Re: [OPE] Specially for Patrick Bond: David Harvey on equilibrium

From: Ian Wright <>
Date: Thu Sep 17 2009 - 16:30:52 EDT

Jurrian, I didn't yet simply due to lack of time.

I think Jerry's point about the necessary relation between equilibrium
and disequilibrium is both concise and correct. The notion of
disequilibrium is nonsense without its opposite, and it is impossible
to gain a real understanding of the "laws of motion" of capitalism by
simply stating that the economy is never in equilibrium.

Marx is also explicit that the dynamics of capitalism have a
homeostatic kernel. This is the "law of value" after all, i.e. there
is a causal regularity, instantiated by the social practice of
generalized commodity exchange, that pushes prices toward their
labor-values. Marx even discusses under what circumstances this
tendency might even be realized.

Of course the state has to intervene to keep the system going, but if
capitalist markets did not have a homeostatic tendency to allocate
social labor to effective demand then the state would have to
intervene in every market all the time, otherwise the economic basis
of society would blow apart. The surprising fact is that it doesn't
blow apart, that an unplanned social division of labor gets
continually integrated and reproduces itself over time.

I think we also need to understand that the economy is a complex
system with many "mechanisms" that interact. We need to tease it
apart, using the power of abstraction, to isolate the mechanisms and
understand their nature, i.e. divide and conquer. Then we can
synthesize, put the mechanisms back together, and aim to understand
the time sequence of empirical phenomena. I think that's how to
understand Marx's use of the equilibrium concept of prices of
production (POP): he knows that market prices may never realize those
prices, but nonetheless POP are real because they express a real
tendency of a particular mechanism that functions in the economy.
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Received on Thu Sep 17 16:35:46 2009

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