit, the much-maligned
>simultaneous solution.
>    In solidarity,
>       David

Riccardo Bellofiore
Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche
"Hyman P. Minsky"
UniversitÓ di Bergamo
Via dei Caniana 2
I-24127 Bergamo, Italy
direct    +39-035-2052545
fax:      +39 035 2052549

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