[OPE-L:2998] Blake's Questions

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Tue, 10 Sep 1996 06:49:42 -0700 (PDT)

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On August 7, 1995 -- the day after the project that became OPE-L was
conceived -- Rakesh sent the following post to the marxism list. Note that
it was a response to my call for a "proposal for outline on p.e.".

In the following, Rakesh includes excerpts from William J. Blake's
(unpublished) ten "suggested theses for post-graduate students in Marxian

Here are my questions:

(1) Have the questions that Blake posed in 1965 been satisfactorily
answered yet? If so, could listmembers provide references?

(2) What answers do listmembers have for Blake's questions?

(3) [For Rakesh]: Could you post the remaining "suggested theses"?

In OPE-L Solidarity,

Date: Mon, 7 Aug 1995 10:31:13 -0800
From: jones/bhandari <djones@uclink.berkeley.edu>
Subject: Re: Proposal for outline on p.e.

In his 1965 unpublished guide to study of Karl Marx, intended for
introductory students, William Blake appended ten "suggested theses for
post-graduate students in Marxian Economics." Here are *parts* of the
first five:

1. On the basis of Marxian monetary theory, what is the explanation for
the great rise in prices in the last seventy years....The rise has been at
a pace never before seen, except in the 16th century. Is the cause the
policy of deficit financing now spread to most countries? Is it the rise of
the percentage of persons not engaged in material production who
nevertheless demand commodities? Is it is the increasing price of labor
power due to the increased costs of its training? Or were these factors
subsidiary to the effect of wars and the increasing reliance of capitalism
on wars, whether cold or hot, as both the motor and the balance wheel of
the economy? Is the need to insure against social discontent, by resorting
to deficit financing rather than touch current surplus value, a factor?

2. The export of capital has usually been treated as a mass; but the
analysis of the nature of these exports has not been detailed enough. Does
it make a serious difference to the income of the capital exporting nations
whether their investments abroad are in raw materials...; or whether they
are in manufactures or in trading companies, or in railroads, motor roads,
utilitlites? In the former case, the cheapening of raw materials is a
counter-move through cheapening costs to the tendential fall in the rate of
profits in the capital-exporting lands. In the other, it appears only as

3. At what point, then, does foreign investment arise? This cannot be
answered by the glib phrase that monopoly capital must export capital. The
problem is specifically, what triggers it off and how is it distributed?

4. Although industrialization has progressed in the less developed lands,
it does not appear that gap in the uneven development as against highly
industrialized nations has been narrowed; it may even have increased....Are
the profits then larger in the manufactures of these backward than in the
home countries. If this is so, why does not capital flow into them at ar
ate that would close the gap between the two?

5. Until now it has been assumed that cheap labor was unproductive per unit
cost compared to high cost labor. The rise in wages in Japan has since
ssemed to indicate that this disparity is temporary; that the differential
will tend to disappear and the the Japanese will soon show the classic
relations of labor powre and its cost; thus ending hte dramatic splurge of
surplus value now prevalent there. Still there is a period of 15 yearts to
explain and this, in itself, is a challenge to theory.

The next five include the following topics: government spending, fictitious
capital, the relation between interest and profit ("Does this temporary
rise in the return of money as a ratio of profit, act as an indicator that
capital finding its reward in production insufficient in the case of the
new capital advanced, turns to speculation?"), ground rent as a brake on
accumulation, the implications of automation for Marx's analysis of
productive labor, the industrial reserve army of labor and surplus

Of course there has been excellent work done on many of these topics.

Rakesh Bhandari