Re: [OPE-L] book review of Kliman's book

From: Anders Ekeland (anders.ekeland@ONLINE.NO)
Date: Tue Nov 27 2007 - 02:41:03 EST

Dear all,

Once more on the "logic" of Kliman's book. Kliman answered Sinha on
this in his message to the list, but the latest response from Paul C.
- the attached document I mean - shows that it needs yet another
round so we can get the debate a bit less confused. Key to that is to
understand the very limited purpose of the "Reclaiming Marx' Capital".

One might critisize this self-limitation, one might argue that this
internal, exegetic method is hair-splitting and does not contributing
to solving the real life transformation problem, but still one has a
duty to try to understand Kliman's claim Marx' can be interpreted as
*internally* consistent. That I hope would make the debate less
confused, would make us avoid some false debate over who understand
logic and who does not. All the participants are very good at logic.
It is the character, the relevance of the questions asked that is the
core here.

First of all - I am a bit confused about who's point of view Paul C.
are forwarding - is this Ajit Sinha speaking? If so I have fully
agree with Paul C. that this way of working: reading the archives
attentively and then through intermediaries participate in a debate
on a list one does not like - that one has left - that's not the way
people working for human liberation treat "the others". So to both
Sinha and Kliman: if you want to be part of the discussion - (re)join
the list please.

At 12:34 20.11.2007, Paul C. wrote:
>I am posting I review of Kliman's book to the list, that was sent to
>me by an old friend. I post it with his permission.
>I find it quite a devastating critique of Kliman.
I must admit that I do not find it so devastating. Let me just take
two points that do not involve any mathematical examples.

1) The question of internal consistency
It seems to me that Ajit - like some others - do not fully understand
the - limits of Kliman's *exegetic* claim that Marx is consistent.

Ajit writes:

To illustrate the case in point: since we all know that for a long
time there exists a group of  'scholars' who argue that the claims of
the theory of evolution against the Bible-story is false and that
creationism is consistent with empirical evidence; it then, according
to the author of this book, must carry with it the consequences that
the claims of evolutionism are unproved and they are implausible!
Same must be the consequences of the existence of a group of
'scientists' who question greenhouse effect and global warming!

In my opinion Ajit does not really understand Kliman here. What
Kliman argues is not that Marx' theory is true, i.e. is "consistent
with empirical evidence", i.e. describes reality. If the creationists
argued that the *Bible* is *internally* consistent no empirical fact
from the real world, be it by Darwin or Steven J. Gould would matter.

And as we all know - a lot of intellectual energy as been devoted to
showing that the Old and the New Testament are *internally*
consistent - especially the NT. To show the inner consistency of the
four orthodox Evangeliums (John, Marcus etc.) is not that easy. Not
to speak of the  "apocryph" writings, like the Thomas Evangelium
which has up to now not been seen as part of the Bible. There are
still many people working on that issue. But such exegetic work does
not take "empirical evidence" into consideration - and neither does
or does Kliman need to do in his work.

The same goes for the greenhouse effect. There is a difference
between the two propositions:

a) Since Lomborg questions the man made greenhouse effect the
majority of scientists are proven wrong by the mere existence of
Lomborg's work (Clearly non-sensical given empirical facts)


b) Lomborg is internally consistent, that is - he is not arguing
against himself, i.e. the analysis in chapter X do not logically
contradict the analysis Lomborg has in chapter Y).

To decide b) one has to argue using Lomborg's writings as the only
empirical material.

Or to take a well-known example of *internal* inconsistency :
reswitching in the case of Samuelson - where  Samuelson admitted

Another example is Debreu's "A theory of Value. An axiomatic
approach" - I do not think this work is internally inconsistent (i.e.
that the results do not follow from the equations, the lemmas, the
preconditions). That this GE is "utterly divorced from reality", that
stability cannot be proved so that the GE is totally contrary to
empirical evidence is quite another matter. My opinion is that it is
a ideological result, not a scientific one. But Debreu goes free of
the charge of *internal* inconsistency.

It is this way what Kliman argue is that Marx is not *internally*
consistent - so that charge should be dropped. It has only a
ideologico-political importance - a great one. It does not - as
Kliman underscores - settle the question if Marx did the solve TP -
seen from an empirical - "good model" point of view.

2) The profit rate in the fully automated economy
Ajit argues that Kliman's line of argument against Dimitriev is just
dead wrong. I will not go into the details of Kliman's argument. But
I just note that Ajit and I think very differently, because to me a
thing which is produced without labour (full automation) has a zero
price, because like Smith (and IMO also Marx) I believe that "labour
is the only real social cost" - so when there is no labour such a
process is outside of the field of economic science (not all social
sciences of course) since every economy is basically an "economy of
time" = that is labour time.

When blueberries generate new blueberries as they do in the woods
around Oslo where I live - and if I like a Jedi in Star Wars could
pick them only by using a negligible amount of "the Force" - they
would be free, prices  and profit would not be part of the picture -
so Dimitriev's example has no bearing on the labour theory of value
-  if labour is the fundamental and only real cost to society. (See.
Marco Lippi's book on "Marx, il valore como costo sociale
reale"  translated as "Value and naturalism in Karl Marx", Verso 1979.

I think I would have argued a little bit different from Kliman
regarding Dimitriev, but I would have reached the same conclusion,
that even though Dimitriev's example is internally consistent, given
the way D. and most economist think - Dimitriev's "case" is
irrelevant ("defined away") in a Marxian "time as the only real
social cost" paradigm. In a fully automated economy there is no
labour = no scarcity = no prices, no profits. 0 = 0.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri Nov 30 2007 - 00:00:04 EST