[OPE-L:317] Re: Re Mike L's proposal (ope-l:293)

akliman@acl.nyit.edu (akliman@acl.nyit.edu)
Mon, 23 Oct 1995 06:49:08 -0700

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Thanks to Duncan F. for his questions.

I think Duncan might be right in part that capitalism is still around "because
nobody's figured out a viable alternative way to organize social production."
This suggestion, however, relates to whether there is a need for a blueprint
for the future, whether put together by experts or not. Marx as we know did
not try to outline the future? Why, and is there a merit to his approach?
From my reading of _Civil War in France_, I think he saw its great contribution--the Paris Commune--as being thepolitical form to work out such questions,
in process. He noted that the Communards "have no ideals to realize, but to
set free the elements of the new society." My sense is that he thought the
viable alternative could emerge through the self-activity and self-development
of the process of creating the new society.

I would pose the opposite question--isn't capitalism partly still around because some people have tried to plan the future and run roughshod over living human beings and their felt aspirations, because they thought they knew what the
answers for the future must be?

As to the second question, the relation between relative values and relative
prices: I am not sure why this relationship is an interesting one. And I
really don't know of any aspect of Marx's work for which it is important.
Maybe someone can tell me of one. But it seems to me that Marx's Ch. 9
transformation--and everyone else's, too--tells us that the size of differences between relative values and relative prices depends on (a) the mass of surplus- value to be redistributed and (b) the dispersion of capital compositions
across industries. Thus the correlation could be large, or small, but in any
case dependent on very contingent factors. If the correlation is high, this
probably implies a small dispersion of composition of capital. I do not think
this has any theoretical significance in terms of Marx's work.

It also seems to me that Marx was very concerned with the *aggregate* equalities of value/price and surplus-value/profit.

Maybe these are things we should discuss. I am not sure, though, that this
list needs to discuss value theory, even though I think it cannot be avoided
in the larger sense.