[OPE-L:3962] Re: Critiquing exploitation

andrew kliman (Andrew_Kliman@msn.com)
Fri, 10 Jan 1997 12:28:23 -0800 (PST)

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Previous message: andrew kliman: "[OPE-L:3961] Gil on Successivism and TSS"

In ope-l 3960, Gil mentioned Blaug. A good place to start is Blaug's _The
Cambridge Revolution: Success or Failure_, 1975, Ch. VII, "The Nature of
Profits." It doesn't deal with exploitation or the "Fundamental Marxian [sic]
Theorem," however. His view is basically, exploitation, schmexploitation.
Capitalism is good for other reasons.

I also agree with the following from Gil: "Neoclassicals almost certainly
wouldn't deny the conclusion asserted by the Fundamental Marxian Theorem. ...
The question thus concerns the normative significance of the result. For
example, the FMT is not at all inconsistent with the claim that profit
represents a return to productively necessary and personally costly
risk-taking, or that interest represents a return to productively necessary
and personally costly "abstention" from current consumption. ...
neoclassicals ... would still reject the notion that workers are being
"exploited" in any coherent *normative* sense of the term."

The best reference here is the Samuelson-Morishima debate in the JEL. See PA
Samuelson, "Insight and Detour in the Theory of Exploitation: A Reply to
Baumol," JEL 12:1, March 1974, pp. 62-70. It takes on, not only Baumol's
contribution (on pp. 51-62 of the same issue), but also Morishima.
Morishima's "The Fundamental Marxian Theorem: A Reply to Samuelson" follows
on pp. 71-74. Then Baumol has another crack, and finally on pp. 75-77,
Samuelson ends with "Rejoinder: Merlin Unclothed, A Final Word," in which he
again takes on both Baumol and Morishima. In a footnote on p. 76, he writes
"within the values tableau there is a common Sj/Vj that can be interpreted as
the fraction of labor not worked for the subsistence wage itself. But one is
left with no interest in this once he has grasped the 'neutral' technocratic
theorem: [bunch of matrix algebra] implies and is implied by R* positive in
[another bunch of matrix algebra]."

I think Samuelson's right, BTW, as are Gil's neoclassicists. The math has
nothing to do with the social relations of production. It applies to any and
every society. It is simply the fixed coefficients counterpart to something
every first-year micro student learns: the wage rate is less than the
average product of labor. (Note that "wage rate" in neoclassical theory is a
category of the *functional*, not the *personal*, distribution of income.)
Such is the nature of the "defenses" of Marx's _Capital_ one gets once one
fragments it into bits and picks and chooses the parts one likes (oh, excuse
me, the parts in which he didn't make an "error").

Andrew Kliman