[OPE-L:1161] Last of what?

Alan Freeman (100042.617@compuserve.com)
Tue, 20 Feb 1996 14:34:15 -0800

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Allin writes [OPE 1121 19/02/96]

"I thought we had laid this claim to rest. Once again, and very briefly: If
one takes v = Ap + l as defining value then one will see the equation v = Av
+ l as holding only under price-value equivalence. If one takes v = Av + l
as defining value then one will see the equation v = Ap + l as holding only
under price-value equivalence. The situation is symmetrical. Each side can
with equal justice (i.e., none) claim that the other's equation rests on the
assumption of price-value equivalence.

I hope we have heard the last of this."

I'm sorry to have run out of time when a very interesting extension of the
discussion has opened out, and I'll have to content myself with restrained
response. I'm responding here because the phrases "I thought we had laid this
claim to rest" and "I hope we have heard the last of this" both worry me. I
think we should be careful of such categorical assessments.

As long as we are conducting discussions between fairly entrenched views
from very different paradigms it isn't very likely we will lay anything to rest
and I think it is probably a bad idea to assume we can, or get annoyed if we
don't. One of the 'benefits' of this wonderful E-Mail technology seems to
be that you have to say everything twenty times. Maybe it's the internet
equivalent of a bad phone line. But it sounds suspiciously like fifty people
all saying 'Do what?' at once.

What seems to have emerged as far as I can see is that there is, for
sure, a group of people (not including me) who say " sure v=vA+l, but this has
nothing to do with price-value equivalence". An excellent development, say I.
It allows us at least to discuss how Marx's argument runs if we don't interpret
chapters 1-5 as assuming price-value equivalence. It allows me to pose
the kind of questions I just did in 'where do the differences come

But there still remains a very definite group of people, I think we will
find most Marxists in the world, who either think v=vA+l *because* of
price value equivalence, or think Marx says this, or thing both. Simon seems
to be clinging fairly tenaciously to at least one of these views; so does
Sweezy, the New Palgrave, all neoclassicals and a lot of very influential and
prominent people including those who write a lot of the books people regard
as authoritative.

Indeed most people think *this* debate 'has been laid to rest' and regard
the very idea that Volume I might have been dealing with anything except
price-value equivalence as idiocy beyond credulity. You can tell by the
language they use; they don't just say that our views are wrong, they
generally imply that these views are out there beyond the place where the
sea falls off the edge of the world.

Which is one of the things which makes me very touchy about this kind of

In the citation Allin refers to I carefully used the words "The view
widely accepted as 'Marxist'". There may be a misunderstanding in that
Allin might have thought "the view widely accepted as Marxist in the
current discussion on OPE" but that wasn't my intention.

My view of OPE is that we reach conclusions by agreement, or we agree
to disagree. Even if I have had no reply to my claims at all, I don't
regard any issue as settled until I reach an agreement with the
other discussants. That's one of the reasons I keep putting agreements
down on the table, to see whether an issue genuinely is 'settled' or not.

I think my revised 'agreement 1' does square with the view Allin
has put above, but so far only three of us have agreed to it.

I think the only point at which we can assert with certainty that
a view has been laid to rest, is when everyone in the discussion
explicitly rejects it. As long as there is even one person who hasn't
done this, I think it is unwise to say it has been laid to rest because
it risks, [unintentionally I'm sure] saying to others that the time has
passed when they can express their now 'dissident' view.

In other words, I don't think silence implies consent, above all
on OPE. And I also on a more general note, and not just in response
to Allin, I don't think we can conclude, from the fact that we haven't
had an answer to our arguments, that the argument has 'won' or been accepted.
It might be that the respondent hasn't yet hasn't thought of an answer,
hasn't had time to answer or (Marx forbid) doesn't think it's worth

This is one reasons I favour 'rules of conduct' which perhaps should
include procedures for registering agreements and disagreements, as
well as just sounding off.

Not that I'm against sounding off.