Re: [OPE-L] Incoherence of the TSSI - consensus?

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Sun Oct 21 2007 - 06:39:13 EDT

I  left a few points made by Anders unanswered - something I will correct

>Mongiovi and Veneziani only accepts static equilibrium (input prices
>= output prices, Bortkiewicz, Sraffa, Steedman kind of models). They
>seem very unwilling to look outside this very limited paradigm.

I think that is quite unfair: of course, they "look" outside of their
paradigm. Indeed, if they hadn't then they wouldn't have critiqued the
TSSI to begin with.

>The limits to the TSSI, i.e. that it is not a real positive theory,
>i.e. a model that shows how capitalism works, are not recognized,
>because the Sraffa model is of course even more totally unreal
>(nothing changes).

The above makes it sound as if there are only two choices: the TSSI
and surplus approach theory.  That is grossly unfair in that it
dismisses the work of other Marxian perspectives and elevates the
TSSI to a platform that is much higher than those other theories.

But, yes, the exclusive focus on "interpreting Marx" is a limit to
the TSSI.  Had it been possible to surpass that limit then they
would have already done so.  Thay've certainly had enough time to do
so had they wanted and been able to. Surplus approach theory isn't the
reason this limit isn't more commonly recognized, though. The existence
of the "Sraffians" does, however,  make a convenient scapegoat for their
own theoretical inadequacies: had surplus approach theory not existed
then the TSSI authors would have had to invent it as a foil for their
own perspectives.

>The arbitrariness of such a model where only "basic goods" determine
>the profit rate - clearly in contradiction to the actual dynamics of
>the tendency to equalization of profit rates in real life capitalism
>- in my opinion shows that such models cannot be the basis to build
>any robust political results on.

Oh?  What is the empirical evidence concerning the "actual dynamics
of the tendency to equalization of profit rates in real life capitalism"?
Please do not simply assume profit rate equalization (or, at least, if you
do please make it clear that it's an assumption and a tautology and not a
statement about the operation of real life capitalism).

>IMO we are in a situation where the TSSI is starting the process of
>getting rid of the old thoughts so that it will be easier to think
>the new thoughts - to use a metaphor from Keynes. The new thoughts
>have still not crystallized.

I think, rather, that the old thoughts and praxis that we in the process
of burying include the thoughts and practices of advocates of the TSSI.
They are part of a old tradition that needs to be surpassed rather than a
tradition that needs to be extended. Those older traditions include
debates in which authors duel by exchanging Marx quotes, debates that are
sterile because they are limited to merely interpreting Marx, debates that
misrepresent the perspectives of those being critiqued, debates by
"algebraic Marxists" (of which the TSSI is a special case), and debates
that make grandiose and unsubstantiated claims with exaggerated rhetoric.
You mentioned the discussions from the 1970s.  In many ways, the
contributions by TSSI authors represent nore merely a retogression to the
1970s form of debate among Marxians but a step even further backwards.

In solidarity, Jerry

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