[OPE-L:3966] Re: Critiquing exploitation

Gil Skillman (gskillman@wesleyan.edu)
Fri, 10 Jan 1997 16:43:01 -0800 (PST)

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>In ope-l 3963, Gil wrote: "to my (and many others') reading there really are
>errors in Marx's analysis in Capital, at least by standards of meaning and
>logic employed by most people. ...
>"I think that given how most people use language and logic, there *are* errors
>in Marx's account of value and exploitation in _Capital_. Perhaps there is
>another approach to language and logic which dissolves these errors ...."
>I am proud to say that I do indeed have a higher standard of what constitutes
>a proof of logical inconsistency than do the professional Marx-bashers.

But I wasn't talking about any "professional Marx-bashers." Why does Andrew
introduce this irrelevancy?

> Do
>you really think, Gil, that Bortkiewicz "proved," as he claimed to have done,
>that Marx's account of the value/production price transformation involved a
>self-contradiction? Is it up to the standard of, say, Debreu's proof of the
>existence of a competitive general equilibrium?

This is a complete red herring. I said nothing about Bortkiewicz. To say
that Marx made errors is not to agree with everyone who has said that Marx
made errors. Why does Andrew bring this up, other than to confuse the issue?

>For Gil, "the substantive bottom [is], whether or not there are errors in the
>details of Marx's argument in _Capital_, we now know there is a logically
>coherent sense in which capitalist profit and interest can be said to
>represent the exploitation (understood as systemic coercion based on class
>inequalities) of workers."
>For me, the substantive bottom line is that Marx's Humanist philosophy of
>revolution-in-permanence is crucial if we are ever to reach a society of
>freely associated individuals, and that blather about nonexistent "errors" and
>"incompleteness" serves to hinder this effort, because Marx's own Marxism
>discredited and/or distorted and because people who could be doing important
>work spend their time patching up nonexistent holes.

Well, yes, if the errors, holes and incompleteness are really "nonexistent",
then these criticisms are simply hindrances. But that begs the question,
doesn't it.

Were I to adopt the method of argument Andrew employs here, I would now
"proudly" proclaim myself to have a higher standard of proof than those who
disagree with me, accuse Andrew of a conclusion he never even hinted at, and
make sweeping and uncorroborated claims about the validity of Marx's
*entire* body of argument, while meanwhile suggesting that anyone who
disagreed with me was engaged in pointless "blather" and thereby
necessarily hindering the attainment of "a society of freely associated
individuals", thereby damning all possible disagreement with me in one
astonishing swoop.

But I'll pass. And if this is how attempts at a reasoned discussion about
Marx are going to be answered, I'll pass on future exchanges, too.

Over and out, Gil