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

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Wed Nov 28 2007 - 03:23:05 EST

I think this is not abstract enough. Firms are abstract
juridical subjects able to buy and exchange commodities one
with another. As such firms could in principle be entirely
automated, and could appropriate their own profit. One
can envisage a science fiction world run entirely by robots
in which private property relations persist and capitalist
firms are run by management computers.

In such a model you would still have production of 
commodities by means of commodities and, ( a big if ) if
profits equalised then Sraffas price equations would hold.

We have of course no evidence for such an economy existing
in the past present or future, but as a gedanken experiment
it seems valid.

Paul Cockshott
Dept of Computing Science
University of Glasgow
+44 141 330 3125

-----Original Message-----
From: OPE-L on behalf of Ian Hunt
Sent: Tue 27/11/2007 11:17 PM
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] book review of Kliman's book
I think Anders is confusing 2 issues: that of scarcity and that of
exploitation of labour. In an automated world, there is no
explpoitation of labour and no labour cost. Values do not regulate
prices if there is an exchange economy and scarcity. If there is no
scarcity, then Anders is right: there are no prices. If there is
scarcity, however, and private property (why there should be private
property in such circumstances is not clear, since ownership of
particularly scarce resources will give their private owners windfall
gains that society might not accept) there will be incomes but not
capitalist incomes. It will be a simple commodity producing society
without labour cost (this does require no 'picking' cost, as Anders
points out and may be a bit of science fiction)). Distribution will
be per capita with reproducible goods but for scarce resources there
will be rents. A neo-classical consumption model would work here (but
again, why there should be private property and differential
ownership of scarce respources is hard to understand)

>I thought it was pretty clear the views which of our old friends  I was
>-----Original Message-----
>From: OPE-L [mailto:OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU] On Behalf Of Anders Ekeland
>Sent: 27 November 2007 07:41
>Subject: Re: [OPE-L] book review of Kliman's book
>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.

Associate Professor Ian Hunt,
Dept  of Philosophy, School of Humanities,
Director, Centre for Applied Philosophy,
Flinders University of SA,
Humanities Building,
Bedford Park, SA, 5042,
Ph: (08) 8201 2054 Fax: (08) 8201 2784

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