Re: [OPE-L] Lawrence Krader on objective and subjective value

From: ajit sinha (sinha_a99@YAHOO.COM)
Date: Sun Nov 11 2007 - 13:47:33 EST

Jurriaan, I think you did not understand what I was
trying to say. Let's say I claim that "I always lie".
Now if this statement is true then I have obviously
contradicted myself, because I have apparently made a
statement which is not a lie. And if it is not true
then still I have contradicted myself because what I
stated is not true. This is the kind of problem Marx's
(or at least an interpretation of) historical
materialism falls into. If historical materialism is
true then it cannot escape its own historicity and if
it claims to be universally true (as it does) then its
claim to universality stands in contradiction to its
own theoretical claim. One aspect of Marx's writing is
quite prophetic in nature. He seem to sit on a hill
top looking down at ordinary folks in the
valley--commenting on how little they can see given
their circumstances etc. whereas he, of course, sits
on a previledged position from which the vision is
much clearer and complete. Cheers, ajit sinha

--- Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@TISCALI.NL> wrote:

> Hi Ajit,
> You ask:
> If Marx was not God, and I doubt that he was, then
> how
> could his ideas on value escape his own critique?
> Reply:
> Marx was obviously not God but a fallible human
> being with foibles and weaknesses. His theory is
> likewise open to the most rigorous standards of
> critique which he himself employs. I do not think
> that Marx said the last word about value and have
> never argued this, what I have argued is that the
> problem of economic value remains, even if modern
> economists banish it by simply focusing on prices
> and venting a lot of mathematical verbiage.
> Mathematics cannot substitute for an adequate
> categorisation and conceptualisation, it can only
> explicate the logical and quantitative implications
> of concepts in order to prove what is, and what
> cannot be, consistent, given certain theoretical
> assumptions. It can be shown that in almost any
> theory of prices, assumptions about economic value
> are presupposed, and the refusal to theorise them
> explicitly and coherently just means that ultimately
> we fall from one contradiction or paradox into
> another. Mathematics offers us a way of discovering,
> step by step, facts and implications inherent in the
> statement of a problem which are not immediately
> obvious. But a mathematical theory aiming to explain
> and predict events in the world about us, typically
> deals with a simplified model of the world, a
> mathematical model, in which only those factors
> thought to be relevant to the behaviour under
> consideration enter. The selection of those factors
> requires assumptions which go beyond the
> mathematical operations performed on them. Not all
> observables and concepts are amenable to
> measurement, but then experiential tests need not
> involve measurement.
> You say:
> The problem is that Marx is not only presenting a
> master strategy of critique from the perspective of
> which nothing is solid and all the ideas of
> everything melts away in the changing historicity.
> Reply:
> I am not quite sure what you mean here. I think if
> you mean nothing is solid about Marx, this is unfair
> to Marx. Incidentally, Marx made very few claims
> about originality, he claimed only to have removed
> inconsistencies from the theories of the political
> economists - theories which, he argued, led to
> conclusions that the political economists were
> unwilling to accept. He provides copious footnotes
> in order to show that it is not simply he who is
> saying these things, but sundry authorities who say
> these things.  The basic claims Marx makes are very
> solid, but it may be, that he is not entirely
> consistent himself either in tracing out the
> implications, which might lead to conclusions which
> he himself would perhaps be unwilling to accept.
> Much of the Marx-criticism focuses precisely on
> this. An additional problem is that he did not
> prepare Cap. Vol. 2 & 3 for publication such that
> some logical and conceptualisation problems remain.
> He struggled a great deal to tell a story in an
> understandable way. The basic problem is, how can
> you theorise an economic process of which all
> elements are in perpetual motion, in a realistic
> way? You must assume some constants to explicate the
> relationships between variables, although lateron
> you may examine what happens if the constants are
> variables also. Anybody devising a comprehensive
> theory has this problem. From some vantage points
> (the concatenations of economic life can be viewed
> from many different vantage points obviously) a
> coherent theory is possible, from other vantage
> points it is impossible. As Governor Kevin Warsh of
> the Federal Reserve stated recently, some humility
> is necessary: "Recent events serve as an important
> reminder that the next chapter of history is still
> being written. Perhaps, that is always the case. As
> in the political realm, the path to the end of
> history may well prove to be prone to advance,
> overshoot, and correct. We must continue to deepen
> our understanding of financial markets and monetary
> policy, equipped with ample humility on a long,
> productive, and admittedly uneven path."
> You say:
> There are apparently two things that remain solid
> throughout: One is the ideas Marx has about things
> (which includes value) and the master strategy
> itself. But this contradicts the master strategy.
> Reply:
> I am not sure what exactly you mean here, though
> perhaps this is made clear in your book. Do you mean
> that the master strategy modifies the things that
> remain "solid" so that they are not "solid" anymore?
> First you say nothing is solid and everything melts
> away. Now you say there are some solid things. That
> is not consistent.
> You say:
> Both the master strategy as well as Marx's ideas
> about value and capitalism etc. are product of a
> historically situated man's brain. If an Adam Smith
> or a Ricardo cannot escape their historical
> limitations then so does Marx.
> Reply:
> That I would agree with. Consequently, Marx's ideas
> are not the last word on the topics, however aware
> he might have been of historicity. Lawrence Krader
> himself said "I'm neither a Hegelian nor a Marxist,.
> I'm a student of both, as Marx was a student of
> Hegel. But Marx was also a disciple of Hegel, which
> I am not, nor a disciple of Marx. I am a socialist,
> and have been one for nearly 60 years, but not a
> Marxian socialist." Of course, a disciple is not an
> apostle. A disciple learns from the master and
> follows his method, an apostle seeks to spread the
> teachings of the master. An apostle thinks the
> master's ideas are more valid or important than his
> own independent thinking.
> You say:
> Rubin shows how Marxists turn Marx into God.
> Reply:
> I am not sure what warrants such an interpretation.
> All I said myself is, that an adequate theory of
> economic value must also explain why the
> manifestations of economic value appear to people in
> the way that they do, and it must explain the
> relationship between objectified value and the
> subjective perception of value motivating action. In
> a more profound way than Lukacs does, Rubin tries to
> show among other things how the reification of value
> means that objective value relations often appear
> other than they really are, in human consciousness,
> prompting the need for scientific inquiry. That is a
> perfectly acceptable argument, provided you can
> prove the discrepancy between the real value
> relation and the way it appears in consciousness,
> and explain consistently why it occurs. Marxism can
> be considered as a kind of secular faith, rooted in
> the revolt against oppression and the hope for a
> better world. This faith is not per se wrong, it can
> motivate a lot of good research among other things.
> We must all have faith in something in order to act,
> lacking perfect information. Marxism becomes a
> religion, if the authority of texts replaces the
> authority of verifiable experience. The faith is
> compatible with science. The religion is not.
> Regards
> Jurriaan

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