[OPE-L:1154] Re: TSS and GLCA

akliman@acl.nyit.edu (akliman@acl.nyit.edu)
Tue, 20 Feb 1996 10:38:40 -0800

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A reply to Jerry's thoughful comments in his latest post on the general
law of capitalist accumulation (GLCA) and the TSS interpretation
(ope-l 1149):

1. If I've given the impression that the TSS interpretation can replicate
ALL of Marx's theoretical conclusions, I'm sorry. To be precise, what
I mean is that it can and has replicated all the conclusions of his
*value theory* that have almost universally been accepted as internally
inconsistent: the FRP, the Ch. 9 transformation, negative values and
surplus values, no profit without surplus human labor (Dmitriev), the
dependence of the profit rate on nonbasic sectors, etc. Some theoretical
conclusions are removed to greater or lesser extents from his value
theory and I make no claim with respect to them. If the TSS interpretation
is found to contradict one or more of them, that that would, at least in
MY view, be the end of the TSS interpretation (since it would not then
be able to interpret the whole of his work in a coherent manner). Is
the difference clear?

2. Jerry expresses worry that my "*subject* of investigation is Marx
*rather than capitalism as such*" and asks: "shouldn't our subject of
investigation be capitalism?" I don't think there needs to be only
one subject of investigation, and I think the two are complementary.
What I reject is the conflation of issues of interpretation with
issues concerning what's going on in the real world. It is possible that
when correctly understood, Marx's work is wrong about everything. Still,
that doesn't mean the TSS interpretation is less adequate *as an
interpretation*. It could be that the technological determinists and
simultaneists are right about everything in the real world, but that
doesn't make their interpretation any more adequate *as an interpreta-

I also want to have absolutely nothing to do with "using" Marx's texts
to construct "better" theories and explanations if doing so distorts
the meaning and significance of his work as a whole. Actually, I'm not
even opposed to this as long as the result does not claim to be rooted
in *Marx's* Marxism. Such claims make it all the more difficult to ever
get to what the man himself thought, said, and wrote, and make it all
the more difficult for those of us who are trying to rediscover,
concretize, and develop the Marx's Marxism--we become (at best) one
interpretation among many, all of which seem to have different advantages
and disadvantages. Separating the issues of interpretation from all
other considerations helps make it clear that most of what masquerades
as correction, completion, and improvement of Marx is actually a
different theory, diferent world-view, different methodology, etc.
from his own. E.g., it is supposedly "simply incorrect" that the
profit rate is s/(c+v), but this has been refuted by reinterpretation
of the text (which doesn't of course mean that the profit rate is
indeed s/(c+v)).

3. Jerry thinks we should admit the "*possibility* that some of
Marx's theories may either be contradictory or incapable of explaining
some aspects of present-day capitalism." Of course. Please note
that I have "admitted" this possibility twice already in this post;
in fact I declared it openly without a single twinge of reluctance.
Please also note that I have spent the last ten years of my life
investigating this possibility seriously, painstakingly, and
thoroughly (of course, the work is still continuing). What I reject
is *agnosticism* on this question--well, its possible the earth is
round, and it's possible the earth is flat, so everybody has a right
[sic] to his/her view.

4. I'm quite happy to discuss the AGLCA (I'm adding A for Absolute,
Marx's word, which is of tremendous significance. It indicates, as
Raya Dunayevskaya developed at great length, that Marx's _Capital_ is
the recreation of Hegel's Absolute Idea for capitalism.) Jerry hints
as some problem with the law, but I can't discuss this because I still
don't know what the problem is. I find it interesting that even the
Republican Presidential candidates in the U.S. are saying much the
same thing that Marx did (under the impact of Buchanan's fascist
"bash the corporations" line). The stock market is booming, we're in
the 5th year of a "boom," and contingent work, declining living
standards, etc. keep being more of a problem.

Andrew Kliman