[OPE-L:3912] 15th anniversary!

andrew klima (Andrew_Kliman@msn.com)
Tue, 31 Dec 1996 22:28:55 -0800 (PST)

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1997 - this year -- marks the 15th anniversary of the publication of John
Ernst's "Simultaneous Valuation Extirpated: A Contribution to the Critique of
the Neo-Ricardian Concept of Value" (_Review of Radical Political Economics_
14:2, 1982)! Thus it marks the 15th anniversary of the rebirth of
successivism as we know it!

Successivism? What's that? It is the notion of determination in Marx's value
theory, as the Walrasian L. von Bortkiewicz recognized clearly:

"Alfred Marshall said once of Ricardo, 'He does not state clearly, and in some
cases he perhaps did not fully and clearly perceive how, in the problem of
normal value, the various elements govern one another _mutually_, not
_successively_, in a long chain of causation.' This description applies even
more to Marx. ... when it came to the real model for the formation of prices
and incomes, he ...held firmly to the view that the elements concerned must be
regarded as a kind of causal chain, in which each link is determined, in its
composition and its magnitude, only by the preceding links. Modern economics
is beginning to free itself gradually from the successivist prejudice, the
chief merit being due to the mathematical school led by Leon Walras."

--- L. von Bortkiewicz, 1907.

Here is successivism as rediscovered 15 years ago:

"... unlike the Marxian notion of value, that of the neo-Ricardians allows no
meaningful intertemporal comparison of value magnitudes. ...

"In [the neo-Ricardian] conception, the value of commodities used as means of
production in a period is determined simultaneously with the value of the
output of that period. Yet when we observe that the means of production used
in period t were produced in period t-1, the neo-Ricardian determination of
their value seems suspect. There would be no need to consider this if the
conditions of production did not change from period to period. ...

"Instead of observing the connection between one period of production and the
next, the neo-Ricardians view the accumulation process as little more than a
sequence of discrete cases in which production takes place. ...

"Because the neo-Ricardians simultaneously value the inputs and outputs of a
single period of production, the change in the value of the means of
production during a period simply vanishes. THE DUAL NATURE OF THE CAPITALIST
--- IS ALTOGETHER NEGLECTED [emphasis added]. ...

"This paper has merely [sic] demonstrated that the meaning of value hitherto
used to reject (and often to defend) Marx's law of the tendency of the rate of
profit to fall is foreign to Marx. Having freed the concept of value from the
timeless world of the neo-Ricardians, the task remains to develop that
category and to restate Marx's notion of the accumulation of capital."

--- John R. Ernst, 1982.

These are fine words. I endorse them. In typing them out, I am also struck
by the very "modern" feel of them. We have above some of the concepts most
central to the rethinking of value theory taking place 15 years later, as
OPE-L members will surely recognize. The article was truly a pathbreaking,
trailblazing one, and one that has truly withstood the test of time. There
is, on the other hand, a certain quality of "immortality" to it. Here are the
concepts that every temporalist has re-discovered, usually without knowing
this article, and which each of us thus *knows* and *feels* to be true.

The "free[ing of] the concept of value from the timeless world of the
neo-Ricardians." Beautiful. Value theory as liberation!

Let us celebrate! Let us learn! Let us salute one of OPE-l's own! Let us
engage in ruthless criticism of all that exists! Liberation NOW!

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With heartfelt appreciation and warm wishes for the next 15 years,

Andrew Kliman