[OPE-L:1381] Re: Temporality vs. simultaneity

John R. Ernst (ernst@pipeline.com)
Fri, 8 Mar 1996 11:43:05 -0800

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Some more quick thoughts on TA and SA.

1. The TA (aka TSS) approach to valuation holds fast to the
notion of conservation of value. Why? Money can't disappear
without consequence as we "model" the accumulation process.
To be sure, as we move through the circuit M - C - M' where
M' > M, matters do get complicated. With productivity increases
the value of the various goods produced decreases. But here
the manner in which the social value actually falls should not
simply be assumed but rather revealed as a process. Too often,
we TA types do not do this.

2. By using a one-commodity model in which technical change is not
continuous, Massimo (OPE-1357) sets himself up for Bruce's
criticism (OPE-1362). In turn, Bruce should at least wonder about
the dwindling away of constant capital as he iterates the numbers
in Massimo's example. On the other hand, it should have given Massimo
pause as the rate of profit begins to increase as he extended the
number of periods in his example.

In both approaches, we should be able to see the accumulation
of capital. The difficulty in the SA approach seems to be
that if technical change is to be modeled in a realistic
fashion (capital saving innovations), then constant capital
seems to disappear as the accumulation moves through time
and as the theorist carries out his or her value calculations.
The TA approach does away with this difficulty but encounters
new ones as we see in Massimo's example. But capital itself
solves the problem by accelerating the accumulation process
itself. In other words, should Massimo want to continue
his example of a typical capital, then innovation and
accumulation cannot be viewed as a one-time occurrence. To
prevent the devaluation Bruce sees lurking in the iteration
process, capital takes a larger shares of the output of the
previous periods. On the one hand, this prevents demand and
the consequent decreases in social value from occurring. On
the other hand, the inclusion of this type of accelerated
accumulation often paints a seemingly unrealistic picture
of accumulation. In my own work, I hope that the unrealistic
nature of this approach will fade away as fixed capital is
included in the modeling process.

3. I and, I think, most on this list agree with Paul Cockshott's
statement (OPE 1367) that

"We can not decide this on the basis of political acceptability."

Yet, deep down, most of us will continue to work things out so
that "political acceptability" is not a criteria but a result.