[OPE-L:306] Re: INTERIM PROPOSAL [951021]

akliman@acl.nyit.edu (akliman@acl.nyit.edu)
Sat, 21 Oct 1995 10:41:36 -0700

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Andrew here.

I'm not sure I understand the topic Jerry's INTERIM PROPOSAL [951021] would have us discuss. I have doubts that one can successfully pre-specify an "order of
enguiry." And knowing something about lists, and the process of conversation
among people, I have doubts that we could stick to the original blueprint for

I have a more modest proposal, perhaps not contradicting Jerry's. Why don't
we discuss what each of us wants from ope-l? Not what one's own goals are
in terms of "Marxist economic theory" or whatever, but what one reasonably
expects the "heterogeneous labor" of 24 *very different* people to achieve.
We have obviously been pulling in several different directions, which indicates how difficult it will be to arrive at any common project. The proposals to
split into 2 or 3 groups are also symptomatic of this.

I am against splitting into groups. Those of us who think it is important to
discuss value theory and "fundamental" issues are already doing so with each
other; we do not need ope-l for that. Several of us would like to involve
OTHERS in that discussion; the decade-long silence and resistance to this
dialogue has made itself felt again. Of course, part of the resistance is
due to fears that value theory discussions are sterile. I spoke to this
issue in my reply to Mike L.'s post yesterday.

But I fear that there is also a conservative source of resistance--I desire to
be fair here, but it seems that some folks are avoiding any fundamental
rethinking, or contending that it isn't necessary. It is. Some have based
their theoretical and empirical work on the premise that Marx's value theory
is self-contradictory. This premise has now been challenged, successfully,
I believe. Along with it are challenged the methodological and theoretical
departures from Marx which have come into being, and in the past have been
justified, by Marx's alleged inconsistencies. If the defenses of Marx's
value theory are wrong, where are they wrong? And if they are not wrong, then what is now the justification for these departures? Do we not now have at
least two contending value theories, Marx's and that of post-Marx Marxists,
and does anyone seriously believe that theoretical progress can be made
without a fundamental re-exploration of the basics under the circumstances?

Of course, I am NOT saying that no theoretical insights can be gained, or that
no empirical knowledge can be won, except on the basis of Marx's work. I
AM saying that departures from _Capital_ have a logic of their own and must
be, and are, worked out to the end. Eclecticism never wins out, theoretically. And avoidance of fundamental issues is eclecticism or, worse, dogmatism--
i.e., a refusal to subject one's presuppositions to a test.

I do not want to abet such tendencies. That's why I think it would be a bad thing to split into groups.

Let's face it: any group seriously interested in advancing "Marxian economics" or whatever has to come to grips, one way or another, with its relationship to
Marx's own work. This does not mean agreeing, much less accepting unreflect-
ively, with everying Marx wrote. It does mean one has to decide whether
Marx's work is the theoretical foundation of one's own or not. And at this
particular historical moment, one cannot decide this without deciding
what one thinks about Marx's OWN value theory, now that one can no longer
avoid this question by pointing to its alleged inconsistencies.

Andrew Kliman