[OPE-L:54] Re: Question [for Paul and Gil] (fwd)

glevy@acnet.pratt.edu (glevy@acnet.pratt.edu)
Fri, 15 Sep 1995 05:53:28 -0700

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I addressed a off-list question to Paul and Gil. Paul responded with the
following, believing (I think) that he was addressing the list.
Consequently, I am forwarding his response. It concerns a outline that
Paul sent us in August and everyone on the list has copies of. -- Jerry

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 14 Sep 95 19:00:58 PDT
From: Paul Cockshott <wpc@clyder.gn.apc.org>
To: glevy@acnet.pratt.edu
Subject: Re: Question [for Paul and Gil]

Jerry asked me how we came up with the listing that I posted earlier.

This was about 1977 that we drew it up, and it was part of a collective
study program involving perhaps a dozen people spread over 3 countries
in the UK. We met bi-monthly and had been working on conjunctural
analysis in order to decide what would be a sensible form of political
action at a time of evident economic crisis. We collectively read or
capital, and in addition ran capital study groups around the country.
We were engaged in statistical studies of the evolution of UK capitalism,
some of whose results were very belatedly published by Allin, Greg
and myself in Capital and Class this year.

The focus on the circulation process and the nature of the credit system
came if I recall from the fact that we found the basic marxian analysis
in Capital to be adequate for analysing the bulk categories of the
economy - rate of surplus value, profit, rent, organic composition etc.
However it was evident that one could not handle phenomena such
as the balance of financial flows between sectors, inflation in a
non-goldmonetary system etc, using the concepts openly presented by Marx.
These were topics that arose in conjunctural analysis and needed

The focus on international trade and capital movements came partly
from paradoxes evident in the empirical data, and also from an awareness
of Warren's critique of Lenin's Imperialism. It was evident that just
saying that the UK was a capital exporter was hard to reconcile with
the evidence of the country having had a trade deficit on the commodity
account for almost a century. It was clearly a net importer of value, so
how was it a capital exporter?

On workstyle

I was talking over lunch with a colleague who is part of an international
working group on computational complexity and phase changes, and
he made an interesting proposal concerning working style.

They post what they call 'FOOTNOTES', which are essentially short
papers, 2 to 4 pages when printed, to one another. The footnotes
have a standard layout and a standard numbering system. They
may contain references. They are prepared in Latex which allows
formated documents to be posted as plain ASCII by email, and with
appropriate processing allows them to be converted to html for a
Web site. They find that the format is long enough to get over the
brief and chatty format of most email, whilst being swift enough
to allow the exchange of possibly zany research ideas.

We might, with advantage, follow the same procedure.