[OPE-L:3498] Re: accumulation: disequilibrium dynamics

Steve Keen (s.keen@uws.edu.au)
Mon, 21 Oct 1996 18:11:19 -0700 (PDT)

[ show plain text ]

No argument, Jerry,

The "personal preference" statement was a bit of a throw-away: I have
very deliberate reasons for taking the approach I have taken. They
accord with my interpretation of Marx--which is non-standard (whatever
standard is), as you know--and blend with the fact that I'm attempting
to develop a multi-sectoral version of Minsky's "Financial Instability

For the latter reason, of course, finance *has* to be there.

There are two issues, to my mind, in the exercise of trying to build
what I see as Marx's intended sequence. One is the dialectics of the
commodity classification of stages of analysis. This, in my
interpretation, begins with everything as commodities including labor.
Stage 2 is labor as a commodity/non-commodity, hence a wage-based
struggle over the distribution of the surplus (a la Ch 25). Stage 3 is a
non-commodity money (including a subjective basis for the valuation of
fixed and financial assets). Stage 4 is the introduction of
non-commodities into the system of production, where non-commodities
include new products.

The other issue is where does one introduce multiple sectors into the
analysis--this being one of Marx's insights which is "orthogonal" to the
dialectic of the commodity, which otherwise drives my analysis.

The current models I'm working on cover Stages 1-3. The single sector
model covers Stage 2, but in some ways it's more sophisticated than the
current model because technical change can be introduced very easily
into a single sector model. Stage 4 I can introduce into a matrix
difference equation system only very poorly, but it can nonetheless be
done. But I definitely see it as something one does after introducing
non-commodity money, for 2 reasons:

(1) In the stages I've outlined, it comes after money;

(2) While one can develop a multi-sector model with commodity money, I
believe that a commodity-money system is constrained in ways
fundamentally different to the manner in which a non-commodity money
system is constrained. Non-commodity money "dominates" commodity money
in the sense that it is so superior a means of conducting capitalism
that, despite its problems, it has supplanted commodity money. In the
feudal system, in contrast, non-commodity money could never supplant
gold, for obvious reasons.


Gerald Levy wrote:
> Steve K wrote in [OPE-L:3494]:
> > Well, the "homogeneous products" issue may be just the same as our earlier
> > discussions re finance v tech change--which do you introduce first. In which
> > case, I'm happy enough to leave it to personal preference. But it may also
> > be that some of the things we "learn" with the assumption should be
> > contradicted when we drop it. The problem is, however, that economists of
> > all flavours often appear to want to hold on to one result when they more
> > from one domain to another.
> I agree with the last two sentences, but ...
> I don't think that we can leave questions related to the investigation of
> logical categories related to understanding the basic features of
> capitalism to "personal preferences." This suggests a kind of "I'm OK,
> You're OK" relativistic approach to methodology.
> Of course, a lot depends on *what* one is investigating. If one is
> undertaking a conjunctural or class analysis, then the method of
> investigation would be different from an investigation into the basic
> categories required to conceptualize capitalism. Similarly, if one is
> undertaking an empirical investigation, a study in economic history, or an
> interpretive investigation into the history of political economy, then the
> method required for such studies would vary.
> An issue related to understanding the basic categories of capitalism is
> a tradition in Marxism of "levels of abstraction" and the dialectical
> and systematic ordering of those categories. Of course, there are many
> traditions in Marxism re method. Whatever tradition one adheres to,
> however, one should be prepared to advance methodological reasons for the
> order of investigation and presentation rather than leave it entirely to
> "personal preference."
> In Solidarity,
> Jerry