[OPE-L] Walrasian and Neo-Walrasian theories and how the TSSI is an example of the latter

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Thu Oct 25 2007 - 08:28:54 EDT

(JL asked)
>> Do you think there is a "Whiggish
>>foundation" to basically all non-TSSI radical perspectives in political
(AE replied:)
> Yes, in the sense that gen.eq - uniform profit rates, M-prices must
> be equal to M'-prices, is seen as the only rigorous framework, the
> only one that can produce analytical (interesting results).
(JL asked)
>>Do you think that it is a foundational question for Marxian and
>>Sraffian economics to (your words) "judge him (Marx) from a gen eq. point
>>of view"?
(AE replied)
> Yes.
(JL commented)
>>Since all but a handful of Marxians (in the Analytical and
>>Rational Choice Marxism traditions) explicitly reject general equilibrium
>>theory, this is a bit far-fetched, imo.
(AE replied)
> Why far fetched? The whole Bortkiewicz, Sweezy, Sraffa inspired
> linear algebra is simultaneous, GE modelling, so if these people as a
> credo reject GE - all their models and thinking and what they regard
> as "results" are from GE models. Deeds count - not words.


*Accuracy* counts!  It is not accurate to represent Ricardians - including
von Borkiewicz - as general equilibrium theorists.  Nor is it accurate to
suggest that Sweezy, Sraffa et. al. were Walrasian theorists.  To think
that classical political economy and Marxian economics is Walrasian is
hopelessly confused and misrepresents the project and meaning of those
intellectual traditions.

While it is inaccurate to refer to Marxian traditions (except those which
I noted previously) as being part of the tradition of general equilibrium
theory, I think it *is* accurate to suggest that one or more Marxian
traditions are - in the *most* fundamental sense! - *Neo-Walrasian*.

The most fundamental problem theoretically with Walrasian theory is not
that it employs a particular mathamatical concept of equilibrium.  The
*most* essential problem with Walrasian theory is that it - in very
fundamental ways - misrepresents the *real* subject matter which it
purports to describe (capitalism). This is done primarily through the
formal specification of the model.

For instance, Walras presents a theory supposedly meant to describe
capitalism in which (among other things) there are no classes and there is
no money. By making these assumptions, Walras makes it impossible to
derive any meaninfgful and legitimate conclusions based on his abstract
model about capitalism: he has *assumed away the very social relations
associated with capitalism*! Hence, the theory might conceivably have
meaning in some possible future society or a contemporary social formation
on another planet, but it has no legitimate meaning for capitalism.

In this sense, I think it is accurate to describe the TSSI as
*Neo-Walrasian*.  Like Walrasian theory, the TSSI attempts to present
formal, axiomatic models which yeild determinant results.  Like Walrasian
theory, the results flow from the specicications of the model including
the assumptions made. *Like Walrasian theory, they often end up assuming
away the defining social relations characteristic of capitalism!*  This is
seen most clearly through the use of the V = O assumption which assumes
away wage-labor and many other essential aspects of the subject matter.
This Neo-Walrasian interpretation of Marx is also a gross *truncation* of
Marx's perspective and erases some of the most important insights that
Marx had concerning capitalism. Indeed, Marx's *insistence* on identifying
and incorporating the specific social relations of capitalism in his
theory  was a huge and fundamental part of his critique of classical
political economy and the vulgar economists.  I think that Gary M is
correct to claim that the TSSI is a form of vulgar theory: indeed, I would
go so far as to suggest that the sections of the _Theories of Surplus
Value_ which deal with "the disintegration of the Ricardian school" should
be used to critique the TSSI.  Hence, the TSSI represents a *huge* step
backwards from Marx.  It is simply a special case of some of the very
theories that it has subjected to critique. It is _both_ Neo-Walrasian and
vulgar economics.

V does not equal -0-; TSSI = 0!

In solidarity, Jerry

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