[OPE-L:799] Re: Digression: two qestions and a proposal

Gilbert Skillman (gskillman@mail.wesleyan.edu)
Wed, 17 Jan 1996 11:41:28 -0800

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I liked Alan's comments under the above head, up to a point, and
agree by and large with his main procedural suggestion, i.e. that each of
us should indicate the "big picture" to which our respective theoretical
arguments are pointed. I shall do so as soon as I can.

However, there is an implicit assumption in his post that certain
theoretical fundamentals have already been established beyond question,
rendering further ground-laying efforts at best redundant. This assumption
carries with it the unintended implication that Alan is the
beneficiary of Received Truth w.r.t Marx and is thus able to judge
what constitutes (ir)relevant or (un)necessary preliminary effort.

For example, suppose that I were now to announce that the OPE-L debate
concerning the connection between "equivalence" and "equality" has
clearly been resolved in my favor, even though the debate has not yet
ended. Wouldn't this announcement necessarily be taken as
presumptious and perhaps a bit arrogant?

In that light, how should one react to these comments of Alan's?:

> Consider for example the
> points which Gil and Steve have been making. The argument about
> exchange and equivalence was first made seventeen years ago by
> Cutler, Hindess, Hirst and Hussain. I come across it every five
> years; it was wrong then, it is wrong now, and it is easily
> disposed of as Paul C has shown.

I believe that these remarks are inappropriately dismissive. My gut reaction
is that given these arguments have been heard so many times,
I should have expected much more coherent and effective answers than I've
been getting. I recognize that I owe Paul C. a post (shortly to
follow), but I don't see that his arguments "easily dispose" of
anything; indeed they seem to elucidate the relevance of the argument by
counter-example I've given earlier.

But to the larger point: if the relevant starting point for Marxian
economics is indeed not a matter of received truth, then some amount
of preliminary spadework must perhaps be tolerated in order to
promote clarity as to our respective theoretical vantage points.

In Solidarity, Gil Skillman

PS Nothing in the above is meant to imply that Alan is presumptious
or arrogant. Having met him, I know otherwise.