[OPE-L:3661] RE: Operationalization of Marxian theory

Duncan K. Fole (dkf2@columbia.edu)
Tue, 12 Nov 1996 19:24:46 -0800 (PST)

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In reply to Andrew's [OPE-L:3653]:

>In ope-l 3648, Duncan referred to "sharp doctrinal differences that at the
>moment threaten to stall fruitful research."
>This is the first time I've heard such a concern expressed. I'd be interested
>in knowing why Duncan thinks the new debate over Marx's value theory threatens
>to stall research. It is certainly not my intention to stall any sort of
>research, fruitful or not, and if my efforts to understand Marx's value theory
>better are obstructing things, that is troubling.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries Marxist economics was at the
center of the most important political economic thinking going:
imperialism, underconsumption, finance capital, the transformation of
capitalism to socialism, the evolution and development of capitalism on a
world scale, to mention a few areas. On this list, just to take an example,
we don't hear very much about substantive research on larger political
economic issues, and we seem to have trouble agreeing on even the most
basic issues of interpretation of the core theory of Marxist economics, the
theory of value. One result is that there is very little cumulation of
effort: it seems to be hard for us to build on the work of others. Another
is that the field seems incoherent to students.

I agree that moving toward an adequate critical reading of Marx is an
important intellectual problem, and that the "single-system" critique has
made some interesting contributions on that front. Without criticizing this
effort at all, I was trying to encourage a focus on problems that might
lead to cumulation of effort, and emphasize the area of agreement among
Marxist economists, with the hope of moving toward an intellectually more
productive dialogue.


Duncan K. Foley
Department of Economics
Barnard College
New York, NY 10027
fax: (212)-854-8947
e-mail: dkf2@columbia.edu