[OPE-L:2238] Re: Reply to Duncan (Profit Rate, Science)

akliman@acl.nyit.edu (akliman@acl.nyit.edu)
Wed, 15 May 1996 18:15:32 -0700

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re Allin's ope-l 2225

Of course I think Marx meant what he said about what value means. The
question is, does Allin think Marx meant what he said when he (Marx)
wrote that it is always possible to go wrong if one equates the cost-
price with the value of the means of production consumed?

If I remwember Allin's response to this question, it hinged on there
being a "price" cost-price that diverges from the "value" cost-price
.. I pointed out, in reply, that this completely contradicts Marx's
account of the transformation in that same chapter (9, Vol. III), in
which there is only one set of cost-prices, not 2. Allin's reply
if I remember was basically limited to the aphorism "what's sauce for
the goose is sauce for the gander," and a bit of accompanying explanation
to the effect that if I can interpret evidence to fit my view (single-
system), he can interpret the textual evidence to fit his (two-system).

The problem is, however, Allin's interpretation produces a "self"-
contradiction in the text. This seems not to bother him at all. Or
maybe it bothers him and he can't resolve the contradiction, so he
tries to solve theoretical questions through non-theoretical means.
In either case, what is there to recommend this interpretation, as
an interpretation, if it produces contradictions in the text when a
few alternative interpretations do not?

Of course, Allin will argue that my interpretation produces a contra-
diction--values are not determined by the labor required to produce, or
embodied in, commodities. First, that seems to be the *only* contra-
diction he, Paul, and Gil could find. Second, I think that the values are
determined by the labor required to produce, or embodied, under the
TSS interpretation. But I interpret such statements of Marx somewhat
differently from the vertically integrated labor coefficient theorists.
Well then, whose interpetation of such statments is superior?

I have put forth my criteria--the prefarable interpretation is the one
that can better make sense of the theory as a *whole* (concepts and
theoretical conclusions)--and not, as Allin charges in equating me to
Milton Friedman!, ignore the assumptions (concepts) and just look at the
predictions (theoretical conclusions). Allin sneers at this and turns
me into a Friedmanite through a very dubious analogy, but what is HIS
alternative set of criteria for judging the relative adequacy of
different interpretations as interpretations??? All he says is:
it is an "interesting question." And what precisely is wrong with my
criteria? He keeps talking about the price being too high. The only
sense I can make of this is that when one makes sense out of Marx's
value theory, what gets chucked out is the identification of Marx's
values with Leontief vertically intergrated labor coefficients, an
identification so near and dear to Allin's heart that he will not
part with it for any price (to use his commerical metaphor). THe
question is--is that identification an accurate one? How do we decide?
What are the criteria?

I say, if that identification leads again and again to self-contradictions
in the text, while other interpretations do not, the former is to be
rejected unless it can be proven right or the others proven wrong,
through other (textual or other) evidence. Allin and Gil seem to say,
select, from among all the various parts of the text (by what method
and according to what criteria they do not say), one bit of it, interpret
it in a plausible way, and use it as a fixed point against which to under-
stand the text as a whole. Anything that does not fit in with this bit,
interpreted thus, shows a self-contradiction in the text--because they
refuse to accept, to seem to refuse to accept, that the truth is the
whole, i.e., that the understanding of the whole should rightly influence
one's interpretation of this bit. No, this particular interpretation is
privileged, as is this particular bit--they are to be modified under
no circumstances.

But why? And why this particular bit? And why this particular
interpretation? Especially now when we learn that Cockshott and Cottrell
settled on their particular interpretation before they were even aware
of the several other interpretations of the text that differ from them
on this and other bits??!

Andrew Kliman